Wednesday, August 15, 2012
3rd Battle for Ehdiciun VI
Unfortunately, Kharsis knew that the ambush his force had just survived had sapped them of valuable strength. Chaos Marines may be tougher and meaner than their loyalist counterparts, but they still needed ammo and sustenance just the same. Checking his Champion's maps, he found some woods that promised to lead to something, be it stashes or a hidden supply depot. Bellowing out his orders, the Word Bearers regrouped finally and headed eastward toward those woods...
Finding cleverly hidden stashes, both forces built up a supply cache in basic camps. Strangely enough, the camps were only a few hundred meters apart, separated by woods and ancient, crumbling stone structures. It was only on establishment of piquets did they notice each other and the battlelines were drawn. Still needing to gather ammo and expand their supplies, each force adopted the mission of 'save our stuff and take theirs', effectively becoming a wild 'castle' mission. Both Kharsis and Mazarius mused to themselves about this situation moments before shots boomed out...
As the fog of war cleared, Mazarius realized that the battlefield was a hilly glade ringed by woods and ruins. There was plenty of cover. The Chaos 1st Coterie had taken the woods to the northwest, while the Defiler towered behind a hill in the north, and the 2nd Coterie took cover in the ruins to the northeast and guarded their stash of newly-acquired supplies. The Company Master, realizing that the center of the battlefield was a death-trap, deployed his Razorback and bodyguard squad behind the woods in the east, intent on racing for the objective. Behind the vehicle and a gaggle of trees was the Dreadnought, Rashiel, ready to distract the enemy for the captain's quest. On the very eastern flank, skirting the treeline, was the section A, a combat squad split of from the Tactical squad. Including the sergeant and the Plasma-gunner, this team was meant to sieze the objective if the command unit couldn't. To the west of the battlefield, section B deployed in some ruins and stood watch over the Dark Angels' cache. Five marines and a Plasma Cannon should be enough to hold off an advance, thought Mazarius. Just as the loyalists achieved their positions, the Defiler blew a whole in the western ruins and obliterated 2 of section B's numbers. The battle had begun.
Mazarius thought he had achieved the perfect plan and owned the initiative, but when that cannon sound went off, he realized that the Word Bearers were more eager than he was to fight. The Defiler advanced as it lobbed shells, and the 1st advanced through the woods towards the Daemon-engine. Their hip-shots with bolter rounds and a plasma gun resulted in the Dark Angels around their Plasma Cannon-wielder going down, leaving the heavy weapon and one marine to guard the objective. It was a good start already for the Chaos Marines. The 2nd Coterie bunkered down in the ruins and waited for their lord to arrive, not wishing to rob the Daemon Prince of any glory. Kharsis had vowed to kill every officer in a challenge this day, but Mazarius was intractable in his bid to take back his supplies. This stubborn resolve pushed the Razorback foward, just this side of the treeline, heading north and firing at the Defiler. The Lascannons were ineffective, still only barely operating after being wrecked only days before. Rashiel stomped towards the middle of the battlefield, starting through the woods and taking advantage of cover as he sprayed Assault Cannon rounds into the Chaos Marines in the ruins, felling one. Section A advanced behind the trees, staying conspicuously absent from the battle raging just the other side of the treeline.
The Defiler, noticing that the Razorback had sped foward and closed on his army's supplies, changed direction and moved east, firing his cannon and Autocannons at the vehicle. Scraping paint and making a horrendous screech, the shells did little real damage and enraged the deamon inside the monster tank-thing. The 1st continued to follow the Defiler, even in changing direction, but made sure to fire and kill the Plasma Cannon hiding in the ruins for good measure. The last surviving Dark Angel watched the Chaos army all move toward the fighting in the east and took the opportunity to duck behind a wall and conceal his position. He expected the Word Bearers to forget about him and lose sight of their goal. Meanwhile, the 2nd Coterie began to worry and crawled slowly to the base of their ruins, readying themselves in case the Dark Angel Master made it across the battlefield, now already halfway there. Rashiel again moved through the woods, smashing branches and trunks aside, and continued to spray Assault Cannon rounds into Chaos marines, shredding another two. The Razorback again advanced and again launched a vicious Lascannon shot at the Defiler, but again failed to do anything.
Already, the loyalists were halfway across the battlefield and threatening the objective, bringing the Defiler and 1st hurrying to engage. Firing at the closest target, conveniently the Razorback, the Defiler-cannon and squad Plasma Gun wrecked the vehicle. It was confusing when the Chaos marines saw nothing escape the vehicle, only to notice Mazarius and his squad now advancing through the trees- on foot! Mission first, it appeared. Still no Daemon Prince in sight, the 2nd Coterie unleashed their bolters into the advancing command unit and killed two, but the loyalists seemed unmoved and kept pace. The Word Bearers were beginning to feel doubt. Another two from the 2nd Coterie fell to the Dreadnought's cannon as it advanced to the edge of the trees and prepared to recieve a charge from sweeping Chaos marines. Rashiel knew he had to protect his captain and saw the Defiler cutting him off from the north and the renegades sweeping south to get behind the unit. It was the ancient warrior's time of courage.
