Alan has recently put his Dark Eldar into temporary garrison duty and taken on the mantle of Imperial Guard Colonel. This handily coincided with me polishing off a Castigator Knight this weekend, so I gave him a call and arranged a 1,500 point game!
You have to love Knight armies – at 1,500 points you are just picking up four models and it is never going to be a stretch deciding which to take. In this case I had a Paladin as the Warlord, two Errants to deal with pesky (and puny!) tanks, and of course the Castigator bringing up the rear. Not entirely certain what he was going to be doing against Guard (his weaponry is distinctly anti-horde) but you have to figure he is just as nasty to most things in close combat as any other Knight.
It was a normal Crusade mission (haven’t played that for ages) with three objectives on the table, all of which were placed on Alan’s side (I had a good idea where the Knights would end up in the final turns), and Alan opted to deploy first and go first.
So this is how the table looked as we kicked off.
Two objectives (one in the trees on the far left, the other in the ruins behind them) started off in Alan’s hands, with the third on the far left within easy reach of an Infantry and veteran squad. Nothing to be too concerned about, as this was turn one after all, and there was nothing particularly interesting rolled for on the Mysterious Objectives table.
I had the Castigator on the far left, aiming to run it up the side of the table to take care of the closest objective, the Tank Destroyer and, possibly, the infantry and Commissar warlord in the ruins. The Paladin warlord would hang back to take advantage of his long-ranged Battle Cannon (and make it more difficult for Alan to get Slay the Warlord) while the two Errants would run up the middle and right flank, making a beeline to anything that looked vaguely armoured.
I did not manage to Seize the Initiative, but that was no great loss and I wasn’t counting on it.
Alan began the game by moving his Infantry and Veterans on the far right towards the only unclaimed objective but while the Infantry seemed eager, the Veterans did not seem all that keen to leave their cover. The Leman Russ squadron manoeuvred a little to line up on the Errant on the far right and while the Demolisher and Medusa were out of range, the Guard army still managed to knock two Hull Points off the Errant (my Ion Shield saves were pathetic).
Knights are hard enough, but if you let things be they can get their Hull Points whittled down all too quickly – I was not happy that the Errant had been taken down to 4 Hull Points as one more good penetrating hit could potentially knock it down (got to watch that Super-Heavy damage – you ignore a lot but explosions are never good).
Despite this, I opted for the ‘right down their throats’ approach, marching the Errants as far forward as their legs could take them. This brought them into half range of their Thermal Cannon so the Melta rule kicked in – and you have never seen so many pathetic Melta penetration rolls. In my head, the Guard line had been turned into a twisted, blackened wasteland but when my shooting phase was done, the Executioner and Demolisher had both taken a couple of light hits (though the Executioner had lost its turret – possibly something of a relief to the crew who now did not have to worry about the Gets hot! rule). As for the Paladin’s Rapid-Firing Battle Cannon, that just bounced off the Medusa’s front armour, though the Heavy Stubbers of the Errants did at least force a Platoon Command Squad to ‘reassess’ its presence on the battlefield.
The Castigator was going to run in the shooting phase (moves 3D6″ when it does, nippy fellow) but I noted the Guard Heavy Weapons squad was just in range of its cannon. One burst later, and there was just a fine red mist left in their place.
With not too much damage taken in the first turn, Alan must have been quite optimistic and he adjusted the position of his Leman Russ Squadron to finish off the Errant on the flank, lining up the Tank Destroyer to join in. His flanking Infantry squad captured the last objective, though the Veterans still showed little interest in joining them.
The Guard unleashed their mass firepower against the Errant but, as it turned out, its Ion Shield had warmed up properly now and deflected the one penetrating hit that had been scored.
More annoying, his two Scout Sentinels turned up on my back line and proceeded to plink away at the Paladin’s rear armour with their Multilaser. They would have to be dealt with.
In my Turn Two, first things were first. Those Sentinels were in a prime place to earn Linebreaker and as weak as their guns were, they would sooner or later knock Hull Points off my Knights’ unprotected rears. So, the Paladin promptly turned round and smacked them silly, destroying a Sentinel immediately.
Meanwhile, in the centre of the battlefield, the two Knight Errants had proved their Thermal Cannon mostly useless but had moved into charge range of the Leman Russ squadron. With a few buzzes of their Reaper Chainswords, the two lead tanks were cracked wide open.
Meanwhile, the Castigator had filled the jungle on the left with hot lead from its cannon, then charged in to wipe the remaining Infantry out. The squad sergeant bravely planted a Meltabomb on the Knight but cursed the Mechanicus as it proved to be a dud. Then he got trod on.
The Guard line was in tatters now and in danger of being rolled up. The remaining Sentinel made a break for it, trying to out run the Paladin (it might have been successful but, as it turns out, it cannot out run Battle Cannon shells), while the Medusa was nicely lined up on one of the Errants but had to watch its mighty shells simply bounce off their frontal armour.
On the Knight’s turn, the Errant Thermal Cannon finally kicked in, with a single blast from each Knight taking out the Medusa and last Leman Russ. Meanwhile, the Castigator continued its flank march, unloading its cannon into the side of the Tank Destroyer before putting its foot through the vehicle.
On the right flank, the Infantry squad huddled down in their jungle, throwing the odd Krak Grenade at the back of the closest Errant, while the Veteran squad had evidently decided that now was the right time to join their comrades (or perhaps they felt their own patch of cover was no longer safe.
Meanwhile, the Lord Commissar made his own career choice, and scrambled through his own men as the castigator Knight approached, claiming that he would single-handedly claim the objective in the jungle nearby and that his men should hold the ruins at all costs.
Apparently, he departed so quickly, he left his arm behind…
It has to be said that, by this stage, the Knights were on mop up detail. The Castigator crashed through the ruins, destroying a site of great archaeological interest (and the Infantry squad inside) to claim the objective.
Meanwhile, a Knight Errant had declared ‘none shall pass’ as he moved to defend the jungle objective, and then charged the Commissar. The Commissar did not even get a chance to fight and was simply mowed down by the Hammer of Wrath hit…
Finally, the Veteran squad was annihilated (there is no other word for it) by the other Errant, leaving just the Infantry squad huddled down by the objective on the far right, taking a pounding from the Battle Cannon of the Paladin who had by now re-entered the front line.
At this point, the Knights noticed the white flag being waved by the squad and powered down their weapons.
Discussing the battle afterwards, it was clear that Alan’s Guard need more heavy weapons, and heavy weapons with longer ranges. ‘Nuff said on that.
The Knight Errants proved solid enough once they managed to get into close combat (if I had been forced into a position where they had to rely on shooting alone, I would have been stuffed) and the Paladin, well, he was present. To be fair, he did stop a Linebreaker from being scored but that is hardly worthy of a Knight. Overall, it was the Errants that took the brunt of the incoming fire and tore the heart out of the Guard army.
The Castigator was interesting. The gun is nice enough but the inability to fire at two targets means his charges are always going to be limited (Emperor forbid you wipe out what you were intending to charge) and I never got round to trying out his run. Against heavy armour the Castigator is going to be mostly useless in the first couple of turns of any game but his fast movement would get him into position soon after.
You would probably be better off taking an Errant in his place, or even another Paladin but, frankly, with a model that cool you can’t just leave it on the shelf (and it is not as if we are playing with tournament builds here).
Speaking of the Castigator, I have taken a few more pictures of him and will post them up later this coming week with a report on how the building and painting of it went!