Dance with Death

Kill Team Eremoi had descended by drop pod to the surface of Harena 09-3 in a furious sandstorm. Three squads fanned out across the landscape, looking for signs of the imperial research outpost from which the distress signal had come.

When Harena had first been colonized two centuries earlier, it had been a verdant world of opportunity. Now the planet had been stripped of all native life by some mysterious force.

As they searched, Squad Beta encountered the first signs of human habitation southeast of the drop site: the ruined walls of a sprawling research facility, a floor where the sand had been blown clear, occasionally a laboratory almost intact. The wreckage of the imperial installation rose ghostlike from the blinding sand that whipped around them.

The squad also began to find amidst the ruins the corpses of colonists marked with the foul sigils of chaos. Hideous brands scarred their limbs, their hands still clutched cruel improvised weapons, and unspeakable litanies written on parchment fluttered upon repellent standards. No evidence could be found of how they had died. It was clear they had not lain in the sand for long.

As Squad Beta pushed farther into the ruined laboratory complex, there suddenly appeared, as if from nowhere, a small host of gaudily clad yet fearsome warriors wearing golden masks and bearing bizarre xenos weaponry. The Eremoi had little time to take positions or issue orders, for no sooner had the strange figures appeared than they charged with astonishing speed and lethal grace into the ranks of the Astartes.

~

Will and I played a game last evening that pitted my Eremoi Dark Angels against an all new team of Harlequins he’s working on. We played Recover Intelligence.

I took a Scout sniper Leader, a Combat specialist Reiver Sergeant, a Demolitions missile launcher Scout, a Heavy specialist toting a heavy bolter, and three Tactical Marines.

Will’s list consisted of six Players, all with the harlequin’s caress. Two wielded fusion pistols, two bore neuro disruptors, and two carried shuriken pistols. His specialists were Combat, Veteran, and Zealot.

Will formed his troupe into a Flying V formation at the edge of his deployment zone.

I spread my forces out to avoid being locked up by a single Player.

Will advanced his Veteran into position for an easy first turn charge, then won the initiative and fired off charges at my tacticals with his foremost units still in the deployment zone. My troops retreated to the board edge, and Will failed both charges, one by only a single inch. He moved his models close, eager to get to grips with me. Will then charged one of my Tactical Marines with his advanced veteran. Having already retreated, my soldier could do nothing as the enemy descended upon him with blinding speed. Will charged my Reiver with his Zealot, but the Reiver retreated and caused that charge to fail as well. Will moved his remaining two Harlequins onto one of my objectives, threatening an early points lead.

I moved one of my Tactical Marines onto my other objective, readied the three shooters hiding behind the broken wall, and countercharged one of the players who had failed his charge and stood in the midst of my team. A Tactical Marine stood within two inches, and thus could not fail his roll, but the Reiver needed a four and was forced to reroll when he managed only a three.

During shooting my three ready models focus fired on the exposed harlequin who had failed his charge. The sniper and the Scout firing the missile launcher did not bring him down, but the heavy bolter took him out of action. Will took a potshot at the marine holding my objective with a neuro disruptor but missed at long range. The Tactical Marine securing my objective rapid fired in response and knocked the Harlequin out of action. Succeeding on my first two injury rolls got the Astartes off to a great start.

In the fight phase the Player who had successfully charged my Tactical Marine managed only a couple of hits, then failed his wound rolls, leaving my Tactical Marine standing. I had two marines fighting in the Hammer of Wrath portion of the phase and knew that I could gain a decisive advantage is I could take out a third member of Will’s team. The Tactical Marine failed to hit but my Combat Reiver, dropping five dice on the Harlequin, scored three wounds. Will failed a save and I was back on the injury roll. I missed the roll but used my last command point to try again. A four came up and Will lost his third Player, putting his troupe down to half strength. Still, the point tally at the end of Round 1 was 2-1 Harlequins.

In the second round I won the initiative.

I charged two players with an unengaged Tactical Marine, sacrificing him to lock them up and prevent them from shooting or charging.

I then charged his engaged Player, granting me priority in the fight phase. My third Tactical marine remained on my objective, but the three shooters advanced on the center objective.

