Sunday, 29 June 2014

Mechanicum Tactica

There's a lot of tactics talk and math-hammer on the internet. However all the math-hammer in the world doesn't work if you've brought 200 points of anti-air and face no jets! Or haven't factored in enough anti-tank to deal with a super heavy.

I wrote up part of this article before the Inferno Tournament (you can find two of my games here) and now I'm following it up with actual (28mm) battlefield experience. I always find it interesting to note how you're expecting units to work, or what internet wisdom might say about their use, and then see how they actually perform on the battlefield.

Firstly here's my force:

Ordo Reductor Strikeforce: OMEGA-666

What do we have here?? Here's my list:

Magos Prime
-Master Crafted Paragon Blade
-Chain Fist
-Rad Grenades
-Jet Pack
-Cyber Familiar
-Djinn Skein
-Melta Gun
-Augery Scanner
3 Mymidon Destructors
-Irradiation Engines
4 Thallax
-Melta Bombs
-1 Multi Melta
4 Thallax
-Melta Bombs
-1 Multi Melta
-Extra side armour

-Cyber Familiar
-Master Crafted Photon Gauntlet
-Melta Bombs
-Machinator Array
4 Castellax
1 Castellax
-Paragon of Metal
-Multi Melta
-Siege Wrecker
-Enhanced Targeting Array
9 Thallax
-3 Photon Thruster Cannons
Total 2500

Ok so very small model count. I'll go through these one by one. I've put my pre-tourney thoughts first and then actual combat findings/blather are in green.

Archmagos Prime (The Martian)
This guy is a super survivable combat monster. Leading a huge unit of Thallax, no Astartes should be able to approach him. He's got an artillery bombardment I can call down, which I'm intending to use whenever I catch any power armoured units in the open, for maximum effect. He also has the Djinn Skein so he can give the unit +1 ballistic skill. Being an Ordinator he gives tank hunter to the unit he's joined, and with photon thruster cannon having the lance rule, and lightning guns having rending, the unit can fish for 6's against any vehicle. He's carrying a melta gun for close up slagging. In combat he's got a master crafted paragon blade for decapitations, and rad grenades to make the whole unit hit harder! I think if you're going to run 2500pts of Mechanicum you need to have a monstrous Archmagos pulling the strings.
++time to die, heretek++
Master. Crafted. Paragon. Blade. Rolling those instant death decapitation results is SO satisfying. When I was dreaming this character up, I imagined him just chopping his way through traitor marines, leading a team of cyborgs into the enemy lines and dueling their general to the death. This is exactly what happened in game 2. We both unleashed hell on each other's units, grav imploders, photon thrusters, melta weapons, lightning guns, rad-cleaners, photon gauntlets, everything. I can just imagine the ruins collapsing around them as these two mighty Archmagos and their coteries blasted each other with super lethal weaponry. Then our generals clashed and The Martian prevailed, chopping the cranial unit from the enemy. Highlight of the entire tournament for me, and hopefully the start of a good rivalry between our forces!

Game 1 he didn't really get to do much, just giving his unit the +1 BS and using the Djinn Skein to call down the demo teams. Game 2 was brutal combat with the enemy Archmagos, and shredding a jet (imparting tank hunters on the unit is great!). Game 3 he chopped through some Astartes, but mostly just gave the BS bonus to his unit and let the photon thruster cannons do the talking. In all the excitement of the day I entirely forgot to use his bombardment in any of the games!

Myrmidon Destructors
These guys are Astartes Killers. Irradiation engines + Preferred enemy? If you don't know how harsh this is, you need to go and look it up! Brutality. These guys are also pretty tough. My plan is to run them behind the Castellax, to try and keep any pesky melta bomb equipped squads away from them. They can also rush into combat to sway any combats where the Castellax are being bogged down.
Time to ruin the eco system forever!
I had visions of these guys purging entire 20-man squads, however it didn't work out that way! They're quite capable of purging entire 20 man units, but the opportunity didn't really appear. In the first game they moved forward but weren't in range before the game ended. In the second game, they sold their lives to shut a Knight down, and in the third they splashed radiation over a Grav-Cannon rapier team in a bunker, before being assaulted and destroyed by Imperial Fists Terminators. 

