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The Blood Deserts of Auros IX
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The Blood Deserts of Auros IX: Thoughts on the Campaign
The campaign is over and Kenton and his Fighting Tigers have conceded to Patrick Eibel and his Orks. Here are some "lessons learned" that we'd like to pass along to you for your own campaigns.

“Heads you win, tails I lose….” by Patrick Eibel
Patrick Eibel--da winna!After seventeen battles and more than that many months, the Auros IX campaign is finally over. Clearly, the campaign took longer than we anticipated and evolved a life of its own. Here are what I view as the Good, the Bad, and the Ugly of the campaign.

The Good: The campaign allowed us to play a bunch of games with a connecting story. We used our creativity to link the games together, create new scenarios, and learn a lot about our armies. New characters were created as the campaign developed, such as Jirbu Ghosh and Speedo the Big Mek, which added fluff to each of our armies. The campaign inspired works of fiction (The Gray Tiger), themed armies (the Striped Ork-Eaters of Auros IX), and pieces of scenery (the Frogklam). Overall, the entire campaign was lots of fun and we are already planning our next one (Dark Eldar vs. Space Wolves).

The Bad: Because of the “volleyball” style of the campaign and the restrictive lists of missions, the campaign started to bog down as it wore on. New scenarios like “Midnight At The Oasis” and “All The Marbles”  were done as much to break the monotony as to further the campaign. I mean, other than Kenton, who wants to play "Sabotage" over and over again? The fact that the campaign took almost two years was not the problem, it was trying to sustain interest in replaying scenarios and make them interesting.

The Ugly:The ugliest battle in the entire campaign was the “All The Marbles” mission. While I liked the opportunity to field all of my models in a game, I think that it was too much pressure in the framework of a campaign. The sheer mental gymnastics necessary to keep track of all of those models while also realizing the implications of a loss in the greater scheme was very stressful. This is a game. It should be fun. I think that a campaign should have limitations on the size of the battles to keep a consistent feel throughout. If you want to play a game with all of your models (and I am sure we will again), do it as a stand-alone game.

The End:So, was it worth it? Absolutely. I learned a lot from playing these games. I learned about the strengths and weaknesses of two armies (the regular Orks and the Kult Of Speed), about myself as a player, how to write up effective and flexible army lists, how to anticipate my opponent’s strategy, and how to create an interesting campaign environment and ongoing story solely through playing games. I am fortunate to have an opponent who is about as good as me at 40K.  Since there is always a fifty-fifty chance at winning no matter how we prepare, it allows us to focus on some of the more textural parts of the game. And that makes the game more rewarding and enjoyable overall, which is the whole point of a campaign anyway.

Warning: Long-winded Monologue Ahead by Kenton Kilgore
Kenton KilgoreI wrote up the campaign, so I knew going into it that it would be an uphill fight for me. The standard tactic for “vanilla” Marines fighting Orks is to “stand back and shoot,” which can be very effective but can also become boring over the long haul, and doesn’t reflect an invasion anyway. The premise of the campaign was that the Marines were the aggressors: one doesn’t conquer an entire planet by building a defensive line and daring one’s opponent to smash himself against it.

So almost all of the Space Marine missions involved moving towards the Orks (instead of resting my Marines’ heels on the back edge of the table) and attaining some objective before a tsunami of greenskins overwhelmed my forces. Sometimes it worked, sometimes it didn’t. All in all, I think the mission objectives were balanced: “Ambush” was probably the easiest mission the Tigers succeeded at; “Cleanse” was probably the easiest for the Orks. 

As the campaign went along, our armies evolved, Pat’s more so than mine. At first, Pat’s army was slow and predictable—after a few false starts, I was able to get into a groove against it and spank him at will, which lead to my being up 2-0 early in the campaign. But Pat refined his army, making it faster (all those Trukks!) and deadlier (all those burnas!), and I think it’s the most effective Ork army I’ve ever seen. It epitomizes the expression “Everything counts in large amounts.” For example, few people sweat Shoota Boyz, but Pat has a large mob that includes four big shootas: this unit can lay down a sickening amount of fire, and even Marines, if they’re forced to roll enough saves, will eventually fail. 

