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Narrative of War
Introduction <> Battle #1 <> Battle #2 <> Battle #3 <> Battle #4 <>  Conclusion

 
The Ongoing Narrative Of War, Battle #2: Fallout by Patrick Eibel and Kenton Kilgore

Deep within the fortress of The Fang is a meeting chamber with a large, round, stone table.  The table is etched to mirror the Annulus, which is carved on the floor of the Great Hall.  The table, like the Annulus, features runes and symbols that represent each of the current Great Companies in the chapter, as well as a black space for the company that is never spoken of.  While the Great Hall is meant for large gatherings of the chapter, this room is meant for meetings of Wolf Lords and other high-ranking Space Wolves.  In the past, a meeting important enough to warrant attendance of all of the Wolf Lords would require that they all be there in person.  In these troubled times, it would be fortunate to have even half of them appear via hologram.

 

Standing in his designated spot, marked with the symbol of the Champions of Fenris, Logan Grimnar, the Great Wolf and leader of the chapter, was silent, head bowed, fists resting heavily on the stone table.  Though he would not reveal his thoughts to any Space Wolf under his command, he was gathering his strength for the meeting to come.  He could almost feel the forces of Chaos threatening his chapter, as if they were a physical presence weighing him down.  It was bad enough that daemons had launched an assault on Fenris, and even now threatened his people, but amidst that threat now came reports of the possible betrayal of one whom they called an ally and friend. 

 

A brief cough announced the arrival of the Wolf Lords that were inside the Fang, and roused Grimnar from his silent reverie.  The image of other Wolf Lords blinked in at their appropriate places around the table, the eerie hologram glow giving the room a ghostly appearance.  Among the attendees not seated at the table were Njal Stormcaller, a few Wolf Priests, and Keric Quicbrand, the Wolf Lord who had been lost in the Warp, and thus no longer had a seat at the table.

 

“Brothers, welcome,” Grimnar began, “I long for the day when we will all be together again in one room to share in each other’s company and a mug of ale.” The Wolf Lords nodded in agreement and rapped their armored fists on the table or the arms of their chairs to show their approval. 

 

“Alas,” Grimnar continued, “such are the times that we have many enemies to confront before we shall all be together again.”  He paused, knowing what he said next would cause an uproar.  “As you all know, we are under attack by forces of Chaos here on our homeworld, an affront that we will not let stand.” More nods and hand rapping.  “But, we have learned that one whom we called friend and ally has fallen from the path of honor, and now is in league with the daemons he once swore to destroy.”  

 

Cries of “Who?” And “No!” began to hum around the table.  Grimnar raised his hands, palms out, to quell the outbursts.  “The former Chapter Master of our age-old ally the Fighting Tigers, Shamshir Talatra, has been seen in battle with shadowy beings of no human mien.”

 

Again, the Wolf Lords responded in shock and denial.  Keric Quicbrand, who had spent much time on the Fighting Tiger homeworld of Veda, stood.  “My Lord. I know Talatra well, and would be honored to…”

The Great Wolf raised his massive hand and stopped the Wolf Lord mid-sentence.  “Nay, Brother Keric.  It is precisely your familiarity with the Tigers that prevents me from sending you on this mission.  The Tigers themselves have cast Talatra out from their ranks, but that is not necessarily an indicator of heresy.  I am tasking Lord Ragnar Blackmane, known for his decisive action and commitment to purpose, to seek out Taltra’s whereabouts and determine the truth.”

 

All eyes shifted to the shimmering hologram of Blackmane.  For his part, Ragnar Blackmane sat with a look of grim determination.  “My liege, I accept your commission and am happy to serve.” 

 

“Let us hope for the best; now, if there is no dissent, let this meeting be adjourned.” Everyone surveyed the room to look for any hesitation, particularly at Keric Quicbrand.  Seeing no dissent, each Wolf Lord once again nodded agreement and banged their hands on the table, even as holograms winked out and attendees rose to leave.

 

Millions of miles away from the Fang, on the bridge of the battle cruiser Bane of Magnus, Ragnar Blackmane watched the holographic feed of the meeting end.  Without turning, he asked the Astropath how soon they would reach the hideout of the renegade Fighting Tiger.

 

“We approach the planet even now, m’lord.”

 

Blackmane nodded.  The meeting that had just ended was a formality, a courtesy to the other Wolf Lords and Keric Quicbrand. Logan Grimnar had sent the location of Shamshir Talatra’s location months ago, and even now the detachment he led prepared for planetfall.

 

Turning to the servitor connected to the communications array, Ragnar Blackmane called for a channel to be established with Talatra’s base.   After a few moments of static, the screen resolved as someone on the other side completed the connection.  Ragnar recognized Talatra from the tell-tale birthmark that stained his forehead.

 

“Commander Talatra, I bid you greetings.”

