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Warhammer 40,000: Tankhammer

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Our first forays into Warhammer 40,000 last year were infantry affairs, mostly because that's what I had on hand or easily available, but also because our Rogue Trader tabletop campaign characters who were involved in the Ignatian rebellion mostly fought on foot. I decided we should try something different. ** Our Marines already had a Whirlwind and a Vindicator, so building them up into a vehicular spearhead detachment was easy with a Predator. It turns out that while I've painted my Marines in Basalt Grey, which is the closest match to Citadel's old Codex Grey, the vehicles are considerably lighter. It's either some Miniature Paints light grey - there's a brand name from a time before search engine optimization! - or Vallejo Neutral Grey, which is the closest match I could find. With the addition of the Predator, the Marines make a spearhead detachment consisting of a Tech-Marine, Predator, Vindicator and Whirlwind, which clocks in at 469 points. As it happens, adding the three Armiger Helverins I made earlier adds up to just shy of a thousand points, so that's an army as far as we're concerned! ** I had earlier bought a Start Collecting Blood Angels box because it was a cheap way to get the Terminator Captain I used to make my 28mm Captain Phasma . It also came with a Baal Predator, and combining that kit with a Chaos Predator created the loyalist Predator above, as well as this lovely Hellforged Predator: I wanted a Predator with a twin lascannon because I was a little nervous about all the Imperial armor, and the Baal kit's heavy flamers seemed like an obvious complement to the Hellforged Predator's close combat ability - although that's not likely to see much use against an army with exactly one model on foot! Also, for some reason the Hellforged Predator is an Elite choice, which means a vanguard detachment is indicated. The rules for Dark Apostles changed with the Vigilus supplement, so I'm going to bring mine as a HQ choice so I can try out the new prayers. I also bought an ancient Space Crusade Chaos Dreadnought online on a whim, and it's an elite choice as well! To round out the vanguard detachment, I'm bringing my Berzerkers; I'm interested in seeing what they can get done against armor. That makes a vanguard detachment worth 510 points. Since the other side has tanks and Armigers, what can the Ruinous Powers pit against them? I'm thinking Chaos Knights; specifically, these two War Dogs . I've named them Meridia and Namira, and I can't wait to see how they do on the battlefield. At 174 points each, they're a 348-point auxiliary super-heavy detachment, meaning we're left with about 150 points to use. As it happens, I bought a copy of the Wrath and Rapture set when it came out, and last summer, when it was way too hot to sleep, I started assembling the Bloodcrushers , and I absolutely love the Juggernauts. So seeing as how I'm playing Word Bearers, why not try some demon summoning? I'm leaving the last 150 or so points as reinforcement points, which just so happens to be enough to summon these guys. So in total, what we've got is two approximately 1 000 -point armies made up of models we want to try on the battlefield. I have no idea what's going to happen. ** We set up my old Necromunda terrain at the summer cottage, and decided to play the Only War scenario again; we rolled Domination for the primary objective, meaning we'd be scoring victory points for holding objectives. The objectives were set up in the graveyard in the center of the board, on the bridge next to it and in some of the ruins next to the end of the river. My opponent chose that side to deploy on, leaving me to charge up the direction of the river. Our starting deployments are below: The Imperial side went first and shot the shit out of my guys. General Hopps selected Renegade Armiger Namira as her Duty of the Forsworn target and promptly led her Helverins to shoot it to pieces; I had to use a command point to stop it from exploding and taking half my army with it! Under this withering fire, there was obviously no way out except forward. With Whirlwind rockets bursting among them, the Berzerkers and Dreadnought charged into the cemetery to secure the objective there. Renegade Armiger Meridia strode ahead to avenge her fallen sister, and on my left, Hellforged Predator Boethiath barreled toward General Hopps' Armiger Helverin. Our shooting put a bit of a dent into the enemy, but failed to knock anyone out. My Predator failed its charge at General Hopps, and was very lucky to not take any damage from the overwatch; Meridia, however, managed to damage the Predator and succesfully charged the Vindicator, very nearly destroying the Space Marine tank with its chain-cleaver. Victory points at the end of Turn 1 stood at Imperium 2, Chaos 1. The Imperial side's second turn shooting wasn't as destructive, damaging my Predator and remaining Armiger while the Vindicator fell back, and the Whirlwind knocked out two of my Berzerkers. On my turn, my Predator made full speed for General Hopps, this time doing some shooting damage and succeeding in the charge; Renegade Armiger Meridia likewise charged the damaged Predator and destroyed it. My Berzerkers reached the Armiger holding the objective and made it into close combat with it, with my Dreadnought holding the objective in the cemetery. I now had more models in range of the central objective, bringing victory points to a 3-3 tie. The third Imperial turn opened with General Hopps falling back into the ruins at the edge of the battlefield, and