Monday, 13 May 2019

The Deliverance of Skorlax

Patriarch Glurcastes was troubled, his long planned insurrection was imminent but several seemingly unrelated chances put the plans into turmoil. Firstly, was the unprecedented comet that had bathed Skorlax in poisonous radioactivity that wiped out 97% of the human populace here. The alien genes of his family had protected them from the worst depredations of the comet but rendered his hybrid children sterile. The only hope to propagate his line was with the dozen or so pure-strain genestealers that remained. Then came the invaders, first Aeldari, shortly followed by Orks - who gave battle on one of the larger urbanizations on Skorlax. As the Aeldari fought and defeated the Orks more and more green-skins made planet-fall to do battle. When vast numbers had dropped onto the surface of Skorlax, the Aeldari disappeared. Knowing that a large force of Orks on the planet would ruin any attempt to contact the star children, Glurcastes sent out the telepathic summons to all his kin. Leave the mines and eradicate the invaders!

The first Battle of Skorlax was an  attempt by the Seer Council of Ulthwe to entice (sub)Waargh Tonkwappa into a large scale ground invasion. To deal with a threat that directly affected Ulthwe holdings. That threat (as is evident by the blurb above) is Genestealers, in the form of The Cult Of The Four Armed Emperor. I had recently purchased the new Codex and Dylan obligingly gave me a game. As the Ork Codex was new also both of us would have little idea of what to expect. What would be a given though, is that there would be plenty of close combat!

The Armies

Dylan's greenskin Horde;
Clan Kultur: Goffs
Warboss: Kustom Shoota, Power Klaw
Weirdboy:  Warpath,  Da Jump, Warphead (1 CP)
Boyz: 2x Tankbusta Bombs. Boss Nob: Kombi-Rokkit, Slugga. Ork Boy W/ 'Eavy Weapon: Big Shoota. Ork Boy W/ 'Eavy Weapon: Big Shoota. 17x Ork Boy W/ Shoota

Boyz : 2x Tankbusta Bombs. Boss Nob: Power Klaw, Slugga. 25x Ork Boy W/ Slugga & Choppa

Boyz : 2x Tankbusta Bombs. Boss Nob: Power Klaw, Slugga. 25x Ork Boy W/ Slugga & Choppa

Burna Boyz: 10x Burna Boy
Heavy Support;
BoneBreaker: 4x Big Shoota, Deff Rolla, Grot Riggers, Lobba, Zzap gun

Outrider Detachment +1CP (Orks)
Clan Kultur: Evil Sunz
Warboss on Warbike: Da Killa Klaw, Kustom Shoota, Might is Right, Power Klaw, Warlord

Fast Attack;
Rukkatrukk Squigbuggy: Rukkatrukk Squigbuggy
Shokkjump Dragstas. Shokkjump Dragstas: Rokkit Launcha

Warbikers . Boss Nob: Big Choppa, Slugga, Stikkbombs. 3x Warbiker: 3x Choppa, 3x Slugga, 3x Stikkbombs

Total 1500 points or thereabouts. As you can see Dylan used some of the rendonkulously named Ork vehicles.

Cult Creed: Cult of the Four-Armed Emperor
Magus: 2x Familiar, Power: Mind Control, Power: Psychic Stimulus, Warlord, Warlord Trait: Inscrutable Cunning
Patriarch: Power: Mental Onslaught, Power: Might From Beyond, Warlord, Warlord Trait: Biomorph Adaptation
Primus: Bonesword, Sword of the Four-armed Emperor, Warlord, Warlord Trait: Alien Majesty
Acolyte Hybrids  Cult Icon
. 8x Acolyte Hybrid
. Acolyte Hybrid (Heavy Weapon): Autopistol, Heavy Rock Drill
. Acolyte Hybrid (Heavy Weapon): Autopistol, Heavy Rock Saw
. Acolyte Leader: Lash Whip and Bonesword

