Having played a new Imperial Guard army a couple of times, I had a rough idea how it all works, but having never played them with Space Wolves, this could be quite challenge.
To top it all off, Imperial Guard is often referred to as the Leaf Blower in the US due to the higher point games they play, which allow Imperial Guard players to bring incredible amounts of firepower to bear.
As this was a 2000 points game, I hoped my Space Wolves would be a particularly stubborn leaf.
This turned out to be one of the toughest games of Warhammer 40K I've ever played and despite some truly disastrous dice rolls, I was still able to give me opponent a run for his money. Or did I just cling on to the objectives and sell the lives of my men dearly?
2000 points of Space WolvesRune Priest
Jaws of the World Wolf & Murderous Hurricane
(X3) Grey Hunter Pack:
Wolf Guard with Combi Melta and Powerfist
8 Grey Hunters, Meltagun, Wolf Standard and Mark of Wulfen
Rhino APC transport
Grey Hunter Pack:
5 Grey Hunters, Meltagun and Mark of Wulfen
Razorback APC transport
(X2) Land Speeders:
Multimelta and Heavy Flamer
(X2) Long Fangs Pack:
1 sergeant, 5 Long Fangs with Missile Launchers
Razorback APC with twin linked lascannon
Wolf Guard Terminators:
1 Wolf Guard in terminator armour with combi-plasma and wolf claw
1 Wolf Guard in terminator armour with combi-plasma and power sword
1 Wolf Guard in terminator armour with combi-melta and power sword
1 Wolf Guard in terminator armour with combi-melta and Chainfist
1 Wolf Guard in terminator armour with cyclone missile launcher, storm bolter and power sword
Please Note: I packed the wrong Space Wolf terminator and left the cyclone missile launcher at home!
Land Raider with extra armour, twin linked heavy bolter hull and twin linked lascannon sponsons.
2000 points of Imperial GuardCommand squad
Commander with power sword and 3 melta guns
(X2) Psyker Squads:
9 Psykers and 1 Priest
Imperial Guard Platoon:
Command squad with 3 melta guns
10 Imperial Guard with meltagun
10 Imperial Guard
Comissar with power sword leading 20 conscripts
10 veterans, 3 melta guns
6 veterans, 3 meltaguns
2 Valkyrie Vendettas
3 Valkyrie Vendettas
2 Hydra flak tanks
The game was Seize Ground with 4 objectives and a Dawn of War deployment. Between us we placed 2 objectives either side of a ruin in the centre, one by a hill top right and one between some woods centre right. Naturally, I had my eye on the 2 objectives in the ruins.
He won the roll off, choosing the table edge with the most cover and held everything off the board to arrive on Turn 1.
I placed 2 empty Rhinos on the board, just below the ruin with 2 objectives either side. It was 7" from the table edge to the rear hatch so that my Grey Hunters could walk on and embark in the 1st turn. The Rune Priest then went in one of the transports.
I rolled to Seize The Initiative, failed and the game began.
On the left flank 10 Guardsmen ran through the rocks, closely followed by 10 robed Psykers. Behind them rumbled a Manticore missile tank which fired a barrage of 3 missiles at one of the Grey Hunter Rhinos. Strength 10 ordnance blasts rained down from the sky, scattered wildly in the poorly lit 'Dawn of War' first turn conditions. One barrage penetrated the hull, but only succeeded in shaking the crew and leaving it unable to fire next turn.
Left of the centre 2 Hydra flak tanks sped on, firing their smoke launchers while a pair of Valkyries screamed overhead.
The Commisar led his 20 brave conscripts over the rocks in the centre who were followed by another 10 Psykers.
On the right flank 3 more Valkyrie Vendettas swept low over the battlefield while the Manticore missile tank behind them launched a barrage of missiles at the Rune Priest's Rhino. Two of the blasts scattered wide, but one landed alongside, glancing the side armour of the Space Wolf transport and shaking the crew, leaving the tank unable to fire next turn.
I'd had a very lucky start and would need to make the most of it!
Two Grey Hunter squads walked on and embarked into the waiting Rhinos, which sped forward behind the ruins in the centre and fired their smoke launchers.
