For The Emperor, Part I - Black Legion

Now for a quick digression into the world of 40K.

Azrael versus Abaddon. It was no contest.

I've never played a game of 40K in my life. I've had a Dark Angels army since I was a university student. Bought secondhand from a fellow gamer exiting the hobby I can still recall them sitting in my bedroom for the longest time. My parents had a silverware bureau composed of 10 or more drawers which I coopted for miniature storage. The Dark Angels were laid down in in neat rows where they waited in vain to be deployed on the battle top. My attention was always devoted to Fantasy however, and I never took the plunge to enter the world of lasguns, bolters, and gibbering beings from the warp. When I left home the Dark Angels relocated a storage locker in the Central Coast in Australia where they resided for quite a few years, before being moved into my brother-in-law's father's garage for storage (it's a long story). Two years I ago I pulled most of my stuff out of there, and now they're here with me in Japan. Like my Orcs up to September this year, they had never seen battle.

My first 40K battle line. I'm so proud.

That changed today (30 September) at Sangenjaya. Steve was a 40K enthusiast and I thought, why not, and asked him if he wanted to play a game. He readily agreed, and his Chaos army squared off against my Dark Angels in a 1250 point battle. It ended in a crushing defeat for the soldiers of the Emperor, but that was OK. I expected to be crushed, and specifically asked Steve not to spare me an ass whipping. He took great pains to explain the rules, both general and codex-specific, and was repeatedly generous in giving me mulligans and do-overs. He also offered advice on deployment and tactics, although most of it went over my head and would not crystallize until I saw the units in action and how they interacted on the tabletop. My army was largely made up of vanilla marines in 10 man squads, and I needed to see how they played to establish some sort of baseline in my head.

Steve contemplating the battlefield.

What did I learn today?

Never fight Abaddon in close combat. He is a monster, and he shredded my Chapter Master and supporting marines in one round of combat. Run away, or shoot him. In fact, just run away. I can get more value shooting other targets than wasting shots on Abaddon's damage reducing abilities.

I learned the importance of denying Deep Strike units places to deploy. I have to cover my deployment zone in overlapping 9 inch bubbles to deny them places to land.

I need to learn to use screening units - chaff - to absorb charges and buy my shooting units more time. In the future I will divide all my squads into 5 man combat squads. None of my 10 man squads, even when bolstered by characters, survived any of the combats against Chaos, so it's just better to concede half a squad and buy the other half another turn of shooting. When my units shot, they shredded, so I should just play to my strengths.

A truckload of demons teleport into the middle of the battlefield.

Stratagems. I need to study them as they are situational and can turn the tide of battle at crucial points. 40K is kind of like a card game like Magic or Hearthstone in that you can play stratagems like cards at any point during battle, as long as you have Command Points to do so. This also means that I need to know the stratagems my opponent has in hand as well. Geez, another meta to learn.

In the future I would like to experiment with Ravenwing and Deathwing units, both of which I did not include in the army. I deliberately left them out because I wanted to see how bog standard marines performed. Since they're the most common unit in 40K it was helpful to see what an average soldier was like in the game. Plus I didn't want to get overloaded with rules, which still happened, but not to the extent it would have had I included bikes and terminators into the mix. They will be included in future games.

The Predator was awesome. It took a beating, and dished out a lot of damage in turn. 

I need some kind of battle mat, or at least a green tablecloth. These naked tables are hurting my eyes.

Ezekiel, my Librarian, about to die surrounded by demons.

A newcomer to Robert's Meetup, a chap from Leicester who also turned out to be a 40K player, made a comment that made me laugh. He said my basing was very classical - i.e. Goblin Green topped off with flock. It's a backhanded way of saying that I was a retro miniature collector. He was right - these models are over 20 years old. 

I had fun playing 40K and will definitely play it again. The Japanese gamers at Nerima play it a lot, but I never really felt confident playing them because one, I was a neophyte, and two, my Japanese sucks. It's enough for rudimentary conversation, but not as effective as I would like when negotiating rule clarifications. A few more games under my belt with Steve, and I'll be happy to go at it with the lads. I'm more happy that models that I've had for years finally saw some use on the tabletop. All the board games I own - all the miniature armies I have - have now all seen action or have been played at least once. There is only one exception - Star Saga - but  that is a recent acquisition and I'll get around to that once I paint all the furniture and models for the game. Looking back though I must be a fucking lunatic - the time and money invested into miniatures compared to the time spent actually playing is staggeringly disproportional. Fielding stuff I've had for years, however, is weirdly satisfying, and is kind of like of filling in a sunk cost pit in my psychological makeup. Now there are no more holes to fill - unless I buy more miniatures.