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The Third War for GC
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The December 2004 GC tournament was a straightforward afffair. All games were a modified Cleanse - special rules: victory points, dusk or dawn, infiltrate, deep strike and escalation on a 4+. 1500pts. Swiss-style preliminary rounds and the usual final rounds. This time, my Thousand Sons have all been painted up (the last Rhino was done a day before the first game), and they took to the field, boasting an 82% pre-tournament win record over the past year and half (note the word 'boasting').

The War Host of Amun Seth

The War Host assembled before battle
The War Host assembled before battle

The Tourney List:
Many say this is a strange Thousand Sons list, equipped for close assault. Admittedly, the list is not forgiving - you really can't make mistakes - but hey, it has worked in more than 100 games against strong players, so why not? :)

HQ:
Lord Ka'Kaa, Lord of Change, with Wind of Chaos

TROOPS:
Squad Shapekti, favored Thousand Sons squad. Sorcerer with Doombolt, daemonic mutation, bolt pistol, powerfist, spiky bits & talisman of Tzeentch. In Rhino with extra armor, smoke launchers and searchlight.

Squad Sakhti, favored Thousand Sons squad. Sorcerer with Doombolt, daemonic mutation, bolt pistol, powerfist & spiky bits. In Rhino with extra armor, smoke launchers and searchlight.

Squad Gemba'lung, favored Thousand Sons squad. Sorcerer is daemonvessel with bolt pistol, close combat weapon and daemon chains. In Rhino with extra armor, smoke launchers and searchlight.

HEAVY:
Ushabtus, Predator with twin-linked lascannons, sponson lascannons, mutated hull, daemonic possession and dozer blades

Omanotti, Predator with autocannon, sponson heavy bolters, havoc launcher, mutated hull, daemonic possesson and dozer blades


Game 1: vs Dark Angels
This was fought in urban terrain with lots of Level 3 buildings providing hard cover and channeling attack paths. We rolled for escalation - my army will not be deploying :). The Dark Angels list was something like this:

HQ:
Master, termie honors, power weapon, combi-bolter melta, with Command Squad with 1 melta and a veteran sergeant (I think). Equipped with drop pod.

TROOPS:
5-man scout team with missile launcher
5-man squad with plasma cannon & plasma gun
5-man squad with plasma cannon & plasma gun
8-man squad with missile launcher and plasma gun in Rhino

FAST ATTACK:
5-man Assault Squad
3-man Bike Squad with meltagun
Land Speeder with multimelta

HEAVY:
Predator, twin-linked lascannons, heavy bolters
Whirlwind

This battle could have turned out better. The plan was to take second turn and speed up the flanks to gain control of the neutral quarters. As it turned out, my opponent  won the roll and forced me to take 1st turn.

Highlights: A very brave deep strike (like 4 inches from the table edge, and in between buildings), and the Dark Angels Command Squad's drop pod blocked one of my attack paths. Another even braver deep strike which allowed no scatter landed the land speeder right behind Predator Ushabtus, which obviously killed the tank. The very heavily-armed anti-personnel Omanotti actually took 2 turns to wipe out the scouts. Of course, the most notorious misfiring of the game was Lord Ka'Kaa's Wind of Chaos on the Command Squad, hitting 7 marines and rolling 1,1,1,2,2,3,3.

At battle's end, nobody controlled any quarter. I had lost the Predator Ushabtus and half of squad Gemba'lung. The Dark Angels lost their Command Squad, scouts, large tactical squad, bikers and assault squad. The Dark Angels player played well considering that he's very new to the game, and I narrowly won only because he lacked experience.

Game 2: vs Deep-Striking Black Templars
This was fought in fairly open terrain. There were a few hills in the corner of each quarter and patches of woods here and there. We rolled for escalation - my army will not be deploying again :). The Black Templar list was something like this:

HQ:
Emperor's Champion, black sword and all
Chaplain, with a powerfist (!)