A third Grey Hunter Rhino appeared and sped alongside them down the left flank and also fired its smoke launchers.
One Long Fangs Razorback drove on 6" and the Long Fangs disembarked and ran into the cover of the rocks, which were flanked by the Wolf Guard Terminators in their Land Raider, which also fired its smoke launchers.
To the right, the other Long Fangs Razorback drove up alongside some woods and fired its smoke launchers while the Long Fangs inside got out and ran into the cover of the woods.
The small Grey Hunters pack drives up behind the woods in their Razorback and fire the smoke launchers while the two Space Wolves Landspeeders turbo boost down the right flank towards the 3 Valkyrie Vendettas.
With just one twin linked lascannon to fire, the Razorback in the centre blasts the Valkyrie by the ruins, but it passes its fast moving save.
With every unit in the Imperial Guard army able to fire, this turn was especially paintful for the Space Wolves!
The command squad disembarked from the Valkyrie Vendetta on the left of the ruins, while the veterans disembarked from the Valkyrie Vendetta on the right of the ruins. One advanced into the ruins and blew up one of the Grey Hunter Rhinos while the others advanced and blew up the Land Raider. Neither of the Space Wolves packs were pinned thankfully.
Manticore missiles rained down on the Razorbacks, blowing the turret off one while the Valkyrie Vendettas fired as one into the pack of Long Fangs in the woods, killing 4 of them.
Hydra flak cannons spun around and blew one of the Landspeeders out of the sky.
I'd lost 2 tanks, a land speeder and most of a squad. Overall not too bad.
In retaliation the Wolf Guard Terminators marched forward, charged and killed the veterans in a very one sided close combat.
The Rune Priest's Rhino advanced and the Wolf Guard and Grey Hunter inside fired up at the nearby Valkyrie with their meltagun and combi-melta, blasting it out of the sky!
The Grey Hunters in the Rhino wreckage stormed the ruins and ripped the command squad inside to bloody rags.
Meanwhile the other Grey Hunter Rhino continued its advance towards the ruins. The top hatch slammed open and the WolfGuard and Grey Hunter fired their meltagun and combi-melta, but only succeeded in shaking the Valkyrie Vendetta crew, leaving the flyer unable to fire next turn.
On the right flank the remaining Landspeeder advanced and together with the Long Fangs in the Woods and the remaining Razorback lascannon blew two of the Valkyrie Vendettas out of the sky while immobilising another!
The Grey Hunter Razorback to the left of the woods took a sneaky shot over the hill as the side armour of one of the Manticores but failed to glance.
The shaken Valkyrie Vendetta by the ruins swoops overhead, behind the Space Wolf line.
Manticore missiles rain down on the Rhino transports once more. The third Grey Hunter Rhino explodes just outside the ruins, killing 3 of the Space Wolves inside. Meanwhile the Grey Hunters in the ruins take a pounding from the Hyrdas and small arms fire from the conscripts in the rocks.
The Pysker squads cast their Soul Storm, reducing the Leadership of both Grey Hunter packs to 1. The Ruin Priest dispels one of the attacks, but the pack in the ruins turns and flees along side the nearby Valkyrie.
I'd have to take out that flyer or he could 'herd' my expensive Grey Hunters straight off the board!
The remaining Valkyrie Vendetta on the left flank fires its lascannons at the Landspeeder, blasting off the Multimelta.
In my turn, the Rune Priest leads his Grey Hunters out of their Rhino and across the open ground, into charge range of the Conscripts in the rocks. Two of the conscripts are out in the open. It's all I need to get a foothold in the middle of the enemy army.
Because the Wulfen model is within 6" of a single model in Difficult Terrain, he must attempt to charge, forcing the entire squad to roll for Difficult Terrain. However, the Rune Priest needs only a 5 to be in charge range.
I roll a 3 and a 4, leaving the squad stranded out in the open.
Thankfully I had advanced their Rhino alongside to pick them up later, but instead it would shield the Space Wolves from my opponents Hydra flak tanks.