 

If Shamshir Talatra was surprised by being hailed by the Wolf Lord, he did not show it.  Ragnar could see him consult someone out of view, and then address the screen.  “Ah, Lord Blackmane, your reputation precedes you.  But, I get the feeling you are not here to exchange pleasantries.”

 

“Commander Talatra,” Ragnar continued to use the more generic honorific, rather than the former title Shamshir had when a Fighting Tiger Raja, “I am here to investigate some troubling reports we have received.  I hope that you can provide some clarity.”

 

“I will try and give what help I can, though I cannot imagine what would bring you here.”

 

“Specifically, I am here to inquire about the reports of daemonic creatures seen aiding your army during battle.”

Shamshir Talatra smiled faintly. “I do not consort with daemons.  I have learned ways to call on the ancestral spirits of my people.  Surely, you, as a Space Wolf, are familiar with a chapter’s use of practices that seem heretical to outsiders.”

 

Ragnar Blackmane grimaced.  “The Mark of the Wulfen is not a ‘practice’ we Space Wolves are proud of, but a sad mutation in our geneseed.  It is not the same as calling forth daemons….”

 

“Ancestral spirits….”

 

“You may call them whatever you like, but they are still beings from who-knows-where that seem to bear the taint of Chaos.”  Ragnar paused.  It was time to draw the conversation to its inevitable conclusion. “The time for talking, I believe, is over.  I will be there shortly to end this.”

 

“You are not the first to misunderstand my motives,” Shamshir Talatra sighed.  “I do not wish to engage in hostilities, Lord Blackmane, but if you would bring the fight to me, I must defend myself.  And you will learn more about my army than you would care to, I think.”  

 

His image vanished from the communicator screen.

 



 

 

After some delay (curse this Real Life stuff of having jobs and families!) we’re back with the second battle of our latest campaign.  The first fight—a Kult of Speed versus Dark Eldar—was a real slobberknocker, and this promises to hit just as hard, if not harder.  Space Wolves against Khorne Daemonkin: two close-combat armies who have all sorts of nastiness they can unleash.  But enough gum-flapping—let’s get to it!

 

Space Wolves (1996 points) by Patrick Eibel

The Space Wolves are one of my oldest armies, and I always enjoy the chance to get them on the table.  For this battle, I was excited to get to use Ragnar Blackmane, a model I have owned since Second Edition.

 

The Space Wolf Codex released two years ago did not offer much sizzle or do much to change my army.  However, the Curse of the Wulfen campaign supplement released earlier this year offered some very intriguing new formations.  The Blackmanes Formation, which gives certain units Drop Pods for free, was a no-brainer, and I was itching to try it out in an actual game.

 

The Blackmanes Formation (Primary):

  • Ragnar Blackmane w/ two Fenrisian wolves
  • Wolf Guard Squad w/ six Wolf Guard and a Pack Leader, all with frost swords.  Attached to Ragnar Blackmane, these guys will pack a heavy punch on the charge with +2 Strength from the weapons and Furious Charge
  • Blood Claw Pack 1.  Eight Blood Claws, including one flamer and one power fist, led by a Wolf Guard Battle Leader in Terminator armor, with a combi-melta.  Unit gets a Drop Pod for free!
  • Blood Claw Pack 2.  As above
  • Blood Claw Pack 3.  As above
  • Grey Hunter Pack 1.  Ten Grey Hunters, including two melta guns and a power fist.  The remaining Grey Hunters spend an extra point to pick up an additional close combat weapon.  Unit gets a Drop Pod for free!
  • Grey Hunter Pack 2.  Ten Grey Hunters, including two plasma guns and one plasma pistol. Unit gets a Drop Pod for free (stop me if you’ve heard this before)
  • Land Speeder with multi-melta
  • Land Speeder with multi-melta (the way the formation is set up, Grey Hunters and Land Speeders are in the same slot--Go figure)
  • Long Fang Pack with three missile launchers, one lascannon, and the Ancient.  Unit arrives in the last of the six free Drop Pods

Fangs of the Tempest (Auxiliary):

  • Stormwolf.  To get the detachment benefit of unengaged units being able to counterassault, you need to field an auxiliary formation.  Taking a Flyer that Ragnar and the Wolf Guard could assault from just seemed to make sense.

One of the great things about shuffling the armies we use in this campaign is that I am able to paint up the units I intend to use.  For this battle, I had to put together and paint the Stormwolf Flyer, touch up a few Blood Claws, and finish basing the Terminator squad leaders.  I really love the look of this army, and it contrasts nicely with Kenton’s Tiger guys.  Whatever else may happen, the battle will certainly look good.

 

Fearful Symmetry (1998 points) by Kenton Kilgore

I’ve had this army (which currently uses the rules from Codex: Khorne Daemonkin) for a number of years, but it’s never done very well.  In particular, its last outing was a bit of a disaster, and I was massively unimpressed with the Bloodletters. 

