This is a short series of games played as a "warm-up" for our upcoming campaign; pitting the 18th Ricochet "Crashlanders" vs WAAAAAGH! Shinbash. We're going heavy on narrative for this one, so sit back and enjoy.
Part 1: Worse than Suicide
The sky across the bay was still a roiling mass of sickly green clouds and electricity. Lt. Rosalyn Seung, 18th Ricochet "Crashlanders," commander of what little remained of 2nd Company, watched it for as long as she could out the door of the Valkyrie AAC before it disappeared behind the shattered spires of a now-nameless hive.
The evacuation should be well underway by now, she thought to herself. The sudden appearance of Warboss Deffsplode's "Sploda-Stompas" had taken the Expeditionary Force's Fifth Detachment by complete surprise. Powered by giant, unstable warp vortices, these walking fortresses unleashed a hellish detonation when their hulls were breached, breaking the boundaries between reality and the Immaterium for miles around. Entire swathes of the planet's surface were now uninhabitable wastelands. While surely hilarious to the rampaging greenskins, they had forced Commandant Tiles to retreat all available forces from the Kallik Isthmus to retrench and await for the longer-ranged artillery with which to bring the hideous mechanical beasts down.
And yet here the Crashlanders were, jetting far into Ork territory, with no support and only the barest reconnaissance reports of a orkish kill kroozer under construction to guide them. At first, Rosalyn had assumed it was punishment detail; someone higher up in the brass who rankled at Col. Shay's subordinate leanings and gung-ho tactics finally getting their payback during the chaos of the retreat. But something about Leon's attitude concerned her. His usual bemused, devil-may-care attitude had sharpened into a wicked grin and a manic gleam in the eye. His mission briefing had been terse and full of unspoken energy, and he had lingered for a strangely long time on a holopict of a particularly large and nasty-looking greenskin. She had known the Colonel for almost as long as anyone in the regiment, and she knew what that meant: Leon was out for blood. Whether it was personal or just more mad Ricochet battle lust, she couldn't tell.
Emperor protect us, she sighed as she fingered the scar along her ear. Sometimes I wonder if following that man isn't worse than suicide.
The Valkyrie banked, and suddenly she could see a massive, ramshackle structure, bulging with mismatched engines and weapon batteries. The size of it took her breath away, and even in the predawn light, every surface swarmed with movement. She could almost hear the howls of the greenskins below, like an angry hive of insects stirred up by a stick.
She tapped Sgt. Lenius on the shoulder and indicated his raucous squad, who were too engaged in a tumultuous game of sunder-sticks to notice. "Let the boys know we're on final approach, sergeant. I wouldn't want to have to prep their arms myself."
The game was 1500 points Seize Ground, with Spearhead deployment.
GUARD LIST - 18th Ricochet "Crashlanders"
My list was my standard Air Cav, with a secret weapon: a Forge World Vulture, armed with a twin-linked Punisher cannon!
Company Command Squad with Regimental Standard, Carapace Armor, Heavy Flamer, Vox
Lt. Col. Leon Shay (Colonel Straken)
Platoon Command Squad with Plasma Gun
2x Infantry Squad with Grenade Launcher
2x Autocannon HWT
1x Missile Launcher HWT
Veteran Squad with 3x Meltagun, Vox
Veteran Squad with 2x Plasma Gun, 1x Meltagun, Vox
Veteran Squad with Shotguns, 3x Flamers, and Demolitions doctrine, Vox
2x Valkyries with Hellstrike Missiles
2x Valkyries with Hellstrike Missiles
Vulture with TL Punisher Cannon
ORK LIST - WAAAAAAGH! SHINBASH
Warboss Shinbash, with Powerklaw, Bosspole and Cybork Body
Big Mek Guv, with Kustim Force Field
10x nobs with Mad Dok, 3x powerklaw, 2x Big Choppas and Cybork Body
20x Boyz with Shootas, 2x Big Shoota and a Nob (Chunder)
12x Boyz with Sluggas, 1x Rokkit Launcher, Nob with Powerklaw and Bosspole (Dunk)
12x Boyz with Sluggas, 1x Rokkit Launcher, Nob with Powerklaw and Bosspole (Thud)
Battlewagon with Killkannon and 2x Big Shoota
The board was set up to resemble an orkish stronghold. Two ruined buildings were placed on either side of the center, somewhat to the north. A concentric half-circle of low walls spread out across the south, and various pieces of area terrain were scattered about the map. One ork objective was placed in the eastern building, the other just outside the western near the center of the board. Guard objectives were placed behind the barricades at south and southwest position. All descriptions are from the southern long edge of the board.
