Friday, February 6, 2009

Battle Report: The Axis Columen Campaign, Part Four

Destroy the Beacon!

Introduction
This battle is the culmination of a four part mini-campaign pitting forces of the Imperium (mainly Brazen Claw Space Marines) against Necrons.

The Imperial Navy had detected a xeno signal originating on the surface of the strategically located system of Axis Columen. The Navy quickly this finding to Space Marines operating in the sector, the Brazen Claw, who immediately dispatched a Strike Cruiser to the system to investigate.

While the Navy began amassing forces in orbit, the Brazen Claw began a reconnaissance of the planet and discovered necron forces there. The Brazen Claw engaged the Necrons in battle, and drove them back to a Necron structure that appeared to be the origin of the signal being sent into space. Recognizing that the structure was a beacon, calling more Necrons to the system, the Brazen Claw Commander, Captain D’Val, ordered the Navy to prepare to repel the Necron fleet that would undoubtedly be arriving soon, while his marine force would attempt to destroy the beacon.

Scenario Special Rules
We set up the game using the normal Apocalypse rules, with each side getting one Strategic Asset, picked by each player to fit within the framework of the background of the battle.
We determined deployment according to the normal Apocalypse rules, and then Badelaire placed the Tombworld Beacon within his deployment zone, greater than 6" from a table edge.
Generator Activation - We decided at the beginning of the campaign that if the Necron Fleet arrives in orbit before the Beacon is destroyed, the Tombworld Generator will be activated. If this occurs, every non-Necron unit on the table will suffer a hit from a Gauss Flux Arc, that is, a S5 AP4 Heavy D6 attack every single turn until the end of the battle. Vehicles are hit on their rear armor. (As it happened, in the previous battle the Necron Fleet was able to send the activation signal on Necron Turn 5)

They Awaken - To represent the Necrons waking up from their millennia long slumber, the Necrons will continuously receive reinforcements throughout the battle. Any Necron with the Necron special rule that is removed as a casualty should be set aside and grouped according to unit type. As soon as the number of Necron casualties for a particular unit type equals or exceeds the minimum required number of Necrons for that unit type (e.g., 10 for Necron Warriors, 4 for Flayed Ones), the unit will reappear in the movement phase of the Necron player’s next turn, emerging from the portal on the Tombworld Beacon. Units that arrive in this way may move normally, measuring their movement from the portal itself.

Phase Out - For this battle the normal phase out rules are not used. The Necrons will only phase out if the Tombworld Beacon is destroyed. If the Tombworld Beacon is destroyed, the entire Necron force will phase out immediately.

Brazen Claw Forces
  • Captain with Command Squad in Razorback
  • Techmarine with Servitors in Razorback
  • Dreadnought
  • Terminator Assault Squad
  • Terminator Squad
  • 4 Tactical Squads in Rhinos
  • Assault Squad
  • Devastator Squad in Rhino
  • Predator Annihilator
  • Vindicator Line Breaker Squadron


Brazen Claw Briefing
Darkwing: I have a tall order ahead of me. My Brazen Claw force is much larger than in previous battles, coming in at just over 3,000 points. The Necron force is smaller in number, but they have some potent advantages on their side: 1. The Tombworld Beacon. A terrifying weapon in its own right, and my ultimate objective. 2. The regeneration capabilities of the Necrons—each unit with the Necron special rule will reappear at the Beacon’s portal when destroyed. So in a way, each little victory is a defeat—and towards the endgame my force will be smaller as the Necrons get more powerful. 3. Time is my enemy. If I don’t destroy the Beacon by the end of Turn 5, it’s all over, and the Necrons win. The Necrons don’t have to destroy me—they just have to hold me off for five turns.

That said, I have a strong army to take them on. My three Vindicators are just dying to get into action—I just need to get them close enough to strike. My terminators, with their power fists and thunder hammers, should also prove a deadly threat. Also my Predator Annihilator, with its three lascannons, should put some fear of the Emperor into those walking toasters.

Tactically speaking, I need to close with the Beacon, and do it fast. No holding back. I have to hope with I can smash through the Necron outer line of defense and swamp the Beacon with attack before the Necrons can whittle my forces down enough to prevent me from destroying it.