Acolyte Hybrids  Cult Icon
. 8x Acolyte Hybrid
. Acolyte Hybrid (Heavy Weapon): Autopistol, Heavy Rock Cutter
. Acolyte Leader: Autopistol, Bonesword

Brood Brothers Infantry Squad: 10x Brood Brother, Brood Brothers Leader
. Brood Brother (Flamer): Flamer

Neophyte Hybrids Cult Icon, 12x Neophyte Hybrid
. 2x Neophyte Hybrid (Grenade): 2x Grenade Launcher
. 2x Neophyte Hybrid (Mining): 2x Mining Laser
. Neophyte Leader: Autogun, Autopistol

Neophyte Hybrids: Cult Icon, 5x Neophyte Hybrid (Shotgun)
. Neophyte Hybrid (Flamer): Flamer
. Neophyte Hybrid (Mining): Mining Laser
. Neophyte Hybrid (Seismic): Seismic Cannon
. Neophyte Hybrid (Webber): Webber
. Neophyte Leader: Power Maul, Web Pistol

Aberrants . 3x Aberrant (Hammer): 3x Heavy Power Hammer
. 5x Aberrant (Pick): 5x Power Pick
. Aberrant Hypermorph (Improvised): Heavy Improvised Weapon

Purestrain Genestealers: 12x Purestrain Genestealer

Fast Attack;
Atalan Jackals
. Atalan Jackal: Grenade Launcher, Power Hammer
. Atalan Jackal: Power Hammer, Shotgun
. Atalan Jackal: Power Hammer, Shotgun
. Atalan Leader: Power Hammer, Shotgun
. Atalan Wolfquad: Atalan Incinerator, Power Pick

Heavy Support;
Cult Leman Russ [9 PL, 182pts]: 2x Heavy Bolter, Battle Cannon, Heavy Stubber, Lascannon

++ Total: [86 PL, 1499pts] ++

Those unfamiliar with the new GSC Codex might have noticed I have three warlord traits, this is not a typo but a rather cool strategem call Brood Coven where for 1 CP I get two extra traits but only if I take a Patriarch, Magus and Primus. coupled with the Inscrutable Cunning of the Magus I am guaranteed at least an extra CP so Cults of the four armed Emperor effectively get the Brood Coven for free. As this was my GSC's first outing with the new codex I went for a pretty close combatty force and as Orks were the opponent there was sure to be plenty of  scrappin'. So after the rolls for who does what and who goes where I had a deployment zone that didn't mean very much to me. I had carefully strewn blip tokens all over the place and had no real plan with what to do to them.

Deploying a GSC army is a abstract thing for me, I have trouble visualising the models when I place blips. I'm sure I will get it soon though. I like to think that everytime an army fights 'stealers the comms expert tell the general something like "Well sir, we believe there is between one and a million hostiles out there". To which the general will ask "can't you be a bit more specific?"....
"Errr.......sixteen blips?"
So the most alien deployment phase occurred when I randomly placed blips as I really couldn't get my head around planning a solid battleplan with being able to actually see my man dollies on the table. With that in mind I placed my 16 or so blips in an aesthetically pleasing manner that had little relation to tactics (nothing new there then) and we then got started. One thing I do really like about the blips is your opponent has no real idea what unit he's getting into charge range of, until the end of the movement phase, Of course that allows for some heavy weapon redeployment jiggery pokery which is fun, but as I'm deploying to counter my opponent it slows the game down a bit.

The much more traditional 'visible models deployment'.

Look at them! Deploying normally like chumps!

The Game

In virtually all my previous games first turn is vital as a good dose of high explosive shelling gives the enemy a bit of a pause for thought plus it can sometimes be successful enough to make your opponent change his tactics. The great thing about GSC deployment is if your opponent goes first, moves his unit to engage he still doesn't know what's my deployment until he's committed a large portion of his force. This is what happened. The Orks won first turn and advanced up to engage blips. The upshot of this was the only unit in charge range of my forces in the first turn was a Shokkjump Dragster. Dylan had also deployed his warlord onto an objective fairly close to my lines making a first turn Warlord assassination a thing. I deployed Aberrants as my best counter and pretty much everything else was deployed in a strong centre with fast attack and Hybrids to the flanks to skirt around and hopefully steal some objectives. The Genstealers with the Patriarch were in a position to be able to advance then charge the Ork Warlord with favorable rolls.

