The Sword Sworn Campaign

Unfortunately, my friend Sascha is moving away. So we all decided to send him off proper by burning down a monastery of his beloved Swords of Dorn Space Marines!

Fourteen players came together Saturday for our Sword Sworn one-shot narrative campaign. Many heroes were made, villains created, and a ton of great games fought, with literally not a single unpainted model in play. This is a quick recap of the action. Many more photos are available via Flickr or Facebook.

In the grimdark of the far future, a new hero is born every minute… and eaten the next.

Backstory

Brother Mynaugh’s eyes swept the grounds from his perch in the east tower. Even with his superhuman vision he couldn’t see the group of his fellow initiates he knew would be assembling outside the chapel for night training beyond the walls. So soon now they would all deploy to the 10th company, full and true battle brothers of the Swords of Dorn.
Shattering his moment of reverie, the jaw of a servo skull in the tower’s cogitator bank suddenly sprung open and began emitting a piercing inhuman shriek. As Mynaugh looked on in the dim red lighting another and then another followed suit. The import came to the scout like lightning. He whirled around. Far on the horizon, faint lines streaking from orbit. This was no expected landing, no scheduled drop training. Mynaugh tugged his bolter off its wall bracket and pulled it close, not believing this to be any suprise drill either. Perhaps the initiates’ time had come early…

On the quiet planet of Hedron IX, the Swords of Dorn maintain one of their chapter’s training monasteries. This one specifically focuses on training Scouts in the art of piloting Landspeeder Storms to swoop onto objectives in turn five. The monastery has unexpectedly come under attack by the Blood Fed, a wretched mob of traitors, xenos, and galactic refuse come treacherously from their hiding holes to avenge imagined slights and punish the ostensibly vainglorious Swords of Dorn. Opposing them, in their moment of need the Swords of Dorn have called the many valiant allies with which they have shared mutual oaths over the decades to defend both honor and body to join them under the banner of the Sword Sworn alliance.

Icons for the Sword Sworn and Blood Fed alliances.

Map

Our campaign begins with the invaders amassed at the monastery walls. The campaign is played over seven major regions of the chapter monastery:

  • The Siege Front where the Blood Fed are encamped;
  • The Primaris Gate, Cawe Tower, and Saleron Tower keeping them at bay;
  • The Dormitorium where the monastery’s residents live;
  • The Munitorum where the Landspeeder Storms and other equipment are kept;
  • The Chapel of Mons where initiates pray and train in the combat arenas.

The Blood Fed start in control of the Siege Front and are working toward the chapel: Even if the Sword Sworn successfully rebuff them in the larger battle for the monastery, the Blood Fed’s leader and his personal army advances forward each turn.

There are three separate measures of success for the campaign—

  • Tactical: Taking/preserving the monastery (controlling a majority of the regions);
  • Strategic: Wrecking/preserving the Swords of Dorns’ recruit pipeline (higher total campaign points earned, a combination of victory points and campaign rewards);
  • Campaign: Looting/preserving the chapel relics (controlling the chapel).

Training monastery of the Swords of Dorn on Hedron IX.

Missions

A specific mission is associated with each map region, with the alliances alternating choosing regions to attack each round and thus the missions for each match to use—

  • Siege Front: A kill points style mission;
  • Towers and Gate: A breakthrough mission in which players place objectives whose worth is determined by how far they are from the player’s table edge;
  • Dormitorium: Both sides work to capture or rescue the many non-combatants enabling a Space Marine chapter’s operations, represented by Civilian NPCs.
  • Munitorium: Both sides work to destroy or extract equipment, represented by objectives that may be scored a finite number of times;
  • Chapel: An open battle with players vying for their choice of a combination of specific objective markers or kill points.

All of these are well tested and tournament-ready, based on our standard scheme of 20 victory points: 9 for primary objectives, 6 for secondaries, 5 for tertiaries. Each mission has a short list of secondary objectives from which players choose individually. This enables players to make strategic choices and play to their strengths, e.g., doubling down on killing versus objective grabbing or vice versa.

Mission writeup for the Munitorum.

Special Characters

There are multiple special characters at large in the campaign, including the aforementioned leader of the Blood Fed. In addition to their in-game presence, each special character awards 10 campaign points each round to the alliances for either their survival or death (interpreted as being forced to retreat) as appropriate.

