Shas’O’Elsy’eir’Cam’r advanced softly along the abandoned Imperial street, or at least as softly as one can in a two and a half tonne Battlesuit. A few rotaa ago these streets had been occupied with locals however the red swirling skies and occasional outbreaks of unearthly howling and blood rain pointed very clearly to the gue’la forces of chaos currently being at work in this city. The ethereals had pointed out the obvious, the people of this world would be unable to advance the cause of the Greater Good and join the Empire if they were all to be killed or corrupted by these forces and so O’Cam’r’s cadre was being dispatched to seek and destroy the threat before it could exacerbate the situation any further.
The ethereals had established three locations of interest in close proximity to each other and had attached their representative Vre’Ukos to oversee the mission. O’Cam’r was unsure how these locations had been discovered or what the ethereal planned to do there but it was not his place to question.
Passing through a cloud of ash and smoke from a nearby Arbites precinct, O’Cam’r switched his view-screen between the feeds of the quartet of marker drones hovering at intervals around him and his bodyguard, taking in the bulky shape of the Sky Ray effortlessly manoeuvring around the buildings to his left and the team of Fire Warriors picking their way through the street beyond, advancing as a protective screen around the all-too visible form of Vre’Ukos who had declined the offer of urban-camouflaged combat armour in favour of his usual white and purple robes.
O’Cam’r tried but failed to raise the advance stealth team on comms, which wasn’t unusual, but whether due to the warp-altered atmospheric conditions or the Shas’Vre purposefully maintaining radio silence, O’Cam’r couldn’t tell, however he had no problems reaching the Shas’Ui of the cadre’s pathfinder team. A recent promotion, O’Cam’r could hear the pride and excitement in the young Shas’Ui’s voice as she was able to report that one of her snipers had obtained visual confirmation of large, red and gold armoured humanoids in the vicinity of one of the objectives.
Just what they needed, Chaos Space Marines.
The perfect location, the recent bloodshed from the civilians and their pitiful PDF protectors had successfully weakened the veil between the materium and the immaterium and the rituals were already proceeding beyond Khârn’s expectations. The World Eaters had already achieved the favour of the Daemon Prince Bonecleaver who bade the Astartes to retrace their steps, returning to the sites of each massacre since their planetfall where the warp was closest to breaking through so they could quickly amass a great daemon host to cleanse this world and unleash a torrent of Blood for the Blood God!
Khârn stood in the centre of the ring. Around him, chained to each other and kneeling in a wide circle, were eight of the false Emperor’s astropaths. Bonecleaver looked on as the Betrayer, screaming glories to the skull throne, swept the mighty axe Gorechild in a swift arc, taking all eight of the psyker’s heads from their shoulders in one long strike. Blood erupted from eight necks and spurted violently towards Khârn, but before it reached him it began to swirl around him as though caught in a hurricane, rising into the air and taking the form of an enormous winged monster. The Bloodthirster of Khorne bellowed with rage as it left the warp, adding to the bloodcurdling cries of the Astartes and Khârn, impatient as always, leapt into his Rhino transport and bade it drive forth to the next location.
So a friend of mine has moved back into the area and after more than a year without a game, we’ve had a couple in relatively quick succession. I think we’ve finally remembered most of the rules at this stage, in the first game I’d completely forgotten the Supporting Fire special rule and for most of that game I’d somehow been stuck with the misapprehension that Pulse Carbines were only Assault 1. As such, I didn’t bother recording the details of that one, this game however I decided to get back into the swing of things properly by making notes and writing a battle report.
A couple of notes before I kick it into gear, firstly I’m still playing 6th edition. I never got around to acquiring a 7th ed. rulebook and we’re both happy enough sticking with that for the foreseeable future (we might also manage a bit of 8th ed. fantasy while we’re at it). Secondly, I’m going to be doing this battle report predominantly in a narrative style. The play-by-play will also be included but I’m going to stick most of that in spoiler tags on the off-chance that there are people who’d rather just read the narrative without interruption.
