Birthday Spankings: Old Friends, New Starts

By Patrick Eibel and Kenton Kilgore

It was only within the last thirty standard solar years that the planet Tondar had been discovered, seized (violently), and settled by Imperial forces. Two years ago, this world had been overwhelmed by a massive Ork Waaagh!, and only within the last few months had the Greenskins been driven from it by the Space Wolves, led by the ancient Dreadnought Ferin Ironhammer.

Before a proper force of Astra Militarum could be sent to secure the planet, the Wolves had been ordered to another warzone, and in that vacuum, the forces of Chaos had struck, drawn to the Warpstone—crystalline hunks of solidified Warp energy—found on Tondar. 

Should the Traitors acquire the Warpstones, their power might be nigh-unlimited. But while the Wolves were gone, the planet was not undefended….

Introduction

Here at the Jungle, we have a fine tradition of getting together on our birthdays for some 40K brutality. We were not able to do so last year—thanks, Grandfather Nurgle!—but with the COVID pandemic easing in our portion of Terra, Pat and I recently got together to celebrate the Big 5-5 for him.

While we were at home and away from the gaming tables in 2020, Games Workshop dropped the Ninth Edition rules, as well as several codices that greatly upped powers and capabilities for those armies.

Because neither of us had played since last year, Pat and I decided to do a smaller battle (75 Power Rating limit), using only forces who have new books. Appropriately enough, Pat chose to break out his Death Guard, while I brought back the Fighting Tigers.

Death Guard (PR: 74) by Patrick Eibel

I have three groups of figures that make up my Chaos forces: Daemon Engines (including Obliterators); Red Corsairs (repurposed generic Marines from my Space Wolves); and Death Guard (grown from half of a starter box).

One good thing that happened over the past year was that I finished painting all my Poxwalkers, so I decided to use just my Death Guard (painted to look like Dusk Raiders). Here is the list:

Shambling Death Battalion:

  • Typhus. As my Warlord, Typhus has the Shamblerot ability. If you don’t see mention of it being used in the battle report, that would be because I forgot about it until writing up the battle report.
  • Death Guard Sorcerer. The converted Lord of Contagion from the Dark Imperium box.
  • Three squads of 14 Poxwalkers each. Almost all from the Dark Imperium box. I have 14 in each squad because 7 is the number of Nurgle.
  • Foetid Bloat-drone w/ 2 plaguespitters.

Decay of Death Vanguard Detachment:

  • Lord of Contagion. I use a really old Typhus model that I got off eBay (a resin knock off), but it still works as a generic Lord.
  • Malignant Plaguecaster. This list really values the Psychic phase.
  • Seven Plague Marines, including Plague Champion w/ a power fist and plague blade; Marine w/ plasma gun; Marine w/ a plague belcher; and Marine w/ an Icon of Despair.
  • Tallyman. And yes, we sang “Come Mr. Tallyman, tally me banana” any time he did something.
  • Noxious Blightbringer. The “bell guy.”
  • Helbrute. I bought this pre-converted from eBay, but then cleaned up the conversion and painted it. I like the twin lascannon/missile launcher combo to try and provide some long range support.

I did not fare too well in 8th Edition, as I think I lost every game I played. This being my first 9th Edition game, I was not overly optimistic about my chances. My main goal was to remember all of the goofy stuff my units did (harder than one might think), remember to use stratagems, and at least provide a good showing.

Fighting Tigers of Veda (PR: 73) by Kenton Kilgore

As I discussed here, I have parceled out my overly-large collection of Fighting Tiger Space Marines (over 250 figures, and about 30 vehicles) into six separate lists, with little overlap among them.

For this battle, I was keen to try out my “Flying Tiger” force, consisting of infantry in Drop Pods, and lots of Land Speeder Tornadoes. As the army is an Outrider detachment, it costs me 3 Command Points, a small price to pay for being able to have 6 Fast Attack slots.

