I was hoping to do a full write up of last weekends tournament, but unfortunately the lighting was pretty dire, so I'm afraid it will be a quick and dirty report of how I got on and my thoughts on how the army played......
Battlefield Birmingham was billed as a laid-back event that wanted to avoid the usual cut-throat Meta that has seen tournament attendees dwindle considerably over the last 18 months. Unfortunately for me and the rest of the Cold Steel Mercs, most people seemed to forget that fact. There was Ynnari up the Ying Yang, as Michael so eloquently put it!
Six of the Cold Steel Mercs attended this event and we split into two teams. Alex (Space Wolves), Neil (Daemon Incursion) and myself became the intrepid, glorious heroes of the North, while Michael (Necrons), Pete (Orks) and my fallen brother, Steve (Chaos Marines) were the shandy-drinking blaggards of the South :P
Top tip for all you would be tournament goers, always read the rules pack and then re-read it again just to make sure that you get the comp right! Unfortunately, I failed to do that and found out 12 hours before the event that I was mistaken in thinking only one Lord of War could be taken....oops!
It turned out that it was perfectly acceptable to bring along 5 Imperial Knights.....still what are the chances of bumping into them, right?
As long as I avoid them, or Tau...or anything that has a lot of vehicles, I should be fine ;-)
Game 1 rolled around and my opponent rocks up with Imperial Guard.
His army has two squadrons of 2 Wyverns, 2 Basilisks, a Chimera with some grunts, a Medusa and a Baneblade.....bugger.
The Guard open up once again and 7 Chariots disappear along with 10 Seekers....ouch.
The Dreadclaw moves forward 6" and the Chaos Marines jump out. Between them and the Rapiers they wipe out his warlord, wreck the Basilisks and strip the gun from the Medusa.
The Heldrake comes in on the right and toasts some guardsmen. The Chariot and Seekers finish them off but the fire power from all those vehicles quickly chops them down. Nestor charges the Baneblade and strips a hull point.
The Fire Raptor arrives as the Dreadclaw flies off of the table. Its fire power strips Hull Points from the Wyverns, Immobilising one and strips a couple of hull points from the Baneblade as well.
The Baneblade attempts a Thunder-Strike on Nestor, but fails to wound him....crucially, it took the Baneblade off of an Objective worth 3 points. One of his Wyverns moves forward to park on the Objective worth 4 points. On the Left flank the Chaos Marines are wiped out and the weaponless Medusa parks on another objective worth 3 points.
Twenty minutes is called and I still haven't had my turn 4. I ask my opponent if he wants to speed up so that we can get another turn in after mine, but he wants this to be the last turn. (he knows I have a Dreadclaw coming on that must fly on and so can't claim objectives).
Fair enough, the Dreadclaw flies on not being able to claim anything. Nestor ignores all targets and moves onto the Objective worth 3 points that the Baneblade had moved away from. The Heldrake moves onto the Objective worth 3 points on the left flank to contest it. The Fire Raptor moves next to the Wyvern on the right which is parked on the objective worth 4 points. The Fire Raptor's guns open up and destroy it giving me that objective as well.
I win 7-3 on Objectives and the Guard take the secondary Maelstrom points 6-4.
So an 8-4 win for me.
Conclusions: The Rapiers and Chaos Marines, performed admirably against a lot of fire power on the left flank. They drew a lot of fire power away from my main thrust on the right and put out some serious damage. I'm always tempted to put a Chosen unit in the Dreadclaw instead of the regular Chaos Marines, so that they can do more damage, but they wiped out two Basilisks, and the Platoon Command squad which is reasonable for a 120pt unit. The Rapiers are so good that I'm seriously considering having another unit of them.
The Chariots are an incredible fire magnet and they can do damage, if they get there, but they need something to back them up, especially against vehicles (but they're only 400pts for 10 and they are good for Maelstrom points).
Nestor and his Bikers are my favourite unit, but they really are fire magnets and it isn't often that they perform well in the current meta. They just don't hit hard enough in 7th.
The Fire Raptor is awesome......when it comes on, and there-in lies the problem with it. I really needed it to arrive turn 2 against a vehicle heavy army, but it helped win me the game for the two turns it was on.
I was hoping for something a little more manageable in game 2 but the dark gods had other ideas as my opponent put down 5 Imperial Knights.....Bugger!
I deployed first, spread out to cover as many objectives as I could.