The only characters known to both teams initially are the Scout Initiates Mynaugh and Te’Janus. Having been caught in the initial fighting, they are now swept away in the battle. Completely overwhelmed and seriously questioning signing up to be Space Marines, sheer luck just barely lets them survive, carried from one awful circumstance to another. This is represented by the Initiates being randomly assigned to a match each round, in which they are placed somewhat randomly between the two forces and huddle down until saved by the Sword Sworn or overrun by the terrifying invaders.

All of the special characters and tokens.

Tokens

In addition, there are three types of tokens given out at various points—

  • Blood Favor: The very first unit across the event to claim First Blood each round gets a Blood Favor which it may discard to ignore D3 wounds/damage.
  • Blessing: The lowest scoring players on each side each round get a Blessing from their gods or the Emperor, which they may discard to reroll any single die.
  • Relic: Each alliance choose one final round match in the chapel to be for the relic they consider most important, earning or losing an extra 10 campaign points by holding the central objective or not. The token may be revealed to make all runs, flat outs, and charges +D3 inches that player turn. Players may choose objectives in this mission, so the opponent may not necessarily care about the central objective unless this revelation is made.

All of the tokens may be used at any point, and carry into the next game if not used.

Campaign

Appropriately enough, the Blood Fed wound up comprised of primarily Chaos Marines, a few Space Marine contingents apparently having just thrown in their lot against the Emperor, and a band of Tyranids come for the feast. Facing off against them, the Swords of Dorn were backed by a full host of Space Marine loyalists, Tempestus Scions, and an Emperor’s Fist Armoured Company.

As kind of a going-away party we wanted everybody to get a chance to play with multiple people. So we played rotating doubles, with the alliances choosing which of their players to team up each round. After some quick strategy discussion about first round teams and missions, the campaign was on!

Traitor Governor Friedman launches the surprise night attack.

Round 1

Scout Initiates Mynaugh and Te’Janus find themselves amid the heaviest fighting, defending the Primaris Gate. Caught without any support, they’re exposed to a massive charge by a ravening horde of Tyranid monsters. Mynaugh lays into the horde with his minigun, but both barely escape the Red Terror.

The Blood Fed’s leader is revealed by his thrust against the Primaris Gate as the Planetary Governor Friedman, unsurprisingly turned traitor. More is at hand though then just a minor rebellion as Governor Friedman is clearly being rewarded for his actions, growing in power and size as the blood flows.

Outside the gates, the Sword Sworn gamble on a counter-offensive, attacking into the Siege Front. They are eventually rebuffed, but at the worst moment the Warp-fired visage of Brother Edelkraut, a storied hero of the Swords of Dorn presumed long dead, appears and empties his wrath into the invaders.

Outcome: No change in regions, but the Governor breaks through the Primaris Gate.

The map after Round 1.

Chaos Daemons overwhelm Swords of Dorn Scouts while Crimson Fists rush to their aid.

Presumed long dead Brother Edelkraut appears from the Warp to support a Lamenters Chaplain in his moment of need.

Scout Initiates Te’Janus and Mynaugh stare down the oncoming horde.

Round 2

Having barely escaped being eaten, the Initiates Mynaugh and Te’Janus immediately stumble into an even worse horror: The soul corrupting might of Chaos! Still trying to escape the carnage around the Primaris Gate, they’re harried by Raptors and driven toward the maw of Nurgle’s mightiest minions.

His rage growing ever more powerful, Governor Friedman sweeps through the Dormitorium feeding civilians to his dark gods. The Swords’ desperation growing as the heretic works ever closer to the chapel, Brother Edelkraut lives up to his legend, moving so fast from fight to fight that he often seems to be in two places at once.

At the previously quiet Munitorum, the defense forces are overtaken by terror as they suddenly realize there is a silent stalker among them: The governor’s secret henchman Assassin Timday appears at the airfield and begins hunting down Tempestus Scions.

Outcome: The Blood Fed cleave a clear path from the Siege Front through the Primaris Gate and the Dormitorium to the very edge of the Chapel.

The map after Round 2.

Tempestus Scions hold their ground at the Munitorum airfield.

Chaos overwhelms the Munitorum’s refinery.

Assassin Timday hunts among the airfield.

