Battle Summary (Sisters of Battle vs Blood Angels, Astra Militarum and Knights)

A few weeks ago, I got another game in with my Sisters of Battle. This time, it was against the same Blood Angels player whom I had fought a year or so ago in an Apocalypse game. I am never one to turn down a rematch, and so we agreed to a 2000 point game to test out the new bolter beta rules that had been printed in White Dwarf.

I brought the same list as I had used in my previous game:

THE ORDER OF THE BLESSED DAMSEL:

ORDER OF THE BLOODY ROSE BATTALION:
Canoness- inferno pistol, Blade of Admonition, Righteous Rage
Saint Celestine
Missionary- Book of St. Lucius
15 Battle Sisters- 2 flamers, simulacrum imperialis, Sister Superior w. power maul
5 Battle Sisters- 2 storm bolters, Sister Superior w. storm bolter
5 Battle Sisters- 2 storm bolters, Sister Superior w. storm bolter
9 Arco-Flagellants
Dialogus
Preacher- chainsword
2 Gemini Superiae
10 Seraphim- 2 hand flamers
6 Dominions- 4 meltaguns, Sister Superior w. combi-flamer
6 Retributors- 4 heavy flamers, Sister Superior w. combi-melta
Immolator- Immolation flamers
Immolator- Immolation flamers 
Immolator- Immolation flamers 
Rhino- 2 storm bolters
Rhino- 2 storm bolters

ORDER OF THE SACRED ROSE SPEARHEAD:
Canoness- bolt pistol, power sword
8 Retributors- 4 heavy bolters, simulacrum imperialis
Exorcist
Exorcist

The Order of the Blessed Damsel, with their beloved Living Saint Germaine deploying from the tupperware transport of St. Ikea.

My opponent, meanwhile, brought the following:

STORM ANGELS (with Valiance PDF and Imperial Knights from an unknown Household):


BLOOD ANGELS BATTALION:
Librarian Dreadnought- storm bolter, Wings of Sanguinius, The Quickening, Heroic Bearing
Captain- Angel’s Wing, thunder hammer, storm shield
Lieutenant- storm bolter, chainsword
5 Scouts- bolters, heavy bolter, camo cloaks
5 Scouts- bolters, heavy bolter, camo cloaks
5 Scouts- bolters, heavy bolter, camo cloaks
5 Sanguinary Guard- power fists, death masks
3 Aggressors- auto boltstorm gauntlets
3 Aggressors- auto boltstorm gauntlets
Company Ancient- Standard of Sacrifice
Sanguinary Novitiate- jump pack
5 Hellblasters- plasma incinerators, Sergeant w. plasma pistol
5 Hellblasters- plasma incinerators, Sergeant w. plasma pistol

CADIAN BATTALION:
Company Commander
Company Commander
Infantry Squad- autocannon
Infantry Squad- autocannon
Infantry Squad- autocannon

2 IMPERIAL KNIGHTS SUPER-HEAVY AUXILIARY DETACHMENTS
Armiger Helverin
Armiger Helverin

His list was altogether different from what I was expecting, emphasizing massed firepower over the fast assaulty units that the Blood Angels are known for (though it still had a few of those, particularly in the form of his nasty characters). The two units of Hellblasters and the Armigers in particular made me rather nervous.

Mission and Deployment

We had not agreed to a scenario beforehand, so we randomly rolled on Chapter Approved 2018 and got Vital Intelligence with standard, long-edge deployment. Five objectives (numbered 1 to 5) would be placed at specific quadrants of the battlefield. Each turn, a d6 would be rolled to see which objective was “active:” each objective held each turn would be worth 1 objective point, while each active objective would be worth 2.

I deployed my army across a wide frontage, with my firepower anchoring the right flank and most of my army dominating the centre. My Dominions were put on the right flank to hopefully counter any Armigers that might show up there.

The Sisters of Battle deploy. Note that the terrain for this game was, sadly, quite sparse.
Celestine takes cover behind a wall of vehicles, boosting their Shield of Faith

My opponent, meanwhile, castled two of his Infantry squads in the strongpoint on the right flank, along with both of his Company Commanders. Most of his army was then placed in the centre, while on the left he placed his Armigers with another Infantry squad (one using Necromunda Escher models) to guard them. Finally, his Scouts were deployed loosly, with one hiding on a hill close to my firebase and two taking up positions in a two-storey building close to my centre.

