The Balmoral Impact
A Tales of the Sefirem Sector Campaign
A Bad Omen
It was the transient deep water fleets of the Currentborn who kept the faith alive on Balmoral during the dark time before the First Reclamation. They lived via piracy - both as a way to fight back against the corrupted Archipelago hives and to restock the necessary supplies they subsisted on. With the coming of the Crusade, an organized campaign of raiding by Saint Iris of the Deep set the groundwork for the successful siege of the Archipelagos. The steadfast faith of the Currentborn was eventually rewarded, as Balmoral was granted the honor of becoming the sector capitol of Sefirem.
The population of Balmoral have prospered over the centuries, enriched by the growth of the sector and pride in their history. Many noble houses and military regiments proudly trace their heritage back to the Currentborn. Unfortunately, while the hives prospered, those who still lived in the deep water rarely saw the benefits. A sense of resentment, combined with a culture that associated piracy with piety, led to a simmering culture war...
-Excerpt from A History of Military Glories Concerning the Sefirem Sector
Somewhere mid-ocean, Balmoral (Sefirem Sector Capital World), 685.M41
The comet’s light in the sky had dimmed long ago to a unnatural red, sitting silently on the horizon as if brooding on the destruction it had wrought. Its light wasn’t enough to see by in the blackness of the starless night, so Bresard stood on the deck with a shuttered lantern in hand. Far below, the spotlights of the PDF cutter sitting in the kilometer long supercontainer’s lee searched the massive hull for more damage. Beside him, a team of ratings hauled at the capstan, drawing up the boarding elevator for the ship's visitor.
Presently the cart arrived, and as the gate opened Bresard’s hovering servo skull piped the customary whistle to welcome the boarding visitors - a PDF naval officer and his bodyguards. Bresard smiled. “Welcome aboard the Mighty Kusu. Captain Vayle, I presume?”
The uniformed man nodded curtly, removed his gloves and presented his hand, fingers spread. Bresard’s smile fell at the formal gesture. He should have expected a high ranking officer to be a Hiver. Setting down the lantern, he removed his glove and returned the gesture. The scars where his finger webbing had been removed were mostly healed, but he was always anxious about the inauspicious mutation being spotted when formality was forced upon him.
To his luck, the darkness was such that Vayle did not notice the bad omen and shook his hand without pause. “I’m afraid we have to make this quick. You’re not the only ship damaged by the shockwave. If you’re not in immediate danger of foundering we might have to move on.”
“Surely you wouldn’t leave us alone? These are dangerous waters, Captain - many pirates, and without power our communications and point defenses are down.” Bresard wasn’t actually too worried about pirates - he was on friendly terms with most of the local Drifts, and often bootlegged portions of his cargo for them when passing - but if he could squeeze the PDF for a few supplies his ship would be able to get back on schedule that much faster.
“We’re in triage mode right now. As the Governor has said, each man receives aid based upon need.” Turning to look over the rail, Vayle did not see Bresard’s scornful look at the unpopular slogan. “Even the Archipelagos have been hit hard.”
Bresard joined Vayle at the rail, as the crewmen and PDF troopers shared lho sticks behind them. They watched the conflagaration on the horizon, the last resting place of Emperor knew what. “Do they have any idea how the comet managed to get past the orbital defense grid?”
Vayle grimaced. “Not a comet, I think. Scuttlebutt says it’s one of our Cobras that went down, or maybe a frigate. Warp displacement, training accident... you didn’t hear it from me, of course.”
“Bloody hell,” breathed Bresard. But his eyes were on the PDF cutter below, not the horizon. The deck lights were flickering, then cut out entirely. The two stared down into the silent dark, seeing only mysterious flashes of light to mark where the cutter sat.
“Perhaps your generator has....” Bresard had time to say before the sound reached them. The thump of a distant, muffled explosion. Sharp cracks, not of lasgun fire but of heavy solid-bore ammunition. A mix of screams and throaty warcries drifted across the water.
The two captains stared in alarm. “Saint’s mercy, what is going on down there?”
Kommanda Shinbash’s kroozer has crashed on the Imperium’s sector capitol of Balmoral, after being teleported into low orbit by the sorceries of Inquisitor Lyr (as seen here). Though their crash caused a local catastrophe, their unexpected arrival means that the Imperium hasn’t figured out the nature of the invaders yet. The Kommanda has to gain a foothold quickly before they can organize to crush his outnumbered and stranded boyz.