I've had a strategic rethink of these guys, and I'll be running them as a unit of 5, with 3 volkite culverins, and 2 irradiation engines. I also want to try out a unit of 3 with conversion beamers. They can operate pretty independently, as having power fists they're no slouches when it comes to combat.

Thallax 'Demolition Teams'
These are the two 4-Thallax teams, each with one multi melta, and all equipped with melta bombs. The djinn skein allows deep strikers to land within 6" of The Martian without scatter, so I can move up, jet pack forward, and then next turn dump demo teams right where they can do most damage with their melta weaponry. They just need to survive a turn so they can employ melta bombs against vehicles.
++walk home, plague men++
These guys were pretty great! I only called one unit down unguided once, and that was to secure an objective and win the game against the traitor Mechanicus. Even if they scatter, you can still use their jet pack move to jump back onto the objective. This was pretty lucky though as it was a unit who hadn't come on from reserves until turn 4. So 3 turns of rolling a 1 or 2. They took a bunch of fire from a quad gun and missiles from a Hypherios battery, but being toughness 5 and 3 wounds each means they can laugh most damage off. In my first game I called them down and slagged a Land Raider, luckily it wasn't ceramite shielded! In my third game they came down and one of them slagged a rhino and the other disabled a second rhino. They then basically just stood off from the enemy killing guys here and there with their lightning guns and multimeltas. I equipped all of these guys with melta bombs but I don't think they actually assaulted any vehicles in the end! I didn't face any Spartans.

This 450 point behemoth is my ace in the hole. Hopefully after the first time I fire its mighty 10" template STR10 AP1 mega-shot people will spread their forces out, and I can engage them piecemeal. It also ignores cover, so troops behind aegis lines or in ruins will be mashed to pink mist. The main reason I'm running this tank however is that my Forgeworld order didn't arrive in time and I've got a 500 point gap in my list. For a Heresy tournament it might be a bit harsh, but then again, I'm sure there will be no shortage of Primarchs! The other thing is, this monster is the closest to a Sturmtiger you can get in 30K, I guess a Typhon is pretty close too.
Well first of all, I didn't encounter any Primarchs! Secondly this tank didn't have the impact I'd expected. In the first game I held it in reserve, and as we only got to play 2 turns, It drove on second turn and fired at a Malcador Infernus, got a penetrating hit and crushed a few Death Guard guys with collateral damage, but not the world ending shot I'd hoped. In the second game I fired it at the traitor-Knight but it just glanced off its shield, and did a couple of wounds to some Castellax. After that the Knight was in combat or destroyed and the only other real target was a flare shielded Mechanicum Land Raider, which was no good as it dropped the strength down to 8.. It did manage to explode a unit of 4 Thallax though! It ended up bottled up in my corner as if I'd moved it forward I would have been assaulted by Castellax. In game 3, it stood back and vaporised a couple of squads of Astartes who were in ruins, but was a BIG target for Polux and his terminators when they arrived. 

I have plans to replace this guy with a Praetor Armoured Assault Launcher. I'd probably bring this guy back configured as a Shadowsword in bigger games or if I know there will be enemy Titans.

Dominos (The Handler)
This guy is the controller for the Castellax. Running Castellax without a cortex controller is just WRONG! They need someone to direct them, otherwise they're just running all over the shop like adorable industrial puppies. He is also the dude with Cybertheurgy, which can come in quite handy, especially firing a cybernetica model twice before assaulting, or exploding a damaged cybernetica in combat. He's got a 4+ Invulnerable so he's pretty durable, and toughness 5 due to his machinator array. He can put wounded targets in the ground with his master crafted photon gauntlet.
I love this guy so much. In the third game he just trotted along behind his Castellax as they shredded Astartes in the ruins, and then casually executed the last survivor with his photon gauntlet. He almost let the team down though, when he attempted a super risky Cybertheurgy roll to make Siege-bot fire twice. (I DON'T KNOW WHAT HE WAS THINKING TSK TSK), but it turned out OK. 