  • Kshatriya Jirbu Ghosh. Space Marine Captain w/ plasma pistol, relic blade, Armor Indomitus. Warlord Trait: Rites of War
  • Gray Tigers. Seven Sternguard Veterans: 5 w/ combi-grav guns, 1 w/ grav-cannon; 1 w/ multi-melta. Drop Pod w/ deathwind launcher.
  • Squad Rudra 1 (Mahaduyana). Ten Tactical Marines: Sergeant w/ lighting claw, combi-grav gun; 1 w/ plasma gun; 1 w/ heavy bolter; 7 w/ bolt guns. Drop Pod w/ storm bolter
  • Squad Rudra 2 (Ghuyarashtra). Ten Tactical Marines: Sergeant w/ power fist, combi-grav gun; 1 w/ melta gun; 1 w/ missile launcher; 7 w/ boltguns. Drop Pod w/ deathwind launcher.
  • Six Land Speeder Tornadoes, each w/ assault cannon and multi-melta, in single units

Chapter Tactics: Long-Range Marksmen (+3″ range to Rapid Fire and Heavy weapons). Stealthy (+1 to saves from ranged attacks from more than 18″ away; n/a to Invulnerable Saves). These come from the 9e Space Marine codex.

Because we were going to use the 9e codices, I knew I would be facing either Space Wolves or Death Guard. The smart way to go for vanilla Space Marines when fighting either is to stand way back and shoot: drop-podding into their midst is a quick and easy way to get a beatdown.

Nevertheless, I was up for a challenge, and if it went pear-shaped, that would leave Pat and me more time for post-game beers….

Setting Up by Kenton Kilgore

We played at Pat’s house, on a 4′ x 4′ table, which is smaller than usual for us. Back when we used point values we played 2000-point games on 4′ x 6′ or even 4′ x 8′ tables, and most of the time, we only used half the space. Because this game was going to be so small, it seemed reasonable to condense.

As is our habit, Pat had set up the scenery ahead of time, and I chose which side I wanted. The table had a mix of buildings, with some craters near one end, and a clump of trees on another. I put exactly zero thought into my choice of deployment zone, and, in retrospect, I would have been better served by taking the other. Ah, well.

Death Guard deployment

For this game, Pat and I were concentrating on using the new, 9e rules and our respective codices, so we didn’t do anything remotely challenging for a mission. The sole objective was a huge chunk of blue stone that Pat has for decoration in his den. Each of us had 12″ deployment zones. Pat won the roll to see who would go first, and decided to make me start.

Like we’ve done for every battle report here on the new-and-improved Equatorial Rainforest, we’re presenting this report in narrative style. So that everyone understands what’s going on, we will, when necessary, explain something in game terms by putting it in [brackets] as an aside to the actual tale.

With that, let’s get to the spankings….

Turn 1

As a force of Death Guard led by the foul Typhus the Traveller, foul Herald of Nurgle, tramped their way toward a particularly large monolith of Warpstone, they paused, heavy-helmeted heads slowly raising to the sky as Drop Pods punched through the atmosphere and slammed to earth nearby, disgorging squads of Space Marines in striped armor.

Fighting Tigers, Typhus realized. He had never encountered them before, but he had heard of them. Allies of the Space Wolves, they had doubtlessly been alerted by them of Tondar’s precarious state, and come to do what the Wolves had not been afforded time to.

Cats sent to clean up a mess left by dogs, Typhus scoffed. He would offer them a “mess” the likes of which they had never seen.

“Fire at will,” ordered Kshatriya Jirbu Ghosh, as she and her accompanying Gray Tigers disembarked from their Drop Pod. The Gray Tigers—also called Harijan—were Fighting Tigers who had failed some aspect of their dharma, or sacred duty. Rather than being dismissed from service or executed, they were offered the chance to redeem themselves through great deeds in battle—or die in the attempt.

Fighting Tigers of Squad Rudra 1, Jatis Mahaduyana, attack!

On the other side of the field, another Drop Pod slammed down, a squad of orange-and-black Tigers of Rudra hurrying out. Behind the two squads, a half dozen Land Speeder Tornadoes took up firing positions, and let loose the fury of the Brahman, the Sleeping Emperor Whose Dreams Shape the Universe.

