Paul and I got together earlier this month for a game of Warhammer 40,000, and we set up a fun narrative scenario with a twist — he would be horribly outnumbered, with defeat all but guaranteed, and the game outcome would instead be determined by the margin of his defeat.
For this game, Paul was running his relatively small Sisters of Battle force, as he wanted to get some more experience with the “beta” codex rules. These are the vanguard elements of what we hope will become a full-sized Adeptus Sororitas army, once the eagerly anticipated plastic kits get released later this (?) year.
On the other side of the table, I wanted to get some action with my Night Lords Chaos Space Marine army. You might have noticed that these fellows haven’t been featured on Comrade’s Wargames in at least a year or so. I haven’t been extremely satisfied with the paint jobs I gave them long ago, but recently I pulled them out of their foam and began a paint touch-up project: highlights, improved lightning bolts, better metallics, maybe even a splash of blood here and there.
I’m nowhere near done, but I’ve made enough progress that I was eager to get them on the battlefield and see how they look “en masse.”
With Paul’s rather small force of Sororitas and my large, newly updated Night Lords army, we decided on a “last stand” scenario set on Koffa, one of the fringe worlds of the Ianthe Sub-Sector. That area is the home base for Paul’s nascent Sororitas army, and we decided that a small scouting party was following up on rumors that a saint’s relic — the knuckle bone of St. Theodosius the Spiteful, perhaps, or a scrap of vellum from St. Euphrati’s Litany of Redemption — had been found in the hinterlands of Koffa Proxima.
To wit: Paul plunked down 35 Power Level of Sororitas, and I dropped a sledgehammer consisting of 75+ Power Level of Night Lords. If Paul survived to turn 3, the outcome would be that his Sisters of Battle covered themselves in glory as they died defending the saint’s relic. It would be a last stand worthy of a codex book cover illustration. If Paul survived to turn 4, the outcome would be that a small force of Sororitas escaped the slaughter on Koffa, carrying word that the fearsome Night Lords were once again on the move in the Caluphel sector. The rest of the Sisters would, of course, be butchered.
Note that there was no outcome that meant defeat for the forces of Chaos — the structure of our game had ensured victory for them, and defeat (in one shape or another) for the Imperium.
At this point I want to pause and note just how magnanimous Paul was as we developed this scenario. He knew he was facing defeat, and he also knew that we’d be creating a beautiful tabletop experience as the Night Lords enveloped the Sisters of Battle. I pledged to him that I would return the favor and serve as a punching bag for him if he wished to do a similar game, with an outsized force of Imperium attackers falling upon a much smaller force of Chaos baddies.
The game got underway with a massive advance by the Night Lords. Vath’Shuga the Cauldron of Rage, my daemon prince, led the way, alongside a Rhino and a Land Raider stuffed with murderous Night Lords.
The resolute defenders were entrenched in craters and behind sandbags, awaiting the onslaught. The forces of Chaos broke like a wave upon the defenders, pouring a fusillade of devastating firepower as the tanks and infantry closed in.
Paul’s defenders took heart when the Canoness of the Adeptus Sororitas met Vath’Shuga in single combat. Against a backdrop of sonorous chanting provided by the Bishop, the Canoness smote Vath’Shuga upon his pink little head, banishing the foul daemon to the warp and ending (temporarily) his reign in the mortal realms.
Alas, it was but a pyrrhic victory. Within moments of Vath’Shuga’s demise, the Night Lords had breached the Sororitas’s lines, sending fearsome war machines and tanks full of infantry rampaging into the backfield.
(The helbrute was one model that I hadn’t gotten to in my painting touch-up project, I must confess.)
By now, the Sisters of Battle were starting to drop left and right, and the defenders were falling back to the landing zone on the other side of the big ruined building. And the Night Lords had one last card to play. Even as the Chaos infantry deployed from their Rhino and Land Raider, a flight of Raptors swooped in on jump packs and engaged the defenders in a swirling, brutal melee.
The walls were closing in for the Sisters of Battle. As the final few defenders hoisted their swords and charged into melee with the rampaging Night Lords, we checked the turn clock. It was turn 3! That meant the Adeptus Sororitas had indeed managed to force a glorious, book-cover-worthy demise by holding out in the face of overwhelming odds.
The Night Lords noted this achievement as they dismembered the corpses of the slain to add new skulls to their gruesome trophy racks.
And so we concluded a fun and climactic game where the overall outcome was never in doubt, but where the Sisters were able to achieve a backs-to-the-wall demise worthy of song.
Paul had a chance to explore some of the new Sisters of Battle rules, including the Rites of Faith — a sort of pseudo psychic power that functioned slightly differently. Faith points are given out whenever a Sororitas unit takes wounds, and each Rite can only be attempted once per turn. This really encourages you to use all of the different Rites of Faith each turn, rather than relying on just one or two powers. I like this, as it prevents players from just spamming the very best abilities over and over again, thereby skipping over the slightly less optimized (but still fun and flavorful) abilities.
Paul is certainly set up to exact his revenge upon my Night Lords. He just needs some new plastic Sisters of Battle to make it happen!