Pat and I are pretty evenly matched, so luck played an enormous factor. While dice rolls are always critical, I believe they were paramount in Battles #7 (a “Take and Hold” mission), #8 (an “Ambush”), #9 (a “Sabotage” mission), #12 (a “Strongpoint” mission), and #15 (another “Take and Hold”). Had we known that those games would be so close, we could have just flipped a coin to determine who won them and saved ourselves a lot of time. The element of chance that was so prevalent throughout the campaign inspired the story in the Epilogue. It really could have gone either way.

The Tigers’ biggest victory, I believe, was Battle #16. I’m really proud of applying myself, minimizing my errors, and pulling off an upset win. After winning that, I didn’t especially care who won the campaign. My biggest defeat, I’m convinced, was Battle #7. Had I won that battle, I would have had 3 objectives to Pat’s 0, and had he lost, he would have conceded. As I mentioned, luck was the turning point in that game, but even so, he did play better and did deserve to win it.

You would think that the Orks’ biggest victory and defeat would be mirror images of the Tigers’, but that’s not so.  For example, though it hurt Pat on a personal level to lose Battle #16, he could afford to lose it and still win the campaign—I HAD to win it to stay in. 

I would say the Orks’ biggest victory was Battle #13, “Midnight at the Oasis.” That’s when the Orks were really at their best and that victory pushed them to a 3-2 lead as far as claiming objectives. Their biggest defeat, in my opinion, was Battle #6, where I beat them at their own game--up close and personal in hand-to-hand combat--and secured a second objective. You can tell Pat’s mood after that game by the tone of the introductory vignette (which he wrote) for Battle #7.

Let me start wrapping this up by taking Pat’s cue and giving you what I think the Good, the Bad, and the Ugly parts of this campaign were.

The Good: The thing I liked best about this campaign was that, for the most part, we were both more concerned with doing stuff that was fun or cool or would make a good story than we were concerned about winning. For example, I had enough fortifications for Battle #14 that I could have literally sealed off the width of the table and guaranteed that Pat’s army would not be able to cross it—but how much fun would that be? Similarly, Pat agreed to shorten the board for Battle #9 to give my foot troopers a better chance of reaching the objective, even though I would have gone up 3-0 had I won.

The Bad: I agree with Pat. The campaign just went on too darn long. The whole “volleyball” approach (described previously) was interesting, but became wearisome because Pat and I are so evenly matched as players. If I had to do the campaign all over again, I’d keep the “volleyball” aspect but shorten the victory conditions: first player to achieve 3 out of 5 objectives wins the campaign.

The Ugly: Campaigns can bring out the hyper-competitive a**hole in anyone, even old friends like Pat and I.  As I said, most of the time we weren’t that concerned about winning, but sometimes either he or I would quibble over a rule, get pissy, or make a snide comment when we were losing. Hell, I managed to get ugly before a game (Battle #17) even began! 

If—like me—you put a lot of planning and emotion into your 40K games, it’s only natural to want to win. But win without being a jerk. Remember that it’s not worth winning a campaign if you lose a friend. Rein in any ruthless tendencies and nasty emotions you might have--the fighting's supposed to be between armies, not players. Cut the other guy some slack. And a little gaming etiquette goes a long way. 

In any event, Auros IX is still in the hands of the Orks—at least for now. Currently, we are planning a new campaign which will pit Pat’s Space Wolves (under the command of Ferin Ironhammer, found in the story Tigers Eternal and as a Themed Army Idea) against my Kabal of the Ozone Scorpions (found in the story The Gray Tiger and as a Themed Army Idea). The Wolf-Scorpion campaign will be much shorter, more structured, and will experiment with a lot of different ideas. We’ll be starting that early in 2002, and it will be called Tooth and Claw.

After that, we’re probably going to come back to Auros IX for an Ork-vs-Ork campaign as Sho-T BigHed vows vengeance against Speedo the Big Mek. And who knows? Maybe someday the Tigers will try again to take Auros IX. 

In closing, I'd like to congratulate Pat--he was the better player and deserved to win the campaign. 
 
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The Blood Deserts of Auros IX
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© Copyright Patrick Eibel and Kenton Kilgore, October 2001
 

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Fighting Tigers:
Codex <> Tactics <> Gallery <> Allies and Enemies <> Tales of the Tigers

Other Pages:
Main <> What's New <> Site Index <> The Tiger Roars <> Themed Army Ideas
Events and Battle Reports <> Campaigns <> Terrain <> FAQ <> Beyond the Jungle