Saturday, December 20, 2008

2006 Liber Animus - Ulthwe

After last year’s New Zealand and Sydney GTs I have taken a step back from tournament play to concentrate on other aspects of the hobby. However I was keen to continue to play at Liber Animus as the tournament (to me at least) represented the “best of the best”.

At last year’s even there was 80% power armoured armies and the top twelve places were filled with marine variants. The challenge this year was to take something that was not a marine and see what sort of performance could be achieved.

In the end I decided to take Ulthwe as I had had a half finished army sitting in my games room downstairs. At 2000 points you can take some of the toys in the list as well as a solid base of Troops.

The list I used was as follows:

Seer Council comprising 2 Farseers with Witchblades, Ghosthelms and Fortune plus 12 Warlocks (half with Witchblades and a mix of Embolden, Enhance, Conceal, Augment)

6 Howling Banshees with Exarch

18 Black Guardians with Starcannon and Warlock with Conceal

18 Black Guardians with Starcannon and Warlock with Embolden

13 Guardians with Starcannon and Warlock with Conceal

13 Guardians with Brightlance and Warlock with Embolden

5 Rangers

Vyper with Starcannon and CTM

Vyper with Brightlance and CTM

Wraithlord with Starcannon

Wraithlord with Brightlance

Falcon with Pulse Laser and Starcannon, Holofield and Spirit Stones

I played the army in the two months leading up to Liber (about a dozen games) and it seemed to work well.

Battle of the Ditch

This has grown over the past three years to the point where it is now 12 per side. My game was against Craig Maloney from Western Australia who had a Fire Dragon Swordwind army. Craig’s army is composed of Fire Dragons in Serpents, Fuegan and an Avatar, supported by two Falcons and a Fire Prism

We played “Black Box” with Craig having a decided mobility advantage but with a numerical advantage to the Ulthwe.

The key point in the game was when the 30 Fire Dragons disembarked from their Serpents en masse. The Ulthwe absorbed the fire and in their next turn through a combo of fire and assault wiped out the three squads. This left the Swordwind relying on its three scoring vehicles to hold the objective. The Ulthwe were able to bring numbers to bear and won a close game 3-2.
PEG (Pointy Eared Git) of the Match for the Ulthwe were the Guardians whose fire reduced the Swordwind infantry.

So onto the tournament proper.

Game One – Brad Morin (Master of Arcanacon) with Wych Cult in Beacon

This grudge match had been talked up for months in the Liber Forums. The intelligence war raged with Brad threatening a 180 model Witchhunter army and me responding with a three Defiler “TT Slaanesh” army. In the end Brad decided on Wych Cult. The special character Lilith with retinue of wyches, 6 further Wych squads of 8, Hellions, Reavers, Warp Beasts and two Ravagers.

“Beacon” is a “Cleanse” variant. I had hoped that I would play this mission versus Brad. I felt that the ability to push back was critical in this and force the DE to brave fire on the way in. To get this pushback I used my Falcon in a forward position. Brad had 12” assault on three squads which made them the main dangers.

In retrospect the game went pretty much as I hoped. I was surprised that Brad was as conservative as he was with his squads, deploying well back. This allowed me to push the Council and the Banshees forwards to absorb any attacks. The firebase units dealt with any of his army that pushed into my quarter.

PEG of the Match was the Falcon which pushed the Wych army back then ran straight to the back corner of the Wych deployment quarter. Here it was able to rain shots from behind the Wyches as well as contest the quarter.

In the end a narrow victory to the Ulthwe. Brad was a great opponent with the game being everything it promised. As a result of this match Brad will be sporting a hair hat in a few weeks.

18 points

Game Two – Ben Clarke Godzilla Nids in “Holy Grail”

This was one army I wanted to play. We had called into GW Ringwood on Friday and saw the army in bare plastic. Ben put it together and painted it in three days.

The distinguishing factor was the number of Monstrous Creatures – 6 Carnifexes, Hive Tyrant plus 3 Tyrant Guard. These were backed up by rippers, genestealers with Broodlord, raveners and gaunts. I fancied my chances as all the big bugs only moved 6” and with Escalation started off the table.

Oh, misplaced confidence!! First the markers all scattered towards Ben’s edge and then in the six turns we played there were five of Night Fight (each turn on 4+).

In the end I reduced Ben’s army down to five models (two on a single wound) but he held the critical counter. I had a series of chances to win but none came off. We rolled the critical die for another turn but it was not to be.

PEG of the Match – Wraithlord who saw off the gaunts, raveners before falling to a Carnifex.

So a loss for the Ulthwe though I collected a lot of points as I still had well over 1200 points left. Ben was an excellent opponent and I loved his list. I struggle to see why people dislike the Godzilla nids as they have real built in disadvantages.

9 points

Game Three – Ben Llewelyn Imperial Guard Grenadiers in Secure and Destroy

This game relies on you holding your own objective while destroying you opponents. I felt I had a mobility advantage against Ben and so split my army. I felt Ben’s deployment was more geared to attack rather than defend.

The Guard had four vehicles that could really hurt my army – quickly! The two Demolishers were obvious targets but the two Hellhounds were my alpha targets given the lack of cover saves my guardians received.

