Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Grolmansburg Campaign - Week One

So, this week marked the IX's first outing since February at the outset of a new campaign being run by a friend. (Otherwise known as the Greenskin Warlord Gigas)

The planet of Grolmansburg is a hive world located in the Skaros sub-sector in Hydria's north. Named for the second of three sainted Warmasters (Saul Grolman, succeeded by Albrecht Constantine) who claimed the Hydrian sector in M32, it is a typical cesspool of Imperial filth, noble houses on this world are poor after centuries of corrupt financial structures that came crashing down to decimate the world's economy. This is what makes it important - as it's of little strategic importance. Its planetary defence force is a token garrison by hive world standards, and its proximity to the Sector's outer rim makes it an easy target for invasion.

By all rights the Imperial Navy should have seen it coming, but with crises brewing on the sector capital of Prussaria, and the distant Ragnor sub-sector, the thought of an assault against the sector's north seemed impossible... and the Imperium has paid for that assumption in blood.

At 0830 hours local-standard, the skies above the shield mountains of Grolmansburg Hive Primus lit up with the fires of a thousand burning ork transports, falling from their orbiting fleet like meteors to land at the base of the hills...

For the next eight weeks, the fate of this planet will be decided across sixteen games. Should the defenders manage to prevent the forces of disorder from claiming more than 25% of the planet and/or the hive city in the east, then they will have bought themselves sufficient time for the Imperial Navy to arrive and enforce a blockade of the planet. Without a sufficient foothold, the forces of Warlord Gigas will not be able to press their invasion further in to the system, and will be forced to withdraw.

Should they claim the hive city and hold it, or massacre so many of the imperial defenders that they control 25% of the campaign's territories, then they will have the initiative to bring in their own fleet and reinforcements, denying the world to the Imperium and gaining a vital staging area to further press their assault in to the Hydrian Sector.

The Armies;

The forces of order, led by myself commanding the Reichsguard's IX Regiment are composed of four armies. Besides the Imperial Guard, space marines of the Blood Angels chapter, the sisters of the Adeptus Sororitas and even a Tau expeditionary force stand ready to defend Grolmansburg.

Opposing them are those being otherwise controlled or manipulated by an emergent greenskin warboss named Gigas. The Orks are supported by a contingent of Chaos marines, a warhost of Dark Eldar, and even a splinter Tyranid hive fleet.

Week One - Turn 1

Winning the initiative roll, the forces of disorder gained the first attack, choosing to strike at the low-lying foothills of the mountains and the mountainous wastelands in the south. Both being mountainous or otherwise geographically complicated locations, deep strikes were going to be risky, and the enemy would need to deploy in full in frontal assault on the defending Imperial forces...

Game 1: Orks, Chaos vs. Imperial Guard, Tau
500 points

The first battle pitched an ork WAAAAGH! (from the battle missions book) against a combined Imperial Guard and Tau defence force. While the Tau relied on a small group of crisis suits and firewarriors, the Imperial Guard committed a small armour force of a Leman Russ and 2 Chimeras to act as firebase.

Predictably, the Orks closed quickly - a mek and a unit of sluggaz riding to battle on the desecrated remains of an Imperial chimera. On the chaos side, a slower advance was made by a rhino-mounted unit of marines, supported by a singular obliterator.

The Tau suffered heavily - their fire warriors going to ground as the Obliterator levelled a plasma cannon on their flank position to incinerate three of their number. The crisis suits advanced, attempting unsuccessfully to bring the Obliterator down. The Imperial Guard line met with slightly more success, the Leman Russ managing to destroy the Rhino early on in its advance, and leaving the embarked marines scrambling for cover. The two chimeras attempted to stop the ork truck before it could advance any further, but only manged to stun it.

The Orks dismounted, declaring with an almighty cry their "WAAAGH!" as they charged forward from their temporarily disabled transport, throwing themselves towards the flamer-toting Chimeras in a do-or-die action that could end in one of only two ways. The firewarriors failed to rally, continuing to stay on the ground as more fire from the chaos obliterator ripped up even more of their number. The chaos marines further pushed from their wrecked rhino, opening up on the crisis suits, managing to kill one of them with meltafire. Only the commander remained, who promptly used his jetpack to get in to the cover of a nearby building.

