Friday, 20 September 2013

Badab War Why The Astral Claws Lost

   A small skirmish in the Badab war where an advancing Blood Angels detachment is ambushed by the Astral Claws. For this game I tried to use the tactics and doctrine of the Astral Claws as described in the Forge World Imperial Armour Vol. 9.

   The Claws use the Tyrant's Legion of humans as an ablative shield to offset their deficiencies in numbers of Space Marines. Accordingly I set up a defensive line with the Legion Auxilia Infantry strung out as bait in a valley between two forested hills [1]. The far hill has an Auxilia Fire Support Unit with armour piercing weapons among the trees [2]. The near hill has an Astral Claw Cohort in the woods [3] and a Hellhound in hiding [4].

   In order to give myself the best possible chance I elected to use my lucky dice.

   On turn two I sprang the rest of the trap. My lucky dice lived up to their name and dumped all my reserves on the battlefield to the rear of the Blood Angels - the Centurion with a bodyguard elite troops bebussed from an Arvus lighter converted into a gunship by the addition of an autocannon escorted by a heavily armed armour busting Vulture Gunship. The Claw Cohort [3] and Hellhound [4] rushed from hiding

   The Blood Anels were surrounded by a ring of steel. Well almost surrounded. The uxilia [2] had taken a hammering but that is what ablative shields are for.

   A perfect plan: pity about the outcome.

   The ablative shield ran away, what was left of it [1]. The heavy weapon Auxia were shredded 2] and the Astral Claws were exterminated to the last man [3&4]. This was not bad luck - I used my lucky dice after all. The Vulture shot poorly but I got all my reserves on where I wanted them on turn two - swings and rounabouts.

   There were better set ups I could have made but only by ignoring Astral Claw doctrine. Does that matter?

   When I play a historical game such as Bolt Action I tend to judge the 'realism' of the game by whether the rules incline you to use the tactics of the time, or what is currently considered to be the tactics of the time, and whether the results seem reasonable.

   The yardstick for judging the realism of a fantasy game must be the fluff. By that standard there is something badly wrong with the Astral Claws as depicted by Forge World.

   Now that irritates me because I am a scenario or narrative gamer. OK, very anal and all that but this is an anal hobby. If it was just about a good game we would all be playing chess.

   Or maybe this just explains why the Astral Claws lost - lousy tactics and  false doctrine.


  1. I am not sure if your critique is correct here. You are using the "battle tactics" of the army and applying it to what is really a single firefight encounter.

    The abalative shield is there to hold the line in one battle without concerns for losses by the Claws and then the Claws come in and hit the attackers while they regroup or are moving up. Remember that the bulk of the fighting is actually at ranges about 5 times the side of the board and 40K only really represents the tight in down and dirty stuff (the bayonet charge equivalent).

    1. Possibly you are right but that raises the issue that if the fluff bears no relation to playing the game then what's the point.

  2. Great to see your astral claws again john, still not finished mine!
    Be great to see a group shot of the army all together.

    Remember Huron is quoted as saying "big guns never tire' maybe a basilisk or thunderer would add some Killy goodness to the army. Those blood angels look mighty susceptible to a demolished / earth shaker template all grouped togetherness the photo

    1. Yeah, but if I add more points then so does he.....frightening thought.

    2. Do you still have the earth shaker emplacements from brakes? I'm sure tyrants legion can take them, an 88' might be a better use of points than a hell hound.

    3. Yes they can and I do indeed have my Vraks army. Good thinking.

  3. When the CSM codex came out everyone raved about using Cultists to 'tar-pit' the opposition whilst the CSM did their stuff.

    And here's you saying it doesn't work ?!?! Shirely some mistake....

    1. The phrase 'target rich environment' springs to mind.