Wednesday, 20 September 2017

Ultramarines Pick On The Astra Militarum

Commander Woolstrop had for a while now been concerned about (sub)commander Bolshoy Bartlet. Nothing he could specifically put his finger on, but an oddness in his mannerisms. This 'oddness' had gotten worse since the Sisters Of Battle attacks some weeks ago, almost as if  their attacks had targeted him and his resulting survival had triggered a mental metamorphosis. Woolstrop had decided that after this patrol duty Bartlet would be sent to HQ for full mental, biological and chemical screening to get to the bottom of the strange behavior. But first, orders came in to meet a force of Ultramarines at a small inconsequential hab slum to go through a plan of attack over rebel held positions in the settlement a few clicks away. Just as long as Bartlet doesn't do anything to jeopardise the mission........

For those out there actually reading more than one of my batreps I've decided to try to forge a narrative. Farg Woolstrop and parts of the Krablokistan 47th has been stationed on Hemmerdale for some months now a routine patrol resulted in his force being attacked by Convent Of The Vengeful Scold a small Sisters Of Battle enclave on the planet. Having survived two attacks from them, there seemed to be relative peace and quiet until a force of Tau attacked them. The Tau were defeated but Commander Woolstrop was getting the feeling that these attacks were seemingly connected as in each case (sub)Commander Bolshoy Bartlet seemed to attract more than his fair share of attention. Woolstrop was returning to Hemmerdale's communications hub - Granada when he was rerouted to meet a force of Ultramarines to assist in an attack a force of suspected rebels. No sooner had the Imperial Guard arrived, the units under direct supervision of Bartlet opened fire. The Ultramarines returned fire and battle was joined. Again!

A New Opponent!

Several weeks ago I was contacted by a fellow human asking about 40K. His name was (and still is) Billy. Emails and *whatsapps were exchanged and a game was arranged. This is that game. Billy is getting back into 40K after a few years (aren't we all) so he brought what he had - Space Marines of the Ultramarines chapter. The game was originally 1000 points but as at the last minute brought up to 1500 points as Billy wanted to field his newly acquired Rouboute Guilliman model. Me being the nice guy that I am agreed and chucked some extra tanks into the list. 

The Krablokistan 47th

HQ;  Commander Farg Woolstrop,
(sub)Commander Bolshoy Bartlet
Troops: 3x Infantry Squads, 10 Man Scion squad with 3 plasmaguns and a Hot Shot Volley Gun.
Elites; 10 x Ratlings, 2 x Special Weapons Squads (Meltaguns & Grenade Launchers), Commissar, Astropath.

Heavy Support; 2 x Leman Russ (plasma cannons, lascannon, battle cannon, stormbolter), Basilisk, heavy weapons team (**Mortars).
Fast Attack; Hellhound.
Designated Trasports; 2 x Chimeras, (Heavy bolters, stormbolter).

The Ultramarine Attack Team 'Bully'

HQ; Rouboute Guilliman, Marneus Calgar.
Troops; Not 100% sure but I think some tactical marines.
Elites; Some Sternguard and a couple of bodyguards for Guilliman.
Heavy Support; 2 Dreadnaughts.
Fast Attack; none.
Designated Transports; none.

The eastern half of my deployment, left to right, Mortars, Ratlings, Chimera with special weapons, Leman Russ, infantry, another Leman Russ, Chimera with lots of characters, more infantry.

The western end, with only the Hellhound and Basilisk not appearing in the previous photo.

Space Marines, it seems don't need much of a deployment zone. The foul stink of arrogance and righteousness lay heavy in the air behind that building (a jail).

Due to the game being of the Open Play type, the first scenario in the book we worked out power levels to determine who was the underdog, it was me by a single point. I got the first turn and tried to make it count. The two Chimeras advanced as did the Hellhound, but like a prat forgot to use my smoke launchers. shooting went pretty well and I found out just how good marines are in cover. Lots of small arms fire (and larger arms too) killed two marines in the jail. One of the Leman Russ and Basilisk destroyed a Dreadnaught whilst the other shot at marines in the building. When the end of my shootimg turn came i had cleared the jail, temporarily at least and sent the Dread to the scrapyard. 

Rather dubiously the imperial guard advance on humanity's finest in a strong defensive position. Not my greatest plan with hindsight switched on.

Probably the only units that should be out of my deployment zone should be the Chimeras and Hellhound.

Another valiant hero of the Imperium gets toasted by Leman Russ and Basilisk double team.

A nice big empty killing ground.

So Billy moved the marines behind the jail into it making it a rather cozy little Ultramarine boys club. He also teleported his Terminators to my left flank ready to kill and maim in the name of the Emperor. And maim they did! Scratch one unit of Ratlings (again!). It could have been a lot worse as by sheer dumb luck I hadn't left enough room for the terminators to teleport onto my back line. I had left enough room for 4 out of the 5 but no matter how we measured, there simply wasn't enough room. Thankfully the rest of Billy's shooting wasn't as lethal and I lost some squaddies to bolt shells and little else.
Ultramarines seem to have no concept of personal space. I'm not even sure the jail roof was designed to hold that sort of weight. It's only foamcard!
The Ratlings time on the table is under threat!

