Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Mini Campaign: The Sin of Alacrity (p.5) The Boarding Engagement

Finally. THE BATTLE:

Terminator (1): SB/PF
Tactical Squad (x6): Melta, PF/PP
Deployment: just SE of the middle of the table. Mission: 2. The Chapel (SE corner).

Terminators (x2): TH/SS
Scouts (x6): HB, PW
Deployment: NE corner. Mission: 1. The Bridge (E edge of table)

Terminators (x2): TH/SS
Scouts (x6): HB, PW
Deployment: the Chapel (SE corner). Mission: 4. The Central Corridor (direct middle of table)

Terminators (x2)
Berzerkers (x5): PW
Deployment: West Room
Mission: 1. The Bridge

Terminators (x2)
Berzerkers (x5): PW
Deployment: South Room just west of the Chapel
Mission: 3. The Filtration Chamber (North)

Chaos Bikers (x2): PW
CSM (x5): PW
Deployment: North Corridor
Mission: 2. The Chapel (SE corner)

In total, the game lasted 8 very fast and sometimes furious turns that I’ve summarized in three distinct chunks: opening, middle, endgame.

OPENING TURNS (1-3): In the opening moments, there was an extraordinary amount of running from all quarters as we each tried to maneuver our Teams into ideal position (and I sincerely wish we had thought of Big Jim’s run rule with regard to this matter, as it would have made those first moments infinitely more fluid. We will, certainly, from here on out...).

As mentioned Monday, I split my two most “pressed” Teams so that part of each Recon Team could hold the other’s objective until the relevant Troops got there in order to actually claim said objective. As it turns out, this was a double-edged decision.

Pitmann, in his wisdom, completely abandoned the objective for his Kill Team Two (the one deployed at the bottom middle of the map) and took full advantage of its position near the Chapel to charge straight in. Although I wasn’t to know that he was merely running interference, I understood immediately that Recon Team Epsilon was going to have its work cut out for it against 5 Berzerkers and 2 Terminators. Looking only at numbers and behavior, I was convinced that Pitmann was playing for keeps in the Chapel, which is both appropriate and suitably fluffy.

As such, all the early action happened in the Chapel. A single, lonely Scout from Epsilon left his mates behind and headed toward his objective in the middle of the table, passing 3 Tactical Marines form Gamma headed in the other direction, who had every intention of claiming the Chapel and lending what assistance they might to the looming violence. The remaining Loyalists in Epsilon steeled themselves for the charge behind whatever cover they could find while a single Terminator sprung the Chapel door and charged the oncoming Iron Warriors.

Despite a reasonably large sum of bullets for such a small game, the Onorevoli failed to kill a single member of Kill Team Two. Thankfully, the Onorevoli Terminator pounded his opposite number and claimed first blood for the Loyalists but he was, in turn, utterly mauled by the Berzerkers in their Assault Phase. The remaining Iron Warrior Terminator burst into the Chapel with vengeance on his mind. He was absolutely spoiled for targets, and wasted no time at all getting stuck in.

The action was desperate from the Loyalist point of view. Clearly, the Scouts were outclassed, and had very little ability to soften the enemy with shooting before the gaps closed completely; alas, they were only ever stalling for time. By the end of the opening turns, the elements of Recon Team Epsilon who fought nobly for their God-Emperor ,and his sacred Chapel on the Sin of Alacrity, but had been unceremoniously smeared across the pews. Thankfully, they took 3 Berzerkers with them, but would that be enough... as it turns out, No.

A serious flaw emerged in my plan. The sole living Scout from Epsilon (that fortunate fellow who had been sent to cover the objective) disintegrated before the middle of the game when he failed his break test -resulting from Epsilon’s status as distinctly “under-strength.” I’m sure he took some valuable life-experience with him back to the collection point.

