Last weekend the local St. Louis Games Workshop store had their monthly Event day, which consisted of a painting contest using the new Chaos Space Marine Daemon Engines and an Apocalypse-sized all day battle between the traitorous Chaos Space Marines and the Loyal Marine Chapters of the Imperium!
Three players on each side with 2000 points worth of hardened killers, Chaos was led by Warlord Abbadon himself and fielded a Death Guard army, a Black Legion army with a strong Nurgle contingent, and a World Eaters army while the Loyalists were led by Marneus Calgar and fielded an Ultramarines force, a Space Wolf successor chapter, and a Grey Knights force. The scenario was The Scouring from the core book, providing ample reason to spread the forces out and stay concerned about more than just rampant slaughter (For the non-Khorne anyway) with Dawn of War deployment. The Marine side of the board was chosen as an arbitrary “North”, Chaos elected to deploy second and failed to seize the initiative, and with a shudder through the unfortunate world chosen as the battleground the fight began.
Turn 1: Chaos caught under the searchlights
Before the battle even began the Loyalists gained an edge as Night fighting was rolled on Turn 1 – the multitude of vehicles deployed in the Space Marines’ force gave them a real edge in number of searchlights. The Marines started their turn with an Ultramarine Drop Pod assault right alongside a trio of Nurgle’s Obliterators and a squad of Plague Marines on the west flank. The pod unloaded an Ironclad Dreadnaught which combined it’s searchlights with a pair of Grey Knight combat squads deployed from Rhinos to kill one Obliterator and wound each of the other two. Advancing fire from Space Wolves and Grey Knights in the center and east flank destroyed a World Eater Dreadnaught, wrecked a World Eater Rhino, took a hull point off the Black Legion Land Raider and two hull points and a Power Fist off of the Black Legion Maulerfiend. All in all, a solid first turn for the Emperor’s finest.
The bottom of turn 1 saw the first Daemon allies appear on the field – and while Epidemius and his Plaguebearers appeared as planned Khorne was not so accommodating, choosing to field a Soulgrinder and hold the Bloodthirster and Heldrake in reserve instead of the reverse as was hoped. From east to west the Traitors from the warp advanced towards the center objectives and their hated enemies. Typhus led his Plague Zombies to hold a forest and an objective in the far west, Abbadon and a horde of Plague Marines in his Land Raider and some surrounding Nurgle Cultists rode straight up the middle to try to split the Loyalists while Black Legion Obliterators took cover in a nearby forest and laid down heavy fire against the Space Marine vehicles. On the east, the World Eaters were navigating between ruins in the east to try and engage the command squads of both the Ultramarines and the Space Wolves. Unfortunately for the Chaos forces, other than the Death Guard Obliterators destroying the Ironclad behind their lines very little was accomplished because of the Night Fighting cover and some excellent saves rolled by the Space Marines, and at the end of turn one the Tally of Nurgle was only at 2.
Turn 2: The Emperor Protects!
The second turn began with a continued press by the forces of the Imperium; thanks to their Warlord ability to re-roll failed Reserve rolls all of their reserves, including five Ultramarine Terminators and a squad of Grey Knight Paladins deep behind Chaos lines to disrupt the Nurgle-heavy southwest quadrant of the table. An Assault Squad also jumped in to reinforce against Abaddon and his Nurgle horde, while an anti-air pattern Whirlwind took position in the far northeast corner to complete the defense line against the eventual arrival of Chaos’ air force. The Marines’ shooting scored few kills this turn with the notable exception of the Ultramarine Terminators finishing off the wounded Obliterators; the followers of Khorne in the east in particular weathering a storm of firepower though most of the vehicles on that front were wrecked, but the assault phase continued the Space Marine domination to this point with Grey Knights surging forward into Plague Marine ranks and scoring kills through armor and Feel no Pain rolls while losing only a single model in the counterattack thanks to another round of fantastic armor saves – the Tally of Nurgle was only raised to 3 .
The bottom of turn 2 was less fortunate for Chaos’ reserves, as only the World Eaters Heldrake and the both Soul Grinders arrived, leaving another Heldrake and the Bloodthirster still in reserve. The Imperium was able to focus their anti-air Interceptor fire on the lone flier, scoring a Hull Point against it but not bringing it down. The Marines fired their Icarus Lascannon at the Death Guard Soul Grinder rendering it Immobile on arrival, but the World Eater Grinder landed squarely in front of Marneus Calgar’s command squad in preparation for a massive showdown. Chaos shooting found its mark at last, but the armor of the Space Marines continued to hold against almost all challenges – at one point the Grey Knights made 15 out of 16 saves in a row successfully! With only a few casualties in shooting the combat phase swung a bit more evenly; the Plague Marines on the west flank made no kills against their Grey Knight opponents while losing a couple more of their own men, but Abaddon charged from his Land Raider with his Plague infested support to kill all but one of the newly arrived Assault Marines leaving them locked in combat as theMaulerfiend continued its assault on the Grey Knights’ Land Raider. On the East, the Berzerkers made their charge against the Space Wolves’ successors and turned the fight for control of their Objective into a grueling, grinding affair, while Bloodletters and the Heldrake advanced on the Scouts holding the far east Objective in their crater. The heavy fighting did start to swing some advantage to the forces of Chaos, as the Tally of Nurgle climbed to 12.
