Sunday, 2 February 2014

Airlock 47 Breached

Another piece of naff retro joy
For since before Christmas I've been trying to organise a large Kill Team/Zone Mortalis game, but scheduling has been an issue.  Last week I got a wee game in with Dave when Stuart wasn't available, and this week Stuart again had to pass and then at the last minute Dave had to bail as well.  (If I'd had more notice of this I'd have let Aaron know, as he was free and could have taken up the slot.  Oh well!)

Thankfully Rory and Charles were about and so we managed to get a game going regardless.  As with my last game, it was 300 point per side for Rory and I's Chaos Space Marines - but Charles took two seperate Ork forces to make it even, and we scampered about a mission where he had to try and destroy five objectives while we tried to defend them.

As before, I used D&D and Advanced Heroquest tiles for the layout, albeit on a larger scale than last time. Map with crude drawn on notes follows.

A photo taken by the hi tech method of "standing on a chair over the battlefield".  Misses out the left hand of the board but you aren't missing any important areas from the match on it.  Click to embiggen!
All squares on the map are 1" a side.  Yellow lines mark doors: these could be opened or shut once a turn if someone moved and was adjacent to them.  Blue crosses are obstacles (pillars etc) which blocked line of sight; orange  crosses are the five objectives, which can be destroyed but are AV 11 so are immune to small arms fire.  The single square wide passages (surrounded in green) are air ducts and are only available to standard based, non-Bulky figures: even then they count as difficult terrain which grants a cover save

You will see that I've included multiple paths, though sometimes only by the shafts.  The doors and obstacles are to help break up line of sight: in the last game I could stand my Noise Marines for half the game down a long corridor and shoot at any approaching Sisters, whereas this arrangement made things a bit more short-ranged. 

Rory and I had small bands of CHaos Space Marines: 10 figures a piece.  Meanwhile the Orks were filled with troops - twenty odd Shoota Boyz, a unit of close combat hungry Nobz, heavy weapon armed Lootaz, a few Burnaz and a squad of Bikers.  (Which was an odd choice from a fluff point of view but, hey, if anyone would try it's Orks, right?)

The first turn gets underway: the Orks move in three waves.
 As you will note there's an objective in each quarter and one in the center. We got to each set up in a quarter, so Charles chose to take the objective in the large room and blew that up early.  Three columns of orks took differing paths and quickly got first blood.  Meanwhile the CSMs split up: guarding the objective in their setup, heading down to the central and hangar objectives and hoping our blast markers could chomp through orks that tried to get down the corridors.

On the left, the Slaaneshi Noise Marines try to take the air duct to get to the hangar objective.  On the center right, Noise Marines guard the corridor to teh centre objective.  On the top right, Chosen set themselves up to block the air duct.

One of Rory's Chaso Space Marines throws himself in the way of the enemy, and dies holding the line.
The game started poorly for the Chaos Space Marines, with sheer weight of fire picking off some Chosen and close combat often ending poorly.   When the Orks got into melee combat their extra attacks and numbers, usually gave them the edge: however, the Chaos Space Marines higher initiative meant they got a first stab in, so could usually take someone down with them.  But outnumbered 2.5 to one or so, we couldn't really work those kinds of odds for long.

The diminished Nobz make it into melee.
However, in firepower we could whittle down the opposition better.  A column of Nobz and Shoota boys moved to the Noise Marines and tried to close into melee, but two Salvo 2/3 Sonic Blasters and a Blastmaster helped.  Similarly, Rory's marines double-tapped with their Bolters often, and our initiatives meant we had a decent chance at Reaction Fire - superior overwatch fire, using full BS.  Able to punch the Ork armour easilly, shooting was where we regained some pride.

Hero of the beach starship
The real hero of the match has to be the regular Chaos Space Marine of Rory who, guarding the way out of the "magic circle/pillar" room, held out for three turns against wave after wave of Ork.  He won in a melee against two Bikers: killed one, then when the other broke easilly gunned him down.  A burna was forced to retreat in a later combat, and never recovered.  He eventually died but he slowed the advance to one of the objectives.  

Unfortunately in dying this meant Rory went below half strength and has to make a turn 5 break test, though thankfully his army stuck it out.