It wasn’t all bad news in the early turns. Pitmann sent his 2 Bikers from Kill Team Three hastily to the Bridge in an effort to run amok against weaker Scout opponents in Recon Team Delta (ahem). The Bikers, who we both expected to do some real damage, did not account for the fact that I had reorganized my dice tray in recent days, and that said reorganization had done wonders for my dice-mojo. I passed something like 6 consecutive armor saves, which might be a personal best. In response, the Bikers were cut down mercilessly on the threshold to the Bridge. The objective belonged to Recon Team Delta quite early and not a single Iron Warrior either would or could possibly contest it until quite late in the game. More on that in a moment.

Onorevoli Claim the Bridge and Contest the Central Corridor
Iron Warriors Contest the Chapel

Back at the Chapel, the 3 Tactical Marines from Gamma that had been sent to claim their objective ran squarely into the Terminator and 2 Berzerkers from KT Two as the Iron Warriors scraped Scout from their boots. Once again, the Chapel erupted in violence. When the clamor died down, only a single Iron Warrior remained, leaving Pitmann with a strange and uncomfortable decision.

For the moment, the last Berzerker was quite content to busy himself with the desecration of the Chapel, but he could not claim it (only contest as it was not his unit’s assigned mission). Meanwhile, just a short distance away, Recon Team Delta stood in complete control of the Bridge. Moreover, the longer the game lasted, the more likely his isolated Berzerker would melt back to his collection point and be removed from play (by failing a Ld test). This lead to some very tense hand-wringing as Pitmann was forced to do mental Maths and general strategerous calculations.

Leaving all of that aside, really the Central Corridor became the point of particular interest throughout the middle turns. Once more, I had a Recon Team acting as a place-holder on top of an objective, but now it was doing so for comrades that I knew would never appear.

Still, Recon Team Gamma would be able to contest, and the entirety of Pitmann’s unmolested KT One was headed unsubtly toward that objective. Certainly, they needed to be stopped before they could claim their apparent goal and level the objective count. Not that it mattered at that time, of course, but the Iron Warriors in this instance were actually headed toward the Bridge.

The odds for the Onorevoli were going to be quite tricky. Nevertheless, the remnants of Recon Team Gamma (1 Terminator, and 3 Tactical Marines including PF/PP and Melta), who I’d nicknamed “the terminator killers” before the game, seemed up to the task. And indeed, they were. Sort of.

For the third time the Sin of Alacrity lit up with thunder and violence, as the Iron Warriors approached a bulkhead only to be met with motivated resistance from the Onorevoli. Plasma, Power Fist, Melta, and Terminator all worked beautifully in conjunction to wipe out both IW Terminators in very short order. It’s the Berzerkers, once again, that made a mess of things. Despite a spirited Onorevoli effort, Berzerkers are Berzerkers are Berzerkers, and there’s still no remedy for that simple fact in a small, blushing, dare I say intimate game like this.

As the middle turns closed, the 2 remaining Berzerkers squared off resolutely against the lone Tactical Sergeant -armed menacingly with his PF/PP.

Iron Warriors’ KT Three, after losing 2 Bikers quite quickly in the opening turns, had been forced to pause for a moment on its path across the table because the road was blocked by the conflict in the Central Corridor. Certainly, they needed to stick around to be sure that KT One pulled through admirably, but they were also a bit bottlenecked by the actual struggle. Although well intentioned (and perhaps not thought through entirely), the delay was tantamount to KT Three abandoning its objective as it now surely could not make it across the table before the end of the game.

To Recap the Action So far:
The Onorevoli had lost the last remaining member of Recon Team Epsilon to a failed Ld test.
Gamma was contesting objective Four, the Central Corridor, from what I believed was Pitmann’s attempt to take it; however, Gamma had been reduced to a single member and would take Ld tests each turn to stay on the board.
Delta maintained complete control of its objective on the Bridge and had not met any resistance since the opening turns.

