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The Blood Deserts of Auros IX
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The Blood Deserts
of Auros IX: Battle Summaries (Battle #16)
Battle #16: All
the Marbles (Part 1) (6300
points per side)
The time was right for a big scrap against the Stripies. With the antenny scavaged from the wreckage of a captured Marine Rhino, Sho-T had been able to contact the remaining Ork bands in hiding across Auros IX. Winning back their loyalty with bellicose oratory, he had directed them to a series of ancient, narrow tunnels his Kommandos had recently found, tunnels that would allow the Orks to slip boyz through the Fighting Tiger cordon that had kept Sho-T’s army hemmed in for the last several months. With the scattered mobz and Speedo’s Speed Freaks, Sho-T’s force had increased to twice its size.
Pleasuring in the whirr-stomp, whirr-stomp of the armor, Sho-T strode over to where Sprokkits, his other Mek, was painting up a new Battlewagon. “Sprokkits, lad, it won’t be long now. We’z got to have everyting ready real soon for da big battle.”
Sprokkits turned excitedly from the tank, “I’ve been working on some new gunz, Boss. I tink yoo…”
Sho-T cuffed Sprokkits upside the head, knocking from the ladder he was standing on and sending the poor Mekboy sprawling on the blood red sand. Sho-T bent real low over him. “Now is not da time fer any of yer clever invenshuns, boy. Just make sure all the trukks are ready to go and do it real fast, see. Dat’s all yoo need to do. Got it?”
“Yeah, Boss, I got it,” Sprokkits whimpered.
Sho-T stomped off. Dat idjit is always tryin’ ta mess up da plan, he thought. Of course, he really didn’t have a plan yet, but he knew the time had come to make a major push to end this thing. He was going to need the help of his Krew to get the Waaaagh in shape in time for the Big Battle. He went to where his Kaptin Krew—Pauli, Kristo, Ralfi, Big Pus, Silvio, Junior, and Rokko—were sitting and eating squigs.
“Boyz,” Sho-T said, “we gotta figger out what to do ‘bout dose Stripies once and fer all.”
WHAT WE DID DIFFERENTLY: Pat and I have been playing the campaign for over a year and a half and we’ve come to the conclusion that as players, we’re too evenly matched to continue fighting the campaign using the original parameters. Despite our best efforts, winning the initiative and then winning the following game to claim an objective has been like pulling teeth: slow, painful, and a lot of hard work. Just when you think you’re getting somewhere, the other guy pulls off a win, regaining the initiative and putting you back at Square One. While the campaign has been fun, it has to end sometime!
It’s always been a dream of mine to use my entire Fighting Tiger army at once, and Pat was more than happy to accommodate. This mega-battle was to be a “jump ball” scenario (like Midnight at the Oasis): if Pat won, he would claim a fourth objective and I would concede. If I won, I would claim a third objective and we would fight one more game as a tiebreaker. The mission was “First Blood” from White Dwarf #235.
Each player would play with (more or less) their entire army, 6300 points per side. The scenario we were using allowed Reserves, so we tried the new Reserves rules from White Dwarf #256. That is, half of our reserves (rounded up) would come on each turn, and we would decide which units. So in a game where you had 10 units in reserves, 5 would come on in Turn 2, 3 would arrive on Turn 3, 1 in Turn 4, and 1 in Turn 5. Instead rolling randomly to see which units should up, you choose.
One more change: neither Pat nor I are big fans of the Night Fighting rules, so we amended the “First Blood” scenario so that Night Fighting ended after the first two turns. Otherwise, checking to see how far each unit could see and fire could become pretty tedious.
Raja Shamshir Talatra (Force Commander on Bike)Included in this list were a few new things I’ve recently added and wanted to try out. When Codex: Armageddon came out, I resisted the urge to get an Emperor’s Champion for the Fighting Tigers. I changed my mind, however, when my pal Greg Fougere was kind enough to make, paint, and give me the figure which I thought would be an excellent EC. I planned on using the Emperor’s Champion to call out and cut down the wily, elusive, and deadly Warboss Sho-T BigHed.
Another new unit was my squad of six Gray Tigers (below). Gray Tigers are disgraced Fighting Tigers who have been expelled from the Chapter for failing to uphold the hundreds of sacred vows and beliefs that all Tigers share. They seek to redeem themselves by valiant deeds or die in the attempt. With minimal wargear, Gray Tigers are almost expendable—my plan for them was to throw them into the thick of the fight and see what they could take down before they perished.
I’ve also added 10 “Tactical” Scouts in two squads. I recently received some free i-Kore figures that I thought would make excellent models, so I converted them and painted them up. Each squad has 3 Scouts with bolters, 1 Scout with an autocannon (“BOOM, baby!”), and a Veteran Scout Sergeant armed with a bolter-flamer. I had some success with them in Battle #15 and I wanted another run with them, this time with all 10. Each squad would “leapfrog” down the field, one moving while the other “covered” them, until they were both in good firing positions.
My friend Paul Hill loves Predators and takes at least two of them into every battle. I concur that they are extremely effective, but I already have eight Heavy Support units and certainly don’t need more. So while I was at Borderlands in South Carolina for Spring Offensive, I decided to pick up some “poor man’s Predators”: two Razorbacks armed with twin-linked lascannons. They don’t have the armor of a proper Pred, nor the firepower, but they are cheaper (pointswise), can be used as transports for my 5-strong Tactical or Devastator Squads, and don’t take up any Force Organization slots. So I brought them to play for “All the Marbles.”
