Welcome Back to the Labyrinth

"We have been away far too long, my friends," Ashoka declared, his face lit by the eldritch green glow of his staff. "But we have finally returned to the labyrinth whence our adventures first began."

"Just imagine the treasures that lie within," said Yun Tai, flexing his mighty muscles. "Wealth enough to live in luxury the rest of our days."

"And arcane artifacts of great power," added Ashoka his words dripping with avarice. "All ours for the taking!"

"Umm...guys?" Nysa interrupted. "Do you hear something dripping?"

Saturday, December 18, 2010

Assault on Angelis: Initial Engagements - Orks vs. Tyranids

Equal measures of illness and laziness has resulted in me being way behind on posting the results of our last Warhammer 40K campaign session and now I'm desperately trying to get both battles written up before our next round of play tomorrow.

Deffkoptas roared overhead, their pilots racing towards the enemy deployment zone, eager to come to grips with the onrushing horde.  Even as Ghazbag leaped aboard his transport truck with his retinue of Nobs, the ground shook from the detonations of the bigbomms the koptas dropped amid the Genestealer brood.  Ignoring the chaos around him, Ghazbag pointed at the Hive Tyrant in the distance and roared at the driver to 'go fasta.' 

The initial battles in our Assault on Angelis Warhammer 40K campaign kicked off with a bang and two very closely fought games.  My battle against Steve's Tyranid army proved to be one of the most exciting games I've ever played.  Our mission was Capture and Control, which requires each player to capture an objective in their opponent's deployment zone while defending their own.

My first turn started out well, with my unit of Deff Koptas making a pre-game scout move, then turbo-boosting deep into the the Tyranid deployment zone where they dropped their bomb payloads on a huge brood of Genestealers - some of the scariest troops in the Warhammer 40K universe.  Although all five bomb templates landed on the Genestealer brood, my rolls to wound were pathetic, allowing a handful of genestealers and their Broodlord to survive the bombardment.

Meanwhile Warboss Ghazbag and his retinue of Nobs careened across the battlefield in a ramshackle ork trukk, to get within assault range of the Tyranid Hive Tyrant.  Bailing out of the trukk, the squad assaulted the Hive Tyrant and it's Hive Guard defenders, but Warboss Ghazbag, already suffering two wounds from a pre-game assassination attempt, was removed as a casualty before he could even bring his power claw to bear.  The ork Nobs retaliated, slaying the Hive Guard and slicing the Hive Tyrant into sushi with their big choppas.

I was able to deploy my reserves in the second turn - Boss Zagstruk and his unit of Storm Boyz.  Storm Boyz are suicidally crazy orks who strap jet engines onto their backs and make deep-striking aerial assaults into enemy positions.  My Storm Boyz targeted a Tyranid Zoanthrope, whose powerful psychic lance threatened to wreak great harm upon my army.  Although two of the boyz crash landed in the suicidal assault, the rest struck home slaying the Zoanthrope and a nearby Ripper Swarm to boot.

By the fourth turn both the Hive Tryant and my Warboss were out of action, and my Nobs and Storm Boyz had dealt with the Tyranid threat in their own part of the board, but things were not going so well elsewhere.  I'd lost an entire 20 man squad of ork boyz to a Hormagaunt brood that was reinforced by a Carnifex, a Biovore and a Tyranid Warrior Brood, and it was time to start looking to claiming the objectives I would need to win the game.  I started moving my remaining squad of ork boyz back to my own deployment area to defend my objective, while moving my Nobs into attack position against the oncoming Tyranid swarm.  The entire Nob squad was wiped out by the few remaining Genestealers and Broodlord that had survived the aerial bombardment in turn one, but Boss Zagstruk and my Killa Kans - goblins hard-wired into metal walkers - brought down the monstrous Carnifex.

By now both sides had suffered terrific losses and the board, initially packed with miniatures, was beginning to look awfully thinned out; the race was on to claim the objective in the ork deployment zone and win the game.  Turn after turn, my boyz ran towards the objective, their ranks constantly depleted by weapons fire and a bioplasmic barrage from the Tyranid Biovore.  By the end of turn five things were looking very grim for me as Steve's Hormagaunts, Genestealers and Warriors were bearing down on my few remaining boyz and their Nob leader and we began rolling at the end of each turn to see if the game ended.  I desperately wanted the game to end since I was in sole control of an objective and would win only so long as the game ended before the Tyranids could take it away from me.  Sadly the game went on.  I tried every dirty trick I could think of, including maneuvering my trukk between my objective and the oncoming Tyranids forcing them to either waste a turn assaulting it or wasting precious inches of movement going around it.  The end of turn six still had me in sole control of my objective but with only my Nob and a single boy left guarding it.  We rolled to end the game, and despite my prayers to the ork god, Gork, the game continued into turn seven.

The climactic conclusion of the game saw the Genestealer Broodlord, who had proved invincible throughout the game, surviving a bomb barrage and a direct hit with the wrecking ball of my trukk, assaulting my Nob and Boy to contest the objective.  The game would end automatically at the end of turn seven, so there were three possibilities: the Broodlord could slay my Nob and Boy and claim my objective to win (most likely), each of us could fail to slay the other, leaving the objective contested and the game a draw (next most likely, and my best hope), or I could survive the Broodlord's assault and slay it in turn, winning the game (Hail Mary).

The Broodlord's assault inflicted several wounds on my two defenders.  My lone boy was slain outright, but my Nob miraculously made all of his armour saves and survived.  He counter-attacked with his power claw and killed the Broodlord in the last half of turn seven.

Games don't end any closer than this - the outcome came down to some very tense dice rolls in the last turn but, this time at least, fate favoured me and I managed to win a very narrow victory.  This was an important game for me to win, too.  We begin each round of play by selecting a special gambit.  Steve picked Assassin, which inflicted two wounds on my Warboss before the game even started, effectively rendering him useless, while I picked All or Nothing.  Normally when you win a game you can claim two map tiles, and only one if you lose, but with the All or Nothing gambit you gain four tiles if you win and none at all if you lose, so I had a lot riding on this match.  My victory has allowed me to occupy a vast swath of the campaign map including the  capital city, though I'm sure the other players will have something to say about that.

I like to nominate an MVP for the match and I'm tempted to nominate my humble trukk.  This ramshackle transport, held together by baling wire and duct tape is seldom able to survive past the first turn.  At a mere 35 points my only hope was that it would last long enough to get my Warboss and Nobs into close combat a little quicker.  Instead, this plucky little trukk survived the entire game, and although I didn't do much damage with it, it was a constant thorn in Steve's side as I kept using it as a moving roadblock, delaying his advance long enough for me to hold on until the end of turn seven.  But for shear cinematic flair I have to go with my Nob, Killboy, last surviving member of a squad of ork boyz, who single-handedly slew a dreaded Tyranid Broodlord.  This is the stuff that legends are made of, and it earns Killboy the top spot as my most valuable player of the game.

My next match is against Jordan's Chaos Space Marine army, and I'm looking forward to bashing the skulls of dem Chaos ladz and givin' em whatfor.

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