ELITES:
Dreadnought with twin-linked lascannon

TROOPS:
5-man squad with plasma gun and plasma cannon
5-man squad with missile launcher and plasma gun
8-man squad with bolters & close combat weapon, 1 powerfist and a meltagun, in drop pod
8-man squad with bolters & close combat weapon, 1 powerfist and a meltagun, in drop pod
9-man squad with bolters & close combat weapon, 1 powerfist and a meltagun, in drop pod
9-man squad with bolters & close combat weapon, 1 powerfist and a meltagun, in drop pod

FAST ATTACK:
Land Speeder Typhoon with Typhoon launchers and heavy bolter

HEAVY:
Predator, twin-linked lascannons, heavy bolters

Again, the plan was to take second turn and speed up the flanks to gain the neutral quarters. But of course, that was the PLAN :). This time, I won the roll and actually took second turn.

Highlights: The most amazing and scariest thing must have been in Turn 2. Only squad Gemba'lung turned up, and sped to behind some woods in my quarter and disembarked. Then 3 Black Templar drop pods surrounded the squad. Some luck must have been on my side as half the squad survived and Lord Ka'Kaa turned up next turn. The other highlight must have been the cleansing of all the Black Templars in my quarter, which was quite a challenge.

Again, all quarters were contested. The Black Templar's lost all 4 drop pod squads, the Emperor's Champion, the Chaplain and the Land Speeder. I lost half of squad Gemba'lung. The Black Templars player did very well, but was not able to respond to my counter-attack. Again, I won only because I had the advantage of experience.

Game 3: vs Tau
This was fought in fairly open terrain. There were a few hills in the corners of 3 quarters and a building in the corner of the Tau home quarter. Patches of woods here and there with an especially nice one near the middle. We rolled for escalation - and for the first time my army would be deploying. The Tau list was something like this:

HQ:
Ethereal, of course
Leader in Crisis suit with plasma and missile launchers and all sorts of Tau trickery

ELITES:
3 Stealth suits
3 Stealth suits

TROOPS:
Lots and lots of Kroot with Shaper and pet dogs
12 Fire Warriors with wizardry
12 Fire Warriors with wizardry
12 Fire Warriors with wizardry and a Devilfish

HEAVY:
Hammerhead with railgun and burst cannons
Hammerhead with railgun and burst cannons
Hammerhead with ion cannon and SMS

I had played against this guy many times before and only once did the Thousand Sons not win (draw). So, yes, I was very confident. Since it wasn't escalation, I wanted 1st turn. Of course, he won the roll and took 1st turn.

Highlights: Had to be Kroots holding up squad Sakhti in close combat for many many turns, and reducing the squad to just the sorcerer. In two of those combat rounds, Sorcerer Sakhti rolled 5 consecutive hits - and failed to wound with all of them. Of course, Lord Ka'Kaa in all his confidence showed up late, and was forced to charge a Hammerhead in a vain attempt to make his points (he failed and was gunned down by burst cannons).

The Tau controlled 1 quarter and wracked up all kinds of points. I lost Lord Ka'Kaa, Predator Ushabtus and Squad Sakhti. The Tau only lost the Kroots, a Stealth team and half a Fire Warrior squad. Ah well, I guess you CAN be over-confident :). Strangely, this is the one game I can't explain why I lost (wait, maybe it's because I did not have a plan). Anyways, on to the next battle.

Game 4: vs Black Templars
This was fought in the same terrain in which the first Templar was defeated. There were a few hills in the corner of each quarter and patches of woods here and there. We rolled for escalation - and for the second time, I was able to deploy. The Black Templar list was something like this:

HQ:
Emperor's Champion, black sword et al
Chaplain

ELITES:
Dreadnought with twin-linked lascannon
Dreadnought with twin-linked lascannon
Dreadnought with assault cannon

TROOPS:
7-man squad with plasma gun and plasma cannon
5-man squad with missile launcher and plasma gun
8-man squad with bolters & close combat weapon, 1 powerfist and a meltagun, in Rhino

FAST ATTACK:
Land Speeder with multimelta
Land Speeder with multimelta
Assault Squad with powerfist

HEAVY:
Whirlwind

This time the plan was different. I wanted to annihilate all the enemy infantry by drawing the assault squad into combat and cutting it off from the rest of their army. And repeat that with the other squads. This time I got 1st turn.

Highlights: The plan to draw in the assault squad worked! Almost. He was drawn into combat, but again someone forgot to check my powerfist batteries and there were 8 consecutive failures to wound. Since that was the crucial fight, it went downhill from then on. Another highlight was that for the first time ever, Sorcerer Gemba'lung was cut down before he could summon Lord Ka'Kaa, and unfortunately there was not enough space for Lord Ka'Kaa to appear. The Black Templar dreadnought deserve special mention. Although I destroyed 2 of them, this is what I had to do for each: weapon destroyed, immobilised, weapon destroyed, immobilised (thank God for 4th Ed).

