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Subject: Superheavy Tank Holiday Gaming [Warning: Only Partial Reports!]
My last superheavy tank battle report (Superheavy Showdown) seemed popular, and I've been trying to get at least one game per weekend with the superheavy tanks. No idea how long it will last, but these last 3 weeks have been fairly intense, both holiday-wise and game-wise!
My superheavies played 3 2000 point games, and I played other lesser games as well. Unfortunately, as mentioned in my Superheavy Showdown thread, I am awful at remembering to take pictures, so instead of three full-length battle reports in one massive overdose, I figured I'd give you all the highlights from some of my games. So what follows are highlighted snippets from 3 separate games, one of which didn't finish due to time, and all of which include unpainted models. Lastly, there will be a general tactical summation at the end of what I learned about superheavy tanks and how to play them, for those more interested in that.
Forgive both myself and my opponents for the unpainted models! Club play is not always the same as a youtube-quality battle report!
Battle 1: Versus an Imperial Guard Brigade
Lists: My list had 15 units at 2000 points, same as the earlier list: 1 Mechanicus Graia Battalion with the Warlord, 1 Cadian Astra Militarum Battalion, and 1 Catachan super-heavy tank detachment for a total of 13 CP, including the Graia relic. My opponent's list was one whole Brigade of Imperial Guard, totaling 30 units and 162 models, if I remember correctly, to my 52.
This battle used Open War cards, and ended up with a very very odd game setup. It's probably the first time I've ever really facepalmed a bit using Open War cards, given the odd deployment rules.
I ended up choosing the weird end zone deployment thingies and dividing my forces up with the tanks and majority of my infantry in the first bit (7 units), my Skitarii and some infantry in the second bit (6 units), and a lonely Enginseer in the third bit by himself (1 unit). This, I thought, would allow me to maximize firepower, as I was not going to win on objectives, since my opponent got the center deployment zone with the center objective, and his other objective was nearby as well, giving him essentially 2 points on the first turn and 6 points every turn after that unless I could miraculously clear them. He also scouted his sentinels onto the third objective, which was my error for not covering initially (chose the easy, rather than tactically sound, side of my DZ to deploy in. Deployment is in the following picture: [spoiler]
Highlights include the arrival of an enemy Leman Russ Tank squadron on my right flank, just in front of Tank 03/04 Honorum, pictured here, which endured the firepower of the Leman Russes without trouble and was able to clean them up with the help of some of the secondary lascannons on Tank 01/04 Aggressor, the company command vehicle. A good use of the Crush Them Stratagem and the way was clear for Honorum to trundle onwards!
Here is a better shot of the state of the table after Turn 3, with much of the Imperial Guard Brigade destroyed but some few tenacious survivors clinging to the objectives for 2 points per round, including a company commander on the central objective facing off against Aggressor!
Other action was happening all over the place - more than enough to cover here and I managed not to get pictures of most of it because I'm a genius - but the real star of the show towards the end of the game was a single Primaris Psyker, who continued to pass Refractor Field 5+ invulnerable saves for nearly 3 rounds of combat against Aggressor in the center, continuing to hold or at least contest the central objective and denying me points! The company's firepower was directed elsewhere as Guard infantry swarmed in from the left towards the center; my assumption was I could finish the psyker off in combat while stemming the onrushing tide of infantry but it seems I under-estimated the little fellow!
Ultimately, the game ended after Turn 5 and did not go on, leading to a crushing defeat for the Superheavy Tanks, who got ~3 or 5 points to the enemy's 21. Models killed, on the other hand, swung the other way, with the superheavies losing only one Skitarii unit in support and a handful of Cadians. Just goes to show that annihilating the enemy only works if you completely annihilate them!
Battle 2: Versus a Dark Angels Battalion
I confess without good photos I don't remember the lists for this game, but I do remember a large blob of hellblasters (10) with captain + lieutenant support and a bunch of terminators. My list is the same as it's always been, except the Stormswords have been replaced with Baneblades and the Cadian Detachment lost a psyker, while the Graia detachment morphed into a Supreme Command Detachment of 3 Enginseers, and lost the 15 Skitarii, leaving me with only 11 CP.