 

Nevertheless, I’ll give it another try, this time eschewing Deep Striking, which my friend and former 40K master Paul Hill rightly notes serves to bring on one’s forces “piecemeal and paralyzed.”  I’m using two detachments, including a number of formations from C:KD, because I’d be a chump not to.  This list has a few differences from the one I used against the Tau, the most significant of which is the addition of a heavy-hitter unit—a very BIG heavy-hitter, at that.    

 

Blood Host Detachment (Primary):

Slaughtercult:

  • Shamshir Talatra.  Counts as Chaos Lord w/ Terminator armor, comb-melta, Panja (counts as combat familiar), Scepter of Shiva (counts as Goredrinker)
  • Greater Rakshasa Pack 1.  Counts as 6 Possessed Marines (they accompany Shamshir)
  • Greater Rakshasa Pack 2.  Counts as 8 Berzerkers; leader (Aspiring Champion) counts as having two lightning claws (they accompany Kumar)
  • Thuggee Squad 0.  Counts as 8 Chaos Cultists: 4 w/ autopistols, 4 w/ autoguns, all w/ close combat weapons
  • Lesser Rakshasas, Pack 1.  Count as 19 Bloodletters
  • Lesser Rakshasas, Pack 2.  Count as 19 Bloodletters

Lord of Slaughter:

  • Great Ghost Tyger. Counts as Bloodthirster of Insensate Rage

War Engine Formation:

  • Bronze Tyger 1.  Counts as Soul Grinder w/ harvester cannon, iron claw, and warp gaze

War Engine Formation:

  • Bronze Tyger 2.  Counts as Soul Grinder w/ harvester cannon, iron claw, and warp gaze

Combined Arms Detachment (Secondary):

  • Inquisitor Varman Kumar (counts as Skulltaker)
  • Thuggee Squad 1.  Counts as 10 Chaos Cultists w/ autopistols and close combat weapons; one has a flamer replacing his autopistol
  • Thuggee Squad 2.  Counts as 10 Chaos Cultists w/ autoguns and close combat weapons; one has a heavy stubber replacing his autopistol
  • Ghost Tygers, Pack 1.  Counts as 6 Flesh Hounds
  • Ghost Tygers, Pack 2.  Counts as 6 Flesh Hounds

As I alluded to, the benefits of the Blood Host Detachment and Slaughtercult are too good to pass up: the Host lets you take a number of formation combinations, and the ‘cult gives you +1 Blood Tithe Point each turn, which you can cash in to pull off various dirty tricks, such as giving your guys Feel No Pain, or summoning freebie reinforcement units.  The ‘cult also gives you Boon of Khorne, which lets you do a second dirty trick (within some parameters) when you cash in your Blood Tithe Points.

 

To make them more likely to survive, I’ve lumped my Bloodletters into two large squads, because while they can hit hard in the Assault Phase, they have to get there first, and T3 and a 5+ Invulnerable Save don’t help with that.  Chaos Cultists are pretty much worthless in combat, but they can take objectives (freeing up my other units to kill the enemy), they’re dirt cheap, and they’re completely expendable: as a matter of fact, I gain Blood Tithe Points every time I lose a unit, so it’s to my benefit to have them get waxed early.

 

The Combined Arms Detachment is there to accommodate the Flesh Hounds, because the Blood Host Detachment won’t let you include them without taking formations I don’t want.  Normally, I eschew special characters, but of the Khorne Daemonkin HQ choices, Skulltaker is effective without being too expensive (the Herald is cheaper, but I’m not wild about it).

 

The 800-pound gorilla….errr…homicidal psycho jungle cat of this list is, of course, the Bloodthirster of Insensate Rage, a Monstrous Flying Creature that may start on the board and immediately begin causing problems for the opposition.  Because a regular Bloodthirster is apparently not enough of a bad mamba jamba, this version is packing a Great Axe of Khorne, which is a Destroyer weapon. 

 

I don’t know if this list is going to win the game for me, but this oughta be good!

 

Setting Up by Kenton Kilgore

Pat and I played at his house, on a 4' x 6’ table where he had arranged the scenery.  We had planned to use the "Averting Disaster" mission from the Curse of the Wulfen supplement, but upon closer inspection, it was not a good fit with what I had brought.  So we rolled randomly and came up with Cloak and Shadows, which I had never played before (to the best of my recollection). 

 

We placed our objectives, and for narrative purposes, we agreed that I should get the end with the most buildings, which would represent Shamshir’s current base of operations.  I won the roll to set up and go first, so I spread my guys around, with two Thugee units holding objectives, and the rest of the army poised to advance and swiftly grab two more.  All of Pat’s army started off the board, because his formation let him do that.