Finally, both the Seraphim and Sanguinary Guard started the game in reserve.

Some of my opponent’s converted Scouts.
The main battle line of the Storm Angels
The Valeance PDF take up firing positions on top of a strongpoint.

As the person who rolled to deploy first, I got the first turn, as per scenario rules (my opponent didn’t seize).

Turn 1

On turn one, the objective on my right flank activated. I sent one Immolator to go and contest it (forgetting to disembark my Canoness to provide her rerolls to my battle-line beforehand). My right flank held its ground, my Dominions, after their scout moves, zoomed up into flamer range of the foremost squad of Aggressors, and my centre advanced forward as well.

In the wake of my vehicle horde, my big unit of Battle Sisters advanced on the Scouts ensconced in the building. Celestine tried to stay in the centre to provide her invulnerable saving boost to as many units as possible.

In the shooting phase, I threw as much firepower as I could into the foremost unit of Aggressors. The heavy bolter Retributors, both Exorcists, and the Dominions’ Immolator all focused their fire on them, and juuuust narrowly managed to wipe them out for First Blood (getting Divine Guidance off on the Retributors helped). My big unit of Battle Sisters, meanwhile, fired into the lower-most unit of Scouts hiding in the building, and managed to kill one. All of my other vehicles popped smoke, and that was that.

In response, the Helverins moved up so that they were just out of range of the Exorcists, but still very much in range of them with their fancy autocannons.
The Blood Angel centre, meanwhile, edged forward a little, with the Aggressors advancing into boltstorm range of my oncoming tanks.
And of course, Slamguinius flew up to say hello to my Dominions’ Immolator. With his hammer.
In the psychic phase, the Librarian Dreadnought cast Wings of Sanguinius and flew directly in front of my line of tanks. He then cast the Quickening on himself to boost his attacks. Ruh roh.


In the shooting phase, my opponent tested out the new bolter rules by firing both units of Scouts on the left at my footslogging Battle Sisters. Five of my girls were mowed down in the ensuing storm of fire. The rest of his shooting, however, was fairly unimpressive, ALMOST getting the job done but not quite managing it. The Aggressors and a unit of Hellblasters combined to drop my leftmost Immolator to 5 wounds– unfortunately, my strong invulnerable saves and the smoke launchers really hampered their efforts.

On the left, the other unit of Hellblasters fired into the Dominions’ Immolator, while Slamguinius chucked a krak grenade; meanwhile, the two units of Guard Infantry in the bunker were ordered to First Rank Fire, and split their fire, pelting the Immolator with lasguns while firing at the rightmost Exorcist with their autocannons. After all was said and done, the Immolator had been dropped down to 5 wounds, and the Exorcist had taken one or two of its own. Not to be outdone, the Helverins concentrated their fire on the Exorcist as well, and managed to drop it down to 2 wounds, leaving it crippled but still alive.

In the assault phase, Slamguinius charged the Immolator, ignoring overwatch thanks to the Angel’s Wing. However, to my amazement and my opponent’s mounting horror, he flubbed his dice rolls and only got one wounding hit in, doing 3 wounds to the tank but leaving it hanging on 2. He elected not to use Honour of the Chapter to swing again and hopefully finish it off.

Elsewhere, the Librarian Dread multi-charged both my closest Immolator and my Arco-Flagellants’ Rhino, taking 1 wound from overwatch. He used the Red Rampage stratagem for yet more attacks, but when all was said and done, the foremost Immolator was left hanging on 1 wound. Again, a combination of bad dice rolls and good invulnerable saves kept my trusty transport alive.

This is how it looked at the end of my turn.

At the start of my turn, my Seraphim came down on the far right flank, ready to threaten the leftmost Guard squad and, hopefully, to charge and tie up the Helverins behind them. However, I forgot to use Burning Descent with them, forgetting that it was to be done in the movement phase rather than in the shooting phase.

In the movement phase, I proceeded to swarm his lines. One squad of Battle Sisters disembarked from the damaged Immolator to go after his left Hellblasters, while similarly, my Dominions left their own Immolator to go pester the rightmost Hellblasters. My heavy flamer Retributors disembarked from their Rhino to go flame the nearby Scouts, and their Rhino zoomed up aggressively towards the Aggressors, ready to tank overwatch for my Arco-Flagellants, who also disembarked and moved up. Celestine and her entourage also flew up, ready to lend a hand if need be.