The Dark Angels list and deployment made a few key mistakes, which were compounded by the complete lack of cover on the table, as you'll see in the images. I generally let my opponents set up the table, but should have in this case ensured more terrain was available. The first mistake was bringing only 1 Vehicle, giving my lascannon sponsons only one thing to do, which made target priority very easy (and making your opponent's job easier is never good). The second mistake was the "all eggs in one basket" syndrome (the 10 Hellblasters in one gigantic blob with everyone important nearby).
Unfortunately, I went first, and of course as any sane superheavy tank player would, I evaporated the 10 Hellblasters and irritated the Redemptor Dreadnought with my lascannons. This absolutely crushed his anti-tank firepower, leaving him with only one lascannon dev squad and one more five-man hellblaster squad; that 10 man squad was what he was counting on to kill the superheavies, and had he gone first it would have been a different story. The main armament of Catachan Baneblades reliably gets 10-15 shots per turn, and has 3 damage with AP -3, so the lack of cover meant that the Hellblasters were doomed.
Other highlights included overwatching deep striking Terminators to death with the defensive gunners stratagem, using the powerful and numerous armament of the Baneblade in self defense very well as before, and a hero Cadian squad keeping Tank 03/01 Dauntless safe as it made its way through the dense terrain that existed only on one side of the board.
The Mechanicus hover-chair from 30k was the objective (recovering archaeotech, we figured!) but it was comparatively irrelevant; unlike the first game, the Open War cards did not give my opponent many options to score points, and instead were comparatively irrelevant. First Turn once again proved its importance, with my tanks annihilating their only major opposition in a single blow, and with his army fully capable of annihilating a superheavy had it gone first. 8th edition, oye.
Battle 3: Versus an IG Battalion and GSC Battalion This was a "just for fun" 2v1 at my local club, playing a fairly simple mission where every kill was worth 1 point and at the end of every turn, each objective was worth one point. This game ended on turn 3, not because either army was terribly crippled but because we simply ran out of time; the store was closing! Blast the social aspect of gaming, buying eachother drinks, and carrying on with a good time! We need to be serious tournament players who always finish within the alotted time! I am joking of course.
The Genestealer Battalion included 2 units of Acolytes on the table and one unit off, 1 unit of 15 Genestealers in GSC Ambush as well, with the Patriarch and the Primus (? I believe that is correct) off the board as well. Two corrupted Leman Russ tanks also trundled about in the urban area. The enemy Catachan battalion included 3 squads of Catachan infantry, each with missile launchers, two 5 man ratling squads, and 4 Leman Russ Tanks (one of which was a demolisher and another a Tank Commander). My list was the same as the game against the Imperial Knights in my Superheavy Showdown thread!
The deployment was fairly simple, with most of the enemy's firepower concentrated centrally and on my right flank. Iron Duke held that flank down, while Ordinatus Imperialis Dominatus hemmed itself into ruins in the centre, playing a supporting role and unable to advance due to terrain (oops!), though it had wide arcs of fire to its left and right, it could not see straight ahead. My warlord accompanied it, deploying between Ordinatus Imperialis Dominatus and Iron Duke. Dauntless, seeming to always be wandering off alone, deployed unsupported on the far far right flank, against the board edge, leaving the left flank held by only a few Cadians and Skitarii. Uh oh!
This did, of course, mean that my left flank was essentially doomed, with the GSC-infiltrating Genestealers shredding the pair of Cadian squads (poor guys!) as they struggled to cover the flank almost unsupported. A clever use of the 'Grenadiers' stratagem in Overwatch thinned the Genestealers more than expected, but it was not enough...
Fortunately, the wide left-hand arc of Fire from Ordinatus Imperialis Dominatus meant that the 'stealers were wiped out, though two five-man Skitarii units also had to assist as the really big guns of Ordinatus has other, more significant targets! On the far, far right flank against the board edge, Dauntless was facing off against a hard-hitting Catachan demolisher tank, but it was actually Iron Duke who got the finishing blow, knocking out the Demolisher with a single shell from its main armament. In fact, this seemed to be a recurring theme of the Baneblades all game: their main armament fairly reliably destroyed a Leman Russ every time they fired, and when they did not destroy them, they still did very significant damage, generally leaving them on 3 wounds.
With the Demolisher having been cleared out of it's path, the Dauntless advanced and did not shoot, but used the Crush Them! stratagem to charge, overrunning a good portion of the Catachan infantry...
