Sunday 14 February 2016

The Cold Steel Mercenaries Invitational - The Chronicles of Sorkar

Although the journey had been relatively short for the Castigators, it had felt like an eternity to Sorkar. The young Sorceror had tried to hide his delight at his inclusion within the task force, but the veterans of Squad Divine had seen through his feigned indifference and had mocked him mercilessly. His master, Lucian Soulweaver had looked on with mild amusement, but Sorkar was under no illusion that the Chief Sorceror was scrutinising his every reaction.
Finally, they had entered the Preston system and Sorkar had been honoured to accompany his master to the Gathering. As they entered the great hall, Lucian's voice echoed within his mind.
"You will never find a more wretched hive of scum and villainy. We must be cautious."

Greetings Sinners!
Now in its 13th year, the Invitational is an annual event run by Michael for the Cold Steel Mercs. Seven rounds of one thousand points, battle it out over two days to determine who will walk away with 'Thermofax the Dragon' or the 'Golden Turkey.'
Games are usually fast and furious with copious amounts of beer thrown around for good measure. This year was no different, although we all missed Neil who unfortunately spent the weekend in hospital....hope you're feeling better mate.
True to form, I decided on an army the day before the event.....last minute Gary.....that's me!

The Castigators 2nd Cohort

Lucian Soulweaver (60pts)

Sorkar Soulshriver (145pts)
Sorceror[60], 2 additional Mastery Levels[50], Bike[20], Familiar[145]

Squad Divine (110pts)
5 Chaos Marines[88], Melta[10],
Combi-Melta[10] & LightningClaw[15]
Dreadclaw (100pts)

The Violated (50pts)
10 Cultists

Tormentum (170pts)

The Sullied (150pts)
5 Chaos Spawn

Divine Flame (215pts)
Fire Raptor[200], Autocannons[10], Warpflame Gargoyles[5]
Total: 1000pts

So it's small, with very few boots on the ground. This could be a problem in Maelstrom games (the tournament was using a 50/50 mix of scenarios), but if games went to round 6 or 7, I was confident I could do enough damage to pull back any early disadvantage in the later rounds.
I knew there'd be a couple of Eldar/Necron armies and a Thunderwolf list there and as every CSM player knows, these are the lists that tear Chaos Marines apart. My theory is that denying them easy targets can really level the playing field, so once again I turned to the Castigators' 2nd Cohort.

GAME 1: Matt's Imperial Guard - Crusade, Hammer and Anvil
Matt's army consisted of Pask in a 20 shot Russ, a Plasma Russ, 2 veteran squads in Chimeras, a Wyvern and a Vendetta. Which he set up like so.
Slaanesh was with me and my Biker Sorceror (Sorkar) rolled up Invisibility. I deployed out of range behind a hill and stole the initiative to add to Matt's woes.
In came the Dreadclaw and Sorkar cast Invisibility on it before it moved flat out towards Matt's lines.
Matt readjusted his battle line and fired everything he could at the Dreadclaw. One shot appeared to find its mark but the Dreadclaw jinked to avoid the shot.
No reserves arrived, so the Castigators pushed on regardless. The Dreadclaw hopped forward and out came Lucian and his Marines....
Two Melta guns destroyed the Plasma Russ and stunned Pask's tank......
In they charged planting krak grenades which reduced the tank to one hull point.
Matt repositioned once again. Everything that could target the Chaos Marines did so.....
......Including the newly arrived Vendetta. Lucian and his Marines were wiped out.
All of the Castigators' reserves arrived and ripped into the Guard. The Fire Raptor stripped two hull points from the Vendetta 'Immobilising' it in the process.
Sorkar and his invisible Spawn tore into a Chimera, ripping it apart with contemptuous ease.
The Guard levelled every weapon they could at the Sorceror and his Spawn but as the dust cleared only one wound was caused.
With the Spawn in amongst the Guard's lines, the end came quickly. The Heldrake 'Vector Striked' the Vendetta wrecking it. The Fire Raptor 'hovered', destroying the Wyvern and Pask's tank to wipe out the Guard.
Result: 12-4 win

