About a week and a half ago I played Mike Brandt in a featured challenge match to the death! The game was streamed live with commentary and technical support from Werner Born and Brad Nichols (who I definitely still owe beer to for that). But sadly, it was lost to the internet as I didn’t properly understand how twitch worked. BUT, the game was simply too good to forget. Honestly, in 14 years of playing 40k, I can’t recall many games I’ve played that were so tactically engaging, deep, and evenly matched. So, with the help of Mike Brandt, who recreated pictures for me to use from vassal, I’ve been able to reconstruct the game for anyone who may have missed it live.
To be completely honest, when I envisioned writing this article I expected it to be able to fit it into one article. Whilst writing the first turn, I realized that it would need to be broken up into 2 parts. Then, as I got into writing turn 2 and was at 1500 words, I realized this would need to become a 3-part series to truly capture the tactical depth of this game.
The link above has our lists, and it was a classic struggle of Chaos vs Imperium for those too lazy to click it. The mission was NOVA mission 1 with the classic Dawn of War Deployment Style.
*insert shameless plug here* NOVA is a fantastic convention held every Labor Day in the DC area. It features 4-5 different 40k tournaments ranging from an invitational with a $1000 cash prize, a 256 person open GT, and a narrative tournament where players battle in a Washington DC-esque world. Thousands of gamers travel from all over each year to attend, and personally, it’s one of my favorite conventions every year!
Now, returning to our regularly scheduled battle report after that short commercial break.
Nova format requires players to choose 1 of 2 primary goals. These typically involve capturing objectives, either progressively throughout the game, or at the end of the game. They also require players to choose 3 secondary’s which you achieve throughout the game as well (much like ITC), and finally, for the tertiary, they require that you nominate 2 units at the start of the battle to be objective secured. These units score points during your turn by capturing an objective, but if they do this they cannot shoot or charge. Note that if these units die, you just can’t score any more points towards this tertiary objective.
For the actual packet click here
With all that in mind, here are the missions we each chose:
|End Game Objectives||Progressive objectives|
|Moment of Bloodshed||Recon|
|Cull the Hordes||Old School|
|Head Hunter||Moment of Bloodshed|
|Tertiary Nurglings||Tertiary 10 infantry|
|Tertiary Nurglings||Tertiary 5 Scouts|
Let’s take a look at our deployments:
-The 6 objectives are the 6 little circles scattered in a hexagon shape around the table.
-Mike had waaaaay more drops than me, so I had to deploy my army centrally to mitigate the impact of Mike’s reactive deployment. If I were to choose one side to concentrate on, Mike could deploy on the completely opposite side of the board, because he had enough drops to completely wait me out.
-Mike recognized that deploying in the middle would enable me to leverage the strength of my assault oriented/short ranged army so he wisely deployed in the corners to try and tempt me into spreading my forces out to fight his vastly larger army on two fronts.
-Mike placed his sentinels at the edges of his deployment zone on the sides, they scouted up before the game began and worked their way up the very edges of the table. This ensured that my tide of traitors would be far less valuable until they were dealt with.
*Note the only thing in reserve was Mike’s jump captain.
I won the roll for first and Mike failed to seize.
This was my first turn. As you can see here, Mike’s sentinels wisely scouted up the sides as I explained before to prevent me from tiding the cultists turn one, warp timing (this game was pre-FAQ) and charging his army off the board.
-I walked my nurglings up to secure the two secondary objectives with them.
-I basically just advanced everything forward. I smited most of one guard unit away and shot 4 out of 5 scouts in one unit. This was mostly a move to establish board control. -Mike’s picture doesn’t accurately capture this, but I did have my backfield completely screened so his sneaky JP captain couldn’t come in behind me and surprise kill a character.
-This was Mike’s first turn. His sentinels started sprinting up the field to snag his recon point, and continue the tide blocking.
-He moved his scouts on the left up to secure their objective, and he moved his red guard unit to secure the other on the right. He then used Move Move Move! on them to run them back to safety (That’s what the green arrows represent).
-Mike didn’t get aggressive at all because running towards an army of berzerkers and bloat drones seems suicidal. I recognized that as a weakness to Mike’s plan though, because he chose progressive scoring and not moving doesn’t really help you score progressively.
-Mike did have one advantage here: time. My secondaries all centered around killing him, so despite him choosing progressive scoring forcing him into moving to score points, I also chose active secondaries, forcing me to kill him to score points. This created a very interesting dynamic as both of our armies were perfectly content trying to wait out the other person, but neither could wait long.
-Mike shot a billion mortars and auto cannons at one of my objective secured nurgling units and left it alive with 2 wounds left. This meant I could get another turn of scoring out of that little guy.
-Mike wisely shot just enough cultists that I would have to spend CP to keep them alive from morale, and then more CP if I wanted to tide them back to full strength, but the tide would only really be able to come back into my own deployment zone, because of the Sentinels.
-I chose to spend the CP to keep the cutlists alive, to deny Mike First strike on his Old School secondary.
Score at end of 2:
|End Game Objectives||–||Progressive objectives||0|
|Moment of Bloodshed||0||Recon||1|
|Cull the Hordes||0||Old School||0|
|Head Hunter||0||Moment of Bloodshed||0|
|Tertiary Nurglings||1||Tertiary 10 infantry||1|
|Tertiary Nurglings||1||Tertiary 5 Scouts||1|
As of now the game is pretty even, but things really heat up in turns 2 and 3 which will be the focus of Thursday’s article, so be sure to check that out too!