No shooting was possible, so we advanced straight to close combat. Will employed Decisive Strike to attempt to seize the initiative, but I contested and won the roll-off.

Though I won the roll, Will was intelligently keeping Death Denied offline, which shut down one of my primary strategies. I had intended to use the tactic to grant my soldiers an opportunity to swing back at the somewhat fragile Harlequins even after falling to their hail of attacks.

My Tactical did no damage to the two Harlequins holding the objective, and my Reiver whiffed on his attacks. Fighting back, Will’s two Harlequins managed only a flesh wound on my Tactical. Slashing at the other Tactical Marine, the Player that had just withstood the Reiver’s onslaught scored five hits on my Tac, but missed all his wound rolls. The score at the end of Round 2 was 5-4 Astartes.

We began Round 3, but when I seized the other two objectives we called the game. The score could not have been better for the Harlequins than 13-6 after the third frame.

Will and I had some good discussion about what led to the outcome. Certainly the dice played a role, but the Harlequins’ vulnerabilities also had a lot to do with it. They are a very strong team, probably one of the strongest, and I wouldn’t expect Astartes to win the majority of the time.

Still, a few tactical decisions worked well. First, I used retreat to keep Harlequin charges at about thirteen inches. Though some rolls will certainly succeed, the odds were in my favor.

Second, I spaced my units so that I could countercharge engaged enemies. Harlequins are at their most dangerous when you don’t get a chance to swing. That’s when they steamroll you. Countercharging (usually) guarantees you’ll have a chance to take one of the attackers out of your midst.

Third, force them to make saves. The missile launcher, heavy bolter, and my Reiver Sergeant all put a lot of dice into the Harlequins. When I have more such models finished I’ll employ them.

Overall it was a fun game in which we learned a lot on both sides. I’m sure it won’t be long before the Harlequins leave me mangled on the sands of Harena 09-3.

I really enjoyed seeing Will’s new models, which look great. The color scheme is highly effective, I think. Leave him a comment and let him know if you think, as I do, that he’s leveled up with these!

~

I hope you enjoyed the tidbit of fluff at the top of the post. That was Will’s idea. I’ll try to incorporate these narrative elements into my battle reports from now on, developing an ongoing story as seen from the tabletop.

Against the Sons of Magnus

A small warband of the traitorous Thousand Sons legion attempted to enslave the faithful on the insignificant monastic planet of Zusammen 2-19. No chaotic incursion can go unchecked, however, and a kill team of Eremoi descended to the surface to fight the sorcerous betrayers in the streets of this tiny shrineworld’s capital, Aprilis.

My six man team featured both available scouts with missile launchers, as I was eager to try out that build. The whole team consisted of:

– Scout Sergeant: sniper rifle & camo cloak, Leader

– Intercessor Gunner: auspex, auxiliary grenade launcher, Comms

– Scout Gunner: missile launcher & camo cloak, Heavy

– Tactical Sergeant: combi-plasma, Sniper

– Intercessor Sergeant: auto-bolt rifle, power sword

– Scout Gunner: missile launcher & camo cloak

My brother-in-law Will commanded the Thousand Sons, bringing five Rubric Marines and an Aspiring Sorcerer. His specialists were Combat, Demolitions, and Sniper. One standard Rubric bore the Icon of Flame.

Will’s writing up a tactical review of the Thousand Sons, so keep an eye out for that in the days ahead.

The mission was Recover Intelligence, which we usually play. It seems the most balanced of the Core missions and usually leads to dynamic games.

Will won the initiative and camped half his forces at each of the two objectives on his side of the board. I secured the objectives near my deployment zone, but also rushed the middle with my Tactical and Intercessor Sergeants.

Will’s psybolt put a licking on my Intercessor, who nevertheless stood tall due to his two wounds. I took out a Rubric with a krak missile and another with an overcharged plasma blast…

… that also wiped out my Sniper when he rolled a one on his reroll! I chose not to use Death Denied in order to ensure the survival of my wounded Intercessor.

I didn’t need it, as Will managed a flesh wound but didn’t put him out of action. I thus scored five points to Will’s two in the first battle round. But for the self-immolation of my plasma gunner, things were looking good.

