The Fabulous Orcboy’s NovaCon 2023 Diary (Part 4)

Ken Lacy
  • Read Part 1 of The Fabulous Orcboy’s NovaCon 2023 Diary here
  • Read Part 2 here
  • Read Part 3 here

After my first (disastrous) game, I got into my car, carefully wove my way out of the most preposterous underground garage I’d ever seen, then promptly took three wrong turns in the dark, requiring two pull overs (to park and double-check the map) before I finally escaped downtown Washington DC and got to my home-stay out in (appropriately) NoVa. Not wanting to repeat that excruciating driving experience on the following day, I instead took the sensible option: riding the DC Metro into the city, taking the Silver Line to Farragut West and then getting out and walking north to the convention location.

Okay, sure, the closest station to the convention was Dupont Circle, but on the weekend that’s a long wait for a transfer, either at Farragut West and then walking NEARLY HALF THE DISTANCE ANYWAY to get on the transfer at Farragut North, or just going one further stop on the Silver Line to Metro Central and then walking up and down two staircases and an escalator and…

… suffice to say, it was simpler just to walk an extra block or three. Plus, I got to check out all the nearby dining options (of which there are more than several!) on the way to NovaCon. As noted previously, this commute is why I chose to bring the Sisters of Battle, which pack neatly into three slim Chessex Miniature Cases that fit into a single gym bag, with plenty of space for dice, tape measures, and whatever convention goodies I might pick up.

One brisk walk (and a looooooooong wait for breakfast sandwiches, I always forget how incredibly slow every place in the United States is, compared to New York deli speeds), and I was ready fifteen minutes early for check-in and for my second game of the Narrative Campaign.

….and then nearly an hour later (this was definitely a VERY RELAXED event!) I found myself facing my most cheerful and upbeat opponent the entire weekend, a garrulous fellow named Sharvel (“rhymes with Carvel, like the ice cream!”). He had a beautiful blue-and-gold Necron army, and was facing 1500-points of my “anti-Marine” list above – yes, I realize Necrons are not actually Marine-boys, but T4 and 3+ wounds are close enough for shooting purposes.

Game Two (1500 pts)

Opponent: Sharvel (Necrons)

My List: Anointed Angel Mandate (Inquisitor+Sisters+Immolator, 2x Novitiates, 2x Dominions+Immolator, 3x Exorcists)

Table: Parthus Tohllus – Mountain Ziggurat

Planetary Objectives: Zones around seven specific statue terrain pieces, three in defender’s zone, four in no-man’s land, none in attacker’s deployment zone.

Battlefield Objective: Defender’s Warlord starts deployed on dais between two objectives in deployment zone. At end of every Attacker movement turn, so long as defender Warlord is on dais, every attacker unit within 6″ of an objective sustains D3 mortal wounds, and defender gains D6 BV, +1 BV for every objective that still exists.  Attacker can have a unit forgo advance/shoot/charge in their turn in order to destroy an objective for +3 BV. Attacker gains +15 BV if enemy Warlord dies.

Campaign Objective: At end of your Movement Phase, if you control at least two no-man’s land objectives; gain+5 VP

The Oscar statues are the objectives in this game. And they can fire LASER BEAMS out of their eyes.

Sharvel was fielding:

  • A Hexmark gunslinger with Hollywood Western pistoleros
  • A Destroyer Lord with Resurrection shenanigans
  • A unit of 6 Destroyers
  • Two units of 3 Heavy Destroyers with big shooty tank-killer guns
  • A unit of 3 Tomb Blades, and a chonky unit of 6 Tomb Blades
  • Two units of Deathmark snipers (in Reserve)
  • All this firepower was in support of his 10th Edition Necron Death Star:
  • A Canoptek Reanimator, strolling along next to:
  • His Warlord with Resurrection shenanigans, accompanied by:
  • A whole posse of Warscythes
  • Plus two unit upgrade sub-characters with their own Resurrection shenanigans
  • AND a campaign bonus tagging along behind: An Ork Warboss in Mega-Armor.

An honest-to-goodness Ork Warboss. Because honestly, why not? Oy vey.

Just a solid wall of rejuvenating Trade Federation Battle Droids. I mean Cybermen. Robot Death Star can be seen at the bottom.

Having learned my lesson in my previous game against the Chaos Marine Death Star, I did the strategic and practical thing: promptly ignored the damn thing, and focused on blasting everything else as aggressively as possible.

The scenario called for the defender to set up their Warlord on a massive pentagram in their backfield, with the game played along the length of the table, not the width. Given that Sharvel had two sniper units with him, I kept only half of the Sisters of Battle retinue with Inquisitor Powers in the backfield, and put the other five models into the Immolator.  Completely forgetting that the Necrons DO have a few long-ranged firepower units, and a small retinue in the open (standing on top of a big old flat stone pentagram) is easily shot up. Fortunately, this didn’t end up mattering, but in hindsight I should have kept a full ten ablative wounds… I mean loyal Sororitas… back with my Warlord for just this contingency.

