Captain Dunjen knelt beside the data terminal and brushed away a thick layer of dust. The ancient computer station was cold and silent — like everything else inside this accursed tomb, Dunjen thought blackly.
The rest of the squad stood nearby, most impatiently checking their weapons. Further down the dim hallway, just glimpsed in the gloom, Gangrul stood silently with his back to the squad, covering their rear with his fearsome flamethrower. Dunjen was pleased at that — few of his Night Lords could bear to stand in the, ah, fragrant presence of Gangrul, but none could deny that the Plague Marine made for a devastating addition to their warband.
With a deft, careful click, Dunjen rotated the main port and popped out the data core. The fat glass tube was the size of his fist, and the quantum crystal wafers inside sparkled with the promise of ancient knowledge.
His task complete, Dunjen stood, the servos in his archaic armor whizzing and purring in the silent tunnel.
Abruptly, the comm crackled. It was Gangrul, his voice terse.
“Contact, twelve meters.”
A second later, Gangrul voxed the squad again, but this time his remarks were lost in the whooooosh of his flamethrower opening up.
With a snarl, Dunjen unlimbered his sword and turned to meet the unseen threat.
How about that for an intro!
Earlier this month, we gathered for a much-anticipated game of 40k. If you recall, our last session saw the Imperials gaining a foothold in Outpost Omicron, the windswept frontier fort on the outskirts of Caluphel‘s arid wilderlands.
But in the process, the Tau and Night Lords were able to seize and pry open several entry points into the vast, uncharted tunnels beneath Outpost Omicron. In truth, these tunnels were just the antechamber for a much larger underground network throughout the crust of Caluphel, filled with ancient artifacts and inscrutable technology.
None can say who or what created these archaeotech tunnels, but both the Tau and Night Lords were determined to explore their depths — even though these tunnels are not as empty and vacant as they first thought!
In game terms, this was a great opportunity to play some gun-crawl games using our 40k miniatures alongside my Dwarven Forge dungeon terrain tiles! I got in on the Kickstarter for these pieces several years ago and haven’t had an opportunity to get everything on the table until now!
We set up a battlefield with a cavern-like entryway of rough stone leading into a series of hallways and chambers made from flagstones. The tunnels were littered with debris, artifacts and archaeotech — all of which hinted at the true purpose of this dim techno-dungeon.
And arrayed against the invaders were a fearsome force of slavering Tyranids! Yes, that’s right. The predatory xenos had infested the shadowy hallways, laying in wait as the invaders groped through the gloom. Both Paul and John provided the figures, and they looked fantastic as they surged through the darkness.
For this game, we were using Grimdark Future: Firefight, a smaller scale skirmish game based on the same Grimdark Future rule system that we knew well. Each side had a dozen or so figures — more for the Tyranids, fewer for the invaders.
For our scenario, we placed 8 different tech markers throughout the dungeon. Whenever a figure made contact with a tech marker, he had the option of taking 2 victory points (a safe, albeit minimal, reward) or rolling a d6 for a chance at grabbing more victory points — or summoning an ill-tempered denizen of the catacombs! It was a fun little mechanic that hopefully made the players sweat a little bit as they raced around the tunnels.
Enter the Night Lords
My Night Lords took the first run. Here’s a look at their initial moves, as they tried to cover their advance from the caverns into the hallways.
We found out pretty quickly that Tyranids move very fast in Grimdark Future: Firefight, but individual units were also weak enough that they often didn’t want to advance too far, too fast without support. So my Night Lords were able to press the advance a bit while Paul and John maneuvered their forces.
At one point, I sent a lone Terminator down one hallway all by himself, even though I could see that Paul was mustering some stiff opposition. Time to see how that Terminator armor holds up, right? Here’s what happened.
He basically held off a Tyranid warrior and at least 3 termagaunts for most of the game. I was impressed!
(You can see some pretzels in the background of this game. We are a beer and pretzels group at heart — often literally!)
Elsewhere, one of my Night Lords made contact with the first bit of archaeotech. Holding my breath, I rolled a dice to see what my Chaos marine was able to recover…
Thankfully, he netted 4 victory points and nothing else. The Night Lords were on the board! Unfortunately, a swarm of hormagaunts surged around the corner and overwhelmed this poor guy.
They were quickly dealt with Gangrul’s flamethrower.
By that point, casualties started to mount, and we had reached our turn limit, so it appeared that the Night Lords would escape with 4 victory points — a “minor victory,” per my game handout.
The Tau Make a Run
After that, we shuffled up the seats and started a second game, with John and I controlling the Tyranids versus Paul’s Tau.
I had suggested mixing up the terrain to create a different layout, but Paul had an inspired idea — what if we just moved the deployment area for the Tau to another location in the dungeon? This little step totally reoriented our playing area and accomplished everything I would have wanted to achieve by fiddling with the terrain. All in about 2 minutes!
The Tau brought several crisis suits to the table, and these proved to be very effective at wading through the swarms of Tyranids.
While the Tyranids were able to pick off individual Tau Fire Warriors, the crisis suits were able to breach the “boss chamber” where three tech markers waited, guarded by a fearsome Carnifex!
Much slaughter ensued, as you can see from these photos.
Ultimately the Tyranids were able to overcome and dismember one crisis suit, but by that point Paul had secured several tech markers, yielding 8 or 9 victory points. This scored him a “major victory” per the scenario, but it had come at a steep cost in life and equipment.
Afterward, we agreed that this was a fun scenario with superb narrative flavor. It really did feel like we were exploring a techno-dungeon filled with crumbling machinery and insidious alien defenders.
Both the Night Lords and the Tau had scored victories — of a sort — in their perilous forays into the dim tunnels. But Tyranids, as we all know, are virtually undefeatable. Doubtless dozens if not hundreds of individual nests are situated deeper in the archaeotech tunnels — along with even more horrific, as-yet-undiscovered threats!
Battles will continue on Caluphel, both on the war-torn surface and in the trackless depths of the archaeotech tunnels. Stay tuned!