I’m afraid that I neglected to take any pictures before most of the Deployment was over (okay, half way through Turn 2), but that was partially because I forgot to start taking them and partially because I decided that I should skip boring parts (it doesn’t matter how they moved and what path they took as much as where they ended up, it also isn’t necessary to take a picture at every half-way point when only two units do anything).
The game was against Marshal Learoth’s NOVA Gunline list. I have to admit, I was somewhat concerned that my Drop Pods would quickly be eliminated by the sheer amount of firepower in his list, and we’ll see how accurate that fear was.
Drop Pod got first choice; since I had more Scoring units than the Gunline, I felt that it would be best to go for Objectives rather than my otherwise preferred Kill Points (and I wanted to change things up a little). The Gunline didn’t want Dawn of War, because it needed to spread out, and it didn’t want Pitched Battle, because then it would either be taken apart piecemeal or it would be too clumped together to stop me, so it chose Spearhead. By random chance, the Gunline went first.
NOVA Terrain set-up (though less difficult terrain; two hills that just block LoS unless you’re on top of them, two ruins that are difficult terrain, two small pieces of Impassible terrain, and a road which didn’t come into play) with 4 Objectives in the quarters and 1 in the middle, all in Terrain pieces; Gunline set up to send a Predator and a Crusader Squad for the center objective, one Crusader Squad in reserve to take his other Objective, and two Crusader Squads plus two Predators on a hill holding his home Objective. The two Terminator squads and the Typhoons spread out between the forward units and the home units to prevent Drop Pods from coming down and getting rear-shots (and to maximize the room available to maneuver in once the Drop Pods do come down). The main strategy was to grab three objectives and prevent the Drop Pod list from boxing them in too badly. After Deployment, stuff generally moved forward but kept the same positions in relation to each other (you’ll see in the picture). The Drop Pods were fired from the ships.
Next turn saw the reserved Crusader Squad come on, so they pushed up towards their destination. Stuff moved forward again, and now the Gunline holds two Objectives (almost three), while the Drop Pods have yet to come down. And then they do. In one of the best ratios they could hope for (somehow, they almost always seem to get those ratios). Two Dreadnoughts, a Command Squad (Castellan led), all three Typhoons and a single Crusader Squad (without Emperor’s Champion); the Crusader Squad claims the objective that the reserved enemy Crusader Squad was going for, the Command Squad comes down inches from a home Predator with their Drop Pod protecting them from the Terminators, one Dreadnought comes down near the center objective and sets up for a side shot on the near-by Predator, the other Dreadnought comes down just like the Command Squad but for the other home Predator and still protected from Terminators by its Drop Pod, and the Typhoons come down between the main force of the Gunline and the other claimed objective. This may be confusing, but it looks like the below:
I hope that isn’t too small to see, but the units with red on them are the Gunline guys. The two objectives claimed by the Gunline are on hills, the two nearby corner ones are in ruins, and the last one is on a road, the other terrain is just impassible, but never came up as Blocking LoS or not. The yellow Rhino is just a wreck, not actually a unit.
And now the Shooting phase begins. The Command Squad targeted the Predator, which got Immobilized and Stunned; the green Dreadnought fired at the Predator, and whiffed; the other Dreadnought fired at the Predator near-by and blew off a Lascannon; the Crusader Squad fire its Plasma Gun at the Razorback but did nothing, and the Typhoons fire a few shots and Stunned another Typhoon as well as destroying the Weapon on the stunned Typhoon and that Razorback in the middle of the board. Assault Phase was uneventful.
Turn 3 and by most theory (the major arguments against Deep-Striking armies) the Gunline should have had a big advantage, lots of firepower against a very small portion of the enemy army. Well they shift around some (at this point I realized that I would need to go for 4 Objectives just in case I couldn’t hold one of them), and their firing destroyed the Command Squad’s Drop Pod, killing two of the Command Squad, wrecked the green Dreadnought’s Drop Pod, Shook a Typhoon, Shook both Dreadnoughts (Extra Armor is a steal at 5 points), Destroyed the Storm Bolter on the Crusader Squad’s Drop Pod, and did very little else. At this point I realized that the Terminators were going to be very dangerous unit, since they packed a lot of firepower plus could kill anything I had in Close Combat plus would be hard to take down unless I dedicated several units to that task, but since they had killed the two things they shot at, they were unable to assault.
The other Command Squad came down, along with 4 Crusader Squads (including the Emperor’s Champion), but the Dreadnought remained in reserve along with one more Crusader Squad. The Command Squad went to help the Dreadnought with the Center Predator, the Crusader Squads moved to claim/contest/support Objectives (the bottom right, the top right, the center, and the top left) with the Emperor’s Champion in the center Crusader Squad. A Typhoon went to support the two Crusader Squads in the upper right and the Squad going for the upper left took a risky move and dropped behind everybody in the corner.
