It has been a long time since my last game of 40K and I have been feeling a distinct urge to get more involved in the gaming aspects of the hobby. Sgt Waz is usually happy to oblige when it comes to such things, so we organised a game that would let him try out his new Fallen collection. I have played one game against Cypher back at the start of 4th Edition, in which I came nail-bitingly close to catching the mercurial gunslinger. With very little knowledge of the Fallen special rules, I set about writing a 1055 point list that would fit Waz's request for an "infantry" battle; his collection isn't capable of taking down heavy vehicles yet.
I opted for a diverse force, including a Tactical Squad (plasma gun, lascannon), Scout Squad (sniper rifles and heavy bolter), Devastator Squad (plasma cannons), Assault Squad (power weapon) and Deathwing Squad (heavy flamer, power sword, chainfist and lightning claws). Leading the Deathwing Squad was Belial, allowing them to teleport onto the board without scattering. Bolstering the other infantry units, I had a Librarian in Terminator amrour (psychic mastery level 2) with the Mind Worm and Maelstrom of Misery psychic powers.
Compared to my "Variety Pack" army, Sgt Waz only had access to the nascent heart of a Fallen force, which included three squads of marines (two plasma guns per squad), Cypher and a mysterious Chaplain figure who would play the role of Warlord. The capabilities of the squads were limited, but adequate for the task of deleting MEQ's. With two attacks and two close combat weapons, they would also be pouring on the attacks in assault.
The first nasty surprise! After the roll for deployment, in which Sgt Waz decided to deploy first and go first, he chose to infiltrate two of his squads and outflank with the last. That left me facing an empty board, going second! With six objective markers to cover and the high chance that I could set up in the middle of a trap, I set up in the center of the board in a tight formation. This would make it hard for infiltrating Fallen to find range in the first turn, whilst giving me the best chance to capture and hold objectives in the middle of the board. My assault squad was deployed near an objective, but still in range to counter assault units threatening the main body of my army. They were also poised to capture other objectives on the far side of the board. My scouts infiltrated last, setting up in cover with several objectives and other terrain features in range. By the time I set them up, the terrain feature I was hoping to put them in originally was crawling with Fallen.
Turn 1: The Fallen
The Fallen infantry converged on the center of the board, closing the range to my Dark Angels. The Fallen hidden in the rock spire took some pot-shots at my tactical squad, causing the first casualties.
Turn 1: Dark Angels
I moved the surviving Tactical Squad members forward to clear the Fallen from the center objective, pouring boltgun fire into them. The plasma cannons of the Devastator squad killed another four of them and the scout snipers killed one more. At the end of the turn I had pushed them back far enough through casualties to cash in a Strategic Objective card for 1 VP. My Assault Squad redeployed towards the center of the battlefield to either counter charge Fallen going for my Tactical Squad or take the objective next turn.
Turn 2: The Fallen
Sgt Waz failed his reserves roll and continued moving on the center objective and bringing my infantry blob into rapid fire range. My Tactical Squad was reduced to two marines, including the plasma gunner, who fell back towards my board edge.
Turn 2: Dark Angels
I passed my reserves roll and figured I would be a pretty poor Dark Angels player if I didn't have a solid craic at capturing Cypher. I dropped my Deathwing Squad and Belial behind him and let rip. After the shooting round, both Cypher and the Chaplain were down to 1 wound! So close...
In the preceding psychic phase my Librarian cast Maelstrom of Misery which, combined with the plasma cannons of the Devastator Squad and sniper Scouts, wiped out the first Fallen Squad. the Librarian also lost a wound to Perils of the Warp.
Turn 3: The Fallen
Sgt Waz passed his reserves roll and brought his last Fallen squad onto the flank behind the Deathwing Squad and Belial. Cypher broke away from his squad and bolted away to engage my Devastator squad. The shooting phase and following assault was brutal. Caught between two squads and a Chaplain, I lost the Deathwing Squad and Belial, my Warlord. But not before the traitorous Warlord Chaplain himself was cut to pieces. All I can say is that a large squad of Fallen backed up by a Chaplain deals out an awful many hits in close combat...
Meanwhile, Cypher hit my Librarian with 2 plasma pistol shots and a bolt pistol shot. The Librarian passed two saves on 5+ to survive the plasma shots, but the bolt round got through.
Turn 3: Dark Angels
My Assault squad jumped across the river and captured an objective, giving my an extra VP. I had no doubts that at the current range, Cypher was going to cause all kinds of problems for my backfield, with very little there with any hope of capturing him. That in mind, I decided to gun him down with the Tactical Squad's plasma gun. Rolling for his capture, none of my models were within the required two inches, so he mysteriously disappeared. This eliminated any chance of me scoring the 3 VP for his capture, but also removed a great threat to my gunline. Does that make the plasma gunner a hero or a villain?
Turn 4: The Fallen
The Fallen immediately sought revenge, taking out the plasma gunner with return fire. Having defended objective marker 1 for two turns, Sgt Waz scored a handy 2 VP. His second squad started moving across the board towards my Assault Squad.
Turn 4: Dark Angels
I moved my Assault squad back to take control of an objective (scoring 1 VP) and increase the distance to the nearest Fallen Squad, with the hopes of securing a VP for Line Breaker. My last Tactical Marine ran to Objective 4 with the hope of sneaking some VP in the last turn. Meanwhile, my Devastator marines and Scouts killed the last Fallen on my half of the board, denying them any chance of Line Breaker.
Turn 5: The Fallen
Ahhh, the best laid plans... Sgt Waz's Fallen shot my last Tactical marine, killing him and earning an easy VP! Damn those objective cards can be tricksy! Thankfully, that was all he had left in him.
Turn 5: Dark Angels
My last plasma cannon took a shot at the Fallen and overheated, killing my marine (it was bound to happen eventually). The Scout squad, which had been so dependable all game, whittled the remaining Fallen squad down to four traitors, which was a great effort. At the end of the turn we rolled to see if the game would continue, but this turn proved to be the last. In a final act of defiance, my Assault Squad gave me a VP for Linebreaker, as I had been planning for. Unfortunately, the damage had been done through Strategic Objectives; my inability to force The Fallen off their objectives early in the game, loss of Cypher and simple bad luck with my own cards had cost me the game!
Dark Angels: 6
The Fallen: 7
Playing against The Fallen with Dark angels is great fun, adding a whole new dimension to the game. Every shot fired that involves Cypher and every close combat encounter with him adds to the mythology, pushing you to choose more aggressive tactics. Cypher is not great at close combat, but getting into close combat with him is hard. He just shoots and shoots and shoots and shoots. The Fallen themselves seem to be a Jack-of-all-Trades unit. They can get in your face fairly easily but are not really what you could call a Deathstar unit. I would like to see how they go with more special weapons in the mix, or some powerful close combat weapons. Their ability to infiltrate and outflank adds a significant "fog of war" aspect to the game; you don't really know where they are all going to turn up, which allows them to dictate the terms of the engagement. Exactly as it should be, I guess...
See you across the table,