Chaplain Ezequiel watched as Sergeant Reyes secured himself into the drop pod, the datascreen next to him flaring into cold green life as the pod's systems detected the presence of the squad leader.
"Remember Sergeant" he said, his voice a deep, earthy growl emitting from his skull helm with the authority of a natural born leader "this drop is into the heart of the enemy base of operations. Expect them to be present in force. Establish a beach head with squad Alfredo - they are already on the ground infiltrating the area. Once you and Sergeant Platon are on the ground, Squad Rico and I will follow with Sergeant Edmundo and his men to secure the area. Do not become isolated."
"Aye Sir" Reyes replied, his eyes steel-hard and determined.Bowing his head, Reyes lifted his blood-red helm, his symbol of office as much as the banner he carried on his back and the power gauntlet encasing his left hand. Reverently he placed it on his head, the locking seals snapping shut as the suit established its hermetic seal against the atmosphere outside.
Warning lights flashed, and with a hiss of pneumatics, the doors to the drop pod began to rise. Across the launch bay, the doors to another two pods were lifting in the same way, Sergeants Platon and Camilo preparing their squads for launch too.
It was time.
Sweeping his cloak around him, Ezequiel left the launch bay and strode into the next chamber, catching instantly the scent of incense and the sacred oils used in the maintenance of the ancient equipment that dominated the chamber. Six warriors stood ready at its centre, encased in massive suits of armour plate, even more dense than his own. Huge as they were however they were dwarfed by the machinery in the room.
Ezequiel took his place at their centre, tech priests and their acolytes bustling around them, ensuring that everything was prepared for the teleport. Many things could go wrong when hurling your body across the massive gulf of space to materialise again on the surface of a planet, not least of which the re-materialisation in the wrong place could result in brothers becoming one with the planet's surface itself. Ezequiel hated teleportation, but he accepted it was one of the most effective, and certainly disarming, methods of heading into battle. Fast as they were, drop pods could be heard on their approach, and seen should the weather conditions all. The only warning anyone had of an impending teleport assault was the corposant lightning that fizzed in the air fractions of a second before the travelers arrived.
"Launch drop pods" he growled into the vox pickup in his throat.All he could do now was wait, Sergeant Alfredo would wait until Reyes' force had made planetfall before igniting the beacon he carried allowing the tech adepts to lock on specifically to a single point on the surface. Teleporting was far safer if you already had someone down there signalling where to make planetfall.
"Pods away" came the inhuman response, the tech crew monitoring the launch bay were hard-wired into their systems and had their voices replaced by ship augmetics.All he could do now was wait, it would take seven minutes for the pods to reach the surface of Golovin, during which time he would be helpless to affect the conflict about to begin on the planet's surface. Turning to Squad Rico, he began to lead them in prayer to the Emperor to grant them strength in their mission of righteous vengeance.
So, that's your intro to the game, now the question is what did we do and how did we play it?
Well, the mission is one from the Altar of War collections (I still have them on my iPad).
At it's heart, it's a kill points mission, but each HQ choice is worth 3pts, each Elite, Fast Attack or Heavy Support 2pts, and each Troops or Dedicated Transport 1pt.
The Chaos force would set up first, anywhere on the board more than 12" from the edge of the table, and units could be no closer than 6" to each other. My army would arrive on turn 1, either walking on via any of the table edges or deep striking in - two special rules were in effect, my turn 1 deep strikes would not scatter, and the Chaos forces had move through cover.
This pretty neatly reflects the idea that my force was dropping into the Chaos base - I had the advantage of turn 1 and the Chaos forces couldn't provide a united front due to the separation requirement, but the downside as ever would be that my army would arrive piecemeal.
The two forces were as follows
Dropping to one knee, bolter braced against his shoulder, he took stock of his surroundings. They had come to ground on some kind of landing pad, and their targets were right in front of them. Still recovering from the shock of the pod crashing to the ground so close to their position was a squad of alpha legionaries.
Reyes didn't need to give the order, he just opened fire and the rest of his squad did the same. A streaming fusillade of mass reactive bolts crashed past him into the alpha legion warriors, hurling them from their feet, and sending some crashing from the platform to the ground below.
Off to his right, he heard another pod come to rest, there was so much smoke, even his auto-senses were struggling to make out shapes in the distance. He couldn't mistake the distinctive whine of plasma weapons powering up though - it must have been squad Camilo, and the foom of the discharged plasma guns was followed by a deep crump as their target ceased to exist.
"Chaplain", he voxed into his helmet pickup. "We've made planetfall, and engaged the enemy. Multiple unit strength indicated at present, visibility challenging."
"Sergeant Alfredo, what do you have?" he requested of the sniper scout team who had inserted onto the battlefield some time before and had been observing the Alpha Legion camp ever since.
"Nothing on my side of the field sir, but this smoke has only just settled, they started generating it just after your drop pods became visible. There are few dedicated structures withing the camp - there's a bastion to the north of your position with a squad of Havocs occupying it, I'd say bearing autocannons, their warlord was over at the east side with a squad of terminators when we lost sight of them.More plasma fire sounded to the south west. That wasn't good, plasma weapons took time to vent and recharge after firing and these discharges had come too soon to be Sergeant Camilo's warriors firing again.