In the second game, on the third turn I had Knight rampaging through my lines, being held in combat by a single Castellax. So I attempted to explode it (the Castellax), which would have meant I could fire into the unengaged knight. The handler unfortunately failed the Cybertheurgy test which meant that the Castellax went rogue! Tremendous! After I finally managed to put the Knight down, by rushing it with Siege-bot and the Myrmidons, the one surviving Myrmidon and the handler managed to execute the rogue Castellax. (this was not only important for narrative purposes, but also if that rogue Castellax had stormed into the big combat between our Archmagos, who knows what might have happened!) The handler was charged by a pair of Castellax but he managed to survive, falling back while shooting his photon gauntlet as he escaped. I really like this guy, and I've been using him as a general in some 1000 point games we've been playing. At only 140 points he's possibly the cheapest HQ you can run in the Taghmata list.

Castellax Unit
These guys are total beasts. They can absorb so much punishment that it gives the rest of my army time to manoeuvre into position. The way I see this army working fluffwise is that the Cybernetica component are vassals of the Ordo Reductor, and they'll throw the automata away in frontal assaults and distraction attacks, to preserve their less durable troops. These guys will move forward in the middle of my force, with the Myrmidons keeping away any units who might bog them down. They also have super brutal STR6 AP3 bolt cannons, which will devastate Astartes in the open, or rip up light vehicles. When they charge they have 4 attacks each from rage, otherwise only 2, so they definitely want to be charging when they're able. Against vehicles they can assault and then smash them (hopefully to pieces).
They're like puppies, if you took the puppies' brains out and wired them into combat engines.
Castellax are badass. Their mauler bolt cannons are incredible, and they can take a massive amount of damage. In my second game these guys unfortunately were assaulted by a Knight. On the first turn it failed to hit with any of its D-saw attacks so I thought they were going to be safe! But then they fluffed all of THEIR attacks and then with some good stomping half of them were crushed! As I mention above I had to execute my own model, but the way it happened was so great I wasn't even mad.

In the third game they walked in out of the desert with the handler and Siege-bot and crushed all the Astartes in the ruins there. They took some fire from a plasma cannon team, but managed to shake most of it off. 

The problem with these guys is that they become a bit of a crutch. Oh the enemy's best thing? Just send the Castellax at them. I don't think they're over powered really, I think that there's just no one on the scene at the moment running some big plasma gun or lascannon teams. (or at least I haven't played against them yet) I also haven't had a chance to set them on a Primarch. They've caught a bit of flak on the net for being over powered, but I'm going to continue to grow my posse of battle automata, at some point I'd like to be able to field an entire 2500 Legio Cybernetica list with a Knight lord of war.

Castellax Paragon of Metal (Siege-Bot)
As soon as I read the fluff for the paragon of metal upgrade I was hooked and knew I had to build one. Giving him a siege wrecker ties him into the vassalage to the Ordo Reductor theme, so I went the full hog and gave him a multi melta. I was under points so I threw an enhanced targeting array on him too, why not right? With the rampage rule, he can take a run at a squad of terminators and possibly just kill them all before they can strike! If I come up against any non-ceramite vehicles he can slag them with his multi melta, and hopefully he'll get to trash a fortification or two with his siege wrecker. He'll generally work on his own, or provide close support and protection to the handler if needed.
++we're being flanked by stinkers, handler++
Ah Siege-bot! Twice the price of a normal Castellax, and twice the fun. He's had some adventures, usually me just massively overestimating his capabilities and throwing him into death or glory missions. Luckily the handler always has some backup copies of his cortex saved ready to rebuild him. 

So game 1 he had a shooting stand off with 20 Astartes and a Contemptor with dual kheres. He really didn't have a great time. Unable to get close enough to employ his multi-melta, he copped 3 wounds from a fury of the legion, and then the final wound from the kheres. In game 2 he fared little better, the only time he would have got to shoot was against the enemy Knight, but it got locked in combat before he had a chance. He ended up running into combat with the Knight, hopelessly outmatched but selling his life to save the handler. He didn't even get to strike before being sliced in half by its D-saw. BUT it spared a couple of the Myrmidons who were able to deal the deathblow. In game 3 he did a couple of wounds to a grav-cannon rapier, and then charged into combat with a unit of breachers. Over about 5 rounds of combat, he wasn't able to destroy them, and finally went down as grenade after grenade was thrown into his face. So yeah, didn't manage to get his points back in any of the games, but he did enable some other units to achieve their goals.

