We had five players in total: Jim (Guard tank company), Alex (Space Marines) and John (Guard command squad) versus me (Chaos Space Marines) and Paul (Tau).
Paul happened to bring along a jumbo-sized bag of pretzels, so this was literally a beer and pretzels game! See evidence below…
For the storyline, we set up a narrative about how the Imperial expeditionary force, consisting of a Guard tank regiment and a space marine force from the Salamanders chapter, was seeking to secure and fortify Outpost Omicron to use as their primary operating base on Caluphel. This was something of a tactical imperative for the Imperials, as their previous attempt at forcing a landing outside Saint Scythia failed miserably, leaving them without a strategic base on the planet’s surface.
On the opposite side of the table were the forces of chaos, led by Mors Dunjen, a Night Lords battle-captain. The Chaos Space Marines were assaulting Outpost Omicron for an entirely different purpose: They had learned that the frontier settlement contained access points to a vast and ancient subterranean tunnel complex dating back centuries before Caluphel’s colonization. What did they hope to find in the silent tunnels?
The Tau were willing partners in the Chaos Space Marines’ operation, as they themselves also sought more information about rumored archaeo-tech buried deep under the planet’s surface. That explained their willingness to temporarily ally with the dreaded Night Lords…
This marked our second game of Grimdark Future, and Paul had suggested some simple house rules to change the dynamics when rolling to hit and rolling to wound. In our first game we didn’t like that the defender had no role (haha) to play in the dice rolling … he basically watched his oppponent make a series of to-hit and to-wound rolls, then removed the appropriate number of casualties.
Anyway, that didn’t sit right with us. We felt pretty strongly that the defender should always be the final arbiter in determining which of his guys died. So Paul crunched the numbers and basically flipped the algorithms around so that the defender now made a “saving throw” for each hit.
We talked it over and decided on the spot to implement it in this game. It worked like a charm!
With that, we were off!
As the game got underway, we realized our fatal flaw. Grimdark Future adjusted the point values, so the suggested game size doesn’t yield nearly as many models per player, so for this game I suggested upping the points total to 1500 points per player.
Seems reasonable, right? Except I forgot that, with 5 players on the battlefield, we’d have north of 7,000 total points on the board. That’s a lot for any game to handle, let alone a fast-playing, rules-lite game such as Grimdark Future.
All of this is my way of explaining why we only got to play about 2.5 turns before we hit our time limit!
But it was still a lot of fun, with tons of action and quite a bit of narrative development. Read on!
The battlefield was separated into two fairly distinct areas: the badlands, composed of scattered rocky outcropping and an isolated industrial facility, and the settlement, composed of tightly clustered shanty buildings and barricaded streets.
The game also marked the first outing for Paul’s newly painted Tau Devilfish!
The game opened with Paul’s Tau advancing forward to seize the small industrial pipe conduit in the badlands. The facility was one of two objectives for the Tau and Night Lords (the other being the larger drain pipe in the center of the shantytown).
Opposing him were Jim’s mechanized Imperial Guard platoons. Jim had brought quite a few armored infantry squads (as opposed to his usual strategy of TANKS! AND MORE TANKS!) and began maneuvering to oppose Paul’s objective.
These opening moves would lead to long-running artillery duel in the badlands that would occupy Jim and Paul for most of the game.
Nearby, John mobilized his small Imperial Guard command squad (in blue below). John dredged these guys out of his garage after years spent in a box, so it was a real treat to see them on the battlefield again.
Across the battlefield, my Night Lords (led by a vanguard of pustulent Plague Marines) slipped into the deserted settlement. They knew the Salamanders were out there, somewhere, but didn’t know exactly where. It was shaping up to be a knife fight in the back alleys…
Shortly thereafter, the Plague Marines identified distant green-armored targets (the Salamanders!) and began opening fire at range. The massive energy discharges from their archaic weapons sizzled and crackled in the arid atmosphere. As the firefight continued, it seemed that the arcing energy was taking on a solid form. Something was coming…
BAM! This game marked the first arrival of an energy wraith, a dreaded predator that had been hinted at in some of the recent backstory material posted about Caluphel Prime. The planet is a death world, and these energy wraiths are just one of many mysterious, deadly foes lurking in the hinterlands.
So the Plague Marines pivoted to address this new threat that had appeared suddenly on their flank. Interestingly, I didn’t manage to get any photos of my actual Night Lords marines. All of my action shots feature Plague Marines. Trust me, the Night Lords were in the game!
Elsewhere in the shantytown, a single squad of Paul’s Tau emerged from cover to seize the drain pipe (the other objective for the combined Chaos-Tau team).
The Imperials’ objective was the large fortified compound the center of the settlement, and the Salamanders advanced on this building with overwhelming force. By the end of the game, a squad of grim Terminators, clad in ancient, creaking plate armor, occupied the compound and basically dared anyone to try to dislodge them.
It was around this time that all hell broke loose in the badlands. Paul’s Tau Crisis Suits arrived via deep strike and began wreaking havoc in the rear of Jim’s armored infantry. Check out this chaotic scene.
Around the same time, Jim motored an APC up to the pipe conduit, threatening Paul’s tenuous hold on one of his objectives. This was just the first of several Imperial units that were within striking distance of the pipe conduit.
Paul made a snap decision and zoomed his Devilfish in to literally land on top of the pipe conduit, where it was well positioned to disgorge its payload of Tau infantry.
With that final bold maneuver, we reached our time limit and called the game.
The Imperials scored a minor victory by seizing the fortified shanty building, though at the end of the game it was contested by a squad of doomed Night Lords. (If the game had gone on any longer, they would have been thrown into a hopeless melee with the Terminators.)
John’s command squad managed a stately, implacable advance, issuing orders along the way and ultimately occupying one of the huts within the settlement. In the background of this photo, you can see John’s Sentinel walker standing guard over the drain pipe after dislodging the Tau.
The bad guys (Chaos and Tau) scored a minor victory by seizing the industrial pipe conduit in the badlands. This one was also contested at the end of the game.
We’re excited about some of the fun scenarios ahead. Both the Chaos and Tau factions are gearing up explore the subterranean depths (each for their own nefarious purposes). What awaits them in the dim industrial tunnels?
And by securing Outpost Omicron, the forces of the Emperor finally have a toehold on the planet’s surface from which to launch future operations. Of course, they’ll need to fortify the settlement against the inevitable counterattack. And what about those wraiths?
Stay tuned for more!