|When the metal is hot, and the engine is hungry...|
Turn two of six of our Warhammer campaign is over. This was a turn that only saw two games played, both of which I was involved in, but it also saw two firsts for me.
Well, three if you count "meeting Charles' new dog Rogue" as a first. In which case it's three
|Or four if you count "getting my shoelaces eaten by an animal" as a first.|
In the case of my first game, it was with Charles and marked the first time I'd ever played with the Forge World Horus Heresy rules for playing in the grim darkness of the 31st millennium. I'd built my Chaos Space Marines army to be capable of multi-tasking as a Horus Heresy army but I'd never actually given it a go - however, Charles had similarly built his White Scars to be dual-use. Why not play out our battle with the Legion rules instead?
|My army prepares for an unlikely assault.|
Still looking after a weeks-old puppy, Charles was unable to leave his house so we played at his. We considered the current plot in our campaign and drummed up an appropriate scenario - a sort of lightning raid attack, in which both sides wanted to end the game with units in the defender's deployment zone. This would encourage the attacker to head forward and the defender to hold position.
We had assumed that the White Scars, being both dominant on the planet and traditionally a hit and run force, would be the attacker but the dice suggested that instead Charles would be defending. Therefore my somewhat slow, stand-and-shoot army would instead need to be repurposed into a blitzkreig on enemy turf while Charles' bikes would have to pull sentry duty.
|The White Scars protect a very nice pasta dish made by Charles and his good lady.|
Charles set up terrain, using some of his fantasy bits and bobs as well as sci-fi specific pieces. The white bits of paper marked the weird and wonderful results of our dice rolls for mysterious terrain with certain forests and ruins dangerous, slower moving etc.
On my side was Fulgrim the Primarch leading two infantry units, a standard issue Bolter squad and a "Kakophoni" sonic weapon unit - yes, even in Horus Heresy I take the Noise Marine option. Supporting them was a Contemptor Dreadnought, three bikers, a heavy weapon team, two Rhinos, a Vindicator and a Land Raider.
The forces opposite were twenty Bolter marines in one huge squad, two squads of bikes of which one was lead by the army leader, a Land raider carrying a terminator squad bristling with lightning claws, some air support and a very pretty Sicarin Venator tank. Charles kept about half of it in reserve: only the two bikes squads and the Sicarin started on the table, everything else was going to have to come on later.
So how did that go? And what was the other first for me? Lots of picture follow!
|Driving into cover.|
Charles may be on the defensive but he's still the fastest moving army, so he moved all his guys behind cover as quick as possible and forced me to slog it across the battlefield since I could hardly hit anyone in ranged combat.
|Appearing right when needed.|
|Also appearing right when needed. What I wouldn't give to make reserves rolls like this...|
|Fulgrim redeems himself in melee.|
Out of his transport and with little other option, Fulgrim and his bodyguard charged said twenty Bolter marines. This at least went to plan, because Fulgrim is a close combat monster. The Tactical Marines were decimated, removing one of his scoring units.
|The Kakophoni are barely a whimper.|
However I was done to functionally no scoring units when the Kakophoni, only able to get a few glancing shots in, suddenly had the Bikers up in their face. It was quick, bloody and brutal - this was now just a question of how long it would take Charles to win, not whether or not I could salvage it.
|A desperate gamble with grenades and bombs|
I used my own bikes to launch a raid on his Sicarin and try and do some damage, throwing grenades in the vents and planting bombs on the hull. This dealt some minor damage, but unfortunately he was able to repair it and get it operational again.
|The last stand|
|Fire support gets chewed up|
|Charles victorious as the cyber-vulture circles.|
Yes, I wiped out half the models of his army - it was a small force of about 45 models and I popped all 20 tactical marines and a few bikers. However, all the big stuff was remaining and with all my heavy weapons either gone or useless by the end of turn 2 I pretty much just slowly shambled to the end, but still taking quite a while to reach that point. Normally I can tell myself that army imbalance may be a factor - that my Chaos Space Marines are widely considered to be one of the weaker armies of the current rules-set - but here our armies were taken from a broadly similar list so I can't even use that excuse.
I am glad I finally played the Horus Heresy rules - and I'm interested in playing more, because SCIENCE! - but this kind of battle makes me even more interested to try other rules-sets like One Page 40K, Tomorrow's War or Warpath and see if I can find something that moves a bit faster. I don't mind losing if it's close or if it's quick, but a long drawn-out murder can be a bit of a chore to finish off.
|You might miss the signage, but you would never miss the mural.|
Common Ground Games is a decent nerd shop selling wargames, card games, board games and RPGs. It's only 10 minutes walk from Stirling City Centre, which means if I was going by train it wouldn't be a chore to get to. It's got some stuff for sale I had only ever seen online before, like the TT Combat terrain kits. The staff were quire friendly, in particular one member sharing with me her experiences learning to play RPGs.
|The gaming area on the day we attended - a Star Wars: X-Wing tournament was taking place. You may just be able to make out out 40K game: my team-mate Graeme is in the bright red t-shirt.|
40K Dave had called in advance to book a table and for a reasonable fee we could reserve a play space for the game of our choice. An in-built cafe meant snack and lunch options were available, from mundane things like Empire Biscuits to the more dangerous like haggis & cheese toasties or bacon, brie and cranberry paninis. This kept us fuelled up for a two vs two battle!
|Surprisingly good scran|
He was joined by Jamie who, due a lack of Imperial buddies for Dave, was switching sides for the day and taking some Dark Angels for a spin. By my side was Graeme, originally intended to be a more permanent fixture in the campaign but forced to sit it out due to work and family commitments but keen to play at least one game with us if he had the chance.