Thallax [Icarian] (The Spearhead)
These guys are part of the Legio Cybernetica allied force, entirely because I first gave them the ferrox upgrade, but at the last minute I got paranoid about air-power and swapped them to icarian. I could have just put them in the main force once they didn't take ferrox but it doesn't really matter. (Ferrox is rage+rending close combat attacks, and only available to Legio Cybernetica now.)  With three photon thrusters, +1 BS and tank hunter from The Martian joining them, plus move through cover, this unit is the brutal spearhead of the army. I'll use these guys to exterminate terminators, rip up light vehicles and fliers, harass heavier vehicles with rending and lance, and charge into big units of Astartes to break them. They're super durable, and the jet pack infantry rules are sublime.
Cyborg Spearhead
Wow, photon thruster cannons are the Seriously, 48" range, they can slay things from miles away. Most of the time I moved within 18" so I could fire the lightning guns too, but that range! This unit was so huge that it was almost impossible to kill. I didn't face any strength 10 templates so I was able to jet around killing things pretty much at will. Sucking up the BS5 from The Martian, meant they were able to just lay waste to whatever they fired at, and the targets got no cover saves. I unfortunately didn't get to attempt to gun down a primarch, but if anything in my army could have ended one, it would have been these guys. Whoever starts running Myrmidon Destructors with photon thruster cannons first, is GOING. TO. CLEAN. UP.

Game 1 they flew up onto a Skyshield landing pad, then second turn called down the demolition teams and then jumped back down behind the skyshield to shoot underneath it at the disembarkers from the Land Raider the demo teams had slagged. Game 2 they parked in some ruins, and then used their skyfire ability for the only time in the tournament, disintegrating a Lightning Prime. The traitor Archmagos and his Myrmidon bodyguard then disembarked right in front of them and shot at them, from like 3" away, then they shot back and assaulted. Neither of us managed to cripple each other with shooting and so that combat went on for quite a few turns before I got the upper hand. In game 3 they were fired at by a heavy bolter team in some ruins and lost 10+ wounds, which was pretty harsh, but their return fire (at BS5 with -2 to cover saves) eliminated those guys in return. They fired a couple of times into some Fists Terminators, but they were equipped with storm shields and so weren't too bothered. I could have spent a few turns moving towards them shooting as they went, but the Fists were armed with assault cannons and a plethora of brutal close combat weapons so I kind of chickened out. The fact Alexis Polux was leading the unit and could have just one shot smashed The Martian to death was also a factor to consider! 

These guys are awesome. To take 3 photon thruster cannons I had to boost the unit up to 9, so they ended up costing a fortune (475 points) but in their role they excelled. Moving forward, absorbing small arms fire and calling down demolition teams. Oh and sucking up wounds so The Martian didn't get shelled apart.

So there we go, I didn't play against the Iron Warriors force, who had a Typhon, 10 Tyrant Siege Terminators and a squad of Havoks, or the Death Guard force with dual Medusas and lots of heavy weapons teams, so I'll have to see how I fare against that kind of fire power next time.

I'm slowly expanding my forces and intend to get at least one of everything at some point. I'll probably change up my list for next time with some Tech-Thralls and tanks and things and do some more articles like this after some tournaments and then compile a bit more of a helpful Mechanicum Tactica at some point.

On the modelling front, I'm working on my Mechanicum Land Raider!  The conversion kit I got is pretty decent, so it will be more just filling in some gaps with putty than having to sand things and bend things with a heat gun, which is always good!


  1. great write up on the Mechanicum tactics and observations.

    Nice to see photo's and game comments of game One vs the death guard
    ..Wondered where game 1 was out of the 3 ; )

    1. I didn't end up doing a write up just because it only got to turn 2!!! There was a bit of mucking around :) I also didn't get that many photos :/

  2. pretty enjoyable read, keep them coming

  3. Nice to see some tactics without the math-hammer crap, and some actual observations other than debating what's on paper. Enjoyed it :).