Tuesday, 22 April 2014

Purge The Xenos! The Battle for Kolvic Gulch

Tonight my friend JY and I had our first game of Warhammer 40,000 in a long time. A 2,000 point game, pitting my Imperial Guard against his Tau, who have beaten my Space Marines (and other Guard armies) more times than I care to mention. Some of those defeats - and all too rare victories - have been recorded on this blog, actually.

Anyway, after first trying to balance the 6x4 battleboard on top of my living room table (it didn't work), and retrieving the rulebook from JY's house, we finally set up. The battle took place on Hamish's World, an arid promethium-producing planet once part of the Imperium and now occupied by the Tau. Luckily for the good Hamishites, the Imperium has returned in force. After a series of bloody noses and a near-disaster at the first main landing zone, the liberation forces are moving out to surround the capital and isolate it from any reinforcements. The town of Kovic Gulch, with its access to potable water, and controlling, as it does, the main highway of Route 21 at junction 33, was to be attacked by forward elements of the Imperial Guard, and all hostile forces destroyed without mercy.

Expeditionary Force Leam:

HQ1 (Warlord):
Company Command Squad: Captain with boltgun and power sword, four veterans (medic, two snipers)
Chimera - 2x heavy bolters.

Charlie Troop, Red Cpy, White Btn, Valachian MXI Armoured.
Captain Count Geranium in Vanquisher with lascannon and storm bolter, two Leman Russ with hull lascannons and sponson heavy bolters (one with hunter-killer missile, one with storm bolter). All with camo netting.

Troops 1:
Red Platoon HQ: Lt Hahn, lascannon team, plasma gunner
Chimera with multilaser, heavy bolter, storm bolter.

Red Platoon 1 Squad: Sgt with shotgun, flamer, rocket launcher.
Chimera with multilaser, heavy bolter.

Red Platoon 2 Squad: Sgt with lasgun, melta, heavy bolter.
Chimera with multilaser, heavy bolter.

Red Platoon 3 Squad: Sgt with lasgun, plasma gun, autocannon.
Chimera with multilaser, heavy bolter.

Troops 2:
Borithan Veterans: Sgt with power sword, plasma gun, autocannon, all with carapace armour.
Chimera with multilaser, heavy bolter, heavy stubber.

Heavy Support 1:
Demolisher with Demolisher cannon, storm bolter, sponson plasma cannons, lascannon, camo netting

Heavy Support 2:
Demolisher with Demolisher cannon, storm bolter, sponson plasma cannons, lascannon, camo netting

Xeno Forces:

HQ1 (Warlord):
Commander Shadowsun with command drone and two shield drones


Elites 1:
XV-8 Team:
Shas'vre with twin-linked missile pod and [something] system jammer
Shas'ui with twin-linked fusion blaster
Shas'ui with twin-linked plasma rifle and drone controller
Six gun drones
Bonding knife.

Elites 2:
XV-25 StealthTeam:
Shas'vre, five troopers with fusion blaster and markerlight; two gun drones.

Troops 1:
Red Team: 12 firewarriors with bonding knife, shas'ui; two gun drones.

Troops 2:
Blue Team: 12 firewarriors with bonding knife, shas'ui, two gun drones.

Fast Attack 1:
Piranha Squadron: Two Piranhas with fusion blasters and disruption pods.

Fast Attack 2:
Pathfinder Team One:
6 Pathfinders with markerlight pulse carbines, pulse accelerator, shas'ui, two shield drones

Fast Attack 3:
Pathfinder Team Two:
4 Pathfinders with two ion rifles, rail rifle and recon drone.

Heavy Support 1:
Hammerhead gunship with rail cannon, submunitions, disruption pod and commanded by Longstrike.