Iron Warriors KT One was contesting the Central Corridor but had its eyes set on the Bridge; KT One, however, had been reduced to only two Berzerkers and would take Ld test each turn to stay on the table.
KT Two had immediately abandoned its mission and opted to wreak havoc in the Chapel, which it was now contesting with one, lonely, Berzerker. Likewise, KT Two would need to take a Ld test each turn to stay on the table.
KT Three had been forced to pause on its way to the Chapel and thereby left itself exposed.

Onorevoli Claim the Bridge and Contest the Central Corridor
Iron Warriors Contest both the Chapel and the Central Corridor

ENDGAME (7-8):
As mentioned, the Iron Warriors’ KT Three had all but abandoned its objective, and likewise left itself exposed to an unlikely, expendable pair from Delta that had circled around the action in the Central Corridor. The Onorevoli Terminator and Scout with HB sprung furtively from the shadows and set to dismantling the remaining CSM from KT Three. The Chaos Marines were then forced to charge the enemy (taking the Team even further from its objective) in order to sort the problem before they, too, were forced to take Ld tests just to stay on the table. They probably shouldn’t have bothered.

In all, 4 Chaos Marines fell to the onslaught reducing the squad to only 1 CSM (see a pattern? so close yet so very, very far away) and, while Delta lost 2 members in the fray (nice work boys), 6 more sat safely, snuggly on the Bridge, drank their tea, and soothed themselves in the warm, glowing warming glow of the monitors (full points for the first to get the reference).

Nevertheless, Pitmann was passing Ld tests like it was his vocation. And here he made a really quite spectacular decision. The lone Berzerker from KT Two, the one who contested the Chapel, made a sudden break for the Bridge. On what was almost assuredly the final turn of the game, he passed a now dangerously low Ld test, opted for a suicide run, and broke steadfastly onto the Bridge… just one-half inch within the range needed to contest the objective.

Certainly, he would either die or fail a Ld test the next turn, if it ever appeared.

The Central Corridor once again became the focal point of the entire conflict as the 2 Berzerkers and remaining Sergeant fought a desperate round of combat. For me, just a simple draw would suffice. Alas. The brave but sluggish Sergeant fell with dignity and the game ended there.

Neither Force could truly Claim an objective.
The Onorevoli contested the Bridge while the Iron Warriors contested both the Bridge and the Central Corridor.

Iron Warriors win?

A hollow and bitter victory, to be sure. The Iron Warriors had 4 models left on the table spread across 3 Kill Teams. Moreover, the Ld roll required to keep at least 2 of those Teams on the table had become “impossibly low.”

By comparison, the Onorevoli had sat comfortably on the Bridge of the Alacrity for the entire game, uncontested, unencumbered, unpossibly calm (grammar from same reference as above; photo at right for dramatic effect).

Pitmann and I scratched our chins a bit while each revealed his true objectives and we discussed the outcome of the game. I offered my congratulations on a superbly fought battle against what must be described as improbable odds (certainly, the deployment and mission selection had worked against him from the outset).

Pitmann, in an act of genuine nobility, declared the game a draw. Without actually claiming any objectives, neither side would be able to enjoy the rather quirky bonuses we’d created for each objective. We both wanted (want) to see those bonuses in action.

So. The first incursions had been inconclusive. Although hobbled, the Iron Warriors continued to run amok on the decks of the Alacrity. The Onorevoli had enjoyed some modest success but been decimated elsewhere, leaving their positions isolated and unfocused.

And so we decided that Onorevoli Recon Team Delta had spent its desperate, fleeting time on the Bridge disarming the Sin of Alacrity’s automated defense systems, and downloading what precious information it could (the Alacrity’s mysteries needed answers -by Jove!- before the ship landed squarely in the midst of Onorevoli defenses). As the Alacrity lumbered quietly adrift, but ever closer to the security of the Onorevoli defensive perimeter, the road was now completely cleared for both Onorevoli and Iron Warrior Landing Teams alike. The ship must be taken and controlled. Time was pressing.

