Wednesday, January 29, 2014

Deathwatch 40K rpg - Final Sanction

So after our 'evil' Pathfinder game came to a messy bleeding end at the hands of a Paladin and Mystic Theurge, it was high time I sat back in the GM chair after taking a long break - thank you Womble.

So what did the boys want to play?  We had burned out on Pathfinder/D&D which was fair enough after not really progressing that well through the last couple of campaign attempts.  After looking over the rpg book laden shelves, Deathwatch was suggested and quickly agreed upon.

We were already familiar with the system as we have played Rogue Trader a bit so I only had the Horde and Solo/Squad modes rules to go over.  That weekend we got together and made the Battle Brothers up in preparation for the following regular Tuesday night game time.

Stu made Rafen, a Blood Angel Librarian.  Cody had Varin an Ultramarine Tactical specialist and Womble had Angus, yes Angus!  the Stormwarden Assault Marine.  Now in regards to the Stormwarden's name, Womble and I read up on the Stormwardens and they seem to have a Celtic theme.  After the other two had selected their names from the samples found on their chapter lists, Womble asked if their was any name similar to Angus, low and behold yes there was in the middle of the samples, Angus in fact... so that is why we have Battle Brother Angus complete with an accent to rival that of Fat Bastards.

By the time we were ready to play I had nabbed the sample adventure from Fantasy Flight found here.  I always find it helpful to run a pregenerated adventure to start with.  The Fantasy Flight ones in particular ease the GM and players into the extra rules of the game and provide a great example to structure original missions on.  The adventure Final Sanction is set in the sprawling canal choked industrial city of Lordsholm on the Agri-world of Avalos which I am transplanting from the original locale to the Quintas Maelstrom so I can connect the future narrative to the 40k campaign.

The Deathwatch killteam are searching for Inquisitor Kalistradi with whom the Ordo Xenos has lost contact with.  The players enjoyed a very cool introduction which was provided where their transport frigate was assaulted by Tyranid vanguard bio-ships, the Killteam launching their drop pod at the city below.  The drop pod crashed through the roof of a large Imperial chapel and on egress discovered a PDF platoon under siege by rebel forces.

Straight away the players got to experience dealing with Hordes in the game where damage the players cause reduce the magnitude of the enemy horde until they cause the enemy to break from combat or disband.  This is where explosive weapons and flamers excel as they reduce the Hordes effectiveness rapidly. 

So striding out of the chapel into the midst of awe struck guardsmen the Killteam engaged the enemy.  With rain pounding down on their ceramite Varin took position alongside the humans sheltering behind fallen statuary with his bolt gun, Rafen drew forth psychic energy and gathered lightning in his gauntlets while Brother Angus primed his jump pack and launched into the dark sky to enter the killing ground about the defenders.  The rebel forces engaged in waves with numerous crazed wretches surging about Angus and making for the chapel.  Varin unleashed fully automatic bolter fire, the mass reactive shells detonating in the soft tissue of his targets.  Rafen released his psychic power, the lightning dancing amongst the rain soaked attackers.  Angus burst upwards from the surrounding horde dropping a frag grenade which exploded in a fiery ball throwing corpses about like rag dolls, all the while PDF las shots peppered the oncoming forces while stub rifles barked back.

A bellow sounded from a gene enhanced goliath, some labourer nearing the height of the Astartes.  A cheer roared from the rebel forces and the brute triggered a stolen chainsword and charged at Angus.  Brother Angus met the weapon with his own chainblade and made short and bloody work of  his opponent to the dismay of the rebels who broke and scattered back to their fellows in the ruined buildings about the chapel.

As the next horde surged forwards heavy stubber fire raked the PDF soldiers.  Brother Varin called the defenders to hold their position and surveyed the dark structures for the weapon teams.  Angus plowed into the new wave breaking rebels with combat blade and whirring chain teeth.  Librarian Rafan vaulted over the defenses and ran to join Angus, summoning psychic flame.  As Angus lobbed another frag grenade into the ravenous horde and Rafan ignited them with sheets of psychic flame, Varin spotted the enemy stubber teams atop a ruined tower 80 metres across the corpse strewn grounds from the chapel.  Voxing his squad mates Varin fired suppressing shots at the stubbers.  Angus acknowledged the enemy location and burst skywards again descending with crushing force into the enemies about the base of the tower while Rafan held back the rebel advance with Avenging fire.

