Who needs technology anyway, steam power and dinosaurs!
So Castle Assault 2016 has been run and won, it was a fantastic event and I applaud the organising team for it's smoothness and general awesome. Being a wet event means everyone has great time regardless of how you actually go on the table and talking to the players you could just see there was buckets of (family escaping) fun going on. As I mentioned earlier my first game ever with savage orks would be at this comp so I had a hell of a learning curve ahead of me and some awesome opponents. Next is a brief (?) run down of my games and where I remembered in my highly caffeinated state some photos to back it! There will no doubt be a photo gallery going up somewhere soon and I'll post the link (here) as soon as possible, some very cool looking armies in attendance this year.
Game 1 - AMTL
First round saw me draw one of the AMTL armies which would be an interesting baptism of fire. All of the lists can be found in the previous thread for reference but given there was 3 AMTL this was essentially 2 Reavers (Quake cannon combo and gatling lasers), 2 Warhound packs with plasma and Bolters and some robots/thunderbolts in support)
Sadly for the Titans they really brought the wrong guns for this match up. Lots of shots but very limited capacity to smash through the reinforced 4+. Warhounds have the worst range with their plasma in this case too, 45cm means that he's within BC engage engage range. The pics really say it all the Titans shot what they could but ended up getting swarmed by hordes of greenies and going down one at a time. At the end of the game both Reavers were still standing thanks to their solid armour, my only real counter was the Tkd3 gore but it was pretty average. Sadly spears just won't crack a Titan too often. The Warhounds were much squishier as were the robots. Probably the funniest kill was the thunderbolts who went down to my extremely limited AA shots.
Here you can see the ork army unsubtle crushing its way across the board with two reavers hiding close to their own edge.
The BTS reaver proves too tough to crack even with TK tusk attacks.
The warhound Titans are not as hard to crack...
From the ork perspective we lost some chaff, some boar boys went splat and a squig catapult garrison broke and never came back. The Warbosses dino had 1 dc left at the end but he was the closest I came to losing one.
The final pick speaks for itself. Orks swarming across the entire board with Reavers getting ready to walk backwards off their own side. 4-0 to the Orks, BTS proving too hard to crack.
Round 2 - Tau
This was definitely an army I was keen to come across and you might remember I put it on my predictions as a wildcard because it's a solid build bit I wasn't sure who was driving it.
This game was super cool straight from the beginning, first turn took forever because we had almost 30 activations between us but I learnt immediately how great well played coordinated fire can be. One of my garrison forces was annihilated almost immediately in this way and I was off to a rough start without moving a model. There were some interesting dice moments as I watched a boar boy unit bounce off a BC engagement with a tiny unit of fire warriors only to watch another unit plough straight through the supreme commanders crisis suit unit.
Initial deployment with everyone contesting everything, no ground would be left dry this game.
Ultimately the game was a mega grind fest from beginning to end. The tau would advance up and do a mass of shooting boosted with marker bonuses but in return they would end up in close proximity to orkeosaurus so inevitably a few would go down. Attrition was a game Orks could win and over the first couple of turns it was clear that the Tau just couldn't keep hold of board control. The photos show it all, Orks slowly ground their way up the board pushing tau back each turn until the end of the 3rd turn when Orks had a hold on most of the objectives. 3-0 to the Orks with no real chance to have taken the blitz or the BTS and thanking Gork and Mork that I didn't lose my own BTS that had taken a serious mauling to dedicated lance fire.
The last view from my steam gargants before the Hammerheads opened up....
Overall a really tight game and a great opponent. It was great to see Tau being used competitively and frankly I need to reevaluate my perspective on tau in general. Considering he's using the approved list I might have just found some motivation to blow the dust off my little space commies.
Game 3 - Waaagh Kendall - Ork on Ork action
So far so good, two wins banked away and a rather inevitable pairing with the list I'd predicted as a solid podium chance, if not comp winner. Going into this I knew it would be a rough matchup for my ferals. Kendall's Orks are super fast and include no less than 7 TKD3 zap guns attached to blitz mobs, big gunz and a gargant. Given that my army is slow as hell, relies on solid BC engagement and uses its armour and DC I can't honestly say I had much of a plan. Kenny sadly did have a plan and that plan was snipe. Notice that our blitz and objectives were almost opposite ends of the table and the faster zappy Orks across the table essentially swamped one corner and made it clear they didn't care in the slightest for the objectives I'd placed or my Blitz.