The first of the Chimeras were ripped apart by the Mek as the Orks managed to reach assault, although the second was only shaken. Defiantly, the Chimera charged forward - attempting to tank shock the assaulting orks. As the orks failed, the mek reminded them of their job with his bosspole, smacking one to the ground and forcing the squad to rally. The Leman Russ had more luck, opening up on the chaos marines who were caught in the open. It's battlecannon paid for itself in a single volley, with the entire squad being blown in to dirt leaving not a single survivor. Once again, the Firewarriors failed to rally, and under fire from the obliterator failed their leadership test to run from the board.

The chimeras in trouble and the infantry dead, the Imperial line looked shaky as the Obliterator trundled forward once again to open up on the surviving crisis suit commander to kill him out-right with a single lascannon round. The final chimera was immobilized, and its multilaser torn apart leaving the vehicle to flounder helplessly as the orks ran for the nearby objective in the cover of a destroyed bunker.

The Leman Russ found it's path to the greenskins blocked by the truck, and faced with the decision of ramming the monstrosity or directing it's fire at the sole g chaos Obliterator, a telling duel began to unfold. With a deep rumble, the battlecannon fired, hitting the obliterator as it turned to face the Imperial tank. The Obliterator shrugged off the hit, a gutteral laugh from its infernal form infuriating the tank crew as its heavy bolters opened fire. To the chaos marine's dismay, six of the shots wounded the hulking obliterator... and he promptly rolled two ones on his armour saves. With a groan, the obliterator tipped over - its armour a smoking husk!

With time ticking away, the lone surviving orks - their number already whittled by heavy bolter fire - made a desperate gambit to bunker down on the objective, hoping and praying to their gods that the Imperial tank's fire would bounce harmlessly off their cover. It didn't, as the battlecannon roared and decimated the mek, its bolters cutting a swathe through those that remained. Even the Kustom force field couldn't save the orks as their last number went down, forcing the game to a draw with the last surviving ork truck the only remaining unit on the field - alone against a fully armed and untouched Leman Russ.

But victory for the Imperium would still be had as the trukk zoomed away towards the horizon at full speed. Rumbling through a patch of rough, cratered earth, the trukk failed its difficult terrain test, rolling a "six" on its damage chart.

When the modifiers were applied to the open-topped transport, the result left the greenskin warboss staring in disbelief at what had happened... his last remaining model succumbing to a single difficult terrain roll.

The Leman Russ crew could be imagined to crack the hatch and light up cigars from the fires of the dead, the heroic tank crew having survived the day to claim an 'overwhelming' tabled-victory for the Imperium, and claiming five points from the match.

Result: Imperial Wipeout (5 points)
Territory Held.

Game 2: Dark Eldar, Tyranids vs. Space Marines, Sisters of Battle
500 points

I was not present in this battle to make a shot-by-shot account of events, but I have done my best to recall what happened truthfully, ommitting that which I am unsure of. The outcome and the nature of it are accurate.

While the Imperial Guard valiantly held the line against the Ork Waaagh!, the Sisters and their Space Marine brethren were fighting a battle for control of the wastelands in the south A formidable line of space marine tanks, bolters and sisters of battle

Deployed width-ways across a wide field, the attacking Tyranids and Dark Eldar had a lot of ground to cover, with not much in the way of intervening obstacles. What meagre cover did exist was clung to desperately, and all the Imperials had to do was prevent the tyranid menace from reaching their line.

The Tyranids and Dark Eldar advanced, running all the way in an attempt to close with the power-armoured Imperials. Light fire from the dark eldar managed to cut down a few sisters, but the return fire from space marine predators ripped through the ranks of the light enemy troops without mercy.

By turn three, bolter fire had all but decimated what was left of the core of the Xenos force, and a brief close combat was fought by a squad of tactical marines against assaulting dark eldar. Ending predictably with a space marine sweeping advance, this game was lop-sided, and yielded another 5 point tabled-victory to the Imperium for the loss of only three or four models.

A truly crushing setback.

Result: Imperial Wipeout (5 points)
Territory Held.

Over lunch, we discussed the turn's events at lengths, working out what do in the wake of such a one-sided result so early in the invasion. With the points standing at 10-2 (1 point for each loss) it was concluded that the Imperial defence was so strong that the initial landing of the planetary invasion was completely repulsed. With no territories left (or enemies to fight) for the Imperials to attempt actions against, the first Imperial turn to strike back was skipped as we moved on to a second wave of assaults... Surely, Warlord Gigas wouldn't be turned back by such a minor setback, right?

The stakes were raised, and the defenders prepared for the coming horde...