Game 2: Paul's Raven Guard - Cleanse and Control, Vanguard Strike 
Paul was using a couple of Raven Guard formations which consisted of 2 Scout squads in speeders, 8 Assault Marines(?) with a Chaplain. A unit of two Speeders with two Storm Talons & 5 Scouts.
Paul set up first, deploying the unit of Speeders.
I set up Sorkar and the Spawn behind the rock in the bottom right of the picture. Paul then set up his infiltrators and scouted forward with his scout speeders. It was pretty obvious that my Sorceror and Spawn wouldn't survive the first turn....unless...ha ha ha...I stole the initiative!
The Dreadclaw came in and claimed an objective. Sorkar and his Spawn charged the two Scout Speeders, destroying one and wrecking the other. The resulting explosion killed a couple of scouts and they legged it....(at least I got first Strike).
Paul's first turn was devastating, in came the Chaplain and Assault Marines right next to the Spawn. (don't scatter within 9" of the scouts). The Speeder unit moved forward and wrecked the Dreadclaw. The Assault squad then charged the Sorceror and Spawn, wiping them out and giving Paul First Strike as well (first Strike can be earned by both players on the first turn). Paul picked up 3 objectives this turn...1-3 on objectives.

All my reserves arrived, and the Castigators hit back like a wound bear. The Heldrake roasted 6 of the Assault squad, as the Fire Raptor blew up a Speeder. Lucian and his Marines charged the scouts in the ruins, killing two who broke and ran.
Paul's Storm Talons came on and his Speeder 'marked' the Fire Raptor for the Talons to target (reroll to hit &to pentrate) but they only removed one hull point. Paul's Scouts re grouped and had the audacity to kill a Chaos Marine with their bolt pistols.
A game of cat and mouse ensued with Paul racking up 8 objective points over the game with some very favourable cards. The Fire Raptor and Heldrake took down the Storm Talons and Lucian and his Chaos Marine wiped out the central scouts. The Heldrake finished off the remaining Scouts and wiped out the Assault squad leaving the Chaplain on one wound, desperate to get more objectives I summoned a unit of Daemonettes to claim an objective. At the end of turn 6 I had 7 Objectives to Paul's 8. All Paul had left was a Chaplain on one wound, I had my Fire Raptor, Heldrake, 10 Cultists, 10 Daemonettes and Sorceror left. I needed one more turn to secure a win. I rolled the dice.....4.....yes!
"Hang on." says Paul.....the Raven Guard can adjust the dice roll for the end of the game by +1/-1.....Noooo. A win for Paul by one measly wound!
A great game nontheless, I'll get you next time Gadget!
Result: 5-12 Loss

Game 3: Michael's Necrons - Emperor's Will, Dawn of War

Michael was using some sort of Necron formation. A C'tan with two of some sort of bodyguards, 4 Wraiths, 2 units of 5 Immortals, 2 Heavy Destroyers and a Necron shooty you can tell, I know very little about Necrons ;-).
Michael deployed first placing his objective underneath the Lord and Destroyers on the right. I deployed Sorkar and his Spawn behind some ruins directly opposite. Michael gave me first turn.

The Dreadclaw came in on the left, well out of range of the Necron army. Seeing this little lot opposite me, Sorkar elected to stay put behind the ruins and wait for reinforcements....
The Wraiths set off for my objective and the left with a unit of Immortals running after them.
The Fire Raptor arrived, gunning down three of the Immortals supporting  the Wraiths and putting two wounds on the Wraiths and one wound on a Heavy Destroyer. Sorkar and his Spawn waited patiently behind the ruins. The Dreadclaw flew from the battlefield.
Michael shot everything he could at the Raptor but failed to hit it. His Wraiths hurtled forward towards my objective.....
While his C'tan moved forward towards my Sorceror.

All of my reserves arrived. The cultists came on in the centre and the Heldrake flew on vector striking the Wraiths but did no damage.

The Raptor faired better, wiping out the Immortals, killing a Destroyer and wounding the other. It also put a wound on one of the C'tan's bodyguards.

The Wraiths charged into the cultists and wiped them out and once again the Fire Raptor proved too difficult to target.

The Raptor and Heldrake went to town of the Necrons, wiping out the Destroyers....

and Immortals over the next couple of turns.

Lucian made his move, disembarking from the Dreadclaw and gunning down the Necron Lord to claim the Necron's objective......
Sorkar also made his move, the young Sorceror finished off the final Wraith after a devastating barrage of Fire from the Raptor killed the other three....
......moving onto the Objective to claim a resounding victory.
Result: Win 12-3

Game 4: Matt's Tau - Tactical Escalation Hammer & Anvil

Matt probably had the smallest list at the event. A formation of 3 Riptides, 2 units of Stealth Suits and a Ghostkeel. This was my perfect storm, his entire list could wipe me out in two turns. I rolled Invisibility for Sorkar and all of a sudden hope reared its head!
I deployed first and we set up like so....Unfortunately a bit of fluff must have got stuck on my phone as all of the photos after this point are useless.