 

Because we’re old and our mental faculties are already failing, we rolled for the Mysterious Objectives before the game rather than as we obtained them, with Objectives 1 and 3 being “Sabotaged” (which we perversely enjoy immensely); Objective 2 was “Nothing of Note;” 4 was a “Targeting Relay;” 5 was “Skyfire”; and 6 was “Scatterfield.”  We also determined that Night Fighting would start the game.

 

Ragnar Blackmane’s Warlord Trait is fixed at Saga of the Warrior Born, which lets him re-roll all failed "to hit rolls" in a challenge.  I rolled Shamshir’s from Codex: Bad Guys Who Wear Too Much Red, and got Icon of War, which let him and friendly units within 12” of him re-roll charge ranges.  Ohhh, hell yes!     

 

Turn 1

In the chilly dark just before dawn, Shamshir Talatra—accompanied, as always, by Panja, the Vedic Great Tyger—surveyed his army.  Once again, the Scepter of Shiva, a holy relic of Veda, had done its work well, summoning scores of the fearsome rakshasas, greater and lesser, to the material world.  Tiger-headed humanoids from Lankapura, a realm outside of time and space, the rakshasas were not, as Shamshir had claimed, “ancestral spirits.”  Indeed, they had terrorized and preyed upon the humans of Veda ever since it was settled, before the Age of Strife.  But no longer.  Now, they served Shamshir.

 

They were, in fact, the vast majority of his forces.  Before, his army had consisted of Space Marines—Loyal and Renegade—whom he had recruited to fight in defense of the Imperium, even if they had been forgotten, exiled, or outlawed by the same.  Recently but not unexpectedly, his more morally-ambiguous followers had coalesced around the strongest of their number, Zykl, and attempted—violently, of course—to unseat him.  So long as Shamshir held the Scepter—and its power to call and command the rakshasas—it was a plan doomed to fail.  But in the tumult, many ardent supporters of Shamshir had been killed, either by the betrayers or by the frenzied Warp entities, the latter of which had made little distinction in the slaughter.

 

All of his Space Marines were gone.  All of them.  To keep waging war on behalf of mankind, Shamshir had been forced to summon more and more rakshasas.  And while they served obediently, Shamshir was under no illusions of their loyalty.  Given the chance, they, too, would turn against him.

 

Almost as unsavory were the Thuggee, human devotees of the Vedic goddess Kali, the Mother Who Eats Her Own Young.  How Inquisitor Varman Kumar, Shamshir’s advisor, had located them and won them over was a mystery to Shamshir.  The Thuggee had long been suppressed on Veda, forced into hiding in the forests and badlands, emerging only to rob and murder and cannibalize the lost, the unwary, and those foolish enough to brave the wild places of Veda without sufficient numbers or armament.  Kumar had been even less reticent about why he had brought this rabble from their homeworld to serve Shamshir, saying merely that they would do so unswervingly, and that, “they have their uses.”    

 

At least Shamshir had the Bronze Tygers, robotic constructs from the first days of the Fighting Tigers’ tenure on Veda, which he had liberated from ancient, forgotten vaults.  And he also held the loyalty of the Ghost Tygers, beneficent spirits drawn from the essence of Veda itself.  Noble, swift, and fierce, the Ghost Tygers were Panja’s kind who continued, even in death, to protect Veda and its people. 

 

Shamshir had summoned them with the Pelt of the Great Man-Eater, another holy relic.  Just a fortnight ago, Shamshir had meditated upon it and learned how to call to him a Great Ghost Tyger, larger than a Land Raider, the mightiest of its kind.  He had some small hope that the approaching Space Wolves would look upon it and decide that further dialogue was called for, but he also knew very well that once the sons of Fenris had decided on a course of action, there was little chance of dissuading them. 

 

Shamshir turned, and all eyes followed his arm as he raised the curved Scepter of Shiva.  “The Space Wolves will arrive any minute now.  Though I have never met their commander, Ragnar Blackmane, I’ve heard of him.  He’s a good Marine, the finest warrior, and loyal to the Emperor.  He and his men are misguided.  They do not understand who we are and why we fight.  They are not the enemy.”

 

“What does that matter?” growled one of the Greater Rakshasas.  A heavily-muscled elite warrior, it stood a foot taller than the regulars, like a Space Marine among Imperial Guardsmen.  It held out its sword, crackling with eldritch energy.  “Enemy or not, we will feast on them.”  

 

“No,” Shamshir said.  “No killing.  Defeat them and drive them away, back to their ships, but let them keep their lives.”  Murmurs and grumbles from the throng.  “This, I command,” Shamshir continued, holding the Saber higher.  

 

As one, the rakshasas knelt in the grass, bowed their heads.   We hear and obey, Raja, said the one that had addressed him previously.

 

Inquisitor Varman Kumar sidled up to Shamshir.  “Compassion is weakness, the Inquisitor whispered, “and the Space Wolves do not suffer from it.  Rescind your order.  Allow the rakshasas to fight to the fullest, delaying our opponents until I can arrange for us to escape.  Otherwise, you have no hope against Blackmane.  If he prevails, the best you can wish for is to be taken in chains to The Fang.  More likely, he will return you to Veda, where your death will take months.” 