Game 3: Dark Eldar, Chaos vs. Imperial Guard, Space Marines
700 points

As the invaders declared their intention to try and take the eastern spaceport from Imperial hands, the Imperial defenders made a gambled decision - placing the best of their forces, the Imperial Guard and Space Marines, in charge of the port's defence. The space port would grant the enemy the ability to strike any territory they wished, and so early in the campaign would be a costly loss to bear.

Armour was massed as an Imperial Guard Armoured Battlegroup (namely, a Leman Russ Vanquisher command tank and a Leman Russ) met up with a unit of Space Marines with accompanying razorback and whirlwind support. The mission rolled for was an Imperial Guard prepared assault, and it became clear that the gamble may well pay off as the attackers were revealed to be the Dark Eldar and Chaos.

In what surprised the Imperials, the Orks had opted to assault a location further west, in order to claim a nearby bastion and shield generator.

Unfortunately, the space marines botched the initiative roll, (rolling a 1, and garnering a death stare from the Guard commander) and handed the attackers the first turn.

The Dark Eldar and Chaos forces wasted no time in going to work, charging their defiler forward as a Raider put a dark lance in to the front of the Whirlwind, destroying it outright before the tank even had a chance to move. Once again, the Obliterator advanced, attempting to shoot the Razorback, but missing it completely.

The Defiler attempted to fire on the marine squad hiding behind the Imperial Guard tanks, but the shot scattered away to harmlessly bounce off the tank's heavy front armour. Tellingly, the adjacent Vanquisher's turret pivoted around to meet the defiler.

The first Imperial turn was destructive with the Leman Russ obliterating the rhino, allowing the nearby razorback to mow the disembarking chaos marines down with a hail of assault cannon fire. The Vanquisher punished the Defiler for it's bold advance, the main gun opening with a loud "crack" - punching a hole clean through the monster's head. The defiler exploded a moment later, showering the battlefield in debris.

Now on the back foot, the chaos marines pushed forward in to cover as the dark eldar bunkered down on their deployment zone objectives. The obliterator fired again, but only managed to stun the razorback as the nearby surviving chaos marines opened fire with a meltagun that missed the same vehicle.

the Leman Russ tanks, their targets destroyed, changed course to move up the center. In an unexpected display of luck (gunner's skill?) the coaxial heavy stubber hit the raider that was in cover of the objective, scoring two glancing hits that then destroyed the vehicle before the main gunner even had time to say "loaded"!

The plasma cannons of the Leman Russ opened fire on the surviving chaos marines, cutting them down to a man who was eventually killed by the Razorback, leaving only a handful of Dark Eldar to cower behind their fortified ruin, as the Obliterator started to stare down the Leman Russ vanquisher. With the game rapidly heading to another overwhelming Imperial victory after only four turns as the last of the Dark Eldar were incinerated by plasma fire and the Obliterator took another lascannon round to the face, the forces of disorder conceded another costly and brutal defeat to the Imperial defenders.

Result: Conceded Imperial Wipeout (5 points)
Territory Held.

Game 2: Orks, Tyranids vs. Sisters of Battle, Tau
700 points

In an action that can only be described as "for the greater good", the Tau were ordered (along with the sisters of battle) to fight an almost assured suicide mission to defend the generators west of the spaceport. Staring down the pointy end of a Tyranid hive fleet is never the best place to be for a warrior of Tau, and this was no exception. The other half of the spaceport gamble unfolded much as expected as the Sisters and Tau bravely tried to hold their position against two hordes greatly superior in number.

Nevertheless, they surprised everyone with their tenacity.

Two sisters squads, a unit of stormtroopers along with fire warriors, a crisis suit commander and a Hammerhead gunship came under early assault as Tyranids arrived by an outflank move provided in their mission description. Genestealers and their broodlord assaulted the unfortunate Imperial Stormtroopers, gutting them and cutting them down ruthlessly as the sisters took up positions to avenge their fallen comrades with cleansing bolter fire.

Cleanse they did as the Genestealers finished their work on the stormtroopers and crisis commander, ripping down the Tyranids with nearly forty bolter shots! Only the broodlord survived, going to ground in order to avoid being decimated by a hammerhead railgun.

Having survived, albeit slimly, the Sisters turned their attention to an immobilized war trukk that had attempted to gun straight down their line. The Mek that dismounted was quickly dispatched by more fire from the disciplined sisters, leaving the truck to be destroyed by the rear-guard Hammerhead.