Inquisitor Powers towards the top of the image, summoning the… ummm… divine light of the Emperor!  Yeah, that’s the ticket.

I also threw a unit of Novitiates on top of the pentagram as a forward screen for my Warlord’s Retinue, then set up two half-units of Dominions on ruins near my back line, with another Novitiate unit on my flank. In other words, without even realizing it, I had already internalized the fact that my Novitiates were about as useful — or somewhat less useful than! – two half-squads of Sororitas carrying just boltguns.

Really, Noviatiates are utter trash. Have I mentioned how incredibly substandard they are, both in terms of their statline, as well as their armament and their datasheet abilities? They are incredibly, horribly substandard. They are just utter trash. I mean, have I told you how incredibly substandard they are, both in terms of…?

Well, you get the idea. At any rate, I placed my six vehicles (three Exorcists and three Immolators) on the flanks, ready to get good firing angles on the Necrons, but started the first turn hiding all my vehicles behind the rocky ridge that neatly bisected the game-board in two. And with six low profile Rhino-chassis vehicles, I easily had them out of line-of-sight from all of the Necron firepower.

As the attacker, Sharvel got first turn, and promptly made his first significant error: he hung back with his Destroyers, instead of being more aggressive and pushing them up to maximize firing angles. I suspect he did not realize that my Exorcists could fire indirectly, as well as move twelve inches and easily fire from a new angle.

He also moved up to capture two of the four objectives that placed across the middle of the table – triggering my Warlord’s special “board” ability – by sacrificing his Shooting and Fighting phases, Inquisitor Powers could trigger a destructive energy burst from any intact objective (all modeled as giant stone statues), within a limited radius… and by moving up to capture those objectives, Sharvel was now within range of that destructive burst. Granted, Sharvel’s Necrons had all sorts of Resurrection abilities to call on, but after resuscitating as many bone-boys as he could, he had still lost two Tomb Blades, net, and eaten up a Command Point or two.

Sharvel rather sourly seized control of those two objectives (Victory Points!), but then faced another dilemma: destroying those objectives would cost the capturing unit their Shooting and Fighting phase that turn! For the Warscythes on his left flank, this was an easy decision: there were no Sisters nearby to charge into, so with a mighty series of sizzling <crack> noises, the ancient statue fell to the ground in a dozen pieces (more points!).

On the other flank, however, the Tomb Blades decided to unload on the nearest Immolator they could see… and did just a handful of Wounds. The Heavy Destroyers drifted forward just enough to get a shot on an Exorcist and… failed to drop it, between poor rolls and FAITH IN THE EMPEROR!!! (Invulnerable Saves).

And with that, it was time for the Sisters of Battle to get to work.  As expected, the six Sororitas vehicles shuffled around, keeping the bulk of Sharvel’s destroyers from easily gaining Line of Sight. Then they opened fire, and one of his units of heavy destroyers… evaporated.  As did most of the Tomb Blades.  As a long-time 40K gamer, I knew that the way to deal with Resurrection nonsense was to focus-fire on individual Necron units and wipe them out completely, before shifting focus to a different unit.  Sharvel’s heavy firepower had just vanished, as had most of his right flank.

That blank space in the middle of all the Sisters once was filled with a large unit of Tomb Blades

Sharvel then made his second mistake of the game: he forgot that he had Deathmark snipers in reserve, and instead moved forward with his forces, sliding his Destroyers forward onto the middle two objectives, planning to destroy them and not only prevent their use as pulses of destruction, turn after turn – but also prevent my gaining Victory Points from them, as I gained a bonus for each that still stood, turn after turn. 

After suffering heavy losses (Inquisitor powers was inspired, rolling snake-eyes on the 2d3 roll and inflicting SIX Mortal Wounds to his now not-so-chunky unit of Destroyers), Sharvel sacrificed the rest of the Destroyers’ turn (they were all out of LOS anyway) in order to capture and then tear apart two more objective statues (more Victory Points for him!)

The bottom of the second turn saw me wipe out the rest of Sharvel’s Tomb Blades and Heavy Destroyers, and nearly all of his Destroyers. I had previously dismounted one half-unit of Dominions, and now scrambled them up onto the rocky ridge in the middle of the board, taking pot-shots at his Canoptek Reanimator, rolling well enough to blow the machine to kingdom come with a flurry of Miracle dice-guided meltagun shots. 

The Death Star had lost the most vulnerable part of their Reanimation Shenanigans… but was still, I realized, much too punchy for me to realistically go after. Yet even with the Sororitas so close by, the Necron Death Star refused to take the bait and assault them – Sharvel was not going to have his Warscythes stuck on and around a giant piece of difficult terrain in the middle of the table for a good chunk of the game, sucking up ranged firepower for an extra turn or two.