We would re-fight the game as the Second Wave arrived, freely and unimpeded, at the Alacrity’s airlocks and docking bays. To up the ante and to represent the relative ease of the Second Wave’s arrival, we decided that we, too, should drift slowly back toward “normal” 40K. For Turn Two of our Mini Campaign, we would fight the same table, same random deployment, and same missions, but with 3 x 400pt forces in the mix and yet another modest modification to the Rules that would help us step back to the main ruleset.

More on that bitter contest soon…


Max said...

Nice bat rep sir! And well painted minis, too. Very characterful and very different from the usual fair- well done.

Grizzled Gamer said...

Nice Batrep.

Pitmann's tactic of joining two kill teams together to over-run opponents is one you should consider in future events as it would bolster your scouts.

Grizzled Gamer said...

*edit* I meant to say Pitmann's tactic could be further used to join two kill teams together to over-run opponents, and is one you should consider using in future events.

Big Jim said...

Very Kool! Always nice to see an extremely tense and hard fought battle!

What rule idea did I put forth that you wished you had thought of all it says is "[]"? I bet it is Overwatch for the Heavy Weapons!

I look forward to the 40k battle on the "Sin", it aught to be brutal.


Brian said...

@ Max. Thank you. That is very much my goal here. Cheers.

@ Mags. Funnily enough, I intend to expound on this idea significantly for the second turn of the campaign. Great minds certainly think alike.

@ Big Jim. Apologies. I meant to add a link there, but spaced. This was a bit post for me and I am afraid to re-read for typos and other shameful grammatical errors. As a teacher, I am morally obligated to proof-read, but rarely do... shhh.

The rule in question was your simplification of the "run rule," but Overwatch will make an appearance in our future meddling with Kill Team and/or Killzone.

Big Jim said...

Ah yes, the run rule would have worked out well there!

No need to apologize, I do it too from time to time!


Papa JJ said...

"Come, chaos marines. Sit on the ship deck with Daddy Terminator and let us all bask in the plasma coil's warm glowing warming glow..." Nice reference, that's easily one of my favorite episodes. And great battle report, too! I really enjoyed reading this and can hardly wait for the next round of action to begin on the Sin of Alacrity. I think you did a superb job in both telling the story and illustrating it with your photos. Thanks so much for all the effort that has gone into this series, it has already been very inspiring.

Brian said...

@ Big Jim. There's a lovely irony that the typo in my previous response should be about typos.

@ Pappa JJ. Given the cardboard item you used as reference for size in your recent post, I suspected that you might catch my drift -no pun intended. Well played, sir.

Anonymous said...
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sonsoftaurus said...

Very cool, fun read, and good pics.

I wonder if there might be a way to shake up the one team/one objective mechanic. Maybe with a set of cards, each player draws one and can use it during the game:

*Tactical Reassessment - you may have two of your teams swap objectives.

*Poor Intel - choose an objective, which no longer counts for victory purposes/bonuses.

*Tactical Confusion - force enemy to swap objectives for two of his teams (his choice).

*Booby Trap! - choose an objective. The first model to move within the control zone of that objective must take a dangerous terrain test. Regardless of the outcome of that test, also roll a d6, and on a six the objective is destroyed. If there are already models within the control zone when played, randomly determine one to take the dangerous terrain test.

*Contingency Planning - cancel effects of other player's card.

and more things like that. Maybe say the have to be drawn and played at the start of turn 3 or 4 - far enough in that it will mess with folks but not too far in that they can't adjust.

sonsoftaurus said...

Oh, and for "Poor Intel", any teams with that objective re-roll and get new objectives, ignoring any result that would get them an invalid one.

Brian said...

@ Sons of T. This is a brilliant idea. I think we'll try to implement this -or something very near it- in an upcoming game. Also, I'm thinking that we may set a trigger for it. For example: the first turn you claim an objective uncontested, your opponent must take a card. Or, the first KT that is removed from play entirely (for whatever reason) the owning player must draw a card. etc.

Thanks for the idea. Really great stuff. I have to say the ideas that have been running around the blogs lately (I'm looking at you Big Jim) have been absolutely tremendous.