What happens when 18 Warhammer Freaks gets together to fight it out for supremacy on one board? Madness! See here for pictures.
The board was 20 feet by 4 and armies deploying on the long board edges. The middle four by four section of the board was completely forested, and on one side of the forest was a table of some hills and the other had an airstrip, buildings, and some fortifications.
The chaos plan was to hold the line on the flanks and drive up the middle and swing to the airfield after getting their deployment zone. As the game evolved four theatres developed: the deadlands of the hills and open spaces, the forest, the airfield, and the chaos assault zone between the airfield proper and the forest. I'll roughly describe the action in each one going from left to right.
Here we (chaos) deployed two Emperor's Children armies with one trukk of Orks and arrayed against them were some Sisters of Battle units and Ravenwing bikes and landspeeders. And where go Ravenwing nowadays, so follows the Deathwing. And on turn one there they showed up, right on queue.
Unfortunately, no one ever told them don't get into a firefight with armies that LOVE to firefight. The bikes, land speeders, Sisters rhino, and terminators were no match for the sonic weaponry and 40 daemonettes that appeared in turn 2. The Imperial advance was crushed and the rout underway so as more reserves became available, they were dispatched to other parts of the board.
Chaos combined all of their defilers into one location to maximize defense so we had seven defilers lined up across four feet of forest. In front of them were two large world eater units with two world eater dreadnoughts on one side, and some noise marines and a chaos lord with raptor bodyguards and a winged daemon prince on the other. The Imperials deployed an Inquisitor and retinue, whirlwind, and some more Sisters of battle while infiltrating two units of Imperial Fist scouts.
On turn one four Deathwing terminator units teleported in and scatter in such a way that all four were assaulted turn one and by the middle of turn 2 all were dead except one unit that managed to survive a while longer. The World Eater and chaos lord units chewed up the terminators easily and one World Eater unit and the chaos lords went on to kill the scouts and inquisitor and eventually the other terminator unit. The other World Eater unit became part of the chaos assault zone.
Chaos Assault Zone
We had the following in our assault: ork buggy, 2 ork trukks carrying 10 orks and a warboss, Zaggstrukk and his stormboyz, 30 tactical Black Storm marines in rhinos, 10 assault Black Storm marines in a Land Raider, 16 Khorne Berserkers in rhinos, a Death Guard land raider, and a World Eater predator. Directly across from this was two tactical squads of the Spectre lance, an Imperial Fist dev squad with four missile launchers, an IG mortar team, and three dreadnoughts. Oh, and an Imperial Fist predator was providing fire support.
With night fighting in effect first turn, the chaos line was able to advance before the shooting in turn two started to tell by killing the ork trukks and immobilizing the buggy. No terminators landed in turn 1 but on the top of turn 2 the imperials brought down three drop pods with a dreadnought in each, Dante and an honour guard, and Death Company with a Chaplin. They opened fire and... blew the twin las off the world eater predator.
We then proceeded to kill the all. One of the large World Eater units in the forest and their dreadnought headed over to the assault zone and assaulted Dante and his guard and one dreadnought. Some burner boyz took care of a dreadnought trying to tag the rear of the ork looted demolisher, and the world eater pred turned around and lanced the dreadnought targeting it while my tactical marines did some drive by plasma gunning to help.
The death guard were hit by World Eaters from one of the rhinos and my tactical squad... and did one of the two bloodthirsters get in there too? Can't recall when they showed up exactly. It was all a blur. The Death Company, Dante, and his guard did not survive.
Blood Angel terminators, Spectre Lance Terminators, Librarians arrived to fight but found not only the assault force but Khorne Daemons: two blood thirsters and a squad of fleshhounds and bloodletters. They took down one bloodthirsters but the weight of bodies was too much and the defense was overwhelmed as the orks and assault marines on the other side of the zone started to hit.
By turn four the imperials were wiped and the assault force began rolling up the imperial line in both directions.
Here the Imperials put up their best fight. Three Death Guard armies facing off with dreadnoughts, predator, land speeders, 40+ marines, sentinels, ... it was bloody. On turn one, 20 (or 25?) terminators deep struck and added to the Imperial force.
The Death Guard were hit by assault cannons and bolter fire and assaulted by Marine characters. The fighting was fierce and no unit was unscathed. As the imperial firepower started to tell the chaos players begged for reinforcements and starting turn 2 and continuing into turn 3 and 4, the rest of the chaos force responded. Five Obliterators, another predator, 2 squads of possessed, more chaos characters, chaos terminators and tactical and assault units from the chaos assault zone started to pour in on the flank later on.