There was no time to consider that however, a bestial howl sounded to the east, followed by the thunderous roar of a space marine assault bike, and then they were set upon, a pair of warp spawned beasts launching themselves over the ramparts, too many legs and arms propelling the drooling, yowling figures across the ground, herded towards his squad by a maddened, bellowing warrior atop the bike. as he approached, talons unsheathed themselves from his forearm, a lightning field crackling around them and he leaned over, balancing his weight against that of the bike. Reyes saw what was coming, but his shouted warning to his squad came too late, the claw ripped into his warriors sending several spinning to the ground as the beast spawn crashed into the remainder. Drawing his combat knife, Reyes bared his teeth in a growl and charged, but as he did so another roar interceded, blue and yellow shapes blurring across his field of vision as Sergeant Edmundo and his veterans hurled themselves into the combat.
Nothing could stop the Alpha Legion master though, his bike skidded to a halt and his remaining gloved hand also ignited with power, lashing left and right with claw and fist, he was an unstoppable whirlwind of destruction, crumpling and slicing armour with contemptuous ease.
Suddenly before him, one of the spawn beasts appeared, howling madness from the darkest depths of the warp into his face. Reyes slammed the knife in his hand into its face, stabbing it into every feature that seemed like it could be important, bursting eyes, impaling appendages and cutting off spines with every strike. Finally it seemed the spawn could take no more and it simply deflated, as it did so, the air around him discoloured, and suddenly the filters of his helmet rebreather clogged. It took very strong poisons to affect space marines in any way, but Reyes felt the blood raining from his skull, and he crashed to the ground paralysed. He was conscious, and could see and hear what what going on around him, but movement and control of his limbs eluded him.
He watched, helpless as the warlord and his remaining beast left the platform, heading in the direction of Sergeant Alfredo's scouts. The platform was littered with bodies, most were still alive, crawling or dragging themselves to their feet, but they would need time in the apothecarion before they were battle ready once more.
A grim, deep voice crackled in his ear.
"Report sergeant" ordered Chaplain Ezequiel.
"Chaplain" replied Reyes "we have neutralised their central forces and Sergeant Camilo is securing the southern sector. I can see him fighting on. They have a senior officer heading towards Sergeant Alfredo's squad, and Havocs are providing covering fire from the bastion to the north. I can see Sergeant Platon's men in the east, the terminators there have been accounted held up and are no longer a threat. I'm afraid Chaplain that I cannot move, and my squad have been rendered combat ineffective sir."
"Acknolwedged Reyes, we will discuss penance for your failing upon our return to the Saint's Retribution."Appearing in his vision, he saw the lumbering, relentless forms of Squad Rico advancing on the bastion to the north of the landing pad, laying down suppressive fire on the havocs on its battlements. They reached the structure and in an astonishing show of power, set about the building with their power fists and chainfist. Soon, the building began to shake, before the terminators had weakened it to such an extent that it collapsed in on itself, the chaos marines on top of the building crashing down into the rubble and the expanding dust cloud.
Reyes turned his head, the only part of his body that remained under his control, though he could feel a tingling sensation returning to his limbs as his superhuman physiology fought off the effects of the poison he had breathed. He saw Chaplain Ezequiel smite the last remaining warrior opposing them before the enemy warlord once again appeared as if from nowhere. He struck hard at Ezequiel sending the Chaplain crashing to the ground, before he disappeared once more.
"Dusk Knights, regroup." the Chaplain ordered.
"We have struck at the heart of the enemy, and sent them running, we shall return to the Saint's Retribution and plan our next move."- - - - -
So the alpha legion took an alpha strike! I said to Nick turn 3, I can tell this mission is supposed to favour the marines, but I feel like I have no chance of winning. I was low on bodies and low on kill points. But then a Chaos miracle happened, my Lord on bike went on a rampage and with a handful of tasty boons managed to claw me back the victory, so my mvp is definitely my Chaos Lord.
- - - - -
Well there you go - another cracking game and one where you'd struggle to find a victor from the tabletop scene at the end!
Ryan pulled the win out of the bag quite comfortably actually on points, his warlord and spawn keeping five of his available points alive at the end of the game, whilst I had lost all but my terminators.
Regardless of the result though, it's safe to say that the Alpha Legion base was no more, and so both forces would need to regroup before returning to the fray again.
This game was a classic example of not having the right tools in the box to deal with everything. I though I'd got combat covered with the Vanguard Veterans, but then I realised that when the Chaos Lord challenged me, if I accepted with my sergeant I'd be facing 5 attacks with hatred striking at a higher initiative than me and re-rolling to wound. So I denied the challenge and then watched as the Chaos Lord killed everything that had a chance of hurting him anyway (I'd placed my power axes next to him, foolishly!). This game has definitely changed my attitude towards combat - with an army like marines you can't afford to pay it lip service, if you're getting into combat, you need to kit out properly!
For what it's worth, my MVP has to be the chaplain, even though he didn't do a huge amount and lost combat against the chaos warlord, my command squad had been wrestling with a couple of chosen for several turns when Chappie walks up and just squashed them into the ground with his crozius.
What would you guys like to see next - we're planning some kill team games, or we could escalate things again? Let us know in the comments below!