We had a pretty nice game yesterday. Hooked up with my brother and two friends to run a little bit of Warhammer 40k. We each had a 1,000pts and one warlord per pair. All in all I think we did all of the rules right. But we did spend a considerable amount of time looking things up. A couple of points I really want to make here.
I shared my list
I really wanted people not to be surprised. I thought the easiest way to do it was to share what I had. It still devolved down to that level where one of our opponents (my brother and I were playing Chaos Space Marines and Khorne Daemonkin) says at the start of the game, "Well I guess I wasted the point on my psychic hood." I was a little confused. I told him I shared my list in advance, but he said he thought it was cheating to look at it. He didn't want to make a decision about what to field based on what I was bringing.
But that is the entire thing. I was sharing my list so we could have a good game. Last thing I want to do is run a lot of melee when all you have on your side is piles of shooting. Or worse yet, I field some tanks and you have no way to injure them. I really didn't want a one-sided game at all. I am fairly comfortable with the rules for my troops, but not every rule for every army in the game. I would have been able to answer questions about my stuff anyway.
Not everyone made a list
Okay, maybe I shouldn't say that. But my one friend who hasn't played in a really long time just didn't exactly do everything correctly. He fielded a pair of Astra Militarium Infantry Platoons and a Leman Russ Punisher. He was really close to having a bound list, combined arms detachment, but he didn't actually have an HQ slot. There were six transports on the board and the tank with his 1000pts. But then he tells us he doesn't actually have a 1,000pts and drops out a heavy weapon squad with three auto-cannon weapon teams.
They were the only unpainted models on the board so we aren't slacking here. These guys are all really good at painting. Things looked pretty solid- no complaints there.
But the thing was without the Auto-cannon squads he would have had a perfect list with a plasma-gun in all the Infantry Platoon Squads and would have been bound by adding in a Command Squad for 60pts. He was actually over in points by 15 doing it the other way. The funniest part was everything he field was in a transport. Each of the Infantry platoons has two units of ten. Each unit of ten models had a heavy bolter and was riding in a two Bolter Chimera (wait? they are AV12- you are kidding me!). Then there is a five man command squad per platoon set up the exact same way. But what was confusing to me was he couldn't tell me what units had which weapons, etc. I just wanted to see the list. Understand the math. Six transports with piles of heavy bolters and a weapon team with three auto-cannons and plasma-guns in the units and an AV14 BIG TANK that fired 20 shots. I was a little bit like- how is this built?
So it wasn't exactly that he wasn't following the rules. He just had a hard time explaining it. I haven't researched or read anything about the Imperial Guard, so it was a little over the top for me.
There is no where to put your models on the board
We used the city fight board my brother made and they look super sweet. But our opponents never moved really on to the board. The guy running the Astra Militarium had a shit ton of models because that he how he built his list. Our other buddy had Space Wolves and for some reason set all of his units completely behind the guard. So the guard player was just slowing creeping his transports up so he could fire a lot of shots. The Space Wolf player was pinned behind him because no one the open lanes in the board we relatively narrow. They were avoiding the ruins a little more than I was, but I had a whopping three units of flesh hounds who are beasts and ignore difficult terrain. I had a turn one charge against a scout squad and also rushed their deployment zone.
Tactically my list did well. The hardest thing we faced was the all of the armor. My give away pieces worked out very well. A lot of shooting fell to the Flesh Hounds. 15 models in three units with 2W each and usually cover saves. The Punisher cannon on the Leman Russ shot a unit of 8 Chaos Marines twice because I sent them straight for it. Their armor mocked its twenty shots for all three turns.
Only three turns
In the six hours we were there we only got through three turns. That seems crazy to me. The player who was running the guard assumed it was Chaos victory and was heading to eat dinner with the wife. I didn't really feel like the game went all that well in terms of feeling like I did anything. It took us three rounds to actually pop the transports. When I was able to send my maulerfiend at the Leman Russ Punisher it went down in a hurry. With one more turn we would have had a few more chances to mop up some of the infantry, but the victory point count was only 2-1 our favor. I played three turns and finally had enough blood tithe points to summon a unit.
We had taken out the Space Wolf Scouts and a unit of his Long Fangs, but most of the space wolves were trapped behind the slow advance of the guard. They never really did anything of note except fire into my Flesh Hounds. I had intended on using them as screens for my advance anyway, but they really ended up running off. Our two Havoc squads fared well enough and didn't move. On one flank my brother had two Las-Cannons and a Reaper Autocannon. On the other side he had a pair of Heavy Bolters and a Reaper Autocannon. Unfortunately the second unit just didn't have any targets. It was really ineffective against the Punisher's AV14. Overall I felt a little bad for my brother because he didn't have much to do the entire game either. It was like the Space Wolf player in the effect that movement (or lack of) that the Guard player did effectively locked the board down. And once his big tank and his transports started dropping he was done.
Which tactically I do kind of understand why he didn't want to move. But we only have a six foot table and you know there will be some terrain. So why bring that many vehicles? If you are just going to sit on the back line of the board and dump your units out so we have to advance through 3ft of heavy bolter fire it is not much of game. Especially considering your shots are failing to penetrate armor on MEQ troops. We did roll lots of dice. Kill a few models (mostly guardsmen). And like I said, the table looked amazing.
Why is the game so fucking complicated
This is what I have been asking myself. It isn't always like that. My games usually go a lot quicker because I know the rules. But at the same time it doesn't have to be this intense. You need a PhD in Game Mastery to even sit down and put together a force in this game. Each infantry platoon is over twenty models with three heavy weapon teams and three transports. That is around $215 for each of the two platoons. Not counting all the time and paint to get it on the board. And I know he ended up feeling like f&*k this game when we told him his list wasn't even right. Maybe a little worse that he got shoved out front and cut to pieces by our advance.
It isn't like he didn't have options though, and I hope we can get some other games in. But when it takes this long to set up and play and try to sort the rules - it just feels like we are doing something wrong. After goofing around with Age of Sigmar, it feels so much easier to play. Now in Age of Sigmar if you tried to field as many vehicles and heavy weapons as he has in the Guard army it would probably be slightly annoying to move around that much crap. But it goes back to what I was saying. If one player is really optimized when he builds a list and the other player is haphazardly going through things of course it is going to be a mess. I just didn't get as much out of the game as I wanted. If it was a victory it felt more like the case of me being better prepared than anything special or important I did.
I did own a few awesome dice rolls. And I was shocked at just how power AV12 is against a plasma gun. I landed a few sweet charges and got my close combat on. I am pretty impressed with the speed of the flesh hounds. But I tried to attack the guard and the scouts with them. I knew they couldn't take out the marines. Next time remind me to make sure I ask for Fear rolls. Ah well, we'll try some more games I hope. Got to get these guys building better lists, lol.