"Assault-Captain, our scouts report troops ahead. Imperial Guardsmen, loyalists."
Assault-Captain Lars Skaargard, newly appointed Warleader of the Griogaar Clan-Company of the holy and ancient Iron Hands Chapter rose from kneeling, the pistons and hydraulics serving as his limbs hissing and shifting. A pair of servo-skulls, trailing wires like tendrils, hovered around his head. His bionic limbs were longer than life, and he towered above even is fellow Space Marines. "What regiment?"
The Sergeant shrugged slightly. "I don't know. Is it relevant?"
"No. They bar our path eastward?"
"Then we will destroy them."
Well, I had a much more satisfying gaming day today than last week, defeating two Guard armies and expanding the territory my Iron Hands hold in the FLGS's Planetary Empires campaign by two.
The Captain exceeded expectations, accounting for potentially dozens of Guardsman on his own, including at least two Command Squads and, had the first game not ended after Turn 5, I'm pretty sure he'd have gotten a Leman Russ to his credit, too, given that he was standing literally on top of it. Wounding on 2's is AWESOME, and damaging tanks on a 4+ will full attacks is even better.
The Assault Squad also performed well, perhaps given better than I expected given that I've never fielded one before and usually see them shot apart before doing anything. In both games they successfully turned the enemies' flanks and caused massive casualties, racking up an impressive kill score including a Bane Wolf and at least forty Guardsmen.
Now, admittedly Guardsmen aren't the most fearsome of foes and the Captain needs to be tested against someone his own size, but today's results give me confidence.
The first game was against a guy who is or was a GW employee, working at the local Battle Bunker. I'm not sure as I've not been there in well over a year. He was fielding a Platoon with four squads, three with Plasma Guns, a three-squad platoon all in Chimeras and packing meltaguns, except for the Command Squad, with an attached Lascannon support squad, and two Russes. I believe both of the Platoon Officers had power fists and the Company Command had a standard. He had 1250 points and because he had a two-territory advantage I had 1350.
My army had the Captain with jump-pack and Relic Blade, a ten-man Assault Squad with two flamers and a thunder hammer, two Vindicators, a Whirlwind, two Tactical Squads with a powerfist, rocket launcher and meltagun each and a Tactical Squad with a lascannon, power first and a plasma gun.
We rolled up Annihilation and, uh...the deployment type with table quarters. I don't remember what it's called. I let him go first, intending to steal the initiative, which I've been quite successful at recently. He took the north-east quarter, leaving me the south-west. He grouped his four walking squads into one uber-squd and deployed them on my left, ready to run into a large building in the centre of his long edge. The three mounted squads went on my right, with the anti-tank squad in some woods in the centre of his quarter flanked by the Russes and the three Command Squads lurking behind.
I put both Vindicators flanking a wood in the right-centre of my quarter with one rocket launcher Tac Squad sheltering behind the Vindi on the right, intending to run into some more woods and flank his Chimeras. The other rocket squad did similar at the north edge of my quarter, intending to run into a three-story ruin where they could fire at the tanks or the infantry. The lascannon squad went into a tall ruin on my left with a good vantage on the Russes, and the Assault Squad and Captain went as close to him as possible so they could leap over the ruins and attack the Uber Squad.
I failed my Steal Initiative roll, and things went quickly wrong. The first Russ completely obliterated the Vindi on my right, leaving only a smoking crater. The other Russ killed several of the now-exposed Tac Squad, sending them running off the table. In what was to be a serious trend, his attempts to give orders failed and the lascannon team couldn't hit the other Vindi. The Uber Squad, number forty men, advanced into a large ruin to claim cover. By the end of his turn, I'd lost a third of my armour, a quarter of my infantry and, more importantly, two whole Kill Points.
The Whirlwind and remaining Vindi took chunks out of the Uber Squad, but not enough to cause a test, while the remaining rocket Tac squad advanced into their building and the other failed to dent a Russ.