Just a few cagey activations into the first turn and I look at the relative positions of our forces and realise I'm in the shit. I detect shenanigans...
The first turn rolled through and I quickly realised that every time I vaguely probed the opposing lines the scouts would get sniped with zap guns, big gunz, fighters and hell even a lander which was just circling and spraying bullets. I worked out quick that I was just bleeding activations and getting nowhere. Considering the amount of beer Kenny had packed away (as last years tournament runner up his drinks were free all day) I was getting flogged and had no good excuse!
Pretty much the entire enemy ork force is in this corner with their objectives on either side of the crystals and their blitz and BTS at the back corner.
I saw one opportunity at the outset of the second turn to maybe regain some momentum and took it with the BTS Gargants doubling forward and managing to lay templates onto two blitz mobs with zap guns, mostly due to the extra blast markers I broke 1 and the second was broken by a squig catapult retain. Not a big win by any margin but it was something. The rest of the turn went much the same as the first with lots of zapping and me trying to work out what the hell I could do to prevent to inevitable. And then it happened....
With about 4-5 activations each left of the second turn I spotted a potential opening. A clump of 4 Ork units on my left with 3 zzaap guns included and at least one set of intermingling. Time for a big gamble. I moved 3 orkeosaurus up into engage range of these clumps knowing it would never be a BC engage but counting on FF and numbers to win the engages... It also came down to the strategy roll, if I lost that those same zzaap guns were going to decimate me.
There are 7TK d3 zzzap guns within range of those 2 orkeosaurus so the strat roll is huge.
Top of turn 3 came around then and Gork and Mork favoured me with a win on strategy, in went first one engage with an orkeosaurus on the intermingled zzaap guns and then a boarboy retain on the remaining blitz mob. The boars didn't survive the support fire from the scorchas who were left untouched but 3 more zzaap guns were off the board. From here we really picked up momentum putting huge pressure on the enemy objectives and breaking multiple formations in tight engagements.
And here's that same shot at the end of the turn... 1 key strat roll was literally the only thing that saved me in this game. Small ork units don't have resilience or rallying capacity.
End of turn 3 saw the ferals walk away with a tight as 2-0 win. The gargant BTS was unscathed, and the enemy blitz many miles distant (behind a gargant too...) but the ferals had solid board control and were winning the war of attrition now that the TK shots were mostly gone. An unbelievably close game which really came down to a single big gamble. I saw an opportunity, however narrow and it came off but I won't pretend that was a good strategy at all, if anything it exposed some of the glaring weaknesses of the build. Kendall's Orks are definitely far more rounded than mine are despite suffering some of the same inherit weaknesses of Orks builds everywhere.
Game 4 - Knights
What a run, so far I've drawn 3/4 matches from the the opponents I picked as the podium finishers, it's been a bloody hard slog so far but the ferals are still looking damn strong.
Interesting stat for you at this point, despite taking dozens of wounds no orkeosaurus has yet died and none of them have suffered a crit.
I knew this game would be totally the opposite to the Orks I'd just played against. Knights are all about massive close range engagements and would smash my dinosaurs with macro and TK engagement if I let them get close enough. The best advantage I had was activation count and strat rating so the plan was to play to that and see how we go. I was also looking to use the boar boyz for setting up a crossfire with the macro gargants throwing out a bucket of blast markers if they could get a few units underneath the template. Crossfire and support fire also being the best/only ways to get around knight shields....
This pic shows that the knights were prepared to play my favourite game of spread from one end of the of the board to the other with their objectives centred around the hill they were pincering and mine being on the extreme left and right hand sides to spread them thin if possible. This photo sums up turn 1 pretty well with the knights advancing for some solid engagements in turn 2 and me trying my hardest to set up solid support overlaps and not lose the activation advantage. With the knights speed it really wasn't a question of if he would get the first punch...
Turn 1 standoff to the left of the hill...
Orks won the strat roll for turn 2 and we continued our dance, my squig catapult unit failed again to do anything to the rough riders on my left (10 dice now....) whilst the orkeosaurus on the right didn't mess around and crushed the other roughies good. We ducked and weaved a bit in the middle and then the inevitable Knight punch came....
The 3 man unit is engaging with the Baron's unit of 4 offering support fire. Yes that is 12 macro FF attacks and the rest....
