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Losing a Battle isn’t all bad.

You often learn more from your defeats than you ever do from your victories. Lets be fair, if you are anything like me, when you win you are too busy celebrating, taking the aplause from onlookers, and patronising your vanquished opponents with phrases like ‘well you did have some really unlucky dice rolls’ to remember anything other than the fact that you won. I mean, let’s be fair about it, keeping the smug look of your face whilst your opponent packs up his defeated army is tough enough.

But when you lose, that’s when you learn and that’s when you find the energy to change your Army list or think about new tactics. That’s when you vow to think a bit more about your troop deployment before the battle starts or to figure out the best tactics for each unit in your army. How do I protect the more vulnerable units and how do I commit the big hitters?

Well my results of late have taken a bit of a dip. I’ve had a draw against Chaos Space Marines that I should have won. ( My necron Lord flew into a building and killed himself….not his finest hour); a draw against Space Marines, (that was a good result, a very tough battle); a loss against Dark Eldar ( the rot had set in, curse those Talos); a victory against Imperial Guard ( flattering, it was a new army, still in development) and the most recent battle, a loss against Chaos Marines. It was the most recent battle that has prompted me to revise my list again. Here’s why.

I was playing against Studge at the Warhammer World Club and he had brought along 1500 points of Chaos Space Marines, consisiting of 3 large Squads of tooled up possessed Space Marines in three Rhinos, 2 Defilers, A Demon Prince ( with lash of course) and Fabius Bile. The set up was Dawn of War and we were fighting over 4 objectives. As Studge only had 1500 points, I had to trim my army, so out went the Pariahs, 2 Immortals & a Scarab swarm. For the rest of my army, see my previous battle reports. I had first turn and so deployed two squads of Necron warriors to defend the two objectives on my side of the table. Studge went for a very aggressive set up with 2 squads of possessed marines & the Demon Prince as close in as he could get.

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Learning point number one. Why was I so concerned to defend the objectives from turn one? I’ve got at least five turns to get to the objectives. Turn one should be about getting in position to cause the enemy the most problems, not give him a clear target! What was I doing committing both troops choices that I had so early?

Just to rub the point in, Studge rolled a six to steal the initiative and immediately sent his chaos horde rampaging forward. The Demon Prince lashed the nearest necron squad straight into combat with the biggest Possessed Marine squad. The necrons lost combat and were wiped out. I now only have one squad of Troops left and they’re next on Studges hit list. It was fair to say that I was rattled. In my turn, I had some luck with my Heavy destroyers. They rolled an eleven to give them night fighting range to see the demon prince and then rolled 3 hits and three wounds, none of which were saved. The Immortals also opened up on the Demon Prince and that was the end of that bad boy! However, my triumph was short lived. I then charged his Marines with the Necron Lord and two wraith squads. Just for good measure I piled in with the scarabs as well. This was a great way to snatch defeat from the jaws of victory. I had forgotten that his Marines were drugged up to strength 6, so they gained instant kills on the scarabs, which put me three wounds down for every base killed. The result being that I lost combat with three of my Waiths down, all of my scarabs dead and my Necron Lord running away. It would seem that rather than drinking from the cup of Victory I would be enjoying a taste of that infamous American whine….’it’s game over, man’!

Learning point(s) Number two: Don’t panic, if things have gone wrong the worst thing that you can do is commit units for the sake of it. Choose your targets, The scarabs are to be used against units to either tie them down , draw fire or divert the enemy. They may be a cheap unit but don’t throw them away. Of course, it goes without saying that charging against a unit that will instant kill you is just a waste of time.

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Studge then started his turn two. With no Demon Prince to lash my necrons he had to foot slog it towards them ( I forgot to mention that in the last turn, the surviving necron squad had made a tactical withdrawal, AKA ‘run like hell, there’s a monster coming’!) Fortunately, his defilers were on the other side of the table, so they were alternating between firing & running and not hitting much. His rhino’s were also still at the back of the table and worried about the Heavy destroyers shooting them up and so were moving cautiously towards my side of the board. The real action was back with the Possessed marines. They piled into the Necron Lord again and wiped out the remaining Wraith squad. However, all this was at a cost and gradually they were being whittled down by combat and dying from O.D.’ing on combat drugs.

By the end of turn four I had wiped out the two squads of possessed marines in the centre through combat and fire from the immortals, destroyers and the remaining Necron squad. The Necron Lord was the real hero. He was at his tubthumping best doing his Chumbawamba chant ‘I get knocked down, but I get up again……’ The Flayed ones had made an appearance and were threatening the Chaos Rhinos with the last Marine squad and Fabius Bile and one of the defilers was blown to pieces. The end game was going to be tight!

Learning Point number Three: The battle isn’t over until the last man is down! Keep fighting with what you’ve – focus on knocking out his best units and ignore the rest.

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So the last squad of Chaos marines had to charge the Flayed ones. They just couldn’t ignore the threat that the Flayed ones posed, which meant my last squad of troops were in the clear. Well nearly, Fabius Bile charged into them but joy of joys, they not only held but valiantly fought back. The Flayed ones died under the attack from the chaos Marines but caused enough damage to allow the Heavy destroyers to wipe them out in the next round aided, once again, by the Necron Lord. The last Defiler had raced across the table and engaged the immortals. They were always going to lose that fight but they held for a turn.

If things were tight at turn four they were right on a knife edge at turn six. By now the necrons had killed every thing in the Chaos Army except the last defiler. The battlefield was littered with the wreckage of three rhinos’ , a defiler, the bloated drug ridden bodies of some 30 Chaos Marines and even Fabius Bile was history. I had taken one of the objectives with my necron squad and the enemy had nothing left to threaten it. The problem was that I was two necrons away from phase out and I had let my Heavy destroyers get too close to the defiler. With one last charge, it ambushed the destroyers and killed two. Fortunately, they were within range of the Lords Res orb and so on my turn I was able to roll the we’ll be back save & both got back up. Hurrah! I then charged the Necron lord into Combat. Surely with his warscythe he would save the day….He rolled one penetrating hit and one glancing hit….I just needed a 5 or a 6 to win the game. I rolled a 1….bugger! I was more fortunate with the glancing hit and immobilised the Defiler but with his last attack he killed three destroyers and this time there was no ‘we’ll be back’.

The Necrons went into phase out and the game was lost. To be fair, they took the view that their job was done and it was time to get back to the Tomb for some Necron R&R. Well, that’s the way I saw it.

Learning point number Four: Destroyers have got a range of 36 inches. Keep them out of combat, they’re for moving and shooting!

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So the game was lost but in a most enjoyable way. Studge was a great opponent and we had a lot of laughs through the game as it ebbed and flowed. I also enjoyed the narrative that the game played out. Even the ending seemed appropriate. How am I going to revise my list? Well you’ll have to wait for the next battle…

Learning point Number Five: The best games are the ones that are fun regardless of who wins.

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