Necron Forces
  • Necron Tombworld Beacon (counts as Gauss Pylon)
  • Necron Destroyer Lord
  • 2 Necron Lords
  • Immortals
  • 2 units of Flayed Ones
  • 3 units of Warriors
  • Destroyers
  • 2 units of Scarab Swarms
  • 2 Heavy Destroyers
  • 3 Tomb Spyders


Necron Briefing
Badelaire: This is going to be pretty interesting. My Necron army is not particularly "Apocalyptic" and in terms of raw points, even with three Necron Lords running around it's not particularly massive. However, the beacon is pretty powerful and with the Apocalypse rule I picked (Reconstruction Scarabs), I'm going to be incredibly hard to wipe out. However, going up against all those Str 10 templates, power fists, and power armor is going to give me fits, and with the new glancing rules, my Gauss weapons will be doing a lot less vehicle-killing and a lot more vehicle-annoying.

But in the end, I don't have to "beat" the Brazen Claws - I just need to bog them down, and that's what Necron armies are really, really good at - staying in the fight and keeping the enemy occupied. I've got my Scarab Swarms kitted with Disruption Fields as well, so in addition to bogging down troops if need be they can also go gunning for vehicles, as with so many attacks, there's at least a chance that they can get in a glance or two against a Vindie or a Pred and I know there'll be at least one Dread in the fight, so I might even have a chance against that too.

This is definitely going to be an exciting battle - maximum firepower against maximum resilience. We'll have to see which philosophy triumphs in the end...

Turn 1
Holding their assault squad and two terminators in reserve, the Brazen Claw deployed on the battlefield. Aside from the dreadnought, the entire force was mechanized. On their far left flank lay the Predator Annihilator, flanked by three tactical squads in their Rhinos, and the Command Squad in their Razorback. To the right flank lay the fourth Tactical Squad, the Techmarine in his Razorback, the 3 strong linebreaker squadron of Vindicators, and the Dreadnought.

The Space Marines vehicles roared forward, immediately taking the fight to the enemy. The Techmarine moved behind the cover of the rocks to support the Vindicators, who would certainly become prime targets for the Necrons. The Dreadnought advanced to their right, and firing its missile launcher, took out a Heavy Destroyer. On the far left flank, the Predator Annihilator killed a destroyer with its lascannon.

Both Necrons self-repaired (big surprise), and the Necrons began their counterattack. The Destroyers, Heavy Destroyers, a Tomb Spyder, and a unit of warriors advanced, ready to meet the Space Marines head on.

One Heavy Destroyer fired on the left Vindicator, immobilizing it, while the other fired on the Dreadnought and missed. The Tombworld Beacon charged up its Gauss Annihilator and unleashed it on the Vindicators, destroying one of them in an apocalyptic explosion.

On the Necron right flank, the unit of warriors fired on the Predator, and their Gauss Flayers destroyed the vehicles twin-linked lascannon. The Immortals fired on Tactical Squad 1’s Rhino, shaking up the crew, but not slowing it down. Two more units of warriors and the Destroyers all focused their attention on the Command Squad’s Razorback, shaking and stunning the crew, destroying the twin-linked heavy bolter, and finally blowing off one of the transport’s tracks, immobilizing it. The Command Squad would have to foot slog it the rest of the way in.

Turn 2
Both units of Terminators teleported onto the site, behind the Necron lines and within striking distance of the Beacon. One of the squads open fire at some nearby scarabs, destroying three bases of them.

The Techmarine disembarked from his Razorback and moved to repair the immobilized Vindicator. The Dreadnought fired at the Heavy Destroyer that it had destroyed just a moment earlier, and sent it crashing to the ground again with a well placed krak missile.