Turn 3: The Traitors Strike Back
With the bulk of both sides’ forces in Close Combat the Marine Shooting phase went much more quickly – though the Loyalists were able to destroy both the Black Legions’ Maulerfiend and Land Raider, and score a few more Hull Points against the Death Guard Soul Grinder, the Heldrake and Bloodletters on the East were practically untouched by any fire. Close combat saw Typhus and his Zombie Horde on the far west Objective engaged by Grey Knights, a fight which did little but fuel the Tally as the Destroyer Hive was unleashed. More fights between Plague Marines and Grey Knights in the center of the table traded casualties evenly, and the Ultramarine Terminators assaulted and nearly wiped out the Death Guard Havoks. On the east the Space Wolves managed to wipe out their first set of Berzerkers leaving the Blood God laughing at the slaughter, but more World Eater forces were waiting to continue the fight. And as the turn reached the halfway point, the Tally of Nurgle reached 20 as the full power of the God of Pestilence was unleashed.
The Bloodthirster arrived at the bottom of turn 3 but not the Death Guard Heldrake, again allowing the Marines to focus their Interceptor fire; unfortunately the Gods of Chaos were protective of their Champion and kept him safe from harm. The western Plague Marines as well as Typhus and his few surviving zombies were enough to wipe out all of the Grey Knights they faced now that their attacks were both poisoned and ignoring all armor, and the West looked secure with the possible exception of Castellan Crowe looming to bring Typhus down. The Death Guard Havoks were brought down to a single man, but still held the Terminators in a locked fight, and a massive melee in the center of the table was underway between Plague Marines and Black Legion Cultists of Nurgle against the Grey Knights’ Paladins; what would normally be a one-sided battle for the Loyalists became a desperate battle for survival for them, again thanks to the powers of Epidemius. Abaddon and his Plague Marines charged the Thunderwolf Cavalry of the Space Wolves and traded wounds, keeping the Cavalry from reinforcing their brethren on the eastern flank while the Black Legion Obliterators continued to take potshots from the cover of their forest. The East saw the Scouts in their crater overrun by Bloodletters and Marneus Calgar was charged and locked in an epic duel with the World Eater Soul Grinder as the Heldrake screamed overhead and roasted any infantry it could see.
Turn 4: Blood for the Blood God
The top of Turn 4 saw the Marines make a strong push for Objectives as they made an effort to secure precious victory points – the final Havok was slaughtered by Terminators, and the Death Guard Heldrake was annihilated by the Space Wolf Dreadnaught in close combat, but Castellan Crowe failed his charge against Typhus and his Zombies, leaving himself in the open for a counter-charge. The Grey Knight Paladins fared less well as the Plague Marines and Cultists ripped through their armor while brushing aside most of the Paladins’ attacks. The Thunderwolves were overwhelmed by Abaddon and one last survivor broke and ran, though the Lord of the Black Crusade was sorely wounded in the fight himself. Towards the east the remaining Berzerkers were completely overwhelmed by a combined Space Wolf and Grey Knight force, and Marneus Calgar practically ripped the Soul Grinder of the World Eaters in half, leaving his command squad intact and able to push on against the Daemons holding the Eastern edge of the table.
The bottom of Turn 4 finally saw the arrival of the Death Guard Heldrake, which survived Interceptor fire undamaged and proceeded to lay waste to a squad of Space Wolves caught in the open center of the table with its Baleflamer clearing the objective they held for Chaos to take. The Bloodthirster charged in on Castellan Crowe and handily dismembered him, surviving the ensuing psychic deathblow with the protection afforded by Khorne, leaving the far west objective firmly in Typhus’ hands. A combination of Plague Marine Meltaguns and Typhus Plague Wind left the Terminators reeling, and the Grey Knight Paladins were finished off by the forces of Nurgle as well. Abaddon pushed a squad of Ultramarines out of their crater in the Marine Deployment zone while the World Eaters Heldrake damaged but could not wreck the Whirlwind. The Bloodletters in the far east objective were in position to hold fast while Epidemius and his Plaguebearers began a march towards the combined forces of Marneus Calgar and the Space Wolf commander holding the urban objective.
Turn 5: It ends in Fire
What would prove to be the final round began with a resounding blow against the forces of Chaos as combined firepower brought Abaddon down, giving the Marines all of the possible secondary Objectives – Slay the Warlord, First Blood, and while their Terminators survived Linebreaker as well. Unfortunately there just weren’t many Marines left to do much else with, a scattering of squads mostly concentrated in the Urban sector and still holding that objective, but the Space Wolves who’d held the Imperial Bastion the whole game and even survived a daring leap down to the field of battle were unable to complete a charge against the Plague Marines holding the center objective to deny it’s points to the forces of Chaos.
The bottom of Turn 5 saw what had been a closely contested battle turn into a rout of the Loyalists at the end, with the Death Guard Heldrake completely destroying the Ultramarine Devastators which had manned their Icarus Lascannon for the length of the game and the Bloodthirster ripped the Space Wolves Dreadnaught apart. The one bright spot for the Marines was in the Urban area as Chaos’ last push against the Space Wolf commander and Marneus Calgar was a charge by Kharn the Betrayer and one last squad of World Eaters, leading to a duel between Kharn and Marneus which was handily won by the Ultramarines’ Chapter Master – unfortunately, the Objective remained contested keeping it out of the Loyalists’ hands, while the Daemons on the far East objective held fast. As the battle wound to its close the forces of Chaos screamed and shouted in victory, giving praise and glory to their unholy gods.
Outcome: Chaos Victory 12-3
A few after-action thoughts: first, while it took longer than expected to get it up to 20, the Tally of Nurgle is a dominating special rule in large scale games like this one: they were completely good sports about it but the Space Marine players could have a very legitimate gripe that the Tally needs to be scaled to the size of the game. Second, Heldrakes are absolutely beasts of anti-infantry death, but the Maulerfiend was just a little too slow to really be useful. Last, if the Grey Knights are making their saves, watch out Chaos: you’re in for a rough ride. All in all, a great game with some great people. Thanks to everyone who participated.