I won the turn roll, and chose to go second. Orks deployed in the northeast quadrant. The shoota boy mob occupied the building with the eastern objective, while his lootas deployed in the lee of the eastern building. His trukks and battlewagons surrounded his lootas to prevent outflanking. The battlewagon and Nob trukk took the south flank, while his two Boyz trukks took the north and west. A ruin blocked his east.
I deployed my Vulture as near as I could to the western building, blocking line of sight from his lootas. Autocannon squads took the south and southwest barricades, while the missile squad took the west. First platoon deployed as near the western building as possible.
My overall strategy at this point was fairly simple: eliminate his anti-air capability ASAP, and use air superiority to chew up his army piecemeal. By occupying the western building I could force his trukks to come to me and enter an autocannon crossfire, while leaving his lootas exposed.
Orks: Not much happened. The battlewagon and Nob trukk edged foreward somewhat and lobbed a shot at my southern autocannon squad, who lost a team.
Guard: My Vulture lurked in the cover of the building, while my infantry platoon ran forward under the urging of their lieutenant into the ruin. HWT fire against the battlewagon and Nob trukk were ineffectual.
Orks: The battlewagon clears the eastern building and fires on the one infantry squad that didn't make it into the ruin. Unfortunately for me, the shot ricochets north, and lands smack in the middle of my clumped-up Guardsmen. Even cover saves don't help me, and I lose a good chunk of squad 1, who panic and fall back out of the ruin. Meanwhile, the trukks break for the eastern building, spoiling for a good fight and unwilling to give the Guard a position to rain fire on two of their objectives. Shoota Boy fire claims the Lt. and his command squad. The lootas, realizing their poor field of fire, decamp and move to cover the trukks' advance.
Guard: My Valkyrie squadron with Col. Shay and the meltas arrive, but on the wrong side of the board! Realizing I'll have to live with the battlewagon for a few turns, I Flat Out the Valks towards the center of the board. The Vulture skims around the side of the building, keeping cover between it and the lootas. Squad 1 regroups and runs back into the ruin to join their beleaguered companions.
With an apocalyptic roar of jetwash, the Vulture banks in between the buildings and unleashes a bone-shuddering salvo from its Punisher cannon. One of the oncoming ramshackle vehicles is thrown into the air by the force of the burst and explodes, tossing greenskin bodies in every direction! The Guardsmen sheltering in the miniscule cover of the shattered building give up a great prayer of thanks to the Emperor and redouble their firepower on the opposite structure, still teeming with the creatures.
My shooting phase luck doesn't end there, as my trusty autocannons take out both other trukks on the board. The nobs are now on foot, and both boyz squads to the north have been pinned by their exploding conveyances. Plus, the dreaded lootas still don't have a firing solution on my aircraft.
Orks: Growling with frustration, Warboss Shinbash smacks the nearest nob on the head and urges them forward, toward the southern objective. The lootas, wandering around lost for a target, try again to get a field of fire on the annoying 'umie gunship, to no avail. But still rounds pour from the ork's stronghold, claiming Guardsmen lives with every salvo despite their thin cover. In the wreckage of their trukks, the nobs Dunk and Thud try to regroup their boyz in a daze.
Guard: My second Valkyrie squadron appears on the eastern flank, zooming in towards the lootas, multilasers blazing and finishing off the survivors of the eastern trukk boyz. Col. Shay's Valkyries swing around south, attempting to draw the oncoming Warboss away from the Guard objective and get behind the Battlewagon at the same time. The Vulture banks in between the buildings and the wrecked trukks, well within range of the lootas, whose howls of anger are quickly drowned out by another ear-splitting burst of the Punisher Cannon that wipes them from the face of the planet. Meanwhile, a lucky missile tears off the treads of the battlewagon, immobilizing the beast.
Orks: The Warboss and his nobs, angry and out for blood, assaults the autocannons holding the southern objective, who quickly fall under the gigantic ork's wrath. Meanwhile, deep in the bowels of the battlewagon, the Big Mek Guv desperately smacked various gubbins into the wagon's go-thingy, to no avail. The western trukk boyz, desperate for cover, advance on the Guardsmen-occupied building, claiming a few more lives along with the shoota boyz.
Guard: The eastern Valkyries creep up at combat speed, multilasers blazing, to no real effect but placing the Ork objective closer and closer. The Vulture swings out of range of any threatening assaulters and annihilates the last of the trukk boyz, while the 1st Platoon guardsmen say their prayers to the Emperor for deliverance and continue fire. The real action comes in the south. Unwilling to lose the dramatic opportunity of Shay vs. Shinbash, my CCS and melta vets disembark and concentrate fire to bring down a few nobs, before charging into assault with the Warboss!
"Zoggin' 'umie bearwasps!" roared Skullkrunk as he brandished his choppa at the low-flying aircraft. "Come on down an' give us a real fight!" The rest of the nobs roared in defiance, coughing up small-arms fire as the Valkyries rushed by overhead. Only the Warboss remained impassive, methodically finishing off the last struggling Guardsman with a neat snip of his power klaw.
