John and I got together recently for a quick weeknight game of Grimdark Future. After several games that verged on the larger side of things, it was nice to adjust our sites and aim for a smaller-scale skirmish. We stuck to 500 points, which is the suggested introductory game size for Grimdark Future.
This game marked the arrival of John’s new Imperial Guard faction: the Shattered Regiment. In the Caluphel campaign narrative, these guys were the survivors of an ill-fated Imperial Guard regiment that had been dispatched to Caluphel, arriving in orbit at the precise moment that the galaxy-wide warp storm ripped the heavens apart. During the stellar conflagration, the Shattered Regiment’s ships were smashed asunder and sent plummeting through the atmosphere to crash-land on the planet’s surface. The handful of survivors who pulled themselves from the wreckage found themselves leaderless and alone on a hostile planet. The survivors are mostly grunts and conscripts, struggling to survive and link up with other Imperial units on the planet.
For our scenario, a group of Shattered Regiment troopers, under the leadership of the stalwart Lieutenant Dav Nolon, responded to a rally beacon that took their recon squads high up into the foothills of the Lower Norse Ring Mountains. The beacon appeared to be be centered on Teknolog Pass — a natural cleft in the mountains that included the remnants of an old Imperial listening station. The desperate survivors of the Shattered Regiment cautiously closed in on the distress beacon, unaware that their advance was being watched…
This game also marked the entrance of my new Plague Marine warband as well. I’m painting them up as The Weeping Legion. In this game, all Chaos units began the game in ambush (off the table, basically) while John’s Guardsmen began exploring the listening post.
As the Chaos player, I was quite nervous about my lack of tactical flexibility. I couldn’t control when my guys arrived on the table — and the odds were good that they would simply arrive piecemeal, unable to support one another.
As the game got underway, John’s Shattered Regiment squads moved into a cratered area near the three objective markers. He had a “free turn” of movement, since my guys couldn’t start ambushing until turn 2, and he used this advantage to ensconce his heavy weapon team in a multi-level concrete building. As you can see, they had a commanding field of fire.
On turn 2, I rolled to see who would arrive via ambush. I had marginal rolls and was able to deploy a 5-man squad of Plague Marines as well as a 5-man group of Plaguebearers, who immediately launched themselves toward a squad of squishy Guardsmen.
They performed better than I had anticipated, and as a result John was forced to divert troops to deal with the Plaguebearers.
With bad guys popping up everywhere, his squads hunkered down in the craters (the best place for Imperial Guardsmen, we agreed) and returned fire. Meanwhile, more of my guys arrived on subsequent turns. Here’s an overhead look at this guys (they’re in the craters, no doubt shooting at anything that moves).
So where are the bad guys?
Answer: RIGHT BEHIND YOU.
With a lucky roll, I managed to summon Brasque Krakmarrow, Lord of Contagion, also known as the Grave-Wurm of Endymion-Delta and the Gift-Giver of Vortulai Hive, to the battlefield. He materialized next to John’s heavy weapons team and immediately began laying about with his fearsome tri-bladed axe.
Yes, this is my newly painted Lord of Contagion model from the Dark Imperium boxed set. He is huge! And he was a lot of fun to paint.
Krakmarrow’s arrival proved to be a pivotal move. He didn’t kill any of the heavy weapon squads, but the brutal melee ensured that the teams could not use their firepower against any of the other squads that were ambushing the poor Imperials.
In addition to Lord Krakmarrow, I also go another squad of Plaguebearers, who went immediately into the fight.
Around this point, we realized just how tough Plague Marines are. In Grimdark Future, they’re defense 7+, which means that you must roll a 6 followed by a 4+ on two successive dice to kill them, unless you have an armor piercing modifier on your weapon.
John’s most potent armor-piercing weapons were unfortunately tied up in Lord Krakmarrow’s swirling melee, so he was unable to bring his best guns to bear on the shuffling, noisome Plague Marines that continued to burst out of the highlands.
Even as John’s Guardsmen fell to the withering bolter fire of the Traitor Marines, Lt. Nolon found his fury. The plucky junior officer raised his power sword and charged the fearsome Lord Krakmarrow (who by that point had been “softened” by several short-range lascannon blasts).
The two combatants dueled in the rarefied air of Teknolog Pass, landing massive blows that caused the very ground to crack asunder beneath their feet.
Ultimately (and by the Emperor’s grace, for sure) Lt. Nolon landed a fatal blow — but even as Krakmarrow’s hulking form crumpled to the ground, a foul gaseous vapor swept through the battlefield and spirited the broken warrior away, presumably to live and fight another day.
In game terms, Nolon defeated Krakmarrow in single combat! Huzzah! But of course Krakmarrow is not truly dead, just temporarily defeated…
But by this point it was clear that the rest of the Plague Marines were going to mop the floor with the remaining Guardsmen. We decided that Nolon’s epic showing had given the remaining squads an opportunity to reach the rally beacon and broadcast a critical message to the rest of the Imperials on Caluphel — requesting aid, and also advising them of the new threat posed by the Plague Marines.
The Weeping Legion, for their part, were able to capture some survivors, and we’re already planning a follow-on scenario where the survivors are rounded up to be used as sacrificial lambs for a foul chaos sorceror’s blood rituals. Did the Shattered Regiment’s plea for help reach anyone? Who will respond and attempt to stop the ritual? Stay tuned to find out!