So I know I don't usually post battle reports, but my opponent actually managed to take pictures this time, and I wanted to put them up here and give a small, fun battle report, with my thoughts on super-heavy tactics. For those who don't know, I'm playing the Baneblades of the 2nd Concordian ISHTAR's 1st company, and its Cadian and Skitarii support units. Images are spoilered. 2000 pt Lists: The 2nd Concordian 1st Company consists of 3 Baneblades with 1 set of heavy bolter/lascannon sponsons each (1 Catachan Astra Militarum Super-Heavy Detachment), and in this case brought along one small maintenance unit and bodyguards (Graia Forge World Adeptus Mechanicus detachment): two tech-priests and 15 Skitarii. Magos Coldatus Arcturus, the lead Enginseer, quickly took charge (Warlord) and set up his repair and C2 depot (Necromechanic trait and the Cerebral Techno-Mitre for +1 CP). Some supporting infantry from a badly damaged Cadian regiment were present (1 Cadian Astra Militarum Battalion), the two squads and two Commanders given the unenviable duty of escorting the tanks, while a small 5-man strike team (Scions) prepared to drop in advance of the armoured unit. The Knight Household of Martel brought 4 Knights (Questor Imperialis detachment): The good Baron (Warlord Knight Paladin with the relic Reaper Chainsword and +1 attack WT), an Acheron to saw apart the city buildings in their path, a Gallant to stride ahead and tear holes in the enemy lines, and a Castigator to provide fire support and saw apart enemy infantry. Deployment:
The Knights arrived at the battlefield first, but the scouting infantry alerted the tanks behind them, allowing the tanks to deploy through the streets in reaction to the Knight's deployment. The Gallant deployed alone, while the enemy Baron lurked behind a large building in the corner. The Castigator and the Acheron were on the Concordian right-flank, but more centrally located than the Baron. Considering the lurking Baron to be of little immediate threat, the astute Colonel-Cataphract Illius Krasnov deployed his own tank, Ordinatus Imperialis Dominatus
, a Mars-Pattern Baneblade, on the right flank near the repair depot, while sending Iron Duke
up the center, though with better coverage to the right flank, and Dauntless
up the left flank to face the Gallant alone, though she was supported by 10 Skitarii detached from bodyguarding the Magos and his repair depot. The second Enginseer accompanied Iron Duke
. Turn 1:
Surprise! The Knights redeployed, taking advantage of the Cerastus-chassis Acheron's speed to send it thundering over to seize a nearby objective as well as put more pressure on the left flank and lonely Dauntless
. The Baron continued to direct the battle from afar, while the Gallant and Castigator advanced. Fire rained upon the Mars-pattern Baneblade of the Colonel-Cataphract, but its armour held firm, though the vehicle suffered major damage (13 wounds remaining)...
...but not for long. Magos Coldatus Arcturus's repair depot did splendidly, as the Baneblade, while not returned to full factory-fresh strength, felt it's power surge and its Machine-Spirit leap for joy as the gaping, smoking rents on its armour were clamped shut and welded by the good Magos's servo-arm, and lots of praying (7 wounds repaired, back to 20!). The return salvo from the trio of Imperial superheavies and support units did fair damage to the Knights, but did not fell one, though Cadian Guardsman Joachim Granger was given an award for damaging the Knight-Cerastus's piston-driven ankles with a well placed lasgun blast! The Dauntless
advanced to meet the Gallant, but the cautious crew did not ram it, instead trusting their weapons to do significant damage. The Knights, with flaring ion shields and dented but enduring carapaces, seemed primed to charge the beleaguered forces arrayed against them! Turn 2:
The crucial moment came about. The battle's climax seemed to be approaching, and as the gunners on the tanks reloaded and the knights strode confidently forwards, there was a brief lull... punctuated by a fuillisade of fire from the Knights! Again, the Colonel-Cataphract's tank was the focus of the well-directed firepower, but suffered much less damage than the turn before - with all the external systems already knocked out, only the hardened internal components of the tank could suffer damage, and they were much tougher. (-8 wounds down to 12!) Things were looking more grim for Dauntless
, however - while spared most of the enemy firepower (suffering only a single wound from the Gallant's melta gun, somehow), it was face-to-face with the towering knight. Revving its Reaper Chainsword, the eager Gallant pilot blared its warhorn and charged! However, Dauntless
was not defenseless against the onrushing steel beast. The Third Gunner engaged the Machine Spirit's defensive protocols, and the now machine-slaved weapons tracked and fired (Defensive Gunners AM
... and the Gallant fell! When the smoke cleared, it seemed the barrel had almost been pressed up against the Knight's carapace when the main armament discharged, and the heavy, armour-piercing shell exited from the barrel beneath
the Knight's ion shield, and plunged into the depths of the war-engine before exploding. Disabled, though without detonating, the Knight gradually toppled over and landed in a smoking heap. The Dauntless
had no time to celebrate after defending herself, however - the crew and machinery within struggled to reload the guns after the defensive salvo.