Round 3

Now a lumbering hulk, Governor Friedman smashes through the chapel walls and makes his way to stake a claim on a chalice said to have been drunk from by Rogal Dorn himself. Despite dispatching ever more frenetic vengeance, Brother Edelkraut’s furious hauntings are not enough to stop this sacrilege. Meanwhile the twisted Assassin Timday lurks the outer edges of the chapel battle, continuing his persecution of the Tempestus Scions.

Blown by the winds of war from fight to fight, the Initiates Mynaugh and Te’Janus find themselves having gone full cycle, from the very first contact at the Primaris Gate, to the very last fighting at the Chapel of Mons. There they find themselves almost snared in the clutches of the Alpha Legion when an angry company of Lamenters Space Marines comes to their aid just in time. Rallying to their brave example, they join a squad of their brethren Scouts in a suicidal fight to hold the left flank and protect the Lamenters’ main position. At long last the Initiates Mynaugh and Te’Janus have truly learned what it means to be one of the Emperor’s finest.

Outcome: The Sword Sworn make a successful raid into the invader’s encampment as well as retaking the Primaris Gate, but do not stop the Blood Fed’s push to the Chapel of Mons and the precious relics inside.

The map after Round 3.

Snipers pick off targets from the rooftops of the refinery buildings.

Packs of Warp Talons and Nurgle bikers roam through the Dormitorium.

Ill-fated Brother Maximus, cursed with Black Rage in his Dreadnought armor tomb, surges forward to assault a Chaos Havoc squad.

Outcomes

The Sword Sworn maintain marginal control of their monastery on Hedron IX (Sword Sworn tactical victory). Their recruiting pipeline however is wrecked by the Blood Fed, who have indeed feasted on many of their trainees and destroyed much equipment and supporting personnel (Blood Fed strategic victory). Worst of all, the cursed Governor Friedman manages to loot the Chapel of Mons and makes off with the relics he came to steal for his masters (Blood Fed campaign victory)!

Like so many chapters before them, the Swords of Dorn will have to rebuild from this loss, no doubt to become even mightier warriors for the Emperor…

Newly trained Swords of Dorn stand their ground to the last in the chapel.

Awards

Full campaign and individual results are posted here (XLSX). As this was purely a casual narrative event, we awarded the following as small store credit prizes:

  • Best Generals: Top overall points in each alliance, encompassing victory points + sportsmanship + army appearance (a 5 point rubric for minimum standards);
  • Craftsperson: First and second place in player votes for best army appearance;
  • Lucky Warriors: Our two primary prizes were drawn from a raffle, each player having earned 2 tickets for a loss and 1 ticket for a win.

Jake C with his Tyranid and Brian M with his Ravenguard won the raffle prizes. Steel Thunder Mike and Sam L from the Berks PA Gaming Club took home Best General titles for the Sword Sworn and Blood Fed respectively. A relative newcomer to our Redcap’s community, Fernando V took second in the painting votes with his Crimson Fists while man of the hour Sascha and his Swords of Dorn once more won that ballot, donating his prize to our ongoing Shadow War campaign. Congratulations everybody!

A Crimson Fists Fire Raptor makes a last ditch strafing run in a futile attempt to hold the airfield.

Next Up!

I have a bunch of thoughts on different aspects of this campaign to tweak. But it seemed very successful at creating the feel of a larger story and throwing in lots of fun little bits without being overly complex or unbalancing. A PDF with all the missions, tokens, map, etc., is mostly prepared and will be posted once 8th edition is released and the necessary changes made.

As a bonus, I was blown away by all the amazing armies and models that came out to play. Many under-utilized models made an appearance, particularly among the Chaos Marines. Many more photos are available via Flickr or Facebook.

All in all, I had a great time, everybody else seemed to have a great time, and I hope it was a fitting community tribute to Sascha, who has been the heart of our 40k group the past few years. We’ll miss you, and we’re sorry we burned down your monastery!

For everybody else, if this is the kind of Warhammer 40,000 gaming you crave and you can get to Philadelphia or Washington DC, you should join us for our upcoming LibertyHammer weekend in June and the NOVA 40k Narrative over Labor Day!

    

Scout Initiates Mynaugh and Te’Janus fight on, having become true warriors of the Swords of Dorn.