The Grey Hunters continue to fall back past the Valkyrie Vendetta, firing their melta gun. The aircraft is destroyed and crashes to the ground. Meanwhile the other Grey Hunters move back into the cover of the ruins and the Terminators continue advancing up the field.
My shooting phase is pretty poor with the Long Fangs blasting off one of the Hydra's twin linked autocannons. However, the Land Speeder on the right flank does toast 4 Veterans with its heavy flamer.
Stuck right out in the open and tightly packed together, I expected the Rune Priest and his Grey Hunters to disappear. He fires both Manticores, each firing only a single missile barrage this time, which scatter wildly. Meanwhile the Hyrdra flak tanks and as many Imperial Guardsmen as he can muster fire everything they've got at the Space Wolves in the open. When the dust settles 5 of them are dead.
He casts Soul Storm on them with the Psyker squad. The Rune Priest dispels the power.
He casts Soul Storm on them with the other Psyker squad! The Space Wolves fall back 8" and automatically regroup in my phase 3", then move 6" to be back in charge range, but this time in a neat conga-line away from any models in difficult terrain!
My last remaining Land Speeder is blasted apart by close range Melta guns.
The Rune Priest leads the charge and is quickly surrounded by 20 Conscripts led by a Comissar. In an amazing display of 5+ rolling, my opponent loses just 4 Conscripts and strikes down 3 Grey Hunters while wounding the Rune Priest. The combat is a draw.
The Long Fangs continue to fire at the remaining Valkyrie Vendetta, as does the remaining Long Fang Razorback which advances up the field, slowly edging towards the ruins on the left.
The Grey Hunter pack to the right of the ruins moves into cover and does its best to hide.
The Grey Hunter pack already in the ruins can't see to fire at range, so spreads out to minimise the effects of blast weapons.
Once more, the Terminators advance up the field. Due to hugging terrain throughout their advance, they've been really slow, but are now out in the open.
Having fired all of their missiles, both Manticores advance of the hills on either flanks and fire their smoke launchers.
On the left flank the 10 Imperial Guard advance and open fire on the Grey Hunters in the ruins before cthe Psykers cast Soul Storm once again, causing the Space Wolves top flee yet again.
The Grey Hunters to the right of the ruins are shot with every available weapon in the Imperial Guard army. When the smoke clears only 3 are left. Finally, the Psyker squad in the rocks casts Soul Storm and the Space Wolves flee -yet again!
On the rocks, the Conscripts kill the last Grey Hunter, but the Rune Priest fights on.
Both Grey Hunters packs automatically regroup in my turn and move back to where they were. Meanwhile the remaining Razorback drives up alongside the right of the ruins, while the Rune Priest's Rhino speeds back to the left of the ruins and the other pack of Grey Hunters embark.
Overwhelmed by the Imperial Guard Conscripts, the Rune Priest stays alive just long enough for the Wolf Guard Terminators to join the melee. They march in, power weapons cracking, wolf claws rerolling to hit and a chainfist to finish off any survivors. The squad is brutally massacred before the Rune Priest and Terminators sweep across the rocks.
The Long Fangs fire at the Hydras, but due to the cover, inflict no damage.
With each of us holding an objective, one unclaimed and one contested with roll the dice...and the game continues.
On the left, his 10 Imperial Guardsmen surround my Grey Hunter Rhino, contesting the objective. The Space Wolves also can't get out of the tank without the tank having to move.
The Manticores drive down from the hills. On the right flank the Manticore contests the objective held by my small Grey Hunter pack in a Razorback...which promotly explodes under a hail of lascannon fire from the immobilised Valkyrie Vendetta top right and the Hyrdra flak tanks. Luckily only 1 of the Grey Hunters is killed in the explosion and the pack passes its pinning test.
The Psyker squads cast their 'big explosion' powers (can't remember the real name for it!), but both are dispelled by the Rune Priest.
A horde of Imperial Guard advance from the right flank to rapid fire the Wolf Guard terminators with lasguns. None of them fall.
in my turn the 4 Grey Hunters in the Razorback wreckage destroy the Manticore on the right flank with their melta gun and claim the objective.
To the right of the ruins, my remaining 3 Grey Hunters embark in the Razorback and claim another objective.
