perjantai 16. joulukuuta 2016

[40k] Skirmish at Station Alpha

Here I am with the very first narrative battle report set in the universe of Warhammer 40k!

Before we get started with the battle itself, let's have a look at some of the competing forces. Both of us have one squad of our chosen Astra Militarum regiment as well as a commander model to lead them.

Guardsmen of the Steel Legion forming a firing line
Breaching into a rebel-occupied building
Scotarian insurgents advancing through the ruins of their capital city
Lookout at his post
We both used sort of leather/khaki -theme on our models, to represent them fighting on the same harsh desert planet, and we even based our models in similar way. The Steel Legion player used orange as a brighter spot colour on his models, whereas I used blue, turquoise and purple.

Here is our glorious battlefield:

The game mat is from DeepCut Studios and the buildings are made of cardboard or packing materials sprayed black to provide quick and varied terrain for an urban conflict.

Here you can see our vision of a battlefield vox-station

The scenario we played was called Operation: Skyfall, where both sides fight for the dominance of a mid-field vox-station that can be used to call strafing runs on the enemy forces. The aim of the game was total annihilation of the foe.

To the story!


Lieutenant Gregor Streinhart was just about to enjoy battlefield rations with his men when a trooper approached him, holding the mouthpiece of a vox-caster in an outstretched hand. All around them two squads of Steel Legion guardsmen were sitting amidst the ruins of the city, burrowing into their pouches and bags for something to eat.
"Sir, it's from regimental command..." the man explained as Lieutenant put down his untouched dry food and picked up the mouthpiece.
"Platoon Streinhart," he announced. For a moment there was only silence.
"Sir, there is a score of insurgents advancing on an unmanned vox-station near your location," a voice suddenly crackled on the channel.
"The station is capable of long-range communications and it was used to feed coordinates to a squadron of Valkyrie fighters to direct their strafing runs. Should the insurgents get hold of the station there's a risk of our own air support being used against us. Colonel has ordered your platoon to take and hold the location until further orders. Over."
"Understood. Streinhart out," Lieutenant acknowledged, handing the mouthpiece back to the comms-trooper.
"Alright men, no time for supper. We're moving out."

An hour later Streinhart led the first squad into the market district that held the vox-station. Splitting his men into three teams, he gave the order to advance towards the objective under cover.

On the other side of the district the first of the rebels could be seen, grim men native to this planet, determined to take the station and use it to their advantage in the fight for this city sector.

Wasting no time to wait for the insurgents to open fire, the guardsman carrying a missile-launcher took a knee and aimed. Seconds after a trail of smoke cut across the ruined cityscape as the rocket flew, only to explode harmlessly on a length of concrete wall just short of the rebel forces.

Hurried into action by the ear-splitting explosion, the insurgents dashed forward in small groups. Most took cover behind walls and buildings, but one group remained still to allow their heavy weapons be brought to bear. Soon a return missile was spewed at the Imperials from a tube carried by one of the rebels, but the shot went wide and blew apart harmlessly behind the guardsmen.

Undaunted by the explosions echoing through the streets, a trio of Imperial troopers leveled their lasguns and poured a torrent of white-hot las-fire into the closest group of insurgents, cutting down two of the distant figures. The remaining rebel crouched behind the wall, clutching a plasmagun in his shaking hands.
"The Imperials will pay... I'll avenge you, cousin!" he muttered to the chilling body beside him and primed his weapon.

Two insurgents led by their sergeant were making a slow but purposeful crouched advance on the fortified watchtower ahead. On its roof stood a heavy bolter, a weapon with enough firepower to keep the Imperials clear of the vox-station for as long as would be needed. Seeing that missile-launchers and lasguns would have no effect on the covered advance of the rebels, Lieutenant Streinhart called out to a trooper carrying a grenade-launcher.
"Private Luther! Three targets to the right of that tower!"
The man nodded and lifted his weapon pointing upwards. After a moment of silent calculations two shells were lobbed into the air in quick succession, arcing through the air towards the tower.

