As I mentioned earlier, I played a game of 40k. Voluntarily. And, if I’m honest, it wasn’t all that bad! Tom and I actually had a lot of fun, as we usually do, rolling dice and having the most ridiculous stuff happen.
I think this is really something that too many of us have gotten away from in the hobby — just chilling out and actually having a fun random game once in a while. No proxying for a possible tournament build, no convenient excuses to run special characters / generic net lists and try to curb stomp each other.
My army list, Raven Guard @ 1200 pts:
Librarian w/ Avenger and Gate of Infinity
Captain w/ Lightning Claws and Jump Pack
Dreadnought w/ Assault Cannon, Heavy Flamer, Extra Armor
10 Tactical Marines w/ Plasma Gun, Heavy Bolter, Powerfist
10 Tactical Marines w/ Flamer, Power Weapon
Landspeeder w/ Heavy Flamer
5 Assault Marines w/ Plasma Pistol, Power Weapon
6 Devastators w/ 2 Lascannons, Twin Lascannon Razorback
As you can see, nothing too crazy at all. Some anti-tank for shooting down Kans, Battlewagons or whatever and a smattering of infantry, with an ace up my sleeve in the form of teleporting shenanigans.
The mission was one that I made in a recent attempt at writing fun old-school tournament scenarios. I made a series of missions based off video game modes, such as Domination and Demolition. Lots of capturing objectives, but some different rules such as counting points for objectives at the end of every turn instead of at the end of the game. Things are a little bit different when you have to start scrambling for objectives early instead of just pushing for them on turns 4-6.
This particular mission was focused on a single objective in the center of the table. The twist was that claiming the objective (uncontested) for two full consecutive turns would end the game immediately; the army presumably has enough time to finish capturing the documents, pillaging the weapon stockpile, or whatever it is they’re doing. This sounds relatively straight-forward, but it’s actually incredibly tough to pull off. A very interesting challenge, for sure. If nobody holds it uncontested for two straight turns before the game ends, then whoever is the last man standing on the objective would be good enough to win the prize, in this case a delicious Cream Egg.
The style of the game became apparent very early. First shot of the game was the Razorback shooting at the Battlewagon, aka the Underminer seen lurking around the ork fortress. 6 to penetrate, 6 on the chart. Woo! Blew up a good half dozen Boyz with the ensuing fireball. Devs fire at the Trukk, putting a pair of lascannons on target, and fail to do anything (cover saves from the buggy obscuring its side armor). Not quite what I was hoping for :p
Some definite facepalm moments ensued in bottom of turn 1. My Assault Squad and Speeder had previously zipped around the forest for cover from Rokkits, hoping to get the jump on somebody the next turn. The Trukk, unscathed by my lascannon barrage, flew forward and dumped out the 10 Boyz with the Warboss. Tom rolls a 6 for the difficult terrain test, and they are in by the tiniest fraction of an inch imaginable. Ugh, this is gonna suck. I pile in and roll up my attacks … 8 regular S4, plus the Sergeant’s 3 S4 power weapon attacks, and 4 Lightning Claw attacks from the Captain. I haven’t seen a unit whiff that badly on an attack roll in a long time. Not a single wound caused! In return, the 5 Assault Marines all die. At least the Captain soaked 4/5 of the wounds caused from No Retreat! To take 7 total wounds in that combat and pass 6 saves was pretty impressive. Sadly the power klaws would claim him before much longer.
Another fun moment happened shortly afterwards. Knowing my army just took a giant kick in the teeth on turn 1, I decided to crank the aggression up a ton and hope for the early KO. Or at least a big distraction that would help. So I decide to teleport the Libby and the Flamer squad just off the flank of his big unit of 30 Boyz. Surely that will get their attention! 7″ scatter wasn’t ideal, so I killed like 6 guys with all their shots. At least the Devs avenged the Razorback and Dreadnought, which were both obliterated by rokkits on turn 1, by shooting down a Kan with each of their lascannon shots. One of them had a 6″ blast, taking out 6 members of one squad and a couple from the 30-strong unit as well. Bonus! The Speeder and Heavy Bolter Tac Squad poured fire into the Buggies, killing two and setting off another explosion that roasted a large chunk of the same 30-strong unit. By far the most effective way of killing Orks that I’ve found is to shoot at the unit beside them. So damn effective, seems to be at least a half dozen every time I kill a vehicle 😀
As the Fortress starts to pile up with the bodies of the dead Orks, Tom got a big goofy grin on his big goofy face when his Kommandos show up on turn 2 directly behind my Tacticals led by the Librarian. Scattering 7″ towards the board edge was a very bad decision on the part of my dice. Really put me in a tough spot. He made the mistake of shooting at my guys before charging, causing 4 wounds. For the first time in the history of my Space Marine gaming career, I decided it would be a good time to voluntarily withdraw. The Landspeeder had cleared me an open fallback corridor, and I would also be falling back through an obstacle so he’d be testing for difficult terrain to charge me, assuming I was even within range. My dice dutifully rolled 1-1-2-5 for my armor saves, so I lost just enough models to allow me to flee. Calling my failed armor saves in advance sometimes comes in handy 😀 Other times, calling “And my plasma gun blows himself up” before even rolling to hit is equally prophetic and I make myself sad.