First Playthrough: The Molokh Gambit X-Wing Narrative

Saturday PAGE hosted its first X-Wing event: We did our first full playthrough of The Molokh Gambit, a new lightweight narrative campaign for X-Wing. Fourteen people played, twelve in the missions and six in the concluding epic battle, graciously hosted as usual by Redcap’s Corner in West Philly. This is a quick recap to post some photos and introduce the campaign. In the next couple weeks we’ll be cleaning up the packet, collating links to all the necessary supporting materials (ships, cards, dials, etc), and posting it for the public much like my other unofficial game supplements for 40k.

Many more photos than those here are in the Flickr gallery.

Prep

The campaign is built around a mess of toys, including Senator’s Shuttles, Cargo Pods, Crawlers, Stormtrooper Transports, Satellites, a whole bunch of custom tokens and cards to go with them, a collection of official huge ships, and a giant Nebulon B frigate.

My buddy Matt and I 3D printed and painted boxes and boxes of the unofficial models, some of which I designed and some I downloaded and edited to print better, assemble easier, or be in a more useful scale. For those interested but completely unfamiliar, I have previously written a general introduction to 3d printing in the context of wargaming. A step beyond that, recently I posted a detailed tutorial on modeling & printing, using GR-75 Cargo Pods I created for this campaign as the exemplar. Again, when we finalize the packet shortly we’ll post a full manifest of resources for those with and without access to a 3D printer to produce the models or counters for them, all the tokens and cards, etc..

UPDATE: There is a growing collection of links here to resources for getting or making the various components needed.

Many more photos of various stages of printing and assembly are in the gallery.

Modeling the Cargo Pods.

Modeling the Cargo Pods.

Colin playtesting the VIP Escort mission.

Colin playtesting the VIP Escort mission.

Printing a fleet of DX-9 Stormtrooper Transports.

Printing a fleet of DX-9 Stormtrooper Transports.

Working out mounts and a base for the frigate.

Working out mounts and a base for the frigate.

Cards, dials, tokens, and even a custom maneuver template to be mounted and cut.

Cards, dials, tokens, and even a custom maneuver template to be mounted and cut.

Campaign

Key design goals of the campaign, as with most of my narrative wargaming designs, are flexibility and a reasonable tradeoff between cool mechanics and simplicity. It’s intended for public events or casual home gaming as either a 1-shot over a long-ish day, or a small number of evenings or afternoons. There aren’t extensive mechanics or game modifications to learn, the number of players is variable, people can drop in and out between rounds, and it won’t run so long as to just peter out. For all the X-Wing players that really want to enjoy more storyful gaming but don’t have a fully committed play group or who just want to jump into going pew-pew-pew without everybody having to read lots of extra rules, this is going to be a campaign you should try.

The campaign is built around a two phase structure:

  • Missions: Themed, asymmetric missions toward strategic objectives.
  • Epic Battle: A concluding team-based mega space battle.

Players naturally divide up into Rebel and Imperial alliances, with Scum going to either side to balance as necessary. Short collaborative planning sessions are held by the alliances to divvy up unique pilots and upgrades among themselves, and to help each other tweak squad builds toward particular missions.

We ran this first event as a 1-shot narrative over a single day of gaming, so we did two rounds of missions and then the epic battle. There’s no reason though that there couldn’t be more or fewer mission rounds, the mechanics normalize for that. Each round the alliances alternate choosing missions and players to execute them.

The selection of five missions available is:

  • VIP Escort: A Senator coming to the sector to coordinate the Rebels’ plans is ambushed by an Imperial squadron.
  • Holonet Intercept: Rebels attempt to slice an Imperial holonet relay network to learn about the ultimate target of their campaign.
  • Depot Raid: Imperials attack the Rebels’ covert supply lines.
  • Clandestine Meeting: Imperials come to kill or capture a Rebel Agent meeting covertly on the ground with a Spy traveling undercover among a Mining Clan.
  • Dogfight: A standard X-Wing battle, but augmented by nominating Hero Aces that have a few buffs but yield extra campaign points.

The first four missions listed are grouped into two tracks, Information and Resources. The former yields information helpful in the final battle, while the latter yields raw troops and materials. Dogfights can be allocated toward either one. Each mission has a 5 point rubric for scoring based on campaign objectives like slicing Satellites. Players thus need to work to achieve those, not necessarily just to keep their ships alive and destroy the opponent’s. It’s a very different and fun way to play X-Wing.