So what you see is the Strategy for the Drop Pod list beginning to take shape. The Squad in the lower right isn’t going to be moving until their Drop Pod is destroyed (which reduces how many shots the Gunline can spend on the near-by dangerous stuff, known as the Distraction units); the upper-right objective is definitely going to be mine as I’ve got about twice the amount of power there, some of which can easily be re-deployed once it’s finished and the rest isn’t needed beyond taking that objective; everything in the upper-left corner is getting congested and hard to maneuver in (the Terminators can still move around but their paths are limited both by my guys and their own).
Various things shoot and kill/damage stuff, I believe another Razorback loses its turret, the Gunline’s bottom Typhoon gets Stunned, the Crusader Squad and Razorback in the upper-right is taken out entirely, the center Predator is exploded by the Command Squad, and then we get to assault. One of the home Predators gets wrecked by the Dreadnought, the other just gets Stunned again by the Command Squad, the Razorback on the center objective gets wrecked by the Dreadnought, and then we are done.
At this point, in the aftermath, it’s obvious that the game is over and all we need to decide is if the final call is 2-1 or 3-0. The Gunline has nothing left to make a chance at Victory except the two Terminator units, which are otherwise indisposed in trying to do just that. Of course, the Typhoons and Razorback turrets could cause some damage, but only one Typhoon is in any shape and only one Razorback has its turret left. The center objective is about to be taken, the upper-left is still heavily fought over, but I solidly control the two on the right and there is nothing that the Gunline can do about it except annoy them. I’ve got the units to make sure he doesn’t hold two objectives, and I even have enough to make sure he doesn’t hold any. Even so, it isn’t worth quitting at this point because there are tactical things to do, even if there are no strategic changes that are going to take place.
The light-blue Terminators shoot into the Castellan-led Command Squad and kill all but one guy, the green Terminators begin moving around the wrecked Drop Pod to get at the Dreadnought (now looking at the map, I think they could have assaulted it between the Predator and the Drop Pod, but it didn’t look like it at the time), the home-Crusader Squad disembarks to begin a shootout with the corner Crusader Squad, the Marshal’s Drop Pod gets rammed (no effect) and the Razorback full of Crusader Squad heads for the un-claimed Objective, and that’s about it. The light-blue Terminators charge the single Meltagun Initiate from the Command Squad, he tries to glance the Predator and does nothing; 15 Powerfist attacks, 3 hits, 1 wound, his dies. Yes, I rolled so badly that the full Terminator Squad almost failed to kill a single guy. Think of if there had been two.
For the Drop Pods they get their last Crusader Squad and Dreadnought. The Crusader Squad claims that lonely corner Objective, the Dreadnought comes down and blocks the Razorback that still has its passengers. The Dreadnought that killed the Predator moves to tackle the light-blue Terminators (ideally with support from the other Dreadnought and that near-by Crusader Squad), Typhoons move and work on killing the enemy Typhoons, the Emperor’s Champion led Crusader Squad charges into the enemy Emperor’s Champion led Crusader Squad and, because of careful placement of the Emperor’s Champion, is able to annihilate the Crusader Squad itself in a couple of turns and then get support from the Dreadnought to kill the other Emperor’s Champion (my own Emperor’s Champion and a single Initiate remaining), the Command Squad helps with the Typhoons, and the Gunline Crusader Squad holding the upper-left objective gets totaled (shooting plus charge from Dreadnought).
The turret-less Razorback zooms forward to contest the lower-left objective and blows smoke, the other nearby Razorback gets Stunned, with the center Objective held the Dreadnought pulls back to keep out of range of the green Terminators who have turned around and started heading their way, the top Dreadnought gets wrecked by Krak Missiles and the light-blue Terminators are trying to take out that Crusader Squad while the Crusader Squad from the Stunned Razorback hops out to try and claim the objective. The green Terminators assault the Emperor’s Champion, who somehow survives all of their attacks after splitting away from his Crusader Squad so that the single Initiate doesn’t get hit by Powerfists, because that would be bad (the Champion even kills one of the Terminators). We come to Turn 5 ready for the Drop Pod list to go, and there isn’t a whole lot left.