Turn Three was very fast, as there weren’t many Necron units left. Sharvel brought in his tardy Deathmarks and advanced (ran!) up with the Warscythes, getting into a solid charge distance on my Warlord (the Inquisitor Austin Powers) the following turn. He also advanced one of his characters, the Necron gunslinger, into range of the last objective in the middle of the board, and shot it apart in an explosion of pistol fire (sacrificing the remainder of his turn). 

And then… well, then Sharvel made his third major mistake of the match. He was so fixated on charging in and chopping up my Warlord with his Death Star that he forgot to snipe the fellow with his 10 nearby sniper models that had just popped out of the nearby woods on my left flank. 


Just in case the Necron snipers remember that they are snipers, I move an Immolator up to provide Inquisitor Powers with some partial cover

In all, with so little of Sharvel’s ranged firepower left, I took some minimal damage on my units (at this point, I had not fully lost any Sororitas units yet this game, despite having taken damage to my vehicles and front-line squads), and in response, I shifted some units around to act as “speed bumps” for his Death Star. I also shot up and assaulted the hapless Deathmark snipers with some Novitiates and a half-squad of Dominions, as I was fairly confident that neither of us would win these slap-fests, and it would tie up those snipers for the rest of the game.

Elsewhere on the table, I raced forward with my three transports, and poured the bulk of my mobile firepower into his remaining Destroyers and characters (again, ignoring the Death Star). That’s when I learned that his Necron gunslinger character model could not just absorb a few shots aimed at the remaining Tomb Blades – but that he was begging to get shot up specifically to trigger his special rule and return fire with retaliatory strikes.  Although he could only shoot back if I shot him first — therefore encouraging me to simply ignore him for the remainder of the game – it also meant that the annoying bastard could deliberately blew a hole in my “speedbumps” of Sororitas models that had been blocking an easy charge lane to my Warlord. 

The Warlord that was standing right in the open on top of a giant stone pentagram, and was worth a tasty, juicy bundle of victory points. Oh dear. 

That thin line of Sisters standing in the way of the Necron Death Star… that’s about to get blown to shreds by a Necron character.

At least the rest of the Destroyers had been wiped out, and all that was left was the Death Star and the Death Marks. Cold comfort for Inquisitor Powers, however, who was mobbed by Warscythes pouring forward (doing a multi-unit charge through the “hole” in my infantry screen) and chopping him down with a vengeance in the middle of Turn Four.

At that point, the game was called for time. We had been playing over three hours, although granted a large chunk of that time had been set-up, rereading the mission rules, then double-checking the set-up, then figuring out how to apply the somewhat confusing mission special rules – for example, the objectives had a different radius for control (3″ distance or less) and damage effects (6″ distance or less). Still lots of fun, mostly thanks to Sharvel’s good cheer, and also the fact that the Sisters were performing more or less as I had hoped and planned.

We quickly gamed out the rest of the turns: unless the Death Star deliberately went after my two units of 3+ save ranged combat humans slapping ineffectually at his two units of 3+ save ranged combat Deathmarks, that was a fight that would probably last until the heat-death of the universe. I had the vast bulk of my units left (at this point, had only lost the Warlock, half his retinue, another half-squad of Dominions, and some Novitiates), so I could easily tape down the trigger on my remaining guns and blast his two solo characters to oblivion. And even if I focus-fired on his Warscythes, I just wasn’t going to do much damage there; they’d just do more Necron Resurrection shenanigans and keep trucking until the end of Turns 5 or 6. 

So we assumed that Sharvel would ultimately capture and destroy six of the seven objectives (his Death Star was too far away to go after the seventh, which was off to my right flank and being held by a half-unit of Battle Sisters), while I would retain one intact objective. Squeezy lemons.

Final score: Sororitas won on Planetary Objectives. Sharvel only controlled more objectives than me on one turn (the gamed-out Turn 5), when he had control of two objectives to my one… right before he destroyed them both. In every other turn, I comfortably held more objectives.

Sororitas also won on Battlefield Objectives, although just barely. Because Sharvel hadn’t taken out Inquisitor Powers until AFTER his fourth Movement Phase, and I’d rolled high for the four turns that Powers had remained on the pentagram, I’d accumulated 35 total Victory Points. Sharvel fell just two points shy of that total (33 points, for killing my Warlord and destroying six objectives). Messing up (twice!) with his Deathmarks had cost him!

Finally, Sororitas had lost decisively on Campaign Objectives: I had never controlled the no-man’s land objectives even once, as the Necrons had immediately jumped on them and then destroyed them as they moved past.

So in the end, a split decision! Next time, I’ll tell you about my battle against Keegan’s Orks.