On the left flank, the Grey Hunter Rhino rolls forward, the Space Wolves inside get out and rapid fire the 10 Imperial Guard, but cannot kill enough to force them off the objective. In doing so they concede the objective.
Meanwhile, the Wolf Guard terminators move through the rocks, around the psykers and into close combat with the 10 Imperial Guard holding an objective by a wrecked Valkyrie on the right flank. They cut them down without any resistance and sweep on to the objective, contesting it.
Meanwhile the Rune Priest gets stuck into the psykers themselves, casting Murderous Hurricen and charging in. He dies bravely after killing 5 of the heretics.
My opponent is holding 1 objective, I'm holding 2 and 1 is contested. We roll the dice and the game ends in a Space Wolves victory!
To top it all off, I wiped out over half of his Troop choices, earning me +5 points. Meanwhile he completed his Secret Mission by killing my HQ choice.
That was a tough game! Right from the start I expected to be shot to hell and back having heard of the Imperial Guard's reputation at 1750 points and higher.
I got disheartened in this one and when my one saving grace, which was to charge in the Rune Priest's Grey Hunters, was taken away from me, I had a proper sulk. Tanks were exploding, I was failing over half of my armour saves and had a bit of a strop.
Then I stopped, apologised to my opponent for being 'a bit of a nob' and we had a much better game. To be honest, I was disappointed at myself for taking it all so seriously. The again, it didn't help that I knew I could be battling for 3rd place.
Sure, the Imperial Guard are nasty until you can get your Long Fangs pouring krak missiles into their Valkyries. I knew there was no point in reserving my army. I had to get everything on, soak up as much fire as possible and get across the board and hang on to those objectives.
Had this been an Annihilation or Secure & Control mission, I doubt I would have stood much of a chance. But multiple objectives meant I didn't have to travel as far or worry about my transports exploding as much.
But when push comes to shove, I had a lot of Space Wolves on the board and when you've got plenty of Space Marines in cover or diving into transports, they require ungodly amounts of firepower to kill!
However, I'm glad the game didn't go on for another turn. I could have run out of Grey Hunters by then.
The close combat with the Rune Priest was a disaster. I've never seen anyone roll so many 5's in all my life. But it counted for naught by the time my Wolf Guard Terminators waded in. With plenty of attacks on the charge, power weapons and 2+ armour, my opponent could roll as high as he liked and still wouldn't be able to win.
Wolf Guard Terminators are truly badass in 2000 points games.
In this game I found myself playing not only the mission and the army, but also my opponent. I had to think about what he was shooting, what kind of bait he would take, how cautious he would be and most importantly which of his units would survive whatever I threw at them.
When you know some things simply aren't going to die or are about to blow you away with incredibly accurate firepower, your tactics have to change to incorporate tactical certainties and not statistical risks.
God help you if you charge 10 Space Wolves at 20 Conscripts and none of them die, before turning round and hacking apart your Grey Hunters like they were Grots. At least he didn't have much luck with the Scatter Dice, no matter how much he spun it.
With my victory, I nailed 3rd place be a solid margin and excepted my prize with a cheesy grin! Not bad since my last big win was 3rd place at the Portent Tournament in 2005.
Tired, hungover, sweaty and unshaven, I couldn't wait to go home, get some sleep and then start work on painting more Space Wolves!
The tournament had been a real blast where I'd met some great people, played some awesome games and put a lot of theory into good practice. Writing the Space Wolves blog has been a massive help in learning how to play the army better and to become a better player as a whole.
Warhammer 40K is all about Theory and Practice. Anyone can write a cheesy army list, but knowing how to play it in every mission, in every situation and against every army takes a lot more thought and familiarity. Sometimes you can wing it and scrape a win (against Imperial Guard), sometimes you completely fluff it and have to learn the hard way (against Tyranids). But it's an important learning experience and you'll be prepared for the next time you have to face that army, opponent or mission -And without having to tailor your army list to overcome it.
Thanks for reading my Warhammer 40K battle reports from Battle Of The Chumps and stay tuned for more exciting Space Wolves battle reports!