Round two featured more sharp shooting from the Astartes, as my Leader (who was safely tucked away in cover with his camo cloak draped around him) managed a mortal wound of his own when he rolled a six to wound on a Rubric Marine. That might be the first time I’ve ever procced the sniper rifle’s special rule, and it felt pretty sweet!

My Intercessor Sergeant did go down in the second frame. He suffered a second flesh wound at the hands of the sorcerer and succumbed to a shot from an inferno boltgun. I chose not to preserve him with three wounds, and so gave up a chance at another three points. I hoped my substantial lead would hold up. I nearly came to regret this decision!

Turn three was a huge turn for Will. The Thousand Sons now prepared to take the offensive…

… and quickly seized the center objective.

I moved my leader into line-of-sight and readied up the rest my team, confident I could eliminate most, if not all, of the enemy forces. I expected to force a break test, at the very least.

Instead, the Emperor withdrew his guiding hand and the good guys whiffed on everything. I had four command points to start the turn and used two to Deny Death when it came for my Comms specialist.

Because my leader made a critical error and unnecessarily surrendered control of his objective when he drew a bead on the Aspiring Sorcerer, I only scored one point in round three to Will’s four! We went into the final turn (we’ve been following LVO rules and ending on turn four) tied at eight points apiece.

After strongly considering another round of shooting, as I did have two missile launchers and a grenade launcher, I finally decided to trust in the Emperor’s protection and storm the central objective with my three nearby units. I knew my brave soldiers wouldn’t get a chance to shoot, and the Thousand Sons, already in prime position, readied to fire across the ruins at us.

Will took my Comms Intercessor out of action with a psybolt, but I Denied Death and turned it into a flesh wound. In the shooting phase, my one readied model, a missile launcher scout posted up on Will’s flank, rolled a one to wound on a krak missile fired at the Aspiring Sorcerer. I was sorely tempted to reroll, but made the safer play and kept up two command points for another Death Denied in the shooting phase. On Will’s second roll he wounded the staggering Intercessor with a inferno boltgun. At AP-2 I needed a five up to save, and…

… the Master of Mankind’s light shone down upon his beleaguered son! I got the five, which sealed the win. Even had Will’s last Rubric Marine taken a Dark Angel down, I had the command points for Death Denied and the models to control the center objective.

In a very tense and tactical game, I came out ahead, 12-9. The result could easily have swung in Will’s favor if the fickle dice gods had smiled upon his wicked plans in the final turn.

~

I was largely pleased with how my strategy played out on the table. I used Primaris models to soak mortal wounds from the Sorcerer and leaned on Death Denied to keep my models on the high value objective in the center of the board.

My missile scouts kept to cover and only permitted long range shots, dropping the Rubrics’ chances to six up. The non-specialist found an ideal perch and never moved, while the heavy specialist kept maneuvering himself into optimal position to control an objective while hammering away at the far corner.

One advantage to a roster without a heavy bolter is the ability to spam Death Denied. I used it twice and kept it in reserve on the final turn, and the tactic proved the difference today. With the heavy bolter, the temptation to throw out mortal wounds with Hellfire Shells – especially against Rubrics, with their All Is Dust two up save – is very high.

We had a great time fighting a bitter skirmish. In the end, the valor of the Astartes proved superior to the mystical machinations of the Thousand Sons. Though the reverent millions of Zusammen 2-19 may never know the danger from which the Eremoi saved them, the mighty space marines have once again proven the inevitability of a galaxy lit by the Emperor’s holy light.

Death to the False Emp… er… Death to the Traitors!

Will showed up last night with a team of GW’s terrific looking new heretic Astartes (mostly) painted. He’s going with an Alpha Legion paint scheme, which looks great on these detailed models. I played my Eremoi Dark Angels as usual.

We played a match with five objectives, scoring points after each turn. Control of closer objectives was worth one point each, those on the opponent’s side were worth two, and the central objective granted three points to anyone brave enough to take it.

I gotta say, I still love the way the board & ruins look. Might have to make another board soon!

This was my view at the start of the game. It was my first time using the recently finished reiver. I put together a list to fit him in, thinking it probably wasn’t optimal. As it turned out, the list was pretty well tuned. Will fielded five chaos space marines and six cultists.

Wait! Where are all those models?!