Eventually the Nobz broke through the Noise Marines, though, and the central objective was lost.  With 5 points for every objective the Orks blew up and every one which lasted to the end of the game, losing a third pretty much made the game unwinnable for us.  Therefore the Slaaneshi World Eaters holding the hangar had to run when the double-door "airlock" was breached - and in a mighty melee, both the power first Champion and the Power Claw Nob punched each other out in the same turn.

Yeah, kinda like that.

This final injury forced break tests on one of Charles' forces and on my own - we were seriously weakened, but the Orkz had a second force without break test penalties and they could outlast us if we didn't pull this back quickly.

The bikes proved surprisingly useful as, while large, they were fast and easilly sped through the passages.  Unfortunately, they didn't have strong enough firepower to do anything with the objectives - and so a Biker spent turns 3, 4 and 5 standing still and firing at an objective that just would not die.  When he succeeded twice.... we got to make an invulnerable save and passed both.  Melee would avoid the save... but only the Nobz had the melee power to do it, and they were elsewhere engaged.  The Orks might be outnumbering us and winning by attrition, but with turn 5 here it would all be over if Rory rolled a 1, 2 or 3 and prevented another turn....

WHY IS MY DAKKA NOT ENOUGH?  The Loota hasn't arrived in time: he had to run into the room on turn 5.

...and that's what he did.  We totalled up the victory point - Charles may have only 2 objectives but got a lot of little points from all his attrition that might just win him the game.


First blood x 1 point = 1 point
2 objectives destroyed x 5 points each = 10 points
1 opposition leader dead x 2 points each = 2 points
4 specialists killed x 1 point each  = 4 points
2 teams forced to take break tests x 2 points each = 4 points
TOTAL: 21 Points


3 objectives intact x 5 points each = 15 points
1 opposition leader dead x 2 points each = 2 points
5 specialists killed x 1 point each  = 5 points
1 teams forced to take break tests x 2 points each = 2 points
TOTAL: 24 Points

In the hangar, the full time whistle blows.
 So in the end Chaos just scrape a victory, but I am confident that with another turn of fire our luck wouldn't have held out and another objective would have gone.  (That Loota would have added to the volume of fire)  Further more, Rory and I both had to make break tests on turn 6 so if we'd carried on there was a serious chance one team would scarper off-table, giving 3 points to Charles.  As it stood, the mission ends with Rory and I victors, but with our force reduced from 20 to about 6 guys who are seriously shellshocked!

How did I enjoy the game?  Well, like the last ZM/KT combo it felt close - early losses against Ork melee were cancelled out by some luck in the mid game which meant it was a genuine surprise to total up at the end to see who had just pipped ahead.  The multiple objectives and multiple passageways definitely helped spread the load across the whole table rather than bunching combat down to just one room.

Problems?  Well, while the elite 10-man forces could deploy easilly, trying to fit 50 odd orks in one quarter and move them about was a real chore on a 6' x 4'.  I dunno if we should have gone for "quarter per force", though with this mission that would likely have been an insta-two-objectives-destroyed and made recovery very difficult.  I suspect Orks, Imperial Guard and other army that sends wave after wave of its own men into battle would struggle in this arrangement.  Tellingly I've played a similar arrangement with more overall points - 1000 points a side - but it was in a normal Zone Mortalis game rather than Kill Team which meant we could buy more elite units and had access to HQ, Heavy Support & reserves which changed the pacing a lot.  (We were also both Space Marines of some stripe, so Dreadnoughts/Terminators/etc piled up the points quickly)

Finally, the Orks just couldn't punch the objectives easilly - Orks aren't great anti-armour units.  This is partly a list building issue but I wonder if they were just a bit too difficult to destroy when he was essentially unopposed by one for three turns. Again, if he had Heavy Support he could have brought along more punch, whereas as it stood he didn't really have anything worth a damn against the objectives.

So changes for next time?  I think I won't use the Kill-Team rules, but just play a small Zone Mortalis game (say 500 points?) in which unit coherency doesn't apply so models can move individually.  The concern there is that HQs will dominate, so I could possibly knock them out - more likely, though, money would go in Dreadnought equivalents.  The corridors could maybe do with being slightly wider to allow such models to move.  For swarm armies.... I'm not sure if this set-up will ever work for them, except by encouraging them to load up on more Elites than regular troops

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