First turn and my Dreadclaw mishaps off of the table into ongoing reserves. Sorkar and his Spawn move through the ruins and cast Invisibility on themselves.....Oh no they don't, I roll three passes and Matt then rolls three 6's to stop it.....oops!
Sorkar and his Spawn charge into the Stealth suits and unfortunately wipe them out. Matt then wipes them out in his turn. I managed to keep the objective points close up to turn 5 but the game went pretty much Nova Charge, Nova Charge, Nova Charge.....Delete Unit. The game ended with a convincing win for Matt, with only my Cultists left hiding behind a rock face ;-)
Result: Loss 3-13

Saturday night saw all 15 of us dining at a wonderful Indian restaurant called East Is East. If you're ever in Preston, I cannot recommend this place highly enough. The beer flowed, there was plenty of eye candy on show and the food was mighty fine.

Game 5: Geoff's Imperial Guard - Purge The Alien, Vanguard Strike

Geoff deployed first with Pask and another Russ up front. Behind them was a Chimera and a Hydra with two Vet Squads flanking them. A vendetta lurked around in reserve.

I deployed Sorkar and his Spawn out of range with the large ruin in between us. Sorkar had once again rolled Invisibility.

With Nothing to see Geoff shuffled forward.
My Dreadclaw dropped in and after Sorkar made it Invisible it turbo'd over to Geoffs lines,,,,yeah, I know it's flat out but turbo sounds better ;-)

Geoff's Vendetta turned up and everything turned to face the Dreadclaw.....

Anything that managed to score a hit was jinked away leaving the Dreadclaw without a scratch.

....And then the carnage began. All of my reserves arrived. Lucian and his Marines disembarked from the Dreadclaw and charged the Vets butchering seven of them with ease. The Raptor stripped two hull points from the Vendetta, stunning it and wrecked the Hydra. Sorkar and his Spawn charged Pask's unit and wrecked both Russes and the Heldrake roasted 7 of the Veterans.

Amazingly Geoff's Vets held their ground despite their horrendous losses.

The Vendetta hovered and tried to shoot down the Raptor but failed to penetrate its armour.

Geoff moved up his Chimera and disembarked his Vets, determined to make Lucian pay for the devastation within his ranks.

Two Marines fell to the fusillade, but it was too little too late. In an orgy of violence the Castigators slaughtered them to a man.

Result: Win 12-3

Game 6: Karl's Eldar - Cloak & Shadows, Hammer & Anvil

Karl's Eldar had 3 units of Scatterbikes, Farseer on Jetbike, 5 Swooping Hawks, 3 Dark Reapers, 5 Wraithguard in a Wave Serpent & 5 Warpspiders.
Karl deployed first like so. The Dark Reapers are behind the rock formation at the top left objective.

I deployed Sorkar and his Spawn behind a large rock formation.

Karl moved everything forward and shot at the Spawn killing one outright and putting a wound on another.
The Dreadclaw arrived scattering to the edge of the table....

Sorkar and his Spawn moved forward, casting Invisibility on his unit.

Sorkar and the Spawn charged the Warpspiders, killing two but a Spawn took a wound from overwatch. The Warpspiders failed to hit and run.

The Dark Reapers, Swooping Hawks and Scatterbikes targeted the Dreadclaw, wrecking it with the very last shot.

The Heldrake and Fire Raptor arrived, killing 4 jetbikes and doing two hull points of damge to the Wave Serpent. Sorkar and the Spawn finished off the Warp Spiders in combat.

Lucian and his Marines charged the Dark Reapers, killing two and making them run from the table.

The Scatterbikes took a horrendous toil on Lucian's squad killing four Marines, leaving just the Sorceror and Darius, the Aspiring Champion, alive. The Wraithguard disembarked from the Wave Serpent  to claim an objective while the transport claimed another. To make matters worse the Wave Serpent was on a Skyfire Nexus, so it promptly shot the Heldrake down! Karl scored big on Objectives for two turns putting him on 9 Objectives to my one. It was still only turn 3 though, so I could pull it back with the right cards.
The Cultists arrived and took two wounds from the Farseer with the help of the Fire Raptor. Sorkar charged the Wave Serpent wrecking it. The Raptor shot at the Wraithguard killing one with its Avenger Bolter.