And then the game ended! It was still fairly close at the end of Turn 3, but the way we counted it was a loss for the superheavies; a 10-9 loss total. Whew! What a game!
Tactical Insights 1) Hordes: Whatever the efficacy of the Stormsword against most targets, hordes (e.g. the 162-model IG brigade) are a problem for Imperial superheavy tanks, it seems. This is why I find it curious that the Shadowsword is considered the "best" Baneblade variant - it's even more situational than the Stormsword, with even fewer shots, and yet somehow manages to compete where the Stormsword cannot? I remain skeptical of the Shadowsword's efficacy, and instead think the Baneblade is fairly good - with an extra D6 over the Stormsword on it's main gun, and an extra d6/d3 shots from the Demolisher and 2 from the Autocannon, it would have helped immensely in this situation to have had 3 Baneblades instead of 3 Stormswords or 3 Shadowswords.
2) Baneblades are powerful machines, and punish "eggs in one basket" syndrome as badly as they suffer from it: Perhaps it is obvious, but a problem in 8th edition is the alpha-strike, and generally, armies with all their "eggs in one basket" are in trouble, because there is no invulnerable basket anymore. This is the reason I run 3 machines, so that if I lose first turn, I still have some left. This is exemplified by the game against Dark Angels, where the machines easily cleaned up a 10-man hellblaster squad, that would have (in its own turn) cleaned a Baneblade up fairly easy if it had fired first, especially given the Dark Angels plasma stratagem.
3) Terrain: More necessary than ever, which is why 8th edition's odious terrain rules irk me. Machines like the Baneblade can, conceivably, be walled in on 3 sides by impassable super-ruins, and yet be completely in the open as far as shooting is concerned. Conversely, not having enough LOS-blocking terrain gives the Baneblades too much of an advantage: with the sheer bloody wound count to absorb fairly casual amounts of shooting, the Baneblades put a lot of stress on the enemy's ability to win the salvo contest, and without good terrain on the board, there are no remaining options when the salvo-contest is lost.
4) Superheavy targeting: The Baneblade is the most over-armed tank in the game, with the potential for 5 twin heavy bolters, 4 lascannons, 1 autocannon, 1 demolisher cannon, 1 baneblade cannon, 1 stormbolter, 1 HK missile, and in the case of the Hellhammer, one lasgun. How to split this firepower efficiently is a large tactical challenge; during army-swap games, my opponents tend to oversplit too much (and therefore spread a smattering of damage out rather than destroying anything) or over-commit (e.g. the Baneblade Cannon, Demolisher Cannon, and two Lascannons at a single sentinel, as an extreme example). I have not determined why people make what decision, but I honestly think the only way to overcome this is to play the tanks over and over again, and learn what can reliably do what. For example, the Baneblade Cannon, I now know, with the Catachan doctrine, can reliably one-shot a Leman Russ tank. This means that putting too much other than the Baneblade Cannon onto a single Leman Russ will probably be overkill (though I also recognize that sometimes this is warranted, if the russ ABSOLUTELY MUST DIE).
5) "Best" superheavy: The internet (or at least DakkaDakka) seems to think that the Shadowsword is the best Superheavy. While I agree it's the best at its job, I'm not sure it's the best flat; other machines do equally well for similar prices against most targets while simultaneously having an easier time against Hordes. For example, a Baneblade's main gun can reliably one-shot a Leman Russ, just like a Shadowsword. However, it can also deal with terminators, conscripts, genestealers, and primaris marines fairly well, while also having a better plethora of secondary armament. The Shadowsword, on the other hand, excels against heavy tanks and superheavies, things which I believe will become increasingly rare in the future as people realize that they need to be able to one-round-kill a Knight or Mortarion or the like if they want to compete.
Thanks for reading and sorry for the sloppy format! Holidays are just too intense for me to remember everything and make a battle report for every fight, but at least you got some pictures and insights I hope, dear readers!
This message was edited 1 time. Last update was at 2018/01/02 16:56:44
Some people say they know no fear. What they mean is that they have encountered and conquered it. I, on the other hand, truly know no fear. It is as alien to me as doubt, rage, or mercy.
2nd Concordian Independent Superheavy Tank Regiment - 10,853 points
Order of the Luminous Beacon - 2087 points
Nevian Conclave of the Ordo Hereticus - 2002 points