The two of us paired up our Chaos armies - he took a close assault focused Khorne force for the ripping and the tearing, while I had a ranged support themed Slaanesh army featuring two Sonic Dreadnoughts, two Havoc Squads, a Noise Marine unit and...
|The forces of Darkness set up on the fields of Marpullium.... near Stirling.|
...oh, yeah, and a half painted Imperial Knight Titan came out for it's first outing. Not all the components are glued in place because it's still getting painted, but this was the first battle I had where it seemed appropriate to use it and I couldn't miss the opportunity.
As with the last battle, let's hit the key points with pictures
|The Deathwing scatter away from the headless knight|
|The central ruins are claimed by the Sisters.|
|The Raptors and Sonic Dreadnought round on the Helbrute.|
|Fire support is once again in danger|
|BOOM SHAKKA LAKKA|
Yes, I brought along my Vortex Missile Silo. I actually initially talked about not using it with all those rules - it seems a bit powerful - but after talking about it we decided to stick with it. After all, the table was full of my guys and we'd be constantly risking scattering onto our own troops with them. It's as dangerous to us as it is to the foe, which meant it was funny.
The Imperials weren't laughing when a Seraphim Sister unit was wiped out in our first turn of shooting, though.
|Dark Angels Fire Support is brought to bear.|
|Some well-placed Meltagun and Inferno Pistol shots drop the knight to 1 hull point remaining|
|The battle on the wing turns slightly for Chaos|
Over on the flank, the Raptors and Bloodletters were doing their best where the Chaos Cultists had failed and giving the Ravenwing Black Knights a run for their money in melee. Those black knights were probably the men of the match for Jamie, consistently dishing out pain in melee and a few daemons fell to their swords before they finally snuffed it.
Graeme lost a lot of daemons in this game, actually, but thanks to evil summoning powers he was able to keep topping up his forces as the game went on. Dave got all excited at least twice to have killed ever Flesh Hound, only for another unit to appear and disappoint him!
Speaking of Dave getting disappointed, he'd had major bad luck in rolling for reserves. But don't worry guys! I'm sure he won't roll three ones in a row and be unable to get the Land Raider with both his and Jamie's general in it on the table before the last possible moment!
|Pro tip - never ask Dave to roll for anything.|
Yeah. I think the Adeptus Astartes have a lot of problem parallel parking or something.
It wasn't all going the Chaos way. The Knight titan was popped by some enemy fire and exploded impressively. That explosion scattered onto... nothing at all, which felt a bit underwhelming. Still, the model had served a purpose - it had kept a lot of the enemy army busy for three turns, which meant that I had basically all my other models on the table untouched.
|A massive blast template... a massive disappointment.|
|The Penitent Engines get bogged down|
|Jamie finds himself conflicted, giving tactical advice for an Imperial victory.|
|Land Raiders in the rear view mirror may be closer than they appear.|
|How does one clip with a Vortex Missile?|
|Your erstwhile narrator, considering his options to cling onto victory.|
At this point I finished my Empire Biscuit, threw my can of Diet Irn Bru in the recycling bin and took a few gambles.
|The Penitent engines finally take some damage|
|Final Imperial moves|
Finally, a Chaos win! And with that, the game and the turn came to a tiring end, with just enough time to pick up some stuff in the shop before heading home to demand that Sister Superior refer to me as Quail The Victorious for the night. I can't lie: it wasn't all my strategy, it was at least partly that our opponents had some bad luck when it came to reserves and deep striking. Still, as our first win of the campaign it lifted our spirits somewhat.
Here is the campaign map at the end of turn 2.
|The map as of the end of turn 2. Click to embiggen|
Turn 3 promises to have a Daemon world scuffle with Dave and Jamie; a desert world battle with Doug and Jamie; a winter wonderland rematch for Doug and I; and then, at the end, a middle-of-the-campaign set piece battle with as many players as we can.
For the set piece campaign day, Dave has been making a beach battlefield and I think some sort of D-Day esque landing is likely, probably with troops wading in from the sea trying to storm a cliff-side fortification. For my part, I am particularly keen on doing a Zone Mortalis game set aboard the corridors of Battlestation Akkadia and run a multi-player kill team effort in which we scuttle around corridors.
The problem with my idea, though, is terrain. We can just use Space Crusade/Space Hulk/etc board pieces, which I've done before, but it's a little flat looking and the others may find it a bit underwhelming. But a proper 3D Zone Mortalis battle board is... well, probably a bit outside our budget, since £100 only gets you a 2' x 2' area.
|It is pretty though.|
Thankfully, I am always a man with an option. Now we just need to see if anyone likes it, or if they'd rather just stick to something more traditional...
|Paper-crafted starship corridors and rooms. Worth considering?|