On the left flank, the Command Squad disembarked their damaged Razorback and advanced on the Necron hordes. To their left, Tactical Squad 3’s Rhino plowed forward, tank shocking the Necron Warriors, who moved perfunctorily out of the way. The Command Squad opened fire on the same unit of warriors, killing one with their meltagun, the other with a bolt pistol. Then the Command Squad charged them, the adjacent Tomb Spyder, and some nearby Scarabs to boot. The Company Champion cut down one warrior with his power sword, the other marines took down one more. The Tomb Spyder missed the Captain, and then the Scarabs swarmed all over him. Despite dishing out 21 attacks, all directed against the captain, he remained completely unharmed. Then he smashed his power fist into the Tomb Spyder, damaging its body severely, but not quite enough to kill it. The marine sergeant then used his own power fist to kill three more Necron Warriors. Having lost the combat, the Warriors fell back, leaving the Tomb Spyder and scarabs to their fate. The Captain promptly finished off the Tomb Spyder and the scarabs suffered an additional four wounds. The Command Squad then piled into the remaining scarabs.

The Heavy Destroyer, shaking off its second krak missile in a row, got up yet again. The Reconstruction Scarabs of the Necrons swarmed around the fallen center Warriors, bringing five of eight of them back to their feet, but the warriors failed to regroup, and therefore continued to fall back.

The unit of Warriors on the Necron right, the Immortals, and the Destroyers began a fighting retreat, in the hopes of tightening their defensive position.

The right and center Necron Warriors fired on Tactical Squad 1’s Rhino, and succeeded in stunning it, but nothing else. The Immortals fired on Tactical Squad 2’s Rhino, but failed to damage it at all.

The Scarabs Turbo boosted, while a Tomb Spyder continued to advance behind the rocks towards the Vindicators.

A unit of Flayed Ones moved onto the battlefield behind the terminators, preparing a counterattack. The Destroyer Lord also moved into position to attack them. On the other side of the Beacon, a Necron Lord and the Heavy Destroyers moved to attack the Assault Terminators. Then the last Necron Lord used his Veil of Darkness to teleport himself and a unit of Warriors between the two Terminator Squads.

The Necrons then unleashed the hurt—the Destroyers and Destroyer Lord killed one terminator between them, and then the rest opened fire on the Assault Terminator Squad. The Heavy Destroyers and the teleported squad of Warriors did nothing, but a Necron Lord killed one. Then the Beacon itself attacked with its Gauss Flux Arc, but all of its hits were saved by the marines’ tactical dreadnought armor. The terminators had proved their staying power. The Destroyer Lord, bellowing in robotic rage, then assaulted the terminator squad, killing a pair of them. The Sergeant replied, wounding the Lord in return, and then the rest of the squad brought the Lord down.

On the Necron right flank, the Command Squad proceeded to completely annihilate the Scarabs, although they suffered one casualty.

Turn 3
The Predator Annihilator, still well out of range of the Tombworld beacon, barreled forward and tank shocked the nearby warrior squad, who simply moved out of the way. Tactical Squad 1 disembarked their Rhino near the Command Squad to support it, while the Command Squad itself moved up to take on the Immortals and Destroyers.

The Devastator Squad disembarked on top of the hill and began to take firing positions with their heavy bolters. The marines fired with their bolters and bolt pistols at the approaching scarabs, delivering two wounds and eliminating a base. Ahead of them, the Assault Squad deep struck by some woods near to the Beacon. They opened fire with their bolt pistols at the nearest Heavy Destroyer by failed to bring it down.

The Techmarine’s Razorback aimed at the Tomb Spyder with its twin-linked lascannon, but the Tomb Spyder was saved by cover. The nearby Vindicator then took a shot at it, wounding it. The dreadnought’s torso swiveled left to bring its weapons to bear on the Tomb Spyder, but its fire was ineffective. The Techmarine, only in range of the other Tomb Spyder, managed to wound it with his plasma pistol. He then charged in and finished it off with a swing of his power weapon.

The Terminator Assault Squad assaulted the Beacon, slamming their Thunderhammers into it, but while they both delivered glancing hits, both were negated by the Beacons impenetrable armor.

The Command Squad and Tactical Squad 1 charged the Immortals and the Destroyers. The Company Champion killed one Immortal, while the rest of the marines failed to bring down any more. Replying, the Destroyers wounded Captain D’Val once, but then he struck back and smashed three Destroyers to the ground with his power fist. Then both Sergeants struck decisively with their own power fists, killing no less than five immortals between them. Broken, both the Destroyers and Immortals turned to flee, but were struck down by the marines, who surged forward.