Now onto the army lists:
O’Cam’r – Commander w. Plasma Rifle, Cyclic Ion Blaster, Shield Generator, Drone Controller, 2x Marker Drones, Neuroweb System Jammer (which I have forgotten in literally every game I’ve ever taken it), Iridium Armour
2x XV8 Bodyguards – Each has; 2x Missile Pods and 1x Marker Drone (with Commander)
Vre’Ukos – Ethereal w. Honour Blade, Homing Beacon
3x XV8 Crisis Suits – Each has; Missile Pod, Fusion Blaster, Bonding Knife Ritual
6x Stealth Battlesuits – Shas’Vre'Mal'caor, Bonding Knife Ritual, Counterfire Defence System
12x Fire Warriors – Shas’Ui, EMP Grenades, Bonding Knife Ritual
12x Fire Warriors – Shas’Ui, EMP Grenades, Bonding Knife Ritual
11x Fire Warriors – Pulse Carbines (with Ethereal)
10x Pathfinders – Shas’Ui'Tan, 3 Rail Rifles, Bonding Knife Ritual
6x Vespid Stingwings – Strain Leader
Hammerhead Gunship – Railgun, Submunition Rounds, SMS, 1x Seeker Missile, Sensor Spines, Blacksun Filter, Disruption Pod
Sky Ray – SMS, Disruption Pod, Sensor Spines, Blacksun Filter
3x XV88 Broadside Battlesuits – Bonding Knife Ritual, Target Locks
Chaos Daemons (with Chaos Space Marine allies)
Bloodthirster – Greater reward (Hellfire Gaze), Exalted Reward (Riftbringer)
10x Bloodletters – Bloodreaper, Greater Reward (Unbreakable Hide), Banner of Blood, Instrument of Chaos (with Skulltaker)
10x Bloodletters – Bloodreaper, Greater Reward (Hellfire Gaze), Banner of Blood, Instrument of Chaos
10x Bloodletters – Bloodreaper, Greater Reward (Corpulescense), Banner of Blood, Instrument of Chaos
10x Bloodletters – Bloodreaper, Greater Reward (Daemonic Resilience), Banner of Blood, Instrument of Chaos
6x Flesh Hounds
Bonecleaver – Daemon Prince of Khorne, Warp-forged Armour, Daemonic Flight, Greater Reward (Hellfire Gaze), Exalted Reward (Doubly Blessed; Soul Eater, Cleaving Strike)
Soul Grinder – Warp Gaze
Khârn the Betrayer
10x Khorne Berzerkers – Chainaxes, Power Fist, Gift of Chaos (Arcane Occulum) (with Khârn in Rhino)
Rhino – Daemonic Possession, Destroyer Blades
5x Chaos Space Marines
Mission – Big Guns Never Tire (3 objectives)
Battlefield – Dawn of War
In order to save a bit of time, I set up the terrain before my opponent arrived. Given my lack of actual scenery it’s predominantly composed of cardboard boxes, CD cases and books. The setup design was urban with most of the scenery representing buildings, a number of the boxes have ladders drawn on so units can move up and down easily. I wanted an impressive centrepiece so I included a large overpass 8.5” above the battlefield which could be accessed from both deployment zones. When it came to placing objectives I went first and decided to put one right in the centre of the overpass because I thought it’d be fun to fight up there. The other two went in opposite corners.
Commander – Through Unity, Devastation (Quickly forgotten, never used)
Skulltaker – Destroyer of Mortals (Hatred)
I set my army up first so I could generate an opening salvo and move my tanks around to benefit from jink+disruption before he got a chance to shoot anything. Two Fire warrior teams (including the one with the ethereal) set up on my left flank to make use of the building behind the wall in the early turns. My Sky Ray set up behind them with LoS to most of the battlefield. The Vespids deployed even further back to counter-attack anything that came to threaten my left flank. The commander and his team deployed behind a large piece of impassable terrain to perform some early J-S-J manoeuvres. My pathfinders and XV88s deployed on the buildings leading up to the overpass with clear lines of fire to pretty much everywhere. The XV8s, third Fire warrior team and Hammerhead deployed on my right flank, near the third objective. The stealthsuits went in reserve to outflank.
From my left-to-right, the forces of chaos deployed their Flesh Hounds, Chaos Space Marines (on objective 1), Soul Grinder, Bloodthirster, Rhino (carrying Khârn and the Berzerkers) and Bloodletters unit 2 deployed behind the rhino. Everything else was set to deep strike except the Daemon Prince who would be swooping on.