Seeing this, the rest of the Astra Militarum forces cheered and surged forwards, the Cadians throwing themselves upon the Castigator in a futile effort to slow it- after it had suffered severe damage from the Ordinatus Imperialis Dominatus
and Iron Duke
. Whatever the case with the right flank, however, the Machine-Spirit of Dauntless
had tasted the foe, and as the crew targeted the enemy Acheron, its predatory hunger aided them in picking out weakspots. Knowing that the Ion-Shield must be breached, the commander of Dauntless
held his fire until all weapons were ready - and as the Baneblade crawled slowly forwards, he finally gave the order. A deafening roar overwhelmed all other sense upon the battlefield as the Baneblade's weapons all opened fire at a single word, and smoke from the wrecked Gallant combined with the flashing and billowing discharges from Dauntless
's guns hid the entire left flank in smoke. As it cleared, however...
... the Acheron had also fallen, it's durable carapace and above-average Ion Shield failing under the single-salvo pinpoint fire of the predatory Baneblade. With the Castigator damaged and surrounded by Guardsmen, and the Baron out of position, things looked bleak for House Martel, but they wished to have one more go at the company's command vehicle. Turn 3:
The fighting on the right flank had not yet ended - the Castigator simply stepped over the valiant Cadians that it had not, otherwise, crushed underfoot, and headed straight for the Ordinatus Imperialis Dominatus
. Badly damaged and sparking, the brave Castigator pilot nonetheless charged the imposing Baneblade, and with a clever, well-timed boost of power to his shields (Rotate Ion Shields stratagem), the Knight absorbed the Baneblade's fire! All seemed lost, while little Magos Arcturus stared up at the towering Knight who had just crushed the house that sheltered him...
...but it was to little avail for the poor pilot. The pounding firepower of the Baneblades from before had caused much systems damage inside the knight - bearings cracked, belts slipped, hydraulics leaked, and power failed. Only a single meaningful sword-stroke landed on the Baneblade, and while it was a heavy blow (5 wounds, leaving the machine with 7 remaining), the stubborn tank endured, in no small thanks to the Magos's repair efforts. Magos Arcturus wasn't going to take this lying down, however, and with a single, point-accurate strike from his servo arm, he brought the Knight-Castigator down, ripping out the last remaining hydraulic system with the clawed appendage! With its hydraulics drained, the Knight Castigator slumped like a tired man, and the pilot could do nothing to reawaken its motive force. Seeing this, the Baron sounded his warhorn in defiance, but withdrew, unwilling to suffer further loss for the noble House. (Knight player and I agreed to end the game!) Conclusions:
Whew, what a battle. The primary conclusion is that there is nothing that can be done about dice; the Dauntless
's epic overwatch that felled the Gallant and the single strike from Magos Arcturus's servo arm (also hitting on a 5+) were both very lucky moments.
The other, more tactical conclusions are:
1) Baneblades will win the salvo-contest against knights, so it is important to close quickly. Deployment mistakes and subsequent redeployment (looking at you, Acheron!) is less preferable to simply closing and doing what can be done. Also, even if it's to protect a Warlord, loitering a single Knight Paladin in the backfield, especially with the relic Chainsword and +1 Attack trait, is only going to harm the plan.
2) Infantry support is necessary. While the Baneblades were outnumbered 4-3 in terms of pure Lord of War count, the Cadians and Skitarii allowed the army to go for objectives and block charge lanes, and just had better general utility than a 4th Baneblade would have, and since 3 Baneblades already overmatch 4 Knights in the salvo contest, the increased utility is more helpful than more gun.
3) Stratagems are very important. Defensive Gunners allowed Dauntless
to drastically overperform in overwatch, and Rotate Ion Shields saved the Knights a lot of damage throughout the game. Tech-Adept, the Mechanicus stratagem, returned 7 wounds to the Ordinatus Imperialis Dominatus
on the first turn, and will always result in Magos Arcturus returning 4-8 wounds to a machine. I merely forgot the 2nd turn, in the heat of the moment after Dauntless
4) When using Knights or other small-model-count armies, deployment is vitally important, and arguably more important than movement. Redeployment after a mis-deployment (as here) sacrifices speed (as mentioned), but a mis-deployment that isn't compensated for could cause a loss as well! It sets up a very bad dilemma when deployment contains an error: there is simply no good solution, and it is a self-inflicted problem.
Lastly: The Mission we were playing was the "Sealed Orders" Maelstrom of War mission in Chapter Approved, hence the importance of Objectives. At the end of the game, it became clear that objectives wouldn't matter, and thusly they are not mentioned (much) in the battle-report proper.