This was an unprecedented loss. The Templars controlled 2 quarters. The only survivors were Predator Omanotti and half of squad Sakhti. The Templars lost both Land Speeders, their Assault Squad and 2 Dreadnoughts. Hats off to the Templar player who played very well in his first ever tourney and remained undefeated in the preliminary rounds.

Game 5: vs Sisters of Battle
The terrain was pretty interesting. Huge impassable crags in the middle of the table, with 4-storey buildings opposite it. Some hills and woods were scattered near the edges. We rolled for escalation - yay, no escalation! The SoB list was something like this:

HQ:
Canoness, verily heavily armed with a melta-pistol thing and combi-bolter flamer, with jump pack, a special cloak and book and all kinds of good witch hunter things.

ELITES:
6 Celestions with melta, and Sister Superior with power weapon and book, riding an Immolator with twin heavy bolters

TROOPS:
10 Sisters with melta and flamer, led by a Sister Superior with power weapon and book, in a Rhino
10 Sisters with melta and flamer, led by a Sister Superior with power weapon and book, in a Rhino

FAST ATTACK:
10 Seraphim, 2 of them with twin-linked melta pistol things

HEAVY:
Retributors with 2 heavy bolters, in Immolator armed with heavy bolters
Retributors with 2 heavy bolters, in Immolator armed with heavy bolters
Exorcist

I had to win this game to qualify for the finals. The SoB only needed a draw. Pressure?  Nahh :) The plan was to gain control of the center in order to easily take all quarters. No escalation, so I wanted 1st turn. And guess what? I got 1st turn!

Highlights: The crazed Canoness coming after Predator Omanotti for 2 turns. My luck held and Omanotti lost only 1 heavy bolter. She was subsequently gunned down by the bolters of squad Shapekti, and 2 Rhinos. Another highlight was the first turn Immolator kill by Predator Omanotti. Autocannons did nothing, but a glancing heavy bolter shot destroyed the Sisters' light tank. Of course there was also the Exorcist immobilizing itself in an attempt to move through woods. I think that's the last time the Exorcist will take to battle without dozer blades.

This was a strong victory. I controlled a neutral quarter as well as the Sisters' home quarter. The SoB lost all 3 Immolators, both Retributor squads, the Seraphims, the Canoness and half a Battle squad. I lost squad Gemba'lung. On to the finals!


Game 6: Quarter Final vs Crazed Chaos
The terrain had a woods in three quarters, a large hill in the other quarter, and a huge building in the middle. We rolled for escalation - and my Thousand Sons shall not be deploying this time. The Crazed Chaos list was something like this:

HQ:
Daemon Prince with wings and all kinds of nasty Chaos stuff
Bloodthirster

ELITES:
3 Obliterators

TROOPS:
5-man squad with lascannon
5-man squad with daemonvessel, in Rhino

HEAVY:
Predator with loads of lascannons, mutated hull, daemonic possession and dozer blades
Another Predator with loads of lascannons and nice Chaotic stuff as above
Defiler

Seeing as the opponent's army is very small, I planned to employ an all-out assault with most of my army, using the large building in the center to mask my approach.

Highlights: Forgetting to disembark squad Gemba'lung when they arrived and sped to the correct point behind the large building. Forgetting to move the same squad once they disembarked. Forgetting the plan and moving squad Sakhti into a far corner of the board. Losing both my Predators to 4 (only four!) extremely accurate lascannon shots to the front armor.

I deserved to lose this one. You cannot make mistakes playing the Thousand Sons and I made three. The Crazed Chaos lost one squad. I lost both Predators and half of squad Shapekti.


Aftermath
All in all, a fun experience. Hats off to Richard and the GC people as the terrain was really nice to play with. I only wished I didn't have to rush throughout the tournament and spent more time hanging around. But my wife just got a baby and it wouldn't seem like a nice thing to do to spend too much time gaming :) The Thousand Sons won Best-Painted Army, which was nice, as I did spend too much time painting them. As for the Thousand Sons: We'll be back! :)