The portal of the Tombworld Beacon pulsed with an unholy light, and a Necron Lord, a unit of Destroyers, and a unit of Immortals emerged to provide the Necrons with some powerful reinforcements.

On the Necron right flank, the unit of Necron Warriors encircled the Predator and opened fire with their Gauss Flayers, and succeeded in immobilizing it. In the center the Necron Warrior unit regrouped, and opened fire on Tactical Squad 1, but failed to kill any marines. The newly arrived Immortals promptly opened fire on the Command Squad, wounding Captain D’Val again, the killing the squad’s sergeant.

A new unit of Flayed Ones arrived on the table and made for the Command Squad.

The two Heavy Destroyers fired on a Vindicator, stunning it. Behind them, the Beacon unleashed its Gauss Annihilator at the immobilized Vindicator, detonating it in a fireball.

The Necron Warriors by the Beacon fired on the Assault Terminators, and were very effective, delivering eight wounds resulting in four dead. (I rolled four 1’s for my saves! –Darkwing)

A unit of Flayed Ones and the Destroyer Lord charged the last terminator of his squad, and the Lord brought him down easily.

A Necron Lord unleashed his Staff of Light on the Assault Squad, killing a pair of them, while the newly arrived destroyers also fired on them, killing one more. The Lord then charged the Assault Marines, killing one, but was wounded twice by their retaliation.

The last Tomb Spyder charged the Techmarine, who was unable to fend off the robotic monster and was killed along with one of his servitors, and the remaining servitors were killed as they tried to flee.

The Scarabs assaulted the Dreadnought, swarming the walker, who smashed one base’s worth to scrap while weathering their attacks without any problems.


Turn 4
The Brazen Claw Rhinos had driven up, and were approaching striking distance. Tactical Squad 4 disembarked from their Rhino and went after the Tomb Spyder. Firing their bolters at short range, they blew it apart.

Tactical Squads 2 and 3 Rhino’s advanced and then disembarked in front of the Tombworld Beacon. The Devastators and Tactical Squad 3 fired on the Destroyers, and 2 of them were killed by the Devastator Squad’s Heavy Bolters. Tactical Squad 2 and the Command Squad fired at the Necron Lord, but failed to hurt him. Tactical Squad 1 fired at the Flayed Ones, and three of them were downed by the marines’ flamer.

In the assault, the Dreadnought smashed down the remaining two Scarab bases. The Necron Lord in combat with the Assault Squad killed one of them, but the rest of the squad ganged up on him and took him out.

Tactical Squad 1 charged the Flayed Ones, killing three between them without suffering any casualties. The last surviving Flayed One fell back out of reach.

The Command Squad charged the Necron Lord, and despite the flurry of blows by both sides, the combat was indecisive and no one was killed or wounded.

One of the two fallen Destroyers self-repaired, and fully five out of six Flayed Ones regained their feet, thanks to the Reconstruction Scarabs. The unit promptly regrouped and then charged the Command Squad.

The Necron Lord and his unit of Warriors behind the Beacon used Veil of Darkness to teleport themselves to the Brazen Claw side, near to the Techmarine’s Razorback, which, armed with a twin-linked lascannon, was one of the few weapons in the Brazen Claws’ arsenal that could damage the Beacon. Unleashing their fire at close range, they rocked the vehicle with their fire, stunning it multiple times and destroying the lascannon.

The two Heavy Destroyers shifted to get better firing positions and both aimed at the Dreadnought, but both failed to hit.

A unit of Necron Warriors, the Immortals, and the Destroyers all aimed their weapons at Tactical Squad 1, killing six with their massed fire. The survivors, however, remained stalwart and refused to fall back.

The Tombworld Beacon aimed its focused beam on the last mobile Vindicator, and wrecked it easily.

A unit of Flayed Ones charged Tactical Squad 1, killing two marines, but the marines killed two Flayed Ones in return, resulting in a draw.