Ork objectives for turn 1.
The Orks got first turn and Dylan made some fairly conservative moves until I deployed. He mobbed up two smaller units and Da Jumped them just over 9" from my Patriarch and Genestealer bodyguard. He then opened up with his shooting targeting said genestealers killing 4 or 5 of them. Luckily for me his subsequent assault phase was fairly unsuccessful. The Ork boyz failed to close with the stealers but a Shokkjump Dragsters got into it with the Aberrants. It went badly for the Ork vehicle as Dylan rolled badly and the Aberrants rolled well, smashing it to bits.

Quick as a flash some Genestealers appear out of no where.

In this picture we can see my near fatal (for the Patriarch at least) mistake by deploying him marginally in front of his stealer honour guard.  Perhaps because it was an Ork army it wasn't so serious but a couple of lucky shots could have been very embarrassing.

A couple of cheesy Orks moves where one mob joins another followed by Da Jump left my Patriarch questioning his Primus' tactical abilities and no mistake.

The Ork mob doesn't look any smaller from Dylan's side of the table.
This particular Shokkjump Dragster did the hard work of getting into close combat with the Aberrants only to fluff it's attacks and get smashed into  scrap by some hefty brutes with hammers.
In my turn the Patriarch and now much depleted Purestrain bodyguard advanced towards the Warlord/huge blob of Ork Boyz. My Aberrant and Hybrid units advanced towards the Warbikers in the centre and my heavy weapons in the centre shot up the Bonebreaker as I thought it would prove inconvenient if left to bonebreak. The stealers got reasonably good advance rolls as did the Aberrants. I scooted the Jackals to shoot/possibly charge the massive Ork mob.

The stealers and their dad make a beeline for the Ork Warboss.   

Having smashed the shit out of a Shokkjump Dragster the Aberrants decide to go after the warbikes, after all down in the mines they are allowed to play with the other Hybrids trikes. Aberrants are a jealous bunch.
The shooting phase was pretty sweet as the Leman Russ and mining lasers put an end to any Bonebreaker shenanigans. That was about it as most of the other weapons caused minimal casualties. Some charges saw the Purestrains and Attalan Jackals charge into the mob of Orks and the Patriarch go for the Warboss, The Aberrants made it into the Warbikes. When all the dice rolling had finished, the Warboss and the bikes were gone, as were the Purestrains. A number of Orks remained but luckily for me the huge number of casualties meant the rest scarpered in the morale phase. This did however leave my warlord rather badly exposed......

A lascannon by any other name would destroy a bonebreaker as sweetly. There you go, my one and only Shakespearian paraphrase of this post. Mining lasers are cool. Who needs that extra 12" range when the oppressors come towards you?

Some accurate GSC shooting puts the burna boyz in the Bonebreaker onto footslogger duty. Good. I'm against Orks getting auto hits. Unless they're mine. And they're not Orks but Genestealers. Or Astra Militarum.

The Warbikes are gone and the Abberants mill about drooling and meowing. It's a well known fact that they have similar vocal chords as cats.
Dylan's turn came and he moved a Warboss on foot, Rukkatrukk Squigbuggy and Burna Boyz squad into  'do something horrible to the Patriarch' range. The other large mob of Orks advanced on the Aberrants. The Ork shooting phase was unmemorable except for when he rolled a handful of dice (13) and only rolled 2 hits. This was either poor Ork shooting or poor Ork wounding from the Burna Boyz, either way Glurcastes smiled the smug alien grin of invulnerability. 