 

Panja gave Kumar a low growl.

 

“You often told me to make the wrong choice,” Shamshir replied, “and it’s worked so far.”  He lowered the Scepter.  “Follow me!” he ordered.  The army rose and advanced, Kumar moving away to surround himself with his own guard of Greater Rakshasas.


Space Wolf Grey Hunters dare to face the Great Ghost Tyger


 

Sniffing the ground like a titanic cat, the Great Ghost Tyger came across a small crater where a metal Imperial probe still smoked from its recent entry through the atmosphere.  Moments later, the night sky was slashed by streaks of fire as the Space Wolves’ Drop Pods followed the probe’s beacon.  Six Pods slammed onto the ground nearby, and the Fearful Symmetry had only moments to wait as the hatches blew open and the sons of Fenris emerged. 



Space Wolves touch down in a perfect position to destroy the Bronze Tygers

 

The two meltaguns from the first Gray Hunter unit narrowly missed a Bronze Tyger that the squad had landed behind.  Blood Claws combined the fire of their bolt pistols and a flamer with the storm bolters from two Drop Pods to kill six Thuggee.  Though those cultists kept their nerve, another mob of them panicked and ran after four of their number were set alight by a flamer from another Blood Claw squad.

Blood Claws about to unleash purifying flame against the Lesser Rakshasas


A third Blood Claw pack had landed near a large clump of Lesser Rakshasas, and the Space Wolves’ flamer washed over them, causing nine to disappear back into the Warp; pistol fire from the rest managed to banish only one more.  Gray Hunters fired plasma guns at the Great Ghost Tyger, wounding it twice, but the massive beast endured, roaring its defiance. 

 

Disembarking Long Fangs fired their missile launchers and lascannon at the Great Ghost Tyger as well, but as expected, their shots went wide: the Emperor’s heaviest weapons require one to be still to best use them.  As the beast made to pounce on them, the probe it was standing over released an anti-personnel shrapnel blast, designed to keep saboteurs at bay.  The blast did not harm the Tyger, but ironically, two Gray Hunters nearby fell, casualties of the probe’s friendly fire. 

 

Turn 2

The sun began to rise.  Nearly encircled, most of the Fearful Symmetry surged towards the Space Wolves, while the Ghost Tygers swept around the Wolves’ flank, hoping to attack from an unexpected angle.  While the Thuggee fired ineffectually, the Bronze Tyger turned, mechanical maw widening to reveal a multi-barreled cannon that spewed depleted uranium rounds into the Gray Hunters, taking care (as per Shamshir’s orders) to target only limbs, and not heads or torsos.  One Wolf, bearing a meltagun, fell, blood gushing from where his leg had been blown off below the knee, but he would live to fight again—just no more this day.




Shamshir Talatra leads Panja and his Greater Rakshasas against the Blood Claws


 

Shamshir, Panja, and the Greater Rakshasas who guarded him slogged forward, the former Raja’s bolt weapon firing again and again, dropping one of the Blood Claws before him.  As his companions charged, Shamshir singled out the Wolf Guard Battle Leader who guided the new Fenrisian warriors.

 

“Where’s Blackmane?” Shamshir demanded.

 

“You’ll meet him soon enough.”  The Wolf hefted his sword.  “And you won’t like it.” 

 

“No doubt,” Shamshir said, blocking the squad leader’s swing with the Scepter, then riposting, hacking off the Marine’s arm.  Beside him, Panja’s huge paw smote a Blood Claw on the side of his helmet, stunning him.  Shamshir saw that the Rakshasas had beaten down four Claws, while one of their number had been banished back to the Dark where they came, but the fighting went on.





The valiant Pack Leader of the Gray Hunters steps forward to fight off the monstrous Great Ghost Tyger


 

Ignoring the probe it towered over, the Great Ghost Tyger bounded towards the Gray Hunters, whose plasma gun again seared it.  “Stay back!” their leader commanded them, stepping forward to spare his men and engage the monster on his own.  His axe passed harmlessly through the Tyger, who easily swatted him aside, hurling him into the trunk of a nearby tree, shattering his armor and most of his bones.  The other Hunters converged, but they were no match, three of them crushed underfoot, bleeding and broken, but still alive.





The Fearful Symmetry counterattack



 

At the other end of the field, both Bronze Tygers, metal jaws snapping, moved to engage the Gray Hunters who had landed behind them, but only one ancient robot reached them, smashing the spine of a Fenrisian.  One of their number, armed with a power first, sought to hammer the bronze construct, but was repelled by the force field the Bronze Tyger kept about itself at all times.  Not far from there, the Thuggee who had held their nerve against the Blood Claws charged them, but were easily hacked down, the souls going to propitiate their Dark Mother.