Will had a huge mob of baddies clumped together behind a wall to start the game. He had a good plan and stuck to it.

On turn two Will had two marines hiding behind three cultists, threatening the three-point central objective. This was the critical moment of the game.

My overwhelming firepower, most of which had not moved after repositioning on the first turn, was able to chew through the cultists and take down one of the marines. The final marine was not within two inches of the objective and did not earn Will the two points. Had I taken down even one fewer heretic, I would have lost the game.

My reiver didn’t kill anything, but did pull the mighty zealot (power sword & plasma pistol) off the center when he threatened Will’s control of one of the rear objectives. While it saved me the three points, it locked up all my shooting for a turn. In the shot above my reiver has already died from a Icon of Flame-induced mortal wound and a stab from a power sword.

Headed into the final turn!

The heretic zealot got back to the middle in a last ditch effort to steal the game, but the Eremoi shot him off. It took almost all my pieces to get him, and I even had to reroll the final injury roll to take him out. I had nothing left to fire at his cultists in the back corner, but managed to fire a frag missile down the alley at the marine & cultist holding down the objective in the open. I managed to blast the marine, but his cultist withstood another attack and held on to the objective to secure a 8-8 tie.

Will played far more aggressively and dynamically, but my superior weapons did just enough to hold on for the tie. We both made some opportunistic plays.

I’d say that the vicissitudes of war helped me out. I got his plasma gunner on turn one, which could easily have helped him dislodge some of my loyalists from their nests.

Despite the poor reputation of chaos space marines in Kill Team, I was impressed by what Will brought to the table and definitely know I was fortunate to leave with a tie. The Emperor protects!

Another Dance with Drukhari

Those pesky Dark Eldar were at it again last night, up to something deviant, no doubt. Well, they bit off a little more than they could chew when they tangled with the Eremoi!

We used the Bay Area Open rules & one of the objective-based missions provided with them. We found the tweaks to the basic ruleset led to a more balanced game that quickly forced tough decisions on the players.

Will’s forces were led by a sybarite, whom he converted using bits from a scourge. Will often has cultural cross references in mind when approaching his minis, and here he alluded to various one-winged angels found in anime and elsewhere.

The model’s not fully painted yet, but it’s already looking impressive.

The numerical advantage of the elves was dented early when my specialists (missile launcher demo, heavy bolter heavy, and auxiliary grenade launcher-toting comms) thinned his ranks. A krak missile took out his dark lance at precisely 24″, followed by four heavy bolter shots (using the More Bullets tactic) and a frag grenade taking out two wyches on turn one.

The Drukhari didn’t have enough range to return fire with any real purpose. However, they ended up scoring 3 points to our 1, due to their great mobility. Will’s advances got him within 2″ of a distant objective, while my attempt to do so failed. He thus scored a point for the second objective and another for securing more than I.

On turn two I was able to lure Will into yielding control of one of his objective by running two juicy tacticals into charge range. One was shot to pieces by a pistol and the other locked into combat after a retreat, but they did succeed in moving Will’s units off the marker.

At the same time, my leader and his bodyguard jumped on the second objective at last, which would draw me even in points at the end of the round.

By this time superior shooting had shredded Will’s force and he conceded. We were tied on forces and I was ahead five models to three.

It was another fun game, but proved once again that (unless they get lucky on their combat drugs), Drukhari are likely to struggle with power armor. The team I assembled around tacticals performed as well as hoped, granting me an extra body while forgoing plasma altogether.

We’ll get some different teams put together next time and report the results here. Get your game on!

We’ve Got Them Surrounded, Sir

Last night my Eremoi battled Will’s Drukhari in a battle on my new desert board. We played the narrative mission Ambush, where his objective was to get more than half his team through my forces and off the map.

A Kabalite wielding a dark lance did work from the backfield, taking out my missile launcher on turn one after a decisive shot took the initiative from me. I chose not to challenge, as my whole team was ready and I preferred to keep the command points. His comms specialist upped the percentages but rarely contributed to shooting, since he only had a 12″ range.

A few wyches got my marines into CC, while a pair made a break for the escape zone. My combi-plasma gun took down one charger on overwatch, which definitely helped me in the early game.