Here is where Dylan threw 13 dice and got 2 6's. These were presumably hits and the rest not so much. I think it was shooting at the Patriarch so it was for the best.
Nobody likes to see dice like this, unless they were rolled by your opponent. 😁

Genestealers and Atalan Jackals attack the Ork Boyz whittling them down quite well. To be honest the Jackals did very little as the Purestrains did all the killing. They just helped by giving encouragement and applauding a particularly elegant slash or evisceration.

Another pic of this particular scrap. You can see some Ork vehicle lurking in the distance like a toad. 
The aftermath of the combat. Ten Ork Boyz remain, the Purestrains are no more and the Jackals now try to figure out a way to leave combat without looking like pussys. They will probably start looking at their watches and saying something like "Today is your lucky day, punk!".

At the end of my turn I get four VP's for my objectives and killing the Ork Warboss.

Dakka! Dakka! Dakka! and Monsterous Vigour are both in play. After making a mess of two units the Aberants are high on Dylan's 'to kill' list.
The Psychic phase wasn't overly scary but I really didn't enjoy Dylan's close combat round. Firstly he charged the Aberrants with his Orks boyz and the Patriarch was charged by a Warboss, Squigtrukk and Burna Boyz. Grinning like an evil genius he went back to the Ork Boy/Aberrant scrap and played a couple of stratagems that gave him an extra attack on a 5+ and then another one that allowed him to do it all again! Needless to say the Aberrants were wiped out. I did my own little evil genius type move by jumped in and getting Glurcastes to attack out of turn. He then killed the Warboss and severely damaged the Trukk. Sadly this wasn't enough to save him and another warlord bit the dust of Skorlax.

Having killed the Ork Warboss some Ork vigilantes decide to exact revenge.

Some rendonkulous amount of dice later and a second round of combat is too much for my brave meowing Aberrants. They will be avenged!
By the end of the Ork turn 2 Dylan had pulled back the score to 3 : 4. Which was a pretty fair reflection of the game so far.
Dylan pulls back some points, killing the Patriarch and the  More Speed Go Fasta! objective.
The GSC turn was a bit like one of those games of football when the Ronaldo/Messi type superstar gets stretchered off and the rest of the team have to actually do something. With a frown and a sharp intake of breath the Primus gave the order for everyone else to advance.

Having spent the first turn lolling about and generally letting the Genestealers get killed the Primus and his neophytes sound the advance.

The Acolyte Hybrids also move forward to discus the whole killing Aberrants thing with the Ork Boyz.

The good thing about playing Orks is they like to come to you and my  Hybrids really didn't have to far to travel to get into charge range. On the other side of the table concentrated fire took out the Rukkatrukk and the Burna Boyz. The two units of Hybrids and a unit of Brood Brother assaulted and wiped out the Orks, aided by the crazy dangerous mining equipment and the Primus +1 to hit due to his 9 inch Alien Majesty.

Following the discussion all the Ork Boyz have vacated the battlefield.

Some concentrated fire kills the killers of Patriarch Glurcastes.

Kill the Unbelievers gets me some well needed VPs.
In turn three Dylan started pulling some very unOrky stuff in the guise of scooting round and posing a shooting threat. He shot up and destroyed my Leman Russ with a Shokkjump Dragster. Also this turn he cast Ork mind magic to give him Master Of The Warp VPs. This was as memory serves Da Jump, and then Warpath. He used a strategem to achieve the extra power.

Having been told Ork shooting is useless I found out that Leman Russ are pretty allergic to Shokkjump Dragsters!

Further proof that you can't trust the internet!

The scores at the end of Dylan's turn 7 - 7! I'm winning the 'who's still got command points?' sub competition. For those interested in the whys and wherefores Dylan scored Behind Enemy Lines, Advance and Master Of The Warp.