Last but by no means least, my big Sisters mob moved into rapid fire range of the Scouts in the building, and my Canoness got out of her Immolator and used Hand of the Emperor to move right into the Librarian Dreadnought’s faceplate.

In the shooting phase, a Stratagempocalypse commenced. The Dominions got off Divine Guidance, and from there, used the Faith and Fury stratagem on the Hellblasters to melt down three of them, though one Hellblaster fired back thanks to the Standard of Sacrifice and managed to freem a Dominion. The Battle Sisters, meanwhile, used the Blessed Bolts stratagem and managed to blast down two of the left Hellblasters, though again, they lost one of their number to the Standard of Sacrifice. The heavy flamer Retributors used the Holy Trinity stratagem to wound the rightmost Scouts on 2s, and proceeded to annihilate the whole unit in one go despite their cover. Celestine managed to burninate a wound off of the Aggressors, and a lucky bolt pistol shot from the Gemini managed to finish it off– and again, the Standard of Sacrifice kicked in, allowing the Aggressor to mow down an Arco-Flagellant before he finally died.

Continuing in the shooting phase, my leftmost Exorcist fired at the leftmost Hellblasters…and chose that moment to fail to hit with anything. My rightmost Exorcist, similarly, had line of sight to Slamguinius, but failed to hit (though to be fair it was hitting on a 5+ at this point). My Retributors, however, had no such difficulties, firing on one of the distant Guard Infantry Squads and blasting down 7 of them despite their cover. On the left, my big blob of Battle Sisters rapid fired into the lower-most unit of Scouts, but failed to kill any of them. Exasperated, the Missionary had to show them how it was done, plinking off one of them with a lucky pot-shot from his autogun. Finally, on the far left, my Seraphim, having forgotten to use their Burning Descent, nonetheless blasted down 5 of the nearby Escher squad with their bolt pistols.

In the charge phase, the Retributors’ Rhino charged the Aggressors, taking a wound from overwatch, while the Arco-Flagellants charged both them and the Lieutenant, managing to make it into both. The Canoness charged the Librarian Dread, and the Dominions, feeling brave, charged the Hellblasters, losing none to overwatch. The Seraphim also tried to charge the Escher squad, but fell short.

In close combat, the Arco-Flagellants used the Extremis Trigger Word, and the two remaining Aggressors and the Lieutenant simply disappeared in a red mist. The Arcos then consolidated into the Novitiate, who managed to strike a wound off of an Arco in return, before another two died from a lethal overdose of combat drugs. The Dominions, meanwhile, managed to wound one Hellblaster for no loss in return.

Finally, the Canoness singled out the Dreadnought in a clash of the warlords. Swinging at 6 attacks thanks to the nearby Preacher at strength 6, rerolling failed to wound rolls and doing 3 damage apiece, the Canoness made a mockery of the Dreadnought’s high toughness and dealt 9 wounds to him, cutting him down in a single round of combat! My opponent then played the Only In Death stratagem and swung back, doing 5 wounds back to the Canoness. Thankfully, my invulnerable saves were hot, and when all was said and done, the Canoness was left on 2 wounds, battered but alive.

In the morale phase, the Eschers lost 2 of their number, and the Infantry Squad that had been shot up by the Retributors evaporated. Both units of Hellblasters, at least, held their nerve, but at this point, the damage had been done. Thoroughly demoralized and seeing the writing on the wall, my opponent conceded at this point.

Thoughts:

Honestly, I think the three things that won me this game were the Shield of Faith, my opponent’s awful luck, and the lack of decent terrain on the board. In the case of the first, I was honestly surprised at how much firepower my tanks close to Celestine were able to absorb– if I had taken an Indomitable Belief Canoness instead of a choppy girl, I probably would have been able to reliably able to shrug off most of what my opponent threw at me. Even those tanks outside the range of Celestine’s aura, however, made the odd 6+ save when it counted. This was compounded further by my opponent’s atrocious luck in his turn: whether it was his Helverins narrowly failing to bring down my Exorcist, or his close combat specialists falling short of the mark, the dice betrayed my opponent at crucial moments. When Slamguinius and the Librarian Dread failed to destroy their respective targets, it felt like the writing was pretty much on the wall.

Another thing that hampered us, I feel, was the lack of terrain– what little of the store’s terrain was, at that moment, being used in a Kill Team game. Both my opponent and I agreed, however, that an increase in terrain (especially of the line of sight blocking variety) would have helped his army in that crucial first turn, and I’m inclined to agree with him.