Heavy Support 2:
XV-88 Broadside Team One:
3 Broadsides with twin-linked railguns, three missile drones

Heavy Support 3:
XV-88 Broadside Team Two:
3 Broadsides with twin-linked railguns, two missile drones

Mission: Purge the Alien! Objectives: None. Kill the enemy. 1 VP for each unit destroyed or routed at the end of the game, 1 extra VP each for First Blood, Slay the Warlord, and Linebreaker.

Tau Deployment, seen from their side of the board. Vanguard, L-R: Piranhas, Pathfinder Two, Blue Team, XV-8 Team, Stealth Team with Shadowsun, Red Team with fireblade, Pathfinder One. Middle: Hammerhead (yes, the Eldar Falcon, shhhh) with Longstrike. Rear, L-R: Broadside Two, Broadside One.

Guard Deployment: To the rear on my left, Charlie Troop. To their immediate right, in the ruins, Borithan Veterans. The rest, L-R: Platoon Command, Veteran Chimera, Platoon Command Chimera, Demolisher 1, Demolisher 2, Squad 1 behind their Chimera, Squad 3 behind their Chimera, Squad 2 behind their Chimera, Company Command behind their Chimera.

Board Overview: Note that the wooded areas are actually hills, the road runs down a gulch (Kolvic Gulch as it happens). The ruin in front of the Demolishers was the local Imperial temple, once.

I lost the attempt to seize the initiative (again) and so ended up going second (again):

Tau Turn 1: Electing not to move anything but the Piranhas, which zoom up in front of the Chimeras on my right flank, the shooting starts. Pathfinder 1 lights up the platoon command squad with their markerlights, and Red Team under the direction of the Fireblade and Shadowsun proceed to blow them away. 24 dice rolled, 23 hits, one re-roll of a one ... comes up a one. No cover save, killing on 2s, bye bye Leutnant Hahn! Longstrike then tries to knock out a Leman Russ and instead just glances. Ah well, it was worth a go. Then... the Piranhas do nothing. This, as it turns out, was a mistake. The XV-8 team try to jet pack out of the line of fire, but roll a double 1.

"You... you didn't fill the fuel tanks, did you?"
"No, sorry mate."
"We really needed them filled for this battle, you know."

Guard Turn 1: My tank line rumbles forwards, apart from Squad 3's Chimera, which hits a tree and gets immobilised. The infantry jog forwards, as there's nothing for them to shoot at. Demolisher 1 drops a shell into the XV-8 squad, killing all bar one drone. Demolisher 2 then tries the same thing, misses, and blows up Longstrike and his Hammerhead instead. Hm. Huzzah! Captain Count Geranium manages to fail his test to see if he can split fire, and Charlie Three puts a battlecannon shell into the middle of the XV-8 team, and kills them all. This is both a good thing, and a bit irritating, as now Charlie One and Charlie Two have nothing to shoot! The Chimeras open fire on the Piranhas, knocking a hull point off one. That damnable 4+ cover save they have is a serious pain.

Tau Turn 2: The Piranhas zoom into the ruins, and take aim at Demolisher 1. The Stealth Team and Shadowsun move forwards to take a potshot too, and Pathfinder One lights it up with their markerlights. Several rounds of shooting later, the Demolisher is still there! Albeit immobilised and down to one hull point, but it's still there. This is, as they say, a turn up for the books!

Guard Turn 2: Due to an issue with the pict-capture device, Turn 2 wasn't recorded. However, the slaughter was great! Praise be the God-Emperor! The Chimeras on my left flank withdrew slightly, to minimise exposure to the fusion blasters of the Stealth Team and Shadowblade, while my infantry moved back as well (I didn't want to give up VPs too easily). Then the Demolishers and Chimeras hammered the troops in the building, killing most of Firewarrior Red Team, the Fireblade, all bar three Pathfinders from Pathfinder One, and even a few of the Stealth Team, despite their 2+ cover save. Fire from Charlie Troop also knocked out the drones from Broadside One.

