Sunday, May 18, 2014

This is the Red Thunder, and I am pleased

So, I've been getting in a few games with this army:

Company command with bolt pistol for the commander, carapace armour, grenade launcher, lascannon and officer of the fleet in a Chimera
Tank commander in a Leman Russ Exterminator with heavy bolter sponsons and a Leman Russ Battletank
Veteran squad with carapace armour, 3 plasmaguns and krak grenades in a Chimera
Veteran squad with carapace armour, 3 meltaguns and krak grenades in a Chimera
Platoon command with bolt pistol, grenade launcher and autocannon
Infantry squad with flamer and autocannon
Infantry squad with flamer and autocannon
Special weapons squad with 3 sniper rifles
Heavy weapons squad with 3 mortars
22 conscripts with a commissar
2 Vendetta gunships
Leman Russ Battletank

All squads have voxcasters, bringing this list to 1,749 pts. 86 infanry models in total, with the heavy weapon teams having 2 models per base. I suppose I should confess that one heavy weapon team is still missing a spotter, so, 85 infantry models, accompanied by 8 vehicles. This is easily the most models I've ever fielded in 1,750 pts and as someone who's been playing either Blood Angels, Deathwing, Necrons or Chaos Marines since the end of 5th ed, the Astra Militarum are HARD. Not hard as in hard-as-nails tough, mind you, but hard to play. That said, I LOVE this army! Here's a quick introduction to each of the elements:

The Armoured Fist:

That lascannon has claimed some truly magnificent kill shots. 

Veteran squads 306 and 409, with their respective Chimeras, ready to bring the pain!

These guys usually travel in formation, so the Veterans can disembark and the Company Commander can issue just the right order (usually Fire on My Target! or Bring It Down!) to get the most out of those seriously lethal guns. When I need to advance to take an objective or something on the ground really needs to die, these guys are the ones to get the job done. The Officer of the Fleet has been travelling with this lot since my first outings with the Astra Militarum and you know what? He has NEVER been of any use in Turn 2. In the first 4 games, he failed his Leadership check. In the most recent, he made it... but my opponent rolled a 2 for his Reserve roll anyway. Go figure.

A lot of people have spoken very highly of Kurov's Aquila, but I don't bother. I figure that extra bling just makes the Company Command Squad even more of a target than it already is. Also, I find this configuration for the Company Command Squad makes excellent use of most of the Astra Militarum Warlord traits. The Lascannon benefits greatly from Implacable Determination, and the added mobility afforded by the Chimera greatly increases the utility of Draconian Disciplinarian, Bellowing Voice and Master of Command.

The Big Guns

These are usually deployed on opposite flanks to make sure there's nowhere on the board the enemy can hide from some pie plate goodness. BS4 is HUGE on a Leman Russ Exterminator, especially with the heavy bolter sponsons. This tank will brutalize pretty much anything with a toughness value with sheer weight of fire.

The last thing several enemy Warlords see... 

The Air Force

40 pts more expensive than its previous incarnation, but still totally worth it. 3 twin-linked lascannons on a flyer is pretty much one of the finest pieces of rapid response anti-vehicle firepower you could ask for. And on a list like this which absolutely refuses to spend a point on Fortifications (i.e. quad-cannons), 2 are essential.

The Grunts

Trying hard not to die... 

Most of the Platoon is there to deal with the drudgery of camping on objectives or steadily advancing on nearby ones. The snipers and mortar teams are certainly dirt cheap ways to camp a home objective and be pretty irritating for their points cost, with their long range. Meanwhile, the infantry squads have the option of marching out, preferably behind whatever cover they can find. The heavy weapon of choice is the autocannon, simply because I don't trust BS3 with a one-shot weapon like a lascannon or missile launcher. I go with flamers coz these squads are most likely to get stuck in.  Either they'll need it to cook enemy troops off an objective, or they'll be taking a charge in defence of an objective or a unit vulnerable to assault.

The Cannon Fodder

Average life expectancy: About 3 turns. Maybe. 

Flak armour, lasguns and the reassuring voice of your friendly company commissar. With that, there's any number of vital battlefield tasks that one can achieve. No, really! I may not play Primaris Psykers with my proud Astra Militarum army, but with First Rank, Fire! Second Rank, Fire! that's enough las-bolts to actually hurt something, BS2 or not. Failing that, this unit is 91 pts worth of the perfect speed bump, with enough bodies to bog down quite a number of threats. For the meagre cost of a 3 pt model at most, they'll pass any Morale check. Note that the Summary Execution is optional, so it's perfectly alright to deliberately let the Conscripts flee a combat (and very likely get run down in the process) to leave their opponents out in the open and suddenly staring down the barrels of the tanks.

So, that's my Astra Militarum. A little bit of everything, capturing the feel of an offensive, company-strength Astra Militarum force. I like to think that it's what I'm not including that gives this army its character, notably:

  • No heavy artillery - This army is for advancing! The Deathstrike and Manticore are cool and everything, and the Wyvern is obscenely undercosted, but I choose to spurn all that. I want an army that feels like the forward elements of a larger force. Not the recon patrol, but the guys who come after and engage in the most brutally violent actions.
  • No Priests - I'm an atheist, and so's my army.
  • No Psykers - Not interested in psyker tomfoolery. This army gets the job done with blood and steel - no mucking about with magic. 
  • No abhumans - This is the Imperium of MAN!
  • No Scions - Too elite. There are no glory boys here. Just men who either die fighting or live long enough to become veterans... and then die fighting. 

 As yet, I consider it my most balanced army and playing it has been an absolute blast. Granted, it's not easy to mesh together the different elements and keep a grip on everything and keep in mind the orders, but it's just fun. I love watching dozens of lasgun shots whittle away the toughest adversaries. And there's an odd satisfaction to watching the poor bloody infantry dying in droves to the horrors of 41st millenium warfare while the rest of the army soldiers on.

So, that's my Astra Militarum army. Here's hoping it transitions well into 7th...

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