After taking a hard thought 10pts from Dark Eldar Venom Spam in the first round against Russia, but the team overall taking a loss, it was time for round 2. Least it would have been if it wasn't for the fact that the lunch ladies had been overly generous with the portion sizes and had run out of food before around half the 40k teams got to eat. 30mins later we got some food only to find (that despite assurances we would be given extra time for lunch) the round had already started and so we had no time to discuss our next opponents whatsoever before we hit the match ups.
In fact we weren't even sure of who our next opponents were for 5 more minutes as the sheet with the round match ups hadn't been printed, the TV screen had already switched to show the round time (which was ticking down), and all the refs had (we assumed) shot off to grab a quick bite of lunch themselves...
|Too much food... too little time....|
As I said due to the palava during the lunch break; it is meant to be 1hr for lunch and pre pairings as the round draw is meant to go up 30mins before play resumes - this BTW NEVER happened all weekend and in fact on Sunday, despite me being told to dice down right after the clock ran to 0, the Spanish and Russians took 50mins to finish their final game and get the results in.... which lead to everyone else loosing 30mins off the final round. More about that in my review post though.
Anyway back on topic....
So pre pairings was a mess, the match up process then was a cluster fuck and in lieu of any one else on the team being an obvious choice as Champion I stepped up as our strongest player (before the match up/pairings begin each team secretly selects one player to be their 'Champion'. These 2 players are then revealed and matches at the very end to play on the last available table). So into the breech I went and after the pairings were completed it was revealed that Ukraine's Champion was their Space Wolf army:
Maxim (Lickan) Kormich - Space Wolves
Mission - Crusade & Purge The Alien
Deployment - Vanguard Strike
One look at Maxim's army list and I knew I was in trouble; x2 Runepriests with Jaws of the World Wolf & Runic Armour, 3x 8 Wolf Guard with 4 Combi Meltas and 4 Combi Flamers, 6x 5 Grey Hunters with Melta & 1 Wolf Guard with Combi Melta, 2x 6 Long Fangs with 5 Missile Launchers.... and 11 Drop Pods!
Yup you read it right... 11 Drop Pods! My Ravenwing thrives on speed and mobility. All of which counts for nothing against a massed Drop Pod army that can land anywhere and actually box you in whilst doing it. On top of that double Jaws could be REALLY nasty for my army, especially as it could drop a lot of my key units down some holes in the earth very easily. So what to do about this?
Well it is a good job that I just so happened to have practised against Pod Wolves in the run up to the ETC so I knew what I had to do; deploy in a corner with my Command Squad, Dark Shroud and Black Knights packed into the very corner of the board. Then deploy the rest of my bikes and together with their scout moves spread out in such a way as to prevent Jaws from hitting the corner-hammer units (a phrase the Irish love to use when referring to my deployments over the years) by making sure there are no drop pod sized holes in amongst the army, and the outermost units are 24" away from the corner huggers. Sounds hard? Well it is not but it takes A LOT of measuring and planning to do. Thankfully my opponent was patient with me and let me get everything set up just how I needed.
|What facing 11 Drop Pods feels like...|
Turn 1 and 6 of Maxim's pods came crashing down around my army disgorging 2 Wolf Guard units and 2 Grey Hunter squads plus attending Rune Priests, and both Long Fang units around my army. First up was the expected and dreaded double Jaws of the World Wolf across my lines; the first dropped and Attack Bike and 2 other Bikes down a crevasse. The second I managed to deny with a lucky '6'! Bonus! Next came a whole bunch of Combi Flamer and bolter shots which after the smoked had settled I had lost 1 more Attack Bike and 1 whole squad of scoring Bikes.
Not anywhere near as bad as I expected tbh.