Unfortunately for Ben this game had the greatest skew of luck I have ever seen in a game. I couldn’t fail a save and Ben’s dice were abysmal. I managed to knock out both Hellhounds early and then the two Demolishers. In the end the Seer Council backed by a Wraithlord ran over the IG defenders to blow up the objective. I then had sufficient to hold onto my own.

Ben took his appalling luck very well and was a great opponent. I definitely caught the Ulthwe on a day when everything went right.

PEG of the Match were the Council. They took out a Demolisher and two depleted squads before destroying the objective and Ben’s command.

A solid win to the Ulthwe

20 points

Game Four – Andrew Cassidy Space Marines in Black Box

Andrew had a very well composed Space Marine army with 3-4 Troop choices, a three speeder squadron, a squad of attack bikes, two predators and a dread backed up by a Chaplain and Force Commander.

First few turns we traded shots with my focus on his speeders and his bikes. I managed to remove them before the box came down. I lost the Falcon and a Wraithlord to Andrew’s firepower.

The shuttle came down and scattered towards my lines. In the ensuing crash I had six units entangled allowing Andrew to push forward. However he was outnumbered about 2:1 in scoring units that could impact on the result. Over the next couple of turns I was able to remove two Troop units, two Predators and immobilise the dreadnaught. The Seer Council was whittled away so that by game end it was down to 3-4 members.

PEG of the Match – The Seer Council. They bagged two Predators, a troop squad and the Force Commander. They were scoring at the end of the game but bore the brunt of the Marine attack.

Solid Ulthwe win.

20 points

Game Five – Hagen Kerr Imperial Guard in Hero

So you travel 3000 miles to play someone 500 yards from home. Just jokes. I was lucky to play only one New Zealander, I know Hagen and Dave Cleverley played three each.

Hagen and I had played this very mission two weeks ago in a practice match and it is a very very hard one for his Guard to win versus my army. He has written up a report elsewhere but I will concur that a key moment was the lone Banshee rolling morale at –5 to stay in combat. This allowed the Seer Council to intervene and from there a significant part of Hagen’s firepower was whittled down over the next few turns.

My Hero was allowed to advance largely unimpeded backed by the two Vypers. Hagen pushed his Hero plus 4-5 units forward but the Eldar Guardians backed by Wraithlord and Falcon ground them down until only the Hero left.

PEG of the Match – probably the Banshee who bought time for the Council to go on a wrecking mission where they killed a Demolisher and seven units.

This is only the second time we have played in a tournament but like all our games was great fun. I felt that the mission stacked the odds in my favour so it wasn’t an entirely fair contest.

18 points

Game Six – Troy Clifford’s Death Guard in Gods of War

A straight VP harvest at the top table. As primarily a Death Guard player I had good knowledge of Troy’s army. He had four squads of marines (two in rhinos), two of plaguebearers, defiler, land raider, terminators and a winged prince.

Halfway through deployment, troy released that I was setting up a refused flank. He then started to do the same. Playing his intelligence card he was able to redeploy his land raider but this left his defiler and one foot squad facing most of my army. I figured my best chance was to go for his high value models to try and eke out the required 200-point advantage. My vipers concentrated on the Land raider and the Terminators while the Falcon flew forward towards the near Troop squad with the squad of Banshees.

The Banshees assaulted the Plague Marines on Turn Two and did nothing! But die! Troy brought down his Plaguebearers to shore up this flank as I staged a withdrawal on my left. The Seer Council took out the Defiler and were charged by the Plaguebearers while the full weight of firepower destroyed the Banshee-killing marines.

The table now turned 90 degrees as we started to fight lengthways. I lost a Vyper to the Prince and a swapped a Guardian squad for a squad of Plaguemarines. On my last turn I needed to score some Vps and managed to immobilise a rhino, and reduce a squad below scoring.. However the key was the Rangers coming through and removing two wounds from the flying beastie!!

In the final wrap-up I was about 250 points ahead in a tight, tactical game.

18 points.


This left me on 103 points out of 120 for Gameplay which was enough to win the “Bloodthirster” for Best Gameplay score.

But Liber is not just about Gameplay. I was lucky in that I played six very good opponents with six nice armies. I believe I gave out two Excellent Armies and four Good Armies over the weekend and two Excellent Games, three Good Games and one Average Game for Sports.

In return I received a Good Game + average for Sports (47.5 points) and a Good Army average for Composition (45 points). I’m pretty happy with that when it is put alongside a 5 Win: 1 Loss record.

A lot comes down to luck of the draw and I think the opponents I drew resulted in five good games (the one exception was against Ben’s Guard where the luck was so skewed it destroyed the game as a contest).

In the end I finished Second half a point behind Bryan Cook, earning myself the title of “Commissar” for the second year running. Given the quality of Bryan’s army and his solid allround performance (he finished 5th in Gameplay, 1st in the Harlequin) I am pretty happy to be there.

Thanks to Kane, Leigh and Myles, Big Red and the Ringwood Club for another great tournament. I had Jack with me over the tournament and I appreciate all the efforts people made to make him feel part of the event. Special thanks to Stu for organising the accommodation. I’m sure it was like herding cats at times. One of the highpoints is the Ringwood Regent and mixing with the out of staters.

The New Zealand crew was excellent to travel with. I hope the hype Richard, Hagen and I built up prior to the event met your expectations.

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