Last Saturday at the St. Louis Games Workshop store (which I encourage any local player to check out – it’s nice to have an official store in town, especially one this well run), we celebrated the recent release of the new Dark Vengeance box set with a massive 4-on-4 game of 40k! The setup was simple, four Chaos players using the new kit’s models would face off against four Marine players doing the same; unfortunately due to cancellations we ended up being one player short on each side but happily there was an Ultramarine player with equivalent models, and another extra Marine player who just so happened to have painted his Dark Angels as Fallen, making for a fine Chaos substitute. For consistency, any unit with an actual codex entries used those rules, and new units such as the cultists or Helbrute utilized the Dark Vengeance starter rules.
In addition to the box set forces, every player was allowed to field 250 points of reinforcements from either the base codex of their race or any valid ally. The forces of Chaos brought a Daemon Prince of Tzeentch, 3 Obliterators, a Great Unclean One, and a Valkyrie full of traitor Guardsmen. The forces of the Imperium brought a pair of Dreadnoughts a Space Wolf Tactical Squad and Devastator Squad, and a big pack of Ork Shoota Boyz (presumably eager to just join in some good old carnage). The mission wound up as Purge the Alien with the Marine side arbitrarily marked “North” for reference, so with any thought of holding objectives thrown to the wind the armies prepared for all-out slaughter.
Turn 1 – Unrelenting Firepower
The Imperium took the first player turn, and unleashed a hellish salvo of autocannons, missiles, lascannons and plasma cannons at the Obliterator squad, but thanks to some exceptionally fortunate invulnerable saves the Obliterators weathered the storm with only a single wound to show for it. Some of the Marine tactical squads did take an opportunity to take shots at the Infiltrated Chosen dropping both advance squads to half strength. More heavy weaponry was employed to immobilize one of Chaos’ Helbrutes and destroy the Multi-melta on another. The cultists were largely ignored in lieu of bigger threats, something that would end up haunting the Imperium later.
One of the Deathwing squads held in reserve chose to Deep Strike in front of the advancing Ork Boyz on the east flank while the Space Marine bikers sped around the west flank to line up shots on the Fallen. Only a few other casualties were scored though, giving Chaos a strong position to take their first turn.
The forces of the Warp counter-attacked the bikers and tactical squad on the east flank, leaving the Marines severely undermanned there, followed by a charge by the remaining infiltrated Chosen on that side. The Chosen were wiped out in the ensuing combat, but did manage to drag a few Marines screaming into oblivion with them.
The Obliterators, meanwhile, showed exactly why they were feared as they dropped three direct hit Plasma Cannon shots into the middle of the Space Wolf tactical squad – even going to ground and getting a cover save from intervening units, only three Wolves survived the volley. Additional shooting in the center of the battlefield began whittling away at the Terminators there, and on the east flank the Daemon Prince swooped ahead of a Chaos Lord and his cultists, but could not get in range to use his Warp Breath on the Deathwing. And in the center, the hordes of Cultists with a pair of Chaos Lords and the Great Unclean One advanced towards the median wall.
Turn 2 – Counter-moves
Trying to recoup from a difficult first game turn, the Space Marines advanced their lines, pressing the attack on the forces of Chaos. More concentrated fire from the heavy weapons managed to kill off two of the Obliterators, but at the cost of again limiting the firepower brought to bear against the rest of the Chaos hordes. The remaining Deathwing squad managed a precision Deep Strike behind enemy lines and started chewing rapidly through Cultists caught out in the open.
On the west flank the Marines tried to shore up their fast assault and killed several of the Fallen Terminators but did little damage to the tactical Fallen hiding in the woods. The eastern flank pressed forward and overwhelmed the other infiltrating Chosen while the Deathwing and Orks moved up to shoot an astonishing number of snap fire rounds at the swooping Daemon Prince, but only scored one wound and failed to bring him crashing to the ground.
Chaos responded by turning their center forces entirely on the newly arrived Deathwing and annihilating them with concentrated fire – the Cultists may wield less impressive guns than their superhuman allies but enough of them at close range can kill even Terminators.
The Fallen maintained control of the entire east flank with continued fire from inside the woods killing the last flanking bikers, and on the west the Daemon Prince slaughtered four of the five Deathwing Terminators with a Breath of Chaos before charging into the last remaining one for the kill in close combat.
Meanwhile the final squad of Chosen advanced close to the Marine lines, the Great Unclean One reached his first victims and started slicing them into pieces, and most devastating of all the Valkyrie arrived from reserves and started opening holes in the central lines of the Marines with its numerous template weapons.
Turn 3 – Total War
With most of the enemies within just a few inches of each other if not already locked in combat, the death tolls mounted high in turn 3. The Orks nearly shot the Daemon Prince to death, and easily finished him off with a subsequent charge as they pulled him down under the green tide. Some well-placed shots from the Devastator squad finished off both the last Obliterator and the still-mobile Helbrute.
The Valkyrie went unchallenged as the Marine players unwilling to spend gunfire on desperate snap shots, instead focusing on hitting the remaining Chosen with a combination of tactical marines and Terminators – the Chosen took losses but managed not to break. The Great Unclean One had gunfire poured into him, and with his bulky filth he laughed off the attempts to wound. And still the Fallen and many of the Cultists survived relatively unchallenged.
The forces of Chaos responded with their own presses, the Great Unclean One driving deep into the Marine deployment zone and severely wounding their Warlord, cultists throwing themselves mindlessly at the surviving Marines in the center of the battle and managing to kill the central bikers proving their worth when massed again, and the Lord with his cultists on the east flank shooting into and then charging the orks, managing to out-horde the horde, breaking them in combat and running them down. The last Chosen were cut down in combat by Ultramarine terminators, but on the west the Fallen continued silent dominance as their gunfire brought down a Marine Librarian and Captain at the wall.
The Valkyrie, risking all on one more volley, went into hover mode to deploy its veteran traitor Guard and continue punishing the last Terminators with more template fire, while the traitors used their meltaguns to bring down almost all the remaining Devastators. The Imperium was fast running out of living men.
Turn 4 – Death from Above
The Marines, seeing their forces dwindling, made an effort to salvage the game by knocking out as many whole squads for victory points as possible – pouring fire into cultists, the newly deployed Guardsmen, and the suddenly vulnerable Valkyrie. Unfortunately this last would be their undoing – the Valkyrie exploded with a 6-inch radius, and while the Guardsmen were sorely hurt some astonishing rolls did far worse to the last full-strength Marine tactical squad. Three of the ten fell to the blast, followed by a failed Morale check, and finally a 9-inch fall back move which took the entire squad off the table.
Combined with the loss of their Warlord to the Great Unclean One in one last round of melee combat, the Imperium withdrew from the field of battle. Victory for the Gods of Chaos!