Like a good wine, good stories only improve with age. This story is not so old as to have gone stale, but it is also not so new as to be considered breaking news. A few weeks ago, I had a chance to play my first (and only this far) game of 7th edition. Similar to 6th edition, that game was with Hyv3 and we both constructed 1250 point highlander armies. The core construction tenet for highlander is straightforward: There can only be one (of each unit). We also placed the additional stipulation that the armies must be painted and played on a smaller 4x4 board.
To keep it interesting, and put something on the line - since Hyv3 and I somehow have never faced off in tournament play - was a central crystal based terrain piece from Hyv3 for me or an LED wiring job from me for him.
I wanted to try out the new Daemonology table for this match and to bring out the fancy toys that I tend to ignore for tournaments.
Khorne Herald on Juggurnaut w/ Lesser Gift, Locus of Abjuration
Keeper of Secrets w/ Mastery 2, 2x Greater Gift
18x Pink Horrors
16x Flesh Hounds of Khorne
1x Skull Cannon of Khorne
1x Soul Grinder of Slaanesh w/ Baleful Torrent
In opposition to the daemonic incursion, Hyv3 brought an Eldar/GK alliance with a strong psychic presence.
3x Henchmen in Chimera w/ Heavy Bolter
5x Wraithguard in Wave Serpent w/ Scatter Laser, Shuriken
3x Guardian Jetbikes w/ Shuriken Cannon
5x Strike Squad w/ Psycannon in Rhino
Dreadknight w/ Personal Teleporter, Heavy Incinerator
Mission: Maelstorm of War - Spoils of War
Deployment: Dawn of War (no night fight)
Psychic Powers/Warlord Traits
(From memory, I might have swapped a power here)
Keeper of Secrets: Lash/Psychic Shriek/Mental Fortitude :: Unbreakable Hide/Daemonic Resilience :: Death Incarnate
Horrors: Flickering Fire/Possession
Spiritseer: Dominate/Prescience :: Tactical Warlord traits allows additional objective discard
Inquisitor: Psychic Shriek
I deploy across a broad front with the goal of using the hill for some additional cover and scouting the hounds away from the Dreadknight - which can make a mess of that unit. With the speed of the hounds, there is a good chance to flank the opposing army.
This makes me miss the days when I used vehicles. The Dreadknight in the center can do a lot of work protecting the other units from my hounds.
With my scout I grab an additional objective to enable me to generate an additional tactical card.
I am going to generalize the scoring of the tactical objectives - it is hard to keep track with so many flying around the table.
I am able to get 1 tactical objective for the one taken by my Daemonettes - but my others cards are all for objectives in Hyve's deployment zone. I advance with all my units, and throw a Skull Cannon shot into the GK Rhino to score a 'Stun'. The Flesh Hounds are about 20" away from the Dreadknight to avoid eating a charge. In the psychic phase, I have nothing meaningful to cast.
Hyv3 gets an early lead and scores 2 objectives on his turn. Shooting is minimal as I make my saves on the Keeper of Secrets and lose a few wounds to the Dreadknight heavy incinerator and the Wave Serpent. I lose a few Horrors to psychic powers, but in a unit of 18 the impact is minimal.
Reinforcements arrive via Drop Pod (courtesy of Hyv3) and we crack open a pair of beers. I am in good position to launch assaults this turn and advance with the hounds into Hyv3's backfield.
The Daemonettes are targeting the Wraithknight, the Keeper the Dreadknight and the hounds the GK Rhino. I setup the Keeper with a Skull Cannon shot for grenades....
...and then I fail my ~4" charge in spite of having fleet. I elect to charge the Skull Cannon in - but Hyv3 lets me take it back when I realize the Knight is not S6, he is S10.
To make up for it, the Daemonettes make the charge into the Wraithknight and do a few wounds. Their rending attacks start to tear down the Eldar war construct...
From an objectives standpoint, I continue to amass objectives, but am unable to score any. Hyv3 does some maneuvering, snags some objectives with his Jetbikes and Dominates my Flesh Hounds - which I realize is super annoying as a ld7/8 army!
I finally have a shot to score a few objectives as the Keeper snags the left hand objective and gets ready to assault. The Flesh Hounds have been wittled down, fail their Dominate check to move but...
Make their check to assault. They then execute operation miss city and I end up losing combat against the GK's. I take an additional 3 wounds from instability on my Keeper and the hounds are further reduced. All I needed was 1 wound from the Instant Death dealing keeping, but Slaanesh abandons me. Also unfortunate, the Daemonettes decide to finish the Wraithknight on my turn and are exposed.
The Soul Grinder breaks the bikes in combat, but they rally to continue being annoying. I am able to finally finish off the GK during Hyv3's turn and am free to maneuver and assault - although I lose every single Daemonette and Hyv3 gets another tactical. I believe he is up by 2 or 3 on me at this point.
I still have a pile of unscored tactical objectives in my possession and go about accomplishing some of them.
I use the Skull Cannon to take the far objective, then the Keeper gets ready to assault the Wraithguard. The Flesh Hounds finish a lingering GK Strike Squad member. The coup d'etat is I get a d3 points card for holding 3 objectives and score a 6 on the roll to give me a 5 point lead at the end of the turn. For good measure I summon another Keeper with my Horrors and it gets survivability gifts to make it a hard target.
Hyv3 takes down my warlord, but it has already done too much damage and eaten his Wraithguard and Warlord. I have First Blood, Slay the Warlord and Linebreaker plus a 5 points objectives lead. Hyv3 has barely run out of gas and can only tie it back up
We did make one mistake with the Skull Cannon this game - it should have only suffered a glancing hit for failing a Dangerous Terrain test instead of a Stunned result. It did not end up mattering, but I was hoping to use it to open up the Rhino bearing the Inquisitor.
Overall it was a long game as Hyv3 and I both got acquainted with the psychic phase, Maelstorm of War and the new psychic powers.
Hyv3 is always a great opponent and it was nice to have a relaxed first game of 7th ed. I think the psychic phase is actually a pretty big nerf to psychic powers compared to the way they used to operate. Deny the Witch is much easier than it used to be overall - and psychic powers are much less reliable. One aspect I dislike, is I wish Mastery level had an impact on the ease of casting the powers themselves.
I really think Khorne units like Flesh Hounds with significant Deny bonuses are going to be strong this edition and the Skull Cannon actually improved with the changes to chariots and vehicle damage table. In particular, I am looking forward to running Karanak who can inflict perils on any doubles - since the Perils chart is pretty punishing.
In spite of my limited exposure to 7th ed, I think I am going to like this edition overall. There is a lot of flexibility for list builders and this area tends to self limit obnoxious behavior when it comes to list building. I definitely felt like the edition has much more complexity with all units scoring and it provides a boost to survivable units and makes assault a very viable strategy to dig out troops or backfield objective scoring units.