Varin felled rebels with expert bolt fire allowing Angus to prime a krak grenade at the towers base and as he jump packed to safety the explosion compromised the already unstable structure.  Debris crashed down on the remaining rebels, burying them under tons of wood and steel.  The few surviving rebels fled the chapel grounds disappearing into the ruined Lordsholm streets.

The Battle brothers rejoined at the chapel and were addressed by the PDF officer Captain Ascote who urged them to join him in the chapels interior.  Once inside with rain falling through the hole made by the drop pods entry, the Captain's form shifted and morphed before the marines eyes into a slender female form, that of a Callidus Assasin.  Syndalla introduced herself as an ally of Inquisitor Kalistradi and told the marines she had not seen the Inquisitor since fighting broke out weeks ago.  The Inquisitor's agents had been here in Lordsholm investigating a Genestealer cult when the uprising erupted in violent fury.  Kalistradi had gone off in search of the terrible xenos Broodlord who was exerting it's alien will over the corrupted rebel forces.  Syndalla urged the marines seek out and exterminate the Broodlord, send an Astropathic message from the Tower of Echoes before the greater Hive forces arrived in system and ascertain the location and well being of the Planetary Governor Perian Thorsholt.

That was all the first night and the three players really seemed to enjoy it - you could tell as Cody hardly played with his phone ;)  I must say for a game system, it is one I really enjoyed running and should continue to do so.  The abstract horde mode works really well if you convey the setting and enemy well.  I found myself imagining rebel bodies being flung about as torrential rain poured down, fires burning in ruined buildings providing a backdrop.  The fact that we all play 40k and most of us have read multiple Horus Heresy books didn't hurt either as the boys took to their Astartes roles extremely well.  A lot of reference to the Space Marine video game was made too. Talking to Cody a couple days after the first game, I said that I had pictured Lordsholm looking like Dunwall from the Dishonoured video game and he said that's what he had imagined as well. nice the description I gave worked out then. 

The system lets the players play the marines as they should be, warriors able to plow through normal human forces like the juggernauts they should be.  They did find out in our next session what a real enemy can do if it gets it's claws on them though.

Friday, January 24, 2014

40K Campaign - The Quintas Maelstrom - round 4

Last Friday Womble and I snuck in an after work game so that his Tau forces could clear the resident Orks from a barren frontier world on his fringes.

The Ork Warboss gathered 2 large units of boyz, a pair of loota mobz and a small squadron of deffkopterz while the Tau landed with a Commander and bodyguards, a trio of Missilesides, Riptide, trio of Crisis suits, Kroot and a Piranha squadron.

The game was for 1 objective each so had the potential to be interesting.

The Tau were initially intimidated by the large number of Orks in opposition and an initial barrage of fire from the fast deffkopterz saw a crisis team take casualties then flee from the battle zone, scoring the Orks a cheeky first blood.

The Tau retaliated, Smart Missile systems really shone as the Tau forces unleashed a furious barrage of fire into the Ork hordes over the next few game turns.  Ignoring cover and LoS the Orks could do little to close the distance and the Tau position meant the greenskins could do little to get out of range.  The Orks heal out as long as they could causing minor damage to the braver Tau units which closed the distance but in the end the sands were coated in green blood and the Tau had another world.

On Tuesday Cody and I decided to have a campaign game.  We as a group have decided that each player may issue a challenge once per round.  These challenge games if won can gain the victor a permanent 50 point addition to their army total.  Womble has also worked out a system for buying back units from a total army economy, where worlds controlled give resources to replace destroyed units.  In a challenge game the challenger has to be able to replace lost units as normal where the defending player ignores any losses - this will mitigate any ganging up over subsequent rounds on a single player.  When we actually come to fighting over controlled worlds all losses on both sides will need to be managed.

Cody and I decided to roll for challenger as we had not formally declared any.  My Eldar forces ended up as aggressor and Womble set up the table as a ruin strewn jungle.