A unit of Chariots shot forward to claim an objective and the rapiers shot at a Knight but both shot were saved.
The Knights stomped forward and wiped out the forward unit of chariots. The rest of them halved the unit of Seekers and stripped Hull points from the remaining chariots with their shooting.
I targeted the left Knight with everything I had, Rapiers, Melta, Chariots, Herald and Nestor with his Fist and stripped two hull points!
And then everything in my army died! The Fire Raptor and Heldrake arrived stripping 1 hull point from a Knight.
Conclusions: Top Tip: Always read the rules pack! I had very little that was capable of dealing with Knights. On average, 2 charging Chariots will strip 1 Hull point from a Knight providing they have all of their hammer of wrath attacks. Unfortunately, for me, I must have offended the dice gods because instead of rolling 63 hammer of wrath hits from 6 chariots charging, I rolled 23....Pah!
Thanks to the flyers, at least I didn't get tabled.
At last, an army that I felt I had a chance against.....Daemons!
Fateweaver, 2 Heralds of Tzeentch on discs with 9 screamers, Herald of Nurgle with 8 Plague Drones, Herald on Crusher with 20 Flesh Hounds, 2 units of three Nurglings.
After 20 minutes of him rolling his psychic powers, the Daemons deployed first and moved forward.
Fateweaver tried some Psychic shenanigans against Nestor and his Bikers but nothing came of it.
I played very cagey the first turn, trying to draw the Daemons onto my lines. The Rapiers opened up on the Flesh Hounds and killed 3 out right.
The Daemons came rushing on, with Fateweaver leading the way. More Psychic shenanigans saw one of Nestor's Bikers die.
I repositioned my lines, waiting for my reserves to arrive. A unit of Chariots was sent forward to bait the Flesh Hounds.
He took the bait: The Hounds charged into the forward Chariots and wiped them out, for the loss of one wound.
My Reserves arrived. The Heldrake stripped a wound from Fateweaver with its Vector Strike. All of the Chariots shot forward. Two units lined up charges on the Tzeentch Heralds and Screamers. The rest went for the dogs aided by the Seekers. The Fire Raptor shot at Fateweaver and stripped another two wounds from him......
.......Knocking him from the sky! Nestor and his Bikers charged into him and finished him off with hammer of Wrath Attacks. Two units of Chariots charged into the Screamers and wiped them and the Heralds out with supporting fire from the Rapiers.
The Rest of the Chariots charged into the hounds. The Slaanesh Herald took out the Khorne Herald in a challenge and the Chariots accounted for 9 Flesh Hounds.
The Plague Drones charged into a unit of Chariots that had wiped his screamers and took them down. His Flesh Hounds were wiped out by the chariots and Seekers when Nestor with his Bikers charged in.
With total control of the Battlefield, all of the Castigators' guns turned to the Plague Drones and wiped them out in a devastating shooting phase, clearing the battlefield and giving me a much needed 12-1 Win
Conclusions: Chariots can be just as effective against Daemons as they are against power armour. The Rapier proved its worth once again, forcing my opponent into making bad decisions and breaking up his battle plan. I'm really happy how I played this game, I lured him onto my guns (Rapiers, Heldrake and Fire Raptor) and hit him with pin point assaults that broke an army that, on paper at least, was more than capable of wiping me out.
The dark gods laughed once again as I was drawn against Tau....groan! Nick had 3 Riptides, 3 Broadsides, a Ghostkeel, Stormsurge and Pathfinders.
I deployed first, with one thing on my mind.....charge!
I rammed everything I had down his throat, in a 'Stop that lot then' move.
....and after much careful planning on his part......
.....He shot everything off of the table!
Conclusions: Just don't even bother setting up against Tau.....Concede ;-).
I had some small success, Nestor took out a Riptide, the Herald the Ghostkeel, but really, my army has no answer to 2+ armour.
The final game rolls around and I'm drawn against my dear fallen brother Steve (we asked the tournament organiser if we could be drawn against our club mates and he happily obliged us).
Steve was using a couple of Black Legion Formations (the Terminator shoot twice formation and the Raptor Charge from deepstrike formation). I was intrigued to see how this would play out as Steve had been having a bit of success with this list.
I deployed first and gave Steve first turn.
Two Terminators Teleported in, targeting Nestor's unit.....and did notrhing thanks to his 3+ feel no pain.