The Command Squad shoots at and then assaults that Crusader Squad, the upper-right Crusader Squad moves to claim the objective, the Dreadnought to the left destroys the weapon of the Razorback, the bottom Razorback (with smoke on it) gets Immobilized, the two remaining Typhoons get wrecked, the Emperor’s Champion dies, the Initiate near him moves away from the Terminators (and claims that objective), and the Dreadnought assaults the Terminators. Bottom of Turn 5 and the Drop Pods have claimed all 5 objectives but the Terminators are contesting one of them.
Okay, the game could end here but it doesn’t. The two remaining Razorbacks get taken out, two of the green Terminators get killed, the Dreadnought they are in combat with gets wrecked, the upper-left Crusader Squad gets slain by Terminators, the Command Squad remains locked in combat with the Crusader Squad, and that Immobilized Predator finally bites the dust. End of Turn 6, 4-0 (the Dreadnought’s sacrifice plus some shooting prevents the Terminators from contesting that objective) and the Gunline surrenders.
This is what I mean when I say that I prefer Kill Point games, just to add them up the Gunline lost 3 Crusader Squad, 4 Razorbacks, 3 Predators, 3 Typhoons, and the Emperor’s Champion. The Drop Pods lost 2 Dreadnoughts, 5 Drop Pods, 1 Crusader Squad, 1 Command Squad, 1 Castellan, and the Emperor’s Champion. The Drop Pod list scored 3 more Kill Points than the Gunline did, and annihilated them in Objectives. If you wanted to check Table Quarters then, well, I’ve got three of them, maybe four. In other words, this was not a close victory, this was a massacre.
Why was it such a clear victory? Neither army got significantly luckier than the other. The terrain hardly made a difference (okay, it reduced the number of targets for the Typhoons on occasion and it limited the movement of the green Terminators slightly), the craters left by exploded vehicles had more of an impact. Technically, the Drop Pod list’s Typhoons were able to fire first, but they were also forced to come down where they had few targets which limited them, so that shouldn’t make a massive impact. Was it the lack of Melta in the Gunline? Of course, that may have helped on occasion, but given the circumstances so would Power Weapons or Powerfists and at several points they needed the Plasma Gun more than the Meltagun because they were targeting Infantry. Reserving a single unit had almost no negative impact; it was how the unit was later handled that caused it to fail. And a fair portion of the Drop Pod list didn’t even have a big role in the game, one Crusader Squad did nothing by claim a single objective (and that wouldn’t have made a difference in the outcome), another claimed an objective (again, not tie-breaking) and fired a couple of shots. A Command Squad (my second most expensive unit) was only able to do some damage to a Predator and slow down a Terminator unit for a turn but definitely not a whole lot.
It’s because of the sheer number of Drop Pods which prevented the Gunline from moving, from selecting the best targets, and from acting as a whole that made the difference. The Drop Pod list’s units are quite capable of working on their own (every unit has exceptional Duality) and they don’t need to work in conjunction aside from all aiming for the same goal, the Typhoons provide support where needed and that’s about all the direct synergy there is (okay, I need to use multiple Drop Pods to do things, but still).
So, as the Drop Pod list, what would I have done differently? The upper Dreadnought wouldn’t have moved forward, he would have tried to stay out of sight until the Terminators were closer (or had assaulted and killed the Crusader Squad) so that he could move out, shoot them, and then get the charge off so that he could do as much damage as possible. I may have been able to not send a second Crusader Squad over to help claim that upper-left objective, but there wasn’t really a better place to send it.
As the Gunline, what should I have done differently? Gone out earlier to take the lower-left objective; I also probably should have used the green Terminators a little differently, they spent several turns moving and shooting a little bit when they should have been targeting and eliminating major threats. I probably also should have put more fire into those Typhoons, they lasted the whole game and did a fair amount of damage, but I got distracted by the more pressing, if less ideal, targets closer to me (the Distraction Units). Aside from that, I probably should have brought the reserved Crusader Squad on closer to the rest of my force so that it didn’t get isolated.
That’s pretty much all I can take out of that game, though any questions or comments would be greatly appreciated, so long as you realize that I did leave out a few details (I remember the two Crusader Squads in the upper-right taking pot shots at something in the center, but I can’t remember what it was or what they did). I know it’s really, really wordy, and that’s something I need to improve, maybe next time.
Unfortunately, except for maybe a few games against various Tyranid lists and one (or more if I feel it necessary) against my Best of list I think I’m going to leave my Drop Pod army alone for a while. I already know the outcome because it’s been the same for the past 4-5 games I’ve played with it. Instead I’m going to try and get games in with some of my other lists, and especially some of my Tyranid lists, maybe set up some sort of tournament to try and find the best list I’ve made, maybe. Aside from that, unless I get any questions I’ve got some thought on personalizing the DDP list which I’ll try to get to by the end of the week.