Ultramarine forces

Chapter Master, bike, artificer armour, shield eternal, thunder hammer
2x 5 man tac squads with plasma in las/plas razorbacks
Stormtalon, assault cannons and skyhammers
Centurion Devastators with grav cannons
Thunderfire cannon

Eldar forces

Autarch, Mantle of the Laughing God, Jetbike, Shard, Fusion gun, banshee mask
5 Dire Avengers in Wave Serpent, scatter, cannon, holo
3 jetbikes
5 Warp Spiders
Hornet with Pulse lasers
2 War Walkers with bright lances

As we want to make use of some units that we don't normally play with I for the first time used the Solitarch.  It would help with reserve rolls for the outflanking Hornet and Warwalkers and be able to do some decent solo damage.  With all the multiple dice I would be throwing for shooting I didn't want to rely on the normally compulsory Farseer.

We rolled a 4 objective game with diagonal deployment and night fighting first turn.

Cody was going first and deployed his force centrally and aggressively to make use of the limited range, he put his thunderfire in a reinforced ruin on his right flank.  I set back as far as I could to maximize the night fighting rules.  The Hornet and Warwalkers were outflanking and the jetbikes reserved.

The marines had range to the wraithknight with the razback lascannons but little else.  The Centurions struggled through the central jungle choked ruins - something that would occur throughout the game.  I think Cody may have removed 1 wound from the WK while his Chapter master sped towards him.

In my opening turn I moved into range of a razback with my serpent while the warp spiders and wraithknight swung out to my left.  The autarch stayed back in cover waiting for the marines to close.  The wave serpent smashed open the razback with the cover ignoring serpent shield and first blood was mine.  Other shooting saw the Chapter Master lose a wound.

As the sun filtered through the jungle canopy the Chapter Master went straight for the Wraithknight.  Seeking to tarpit it with his EW shield.  The Centurions struggle again through the ruins and the Eldar had kept out of range of other forces.  The Stormtalon flew onto the board and unleashed its weapons at the Wave Serpent causing it to explode.  Only one of the passengers perished and they took cover in their transports wreckage.  The Thunderfire pummeled the Warp Spiders but only one had succumbed to the bombardment.  The Chapter Master charged the Wraithknight and lost a wound to the Wraithcannon fire!  The following combat saw both sides lose a wound and the melee continued.

The Eldar Hornet and Walkers both entered from the marine's right flank using the reinforced tower ruin where the techmarine and TFcannon were perched as LoS blocking terrain.   They took long ranged shots at the other razback and centurions managing to wreck the tank and wound the heavily armoured marines.  The spiders jump generators brought them within range of a disembarked marine squad and alongside the Autarch whittled down their numbers with monofilament shots.  The struggle between the Wraithknight and Marine hero continued with both sides failing to cause a wound.

The Stormtalon through a hard turn and went straight for the outflanking Eldar forces managing to destroy a walker.  The TF again fired at the spiders but caused little damage to their heavy aspent armour.  The Centurions fired at the only target in range, the Mantled cloaked Autarch.  With Grav cannons firing they scored 11 wounds but the fey luck of the Eldar Warlord saw him unscathed.  More blows were traded in assault but the Marine Lord failed to bring his shield to bare in time and was crushed by the Wraithknight's strength.

The Hornet fired at the Stormtalon failing to strike it, the jetbikes entered the fray and took position behind a massive ancient tree.  The remaining warwalker clambered into the ruined tower closing on the techmarine and artillery, assaulting after firing its lances with little effect.  The Wraithknight freed from combat reinforced the flank while the spiders and Autarch finished off another tactical squad. 

The Stormtalon scored a hit on the Hornet, stunning it while the Centurions fired with little damage caused at the Eldar Warlord.  The Warwalker beat down the Techmarine and took firing position in the tower.

The game ended with combined fire dropping the Centurions to a single wounded man before the Autarch flew into combat finishing it off.  The surviving pair of Dire Avengers took control of a rear objective while the jetbikes had already sped across the table to take another.  The Stormtalon took a hit and left the combat zone as sole survivor to report back to Marine command on the xenos forces.