When the dark lance was finally forced to move, my leader & heavy moved out to safely open fire on him as he hid behind a wall buttress.

In the end the Eremoi took out enough elves through solid shooting and got that sixth kill in a team of ten to wrap up the win. Still, Will made it a tough game despite long odds. We’re looking forward to more games between these factions as soon as possible.

Desert Duel

The Grey Knights of the Inquisition somehow got word that the Eremoi caste of Dark Angels has been dabbling in warp science and were dispatched to – er – dispatch them.

Tom & I got in a great game of Kill Team this evening using my new Sector Fronteris board.. He fielded his psykers and I my heavy-hitting Unforgiven. Terror Tactics was the mission.

After Tom advanced on my forward position and psybolted my heavy bolter (heavy specialist), I brought down his Demon Hammer-wielding combat specialist on turn one. Following that early action we turned out attention to the center of the board and began to duke it out.

I charged the aggressor, who had survived a double tap from my tactical sergeant (sniper) firing both profiles on his combi-plasma gun. I kept my intercessor sergeant farther from his grey knight to avoid being hit with a mind bullet.

As we fought for control of the center of the board, our gunlines sustained fire behind the melee.

But wait! The stalwart Grey Knight Andros not only survived six attacks from a power sword and killed my plasma gunner, he fell back and made a run for the edge of the board! With two flesh wounds, he advanced right out of the game, giving Tom the two points that locked up the win for the Inquisition.

We had a fun time putting two good-looking teams onto to some nice terrain and slaughtering one-another’s space marines. Things looked like a cake-walk for Tom early on, but proved fairly competitive as the game continued. We made a few mistakes we’ll try to correct next time, but overall the exciting and fast paced game played out well.

Hope you have time in your weekend for some great gaming with friends!

Drukhari Meet the Emperor’s Finest

Will’s getting together a kill team of Dark Eldar. The plan is to handle the painting collaboratively, but for now we just wanted to see them on the table.

The mission was Sweep & Clear.

Bundle of fun! All my specialists in one little knot to start the game. We’ve got my new intercessor sergeant as leader, along with my plasma sniper, intercessor comms, and heavy bolter heavy specialists. The group split up on turn one, but presented both a juicy target for melee and a wall of fire at range. Along with these two I had my new missile scout & a standard tactical marine to complete the team.

Will’s team included five wyches and five kabalites. He had a combat and a zealot specialist and a sniper with a dark lance laying down heavy shots from the backfield.

Will’s Drukhari hid behind our new chapels & crypts, maneuvering into position to bring my boys into close combat. I only sighted two targets but nipped one wych on turn one. Turn two saw me drop another with my ranged weapons, while the xenos got my sniper and comms specialists, as well as the tactical, into melee with a wych armed with hydra gauntlets.

Turn three was the big turn. My missile launcher and heavy bolter threw out a ton of shots that started chewing up his kabalites, while my sarge moved decisively, led by example, and honored the chapter on the same turn. That was six attacks with the power sword, two more from the comms intercessor, and five straight attacks at the top of the turn. My melee attacks only netted one casualty, but it put my Eremoi up 4-0 in points and kills.

When I picked off a fifth model on turn four, Will’s Dark Eldar packed it in and headed back to Commorragh with their braids between their legs! I had only sustained a single flesh wound at that point.

We both felt the Drukhari seemed like a very fun faction and quite viable, though this particular game was very lopsided. The Power from Pain and Combat Drugs rules add a lot of flavor and excitement, though the latter, in particular, also increases variability dramatically. Once Will’s adjusted his team somewhat we’ll run it back soon. That said, Drukhari do seem likely to struggle against MEQs, given their low strength melee weapons (unless they roll Grave Lotus on the Combat Drugs table). Without question, the roll for Drugs could potentially swing the game before the tip-off. I’m sure things will tighten up as Will learns the faction better.

I was very pleased with the missile launching scout and the sergeant. The frag missiles delivered doses of shots as necessary. And while the leader’s power sword was overkill against the Drukhari’s 4++ melee save, his three attacks definitely made him a beatstick. Wait till I get that chainsword sergeant painted!

It was a great time battling it out with a bunch of new models & terrain. I can’t wait to defend the Imperium again soon!