My opponent failed to seize the initiative.The warp storm was getting considerably worse. O’Cam’r had rushed to establish the rest of his forces in defensive positions at the slightly panicked urgings of his pathfinders and communication was now all but impossible without electronic means as little could be heard over the ferocious roaring emanating from seemingly nowhere. Vre’Ukos and a couple of Fire teams had positioned themselves in the remains of a walled Imperial compound and the ethereal seemed to be calming the shas around him with a speech of some kind. A pity the rest of the cadre couldn’t hear it as the pathfinders were getting even more jumpy and there was still no word from the stealth team. O’Cam’r was just about to attempt some sort of calming speech when one of his linked drones located the source of their discomfort. An enormous creature, standing slightly taller than his own advanced Battlesuit but made almost doubly large by the huge bat-like wings emerging from its armoured torso. The roar of an unhealthy engine announced the arrival of a corrupted Chaos transport tank and several notifications in his sensor suite announced that his team’s marker drones had pinged the arrival of a vast daemon-machine walker hybrid.
“Shas’Ui, light up that monster, we need to focus fire on that greater daemon.”
The pathfinder Shas’Ui, clearly made aware that her commander was directing her team’s fire, refused to show that she was anything less than capable and deserving of her recent promotion and O’Cam’r’s sensors detected a flurry of additional markerlight designations and he could faintly see the clear trail of rail rifle shots through the dust, closely followed by larger trails erupting from the Broadside team’s heavy rail rifles and the final even larger Hammerhead railgun shot. These were quickly followed by a series of small plasma explosions from a number of smart missile systems and finally the crew of the Sky Ray decided to make use of a number of marker designations and a trio of seeker missiles flew across the battlefield, the smoke clearing just enough to see that the beast had vanished, back to the hellscape from whence it came.
“Shas’O, team two has secured objective three, crisis team advancing on enemy armour”, the Pathfinder Sha’Ui had fully recovered given the destruction of the greater daemon and she began fully embracing her role by updating her commander with a running commentary of the cadre’s right flank. O’Cam’r’s twin bodyguards unleashed a hail of missile fire against the enemy walker but to no obvious effect.
[spoiler]Tau turn 1
The Fire Warriors on the left flank advanced towards the building in front of them so in future turns they could target the chaos forces from the relative safety of its ramparts whilst those on the right flank moved forwards to take control of the nearest objective. The Crisis Battlesuit team moved towards the centre of the board in order to engage the chaos Rhino in turn two.
Lots of fire goes into the Bloodthirster and fortunately I am able to remove its final wound with a few seeker missiles. The Bloodthirster model is actually mine and having used it to great effect in the past I knew that it had to die as soon as possible. The Commander’s unit pours a bit of fire into the soul grinder but the missile pods don’t manage to cause any damage.
The assault phase consists of the Commander jumping back into cover and the Crisis team moving further forwards to just behind the barricades stretched across the middle of the board.
[/spoiler]The lack of a mortal driver in his Rhino meant that the first moment when Khârn was made aware of the alien attack involved numerous explosions and a roar of unbridled rage as the mighty Bloodthirster was expelled backwards into the warp from whence it came. Leaping up to the firing step in the crew compartment, Khârn was the first to see the approaching Battlesuits. Whilst a mere mortal might quiver at the sight of the 3m tall mechanical walkers, Khârn was no coward and at his merest thought the daemonic presence in his transport growled and lunged towards the approaching constructs. The howl erupting from all around told him that the summoned daemons were also on the warpath.
The sky above the field of battle, as if sensing the carnage about to ensue, lit up like a blazing inferno and huge multi-coloured fireballs rained down upon the battlefield, one landing not far in front of Khârn and instantly immolated two of the small xeno soldiers. Khârn let out a harsh laugh which turned to an angry howl as the pathetic Bloodletters cowering behind his transport suddenly rushed forwards and stole his kill, the Battlesuits falling under a hail of blows from the hellblades.
[spoiler]Chaos turn 1
The Bloodletters on my right flank advance behind Khârn’s Rhino and, due to their Banner of Blood letting them charge 6+d6”, they fell upon and massacred my Crisis team. Admittedly I probably shouldn’t have advanced them so far forwards but I hadn’t realised that the daemons were in charge range when I did it. The Soul Grinder and Flesh Hounds also advanced over on the other side of the battlefield, the Soul Grinder’s attacks taking two Fire Warriors from team 1.
