Firebase Tecmeda 12-Magenta was a typical Imperial forward operating position, one of dozens sprinkled across the vastness of the Halla Abandonment. From here, the Imperial defenders in the Ianthe Sub-Sector clung to a narrow toehold on the planet Tecmeda, struggling to fortify their desperate position even as chaos threatened to consume the sub-sector.
Firebase 12-Magenta was manned by elements of the Salamanders Space Marine Chapter, alongside newly mustered reinforcements from the Forgotten Sons Chapter. Their thinly held lines were about to be tested by a fearsome alliance of Tyranids and Chaos Space Marines…
We had six (!) players for game night last week. While Jim and Lawrence learned the ropes in a game of Kill Team, Paul and I teamed up to probe the defenses of Firebase 12-Magenta, which was defended by Alex (Salamanders) and Vince (Forgotten Sons). We played the Vanguard Assault scenario from the Shadowspear mini-rulebook, with my Night Lords and Paul’s Tyranids as unlikely allies on the attack.
The scenario was focused on my Night Lords attempting to seize some computer cores from Firebase 12-Magenta, taking advantage of an unexpected attack by an advance element of Hive Fleet Tiamat as a useful diversion. Basically, the bugs were attacking already, so the Night Lords decided to muster a raiding party to see if they could pull off an extraction.
As it turned out, the game was a bit of a bloodbath for the attackers. I hadn’t built my army with much of a strategy … true to form, I mostly just wanted to get some of my newly painted models onto the table. (Stop me if you’ve heard this story before.) So I brought a couple squads of Raptors led by Haarken Worldclaimer (in his original Night Lords livery, before he wore the black of the Black Legion) plus an assortment of other stuff, not really much of an army with a strategy. I didn’t end up with a lot of Command Points to spend, either, which put me at a major disadvantage, as the Command Point economy is a big part of gameplay in the current edition of 40k.
The scenario gave the defenders some pretty potent abilities — namely, the Reinforcements Requested stratagem, which allowed the defenders to spend 2 Command Points to respawn a unit that had been destroyed. The reinforcements had to be placed entirely within their deployment zone, but that was hardly a hindrance, because their deployment was a full half of the table!
The game got underway with Paul storming into the wire with his Tyranid swarms. The small dome-shaped generator below is one of the two objectives for this game (the other being a computer terminal located deep inside enemy lines).
Paul’s advance included his new Swarmlord, a figure that turned out to be a real beatstick in this game. Between the genestealers and the Swarmlord, he absolutely slaughtered the entire front line of the Imperial defenders. Meanwhile, we both plinked away at the approaching Leviathan dreadnought. We were rightly terrified of that beast and its many, many horrifying weapons.
My fortunes went awry when my Rhino was blown up, spilling out a five-man squad of Berzerkers (represented by a handful of new Shadowspear Chaos Marines) as well as a Dark Apostle and an Exalted Champion. This particular combination of dudes represents a world of hurt in close combat, which made it extra sad when they were shot to pieces as they rushed toward the Salamanders.
Brief rant: I’ve come to the realization that close combat exists solely to fuel cover art for books and game boxes. Melee in the current edition of 40k is fool’s errand. Ranged combat is so much more effective to the point where it’s almost silly. I’m a lore-inspired player, so I’ll always include some dudes with swords in my sci-fi army, but it’s a mostly hopeless proposition. The new Shock Assault rule (see below) that Games Workshop released for Space Marine armies (including Chaos!) will help, but ultimately it seems that melee is a loser in virtually every scenario.
Anyway, back to the game and my string of ill-advised melee assaults. In what was probably my last tactical play of the game (before the attackers were overtaken by events), I dropped two squads of Raptors and Haarken Worldclaimer into the backfield to engage Alex’s Devastators and Primaris Marines.
Despite shooting and assaulting over two turns, the best I managed to do was inflict 3 wounds on his captain (who then killed Haarken) and 1 wound on a Primaris Marine. Ugh! Primaris Marines are very, very resilient, and Raptors are (sadly) very, very bad at melee. I bemoaned this on a few of my Chaos 40k forums and got some advice about how to use Raptors. (The #1 suggestion from everyone was “Don’t use Raptors!” but I can’t take that advice because I love them and they’re a very lore-inspired fit for Night Lords, so I’ll be angling for a strategy that uses them in some capacity.)
Paul managed much better than me, and at one point his Swarmlord was carving a swathe through the defenders. Here he is clearing a path to the computer terminal (the other objective). That Primaris dude better finish up his ATM transaction, quick!
Alas, it was at this point that Alex and Vince started using their respawn ability to bring back all sorts of stuff, starting with that Leviathan dreadnought that we had just spent so much time and effort destroying. Seeing it waltz back onto the battlefield was really demoralizing! Paul and I collectively realized that there was really no way we could achieve victory in this particular scenario.
In retrospect, we agreed that we should have tried to decimate but not entirely destroy some units. Killing all but one or two marines in squad, for example, would keep it on the table and prevent the defenders from respawning it later in the game. That strategy requires some real finesse to pull off, though, it seems a bit at odds with the glorious brutality of a Tyranid-Night Lords team-up. So maybe it’s for the best that we just plowed ahead and did our thing.
Afterward, I took stock of my collection of Night Lords figures and assessed some weaknesses. I need a few more basic marines to ensure that I can reasonably fill out a battalion detachment so I can gain some of those all-important Command Points. So this week I’ve been painting up some not-very-exciting figures (basic marines with bolters and heavy weapons) to augment my existing core of troops.
Lastly, the outcome of this scenario meant that my Night Lords will need to make one more raid into the Halla Abandonment to achieve their ultimate goal. Who can say what they will discover in this benighted expanse of space? Stay tuned for more!