Carnage!


 

Damn, damn, damn, damn, Varman Kumar thought, as he and his bodyguard of Greater Rakshasas thundered towards the Blood Claws that had negated ten of the lesser Warp warriors.  Why does Shamshir have to be so obstinate? Kumar wondered.  Pistol fire caused two of the mightier Rakshasas to wink out of existence, but then they were upon the Space Marines, countering their knife and axe blows, beating them down with claws and hilts of mystic swords.  Their smaller compatriots charged as well, sweeping over and subduing the Blood Claws as Kumar confronted their leader, a burly veteran in Terminator armor.

 

“You fight against forces you don’t understand,” Kumar told him.  “We know that Chaos assails your home world.  Signal your lord, tell him that we have no enmity with him, and that we would gladly battle at your side.”

 

“Lies.  As expected,” the Wolf Guard Battle Leader replied.  His blows were effortless, and Kumar struggled to block them.

 

Damn, the Inquisitor told himself.

 

Another huge explosion from the probe, and this time, some of its lethal ordnance sizzled through the Great Ghost Tyger’s haunch, grieving it.  The blast slew another Gray Hunter, as well.  But then the sky was rent again as a Land Speeder escorted a Stormwolf flyer into the fracas, while Wolf Scouts emerged from the forests nearby.




Wolf Scouts engage the Lesser Rakshasas


Slowing and settling almost to the ground, the Stormwolf’s front hatch opened, Ragnar Blackmane and his guard springing out to confront the Great Ghost Tyger.  The Speeder peeled off and fired its multi-melta at the Bronze Tyger that had its tail turned to it, and though the blast hit and did some damage, the mechanical monster ignored it.  Setting themselves, the Long Fangs fired on the same, their missiles slamming deep into the robot, shorting out its devastating eyebeam weapons.

 

Having delivered its passengers, the Stormwolf fired on one pack of Ghost Tygers, causing one to disappear.  Wolf Scouts fired on the Lesser Rakshasas that had recently finished off the Blood Claws, and three of them went screeching back to the inky blackness of Lankapura.  Storm bolters from Drop Pods fired indiscriminately, slaying two Cultists.

 

“Pull them back!” Ragnar told his guards, pointing to the Gray Hunters fighting for their lives against the Great Ghost Tyger.  “They have no chance.  Leave the beast to me.” 

 

His men knew there was no point in arguing—not that they would have, anyway.  For was not Ragnar among the mightiest of all the living Space Wolves, second only to Logan Grimnar?  Would he not someday rightfully claim the title of Great Wolf?  As their lord ran, grinning, between the massive tiger and its prey, they could not help but pause to watch.




The Stormwolf drops off Ragnar and finds its mechanical prey


 

“‘Ancestral spirits,’ indeed,” Ragnar said, drawing Frostfang, his legendary sword, and motioning back Freki and Geri, his Fenrisian wolves.  “When I’m done with you, monster, I’ll find your master and disabuse him of the idea that his contemptible lies are believable to anyone with more wits than a Snotling.”

 

The Tyger’s roar threatened to break Ragnar’s eardrums, and the ground beneath Ragnar’s feet trembled as it stamped forward, but the Space Wolf hesitated not a moment in hurling himself forward, slashing with his blade: one hit, two, three, four, five.  The last struck home, deep into the Tyger’s throat, and before it could collapse upon him and crush him, it dissipated into the morning air.

 

The cheer from the Space Wolves who had witnessed Ragnar’s triumph resounded over the battlefield, drowning out the clash of blades and fangs as the Shamshir and his guard battered the last of the Blood Claws they had been fighting.  Not far away, Kumar’s scimitar found a seam in the Terminator armor worn by his opponent, but though wounded, the Wolf Guard fought on.  Elsewhere, the Bronze Tyger knocked out another Grey Hunter, but the one with the power fist struck home.  A few more blows like that, and the metal monster would be destroyed.       

  

Turn 3

As the Rakshasas bent to feed on their fallen foes, Shamshir warned them: “Remember what I said.”

 

“We hear and obey,” the strongest of them replied.  “For as long as you hold that sword.  And no longer.”

 

“Then it’s a good thing it came with a wrist strap,” Shamshir said. “Come on.  There’s more fighting to be done.” 



Blood Claws caught between a rock and a hard place--or between Shamshir and the Bronze Tyger


 

With Shamshir in the lead and Panja at his side, they charged the Gray Hunters that were engaged with the Bronze Tyger, dragging them down and pummeling them into unconsciousness.  Lesser Rakshasas swarmed Ragnar and his Wolf Guard, but the hero slew four by himself and his companions drove the rest back to the Immaterium, but not before they crippled two Wolf Guard. 