The roll on the Warp Storm table resulted in a Storm of Fire which successfully immolated two Fire Warriors from team 2 but didn’t affect anything else on the table.
[/spoiler]Ui’Tan was grateful that she couldn’t hear the Battlesuit pilots, watching them die was bad enough. The pathfinder Shas’Ui didn’t need orders; she didn’t need to give her team orders. Without a word they targeted the daemons and the nearby Fire team wasted no time unleashing a storm of pulse fire that utterly annihilated the creatures of chaos. Flashes of blue from the far left of the battlefield told her that the commander and the other half of the cadre were working just as hard as her team was. The implacable walker closing in on the Tau lines was struck by a number of seeker missiles and an icon appearing on her heads-up-display announced that the last of the Sky Ray’s arsenal had been unleashed. It certainly looked as if the daemon was now lacking its massive claw.
But just when it looked like things were getting better, the warp storm calming down, the full onslaught began.
Khorne was not pleased, it wasn’t as if Skulltaker had ever actually seen him in a good mood but the reappearance of one of his Bloodthirsters had increased he rage to even more palpable levels. Peering through the weakened veil into the material realm, Skulltaker saw the mortal Khârn. He had done a decent enough job against the defenceless humans who fled and died in his wake, but now Khorne’s army needed a proper general. The mortal could never think to command the daemonic legions, and the Daemon Prince Bonecleaver had barely made an appearance, although to Skulltaker he was little more than a mortal himself, having acquired minor favour with the Blood God. No, this would take a true daemon.
Skulltaker marshalled his forces to him, resplendent in their ordered ranks, they marched out of the immaterium.
The first Ui’Tan noticed was the flying monster. Smaller than the first but looking no less terrifying, it swooped down towards the compound where she knew the ethereal was sheltering. She just managed to alert the commander before the air in front of her seemed to stretch and distend, and creatures of nightmare strode forth.
Khârn was enraged; first the pathetic little daemons had stolen his kill, and now another one had appeared and was trying to take command from him. Khârn booted the Rhino door open and leaped out towards the nearest foes, his baying comrades close at his heels. The daemon-infused tank, now relieved of its cargo, kicked into high gear, activated its destroyer blades and drove relentlessly forwards towards the biggest opponent it could see.
[spoiler]Tau turn 2
Movement secured Fire team 1 around the wall atop the building on my left flank whilst Fire team 2 on the far side of the field consolidated around objective 3, getting as many Tau as they could behind the wall. Yet again my tanks moved around somewhat to ensure a good jink save.
Shooting saw the pathfinder’s light up the Bloodletters that had just destroyed my Crisis team (and a rail rifle blew the skull out of one of them), the nearby Fire team 2 then used a few marker tokens to obliterate the rest of the squad. My Commander’s drones must have all hit the Soul Grinder again as I used the last of my seeker missiles, removing its Iron Claw. I’ve noted that some fire went into the Flesh Hounds, undoubtedly from Fire team 1. I haven’t however made mention of what my Hammerhead or Broadsides did this turn, so evidently not a lot, perhaps missing the Chaos Rhino.
Chaos turn 2
All of the reserves came in for my opponent, his Daemon Prince swooping in towards the Fire Warriors on my left flank (which for those not certain is where he’s flying, not jumping around low down). Bloodletters 1 (with Skulltaker) scatter slightly but ended up not far from my Commander and Sky Ray, Bloodletters 3 landed in front of the XV88s and Bloodletters 4 scattered and narrowly avoided the Flesh Hounds, who at this stage were adjacent to the wall, behind which was the ethereal and two Fire teams.
Khârn and his Berzerkers disembarked from their Rhino (which drove off towards the Hammerhead) and fired a few rounds into Fire team 2 as they advanced (killing three, although Khârn himself didn’t fire as my opponent fears Gets Hot just enough for him to never use the plasma pistol). The Flesh Hounds advanced closer to the Tau lines and then charged the Vespids, killing all but the Strain Leader who failed his morale check and buzzed off the table.
The warp was calm this turn, which was nice. The only other things worth mentioning were the Soul Grinder’s continuous trundle towards my cadre and the fact that all recently-arrived Bloodletter units used their run moves to spread out slightly.