Tau Turn 3: Red Team moved down from the roof of the second storey and up to the edge of the first. Pathfinder One stayed where they were, and the Stealth Team moved out to take a shot at whichever Demolisher needed it. The Pathfinders, shaken by the sudden death of over half of their team, didn't hit anything with their markerlights. As it happened, they didn't need to. Fusion guns roared and rail guns hammered, firstly blowing up Demolisher 1, then turning Demolisher 2 into a burning wreck with repeated glancing hits. Damn. "There goes my centre." Afterwards, the Stealth Team jet-packed back into cover.

Guard Turn 3: Things were getting serious now. The Tau were winning. Something had to be done, and fast. Captain Steiner moved, then ordered his squad to Move, Move, Move! to get within order-range of Squad 1 and their rocket launcher. Then he ordered them to Fire On My Target, denying the damnable Piranhas their ridiculous cover save... only for the krak rocket to miss. Curses! I had more luck with Charlie Troop, who managed to split fire. Captain Count Geranium squarely hit a Broadside from Broadside One, destroying it, while Charlie Two and Charlie Three shelled Red Team, killing all bar two of the hapless space-cows. Then the Chimeras opened up on the Piranhas, as did whatever infantry support weapons could be brought to bear. Eventually they failed their saves and the two skimmers sank to the ground, burning.

Tau Turn 4: Again with the pict-capture problems. Clearly electronic jamming was having an effect on the Imperial Navy eyes-in-the-sky... the Tau took the offensive, or tried to, moving the Stealth Team towards the hill on my left, pausing only to blow up the Veteran Squad's Chimera before leaping into cover in the woods. Railgun rounds from the Broadside teams either missed or bounced harmlessly off the thick frontal armour of Charlie Troop... except one, which knocked another hull point and the right sponson from Charlie Three.

Guard Turn 4: The Chimeras moved to form a firebase around the hill on my right flank, and then proceeded to kill the remnants of Red Team and Pathfinder One. The infantry, under the inspiring guidance of Captain Steiner (he got to issue three orders this turn thanks to the Veterans rolling snake-eyes when they received their order to Fire On My Target), and Charlie Troop, plus the Platoon Command Chimera, fired everything they had at the Stealth Team, killing two more of the 2+ cover save, 3+ armour save lunatics.

Tau Turn 5: The survivors of the Stealth Team, plus Shadowsun and her last drone, moved through the woods towards Charlie Troop. Uh oh. I smell an assassination attempt! The railguns of Broadside Two knocked out the hull heavy bolter on the company command Chimera, and then... the Stealth Team fired. And did nothing. Not a single thing. At point blank range with three fusion blasters, Charlie Troop escaped unharmed! I breathed a sigh of relief and tried to work out if I could kill Shadowsun in the next turn.

I moved the Chimeras from my right flank down the hill and into position to pour fire into Blue Team, while Charlie Troop repositioned to get the best possible field of fire onto the Stealth Team. My shooting phase consisted of firing almost everything I had at the Stealth Team and Shadowsun, with Fire On My Target being issued to the Veterans and Squad One (whose krak rocket missed... again!), and Charlie Troop even letting rip with their hunter-killer rocket. Result? Stealth Team and drone wiped out, Shadowsun down a wound - but not dead. Oh, and two drones destroyed from Blue Team. And with that, the game ended.

The final score was 7-6 in my favour, as follows:

Piranhas - Destroyed, 1 VP
XV-8 team - Destroyed, 1 VP
Stealth Team - Destroyed, 1 VP
Red Team - Destroyed, 1 VP
Fireblade - Killed, 1 VP
Pathfinder One - Destroyed, 1 VP
Hammerhead - Destroyed, 1 VP
Total: 7 VP

Platoon Command Squad - Destroyed, First Blood, 2 VP
Demolisher 1 - Destroyed, 1 VP
Demolisher 2 - Destroyed, 1 VP
Veteran Chimera - Destroyed, 1 VP
Shadowsun - Linebreaker, 1 VP
Total: 6 VP

A close run thing, but victory nonetheless!

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