Both shells landed right behind the wall, the twin blasts tearing apart the insurgents on the run. Spatters of gore that shot into the air from behind the obstacle brought a smile to Lieutenant Gregor's face under his gas-mask.
"Good shot, private!"

Grief-stricken, the rebel beside his fallen cousin sprung up from behind the cover and fired bolts of glowing plasma into the guardsmen in the distance. With no concern for personal safety the man kept firing until his plasmagun overheated and released the scalding exhaust fumes onto his face, slaying him outright.
The trail of plasma-shots hit the guardsmen hard, melting gaping holes into the barricade ahead of them. Two of the men threw themselves flat and avoided painful death, but the other two were not so lucky as gobbets of plasma hit their chests, pulverizing half their bodies before they even hit the ground.

The insurgents had already proved that they could put up a proper fight, and their leader was a living embodiment of that fact. Moving nimbly across the ruins and kneeling behind a low wall, the rebel commander checked his boltgun and set the fire selector to semi-automatic. Rising from behind the wall, he pulled the trigger five times before lowering himself back into cover. The bolts were carefully aimed despite the rebel leader's swift action and two guardsmen were punched from their feet with gaping holes in their chests.

The insurgents continued their covered advance towards the station in small groups, and although they had already suffered punishing casualties a new group entered the district carrying another plasmagun. The rebel heavy weapons team sprinted across the opening to make an attempt at taking the bolter tower, jumping over the corpses of those who had tried the same before them.

The overall situation across the market district seemed to favour the Imperials for now, as they were closer to the station and had taken precious few casualties compared to the battered insurgents who desperately tried to gain a foothold near the centre.

Lieutenant Streinhart walked calmly into the small opening where the station was located. There were insurgents up ahead, ready to fire upon any who strode too boldly in the open, but he was not concerned at all. Behind the Lieutenant two guardsmen clambered into position in the ground level of a ruined building, one of them carrying a missile-launcher on his shoulder.
From the distance a lonely guardsman tried his luck and fired off a burst of las-rounds, one of which cut straight through the eye of an insurgent peeking from behind a length of wall.

Once again Private Luther showed his worth as he caught a glimpse of the rebels running for the tower. His grenade-launcher coughed twice, a sound that was followed by two explosions tearing apart all but one of the hiding foes. The remaining rebel picked up the missile tube from the ground, aimed, cursed out loud and fired.
The rocket plunged past Lieutenant Gregor by a couple of feet before disappearing into the ground floor beyond. One more explosion wracked the field and the ears of those nearby as the Imperial missile-launcher team was obliterated by the enemy missile.

From behind the smoking building a group of three guardsmen appeared, to whom Lieutenant Streinhart gave a nod before running for the vox-station with his bolt pistol held in an outstretched hand. The insurgent commander was doing the same, vaulting himself over the concrete wall and sprinting towards the station. Las-fire from the guardsmen combined with the immense rounds from Gregor's bolt pistol did little to stop the leader despite the grievous wounds that had appeared in the unarmoured parts of his body.
The insurgents were visibly inspired by the heroic actions of their leader and surged forth, pouring shots into the general direction of the vox-station. Gregor ducked, leaving the shots to strike sparks on the walls of the station.

Even more rebels entered the district as fighting around the station reached its climax. Forming up a ragged firing line, the newly arrived rebels rapid-fired at Private Luther and his grenade-launching squad, felling the trio in one great hail of searing las.

Casualties were now mounting on both sides but the rebels kept up the pressure on the Imperials around the station, risking to overrun it if Gregor and his men didn't get reinforced by the remaining squad of his platoon any time soon.

As the enemy las-fire subsided for a moment Streinhart rose from behind the station wall, only to receive a cut across his forearm from the insurgent leader's curved knife.
"You call that a knife...?" Gregor asked, his voice threatening through the gas-mask. Before the abashed rebel had a chance to reply, his head went flying from a swing of a power sword.
"This... is a power sword," the Lieutenant finished, crouching to access the station's control panel.
"Platoon Streinhart needs urgent assistance in the market district. I repeat, Platoon Streinhart needs urgent assistance in the market district. Over."