Suddenly, the tenor of the engines ramped up in intensity, and the ponderous vehicles swung about to make another pass. Skullkrunk hunkered down, preparing to receive a walloping, when Shinbash calmly stepped in front of him.
"Boss-?" asked Skullkrunk in confusion. But then he saw Shay.
Leaning out the door of his Valkyrie by one hand, charcoal-blue cloak cracking in the predawn air, the Crashlander's colonel had a manic grin on his goatish face. With a flick, he activated his power fist, and the air around exploded in a crackle of incandescent energy.
"You boyz handle the runts," Shinbash muttered as he flexed his power klaw. "Dis git is mine."
With a shout and a whir of grav-chutes, the Crashlanders poured from the oncoming Valkyries and smacked straight into the howling nob's line.
Naturally, even with Furious Charge, assault goes very poorly for me. By the end only Shay and the veteran sergeant are standing, although the sergeant makes his snake eyes morale check. But by dragging the assault out for another round, I effectively prevent his nobs from moving on and depriving me of my second objective... so it was kind of worth it.
Orks: Things are looking grim for the Orks, with only two scoring units left and one in mortal peril. Finally sick of Guv's mechanical failures, the Burnas disembark and move to contest the western Ork objective. With a wash of flame, they finish off the beleaguered remnants of First Platoon. In the assault phase, the Warboss finishes off Shay and consolidates towards the next Guard objective.
Guard: The eastern Valkyries finally reach the center of the board, and unleash a swarm of flamer Veterans that burn the Shoota Boyz from their objective. The Vulture pulverizes the vulnerable Burnas, leaving only two or three that proceed to pass their morale check. The nobs make for the western Guard objective, intent on one last desperate conquest, but a roll of 2 ends the game.
FINAL SCORE: GUARD 2, ORKS 1
I would have to say my overall strategy played out fairly well. The Vulture performed admirably, and once the trukks were distracted and the lootas left open, it was an easy matter to mop up his force. My Valkyrie melta vets were a disappointment in coming in on the wrong board edge, effectively removing them from the game, and I'm not happy with the awkward way squadroning my Valkyries forces my tactical deployment. I've since added an Astropath to improve reserve efficiency and replaced my Valkyrie meltas with Stormtroopers, who get me two squads for about the same cost and much more flexible Deep Strike deployment. Charging the Warboss and his nobs was clearly suicidal even at the time, but it made for a grand show and perhaps slowed them down enough to prevent a draw.
From the ork standpoint, the battle revealed the greater need to protect Lootas and provide them with a clear line of fire. Several turns with no clear shot was unacceptable and allowed the birds to run rampant. In addition, the burnas seemed like overkill; it wasn't worth overkilling squads of guardsmen, especially when weaponry was needed to take out the real threats.
And of course, the mission ended with Col. Shay captured in the hands of Warboss Shinbash... a cruel blow to the Crashlanders, but one that gives us time for a quick game of Killteam to settle the score!
"He's still alive, ma'am," said Trooper Bretin as he struggled with the vox signal. "No doubt about it."
Rosalyn said nothing, preferring to appear calm. But her fists were flexing hard enough to break the skin had she not been wearing gloves. Why had they taken him alive? She had never known an ork to show mercy, if indeed that was what had prompted their action. She forced herself to breath evenly, the stink of engine effluent and quickly-putrefying offal mixing with the dissipating clouds of ozone and gunpowder. She had earned a reputation for her icy, even demeanor back during the hells of Iciphion, and she was not about to lose it now.
The crackling of lasgun fire still sounded around the perimeters of the drop zone, but the tide of orkish resistance had receded for now. With the Founder Corps busy setting their melta-charges on the half-completed kroozer, it was only a matter of time before their mission would be- strangely, miraculously- complete. It all felt too easy, and yet with the Colonel missing...
"Whoreson! Got him!" yelled Bretin, his Ricochet tendency for un-military precision showing. "They're going east, sure as sure. Towards the ocean cliffs. Hey Ennius, let's have us some maps over here!" The two troopers squabbled and set about a profane back-and-forth as they attempted to trace the signal, totally ignoring their commanding officer.
Rosalyn said nothing, but called over one of the Founder combat engineers. "How much longer on the charges?"
"Not long, ma'am. We'll blow these sonsof sky-high before you know it."
She nodded and dismissed him, then lightly cuffed Bretin upside the head- one of the few ways of getting a Ricochite's attention once he's gotten stuck in a good argument. "Give me a roll call of available squad commanders. Let them know I'm looking for volunteers." She allowed herself a tight smile. "We're going hunting."