As well, two daemon princes, the Quint'Aan and the Rhatt assaulted marines early on and slowly worked their way across the field killing marines, sentinels, and then terminators with abandon. Eventually the Rhatt fell to damage but the Quint'Aan absorbed a round of shooting from scouts, heavy bolter devs and a predator to have one wound left and ended the game destroying a razorback.
The imperials countered our reinforcements with reserves of their own. Two blood angel tactical squads in drop pods tried to stem the tide coming from the assault zone, as well as several IG drop troop squads, but one tactial squad was overwhelmed by two of the Black Storm squads, and the other Blood Angel unit and imperial guardsmen had to contend with bands of Orks walking on the board edge and getting choppa-happy.
Their efforts at securing the airfield were failing and they were being forced back. A great unclean one and a Manreaper wielding chaos lord along with terminators, oblits, and possessed were pressing forward now and the Imperial line became an Imperial pocket as the order for full our retreat was issued.
Victory to chaos! Result: Massacre by the end of turn 5.
I fully expected to lose the Deadlands and the Emperor's Children armies protecting them, and I wasn't going to be surprised if the Death Guard armies got overwhelmed as well. The hope was the time that they bought with their lives would be enough for the assault force to break the Imperial line and begin to roll through their deployment zone to retake the airfield later in the game.
But the Slaaneshii forces dominated their board and their reinforcements allowed the Nurgle followers to hold on until we could push back. Everywhere we met them, the Imperials died horribly. Why?
I think there were several reasons.
1. Imperials had nothing more than a general plan of "drop pods and terminators on their asses! Booya!". Chaos had detailed plan for deployment and early movement.
2. The Deathwing Terminator armada was a good idea. Fifty Terminators could ruin anyone's day. But putting them across 20 feet of table made them unsupported by each other for the most part and deep striking them turn 1 made them unsupported by the rest of the army. By the end of turn 2 all except the terminators on the airfield and one other squad were dead or near to it.
3. The Drop Pods in turn 2 along with the Death Company arrived in easy charge range of the bulk of the chaos assault force and did almost nothing after getting out of their pods. They were also almost all dead by the end of turn 2, leaving the bulk of the assault force to deal with more reinforcements in turn 3.
You notice the pattern? Each of the first three turns saw significant Imperial reinforcements arrive and they were virtually wiped out in the subsequent chaos turn with almost no corresponding losses. The end result was that only half of the Imperial army was facing 90% of the chaos army at the beginning of turn 4.
4. There was no "synergy" between proximate Imperial units. The Ravenwing and Deathwing on the deadlands table jumped out and were dead before the Sisters of Battle Units had moved. The Imperial shooting on the airfield was combined with a few Marine characters for close combat, but not any assault units. The Drop Pods of turn 2 landed without any imperial forces to protect them from counter-charge.
5. There was no Imperial "Overseer". On the chaos side I was nominated overseer to make sure every part of the battlefield was functioning well and our thoughts and plans could be coordinated. Reinforcements went to where they would help the most. The Imperial side, after the terminator drop of turn 1, seemed to throw their reserves wherever the owning player felt without much in the way of discussion or impact analysis. Was deep striking Stu's drop troops behind the comm tower, where three of his reserve rolls went off the table, the best use of his reinforcements? Beyond that, was attacking the comm tower the best decision with the troops that were assigned to it? Did anyone try to talk Dave out of drop podding within 12 inches of 24 frothing Khorne Berserker, or tell Mike his dreadnoughts were in danger from the Ork Burnaboyz?
Ultimately it felt like there was 9 imperial players showed up expecting to face off against the chaos guys in a friendly shoot-em-up and slap-em-down game and instead found their forces facing an army.
6. The Imperial choices for units was questionable. I'm not sure if the same lists could have performed better in a more coordinated fashion, but its worth mentioning that we expected more in the way of Basilisks, Leman Russes, Land Raiders, Rhinos, Whirlwinds, Grey Knights, Inquisitors with Daemon Hammers, etc. The fifty Terminators was cool, but the rest was rather mundane excepting the Elysian Drop Troops and their two flyers.
Overall I had a good time, but I wish it had been less one-sided. The massacre was good for the ego but nothing beats a game that comes down to the last few moves.
A big thanks to Dave for hosting the event and I hope the Imperials come back for revenge next year! We'll be waiting....