Concluding the campaign is a final battle themed around an attack on a critical Imperial Nebulon-B frigate, the Redemption. Storyline and details on that to come!

All the extra toys used for the day.

All the extra toys used for the day.

One of the Senator's Shuttles (3D printed)

One of the Senator’s Shuttles (3D printed).

Cargo Pods (3D printed) unloaded from a GR-75 Medium Transport.

Cargo Pods (3D printed) unloaded from a GR-75 Medium Transport.

DX-9 assault craft and Mining Clan Crawler (both 3D printed).

DX-9 assault craft and Mining Clan Crawler (both 3D printed).

Holonet relay satellites (3D printed).

Holonet relay satellites (3D printed).

The Nebulon-B frigate Redemption (3D printed with the base a mix of printing and scratchbuilding).

The Nebulon-B frigate Redemption (3D printed with the base a mix of printing and scratchbuilding).

Story

Beginning their campaign, Rebels successfully escorted two Senators into the sector to lead their efforts. However, the Imperials were able to defend their holonet relay as well as destroy a Rebellion supply shipment. A clandestine information exchange was a strategic toss-up, with the spy escaping Imperial forces but the Rebellion’s agent unable to bring the data back. The general balance of operations remained neutral as both sides fought to a draw on dogfighting, but the Imperials took a slight lead on strategic factors through the strength of their victories.

Rebels attempt to escape a thwarted clandestine meeting.

Rebels attempt to escape a thwarted clandestine meeting.

Imperials and Rebels think hard about how to stop or enable a Senator to enter the sector.

Imperials and Rebels think hard about how to stop or enable a Senator to enter the sector.

The Senator's Shuttle flies into the thick of a dogfight.

The Senator’s Shuttle flies into the thick of a dogfight.

Rebels and Imperials debrief and make new plans between rounds.

Rebels and Imperials debrief and make new plans between rounds.

Regrouping from the uptick in Rebellion activity throughout the sector, the Empire struck back. Rebels managed to slice the Empire’s holonet relay, but the Imperials destroyed one Senator, stalled another, and destroyed a Rebel supply drop. The Empire also caught a traitorous spy and destroyed their agent contact just in time before the latter could escape with stolen data. Rebels took a slight edge in the sector’s general combat operations through successful dogfighting, but lost ground strategically.

Mercenary Scum defend a Rebel supply drop.

Mercenary Scum defend a Rebel supply drop.

TIEs swoop in, destroying Rebel Cargo Pods unloaded from a GR-75.

TIEs swoop in, destroying Rebel Cargo Pods unloaded from a GR-75.

A clandestine meeting is disrupted by Imperial bombers and ground assault teams.

A clandestine meeting is disrupted by Imperial bombers and ground assault teams.

A formation of TIE Bombers fly to soften the ground for Stormtroopers preparing to assault from their transport.

A formation of TIE Bombers fly to soften the ground for Stormtroopers preparing to assault from their transport.

The battle develops among the ice world's crystal spires.

The battle develops among the ice world’s crystal spires.

After numerous close fought missions, the Imperials managed to maintain strategic initiative in the sector. Rebels thus had to fly blind into their final attack on the frigate Redemption, and had fewer resources with which to do so. However, they slowly gained the upper hand through their pilots’ maniacal focus on attacking the primary target at all cost. That cost was indeed great though as Imperials swept in from the flanks, crushing the Rebels against the dangerous might of the frigate itself. The battle became a question of time, with the frigate steadily losing shields and hull just as the Rebels lost ships. In the end though, with only a few Rebel pilots still extant, they managed to score a few final hits and cripple the frigate. An important victory for the Rebellion, but made at a tremendous sacrifice of irreplaceable personnel and material.

The final battle all staged.

The final battle all staged.

The Redemption's TIE escort prepares to turn toward the Rebel B-Wing bombers inbound.

The Redemption’s TIE escort prepares to turn toward the Rebel B-Wing bombers inbound.

Mass exchanges of fire across and at the aft section of the frigate.

Mass exchanges of fire across and at the aft section of the frigate.

An Imperial Raider comes to bear on the Rebel fleet.

An Imperial Raider comes to bear on the Rebel fleet.

A lone ARC-170 and a pair of mercenaries finally finish running down the frigate.

A lone ARC-170 and a pair of mercenaries finally finish running down the frigate.