Bolter fire and grav gun shots combined with assault cannon bursts and multi-melta blasts to slay four Plague Marines and seriously damaged [-8 Wounds] the Death Guard’s Foetid Bloat-drone.

Fighting Tiger Land Speeder Tornadoes

Typhus had long ago ceased to be impressed by any of the original chapters of the dogmatic, doltish-loyal Adeptus Astartes, and he was not inclined to change his opinion for younger, lesser versions such as these so-called “Fighting Tigers.” He and his men plodded forward, the Poxwalkers shambling ahead as an undead shield.

Poxwalkers advance on the Tigers

Fed by the power of the nearby Warpstone, the Malignant PlagueCaster unleashed a Plague Wind on Squad Rudra, striking down one and wounding another. The Sorcerer manifested the Curse of the Lepers on the Gray Tigers, laying low two of them. He Smote another, wounding him.

The Foetid Bloat-drone targets the Gray Tigers and Jirbu Ghosh

The Death Guard fired on the orange-and-black Tactical Marines, gunning down two and wounding another. The Drone unleashed a fusillade at close range on the Gray Tigers, to no avail. Seeking to answer the Tornadoes’ fire, the Helbrute struck twice with its lascannons, but was unable to do more than scorch a Speeder’s paint.

The advancing Death Guard charged the Tactical Marines, the latter’s overwatch fire pattering harmlessly off their armor. The Tallyman wounded a Tiger, and the squad’s Champion killed another, but the Marines held.

At the other end of the field, the Drone rushed the Gray Tigers, but was unable to land a solid blow. As the Gray Tigers struck it down, it exploded, taking one of the Harijan with it.

Turn 2

Another Drop Pod screamed down nearby, a squad of mustard-yellow and brown Fighting Tigers emerging from it as the orange-and-black Tactical Marines fell back. One Tornado moved forward for a better firing position, but the others stayed put.

Squad Rudra 2, Jatis Ghuyarashtra, arrives to reinforce the Gray Tigers and Jirbu Ghosh

“Steady advance!” Jirbu Ghosh ordered, the Gray Tigers firing on the move [I played the Steady Advance stratagem that allowed the Gray Tigers to move but count as having remained stationary for shooting].

Fire from Tornadoes took out the unit of Death Guard, including the Tallyman and the Blightbringer. Other Tornadoes combined their shooting with the Tactical Marines and the Gray Tigers to take down 20 Poxwalkers…

…Yet still, the zombies shambled forward. Drawing psychic power from the nearby Warpstone, Typhus unleashed a Plague Wind on the recently arrived Tactical Marines, snuffing out one of them. Then he conjured a wave of force that Smote down another.

The nearby Plague Marine Sorcerer cast Curse of the Leper, killing another of the same squad, and wounding a fourth; his subsequent attempt to Smite more of them failed, and did that of the Malignant Plaguecaster.

The Helbrute fired its lascannons at one of the Tornadoes, destroying it. Poxwalkers charged the orange-and-black Marines, but the Lord of Contagion could not reach them. In the melee, one Fighting Tiger fell, as did three Poxwalkers.

Not far away, the Sorcerer charged the mustard-and-brown Marines of Squad Rudra 2, killing two of them and causing two to retreat.

Turn 3

The Death Guard were wounded but far from defeated. Jirbu Ghosh ordered the Tornadoes to move up as both squads of Tactical Marines fell back, exposing the Sorcerer: the Gray Tigers shot him dead.

With assault cannon rounds and multi-melta bursts, Tornadoes fired on Poxwalkers, taking down six; injured the Lord of Contagion [-1 Wound]; and seriously wounded Typhus [-5 Wounds].

Tiger Tornadoes take on Typhus and the Poxwalkers

Damn these wretched Loyalists, Typhus swore, calling the dead to walk again: six Poxwalkers stood back up. With me, he ordered them, leading the plague zombies forward to claim the Warpstone monolith.

Typhus summoned a Plague Wind to assail a Tornado, but it did little damage [-1 Wound]. The Plague Caster unleashed the Curse of the Leper against Rudra 2, killing one and wounding another. The Helbrute fired again, damaging another Tornado [-2 Wounds].