Machine-on-machine violence


Snarling, the Ghost Tygers swept around the Space Wolves, taking out the Long Fangs and the Gray Hunters that their larger brother had battled.  The Bronze Tyger that had not been engaged turned and charged the Land Speeder that had fired on it, smashing it in its jaws as the pilot and gunner ejected.  Kumar and the Wolf Guard Battle Leader continued to hack at each other, speed against strength, with neither able to prevail.




"Peek-a-boo!  Now we hurt you!"  Ghost Tygers pounce on the Long Fangs

 

Another Space Wolf Land Speeder rocketed down, multi-melta firing into the throat of the robot that had just destroyed its twin, destroying the cannon there.  The Stormwolf turned and fired on it as well, to no avail.  Drop Pods and Wolf Scouts fired on Shamshir’s group, dismissing two guardians; more storm bolter fire from Pods sent back three more Lesser Rakshasas. 

 

Ragnar led his Wolf Guard against the Ghost Tygers, with Blackmane cleaving four.  The mystic beasts fought back, a mighty bite tearing into the side of one of Ragnar’s companions before the Marines dispatched the others.  Elsewhere, the Wolf Scouts and Blood Claws attempted to charge Shamshir and his Rakshasas, but were not able to reach them. 





Wolf Scouts and Blood Claws close in on Shamshir


 

“This…” Kumar panted, “this is…your last chance.”  He was exhausted, drenched in sweat, but his Wolf Guard opponent, though bleeding freely, seemed unperturbed.  An Inquisitor undergoes years of training, but there is little that can prepare even one of them for melee with a Space Marine, yet alone a veteran Space Wolf.  “I…I don’t want to hurt you.  You’re a good…a good man.  We both serve…the Emperor, and—”

 

“You talk too much,” the Battle Leader said, as Kumar managed somehow to sidestep an axe blow.  “And you won’t hold still and fight like a man.”

 

“I’ll tell you a secret,” Kumar replied, lurching forward and jamming his scimitar through his opponent’s armor, under his ribcage, into one of his hearts.  The Inquisitor grimaced as, with both hands, he wiggled the blade back and forth, finding and lacerating the Marine’s second heart.  He leaned over the Battle Leader as he sunk to the ground.  “I’m not actually a man,” Kumar whispered.  “Not anymore, anyway.”

 

Kumar’s guard of Greater Rakshasas, who had been watching, drew closer.  “Shamshir said no killing,” one of them growled.

“Shamshir is your master,” Kumar replied, wiping his blade on the Space Wolf’s tabard.  “But he’s not mine.”  He hoisted into the air the Pelt of the Great Man-Eater, which the former Raja had entrusted to him.  “Now, be quiet.  This summoning takes a bit of concentration.”

 

Turn 4

The air near Ragnar Blackmane crackled, and the Great Ghost Tyger reappeared, healed, ready once more for battle.  “Od’s blood,” Ragnar muttered, as his men drew back.  Another great cheer went up, this time from the Fearful Symmetry.

 

One Bronze Tyger fired its mouth-mounted gun at the Stormwolf, blowing off its hellfrost cannons, and then charged the flyer as it hovered over the battlefield; its snapping jaws and tremendous paws were not able to rend the transport’s hide.  The other robot Tyger was more successful, charging the second Speeder and wrenching off its multi-melta.  Eager to cut off the Wolves from any escape, the surviving Ghost Tygers and Lesser Rakshasas assailed the closest Drop Pods, wrecking one of them, and heavily damaging another.

 

“Let’s end this idiocy,” Shamshir said, and he, Panja, and the rest of his bodyguard charged the remaining Blood Claws.  The Scepter of Shiva thrumming with power, Shamshir dropped the Wolf Guard Battle Leader, the Rakshasas dealing with three Marines.  Regaining his strength, Kumar and his minions engaged the Wolf Scouts, with the Inquisitor nimbly outdueling the veteran and three Scouts, as the Rakshasas defeated two and had two of their own hurled back into the Warp.

 

“Though their numbers lessen, still they grow stronger,” Ragnar told his Wolf Guard.  “Have our men fall back, but any who can, strike at Shamshir Talatra.”  The order went out, relayed over the Wolves’ comlinks, and the Blood Claws engaged with him redoubled their efforts.  It was for naught, as Shamshir and Panja deftly warded off their blows, then returned them threefold to stand triumphant.

 

Kumar approached him.  “You’ve done well, and bought us enough time.  The Thuggee that I left to prime the Warp Engine tell me that it is ready.  We can be away, and the Wolves will not be able to follow.”

 

“One moment,” the former Raja of Veda replied.  Something crackled in Ragnar’s ear.  “Blackmane, this is Shamshir.”

 

“Where are you?  Let’s settle this, you and me.”  Ragnar began to stamp across the field, toward the buildings that were, presumably, the Fearful Symmetry’s base.  Freki and Geri followed, but when his Guard tried to do the same, Ragnar shook his head at them.