Karl's Scatterbikes did what jetbikes do and whizzed around claiming objectives, putting him so far ahead that the only way I could win would be by tabling him. Unfortunately, time was called and we were only on turn 4. Michael let us play another round but I needed at least two more turns to achieve my goal. On the very last turn Craig asked if Chaos Fire Raptors only got 6 shots from their Avenger Bolter and I realised that I'd been doing myself out of a strength 6 ap3 shot all weekend.....bugger!
It was still a great game and with a couple more turns I'd have fancied my chances, but hey ho, well played Karl.
Result: Loss 5-12

The Final round saw me drawn against Matt's Riptides. Because of the scoring system I decided to concede, so Michael let Geoff play against him (Geoff had a bye for that round). That gave me plenty of time to get some photos of all the action.

Craig's Salamanders v Alex's Wolves

Craig's Fire Raptor

Karl's Eldar
Rob's Necrons find out the hard way just how good Raven Guard are!
Into the valley of death they rode....
Aythlan's Orks

Matt's Riptides
Rob C's World Eaters charge into Steve's Eldar.....just before being shot to snot by the tricksy pointy eared gits!

The Castigators' engineered Spawn wreck the Imperial Guard's plans.
Somebody forgot to tell Pete that the games are only 1000pts.....summon city against Rob K's Necrons.

So with the final games played, the results were in. Who would take Thermofax the Dragon and more importantly, who would be honoured with the Golden Turkey?
It was close at the bottom, but Rob C held out to claim the highly desirable prize of the Golden Turkey.
This could well be the only known photo of Rob smiling, unlike Michael who grins like a loon most of the time!
Despite Karl beating Paul in the final round Paul Scott Billy Nottingham lifted the Dragon for the second time in a row......Well done Paul
See? I told you Michael was a loon!
So another Invitational came to an end. I think everybody had a thoroughly enjoyable weekend. I certainly did....which is all that matters really ;-)
I'd like to thank Michael for organising it once again. Iain and Geoff for sorting out the venue and the excellent terrain.
Thanks to Neil for organising the digs, you were missed's the first time I've been to an event and not been rough on the Sunday's unnatural I tell you!
A big thank you to all of my opponents for entertaining me all weekend and thank you to anybody who actually read this far.
Until next time.....may Our Lady grant you her number.


  1. Great report as always my friend.

  2. Great report. I played against a couple of those lists too good to get a wider picture of the event.

    1. Cheers Rob.
      I'm looking forward to seeing your first blog article :D

  3. Hiya! Good to see that you had an enjoyable time. I'm a fan of 1000 point games, as I find that they don't lose much in terms of variety and providing a few restrictions are in place, they can result in very close-run battles. Cheers.

    1. Yeah, I like 1000pt games as well. The Invitational had a few restrictions like no Lords of War, only two of a vehicle type can be taken (I suspect this might be rolled out to units in the future), amongst others. I'm convinced that the CSM Codex can more than hold its own using Forge World to overcome its short-comings. The usefulness of the Fire Raptor came as no surprise (especially backed up with a Heldrake), but the usefulness of the Dreadclaw was a very pleasant surprise. It greatly improves the effectiveness of Chaos much so that I'm considering trying out 3 Dreadclaws to see just how effective they can be.

    2. Very interesting. It's a pity that my Dreadclaw is currently painted in a blasphemous shade of red - haha!, so I'll have to ask the resident Daemons spirit to make way for anew allegiance before it sees the tabletop. The nuisance factor of having this pod moving around is probably one of its best features. Cheers.

    3. Yeah, it can be very annoying. Jinking is one of those 50/50 things, sometimes it works and other times it goes down faster than a Daemonette at an orgy ;-)
      If it gets past first turn, it usually delivers a nice little scoring unit late on that can win me the game.

  4. Great read Brother and thanks for posting a picture of my Eldar as I thought that you might try and expunge that thought from your memory :)

    1. Cheers Brother. If it wasn't for the fact that I don't have the Eldar Codex, I may very well have taken them myself. It all worked out for the best though as I really enjoyed using my Castigators. It makes a nice change to be able to hold your own in almost every game (thanks to Forge World). Even against Matt's Tau, I fancy I could claw points from the game if we hadn't been using such a severe win/lose scoring system. Hopefully Michael will change that for next year.

  5. You Cheeky Get, I wasn't smiling, I just found the sea of gurning faces in front of me mildly amusing.

    1. As long as your World Eaters were entertained cuz, then that is all that matters ;-)