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Warhammer Warhammer 40k

Combat Patrol

Due to the pandemic, I don’t have an opponent available for Warhammer 40k. As a result, I haven’t played an actual game since early March. With the release of 9th edition, I really wanted to give the new rules a try though, so I decided to play some of the new Combat Patrol missions against myself.

Combat Patrol is the smallest scale of battle in Warhammer 40k. It uses armies of 500 points or less and a 44″ × 30″ battlefield. In addition to the points limit, armies for Combat Patrol are limited to a single detachment each. The core rulebook contains three Combat Patrol missions: Incisive Attack, Outriders, and Encircle. I felt like the smaller scale of Combat Patrol would make it easier to play against myself, plus I was eager to see how well the game would scale to that size.

Incisive Attack

Death Guard

  • HQ: Malignant Plaguecaster
  • Troops: Plague Marines
  • Troops: Plague Marines
  • Troops: Poxwalkers
  • Fast Attack: Myphitic Blight-hauler

Fulminators

  • HQ: Primaris Lieutenant
  • Troops: Intercessors
  • Elites: Aggressors
  • Elites: Redemptor Dreadnought

For my first game, I used my armies from Dark Imperium to play the Incisive Attack mission. I was tempted to take the classic secondary objectives (First Strike, Slay the Warlord, and Linebreaker) for my first few games, but I ended up deciding to use the mission-specific secondary objective, Surgical Assault, in place of Linebreaker. A rule that I thought worked well for the smaller armies is that in Incisive Attack, an army continues to hold an objective even if their units leave it as long as the opposing forces don’t get close enough to claim the objective. This lets the smaller armies not worry as much about leaving units in the backfield just to hold objectives. The first round went well for the Fulminators with the aggressors taking out the poxwalkers for first strike. In the second round, things swung the other way though with the blight-hauler dealing 11 wounds to the dreadnought and taking it out of the battle. Plasma shots from the plague marines also started to wear down the aggressor squad. With a lot of firepower gone, the Fulminators weren’t able to recover. The Death Guard cleared the battlefield during round 4 and won 66-33.

Outriders

Space Wolves

  • HQ: Wolf Lord on Thunderwolf
  • Troops: Grey Hunters
  • Elites: Wolf Guard Terminators
  • Fast Attack: Fenrisian Wolves

Nephrekh Dynasty

  • HQ: Cryptek
  • Troops: Immortals
  • Troops: Immortals
  • Fast Attack: Destroyers
  • Fast Attack: Canoptek Scarabs

A couple of days later, I played the Outriders mission with Space Wolves going up against Nephrekh Dynasty Necrons. I stuck to similar secondary objectives as my first game with both armies taking Slay the Warlord, First Strike, and the mission-specific objective, Survey. Unlike in Incisive Attack, armies needed to keep a unit on an objective to continue holding it, so the Necrons had a small advantage just by having one more unit than the Space Wolves. I tried to play the Space Wolves aggressively to get First Strike, but on their first turn the Fenrisian Wolves failed their attempted charge into the Canoptek Scarabs. On the Necrons first turn, they tried to eliminate the Fenrisian Wolves to get First Strike, but that backfired when the Scarabs charged and then were killed in melee rather than finishing off the unit of wolves. I also misjudged how effectively the Terminators would be against the Destroyers. I teleported them in to attempt to shoot the Destroyers off an objective, but the storm bolters and assault cannon failed to kill a single model and then the Terminators were blown away by the gauss cannons. The Necrons ended up winning 66-49.

Encircle

Cadian 187th

  • HQ: Company Commander
  • Troops: Infantry Squad
  • Troops: Infantry Squad
  • Heavy Support: Leman Russ Battle Tank
  • Dedicated Transport: Chimera

Rael-Kann

  • HQ: Farseer
  • Troops: Guardian Defenders
  • Troops: Rangers
  • Elites: Striking Scorpions
  • Heavy Support: War Walker

For the third game, I played the Encircle mission with the Cadian 187th fighting against Rael-Kann Craftworld. This time I chose different secondary objectives for each army. For the Astra Militarum, I picked Slay the Warlord, While We Stand We Fight, and Raise the Banners High. For the Craftworlds army, I chose Slay the Warlord, Attrition, and Encircle. I kept the Rangers and Striking Scorpions in reserve with a plan of having the War Walker and Guardians try to hold two objectives until the reinforcements arrived to contest the other two. The Leman Russ proved to be too much though and the Guardians and War Walker were pretty much gone after two rounds. The Striking Scorpions and Rangers then failed to have enough impact to either take out the Company Commander or claim an objective. The Astra Militarum ended up with a 77-43 victory.

Combat Patrol is Fun

The missions were all fun to play. The smaller board size kept the battlefield from feeling too sparse, and four objectives felt like a reasonable number to contest given the size of the armies. I think Incisive Attack with its rule to make it easier to hold objectives was my favorite of the three missions, but I think they all worked well for a smaller game.

One thing that initially threw me off was that the battlefield diagrams in the rulebook seem to use a 60″ × 44″ table size rather than the minimum 44″ × 30″ for Combat Patrol. This had me initially second guess my layout when objective marker positions looked much closer to the board edges than the diagrams implied.

I think secondary objectives will take some time to get used to for me. There are a lot of choices and it’ll take some practice to get good at picking ones that work well for a given game based on the mission and army matchup. I also think the value of various objectives will vary a good amount between game sizes with some being easier to score in small games while others are better choices in larger games.

I’ll be playing more Combat Patrol games against myself while we’re on pandemic lockdown, and I will try to continue getting in the occasional Combat Patrol game once I’m able to play against a real opponent again since I like the variety that different sizes of battles can bring.

By Scott Boehmer

A game enthusiast and software engineer.

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