 

“I’m not your enemy,” Shamshir said.

 

“You most assuredly are.”

 

“I have no desire to see more of your men hurt.”

 

“Face me now, and none of them will be.  You’ve fooled no one.  I know what you fight alongside.”

 

“I use evil to battle evil.  Is that so wrong?”

“If you need ask, you already know the answer.”

 

“I didn’t think you’d understand, but it doesn’t matter.  You have your path, I have mine.  Don’t cross it again.”

 

“My Company and I will never give you moment’s peace,” Ragnar growled, coming around a building.  “Now, show yourself!”

 

“I’m right over here,” Shamshir replied.  Ragnar looked to his left, to see the former Raja; the tiger Panja; Kumar; the surviving Thuggee, Rakshasas, and Ghost Tygers; the Bronze Tygers and the reborn Great Ghost Tyger.  “And now I’m not,” Shamshir said, as the group vanished.

 

“I have your scent, Shamshir Talatra,” Ragnar muttered.  “You’ll never escape me.” 



 

Final Score

Fearful Symmetry: 6 Victory Points (5 for Tactical Objectives + Linebreaker)

Space Wolves: 5 Victory Points (3 for Tactical Objectives + First Blood + Linebreaker)




 

Post-Game Analysis by Patrick Eibel

As I stated in the initial write up of the campaign, my goal when putting these campaign games together was to create an interesting narrative and add to the backstory of our armies.  As I was reading over the write-up of the battle and the fiction pieces we added, I am beyond happy with the results.  This battle had so many freaking epic moments, my favorite being Ragnar stepping up to slay the Bloodthirster and save the remaining Grey Hunters.

 

In the Behind the List article, I note that it would be dangerous to get over-extended with the Drop Pod list.  Sure enough, I set myself up for failure by dropping half my army in the midst of all of Kenton’s close-combat guys.  At the time, I held cards that required taking the two objectives at Kenton’s end of the board, so it seemed to be a good idea.  In retrospect, it was a terrible idea, as I exposed all my units to attack by Kenton’s superior numbers, while not inflicting sufficient casualties in reprisal.  If it were not for Ragnar slicing and dicing everything he came in contact with, I would have lost by far more.  I should have dropped all my units to the front of the Bloodthirster to provide support and make better use of the Detachment benefit of unengaged units being able to counterassault. 

 

With a close game like this coupled with such a compelling story, I know that this will be the start of a fascinating rivalry.  As an additional footnote, usually Kenton and I get together on my birthday for a game.  It was nice to be able to finally reciprocate on his birthday, though I will need to be better about administering the “spankings” in the future.

Thuggee Cultists of Kali are no match against the sons of Fenris!


Post-Game Analysis by Kenton Kilgore

It’s almost a bummer that we had to quit the game early because of my birthday party that night, because it was an excellent time.  Halfway into the game, I didn’t know if I was going to win, but I knew I had developed a keeper of a list.

 

Starting all my forces on the board, lumping the Bloodletters into two huge squads, and bringing the Bloodthirster all turned out to be good decisions.  So, too, was grouping Shamshir with the Possessed, and Kumar with the Berzerkers, and letting them do the heavy lifting in close combat, leaving the Bloodletters to mop up.  I’m really, really happy that Shamshir finally got to kick some butt, because in the most of the games I’ve played, he’s been a non-factor.

 

The Soulgrinders continue to impress me (Pat has rapidly learned to hate those things); the Cultists ably served their purposes (one squad sat on a fortified objective all game until I pulled the card to claim it); and the Flesh Hounds harried the flanks, taking out the Long Fangs and finishing off some Gray Hunters. 

 

Not everything was peaches and cream.  The Skulls For the Skull Throne rule, which requires my characters to challenge other characters, gets tiresome quickly (it doesn’t help that the rules for challenges are as understandable as most of the U.S. federal tax code).  SFTST is also a real drag, because what I really wanted my heavy-hitters (Shamshir, Kumar, the Bloodthirster) to do was to wade into squads and butcher them, but I couldn’t do that without first taking on the squad leader, one-on-one.  As you saw with Kumar, that took quite a while, during which time, his Berzerker buddies were just standing around, doing nothing.

 

In addition, I forgot to Scout the Flesh Hounds.  A regular Bloodthirster of Unfettered Fury would have been more useful than the more expensive (and much slower in combat) ‘thirster of Insensate Rage.  Knowing very well that our game was under a time limit, I nevertheless hoarded my Blood Tithe points until Turn 4, whereupon I summoned a ‘thirster—who did nothing. 

 

Oh, well.  The army performed great, the game was a lot of fun, and I’m looking forward to more!



Ghost Tygers (proxied Flesh Hounds) harry the Gray Hunters

     


Narrative of War
Introduction <> Battle #1 <> Battle #2 <> Battle #3 <> Battle #4 <> Conclusion

Posted December 2016
 

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