The Command Squad, locked in combat with the Destroyer Lord, then got charged by the other unit of Flayed Ones. The Company Champion chopped down one Flayed One on the way in, but then was swamped and killed by the others. The other marines reeled under their onslaught, the but the fast acting Apothecary saved himself, the Standard Bearer, and the Captain with his Feel No Pain save. The Lord, experiencing bad luck, added nothing to the combat, while the Captain smashed down two more Flayed Ones with his Power Fist. Refusing to flee, the Flayed Ones moved in for the kill.

Turn 5
The Tombworld Beacon began to pulsate, and Captain D’Val knew that his marines were rapidly running out of time. The rest of the marines knew it too, and redoubled their efforts to strike.

Tactical Squad 2 moved towards the Lord and Flayed Ones in order to support the Command Squad.

Tactical Squad 3, the Devastators, and multiple Rhinos all opened fire on the Destroyers, sending two of them crashing to the ground. The Predator Annihilator fired one of its sponson lascannons at the Beacon, and while the shot hit, it merely inflicted some inconsequential glancing damage. The Dreadnought walked forward and fired a krak missile, felling one of the Heavy Destroyers.

Tactical Squad 4, sighting the Necron Lord and Warriors who had just teleported in using their Veil of Darkness, trained their weapons on them, killing three with bolters and six with the Plasma Cannon, which wreaked devastation on the tightly packed Necrons. Their Rhino nearby killed one more with its storm bolter. That proved enough, and the warriors began to fall back.

The Assault Squad fired their bolt pistols at the Immortals, and then charged them. Two Immortals fell to the chainswords, and the Sergeant killed two more. The Immortals struck back ineffectually and then turned to flee, only to be wiped out. The Assault Squad, seeing the Beacon began to energize, assumed a blocking position at the Beacon’s portal in order to prevent any Necrons from getting out.

Tactical Squad 3 charged the Destroyers, and both sides struck at each other ineffectively. Tactical Squad 1 lost a man to the unit of Flayed Ones they were fighting, and failed to kill any in return, but they held their ground to continue the fight.

Tactical Squad 2 charged the Flayed Ones and the Necron Lord who were currently engaged with the Command Squad. The Flayed Ones failed to kill anyone, while the Lord killed one marine from the Tactical Squad. The rest of the squad wounded the Lord once, and Captain D’Val smashed one more Flayed One to the ground.

Brazen Claw Debriefing
Darkwing: I think I’ve fallen into a trap. I’m finding that I spend so much time preparing for the game; I lose sight of preparing for the battle. For this game I had to come up with the scenario, make a special piece of terrain for it (the beacon), and frantically paint up several more squads of vehicles of my Brazen Claws. I whipped up an army list, then put it aside, and continued to paint miniatures to prepare for the game. When the game finally came around, I realized that hadn’t really thought about prosecuting the battle. When it came time to deploy my army, I thought Now would be a good time to have a plan... As a result of this, I made some pretty fundamental (some would say inexcusable) mistakes.

For the record, I will say that arming my Devastators with four heavy bolters was not one of them--it was intentional, and I knew what I was doing. Considering all of the power fists I had in the army, plus the Predator Annihilator, the three Vindicators, and the twin-linked lascannon Razorback, I felt I had enough punch to take on the Beacon. Arming the Devastators with four Lascannon might in the end have been more effective, but I decided against it. Generals in the real world usually don’t get to choose what troops are available to them. So rather than optimizing my army to be the ultimate necron force killer, I deliberately made some troops choices that were not ideal.

That said, I made some stupid mistakes. First and foremost, in designing the scenario, I assumed that I would be able to destroy the Tombworld Beacon with my plethora of power fists, missile launchers, etc. Except for one thing—the Beacon is a super heavy vehicle (well… structure), with AV 14. And due to the Super Heavy Vehicle Damage Table…it is impervious to structural damage to Strength 8 Weaponry. All of a sudden my power fists, thunder hammers, krak missiles, and meltagun were useless against it. Whoops. That left my Techmarine’s Razorback’s twin-linked Lascannon, my three Vindicators, and my Predator Annihilator as being the only things in my entire army that could affect the Beacon.