The Defiler crawled as far as he could and unleashed a massive blast from his cannon, aiming squarely for the Master and his puny marine bodyguard. Despite perfect aim and overwhelming force, Mazarius survived by sacrifice of one of his squad members. The Deamon-engine howled in fury! The 2nd continued to fire from the ruins, shooting bolters, flamers, and even a Plasma Pistol into the bone-armored officer advancing on them. Being wholly committed to taking the objective, Mazarius ignored any injuries, advanced from the treeline, and ran straight into the ruins to smash his Power Sword into a Chaos Marine's face and then his buddie's, killing two. Surprised by the ferocious assault but skilled nonetheless, the squad struck back with dozens of chainsword blows and close-range shots. Still Mazarius fought on, unscathed and totally determined. The objective was nearby, filling the Master with resolve and giving him super-human abilities to resist pain. The Dreadnought processed this information in his visor as he watched the 1st Coterie advancing, believing himself about to be assaulted. To his surprise, he was suddenly destroyed as a Plasma round penetrated his armor and detonated his reactor. Even the Chaos squad was stunned and stood there, staring at the now-smoking crater where their foe had stood a moment ago. The Aspiring Champion shrugged his shoulders and patted his pistol, very proud of himself suddenly. Seeing this explosion, section A rerouted themselves into the woods and set up to recieve the charge and guard their Company Master's advance. Losing the battle of attrition, Mazarius trusted his fighters to do what was necessary and give their lives if they had to, even while fighting to preserve his own.
Finally, Kharsis roared and flew onto the battlefield, coming from the north where he was surely gathering intelligence from the air. Seeing how the battle fared, the Daemon Prince was confident that battle was his. He motioned for the 1st to advance past the wreckage and into the woods, watched the 2nd nearby struggling as the more experienced Dark Angel commander eviscerate his warriors and ordered the Aspiring Champion to 'earn his glory', meaning challenge the loyalist and beat him already. The Defiler was now left without targets as the Daemon Prince had jumped directly between the machine and its targets. The deamon inside twisted with rage, but restrained from instigating a fight with such a powerful being. The 1st did as told and advanced, firing into the combat squad emerging from the shadows, but failed to kill any. They attempted to charge the Dark Angels and succeeded, but lost two renegade warriors to overwatch. This squad was putting up a fight for being outnumbered so badly. When the two sides finally clashed together, the Sergeant hollered a challenge to the Aspiring Champion, met in the trees, and easily dispatched him with his Power Fist. The Word Bearers fought on, realizing quickly that they were fighting a stubborn foe and watching only one of the five they faced fall. Meanwhile, the remaining Dark Angels accounted for another two renegade casualties and completely locked them down. Farther north, the 2nd backed away from the Dark Angel captain and cheered as their own Aspiring Champion stepped foward and flexed his Power Fist. Without a thought or even a sound, Mazarius sliced the heretic in half and stepped over the body, standing menacingly over the pile of supplies they'd been scrumming over. This simple action broke the nerve of the Word Bearers squad, and they turned and fled from the all-too fierce captain. Mazarius quietly watched them flee, knowing this was the easy part and he was only moments from facing a Daemon Prince!
In the quiet west of the battlefield, one quiet Dark Angel marine from section B crawled from the ruins he'd been occupying and gathered the supplies that made up his army's stash. Looking where the sounds of fighting were coming from, he saw his Master valiantly slaughtering renegades way across the field. His pride was only mitigated by the fact that his job had been so easy up to this point...
Kharsis saw both his officers be dispatched in nearly the same instance, and something inside him snapped. With a scream of defeat, the Chaos Lord lifted off from the battlefield and fled as fast as he could, the Defiler and remaining Chaos Marines quickly following suit. The remaining Dark Angels gathered near the Company Master and all silently took in the moment of victory. It was a very hard-fought one, but this was only another battle in a potentially long campaign.
We dropped back to 750 points, playing the 'Emporer's Will' scenario. The battlefield was choked with cover and both objectives were placed pretty much perfectly. I included the challenge rules, secondary objectives, and warlord traits- Kharsis getting the Challenge VP one and Mazarius getting the FnP within 3" of an objective one. My warlord trait came in very handy, the challenges went in my favor, and the Daemon Prince arrived in turn 5 (there was that mess-up I talked about a few posts back), which saved my bacon and kept my captain from being challenged by that monster.
As far as victory, I finally got one. I won the game 4-1, Chaos achieving first blood (I didn't get ANY blood until turn 5!) being all he achieved. Had he remembered the objective, he would have won, but I [secretly] claimed my objective, contested his, and had a denial unit (go Master Mazarius!) in his deployment zone.
I got creamed in the kill point aspect of the game, but this mission was a great lesson to my brother that this game is about more than killing. Not that he doesn't like killing, but I hadn't introduced him to objectives yet and he was beating me handily for it. Now that we're comfortable with the missions and armies, the next few battles will focus on mastering the rules and getting comfortable with that. After all, good habits take practice! :-)