Almost as soon as he had stopped talking the vox channel crackled back to life.
"Goreclaw Squadron here, reading you loud and clear. Four Valkyries are on their way," a voice replied casually.
"We are under fire at the vox-station Alpha in the middle of the district, surrounded by at least a dozen insurgents south of us," Gregor advised, already hearing the roar of engines in the sky above. The voice on the channel spoke again.
"I'd suggest you duck right about... now, sir."

The first of the fighters descended like an aerial predator, its guns blazing as it cut a fiery path through the rebel lines. Most of the insurgents managed to find some sort of cover but one unlucky individual was pulverized by the strafing run.

While still admiring the work of their air support, Lieutenant's helmet-vox made an announcement.
"Sergeant Cain here, sir. I'm right behind you with half my squad."
Exhaling in relief, Gregor gathered himself before making a reply.
"Already? Just make sure you don't steal my kills, sergeant. There aren't that many of these buggers left..."

The fighter squadron circled back and commenced another strafing run on the same coordinates, this time arriving at an angle that caught the rest of the rebels pressed against the safety of the wall and bunker. At the station Lieutenant himself blew an insurgent from his feet with a carefully placed shot from his bolt pistol, leaving only the rebel sergeant standing alone in the open.

Streinhart vaulted over the station wall and walked up to the man, who in his panicked state couldn't bring his plasma pistol to function after firing shots into the guardsmen in the distance. Just as the weapon had cooled and the sergeant lifted it up, the Imperial Lieutenant was standing right in front of him with a bolt pistol aimed at his head. There they stood, two men of the opposing sides staring down the barrels of each other's small arms, both locked in a staring contest that could only end by the death of the other.
The other remaining rebels had ran closer but now came to an abrupt halt, raising their weapons to aim at the two frozen combatants.
"Do not fire..." one of them murmured to the others. "Ishmael is too badly in the way."

For several seconds that felt like an eternity to all those witnessing this calm in the eye of the storm, neither combatant moved even an inch. The rebel's arm started to shake a bit, just enough for Gregor to notice it, meaning there were muscles being activated for the motion of pulling the trigger. Streinhart did it faster, though, and two simultaneous blasts echoed in the streets.
The insurgent fell first on his knees and then on his back, with half his head blown away. Gregor remained standing but with a still-glowing stripe across his chest where the plasma shot had grazed his longcoat. Still having not blinked, the Lieutenant lowered his pistol and turned his eyes towards the remaining rebels standing ahead of him, staring at them through his blood-stained gas-mask.

There was only silence. No gunshots, no explosions, no shouted commands, only the distant peal of war in the other sectors. The rebels merely stared at the man of steel standing before them. Their dead littered the ground, their leaders lie dead at the feet of this overly manly man who seemed to be all but indestructible.
Slowly, the insurgents backed away and disappeared into the streets behind them.

Gregor's own men, despite having witnessed his heroics before, stood awe-struck amidst the ruins. Only hearing their superior finally speak returned them to their senses.
"Casualty report."
"Nine dead, two lightly wounded. One heavy weapon beyond recovery," Sergeant Cain reported after a brief silence, stepping forward from the recently arrived group of men. "We made count on the way here."
"Acceptable," Streinhart stated, holstering his pistol in one fluid motion. "Secure the area. Inform regimental command that station Alpha has been retaken and needs to be manned. We'll be on our way in seven hours."


That was... interesting, to say the least!
The battle felt quite balanced and we liked how important cover is with this ruleset, making troopers cling on to any piece of terrain they can. The scenario was a good start for the campaign as it was almost as close to a regular slugfest one can get with this scenario-pack, such is the number of more 'special' and unique operations that we still have on our playlist!

Heroes are quite powerful with these rules, perhaps even too much so. They don't deal a lot of damage but they seem to soak unnatural amounts of it! We'll chat over this with my opponent and we'll see if anything changes before we play the next battle.

A nice change of pace to write one of these. Hope you enjoyed it!

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