At this point of the game I had vastly superior numbers and some rather decent close combat troops so I just spread out my units as best I could to grab any or all objectives that I could. Being tied 7 - 7 was a slight concern but surely I couldn't allow two models to defeat thirty? My turn consisted of Smiting the Dragster and a bit of shooting as the Weirdboy had Da Jumped himself to the tallest tower to avoid being shot. At the end of my turn I hadn't killed anything but I had grabbed objective two (I had the defend objective 2 tactical objective) so I was in a good position to get some more VPs.

Having numbers on my side the glorious liberators of Skorlax fan out to grab objectives. Genestealer High Command may well be experiencing technical difficulties due to the Patriarch carking it.

The turn were getting much shorter and Dylan opted to kill the Primus by Weirdboy and Dragster. Some readers might be a little confused as to how the hell the Ork buggy is seemingly able to go anywhere on the table but if it rolls a 4+ on it's advance roll it can go anywhere on the battlefield. Pretty nifty eh? So anyway, the Weirdboy Da Jumped to within charge range of the Primus and the Dragster did it's own version of that via a tunnel in the warp or something. The ensuing close combat phase saw several Brood Brothers intercept potentially life threatening injuries for the Primus ensuring his continued existence......

Not content with murdering Glurcastes the greenskins attempt another assassination attempt, in using filthy Ork technology and magic (if I remember correctly anyhow).
My fourth turn had a mad scramble of neophyte hybrids leg it over to the Primus to save his precious life and the close combat phase sealed the fate of the Orks. The Shokkjump Dragster was destroyed and all that was left was the Weirdboy. The hour was late and we called the game. Totting up the scores it was a narrow win for the GSC.
Having weathered the Orks attack (several Brood Brothers threw themselves onto Ork Choppas and such). They will be remembered. Or more than likely not.
Turn 4 10:7 to the Genestealer Cult.

The Aftermath

Well that was bloody! Rather an exciting game as well. The new Ork army has some interesting new vehicles and rather a lot of nifty strategems that Dylan seems to have gotten to grips with pretty quickly. Had he not failed his charge with the huge boyz mob in the first turn, I'd be writing a much more whiny conclusion to the battle. On my first outing with the new GSC I think I was pretty lucky (see the previous sentence) and Dylan was the opposite at vital points of the game. The cult ambush special rule will take a bit of getting used to - in attack and defence. The important occurrences for me in the game was the Aberrants smashing the Dragster and Bikers in turn one as well as the killing the Ork Warlord. the Leman Russ and Neophytes with mining lasers 'doing in' the Bonebreaker  was very important too. What I did wrong was allowing my Genestealers  to be targeted and leaving the Patriarch exposed to the Ork Boyz. I also could have made sure of the win if I had returned to the shadows in turn2 and reappeared in turn 3 to grab objective 5 (and also scoring linebreaker). All in all a good result for a game I could easily have lost. As always Dylan was a great opponent who brought many snacks to the evening as well as tactical nous. 

In terms of keeping the narrative going, the Cult has been put on the back foot and no mistake. The Ork invaders have been defeated but not necessarily expelled from Skorlax. the Aeldari of Ulthwe have succeeded in their aims - which was to thwart the GSC's progress without losing many Eldar lives. What the Seer council will do next is uncertain. They may - in a few generations time - send another force to battle the cult, or they might even come down themselves, runes permitting.

Primus Goplax was distraught. The Orks had been defeated and expelled from Skorlax but father Glurcastes and all his purestrain children were all dead. The cult had been decimated and sterilised. There was little to be done to further the cause as there was no means of propagating the revolution. Of the cult and their extended families of thousands barely a tenth had survived the comet and then the alien invasion. Then one of the neophyte freedom fighters ran to Goplax in an agitated state;
"Comrade Goplax! It's a miracle!".
"What is it, esteemed cell leader?".
"Breeder maid Mestile Shkop from the lead mine, the one with who's head was partially crushed in the collapse has given birth!" he exclaimed excitedly "A pure child, in the likeness of Blessed Father Glurcastes!".
Goplax previous mood evaporated immediately. Hope for the cause had begun anew.

Thanks for reading.

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