On the Sisters of Battle

In this crucial second game, my list did pretty much everything it was supposed to: it trundled up the board in their transports, survived a round of shooting relatively intact, and then disembarked and unleashed hell. I am finding that that crucial turn of disembarkation, if coordinated well, is crucial, as that is when all of the fancy stratagems and acts of faith come out to play. The end result, I find, is that the Sisters are an army that really hit hard on the first and second turns, but may struggle to maintain their momentum when their command points start to run low. By their nature, they also are an aggressive army that wins through mobility and board control….though again, I have yet to see footslogging mobs of Sisters tested out yet.

The standouts for me in this game were the Canoness (especially for her chopping down the Dreadnought like the bosslady she is), and my Exorcists, again. At this point, I am beginning to think that the Exorcists are undercosted at just 125 points, given the insane amount of damage they can inflict against vehicles and multi-wound models. I wouldn’t be surprised if they get a points hike when the official Sisters of Battle codex drops. Beyond that, I have to say I am very happy so far with how the Sisters of Battle are working in the game: mobile, short-ranged and deadly, just as they should be.

On Blood Angels, and Marines in general

One thing my opponent and I discussed afterwards was the current, sad state of the game for Blood Angels– how the frequent alterations to the rules and the changes to the meta over the past few years had meant that they can no longer do what they are supposed to do (ie, get into close combat reliably). The changes to flying models charging, and to deep strike, have hurt Blood Angels considerably, and they are further hampered by the fact that, thanks to armour-piercing weapons being so widespread in this edition, Space Marines in general simply aren’t as durable as they used to be– which sucks, given that they are designed with a reliance on their power armour in mind. My opponent and I discussed a wide range of possible solutions for Space Marines, but also agreed that any changes at this point would simply be opening Pandora’s Box– whether it be giving them all multiple wounds or boosting their toughness or armour save, any improvements to Space Marines would by necessity have a ripple effect on the rest of the game in turn.

even further. At the very least, we both agreed that, with the dominance of shooting in the meta, neither of us would mind seeing first-turn deep strikes coming back. Personally, I would see it as a welcome change to the dominance of firepower-based armies that tend to make the games of smaller, elite armies so frustrating at times.

The bolter beta

With regards to the bolter beta, I found it to be reasonably effective for the one time it really came into play, as as a small handful of Scouts were able to put the hurt on my large Battle Sister squad from a safe distance away. My opponent agreed that, while not game-changingly awesome, the new bolter rules did quite a bit to enhance Space Marine shooting. If the overall goal of the bolter beta was to make Tactical Marines a more attractive option, however, then, in my opponent’s mind, they failed– they simply made Scouts that much better for their cost. I personally concur, insofar as I think that it is the more “special” Marines (ie Primaris Marines, Deathwatch and Thousand Sons) who benefit the most from the beta. Overall, I don’t think the bolter beta is a bad rule, but I am aggravated by the fact that it is making a shooting-centric game even more shooting-centric at the expense of melee units/armies.

On the new Chapter Approved missions

In this game, the “Acceptable Casualties” rule that is a hallmark of the CA2018 missions did not come into play, mainly because we both forgot about it (I wonder how willing my opponent would have been to throw in the towel, had he known he could still win regardless of his horrible losses). I must admit, I am still on the fence about how in the new missions, the person who deploys first gets to go first. On the one hand, it means that the player going second will know to hide/shield as much of his forces as possible; on the other hand, it also means that the person going first will be able to set up a devastating alpha strike unless thwarted by a seize. Having only played two fo the new missions so far, I will admit I do appreciate that many of the missions force armies to move towards objectives either in the centre or in their opponents’ deployment zone, rather than camping and shooting their way to victory.

Of course, what I would really like to test out are the missions from the Vigilus Defiant book: those are wonderfully thematic instead of being simple, objective-based matched play games, though they are also the sort of missions an army would have to be individually tailored for. If I ever get a chance to offer the Blood Angel player a rematch (and given how little he enjoyed this game, I honestly think I should offer him one), then I’d really like to try one of the missions from there.

As I write this, a small blizzard is blowing outside my window, drenching Toronto in snow. Hopefully, this weather will not impede public transport, as I’d really like to get some more games in sometime in the near future. Keep your eyes open for more batreps soon, readers!

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.