The Uber Squad advanced fully into the ruin and, in what was possibly the only successfully given order of the game, did First Rank Fire, Second Rank Fire! on my Assault Marines, who were now easily within charge range. It was hideous. Three plasma guns and fifteen lasguns, which were all that were still alive and in range, dealt out a horrible number of shots and downed three Assault Marines, mainly thanks to the plasma gunners failing badly. Despite that, there were still a depressing lot of them. The Vindi got immobilized by a Russ's lascannon, the lascannon squad did nothing useful, the Chimeras advanced into my quarter and popped smoke.
The Assault Marines, doubtless eager for revenge now they'd weathered the storm, strolled casually up to the borders of the ruin. Each flamer hit something like twelve guys each and killed over ten total, with the bolt pistols doing a few more. The Uber Squad held, though, and I readied for the Assault. The rocket Tac squad finally got into position, while my lascannon couldn't get a proper fix through the Chimeras' defensive smoke screen. With a scream of rage, the Assault Squad hurled themselves into the Uber Squad, whose reaction move got them all into range. The Captain went first, battering down three in sprays of blood and crunching of bone, then the Assault Marines took down a lot more. The few surviving Guardsmen, mostly the Sergeants, I think, we obviously too terrified of the blood-spattered Sons of Ferrus Manus and couldn't land a telling blow. Then the Assault Sergeant attacked and his thunder hammer claimed a few more lives. Despite all this carnage, there was at least a full squad's worth of Guardsmen left, but they failed their test (since the only was they could succeed was to roll snake eyes) and were promptly cut down as they tried to flee. Forty dead Guardsmen, and all I got was one stinking Kill Point. The victories Iron Hands consolidated back out of the ruin so they wouldn't risk injuring themselves next turn.
Despite my first-turn losses, this was the point where I started to gain some confidence back. The bulk of the enemy infantry was gone, though there was still a lot of armour left, and the three Command Squads didn't look like they'd be able to get out of charge range before they became free Kill Points.
In my opponent's turn, the Chimeras moved up further, continuing to blaze away with multilaser and heavy stubber, though to little effect. One made it into the forest in my quarter while the other two hovered behind. My opponent did not agree with my helpful suggestion that he disembark the squads right in front of mine. The Russes didn't accomplish much, nor did the lascannon squad, while the Platoon Commanders tried to scramble away from the gory horror of the ruin the Uber Squad had died in.
With a certain amount of glee, I must admit, the Assault Squad jumped clear over the building to approach one command squad while the Captain detached to go after the other. My shooting was largely ineffective. I think the Whirlwind tried to hit the Company Commander but deviated south and took a wound off a lascannon base. The Vindi, in what was to be its last shot of the game, managed to kill one Russ. That tied the game. The Captain charged his target, but the Assault Marines were out of range and had to settle for burninating theirs, which they did quite successfully, killing all but the officer who promptly scarpered for home. The Captain hacked down three of the Guardsmen in his way and when the Officer failed to wound in return with his power fist, tried to run and was cut down without mercy. It was now four to two, in my favour. However, he still had three Chimeras, a Russ, and thirty Guardsmen with meltaguns that were rushing right at my two surviving Tac squads and Vindi, and the Assault Marines were down to three. I may have overexaggerated about how much they dominated the Uber Squad, or how they weathered the firing on their way in. I don't remember...
Anyways, the Chimeras roared ahead, one making it all the way through the forest and almost, but not quite, ramming the Vindi. The other two, fortunately, failed to negotiate the thick underbrush and became stuck fast. The lascannon squad continued to fail, doubtless hampered by their Colonel's panicking over the gore-splattered Space Marine running his direction with a dirty great sword. The Russ had no such issues and its lascannon blew the Vindi's main gun off, leaving it largely impotent. The Chimeras all opened fire as best they could and, in a major change for my opponent, scored five wounds on the lascannon Tac Squad. Somewhat over-confident at this point, I rolled my armour saves. They came up, if I recall correctly: five, two, two, one, two. Gulp. Almost half a squad obliterated.