Kommanda Shinbash (Warboss with Powerklaw, Cybork Body)
Guv (Big Mek with Kustom Force Field)
5x Nobs (2x Powerklaw, 1x Big Choppa, Mad Dok)
8x Tankbustas (1x Tankhammer, 2x Bomb Squigs, Nob w/ Bosspole)
30x Shoota Boyz (3x Big Shootas, Nob w/ Powerklaw and Bosspole)
20x Slugga Boyz (Nob w/ Powerklaw and Bosspole)
12x Slugga Boyz (Nob w/ Powerklaw and Bosspole)
Battlewagon (Deff Rolla, Armor Plates, 2x Big Shootas)
Looted Wagon (Big Shoota)
Elysian Company Command Squad (Plasma gun, medikit, vox-caster and bolt pistol)
Elysian Platoon Command Squad (Plasma gun, platoon standard, vox-caster), in Vendetta
3x Elysian Infantry Squad (2x Grenade Launcher, 1x Flamer, 3x Demolition Charge and Vox-casters) in Valkyries with Heavy Bolter doors
Elysian Special Weapon Squad (2x Flamer, Demolition Charge) in Valkyrie with Heavy Bolter doors
Elysian Veteran Squad (3x Melta, Demolitions, vox-caster)
2x Elysian Drop Sentinels (Multi-melta)
Vulture with TL Punisher Cannons
As Balmoral is a water world, we decided to use some custom scenario rules to simulate a ‘water’ battle. Any part of the board that is not situated in area terrain, high ground or a vehicle wreck is ocean terrain. Any infantry unit in the water is in difficult terrain, and must swim for their life- they can not shoot or assault. Vehicles and ruins are considered to be boats for this game (or ‘hullz’ in Ork parlance), while smaller pieces of area terrain or forests are small islands or wrecks.
Game Type: Capture and Control, five objectives
Deployment: Dawn of War
Objective 1 is placed in the large building (ship) in the center south. Objective 2 is north of it, near center board, and objective 3 is north of that behind a walled wreck. Objectives 4 and 5 are placed in the open in the far east and west, respectively.
First turn goes to orks. The big shoota boy squad deploys in the multiple levels of the southern ship, claiming objective 1. The warboss and nobs deploy behind a walled wreck on the western front, close to objective 5. The Guard deploys a squad of veterans and a command squad hiding in the eastern ship near objective 4.
Kommanda’s Misfits: The rest of the army walks onto the board. An empty speedboat and a looted hull full of Tankbustas and the big mek pull up to the Warboss and nobs, while a battlehull and an accompanying speedboat full of boyz arrive on the eastern flank. A squad of Lootas walks on to high ground in the eastern corner. The shoota boyz get a sight of the guardsmen through the arched windows and open fire, spraying the side of the opposite ship with their big shootas but doing no damage to the squad inside.
Balmoral PDF: Reinforcements arrive, in the form of Valkyries. A large formation supported by a Vendetta appear on the western front, while the Vulture and aquatic Sentinels deploy to support the eastern front. For now, the Valkyries are content to sit back out of range of the Lootas and Tankbustas and open fire, trying to take the Ork’s boats out from under them. Unfortunately, the Vulture miscalculates how fast it has to approach to get range on the Lootas and finds itself in a vulnerable position. In addition, the big mek’s Kustom Force Field does overtime duty, protecting the hulls from a barrage of firepower that only succeeds in immobilizing the Tankbusta’s looted hull - out of range of rokkits, to the frustration of its occupants.
Shinbash and his nobs.
The shoota boyz, swarming the wreck of the PDF cutter.
Lootas and hullz prepare to rush the eastern flank.
Kommanda’s Misfits: Engines roar as the hulls on the eastern front move to try and board the human-controlled ship. The speedboat roars ahead of the battlehull, arriving just in front of the ship. The Lootas support it by immobilizing the Vulture with firepower, while the shoota boyz score a few casualties with their peppering firepower. Guv manages to repair the engines on the looted hull, but the two ships stay stationary on that side of the map, secure underneath the Kustom Force Field with no need to break across open water for a while.
Balmoral PDF: The veterans in the eastern ship fight back against the orks attempting to board their ship. Fierce return fire catches the speedboat's pilot, causing the ramshackle craft to careen out of control. It explodes in the water 12 inches away - just south of the forested island in mid. The rest of the Valkyries take aim at the western hulls, but the Force Field saves them - at the expense of the Looted Hull’s engines, again.
Valkyries arrive, and the eastern ship comes under attack.
Kommanda’s Misfits: Undeterred by the loss of the first craft, the battlehull pulls up alongside the human’s ship - but the boyz don’t get out quite yet, relying on the craft’s armor to keep them safe till they can pull up to a flank where they won’t have to swim. The waterlogged boyz in mid squig-paddle up onto the central island, covered by fire from the shoota boyz and lootas - who manage to get an incredibly lucky long range shot that downs a Valkyrie. Despite Guv’s swears and aggressive wrench-use, the looted hull’s engine refuses to start, so the two vehicles decide to stay under the shield’s umbrella for another turn.
Balmoral PDF: Unfortunately for the boyz in the battlehull, the aquatic Sentinels have approached through the ‘ship’ and are hiding in the ruins. (To quote the nob in command, “I did not know dey could do dat.”) The Sentinel’s multimelta ignites the battlehull’s fuel supply and it goes up in a shattering fireball, killing half the mob right out. Further firepower from the veterans (including a demolition charge), and command squad wreck havoc on the drowning orks, leaving the 20-strong squad left with only 3 orks bobbing in the water (who miraculously make their morale check). Meanwhile, while the downed squad of Guardsmen swim to the safety of the northern objective, the Valkyries move to engage a target other than the seemingly invulnerable western vehicles (a fact the Vendetta continues to prove with yet another round of ineffective fire). Two Valks circle the central objective, opening fire on the boyz below - who go to ground and avoid most casualties.