Astute Fighting Tiger Fanboys will notice the conspicuous absence of Raja Khandar Madu (at right), her bodyguard, and her Razorback transport “Maneater IV”). I had originally intended to bring them but that would have jacked the points total up to around 6800. So alas, “The Redhead” had to sit out this one.
Sho T's Blood Axes:
Warbuggy Squadron: 3 w/ rokkit launchas
Speedo's Kult Of Speed
Stormboyz: 14 + Nob
Looted BasiliskNo real surprises for me here: I’m painfully familiar with Pat’s Ork army. The Outriders and the Guntrukks were the new elements, although for variety, one of Pat’s Battlewagons boasted a Lobba.
The game was
delayed for about a month while I moved into my new home and set up my
garage as a gaming room (now I finally have space for my armies, my scenery,
and my gaming tables). So what happened?
POST-GAME ANALYSIS: Here are our thoughts.
New Reserve rules: I hated the old Reserves rules. I’ve lost count of how many times they’ve cost me games. In my opinion, having forces in reserves is like fighting with one hand tied behind your back: it’s okay if the other guy has his hand tied too, but in some scenarios just one person has reserves— and usually that person gets tooled. I’ve seen and been in plenty of games where units showed up too early, too late, or in such piecemeal fashion that they contributed little to nothing. Reserves suck!
The new rules, however, are great. With them, you can actually plan and coordinate an attack, not rely on the fickle whims of the dice. We both used the new rules to great effect. One thing we found invaluable was to make up a list of which units would come on the board during certain turns. Not only did the lists make deployment easier, faster, and more effective, they also came in handy later on in the game when we were trying to keep track of what units had acted. Thanks to my pal Scott Mallinson for suggesting it!
About half of Pat’s army is made up of Speed Freeks, who can start bringing on reserves in Turn 1. So he sent his “slow” Speed Freeks (those with a movement of 12", like Bikes and Dethkoptas) out on Turn 1 and followed them up with his “fast” Freeks (those with a movement of 24", like Trukks and Buggies) on Turn 2. This tactic helped him alleviate the problem Speed Freek armies have: namely, that they are prone to being split into two waves that are then separately destroyed.
Knowing that Pat’s army would come on like a flood, I wanted my first wave of reserves (coming on the board at Turn 2) to have a lot of firepower that could stop his vehicles cold. Because they can move and shoot, vehicles were the obvious choice. My first wave of Reserves included:
One last thing I should mention about the new Reserve rules: they made fighting such a colossal game a lot easier. I thought for sure that the game would run so long that we would have to fight it over two days, but actually we played it, at a casual pace, in about seven hours. That includes time spent on beer and soda refills, bathroom breaks, trash talk, rule quibbles, and post-game analysis. Though the battle involved 6300 points a side, neither of us actually had the full 6300 points on the board at any time, as units not on the board were either waiting to come on or had already been destroyed. I hate to think of how long a game this size would take if everything had been on table at the beginning of Turn 1!
New Tiger units: The Emperor’s Champion did indeed challenge Sho-T and fight him for two turns, but I used the Black Sword as a power weapon and only inflicted two Wounds on the Warboss. Rama’s Iron Halo saved him during the first round, but not the second, and Sho-T continued to fight. I went with using the sword one-handed for the extra attack with the bolt pistol and for going first against Sho-T’s power claw, but in hindsight, I should have used the sword two-handed and killed Sho-T with one hit.
The Gray Tigers are basically a 6-strong Tactical Squad with a plasma gun and Leadership 9, so I wasn’t expecting great things from them. Late in the game, Sho-T and his bodyguard attacked one side of my line, so to slow them down, I threw my “expendable” Gray Tigers at them. The harijan were chewed up, of course, but they did their job and held off the Orks in mega-armor.
The “Tactical Scouts” fulfilled the same role as my Tactical Marines: find a good firing position and kill whatever Ork infantry got within range. Their job was a lot easier because my heavy weapons were destroying Ork vehicles left and right, killing Boyz in the resulting explosions and slowing down the horde. The newbies did well!
Razorbacks: The “poor man’s Predators” did very well for themselves. They came 6" onto the board on Turn 2, dropped off the Devastators inside, and fired at Pat’s Dethkoptas. They then steadily advanced, 6" each turn, firing again and again at Trukks and Killer Kans. Eventually, they were both destroyed (one by a blast from Pat’s Looted Basilisk, the other by tankbusta bombz). But they did their job very well and I’ll use them frequently, especially in small games.
New Ork units: Outriders are PDC: pretty damn cool. Being a Troop choice, Pat could deploy them on the board at the beginning of the game. Outriders are also allowed a free move before the game; combined with the 12" deployment zone and their 12" movement, they were across the board in no time.
A typical Ork tactic is to launch an assault with a fast unit or two to tie up the enemy and distract him while the rest of the Ork horde arrives to finish him off. Pat’s been very successful with this tactic, but I wasn’t going for it today. All the Outriders ran into was a moving wall of tanks—two Land Raiders, two Razorbacks, a Predator—that gunned them down.
The title of
this battle, "All the Marbles," has a double meaning. We were playing with
all the "marbles," or figures, that we owned. And had Pat won, he would
have won "all the marbles": the campaign, that is. Now with three objectives
each, we're on even footing--and the next battle will decide who wins Auros
IX. It won't be another mega-battle, but it will be "All
the Marbles" Part 2.
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© Copyright Patrick
Eibel and Kenton Kilgore, July 2001
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