Let me begin by saying that the Count is one of the best and most gentlemanly players I've had the pleasure of gaming with. Our meetups are always a good laugh and I look forward to every one of them. Now, onto the battle!
I find Squat force composition to be interestingly balanced. Their weapon skill says 'we like to melee!' but their movement value says 'not any time soon'. They are tough as orks but also lightly armoured like orks, and with a unit size of 5, they can die very suddenly if caught in the open. Like most technologically advanced races, they use science to offset their weakness - targeters to improve their average ballistic skill, and vehicles, lots of them, to get them into battle fast! The last official army list for Squats (2nd ed. Black Codex) gives them access to Land Raiders, Rhinos and bike Squads (but no bike option for characters). CvB and i regularly discuss alterations to this list to create something a lot more fun and playable, from basic things like allowing the use of bolters in warrior squads and bikes for characters, to a wider range of vehicles. So far he's yet to deny me anything which is why I adore him a true Oldhammerer in every sense!
This battle is the second time I have used this same essential list, the first being in a game vs Count von Bruno and Littleleadperson. That game was sadly cut short before my plan was fully able to be put in place and i really wanted to see how it would play out tactically, so with a few minor tweaks to the trikes and the addition of some wargear for the characters I was ready to take to the field again.
The basic strategy was a classic pincer-type maneuver, with the Land Raider in the centre as a large, tempting target supported by heavy and support weapons teams and the guildmaster to keep it operational. Each flank consisted of a Rhino APC filled with squats kitted out for melee, including the Squat warlord, hearthguards, a command section with a medic for keeping characters in play, and the Ancestor Lord whom has devastating but short ranged abilities and is an absolute combat monster as demonstrated in the battle.
The safe delivery of the assault teams into the backfield is the main priority of this force, and so each tank is escorted by a multi-melta on a fast trike for devastating close range firepower. The tough armour of the Rhino can take all but the most powerful hits in it's stride, and the Land Raider is present to hopefully absorb most of the heavy fire for a turn or two. The Squats inside the Raider provide additional fire and also can be used for grabbing objectives. Seemed like a solid plan to me! So how did it work out?
Turn one of the game saw the Land Raider decimated, before any of it's own impressive firepower could be brought to bear, but it's work was mostly done - the Rhinos were able to get over halfway across the board unscathed and one even ran over a couple of orks when it charged through a unit of them, though this turned out to be a mistake in hindsight... The trikes, support and heavy weapons took out 1.5 dreadnoughts between them and numerous other casualties spread across the board meant lots of leadership tests as the ork numbers fell. But there were still plenty left...
Turn two saw the devastating loss of the second Rhino with all hands aboard perishing horribly, drastically reducing my attack force. This was purely my fault for parking it in the middle of a unit of orks with dangerous power weapons, for vehicles are very vulnerable to melee in 2nd ed. I was concerned at this point that I wouldn't be able to apply enough pressure to the ork forces. My psychic phases got a lot more potent with the loss of the enemy weirdboy and that was to prove critical for my plans to work out...
Turn three saw my command Rhino take a hit that could have destroyed it but a lucky low roll only killed the driver. I was able to deploy my attack squad in a good position and bore the inevitable charge with only one loss. 2nd ed. transport rules don't tend to favour the transported - you have to be very careful how you position your models on arrival to avoid getting stomped on as soon as you poke your head out! My psychic phase helped a lot in this regard, preventing the warlord counter charging with the bubble of force i surrounded him with.
Turn 4 was quick and nasty with most of the orks accounted for. The Ancestor Lord proved his might by destroying the ork warlord who had lost his power field previously and had his armour negated by the blunt force trauma of the ancient squat's numerous Str 9 Force Rod attacks (he landed 4-5 hits on the ork, pretty much all were wounds). The Squat's hatred of orks allow rerolls of attack dice on the first round which came very handy a couple of times
All up my plan worked... except the part where i was supposed to capture and hold my actual objective! I got so carried away with the execution of my plan that i didnt think about it until after the game was done!
What will I do differently next time? Well, pretty much everything! This tactic was successful with a combination of good and bad luck and i think it's a sound one. So time for something new! I plan to ditch the Ancestor Lord and maybe the Land Raider next game and introduce some new toys, including a Predator assault tank and a unit of bikers outfitted for close fire support and combat. It occurred to me that Razorback tanks would be an obvious choice for a squat force as the Squat units are 5 strong and Razorbacks carry 5 people... seems to make sense right?? I might even make use of some allied units from the Imperial guard list, I've got my eye on some other ab-humans who might be tempted to Unionise
COUNT VON BRUNO:
A big thanks to Crooksie for his kind words, any of you from the Oldhammer sphere would not be surprised to hear that the Captain is an excellent opponent/collaborator, a nice easy going bloke and exactly the kind of person you would want to play tabletop wargames with.
Getting two actual painted armies on an actual table with actual scenery is exactly what we all dreamt about when first bitten and even though it took 20 something years for me to get there, setting up and actually playing is like a victory in itself to me regardless of who wins.
Be that as it may the shine would probably be taken off that if I had to play against a dick!