Kommanda’s Misfits: The odds are against the three orks as they scramble aboard the human’s ship - they have to face two squads of angry humans, as well as a Sentinel. It doesn’t faze them, though, as they charge into a multi-combat with the veterans and sentinels. The Nob’s power klaw rips apart the Sentinel, wrecking it, as the Boyz chop up a couple of the humies - but since they made the mistake of eating thirty minutes before swimming, they cramp up and fail to chase down the humies as they run. Meanwhile, while Guv finally smacks the looted hull’s engines back into working order, the Tankbustas and Lootas open fire on the same Valkyrie - a target priority mistake. The Valk is left shaken with a few broken weapons, but it’s not down yet - and worse, the Tankbusta’s bomb squig was loosed with too short of a fuse and it nearly blows up the Tankbusta’s own hull (though it fails to penetrate).
Balmoral PDF: With the game time starting to wind down, the PDF makes its play. Two Valkyries land on the central forested island, deploying flamer-toting squads. These squads swiftly burn out the orks with promethium and lasgun fire. A third Valkyrie along the north edge of the board, towards the eastern objective. Finally, the command squad repels the unlikely boarding party, clearing out the vulnerable orks with lasgun fire. Three objectives are now securely under PDF control.
The PDF lands troops on the central island to clear out the orks.
Forward, you dogs!
Kommanda’s Misfits: In trouble now, the Orks move to try and retake their points. The Warboss and nobs finally speed out, reaching their wide open objective to capture it. Meanwhile the Tankbustas chug forward, their rokkits immobilizing one of the Valkyries (though, in an excess of caution after last time, they fail to light their second bomb squig’s fuse) while the Lootas manage to shake another one. With a squishy target finally in range, the ship mounted shoota boyz open up with a hail of bullets on the central guardsmen - wiping one of the two squads down to one lone member, who was saved by going to ground.
Balmoral PDF: The PDF forces dig in to claim the objectives they own, abandoning any pretense of contesting the Warboss’s point. The Vendetta and mobile Valkyries circle, firing upon the approaching looted hull but failing to stop its progress.
A roll of the dice dictates that the game continues.
Kommanda’s Misfits: The looted hull picks up speed, but still can’t get quite close enough to the central island for its occupants to disembark without being stuck in the water. The shoota boyz take aim at the other squad on the island, but don’t manage to wipe them off the map.
Balmoral PDF: The lone guardsman climbs to the top of the down Valkyrie, and with a mighty cry heaves his Demolition charge at the oncoming hull! Unfortunately, the fiercely useful Kustom Force Field scores another defense. Guv gives the heroic guardsman the finger.
Guv flips the bird at the brave guardsman, who can only respond with rage face.
Final disposition of forces.
A roll of the dice dictates game end. Imperial Guard control 3 points, Orks control 2.
Final Thoughts: Custom game rules are fun, even when Dawn of War mucks everything up. I think we both made some significant mistakes - Vulture positioning cost him firepower early, and my late game Looted Wagon movement prevented me from contesting when I should have. We also had some crazy dice luck - the luck in repelling of the Battlewagon and Trukk on the eastern front matched the luck of my Kustom Force Field on the western side. Overall, very satisfying game.
The sound of heavy boots clanged on the deck outside the Mighty Kusu’s interior tertiary steering room, interrupted briefly by the crunch of bone and the distraught boarding whistle of a shattered servo skull. A blur flew past the open bulkhead door at high speed, before a green hand caught the far side of the door and checked its owner’s momentum. The grinning face of Nadgers the ork pulled itself back into the portal.
“GUV! Come quick!” His eager voice was cut as he caught his breath from the run. “Some of da boyz found more humies hiding down in one of da cargo bays! You in?”
Though he darted a look at the excited nob, the mek did not respond. He continued to contemplate the steering room’s bewildering array of buttons, levers, dials, weathered displays, autoscribe readouts, miniature shrines, blood-spattered vox panels, and notable lack of any window ports with a sour expression on his face.
“What da zog is da point of all dese gubbins? And what’s a hull need three diff’rent steerin’ rooms fer? Gonna have ta tie all dem together, simple-fy it. Piloting don’t take more buttons den I got fingers,” Guv muttered.
Nadgers, aware of being ignored, bit his lip and fidgeted impatiently. “Okaygonnagobye!” he said as his head disappeared around the rusted bulkhead.
“WAIT.” Guv’s gravely voice echoed down through the halls of the container ship. Nadgers poked back around the corner curiously. “Where’d da Kommanda get off to?”
“I last saw ‘im topside, tryin’ ta find a gun big enough ta blow up da humie’s escape hullz what were gettin’ away.”
Guv scowled. “Do ya think he has a plan fer gettin’ us off of dis soggy planet?”
Nadgers shrugged. “We’re just stranded on a damaged hull in da middle of a ‘uge ocean on da biggest humie fortress world in da sector. How much of a plan do we need?”
Guv nodded and returned to his work with the creeping hint of a smile and an off-tune whistle on his lips. Nadgers was right, of course. They’d been through worse.