Outcome

Imperials won the campaign missions well but not astoundingly:

  • Campaign Points: 38 Imperial to 28 Rebel
    • Information: 14 Imperial to 6 Rebel
    • Resources: 24 Imperial to 22 Rebel
  • Squad Points: 627 Imperial to 607 Rebel

Rebels however managed to destroy the Imperial frigate as they hoped and was the final goal of their campaign, though it was a close matter in the end with most of the Imperial ships remaining and almost none of the Rebels’ left as the battle concluded.

Many more photos from the day’s action are in the Flickr gallery.

Design

Overall it seemed like the event went smoothly. The relative closeness of the mission results and the individual games was good to see. With a majority of close games and last-minute swings, they need only very slight tweaking to deployment rules and a couple stats to be very balanced and yet capture the intended air of the Rebellion being on its backfoot and making a desperate gamble.

The concluding epic battle was also very close, but it had a bit too much of an air of inevitability about it as the frigate continually, regularly lost shields and hull. Once squads were selected and deployed, the Rebels also had too little strategic decision making to perform because it was so clear that they just needed to keep attacking the frigate and hope they survived longer than it did. At the last minute going into the event we simplified the final battle quite a bit because there seemed to be already so much going on. However, in hindsight everybody could have handled the additional mechanics and they would have brought a lot more story and balance to the battle.

Matt ponders game balance as he watches a VIP Escort playtest, while Jason stays firmly focused on the grimdark.

Matt ponders game balance as he watches a VIP Escort playtest, while Jason stays firmly focused on the grimdark.

Next Steps

For those in the greater Philadelphia area, we will definitely run this event again sometime in early 2017. Stay tuned on the Philadelphia Area Gaming Enthusiasts’ Facebook page to be notified when that pops up. There is also a more discussion-oriented, very active South Jersey X-Wing/Armada/Imperial Assault group that coordinates a number of events and ongoing gaming throughout the region. Our hosts & friends at Redcap’s Corner have weekly X-Wing every Tuesday and Friday night.

Beyond that, the missions already have a very solid packet that can stand just a couple minor tweaks coming out of this first play-through. More importantly, we want to get in some playtesting with the full ruleset for the concluding epic battle before we put out the campaign packet. Look for that to be out though right before or after the new year. There’ll be announcements on the X-Wing Reddit subforum and the official FFG forums. I also have an extremely low activity mailing list to which you can subscribe (form on the left sidebar) for very infrequent announcements about this and other projects.

Thanks to everyone that came out & played, it was a great time. We’ll see everybody out there, and stay on target, pilots!

The battle is joined.

The battle is joined.

Apocalypse on Solypsus 9

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Saturday was the fifth event in our Solypsus 9 campaign: Apocalypse! Their retreat last month having been a feint, the Legions of Discord returned en masse and assaulted the Forces of Order at all the colony’s installations. Battling it out with 16,000 points on the table were:

  • Legions of Discord: Chaos Daemons, Chaos Space Marines, Necrons
  • Forces of Order: Swords of Dorn, Sanguine Hunters, Dark Angels, and Kingbreakers Space Marines

More photos are in the gallery. Results and a few details are on the event webpage.

The Apocalypse underway!

The Apocalypse underway!

Solypsus 9

Months ago a starving Tyranid horde dropped on the small, forgotten, and largely barren Imperial outpost of Solypsus 9. Caught off guard, Imperial forces rushed to defend the colony and safeguarded the major technical installations, reinforcing the Mine, Lab, Comms Tower, and Starport, but leaving the miserable civilian population trapped within the Hab Blocks to be overrun and feasted upon.

All manner of xenos then joined the fight, whether simply to revel in the bloodshed or for darker motivations. The significance of Solypsus 9 then shifted, as the Forces of Order continued reinforcing the planet rather than abandoning the fight or declaring it Exterminatus. Meanwhile the Spoiler Horde made a new, purposeful assault on the Laboratory and knocked the defenders back to the Generator.

Intrigued by this deeper shading on the conflict, the Chaos gods finally sent their minions and champions to the conflict. Intense multi-faceted fighting between all three alliances splintered control for the colony, knocking the Spoilers out of all the major installations and securing a breachpoint on the planet for the Legions of Discord among the Hab Blocks, and Order regaining the Laboratory.