the unengaged Helverin destroying Renegade Armiger Meridia. Meanwhile, my Berzerker Champion brought down the Helverin with his power fist after it stomped one of his comrades, and the Berzerkers consolidated into combat with the Vindicator. With only a couple of turns to go, I decided it was high time to drop a command point on Dark Pact and summon the Bloodcrushers! The Dark Apostle's daemonic ritual was succesful, and three Juggernauts ripped their way into reality and grabbed the objective on the bridge. My Dreadnought turned its guns on General Hopps' Helverin, but failed to damage it, while the Predator barely damaged the loyalist Whirlwind with its lascannon, and failed to roast General Hopps with its heavy flamers. Our shooting was miserable, but at least the Berzerkers wrecked the Vindicator, losing one of their number beneath its crushing tracks and consolidating into the loyalist Tech-Marine who had been trying to repair it. By turn four, the battle was concentrating on the ruined water still at the head of the river. The Whirlwind fired a barrage at the Juggernauts, knocking one of them out, and General Hopps blasted my Predator to within an inch of its life. In a desperate bid for victory points, the Tech-Marine disengaged from the two remaining Berzerkers and sprinted for the objective in the central ruins. On my second-to-last turn, it was becoming clear that we were heading for a Khornate finale, so after my shooting was, once again, indecisive, I started charging: the Bloodcrushers stampeded into General Hopps, the Berzerkers charged the other Helverin, and my Dark Apostle took matters into her own hands and charged the Tech-Marine. She quickly overpowered the loyalist scum, grabbing the objective and sealing the win on victory points for Chaos. However, on the next turn, a point-blank salvo from the Whirlwind destroyed my Hellforged Predator! While General Hopps defeated one of the Bloodcrushers in close combat, the Berzerkers toppled the other remaining Helverin, losing their icon bearer in the process. My Dark Apostle charged General Hopps, bringing down the Armiger with her Cursed Crozius and ending the ferocious battle for the water still in a Chaos victory - barely! With the Whirlwind still in play, the Imperial forces weren't eliminated, but I won on victory points. ** It was a fun game with plenty of drama! So, what did we learn? First of all, the Helverins are terrifying against vehicles. 4D3 shots and Damage 3 is a hell of a combination against anything with lots of wounds; they knocked out one Renegade Armiger in their first shooting phase, and I was actually shocked my Predator survived as long as it did. I'm considering getting some for myself! Or renegades and heretics lascannon teams. Or both. The Hawkshroud doctrine meant that the damned things only stopped firing effectively once we literally took them apart in close combat. Because of the murderous Helverins, I barely got to try my own Armigers at all, but what little they managed was encouraging: Renegade Armiger Meridia nearly destroyed a Vindicator and blew up a Predator before being gunned down. They also tanked a lot of fire before going down, which let my Berzerkers get into close quarters, where they were, once again, absolutely excellent. This game was a pretty good reminder that eighth edition is really all about volume, in both shooting and close combat, and Berzerkers with chainswords definitely bring volume! Last time, they chewed through a blob of conscripts; this time, they smashed a tank and two Armigers, with the champion and his power fist in the lead role. I am never fielding a Chaos Marine army without them. In fact, I should maybe make a couple more - and definitely finish painting them... This was also the first post-Vigilus outing for my Dark Apostle. In retrospect, it's obvious I should've picked Benediction of Darkness as my prayer, which might have stopped at least some of the horrible mauling we took on the first turn - although of course it wouldn't have helped my Armigers. I was very pleasantly surprised with how killy my Apostle was at close quarters, but she again struggled to keep up with the Berzerkers. Summoning daemons only makes the problem worse! But I still like the Apostle, and they, of course, remain the only impeccably fluffy warlord choice for Word Bearers. I'm going to model some Dark Disciples to boost her prayers. The Bloodcrushers didn't really do much; then again, fighting Armigers is hardly their forte, and they did tie up General Hopps until my Dark Apostle delivered the killing blow. My Dreadnought seemed cursed, as I don't think it actually damaged anything, but at least it managed to sit on an objective and net me some victory points. The Hellforged Predator was also slightly out of its element; it would have been nice to see how it does with some infantry to broil and eat. The twin lascannon felt finicky and unreliable compared to the terrifying damage output of the Helverins. On the Imperial side, the Vindicator didn't really get anything done, probably mostly due to bad luck, but my venerable Whirlwind was surprisingly effective, bagging several Berzerkers, a Juggernaut and even a Predator! I'm tempted to paint a kill marking on it for that last one. The Helverins' surprisingly murderous effectiveness was already noted, and unfortunately I'm told that I'll be seeing more of them in the future... ** To sum up, Warhammer is genuinely fun. I was very happy to try out some of the new units, and for next summer, I'm planning to expand our table so that we can field 2 000 point armies. So we'll be back!

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