This was unfortunately one of those games where Cody did very little if anything tactically wrong, but as I'm sure we can all sympathise with, had the dice abandon him.  I measured all the ranges of his weapons and did my best to keep out of them, Eldar mobility played a huge part in this game with my forces able to dance around his picking off the long ranged targets with little retribution.  It was fun to play with the Autarch and as that game sees him tick up some experience I shall field him again, I will have to build an actual model up for him.  I'm thinking of mounting him on a Hellion skyboard Green Goblin style.  That victory nets me 50 points bumping me up to 1050 per game and having more than enough resources to replace the lost wave serpent.

Stu and Womble have yet to play their Necron vs Tau game but I'm sure it will happen over the next couple days.

Thursday, January 16, 2014

40K Campaign - The Quintas Maelstrom - rounds 1-3

Over the holiday period I enjoyed playing a several games of Killteam using the expanded rules found here at The Heralds of Ruin.  As my gaming group enjoys wargaming and roleplaying and has come off a stint playing Mordheim again these are great.

We also had a few 'fun' games of 40K, pairing up for team games, using Escalation rules - The Revenant got pushed around the table - generally trying to mix it up from the usual 1500 - 1850 point games we have played for the last few years.

This in combination with the Carthis Prime game day I hosted has lead us too the Quintas Maelstrom.  We came up with the idea of this campaign after a full day of gaming with fairly competitive lists.  We as a group found it no where as much fun as our recent more varied games had been.  We bounced some ideas around and I had a rummage through the volumes of gaming material in the games room and found the old GW Eldritch Storm campaign map that came out years ago.  Womble then over the following week made up a great set of rules.  These include discovered worlds being random according to a table, a chance of inhabitants being allies or hostiles and army attrition and rebuild costs depending on how you do in the actual games.

We established initial force restrictions.  1000 point lists, 1 HQ, 2 Troops, 1 Elite, 1 Fast Attack and 1 Heavy Support.  Worlds you conquer can add more FoC slots including being able to exceed the normal FoC slots by 1.  Certain worlds can also grant you more points to spend on your force giving a player a strong advantage.  Allies will only be accessible if you discover inhabited systems and then conquer/befriend them.  Killteams using the Herald's rules also need to be made for espionage missions against each other.

With this established we rolled some random starting positions.  Alex with Dark Angels is in the North West, Womble with Tau in the South West, Stu's Necrons East of the Centre, Cody's Ultramarines in the South East and myself with Eldar North of the Centre.

We each set 3 neighbouring systems to our starting worlds as a Hive World which automatically grants an Elite slot, a frontier world for Fast Attack and a Forge World for Heavy Support.  Other systems are all random.  After initial moves I think we all went for our neighbouring Forge Worlds with only my Eldar encountering a hostile force present.  I rolled an Imperial force and Alex opted to play the planetary defenders.  He chose Dark Angels as is familiar to him and Womble set the board.  Defending inhabitants are not restricted and have access to a normal FoC chart where I had to be quite selective.

Our table was set with a large series of central fortifications including towering bastions and a skyshield bridging them.  My objective was to take control of the central bastion with any infantry unit where the defenders had to keep me at bay.  Alex set up his Dark Angels defensively but did little to stop the Eldar invaders.  D-Scythe toting Wraithguard weakened the Deathwing inside the Bastion, while mass fire from paired Wave Serpents, Warp Spiders and a Wraithknight dramatically thinned the rest of the Unforgiven force taking control of the Forgeworld.

Since then we have made a couple more rapid campaign moves resulting in Cody's Ultramarines encountering a Khorne cult on a Hive World he was bringing to compliance.  After seizing the Initiative his newly purchased Devastator Centurions destroyed the traitor forces en mass while supporting tactical squads in Razorbacks finished what remained of the lunatic cultists.

In our last move made Womble's Tau have encountered an hostile Ork force on a frontier world, that is yet to be resolved.

As a side effect of the random encounters it has encouraged us as a group to look at finishing off the many random collections of models we own and forming them into usable 1000 point armies.  This will make it a project with quite a lot of variety which will be nice.