For almost 20 years, my family and I have been good friends with our neighbors across the street, the Becker’s. Our kids are close in age, and have grown up together like siblings. The two “Becker Boys”—Nathan (19) and Dylan (18)—are ardent video gamers, but haven’t been interested in 40K, despite knowing for years that I play.
“Haven’t been interested,” that is, until Nate went off to college, found some friends who are into it, and came back home raving to his little brother about how cool it is. So, this summer, I taught them the rules, gave them tips on collecting and painting, and helped them acquire their very own armies.
My older daughter Beth started an army—the Aquamarines—many years ago, then got too busy for it when she went off to college. She graciously gifted it to the boys, and we soon set started playing some demo games, the two of them against me, to learn about moving figures, shooting, and close combat (we skipped psychics and vehicles, at least, at first).
Breaking in the Newbies
The boys’ first real bout was their Aquamarine force vs. Yblis’ Centurions, my Necron army that I bought from my pal Pat in 2003 and expanded upon. The young masters brought:
- Chaplain + Squad of 5 Tactical Marines
- Two squads of 10 Tactical Marines each
- Two squads of 5 Space Marine Scouts each
- Squad of 5 Devastators (heavy bolters and missile launchers)
- Two Land Speeders w/ heavy bolters and assault cannons
- Overlord Lucifer 1.1
- Three squads of 15 Necron Warriors each
- Three Destroyers
- One Heavy Destroyer
Instead of using points, which is just too down in the weeds when you’re starting out, we used Power Rankings. Nate and Dylan’s collection came to a PR of 58, so I brought the same.
We played at my house, on a 4′ by 6′ table with lots of jungle scenery, including a way-cool waterfall and river that my friend and #1 Jungle Fanboy Luis gave me years ago.
The mission was simple: hold at least two of the three objectives (a pair of Necron mini-pyramids, one on each flank; and in the center of the board, a hatch to an underground lab, a la the 2000’s TV show Lost).
Beneath the skull-mask of his helmet, Chaplain Jennings scowled. Yesterday, his Scouts had transmitted the location of the xeno-tech that the Aquamarines had been tasked to find here on the uninhabited planet Tyeryx’s Dyvue, and he had ordered his men forward through the jungle to rendezvous with them. But mere minutes ago, as Jennings and his force were closing on their objectives, the Scouts had signaled again: the Aquamarines were no longer alone, a group of Necrons suddenly appearing to challenge them for their prizes.
If there were any xenos that Jennings hated—and, of course, as an Adeptus Astartes Chaplain, he hated all of them—it was the Necrons he hated most.
Hated the halting, jerking way they lurched about. Hated their buzzing, idiot voices that could only mindlessly repeat the commands their Overlords issued. Hated their glowing photovoltaic eyes and the clattering they made as they tried to knit themselves back together after Jennings would smash them with his crozius arcanum. He found it particularly gratifying to stamp and crush their circuits and sprockets under his armored boots once he had swatted them to the ground. Filthy xenos!
Coming out of heavy jungle and into more open terrain, Jennings split his force in three. To his right, a Tactical Squad and a Land Speeder was to support the Scouts who had taken one small pyramid. To his left, another Tactical Squad and a Speeder, backed by the firepower of a Devastator Squad at the top of a waterfall, would seize another pyramid. And in the center, he and his 5-man bodyguard would take and open the hatch.
Arrayed across the field were dozens of Warriors, led by an Overlord bearing a Staff of Light. On Jennings’ left were more Warriors, reinforced by Destroyers and a Heavy Destroyer. The mobile Necrons zipped ahead as the Warriors tramped forward into the cover of trees, then held their ground. Waiting.
“Forward! Fire at will!” Jennings commanded. “Concentrate heavy weaponry on the Destroyers—Speeders, assist as needed.”
As the Aquamarines advanced, the Warriors and Destroyers opened fire, killing several Scouts. More fire dropped many Tactical- and Devastator troopers on Jennings’ left, as well as the Speeder on his right, and his own bodyguards. The Necron fusillade was so intense that Jennings himself had to take shelter behind the huge metal dome that was the hatch.
The Aquamarines returned fire, downing and disabling most of the Destroyers, but doing little against the entrenched Warriors. Still, the Tactical Marines slogged forward.
Seemingly believing that they were winning this war of attrition, Overlord Lucifer 1.1 waved for his automatons to move forward and seize the objectives, firing as they came.
Chaplain Jennings and the severely depleted Aquamarines charged into the Necron ranks.
Jennings found himself surrounded by Warriors, but Sergeant-Brother Campbell and his men came to his aid.
They were few, but enough, bolt pistols blazing, chainswords ripping, power fists crushing, Jennings exhorting them on as he swung again and again.
Swatting Aquamarines aside as if they were pests, Overlord Lucifer trudged toward the hatch. He was intercepted by the surviving Land Speeder, who riddled him with heavy bolter and assault cannon shells.
Shrugging these off, Lucifer charged, his Staff of Light smashing into the Speeder’s carapace again and again, but he could not destroy it. While he was engaged, two Tactical Marines took up firing positions behind the hatch, willing to sell their lives to secure it.
Despite the Warriors’ numbers, the Aquamarines prevailed, driving back the Necrons, and claiming two of the prizes they had come for.
“Let’s finish up,” Jennings said, keeping an eye on the retreating Necrons as his surviving men regrouped, avoiding the giant white bear that been lurking in a thicket of jungle trees. Sergeant-Brother Campbell knelt and placed the sacred krak grenade charges around the perimeter of the hatch.
Rising to his feet, Campbell asked, “Chaplain, did you notice these?” He pointed to the numerals etched into the surface of the hatch: 4, 8, 15, 16, 23, 42.
“They’re nothing,” Jennings replied, stepping back. “Blow it open.”
For an intro game, that was a blast! Nate and Dylan may be new to 40K, but they’re veterans of combat video games like Call of Duty and Fortnite, so they knew strategy and tactics. Like Lucifer, I underestimated them, and paid for it.
I’m also out of practice with my Destroyers. I placed them too far to my right, and after they dealt with the Devastators and the Tacticals on that flank, there was little they could do to contribute to the firefight in the middle of the board.
This game marks the last appearance of Chaplain Jennings and the Aquamarines: the boys wanted their own force, so they stripped the figures and repainted them in a black-and-silver scheme. I’ll show you them next time, when the “Beckermarines” take on the Kurindans.