Tuesday night at the club brought me a game with Dave G. Dave's Chaos Space Marines against my Iron Hands in a 1750pts maelstrom game. Unfortunately, the club had a later start than usual so we started the game knowing that we were unlikely to get through to the end. However, Dave and I have history from previous games, in that we have a really good giggle, and our levels of competency are equally matched, (Dave, I think you will agree I am being very kind. I will not tell the readers that it wasn't until turn two that we realised we had not rolled our warlord traits.........doh!).
I have played two previous maelstrom games, and what I have leant is you will need to play quite a few games before you can judge it's worth. The objective cards randomly selected at the begining of each of your turns add something different to each game and I really enjoy the narrative aspect they add. However, you need an opponent who doesn't frequent the competitive end of wargaming as the cards can frustrate and endlessly annoy you. The cards can be your best friend or your worst enemy. You need a few of these games under your belt and over time these should equal out the luck.
Dave had brought Chaos Space Marines (Iron Warriors) but include a Hell Brute formation, a Chaos Deamon (Warlord), Chaos Spawn and two, yes count them, two Helldrakes (the bane of every right thinking Space Marine). Two 'normal' Chaos Space Marine units, a Chaos Sorcerer, the obligatory two Chaos Cultist units, and two big guns from Stronghold Assault (Wall of MartyrsVengeance Weapon Battery) completed the army.
My Iron Hands feature a Chapter Master on a bike with the Gorgon's Chain and a Thunder Hammer, a unit of bikes with a full complement of Grav weapons, two Tactical Squads, two Scout Squads in Land Speeder Storms, a Thunderfire Cannon, a Stormtalon, three Scout Bikers and a five man Terminator Assault Squad.
I don't intend to give a blow by blow account of the game, but instead, focus on the main points of interest and pivotal moments. Also included below are a few photographs. The scenery is from my own collection, and is a mixture of Warhammer Fantasy and Lord of the Rings pieces.
I cannot lie, the luck gods were on my side in this game. I got the first turn and my first three cards were objectives very close to my troops, and so were the three objective cards I received at the start of turn two. Dave lucked out on his first three cards, and wasn't able to achieve any of them. So what with my Thunderfire Cannon scattering onto a Rhino and taking its final hull point (First Blood) I had a seven point lead before Dave had started scoring. Also, my start to turn two wasn't hampered as all bar one of my reserves came on.
Unfortunately, the chaos reserve rolls failed to bring on the Hellbrute formation in turn two, but the Helldrakes did appear, and although Space Marines know no fear, they knew what pain was going to be brought.
Early on the two warlords came together in a challenge. The Daemon Prince was armed with the
Black Mace, but in two of the combat phases Dave managed to roll a 1 and paid the price with wounds. In at least two other phases the Prince was concussed by the Thunder Hammer owned by the Chapter Master. The result - one dead Daemon and a further victory point for the Iron Hands.
By this time the Helldrakes were destroying Iron Hand units just for fun; combat squaded tactical marines, scouts and Land Speeder Storms were melting away under the Baleflamer template.
My Iron Hands are my goto 40K army when having a pick-up game. (Yes I know, they are painted yellow. The actual Iron Hands colours are black and silver, which I thought was boring. So yellow they became. A successor chapter if you wish). I really enjoy their stamina (6+ Feel no Pain and It Will Not Die). I do take a perverse pleasure in seeing an opponent think he has killed a model, for me to say 'Hold your horses sunny Jim' and then roll a 6 on a D6 - priceless. I also feel that with so many of the maelstrom cards requiring you to be next to an objective, having a highly mobile (Rhinos, bikes and Land Speeder Storms) and objective secured units, gives you every opportunity to keep the points score clicking along each turn.
I do have to accept that the tooled-up Chapter Master is a big points sink. He must get into close combat, for me to have any chance of winning the game. Although I lost my previous maelstrom game against Dave (he fielded his Inquisition and Imperial Knight army) the Chapter Master did bring down the Knight, so I was able to take that rather large crumb of comfort as consulation.
I have wargamed for a fair few years now, and much as a long standing Space Marine Chapter, I have been able to build up some traditions based on my wealth of experience and superstitions (a wealth of experience which I hasten to add has yet to turn me into a very good tactically minded wargamer).
Wargame Superstition One - New Model Syndrome - If you use a new model for the first time it will do badly. This is of course multiplied if you use a new army for the first time. However, there is a condition to this rule which was illustrated in our game, if your are using new models, they won't do as bad if your opponent is using new models which are not fully painted. Example in point, my new Terminators were freshly painted and did get onto the board, and destroyed a chaos cultist unit (yea baby, worth every point!), but Dave's partially painted Deamon Prince had a mare and the Hellbrute Formation did not get on the table at all!
The Chaos Gods had still not finished having their fun as the leader of one of Dave's Space Marine units successfully killed the Scout Biker's Sergeant and, you guessed it, swiftly changed, and Dave's Daemon Prince returned to the table, rather quicker than the usual one thousand years and not in possession of the Black Mace. I guess the Chaos Gods felt that he deserved a second chance. Ahh, isn't that sweet of them.
So, in conclusion, by the end of turn three, and the end of our game, I was 11 points to 3 up (I had also scored all three secondary objectives). Ok, so I accept not a proper victory, but an enjoyable game none the less.
Oh, and by the way, I promised myself not to use the word fickle when describing how the Chaos Gods had behaved during the game - promise fulfilled. Happy Wargaming.