While this action was being fought, the majority of the Ork and Tyranid force was working to capture objectives deep within their own territory. Little could be done to prevent it as a lone Zoanthrope crept towards the Imperial line, attempting to lay the sisters low with a single, horrible burst of warp energy. Expelling a faith point, the sisters prevails and managed to place wounds on the Zoanthrope, but not before the game reached it's end at the end of the sixth turn.
The Zoanthrope, now within three inches of a third objective, counted as scoring for purposes of this mission, handing a narrow, but ultimately deserved win to the invading hordes, three objectives to two.

Result: Objective Disorder Victory (3 points)
Territory Captured

At the end of the day, almost everything had gone in favour of the Imperial Defenders, with the points from the four games giving the Imperial side 16 points to the enemy's 6. This campaign is still very much in its early days, and next week the stakes are raised once again to forces of 500 points per side.

Can the Imperials continue to dish out such tenacious beatings? Or will the inevitable green tide finally destroy the armoured wall that stands before them? Time will tell.

Summary of Actions:

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Reichsguard Infantry

So, I realise my initial start to this blog was appalling. And by appalling, I mean it was probably the worst start to a blog in the world... ever. I think it's fair to also say that the BoLS blogroll does not count blogs "more than 6 months old" that had only one day of activity.

Nonetheless! With a barely-working camera and a fairly makeshift lightbox, we have the first real photos of this army.

Tennhausen 52nd Stormtrooper Regiment, First Company...
The army's stormtroopers are a deliberate mish-mash of squads with a range of different specialists for any task. In a tournament-style list designed to face as many opponents as possible, the sad truth of the new codex is that many of these guys will probably never be fielded. In Apocalypse however, they benefit from a veritable buffet of Chimeras, Valkyries and Vendettas to do just about any task the rest of the Imperial Guard needs...

First Squadron, Squad 105

Led by Sergeant Major Horst Goehler, Squad 105 is a close-support unit used commonly in city fighting and urban environments. Twin flamers are the core of this unit, and the squad is normally embarked in a chimera ahead of the main advance to flush out buildings of light scouting units before moving on to other objectives in support of regular infantry.

First Squadron, Squad 106

Led by Sergeant Hans Hoeler, Squad 106 is the 52nd's Grenadier unit. Employed as a fast-moving firebase of light suppression fire, they frequently ride in to battle in a Valkyrie in support of the company's other stormtrooper units. Often well ahead of the army's main armoured detachments, Tennhausen Stormtroopers rely on their grenadiers to provide mass-killing ability from range, usually in support of more specialized melta and plasma-armed squads.

First Squadron, Squad 107

Sergeant Richard Krupp leads the Company's Seventh squad. These Plasma-armed specialists are charged with dealing with the most heavily armed and armoured infantry. This squad has amongst the highest casualty rates in the company, mostly as a direct result of the opposition they are deployed to counter.

52nd Stormtrooper Regiment, Second Squadron, Squad 108

Sergeant Elias Griggs is in charge of the company's eighth squad. The above depicts the unit as they appeared recently at the outset of heavy fighting on Grolmansburg III, deployed to the dense forests of the Hive world's shield mountains that separated it from the cold polar staging areas used by heretic forces attempting to establish a foothold in the Skaros subsector. Demolitionists, the squad makes heavy use of melta weapons and demolition charges to decimate armour and heavy infantry alike.

52nd Stormtrooper Regiment, Second Squadron, Squad 109

Sergeant Rickard Steinhardt recently assumed command of the company's 9th squad after the promotion of Sergeant von Schrader to the company command staff. Renowned as one of the company's most successful units, the 9th squad are almost permanently assigned to the Reichsguard IX Regiment's First Company as a vanguard unit anchoring the infantry's weakest flanks.

Reichsguard IX Panzer Regiment, First Company, First Platoon

Platoon command, led by Lieutenant Ernst Rader. Also present is the company's Fleet Lliason to Battlefleet Hydrian- Lieutenant Horst Rahmlow, and the Platoon Commissar, Saul Graves.

First Squad

Second Squad

Third Squad

Fourth Squad

Fifth Squad

Reichsguard IX Panzer Regiment Headquarters.

Present here is the majority of the Division command staff, including the Division commander, General Elias Heydrich, the Second Company commanding officer, Colonel Eurias Kaine and the regimental commissars - Commissar Lilith von Meyer, and Commissar Markus Garrett. (The standards are those of the First Infantry Company, Second Panzer Company, and the standard of the IX Panzer Regiment)

Next time, we'll cover the the armoured core of the regiment - the 2nd Panzer Company under the command of Major Erwin Bachmann.