I really must try to get used to the whole don't move forward as you're a gunline army. 

End of turn one.
Next turn was my Scions first run out. The models I used for them were Black Tree Miniatures sci fi models also billed as Super Viper Assassination Squad painted many moons previously. Despite what anyone may imply, I hadn't forgotten to deploy them in the first turn - this was tactics! The idea was to drop down from the sky using the magic of ***Grav Chute Insertion, kill the terminators and be home for breakfast. Billy had deployed his terminators in an annoying spot, so annoying in fact that I had to move my Leman ****Russes. While this was happening some more shooting went on, the Hellhound toasted a five man marine squad - not the kind with champagne and long stemmed glasses either.

As you can see three of mankinds most expensively attired are killed by rejects from Astarte recruitment fairs. Of course had Terminators still had only one wound each it would have been a much more dramatic and impressive Grav Chute Insertion. Some special weapons operators have taken refuge in a little fenced area incongruously situated between a couple of buildings. 

Guardsmen jump out of their vehicles ready to to run the gauntlet of bolters to gain the objective. There is also a committee meeting of Astra Militarum middle management clustered around the base of the building. Lots of phrases like 'going forward 'and it is what is it' are probably being said.

Here my Catachan squad painted over 20 years ago strut though some chemical goo. The good thing about IG footwear is the think undersole as Tyranids and other xenos are a bit tricky in the attacking humans via their *****feet.

This is the other side of the table, the evil Ultramarine side. As you can see, brave Roboute Guillimann cowers behind his Ultramarine minions while brave guardsmen grab an objective. The Scions minus an overheated plasma gunner taunt the Terminators with their redonkulous armour saves and invulnerable saves!
I was hoping that in Billy's turn he would forget all about that silly misunderstanding between the Scions and the Terminators. Sadly he didn't. Rouboute also came out of his hiding place, accompanied by his two bullet catchers. Three marines in the jail must've also gotten the order to waste their lives for the sake of Gulliman as they left the building to stand out in the open, effectively ruining the Leman Russ crews chance of killing a Primarch. The shooting phase got an infantry squad destroyed and the Terminators killed 4 or 5 Scions as they moved towards them. The only close combat was between said Scions and Terminators and three marines who stormed the big grey building in the centre.

Can the Scions stick around and ruin Billy's plans?

It didn't go well for the non bio engineered super steroided up humans, once again, the Scions had a morale test at +6 so just to be sure I rolled another 6, entitling them to an early bath. The marines in the building failed to evict the guardsmen but it also meant they were safe from battle cannon shots and other high yield ammunition. 

The low level satellite view. Note the Catachans who appear to have forgotten all about the battle and are frolicking in and out of the toxic lake.
The turns were getting shorter as the casualties mounted. I ran my tanks to within flamer distances of the Primarch hoping he'd take the bait, assault them and die in the ensuing explosion. Before that, I had Smurfs to kill. My shooting was less than satisfactory as the Leman Russes expended all their guns on the Terminators, but with a combination of good armour and bad shooting, they failed to kill any. One also managed to overheat his plasma cannon causing 6 wounds on itself. Yikes! In fact it was a pretty shitty turn of shooting all round as the only things I remember killing was the two bodyguards of Gulliman. In another bizarre twist the guardsmen defeated the marines in the building causing great confusion all over the dice rolling world. Actually that's not what really happened, the Astropath smited them out of the building.

Point all you like, lackey of Gulliman, you wont see the end of the turn!

I'd like to they same about the dreadnaught, but I shan't.

Just before the Ultramarines get mind killed by a guy in sandals. The Admech earns his pay by repairing the Leman Russ with the dodgy plasma cannon.

I think I done a good job of clearing Smurf chaff out of the way, next turn I will concentrate on the big guy. All I need is Billy to do what I want him to do and not what he wants to do. Simples.

The almost comically slow Terminators aren't so good at at-the-doubling with all that extra weight, had I known that I may have used the grenade launchers better somewhere else.

A bit of an miscommunication this turn as Billy failed to stick to my carefully thought out script. The Dreadnaught moved towards the Hellhound, the three marines went back into the jail and Gulliman assaulted the Cadians in the grey building. This was in fact rather cruel as they had been in there so long they were thinking about redecorating it. The Terminators with Marneus Calgar tagging along behind them like a huge puppy advanced towards the grenade launcher guys holding the fenced off objective. I haven't mentioned Calgar much as I don't think he really did much. Except give rerolls to those bloody Terminators! Some notable events this turn was the Dreadnaught very nearly getting killed by the Hellhounds demise! First he caused a couple of wounds on overwatch and the resulting explosion took it down to 1 wound! ONE WOUND! This was particularly galling as I'd rolled a 2 on the d3 mortal wounds thing. Gulliman attacked the two guardsmen then jumped out of the building to engage a very worried looking Astropath. The Terminators shot and killed the remaining grenade launcher guys. THIS IS NOT GOING AS PLANNED!

