Saturday, August 19, 2017

Black Templars and Warhammer 40K 8th Edition first games

I got in my first two games of Warhammer 40K 8th edition over the last two weeks.

My first game with the new system was at a Games Workshop store in Tokyo (yes, I still never call them "Warhammer Stores", no matter what the sign on the shop says!). I thought it would be good to have a game with the staff to get used to some of the new mechanics, and to help refresh my knowledge of the game as I haven't played in months.

Before I went I spent some time putting together a Black Templars list using the new "Power level" system. This is designed to be a quick and easy way to put together an army without worrying about calculating the exact points value of everything. Each unit has a clearly marked power level, which is adjusted based on the number of models in the unit, but not on their wargear or accessories.

Overall, this system works quite well in specific circumstances, and I was able to pull together a bunch of my old Templars models with relative ease. It makes calculation pretty easy, and various list building apps have already included it. (I used Battlescribe and this seemed to work fine). In a few minutes of playing around I put together a 75 point army of Black Templars (50 points is about 1,000 points according to some sources). More on that later.

Black Templars bike squad zooms in.

++ Game 1: Black Templars v. Ultramarines ++

Here is the 75 Power Level list I used:

  • Captain on Bike
  • Chaplain Grimaldus
  • Crusader Squad A (9 Initiates with Chainsword, 5 neophytes with combat knives, 1 Sword Brethren).
  • Crusader Squad B (4 initiates with Bolters, x1 with Flamer, x1 with Plasma)
  • Crusader Squad C (5 initiates with Chainswords, x1 Flamer)
  • Dreadnought with Autocannon
  • Land Raider Crusader for Squad A
  • Razorback for Squad C
My opponent had about 70 points of Ultramarines. From what I remember:
  • Captain on foot in Terminator armour.
  • Venerable Dreadnought with Las cannon, Dreadnought power fist/ flamer.
  • x1 smaller Unit of Primaris Ultramarines (x5?) on foot.
  • x1 large unit of Ultramarines (x10, with Missile Launcher)
  • x1 large unit of Ultramarines (x10, with Missile Launcher)
  • Close combat Terminator squad. (x10 or so, brought in from reserve. Half with lightning claws, half with thunder hammer and shield.)

If I can, I'll put together a separate report in more detail, but the highlight of the game had to be my excitement at using Chaplain Grimaldus, only for him to kill himself in his first shot of the game when his pistol overheated and exploded in his face. 
Classic WH40K Bittersweet moment™!

My opponent was the underdog in terms of points, but his large Terminator squad pretty much made mincemeat of my troops. That, coupled with some bad placing of charging bikes on my part opened them up to a lot of attacks that overwhelmed them.

10 Enemy Terminators arrive (top right). The end is near (for me).

++ Game 2: Black Templars v. Tyranids ++

The Thin Black Line v. The Red Tide of Death...

In my second game (this time with a friend at home) my list was a little different:

50 Power Level Black Templars

  • Emperor's Champion
  • Crusader Squad (7 initiates with Chainswords, x1 flamer, x1 Sword Brother.
  • Sternguard x5 (x4 vets, x1 Sergeant All with flamer combi weapons)
  • Terminator Assault Squad (x Sergeant, x1 Storm Shield and Thunder Hammer, x2 with paired lightning claws)
  • Landspeeder x1 (Typhoon missile launcher, Heavy bolter)
  • Devastator Squad (x1 Sergeant with Plasma pistol,  x4 with Missile launchers
  • Rhino

49 Power Level Tyranid army

  • Hive Tyrant (Shooty) PL10
  • Carnifex (kinda shooty) PL6
  • Tervigon (kinda poopy - "releases" 10 Termagants every turn.) PL13
  • Genestealers (x5) PL4
  • Genestealers (x5) PL4
  • Zoanthrope (x3 in a single unit) PL6
  • Termagants (x10 on the table at first I think?) PL3
  • Hormagaunts (x10) PL3

We played an "Open Play" game to get a hang of the basic rules, using just the Indexes. 

There were four objectives, and points for control of each objective were collected at the end of each player turn. There is no 8th Tyranid Codex available at the time we played, and I don't have the SM Codex. Even if I know the rules, I didn't feel it would have been right to have access to my Chapter Tactics if my opponent didn't have any info from a codex of his own, so we didn't use those.