Fortunately, they held, and returned fire with a vengeance. The lead Chimera was utterly annihilated, though it took both squads to do it, and the blast claimed six of the ten occupants, who promptly dove for cover in the smoking crater. Meanwhile, in the enemy's backfield, the surviving Assault Marines swooped down at the lascannon squad while the Captain charged into the Company Command Squad. Flamers saw off all but one lascannon team, while the Captain cut apart most of his opponents. Although they were unable to retaliate, the Colonel was evidentally made of sterner stuff than his subalterns and held on grimly. All but one of the survivors of the Chimera explosion were blown to kingdom come, with only the meltagunner remaining, staring down the guns of fifteen angry Space Marines.
Turn 5 was to be the final turn, though we didn't know it yet. The sole surviving meltagunner blew up my impotent Vindi, while the two Chimeras returned to their usual form and did nothing. The Russ killed off some of the Assault Squad, leaving only two Marines with flamers, and the lascannon squad killed one of those. The duel between Captain and Colonel came to its inevitable conclusion, with the Colonel being insta-killed, doubtless split in twain by the mighty Relic Blade.
On my turn, the Tac Squads turned the meltagunner into paste, but failed to dent the Chimeras. The Captain charged the Russ, but only shook it. The sole surviving Assault Marine flamed the lascannon squad, wounding the remaining team but failing to kill it, then charged. The duel was inconclusive.
With that, the game ended as the roll to see if the game continued decided we should not. We shook hands over a game well-played, that was much more tense than I may have let on here, or that the 6 to 3 result suggests. Although my Assault Marines and Captain rampaged merrily through the enemy's backfield, there was only a single Assault Marine still standing, and the Captain only had one wound left. Both Tac Squads had taken casualties, both my Vindis were down and I still had two Chimeras and two Infantry Squads on my flank. I think killing the Uber Squad so quickly, and the mounted squads sheltering in their rides really helped me on my way to victory. If I'd had to deal with that many more squads and their firepower, it might have swamped me under. The combined squad seems good on principle, but is really weak to being overrun by assaulting enemies. I'll have to give it some thought for the Yukoni. I do know that a giant combined squad being given the fire by ranks order is a terrifying thing to be on the receiving end of.
The second game I won't go into as much detail on, simply because it was less interesting and over partway through my third turn. Dawn of War and Secure & Control, with five objectives rolled on a relatively dense table. A first turn charge from my Captain, who was solo at this point, wiped out an Infantry Squad holding an objective, but he was dead the next turn, even though it took the combined fire of a Platoon Command Squad, a Leman Russ and a Bane Wolf to do it. The Vindis took out both my opponent's Russes, while the Assault Squad krak grenaded the Bane Wolf to death. My opponent's Vet Squad blew themselves up with their own demo charge and promptly fell back, harassed by fire from my advancing Combat Squad, taking the objective the Vets were guarding. By the time we were almost finished my third Shooting Phase, my opponent had one Heavy Bolter team, his Company Command, one Storm Trooper and half an Infantry Squad remaining, and one objective, that was about to be assaulted by another of my Combat Squads. He ceded the game, and I earned another territory.
So, in summary, the Iron Hands took some more turf, and my faith in the Captain and Assault Squad has been earned. I doubt I'll modify my list for next week.
The Guardsmen staggered out of their wrecked vehicles, coughing and chocking in the smoke. "For the love of the Emperor, cease fire! We're Imperials, damn you!"
A line of black-armoured figures, living statues, stepped forth, lead by a towering figure with a dripping sword, his armour and cloak steam from from the corrosive fluids still streaming off. "You," the figure said, pointing an accusing finger, "have no place in the Emperor's service. You are weak, pathetic."
The Guardsmen huddled together, aghast. "But...fine! We surrender! Enough of this!"
"There is no surrender." The bolters roared.
In other, non-Iron Hands news, I picked up a Cadian Command Squad box and ordered some new heads. Yay! So there will be updates for the Yukoni tomorrow.
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