Tuesday, 25 February 2014

Death on Acanthus II Part 4: A Warhammer 40,000 Apocalypse Battle Report

The state of play as the game restarts on Saturday morning.
The sun was shining as I hoped onto the bus and returned to Dave’s house on Saturday morning, about 11:00 for the final part of our Apocalypse game.  When we’d first started playing 23 hours earlier we’d had 7000 points of army at each of our disposals, solid lines and clearly held objectives.  Now our men were highly depleted, with all the side tables & shelves around the area covered in little toy soldiers who had perished in the line of duty; my down-river line had completely collapsed, with the Tau free to advance; and my objectives were either contested or had TauMarTers bearing down on them.

As turn 5 commences my only chance for victory was the rearmost objectives, the turbine and the building.  I couldn’t shoot at the Tau jet pack unit on top of the turbine this turn – they were too far back to be seen this turn – but denying them to the enemy must be my top priority.  For now my Hellblade flyer patrolled the sky harassing the Tau flyer, which it whittled down to near destruction and kept form being a serious threat to my ground forces.

A big gamble followed as I spent a Strategic Victory Point to bring my Vindicator back from the dead, dropping into strategic reserves and thus able to appear now.  In Apocalypse any non-unique slain model can be returned to play like this – obviously this is a better deal with giant tanks, and the Vindicator was my closet claim to fame on this front.  It rolled up the back of my lines, pointed at the bunker objective that fired a devastating blast from its Demolisher Cannon to destroy the encroaching Tau upon my bunker and leave that objective free for the Chosen.

"Hello boys!  I'm baaaaaaaack!"

Fulgrim’s melee skills excel more in challenges than man-versus-unit so the remaining Terminators manage to hold out briefly – some bad rolling to-hit on my part wastes a round of combat – but eventually the Terminators are wiped out.  This puts Fulgrim in an awkward position, though: forced to sit the next TauMarTers turn out in the open for the entire enemy army to open fire at.  I move him into cover, hoping his good save and as awkward a position as I can give him will keep him alive.

One does not get Primarch rank out of a lucky bag.
Upriver, The Canoness’s bodyguard found themselves under fire and then assault from Chosen. The Canoness herself survives, but now outnumbered and the Warmaster of the army she was a prize waiting to be claimed. 

Unfortunately, Dave’s Turn 5 then came to pass and I found myself once again receiving pain as my minimal force took fire from his larger numbers.  The Space Marines had uncontested control of the spire objective; the Cultists in the forest were all but wiped out by firepower; the Chosen in the forest were caught between encroaching sisters form the river and Kroot from the rear. 

The three survivors out of a unit of 14.

At the bunker, the Vindicator was destroyed by a Scout Suit and the Chosen had a squad of Vespid incoming. Bullets were flying and as good as my Power Armour is, sooner or later large numbers of dice see low numbers appearing en masse.

Now you see the Vindicator, now you don't.

It wasn’t all bad news, though, as the stalemate in the building was finally cleared.  The Space Marines broke and ran; the Tau drones all that stood between me and claiming the objective.  Fulgrim also made it out of the turn alive, taking a huge amount of fire from the Fire Warriors & Crisis Suits on the downriver flank yet managing to pass enough armour saves to make it out with half of his wounds intact.

If you can see it, it tried to shoot at Fulgrim.

As my turn 6 began, it seemed likely this would be my last game turn before the game came to a close, so I leapt on the chance to make some final mad dashes for points.  The sorcerer perished but the Chosen were able to slay Canoness De La Fleur; as army Warmaster, she was worth a point to me.  The Cultists managed to survive hiding amongst the ruins of an abandoned Space Marine drop pod to stay by the forest objective, while two surviving Chosen in the forest somehow slew St Celestine for the second and final time while the others broke out the forest to tie up the Kroot in close combat.


Fulgrim found himself in melee with the Space Marines holding the spire and easily destroyed their sergeant in close combat.  The rest of the unit were locked in combat with him still, but at least no-one was now claiming the spire objective.

The Illuminator versus the loyalists

Unfortunately, backtable was where the real points would be earned and luck didn’t hold out here.  I span the Hellblade around, dropping to hover mode to make the turn required, and opened fire with Autocannons at the turbine guards…. But couldn’t drop them, and now all my Dreadnoughts had been whittled down by turn after turn of pot shots.  With no other long range weaponry available, Dave was safe on that objective; and the Tau drones were holding out to a draw for the building one.

Guess who just won the game?

When Dave’s 6th turn came to pass his victory was now only a question of grades.  The Chosen and Cultists guarding the forest held out against enemy assault, and the Kroot were still bogged down in close combat so unable to make any serious contest for it.  The last vestiges of upriver defences (including a slowing telepathic power lingering on from the Sorcerer) prevented the remnant Sisters from joining the attack in a pincer movement, so the forest objective was safe for me.

Fulgrim also managed to net a final objective for me when he slew half a Space Marine unit in one round of combat and saw the others make a dash for it.  The spire was mine… and while I’d lost the bunker, at least I’d slain enough of his men to leave it un-claimable to either side.

Fulgrim ends the battle undefeated.

In the gigantic building, the Space Marine regained their composure and charged once more into the fray.  As the game ended only one Raptor remained but the battle there was still logged in a bitter stalemate so no points were earned from that for either side.

This is what a combat that's lasted for 5 player turns looks like.

But Dave’s holding of the Turbine saw him win the game.  I had lost a point for the Vindicator, gained a point for killing Penelope and then held two objectives at 4 points each – so my score went from 7 to 15. 

Dave already started at 16 so with no objectives he’d get a narrow win… but the turbine is double points for the defender, so the game ends 24-15 and the forces of darkness are well and truly humbled.

The center of the table as play ceased.

 Handshakes are exchanged; figures are returned to their boxes; terrain was put back in the cupboard; the rig of tables, wooden boards and benches was disassembled; and over a West End snack of fennel bread with oil & vinegar, we toasted the completion of 10 hours of gameplay.

The Tau stand proud over a well-fought victory.

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