The (bottom left)

I ended up losing this game as well!

  • The Hive Tyrant and Carnifex pretty easily shot my Devastators off the table in the first round of shooting, meaning I was out of massed heavy weapons that could have seriously dented his Tyrant, 'Fex and Tervigon. This was even with an improved saving throw due to being in cover.(I still had the Land Speeder with heavy weapon and Typhoon Missile launcher, but felt that wouldn't do the trick)

  • The ability of the Tervigon in 8th edition to just add an extra 10 Termagants on the table without a chance of the ability stopping (as in 7th if I recall?) meant that the table quickly became full of little critters!

  • This small Tyranid force still has 3 psychic units, who in the psychic phase managed to get off Smite a fair few times, as well as some tasty buffs and debuffs (The Horror, Catalyst and Onslaught). As it only takes a 5 or more to get off Smite, it isn't difficult to get off, but even 1-3 mortal wounds on a small unit in a game of this size is going to hurt over time. (Bear in mind that as I don't own the SM Codex yet, I wasn't using Abhor the Witch, which would have given me a 4+ Deny the Witch roll, even without any psychers of my own.)

This loss was my fault too though for sure, with plenty of bad choices on my part:

  • I wasn't confident about driving my Rhino straight up to the Tyranids to disembark my Crusade Squad. It took me too long to do that, by which point there were lots of additional 'gants to deal with. They disembark now only at the beginning of your movement phase. If I had moved up within charge range, would the Tyranids have swarmed the raider and managed to simply take off enough wounds for it to explode? Once surrounded, the models inside have no exit point so simply die in that case? (My concern)! 

Because vehicles are more durable in 8th, being more confident about this is probably a key takeaway.

  • I became too distracted by worrying about the units I had and should have paid more attention to the game objectives, and could have contested those in his back field earlier (using different vehicles such as the Land Speeder) to take pressure off my front line.
  • I could have placed my devastators further back so they could have got one round of shooting off before being in range of the Hive Tyrant and Carnifex.
  • It was a mistake not to try and whittle down the large number of Termagants that the Tervigon was throwing out. By the time I got into close combat there were too many of them.
It wasn't all bad news though! :-)

Having been slaughtered by some Terminators in my first game, I had put a small squad into this game and they worked quite well. Those 2+ saves make a huge difference, even under quite a weight of attacks. After his compatriots were struck down, the Terminator Sergeant duked it out with the Hive Tyrant and brought him down with a thunder hammer (only then to face the wrath of the Carnifex...)

Classic WH40K Heroic-Moment to Enjoy before Death™!

Terminator Sergeant alone, but not unbeaten!
In the next turn, he takes out the Hive Tyrant (at right.)
Another positive was to see how the Sternguard did with their combi-flamers. After moving up, they quickly crisped a unit of Genestealers with no problems (but then fell to all that dakka from the HT and Carnifex.) Flamers = Fun (although somehow, I miss templates...)

Two Sternguard fall to incoming fire, but the other three advance
and fire their combi flamers into a unit of Genestealers.

To finish, here are a few takeaways of main mechanics (mainly confirming what I have read elsewhere.)

Power Levels:

It won't satisfy players who like to carefully calculate everything, or gamers interested in "Match play" style games where opponents want very evenly balanced points, but for putting together a quick "pick-up list" it does the job... long as you accept there will be imbalances.

Depending on the army, some decent war gear or other options will slip in, and according to some reports, these could make make for an actual points difference of a couple of hundred "match play" points.

Simplified Gaming:

Yes, the game is more enjoyable with simplified shooting, wounding and saving. It will make things faster and easier for most gamers, and especially casual gamers (like me.)

Flamers Sans Templates:

With my dice rolls, I feel like I need to take flamers en masse. The D6 automatic hits sounds good, but with just one in a unit, that could just be one hit (for me at least!) 


Mixed bag! Great to have all the rules for a unit in one place. Not so great if you don't keep a close eye on where the dataslates are (or if you have an army with a load of units.)

Thanks to both my opponents for the games. I'm looking forward to using 8th edition more than 7th because I think the overall simplification of the game suits me as a gamer.

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