Which leads to my second mistake—the Predator Annihilator. For the longest time I could have sworn that the range of a lascannon was 72". Maybe it was, way back in 2nd Edition. But it’s 48". Normally this isn’t an issue on a 6’ x 4’ table. But on the 9’ x 5’ table that we fought the battle on, it was critical. I placed the Predator far on the left flank, assuming I could plink away at the Beacon with my 72" ranged lascannon all game long. I was confident of damaging the Beacon with it...until I tried to fire the damn thing. A casual look at the lascannon’s statline and Whaaat? I was very angry at myself for that mistake. If I spent more time studying my army and coming up with a battle plan, I wouldn’t have made that mistake.

I didn’t realize the mistake about the Beacon being impervious to S8 weapons until midgame—by this point, one Vindicator was destroyed, another was immobilized out of range, and the third was number one on Badelaire’s hit list. The Predator was uselessly out of range, and the twin-linked lascannon Razorback was in danger. It looks like even if I completely dominated the rest of the game, it still would be impossible for me to win.

After discussing it for a bit, Badelaire graciously allowed my Space Marine Captain to be armed with a Vortex Grenade. It gave my army some hope of victory, and him something to target aside from the continual pasting of my vehicles. And the way my Command Squad was smashing its way through the Necrons, it would make things more interesting.

Of course, in Turn 5 the Beacon was set to go off, and despite the heroic efforts of my marines, the Necrons had won. It was a fitting end to the campaign, with the Brazen Claw coming within inches of defeating the Necrons, only to be seconds too late.

And even better, the conclusion of this campaign quickly brought ideas of a follow-up campaign. The Necrons have won. The planet had split open, revealing the Necropolis, which would now join the Necron Fleet in orbit and proceed to go on a rampage, devastating planets and harvesting the souls of their inhabitants. And on board the Necropolis were 48 marines and 1 dreadnought, hidden, biding their time and waiting to strike.

Necron Debriefing
Badelaire: This was a really fun game, but in the end, I think that in order to make it more challenging, and to give my points-light army a more Apocalyptic ace up its sleeve, Darkwing really shot himself in the foot. The rules for the Necron Gauss Pylon (which is essentially what the Beacon was, with a few extra bells and whistles) give it the Living Metal special rule, and that combined with the new glancing hits table and the Super-Heavy vehicle rules, meant that it was pretty much impossible to damage, let alone destroy, the Beacon with the vast majority of Darkwing's army.

At first, when his Terminator squads teleported in, I panicked. I figured I had a turn, maybe two, before they cracked open the Beacon like an egg and there would go my victory...up until the point when they started getting damage results and we began to look things up. Then we discovered that his terminators might as well have been swinging croquet mallets for all the good they'd be doing against the Beacon.

Beyond that, my resurrection abilities were just a little too overpowered. With the Reconstruction Scarabs strategic asset, I could pick one unit every turn to WBB as if there was a Res Orb nearby, and also stand up on a 2+ to boot. With this, combined with the Beacon's regeneration of units rule, I could effectively "respawn" two units a turn if they were wiped out. And since the Beacon's unit regeneration meant they were popping back out at "home", as the Brazen Claws closed in, my wiped units were automatically re-grouping back at the Beacon to defend it.

And now the Necropolis is freed from its terrestrial slumber, and zooming around the sector sucking the life from planet after planet...not knowing all the while that there's a small seed of resistance still clinging to hope in its dark mechanical belly...

5 comments:

zealot said...

Well, I didn't read the whole thing but I have to say I'm impressed! Beautiful bold models and table and perfectly executed pics and play-by-play. keep it up!

Nocturus said...

Great ending! Hope to see some more dealing with the marines left on the surface ;). How about a few battles dealing with the rest of the planets in the system dealing with the invasion? I also liked the new format using the camera pics to depict the battle instead of just the AUTO CAD style overviews.

Anonymous said...

Nice report. Love the pics. Lovely end of a great campaing. Thanks!

73rd said...

Great battle report! Thanks for sharing, I've enjoyed reading this tonight. Hope to see even more soon mate

lone pilgrim said...

tunning battle report! A good write up and the photos with arrows made the action perfectly clear. Well done!