Gork and Mork smiled on us and the gargants took one wound... won the combat and the knights went away... The baron's unit went shortly afterwards thanks to a boar boyz clipping assault which did very little but the 12 support shots (no shields remember...) from the gargants helped a fair bit...The Baron (BTS) would survive the game because he's fearless
After this critical moment the game was largely decided, stalemate broken pretty decisively. From here the knights in the standoff to my left of the hill would perform a similar scenario on the Warboss Orkeosaurus with similar results to what you just saw and both units would be surrounded, crossfired and engaged into oblivion thanks to huge amounts of supporting fire including the gargants who legged it across just to help.
Net result was a 3-0 to the Ferals with the Blitz again too far away and the fearless BTS just too damn hard to kill for an army with very limited shooting.
Game 5 - Necrons
Another awesome game to finish up the comp. What made it different though was that the plan I started with ended up very different to what occurred at the end. Apologies in advance I got a bit slack with the photos...
Necrons did their usual thing there was an Aeonic Orb sitting on the blitz in the centre of the Ron deployment side and every thing else was in the ether waiting to teleport on. Ferals basically spread themselves from one end of the board to the other again with my blitz sitting on my rightish edge with both of mine placed 30cm apart as close to my blitz as possible. The plan at this point was simple, hide from the TK death engines and play for a 3-0. I had no real intention of going near the Aeonic orb and he was holding the blitz so forget that too.
First turn saw triple monolith teleporting in on my RHS threatening the blitz, they were up against 2 orkeosaurus, boyz with catapults and 2 boar boyz units. Orks won the strat roll and it was on. First move saw an orkeosaurus engage all 3 of the monolith formations (12 models all up) and though I killed basically nothing I won the combat and they were all broken. The next few activations saw Necron Warriors pour out of the broken monoliths only to get fed into the orkeosaurus meat grinder. Without the support fire from the broken monoliths they just couldn't do much damage. By the end of the turn rons were bleeding hard. At this point the Aeonic orb decided to advance up to blast the steam Gargants that were sitting in their deployment zone, he half killed a gargant but suddenly I saw an interesting opportunity. Everything surged forward as fast as possible towards the orb. It ended up getting blasted by the Gargants, 2 orkeosaurus tripled forwards to get into engage range and the Orks with catapults charged up as well to offer morale support.
Turn 2 saw Orks win initiative again and pull off a huge engage with orkeosaurus (and a friend supporting) to break the Aeonic before it could move, doing a wound or 2 in the process. With most of the monoliths dead and the Warriors largely proven Gork and Mork were smiling. Orks continued to surge forward on mass blasting everything they had onto the orb and bearing down on the blitz. The pylon was blowing chunks out of orkeosaurus but without its friend to back it up none were going down.
If it's living metal... we can kill it....
The noble sacrifice of the Boarz will not be forgotten... The ignominious death of the monolith in the same explosion probably will be.
Turn 3 saw the Necron blitz surrounded, not in any way what I thought was going to happen initially the orb had rallied again but I set up the engage you can see in the photo with double orkeosaurus offering support and the boar boyz actually launching the engage because they were about it for range. Boarz threw a spear up its exhaust pipe and both supporting dinosaurs took another wound, the orb was down... It took the boarz with it thanks to a crit but totally worth it.
End of turn 3 Orks win 5-0 after a super aggressive battle.
Interestingly fact for you: 5 games down and not a single dinosaur has fallen despite accruing dozens of wounds over the tournament, one of them did take a crit in the final game though but Gork and Mork clearly love their dinosaurs and approved of my charge forward and ravage them play style.
Overall I've come to a very simple conclusion, feral Orks have one trick and they are really good at it. They can't outshoot a marine army, can't fly, deep strike, drop pod, tunnel or move particularly well but they can take a bunch of hits and dish out some damage in BC engage. I think for anyone who comes up against them in the future you're priority will need to be to concentrate shots and control the movement phase.
The other super interesting thing was the final podium (someone remind me to post the final results and photo here if I forget but Orks took out 1st and 2nd with Marines in third place. This is literally unheard of in Aus tournaments where marines and Orks are both considered very low tier armies. Coupled with the complete lack of Eldar it was certainly an atypical event.
There will be a minigeddon event coming up in Sydney soon for any Aussies keen to give epic a crack and talk of a slow grow in the next few months so keep your eyes out for that one, I'll probably look at finally painting up my Tau army or even my chaos cultists if I can summon the willpower for hordes of infantry.
Thanks for reading, stay Epic!
Final results for the day, a really interesing mix at the top and I wonder how much of that was influenced by this being an 'approved armies' only comp?