Sunday, November 22, 2009

Black Templar Reflections

Anyone that's been following the blog might notice I've been doing some thinking about a Terminator-heavy army, and I finally decided to go with neither Dark Angels nor Space Wolves. Instead, I went Black Templar on a variant of a Stelek list.

Castellan w/ Storm bolter, power weapon, terminator armor
4 Command Squad; 2 assault cannons, tank hunters

Castellan, lightning claws, terminator armor
Terminator Command Squad, 2 assault cannons, tank hunters

Emperor's Champion w/ Accept Any Challenge, No Matter The Odds

3x 5-man Terminator Squads w/ 2 assault cannons, Tank Hunters

3x5 Initiates w/ Lascannon

8 Initiates w/ Lascannon, plasma gun

Thoughts and Game Notes
This is based on the first game vs a buddy's mech IG.

I'll start off by noting the dice swung hot and cold both ways; throughout the game I was doing much worse than average on 2+ saves.

Alternatively, I seized the initiative, then at the end of turn one, the damage was:
1 Vendetta Immobilized (behind an immobilized Chimera and terrain, so he had ONE lane of fire for a single twin-linked lascannon)
1 Demolisher EXPLODED from a single lascannon
2 Chimeras immobilized
1 Hellhound stunned

All because I seized the initiative and advanced into gun range.

Then he killed a few terminators, and I failed my Holy Rage morale checks. Some days leadership 9 just doesn't cut it.*

As it turns out, that cost me the game. It kept me from assaulting into his home objective on turn 5, and 5-8 terminators vs 20 guardsmen with 0 power weapons = a lot less guardsmen than originally planned. Sadly, it ended on turn 5. End result was a win in VPs.

Lost 13 terminators. One command squad, 2 below-half squads, and a few squads with 1-2 casualties. Ended up giving up about 460 VP

Damaged Vendetta (70pts)
Demolisher (160)
2 Dead Chimera (110)
2 Damaged Chimera (55)
1 Dead Platoon Command [flamers] (55ish)
1 Dead Company Command [Meltaguns] (90)
1 Damaged Russ [HB/Lascannon] (90ish)
1 Damaged Hellhound, 1 Dead Hellhound (225)
1 Dead Melta-Vet Squad (100)
Total: ~900 VP

Seizing the initiative was huge; dropping most of his long-range AP2 weapons off the bat made it an uphill battle. It also hurt that his meltas got immobilized quickly. Additionally, that damaged Hellhound was down both weapons AND immobilized; I just didn't have the time and guns to spare to kill it.

Thoughts on the Army and the Black Templar
Holy Rage
On the one hand, I don't mind that casualties involve advancing on the enemy (usually, anyway). On the other hand, my opponent started trying to use that against me by canny placement of vehicles near my guys so I'd go away from where I'd hoped to be. At the least, they can nullify the advantage, and at the worst I can be running away from where I need to be.

On the other hand, if I'm on the recieving end of massed AP2 in cover, I can go to ground, grab a 3+ cover save against it, then pop back up with Holy Rage if one guy dies. It's an option worth considering if I take massed AP2 fire.

Tank Hunting Assault Cannons
Actually, they're not so bad when you can get two in a squad. It's a sufficient volume of fire to actually KILL vehicles. Given that it's my main source of light/medium armor busting...yeah. S6 to effective S7 against vehicles is hefty, and they're passable enough against AV13-14.**

Frankly, with all the Eldar I play, I forgot what it was like to have real 48" guns. I'm a little more used to it with Tau, but I'm just now starting to get more playtime in with the Tau.

S9 does a decent enough number on light armor, and it at least gives me the ability to reach out and touch someone.

As this is a foot army, deployment is huge. I have static heavy weapons, and my troops are slower. I believe playing a foot army that wants to advance will be a good exercise in learning the flow of battle, and in the need for planning.

The Flow Of Battle
This feels like a more abstract concept that comes from experience, but I'm trying to get at the concept of seeing where the battle might go. Where will troops be in a few turns? What will they try to do? What will damage do to them, and what will damage do to your mobility and ability to kill the enemy?

I think as your speed goes down, your need to anticipate the shape of battle goes up, because you have a more limited ability to react. As foot armies with Terminators are slow? Yeah. You need a much more defined plan as opposed to, say, Eldar.

The Pros of Foot
So you brought some anti-tank weapons? That's nice. Enemy anti-tank weapons that rely on rate of fire and medium-to-high strength (IE: autocannons) don't do so much to durable infantry units. Ok, they readily wound termiantors, but I have my 2+ save still.

It also wrong-foots people, I think. Most folks expect 4-10+ tanks in 5th edition, so instead...there are 25 terminators and 23 marines on the table. The ability to wrong-foot someone is fun, but there's still the mobility and it's kind of a one-trick pony. Well, one trick for each opponent. In truth, that's half why I brought it, and it was in the name of exposing someone I'm sort of training. (Truthfully, there ain't a lot left to teach; it's more in the point of him just needing to notch games and learn via experience. His lists are pretty nasty).

Concluding Thoughts
Luck played a factor in this game, since I rolled 5's and 6's for most of the first turn after seizing the initiative.

Past that, there IS something to be said for the durability of massed 2+ saves. It's a slow, brutal advance. There's more fun to be had when you punch the crap out of things with powerfists.

I feel there's some educational/shock value in playing a foot army in fifth, though I will fully admit that not all armies can really do a hot foot list. I'd say Space Wolves with T-Wolf cav, Tau, and IG would be the nastiest. I think this one lacks range and speed, and 2+ armor saves won't always make up for it.

*Not nearly as bad as one of my opponents taking 5 Ld10 checks in a turn and failing four of them. Note some of these checks are re-rolls via Icon of Chaos Glory. Note that one of these double-failures was a squad below half strength, fleeing, with his HQ attached. Mmm, Chaos Marines.

**Until you have two guys with assault cannons put two penetrating hits into a Russ flank, and then get shaken results. Or you see a 1-2 on the Rend against AV14. At least it's less guns going into me, right? Right.


Dverning said...

As foot armies with Terminators are slow? Yeah. You need a much more defined plan as opposed to, say, Eldar.
Heh. Try playing a pure-foot Iyanden, aka Wraithwall: 20 Wraithguard, Eldrad, 3 Wraithlords, Avatar, and 2 Harlie squads at 1750. Small, slow... but implacable.
Flow of battle is vital for a force like this. You have to be able to anticipate the field at least two player turns ahead, especially during deployment. It's a real trick to play, but brutal when you master it.

Overall, nice Termie force. What decided you on doing BT?

Raptor1313 said...

Funny you should mention...I actually did try making Wraithguard work for a while. I got tired of powerfists handing me my butt, and lack of firepower.

As for picking BT...
In a sense, firepower. I was either going to get fearless + mixed weapons with DW, or range with SW missile launchers.

Black Templar cut a happy medium with assault cannons + lascannons, and preferred enemy + tank hunters is a fun skill set to drag along.

They were also kind of the 'Neither!' answer to the SW vs DW for termie-heavy armies.