I have found that when it comes to understanding a new game system, you can read the rules all you want but until you play it, it is hard to see how the pieces fit together. For this battle we used mostly the contents of the Legions Imperials (LI) starter box, both sides were approximately 900 points each. The game was played on a table 4 x 4ish, (the mat is a meter wide so deployment was done on and off the mat). The intent for this game was to try and forget as few rules a possible, we came close but certainly not perfect. This meant that deployment and the first round or two were quite slow but picked up quickly as rules became more familiar and the model count dropped. I was curious to see if garrisoning detachments in structures was worth the benefits, how fragile flyers were, and how robust titans really were.
Building lists in LI is quite straight forward. Armies are made of formations and formations are described pictorially and contain detachments. In modern terms detachments are platoons. Since the opposing forces were essentially drawn from the starter box there was little choice on what to take. It also forced the core detachments of formation to include all the supporting units. In hindsight, even if I had access to all the models I would still make combined core detachments. Since the owner of the detachment can choose what stands are removed the specialized units can be protected by their “normal” infantry units. Also, the specialized units became the anchor in close combat for the detachment but more on that later. The Solar Auxilla did make one detachment as small as possible (four stands) and the other core detachment twelve stands.
In addition to the core models we also used a Fire Raptor Gunship and two Questoris Knights for the marines. Also the marines took two battle tank detachments when their formation technically restricts them to one. The list building rule of having only 30% of your points on strategic assets (knights or titans) was also violated slightly for each list.
I have enjoyed the list building aspect to all GW games and I think this game is no exception there are quite a few choices to make, and your force can certainly be tailored in many ways. Maybe all the flyers form a single detachment to get the discount or does each formation take a few. This decision will effect a formations break point, when a detachment takes a moral check and also number of activations. In general I think large detachments are better, except for maybe flyers. The other choice is the weapon selection for your more powerful units. Some choices seem to be no-brainers, Vanquisher Cannon!, but weapon selection on Knights and Titans makes a huge difference on how the unit is employed.
The table was set up with one side mountains, then hills and urban terrain in the centre, and moving into a more open space. Both sides set up their armoured detachments in the open area and infantry in the urban centre with agile walkers preparing to move through the ravines. The mission was simple, break the enemy lines and steal one of the three objectives in the enemies deployment zone.
In the first round the detachment orders were a nomination of march and advance. This is probably quite typical. The only exception would be if Titans were facing other Titans then I would definitely put the Titan on First Fire orders. In this game the Warhound had a Gravitation Gun and a Turbo-Laser. Since the Grav Gun has only a 30” range, medium range for titans but longer than most vehicle or infantry weapons, it advanced. In future games I think I would try and give Titans weapons with ranges that are 40 plus so they can reach most of the board from their deployment spot and spend the entire game on First Fire. In this game the hound got lucky as a large marine detachment (8 stands) occupied a building within range and the building was brought down with a single grav gun hit (most weapons can't do this but buildings are far from invulnerable) all but one marine stand was destroyed in the collapse. I don't think the shot had a lucky roll, just that the opportunity was lucky. Even through the fire raptor had advanced orders and could have deployed to the board, it chose not to since it could not get into the rear arc of its desired target, the armoured units. Every turn flyers moves onto the board from the deployment zone edge (including the small bit on the sides), and then removed in the end phase of each turn. This means that it would take two turns of an enemies advance before the Raptor could get rear shots on the tanks. Otherwise the armoured detachments blasted away at each other. Typically each main battle tank has a one dice primary weapon and possibly an anti tank secondary weapon. Each system hits on around 4+. The Leman Russ would save vs a lascannon on 3+ but the predators saved vs the vanquisher on a 5+, not to mention the range advantage of the vanquisher. Dice were on the marines side, one Predator and two Leman Russ were destroyed.
In this round everyone left the buildings after seeing the destruction of the grav gun last turn. All the infantry continued the advance and the armoured detachments that were in position went on first fire as other detachments moved closer. The knights moved into a position to see the Warhound hoping to draw some fire. The maximum amount of damage this Warhound could do in a turn was only enough to kill a knight if it got perfect shots. This round the Raptor was able to get in behind the Solar Auxilla armoured detachments but only did a bit of damage to the heavily armoured tanks. The Solar Auxilla tanks however ripped the marine tanks to pieces since initiative allowed them to fire the first detachment in the First Fire phase and the first detachment in the Advanced Fire phase. As predicted the Warhound damaged but did not destroy a knight, unfortunately the sentinel detachment was able to sneak a missile through for the last point of damage. In this round the Warhound started taking shots and lost all of its void shield and took some damage. Also this round all but one of the marine tanks were wiped out by the Solar Auxila armour. The lone marine tank failed its moral check and was issued fall back orders.
This round saw a lot of close combat with an Ogryn charge into the Contemptor dreadnoughts. The dreadnoughts managed to kill one with over-watch and was then engaged by the remaining three. The marine commander anticipated this and also charged in to the combat to fight beside the dreadnoughts. In the centre of the board the marine detachment (8 stands including 2 terminators) charged into the large (12 stand) detachment of Auxilla. While the Orgyns were defeated by the dreadnoughts it was only because of some lucky rolls and the presence of the commander. The marines and terminators were torn apart by the axe-wielding solar auxiliary, Veletarri, however managed to stand their ground because of the determination of the terminators. The standout ability in close combat is Rend, the extra d6 for the axe warriors and Ogryn completely offset the superior close assault factor (CAF) of the marines.
For shooting, the gunship took the two remaining wounds from the Warhound, thanks to the rear armour bonus, but after the Titan had destroyed the last knight, again with sentinel support. The Rapid Fire weapon attribute also seems powerful, it makes to-hit rolls of a 6 become two hits. This is powerful because when firing on over-watch or firing at flyers 6 are needed to hit anyway.
Not much was left in this round the dreadnoughts tried to charge into combat to help the remaining terminators, one was shot by over-watch of the sentinels. Sentinels have 4 dice per stand against walkers and infantry, and since any detachment with first fire or advance orders can over-watch, even after they have moved the sentinels were able to move into a position to cover the Auxilla before the dreadnoughts charged. The gunship showed up again to try and kill the Auxiliary armour who had taken a marine objective but again failed to do significant damage (their armour is the same as the Warhound, but it was against their front armour). The dreadnought and commander were able to break the Solar Auxilla but only after the last terminator and marine stands were destroyed.
Round 5 was played briefly but the victory was given to the Solar Auxilla as they were able to take one enemy objective and the marines were unable to get any.
Playing the game is the best way to learn a game. In Legion Imperials the infantry do feel like cannon fodder, fodder that can secure objectives. Tanks can be tailored to either infantry support with lighter weapons or for engaging other tank units with heavier weapons. Flyers darting onto and off the board feel like fast air and not hovercraft. The Titans are interesting, they are very powerful but even a stand of marines with heavy weapons can knock out void shields, and the Warhound did get destroyed. I think their advantage is the tremendous range on their weapons and their towering height. Structures are definitely a double edged sword providing great protection against most weapons and being an easy target for a few.