The war then continued to escalate, with ever larger forces drawn into battles over the primary installations. Backed by their sheer numbers, the Spoilers stormed in from the desert and claimed the Mine. Order chased Discord out of the Hab Blocks, but had no idea what was awakening below them…

Disposition of Solypsus 9 after our fourth map event, Apocalypse to come...

Disposition of Solypsus 9 after our fourth map event, Apocalypse to come…

Scenario

Seven players turned out for the Apocalypse on Solypsus 9. The board was 12’x4′, with lightly themed terrain sections representing the colony’s six installations: The Laboratory, Mine, Hab Blocks, Comms Tower, Starport, and Generator. Primary objectives were placed roughly evenly in fixed locations for each of those. Secondary objectives were then placed by each alliance outside their own deployment zone; these wound up largely along the centerline of the battlefield. Each player designated a warlord as usual and one of these for each alliance was chosen as their overall warmaster.

Battlefield for the Apocalypse on Solypsus 9.

Battlefield for the Apocalypse on Solypsus 9.

Scoring was conducted every game turn, with alliances earning:

  • Primary Objectives: Victory points worth the turn count divided by two (rounding up) per marker;
  • Secondary Objectives: One victory point per marker;
  • Warmaster: Six victory points for eliminating the opposing warmaster;
  • Warlords: Three victory points for each enemy warlord eliminated;
  • Superheavy vehicles, gargantuan creatures, and mighty bulwarks: Two victory points for each such enemy unit destroyed.

We also ran an individual tournament inside the battle. Before the game each player selected an overall mission for their alliance to work toward and be scored on. Throughout the battle they also earned points through personal tactical achievements, such as holding an objective or killing psykers.

Personal missions and achievements amidst the Apocalypse.

Personal missions and achievements amidst the Apocalypse.

Battle!

With a keen interest in why the Imperium had not simply written off the barren rock, the Legions of Discord once again descended on Solypsus 9. Their onslaught quickly supplanted the Spoiler Horde both physically on the planet, and mentally in the minds of the Forces of Order. With its existential foe now truly engaged, the Imperium had no choice but to commit all of its greatest resources to a final apocalyptic showdown for the planet.

Older minds, however, had other plans. Though their increasing presence throughout the war should have been a sign, all were caught off guard by the eruption of a Necron Citadel below the Hab Blocks, pushing aside and crumbling entire buildings as it rose to the surface. Solypsus 9 was thus revealed as a hidden tomb world, sleeping through the eons until the fighting awoke the martial ranks of the Old Ones. Chaos warriors and daemons quickly adapted, implicitly working in tandem with the automatons against the arrogant Emperor.

Against this combined threat, the Imperium’s finest leapt into battle. The Swords of Dorn and the Sanguine Hunters dropped an entire army onto the Necron Citadel. Squad after squad rushed from Drop Pods and Stormravens in an urgent attempt to preempt the legions of Necrons sleeping within from gaining a foothold on ground level. Kingbreakers dropped on the Starport directly among entire buildings of Nurgle’s pustulent champions in hopes of preserving orbital access from the ground. Dark Angels drove amongst the heavy machinery, cranes, and power silos of the Mine against the Iron Warriors building a fortress in its works.

Kingbreakers Squad Harbinger and Dark Angels Tacticals work to purge the alleyways and rubble surrounding the Hab Blocks.

Kingbreakers Squad Harbinger and Dark Angels Tacticals work to purge the alleyways and rubble surrounding the Hab Blocks.

Necron constructs engage the Swords of Dorn deploying from their Drop Pods.

Necron constructs engage the Swords of Dorn deploying from their Drop Pods.

But even as the alpha assault struck hard and Discord seemed to teeter on the precipice, the opposing forces were simply preparing for the counter-attack, the battle hardly begun.

Fleets of Necron flyers darkened the skies, raining bombs and Gauss blasts on ground forces before discharging Necron Warriors into vital positions. Their soldiers deployed to a myriad of critical locations across the battlefield, they then turned and took up dogfights with the Imperial air forces, harrying them throughout the conflict. Thus supported from the air, their legions quickly struck at the lightly guarded base of the Dark Angels’ charge on the east flank, contesting the Generator. Meanwhile, the first chapter’s forces already in the field were slowly ground to a halt against the impregnable defensive positions the Iron Warriors had already constructed among the Mine’s works. Their assault was finally completely repulsed when a Decimator’s malefic demon spirit rose from its own wreckage to lay Ezekiel low with a furious fusillade of Butcher Cannon fire.