Death Guard wear down the Tactical Marines

Bellowing and snarling, the Poxwalkers and the Lord of Contagion again charged the remnants of Rudra Squad 1, dragging them down, tearing open their armor, and clawing them to pieces. Elsewhere, the Lord of Contagion charged a Tornado, hammering it [-2 Wounds].

Typhus’s inability to make it into close combat turns out to be a crucial failure

Poxwalkers and Typhus also charged a group of Tornadoes, but the Death Guard’s warlord failed to reach them. The rabid undead were only able to barely damage [-1 Wound] one of the skimmers before it smashed into a Poxwalker, killing it.

Turn 4

Now it was the Tornadoes’ turn to pull back, firing [using the Hit-And-Run Warfare Stratagem] as the Marines moved up toward the Warpstone. The Gray Tigers’ combi-grav guns and multi-melta blasted Typhus, forcing him to use his psychic powers to vanish into the Warp [my Sternguard shot him dead].

The Tactical Marines, Tornadoes, and the Drops Pods unleashed on the Poxwalkers, dropping 17. At that point, with only the Plague Caster, the Lord of Contagion, and the Helbrute still standing, the Death Guard gave up the battle.

Winner: Fighting Tigers (Death Guard concede)

Post-Game Analysis by Patrick Eibel

First and foremost, it should be said that it felt great to get back to the game table after such a crazy year away. Selecting the army was pretty straightforward, as the list pretty much used all my figures. This did mean that I had few units that could take out the Speeders, which proved to be my undoing.

As is typical with Death Guard, mobility was an issue and I really did need a better plan on how to deal with certain units. In the end, I thought I did well, given how rusty I was. I really need to write out all the stratagems I like so I don’t forget them.

After the game, Kenton and I talked about what to add to address the issues and fill out the list. I have decided to convert my three Vindicators (currently in the Red Corsairs list) to Plagueburst Crawlers, which will give me some potent ranged shooting.

I also want to get another Foetid Bloat-drone, as well as five Plague Drones to use as Chaos Spawn. These additions will allow me to field the army as a Brigade Detachment for even more all-important Command Points.

A little servo-skull informed me that the Ork Codex will be out soon. Well, now, I guess I will have to get my Greenskins ready….

Post-Game Analysis by Kenton Kilgore

As I alluded to earlier, this is a sub-optimal list for dealing with Death Guard, but it forced me to be smart, concentrate on tactics, and use stratagems wisely. Breaking up my Tigers into themed sub-armies has revived my interest in them, and has made me a better player.

I was dubious about the Ninth Edition rules when they came out, but the actual mechanics went smoothly for both of us. I appreciated the various tweaks from Eighth Edition, particularly vehicles being able to fire heavy weapons without penalty. I’m now firmly an enormous fan of using Power Ratings instead of Point Values.

I also really liked the changes that the latest Space Marines codex has brought. What’s not to like about basic guys with 2 Wounds each? I used the stratagems to excellent effect, and the Long-Range Marksmen Chapter Tactic is particularly sweet.

While winning is always nice, what was much better was getting to see my best friend in person for the first time in over a year, to catch up with him and talk easily and meaningfully (I hate using a phone, and Zoom isn’t all that great), and to rekindle our friendship and our love for the game. I’m looking forward to many more times like this.


When I’m not playing or blogging about 40K, I’m writing killer SF/F  for young adults, and adults who are still young. In This Wasted Land, my latest novel, 17-year old Alyx is lost and alone on a nightmare world of monsters never before imagined–and if they don’t kill her, the witch who has her boyfriend will. 

 

I’m also the author of Lost Dogs, the story of the end of the world as seen, heard–and smelled–by a dog.  My first novel was Dragontamer’s Daughters, like Little House on the Prairie…with dragons.  With Jungle Guide Patrick Eibel, I created Our Wild Place, a children’s book about the joy to be found in exploring Nature.  

Visit kentonkilgore.com, and follow me on Facebook for frequent posts on sci-fi, fantasy, and other speculative fiction.  You can also catch me on Instagram.

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