This photo was taken confusingly mid phase, after Gulliman charges the two guardsmen in the building but before the Dreadnaught goes for the Hellhound. I need to calm down a bit.

A now single wound Dreadnaught stands shakily over the wreckage of the Hellhound.

In what appears to be a dream sequence filter, Gulliman consolidates into the weakest model in my army, the Astropath. Very sneaky. It amazes me how almost without fail, my opponents refuse to leave single characters out in the open for me to destroy.
We were up to turn 5 and I had a Dread on one wound and Gulliman on 3 to kill. With the mighty guns of the Imperial guard I should be able to pull it off. Firstly, Shilum Drool, Astropath skedaddled out of Gulliman's reach, the Commissar and Company Commander jumped into the grey building to control an objective and everyone else was told to kill the big bloody Primarch! Everyone except the Chimera who zoomed over to take the objective by the Comms Tower. Maybe there was some sort of instinctive fear coursing through my army but after a huge amount of shooting including meltaguns, Leman Russes, a Basilisk and assorted heroes, the Primarch still stood! Of course a 3++ save was a big help. another Plasma Cannon misfired causing even more damage, this time to the other Leman Russ.

The game was in the balance, it was the last turn and I had 3 of the objectives, all I had to do was keep hold of them. Billy advanced Gullimann over to the big toxic pond where (sub)commander Bolshoy Bartlet had stood all game guarding an objective. The Dreadnaught attacked those few characters in the grey building and the Terminators ambled forward in what I suppose was a half hearted attempt to get into combat with the Chimera that I hadn't done much with since turn one. Shooting was fairly nondescript but both the Dread and Gullimann attacked troops holding objectives. No damage was caused in overwatch, so it was down to grit and determination and who has the biggest ******weapon! The Primarch vs (sub)Commander Bartlet was a very one sided affair. I suppose 30 points vs over 200 in combat is a bit of a *******mismatch. Unsurprisingly Bartlet didn't get to raise his combat attachment in anger before he was face down in the green goo. The Dreadnaught vs Commander Woolstrop and the Commissar was less one sided but due to most of my plans having very little close combat in them I had unwisely neglected to give either character a power fist or axe and they simple couldn't damage the one wound left Dread.  So we totaled the captured objectives, counted again, just to be sure. The marines had two I had one and the Dread was contesting the central marker. With the marines special rule (Objective Secured) it counted as another held objective so the Ultramarines won by a single almost junked Dreadnaught. Gulliman was left on I think 3 wounds so he would have to go to sick bay before he tangles with the Krablokistan 47th again!

This isn't a soft focus 80's porn picture, it seems the camera lens got a bit foggy. The last combat 

The last blurry picture shows I have numbers, Billy has objectives.

Victory points; Imperial Guard 2 Ultramarines 6.

Regrets (I've had a few).

Well that was a very entertaining game. From a tactical point of view I probably shouldn't have advanced so much in the game. Just bombarded the marines. My first turn went well wrecking the Dread and killing the marines, I really like the Basilisk. It can cause lots of damage. Billy's tactics were sound and he won the game in the last turn (like in the movies). I think my Scions were wasted, the could have been better deployed to attack ordinary marines and perhaps steal the objective in the jail. The Chimera on the left was also wasted but I'm becoming convinced Chimeras need heavy flamers and just need to be used as a Hellhound Lite after it deposits troops. Once again the Ratlings didn't see a second turn. I think a better deployment for them was to the right with LoS to Gullimann from turn one. Speaking of which he's horrible to fight against, especially with his 3++ save. I may have to Deathstrike Missile him in the future. All that's left for me to say is thanks to Billy for the game and congratulations to the worthy winner.

After the firing had stopped Woolstrop looked around bemused. The Ultramarines had left the field taking their wounded but also the body of (sub)Commander Bartlet. The Primarch Roboute Gullimann and Marneus Calgar had both been present at this skirmish and left as soon as Bartlet was killed. Something, had caused the marines to target his second in command as the sisters of Battle had done so several weeks ago. The question was, why did so many of the Imperium's most notable person's keep attacking his force and how will he stop it. The report I have to send to HQ will raise quite a few eyebrows when they receive it. Hopefully I will still be alive to read the reply....

*Whatsapp for those who don't know is an encrypted peer to peer messaging service ideal for clandestine chats like subversive bongo recitals, flash mobs, affairs and arranging wargames.
** Mortars are probably the worst choice for fighting marines, but I've just painted them up, and I like them.
***One of those made up sci fi military terms that sound pretty dirty but isn't.
****The  plural of Leman Russ is tricky. I feel it should be Leman Russ' but I just typed Leman Russes, pretty sure it's not Leman Russ's. I think it's a disgrace that the Citadel design studio gave the naming of such an important vehicle such an ambiguously pluralised name! A disgrace I tell you.
*****Some aliens attack via pee holes. But they're quite small. Except for the Vandalusian Giant Pee Hole Invader Beast.
******Astra Militarum infantry are renowned for not having big weapons.
*******A bit like the Mayweather vs  McGregor fight.

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