His large unit of Khorne Raptors landed on target 4" from the chariots. His two Slaanesh Raptor units scattered, one perilously close to the table edge. Steve (the thrice cursed) has obviously really offended the dark gods and his Khorne Raptors failed their charge! To add insult to injury, he tried to charge my Cultists with Slaanesh Raptors on the far left, and lost a model to the Cultist's 4 overwatch shots!
Everything moved about, ready to give Steve of some Slaaneshi lovin'
....it's safe to say that the Khorne Raptors were surrounded......
......Shooting, but more importantly, Hammer of Wrath proved to be devastating. The Rapiers destroyed the Slaaesh Raptors in the ruins and the Chariots and Seekers slaughtered the Khorne Raptors.
.....Nestor and his Bikers killed the Terminator squad accompanying the Lord, leaving him all on his own and the Chariots ran down the other unit of Terminators.
Steve's Termie Lord lined up a charge on Nestor's unit....
......the Slaanesh Raptors prepared to sell their lives dearly......
Despite Steve's Terminator Lord hacking down squad Schaddenfreude's aspiring champion Korath, he finally succumbed to Nestor's Power Fist....
The Slaaneshi Raptors fared no better, torn apart by the Herald and her Seekers.
My Heldrake arrived and roasted Steve's Marines in his back line and with very little of Steve's army left, we called it. Win 12-1
Conclusions: The Chariots finally showed what they are capable of. They're great against infantry models, their speed is impressive and perfect for claiming objectives. The Seekers are also good at taking out infantry models (no surprises there) and are more than capable of keeping up with the Chariots.
Nestor did what he had to, and thanks to his 3+ Feel No Pain, proved to be very survivable.
The Rapiers continue to impress, 2 large blast templates at strength 10 do have an impact on most things.
So 3 wins and 2 losses, I can live with that, especially after seeing the types of armies we were up against. The Northern half of the Cold Steel Mercs bested our Southern comrades, but more importantly, we all had a good time, which is all that matters really.
The Chariots are a great distraction unit, and, given the right opponent, can do some real damage. They excel at taking Maelstrom points and the ease at which they can cover ground is breath-taking. However, they're incredibly fragile and they really need something to back them up with more hitting power.
Herald and Seekers
The Seekers also suffer from being too fragile. Even when they hit they're relying on 6's to wound to do any real damage. I'm toying with dropping the Locus of Beguilement and the Greater rewards to give her 2 psychic levels so that she can summon some Daemonettes.
Nestor and his Bikers
As I mentioned before, these are my favourite unit. I have to admit that it's rare that they perform well though. There is just too much in the game that can shrug off their limited attacks. They also tend to be a serious fire magnet.
These continually out-perform everything in my army. They scare opponents, they draw in Drop Pod units as bait and they do some serious damage time and time again. If it wasn't for 8th being around the corner, I would be looking to add more of these.
This is a great all round unit. Its Vector Strike ability is the only anti air I have really. The Baleflamer helps to keep Eldar Jetbikes in check and its ability to get across the board and take out objective campers is not to be dismissed lightly. This is the Swiss Knife of my army.
This puts out a phenomenal amount of Fire Power and it's no coincidence that whenever it shows up early, I usually win. The problem is when it doesn't show up until turn 4 (which happens way too much for my liking). 210+ is a lot of points to have off of the table, especially when I have the Heldrake and the Dreadclaw off as well. This is the unit that I can never make my mind up over. I'll see what develops in 8th edition before I decide.
Most people slate the Dreadclaw, but I've found it very useful. It's ability to deliver a scoring unit (and being a scoring unit as well), make it a firm favourite in my Castigators. I use it like an Eldar uses their Jetbikes, late grabs on objectives and delivering fire power (in the form of Chaos Marines) to areas of the battlefield that can be a struggle to reach. Its survivability (in an army that can often struggle with that) often messes with opponents heads and they often waste shots trying to get rid of it.
Overall, I'm reasonably happy with the army, but in the current Meta, it has too many bad match ups to make it really competitive. It cannot deal with 2+ armour and it lacks the killer punch that Deathstar armies have.
That said, I've always preferred 'balanced' armies to extreme armies, so although it will never win an event, I do find it entertaining and a challenge to use and that is all I ever want from a tournament list ;-)
Until next time.....may Our Lady grant you her number!.........unless you play Tau......if you play Tau, I hope your knob drops off ;-)