A Soul Grinder exhorts Iron Warriors and Flesh Hounds on through the alleyways toward the Dark Angels' advance.

A Soul Grinder exhorts Iron Warriors and Flesh Hounds on through the alleyways toward the Dark Angels’ advance.

To the west, Kingbreakers and Nurgle daemons swept back and forth in mortal combat. Far extended into enemy territory and hotly embattled, the tide shifted for the Imperials when burning warriors of the Legion of the Damned materialized among their midst, blasting away the plague-ridden enemy hosts with eldritch fire. Such were the numbers of the horrors however that even this was not enough, and final control of the Starport came down to the lone Sergeant Titus holding his ground against a chittering insect daemon, locking the monstrous creature in close combat long enough for the facility to be secured.

At the beating heart of the battle, the Swords of Dorn and Sanguine Hunters together fought wave after wave of Necrons emerging from their risen Citadel. Harried by daemons prowling the edges, they carried the fight to the very entrances of the underlying tombs, eventually overcoming the defenders and stemming the tide of living metal gushing forth.

The Swords of Dorn fight to the very doorstep of the tombs.

The Swords of Dorn fight to the very doorstep of the tombs.

Nurgle is beset on all sides by the Legion of the Damned.

Nurgle is beset on all sides by the Legion of the Damned.

From the mounting piles of dead though lumbered the most horrible monstrosities. Towering above them all loomed The Lord of the Blighted Pit himself, Scabeiathrax. Called through The Warp by the rampant suffering, disease, and death wrought by the campaign, The Maggotspore coalesced into being already shuffling inevitably toward Order’s defensive line around the Laboratory. From mighty Knight Errants to foolhardy Tactical Marines, any that dared oppose its path were absentmindedly swept away by its foul claws. Soon it came to stand over the burning carcass of the Laboratory complex, unchallenged by all the Imperium’s might.

Scabeiathrax and the Knight Errant Greenheart face off among the Laboratory.

Scabeiathrax and the Knight Errant Greenheart face off among the Laboratory.

Outcome

After six turns, The Forces of Order emerged triumphant with 61 points to The Legion of Discord’s 51. At the final moment, Order held the Hab Blocks, Comms Tower, and Starport, while Discord claimed the Laboratory and Mine, and the Generator remained contested.

Jason and Alex won the individual honors for Discord and Order respectively with their daemons and Swords of Dorn, as well as claiming all the painting votes. TJ’s Sanguine Hunters claimed the prize for best general.

Mortalis Solypsus

This was the last stage for now of the battle for overall control of the colony. Later this summer though the combatants will descend into the wreckage of the Laboratory and Mine in search of the secrets buried deep therein. Stay tuned for yet more fighting in the campaign for Solypsus 9!

kingbreakers-iconEven on one knee in his mountainous power armor, Titus had to jam his chainsword into a rent piece of deck plate to keep from sliding back. His free hand instinctively tried to hold together his shattered torso, but of course could do nothing through the bloodied remnants of his armor. The furious windstorm beat by the daemon’s insectile wings was near overpowering. More than twice as tall as he, it was even more imposing nonchalantly hovering a few feet off the ground. Dismembered parts of his squadmates rolled past Titus in the gale and off the edge of the landing pad the monster had turned into its personal arena. As the wind shifted aside for a moment, Titus’ head lolled heavily, utterly exhausted. He saw what had caught the monster’s attention, a technical team moving into the nearby control buildings to attempt to activate any of the remaining bulk lifters. The beast gave another of its piercing shrieks, ratcheting up the pitch and volume so high it somehow blew out all the circuitry in his helmet. Vox traffic, sensor signals, the constant noise of a roiling battlefield, it all cut away instantly. In the sudden silent clarity that followed, Titus understood. He was going to die here, or worse. But if he could keep the daemon engaged and away from the control building, he would die doing his duty to the last. Shakily he stood up and freed his chainsword. With not a moment to spare, he charged forward and drove its revving blade up to the hilt in the side of the beast’s chest. It screamed at an even higher pitch and turned back toward Titus. Now he had its full attention.

Titus battles the daemon fly to keep it from the control building.

Titus battles the daemon fly to keep it from the control building.