Just touching upon the Oldhammer spirit that CC mentioned, I've read it many times before and now getting a few games under my belt I really adhere to the view that you get the most out of games when you approach them with the intention of not only having fun but being fun to play against too, I think Games Workshop used to (and still do?) stress is the golden rule.
There's models/unit types and even whole races that didn't exist back in the second edition days (or even those that did exist but didn't make it from Rogue Trader) that we or future conspirators will want to incorporate, or someone might appropriate or come up with something of their own and I'm not about to stand in the way of that just because it isn't written in one of the rule books.
When it comes to the Squats their list was sadly underdeveloped so going outside the square there is a no brainer.
Now onto the game itself.
As Crooksie mentioned, I'd faced pretty much this army before but on that occasion I only commanded 1000pts worth of Orks and had Chaos allies courtesy of another good bloke, littleleadperson.
Since he has left the country, this time there wouldn't be any hard nut, infiltrating Veteran Chaos Space Marines to back me up and my force would be all greenskins.
My army had a good mix of long range heavy firepower in the Deathskulls, Shokk Attack Gun and 2 Dreadnoughts, while the Evil Sunz boyz were flexibly armed for shooting with their boltas and close combat with pistols and axes- with no Gretchin this time I planned for these guys to be my replacement meat shield and take point.
Wary of getting close to the tanks (or the tough Squat characters they carried) and not having the means to deal with them, my two mobs of Goff boys were sprinkled with Skarboyz toting power weapons, and each would have a Dreadnought in support.
The power armour nobz could deal with infantry at a distance or anything up close with their power fists. I hoped their power armour would keep their losses down!
Turn One went very well for me, I was pretty relieved that I managed to scrap the Land Raider and take out the Thudd gun and it's crew- that template gives me the willies!
Exposing the Nobz to all that firepower might not have been the greatest idea, I could have stashed them away and just waited for the Rhino to come to them.
That power armour doesn't stand up to multimeltas all that well, haha!
My weirdboy didn't manage to get any powers off, which was a shame.
Turn Two and each of my flanks had taken a pounding and I'd lost a dreadnought on my right flank, as well as the Mekboy who had he survived might have been able to leg it over to the surviving one and try and repair it.
My major accomplishments of the turn were the Shokk Attack Gun wiping out a whole squad, and the Goffs on the left ( Painboy, specifically) destroying the Rhino that had run into them and killing the mighty hero and squad inside.
Captain Crooks running into them on his first turn was a really funny moment in the game!
As was my poor Warphead's err...head exploding.
I had some hilarious brilliant one moment to terrible the next (or vice versa) dice rolls in the game, and failing my eadbangerz test was pretty unlucky, but my next roll was very, very fortunate as it looked certain that he was going to take the minderz, Warboss and Standard Bearer's heads with him!
It was another hilarious moment, but I'd lost my most effective counter to the Living Ancestor who from then on was a very nasty thorn, nay hammer in my side.
Turn Three was a desperate attempt to claw it back, I was unlucky not to blow up the Command Rhino (and possibly kill it's occupants) with the Deathskulls' lascannon and lucky to take out a thunderer with my armless dreadnought!
The two Bigbosses refusing to die is worth mentioning, I managed to pull out some 6's on my kustom field saves a couple of times which saved their respective bacon once or twice.
Taking out one of the Trike's multimeltas was a small consolation.
It was pretty much all over for me on Turn Four, the Deathskulls neutered another trike and the power armoured boss killed the Squat standard bearer which was something.
I've long wanted to try short range shooting with boltpistols, and this turn was my chance- even basic Ork boys are sure to hit within 8" or so I thought.
It would have panned out better if I had more than 2 Orks doing the shooting though.
The Living Ancestor dropping the force dome on the final Squat turn and executing the Warboss was another memorable moment. The force dome prison worked splendidly for CC and took Muglurk out of the second half of the game.
What couldn't have been a minute or two once we had finished the game Captain Crooks pointed out how he had completely forgotten about seizing his objective and that was absolutely hilarious.
It wasn't as noticeable, but I hadn't kept my objective of killing the Squat Warlord firmly in mind either- instead of chucking all that firepower at the Land Raider I could have taken out the command Rhino, possibly slaying the Squat's leader and secured myself an extra 5 VP!
The final scores were Squats 14 VP to the Orks 9, if I'd have completed my objective (and Crooks had still forgotten his) I could have possibly drawn or even won- however I doubt CC would have neglected his take and hold mission once I completed my own objective!
No use in crying over spilt milk though, the game was a hell of a lot of fun.
I had all the tools to get the job done, I just didn't prioritise!
I'll wait and see what Captain Crooks brings for our next game, but I've come away from this game a definite fan of the Shokk Attack Gun, and the Deathskulls have performed very nicely both times I've used them-I have plenty more painted up so another mob of them might be worth considering.
There's going to have to be some serious painting if I want to add any extra units- as tempting as Snakebites on cyboarz or a big mob of Bad Moons bristling with special weapons is I think I'll just do some tweaking.
Many thanks if you managed to read all this, and I please note I typed tweaking not twerking.