Over to me and during Maxim's turn I had noticed he had made 2 potentially fatal errors; firstly he had placed both Rune Priests at the very front of their units to tank wounds, with the Grey Hunters conga-lined out behind and lopped around the back of their pods. Secondly he had not opened the doors on any of his drop pods; the ETC lets you choose to open or keep closed the pods on your drop pods when they deploy. All this meant I had a VERY good chance of sniping the Rune Priests off the board with some focus fire... queue a very complicated movement phase that pulled all my Ravenwing Bikes and Attack Bikes into 2 groups, each facing off against a Rune Priest, my Black Knights turbo boosting up with the Dark Shroud to take position for an attack on Turn 2. Then my Command Squad with Banner of Devastation moved first to be within 6" of one group of bolter toting Bikes; them letting rip with focus fired bolters to drop the couple of Grey Hunters out of cover and importantly the Rune Priest who was also in the open. The Command Squad then turbo-boosted to bring the banner within 6" of the second group of bikes (and the Dark Shroud for a 2+ cover save) which then allowed them to repeat the same Salvo 4 Twin-Linked Boltgun + Focus Fire trick to remove the second Rune Priest. WINNER! :-)
Turn 2 and only a single drop pod of Maxim's arrived; this one containing the last Wolf Guard unit which he dumped right in front of one Black Knight unit, whilst the rest of his army pulled back away and around the Drop Pods to minimise my potential fire lanes and sniping a couple of Bikes off the board in the process. His Long Fangs launched all their Krak Missiles into either the Command Squad or the Dark Shroud but thanks to a 2+ cover save for all they bounced clean off. Not everything went my way as the newly arrived Wolf Guard pumped 4 Combi Flamers + Bolters into the Black Knights removing one unit entirely! Ouch!
Turn 3 and after taking stock of my position I was feeling confident to push for an early knock out punch on Maxim's army; I sent the Black Knights after 2 Wolf Guard units that were stood too close together so as to rad grenade both, then blasted one off the board with Plasma Talon fire. My Bolters and Multi Meltas then opened up killing all but 1 from the second, now T3 Wolf Guard unit, and also reduced 2 Grey Hunter units to a single model each (in all cases I could not get my models into a position to open a fire lane on all the models in the units). This was somewhat frustrating given it was Kill Points in the Secondary Mission, but I was confident I could hunt them down later with my superior mobility... I was getting really confident at this point and so engineered a multi charge on both Long Fang units with Sammael and his Command Squad, after dropping their toughness down to 3 and killing a few of 1 unit; the charge went as expected and the Long Fangs from both squads were massacred...
As soon as Maxim rolled for his Turn 3 reserves; getting 3 more Grey Hunter units, I realised the error of my cocky overconfident charge... The Command Squad was not isolated what became the wrong side of a wall of Drop Pods - 10 Pods does quickly make a very thick wall of AV12. Bad times indeed and my fears were realised when the Command Squad and Sammael were dropped in short order to combined Bolter and Melta fire. Things then got even worse when the last Wolf Guard unit rapid fired 8 Bolters at my last 5 Black Knights and through some awesome rolls on Maxim's part, and shite rolls on mine, all 5 died. COCK! Suffice to say I was mentally kicking myself for being too greedy with the Command Squad and not just playing it safe. STUPID NEIL!
With my key units gone, and a wall of pods blocking me from getting near the objectives, I knew I had to get to work on killing the Drop Pods, earning me Kill Points, and clearing a hole to get out of the 'kill box' and onto the 4 Crusade objectives. Well that should be easy enough right? I mean I still had something like 14 Melta Weapons on the board all within short range of his Pods.... WRONG! For the next 2 turns I failed miserably and didn't manage to kill a single Drop Pod with a straight Melta Shot. I kept either missing or rolling 1s and 2s on the damage rolls meaning that it was taking far too many Meltas to kill each Drop Pod. Time started running out and all the while Maxim was able to snipe the odd unit here and there through the wall of pods, whilst also hiding those couple of pesky lone survivors from units I had mauled earlier in the game.
|I never get turn 6 when I need it!|
I really thought after those first 2 turns I had the game in my hands and just had to bring it home. However getting overly cocky with Sammael and the Command Squad, plus a very poor run of luck on my dice when it came to hitting and killing Drop Pods meant the game slipped away from me. All the same I wasn't too gutted as going into the game it looked like I was facing a major defeat, so to take 8 points away from a poor match up for my Ravenwing was something to be proud of all the same.
In the bigger picture though once again things did not go well for the rest of Team Scotland and when all the results had being added up we lost to the Ukrainians by 4pts....
But such is the curse of hindsight and you can go on about what ifs forever. Me, however, I need to get to bed as it is late and so I will save such lamenting for a later date.