Anyway I teleported that unit over to the other side of the board first chance I got. Being surrounded on all sides by angry greenskins not a good thing.
Several turns of shenanigans ensue. 7 Tactical Marines with Powerfist Sarge and Librarian fail to take on a half dozen Orks in combat. On the turn I got charged, I once again failed to cause a single wound with all my attacks and lost combat by 3. They held, only to lose again the next round and fall back. Elsewhere, my other Tactical Squad got charged by the 6-7 Trukk Boyz and their Warboss. I wipe out the entire squad with my attacks, and the Warboss kills a few before failing his Ld check and getting wiped out. I think my dice have bipolar disorder. They swing from abysmal to fan-freaking-tastic at the drop of a hat. After getting charged by the same 3 Orks (including another PK Nob) for the second time, the Librarian and his few remaining buddies finally roll well and wipe out the Orks before they get to attack.
The remnants of the two Tactical Squads and Librarian fight a valiant effort for the objective, taking on the Boyz who had been whittled down to about 15. Once the Kommandos catch up, it starts to get ugly. Once he begins rolling a half dozen or more power klaw attacks every round, I start losing models at an alarming rate. Both of us started to worry about having an awkward Lady and the Tramp moment, sharing the Cream Egg if we end up with a draw. Luckily, my Librarian failed to wipe out the final remaining scoring model (the Nob of course) and got killed several times over by power klaws, so we were spared that incredibly awkward moment.
As a random side note: I can’t believe there’s no way to buy a Librarian an invulnerable save without buying Terminator Armor first. A 4++ or 5++ invul would have made for a truly epic scene as he desperately tries to avoid all those instant death-influicting wounds. Instead, I just took 4 power klaws to the face and took my 100pt model off the board…
Anyway, the battle comes to an end after 6 turns, and there’s like 11 Orks left alive, compared to 6 Devastators and the crippled Razorback. I killed a massive amount of Orks, but he had one Scoring model left and he was sitting on the objective. Definitely a razor-thin win for the Orks.
When some of our gaming friends found out that I was planning on spending my Saturday night playing 40k, a game which I routinely denounce as being nowhere near as fun as Fantasy, they were more than a little bit surprised. But, at the end of the day, I simply decided that I wasn’t going to let the current metagame ruin 40k for me anymore. I’ve been collecting since 1998, so that’s a ridiculous amount of time and energy I’ve put into the game. And while fetish marines and Mech Vets make me cry, there’s nothing that says you have to play with those types of lists in a friendly setting. Playing a nice casual game at 1200 points, where you have the freedom to take some fun stuff but simply cannot afford to cheese out and max out your Force Organization Chart, can be a ton of fun.
So 1900 words later, I finally come back to the title of the article. Sieze the Initiative! Do what you have to do to take ownership of the hobby and make it fun. If that means playing with a fun list with limited redundancy (which we all know is the easiest and most boring way to ensure success in 40k), then so be it. I think we (meaning our local gamers and not necessarily the community as a whole, although I’m sure this applies to at least some of you out there) get caught up in tournaments and tournament preparation way too easily. Not everything needs to be taken so seriously. Grab your painted models, some nice scenery, a few beers from the fridge and have fun rolling dice on a Saturday night. If two guys approach the game with the right attitude, you can pretty much guarantee they’ll have a good time… even if they would normally prefer a different system. If you are playing the game in such a way that neither guy is having fun anymore, you’re playing it wrong. It’s really as simple as that.