Monday, June 1, 2009

Battle Report: The Arduen Campaign, Part One

The planet Arduen is a small, sparsely inhabited world in the Arcadia Sector. The people of the planet live a mostly idyllic existence, as far as such things can go in the Imperium. Due to the large expanses of wilderness on the planet, the Imperial Guard frequently uses the planet as a training ground for its newly raised regiments.

One such regiment was the 5th Arcadian Infantry Regiment, newly arrived on the planet. Its Infantry companies, some of them very inexperienced, took to the wild on exercises to train the new recruits. C Company, consisting of two platoons, began a week long exercise, building unit cohesion and survival skills as they traversed the wilderness. Suddenly the exercise turned into a firefight as the guardsmen plowed headlong into a roving band of orks--the last thing they expected to see.

Desperately trying to organize his terrified men into a battleline, Lieutenant Chilton knew he had to repel the attack and get the word back to headquarters of the presence of ork forces on the planet...
* * *
High above the verdant expanses of Arduen, the hulking form of the Ork Battle Kroozer Deff Killa and several of its escorts sat in orbit. Ork Warlord Gorgash Gutmuncha and his horde of marauding Freebooters came to Arduen by accident, thinking they were exiting the warp near one of the Arcadia Sector's more heavily foritified worlds in the hopes of getting into a "proppa" fight. Gorgash's numbers had swelled in recent years after he went on a campaign of head-bashing rival warbosses for control of their mobs and their loot, and now that he has a suitably massive number of boys, there is the hint of a Waaagh-ish gleam in his eye.

Coming into orbit around Arduen, Gorgash had been disappointed to learn that there wasn't even an orbital defense station or a picket line of Imperial frigates protecting this world, which meant that there probably wasn't much of anything worth bashing and looting on the surface of the planet. Still, deciding that it was best to let the boyz go dirtside and romp around a little after being cooped up on the Deff Killa, Gorgash sent Big Mek Skullface and a few mobs of boys down on a landa to see if there was any trouble to get into, or find anything worthy of being bashed or looted. Maybe a few of the local 'umies would offer up a half-decent brawl...

Imperial Guard Training Force
Company Command Squad (5)72
1st Infantry Platoon
Command Squad (5)52
Infantry Squad 1 (10)60
Infantry Squad 2 (10)60
Conscripts (21)84
Weapons Squad (Missile Launchers)90
2nd Infantry Platoon
Command Squad (5)52
Infantry Squad 1 (10)60
Infantry Squad 2 (10)60
Conscripts (20)80
Weapons Squad (Heavy Bolters)75

Imperial Guard Briefing
This will be my first time using the new Imperial Guard Codex, so I am eager to give it a try. My forces will be limited to straight infantry, but that at least will give me the opportunity to focus my attention the new "Orders" rules. Against massed orks, I plan to make use of the "First Rank Fire, Second Rank Fire" order a lot. I am also fielding two units of conscripts in this battle, the first time I have ever used them. This is not because I like them (I don't), but rather in keeping with the background of the mission--the Imperial Guard forces are undergoing a training exercise when they ran into the orks.

As always, while fighting orks I will need to mass my firepower on them (big surprise) and prevent them from getting into close combat with me. This is painfully obvious, but there you go. We'll see how the new guard fare in facing the green menace.

Ork Scout Force
Big Mek Skullface50
Skullface's Shoota Boyz Mob (20)130
Blackhornz' Shoota Boyz Mob (20)145
TooGunz' Shoota Boyz Mob (20)145
BuzzSaw's Slugga Boyz Mob (20)150
Stonejaw's Kommandoz Mob (10)130

Ork Briefing
This is my first time facing the new IG codex, and it's also been a long while since I've taken on the Guard with my Orks - in fact, it's the first time since the new Ork codex came out. So this is really going to be a learning curve both on the IG side and the Ork side. Like Darkwing, I'm taking an entirely infantry-based force, as the idea is our two units are, essentially, stumbling into each other while exploring the planet. My new "bare bones" Big Mek, Skull-Face, will be leading a strong force of infantry - shoota boys, slugga boys, and kommandos - looking for "skraps", both in terms of junk material and a good old-fashioned brawl with any of the world's inhabitants.

With regards to this battle, my intention is to use my shoota boys and all my big shootas to whittle down key IG units and lay down "cover fire" so that my slugga boys and kommandos can close in and cut down squads in hand-to-hand combat. I'll only need a handful of boys to break a IG unit, but since you cannot consolidate into other units after assaults in 5th edition, I need to be careful that I don't wipe out a squad, only to be cut to pieces having over-extended myself into the Guard's firing line. We'll have to see how well this works, or if I simply get cut to pieces by well-placed volleys of las-fire, grenade blasts, and frag missiles.
Orks: Skullface and his Shoota Boyz at top, Buzzsaw's Slugga Boyz at bottom
Imperial Guard: Top to Bottom: 2nd Conscripts, 2/2 & C/2 (in woods), 1/2, Company Command Squad (on rocks), 1/2 (left) & 1st Conscripts (right), C/1 (in woods), 1/1. Missile Launcher Team on rocks to right, Heavy Bolter Team on hill out of frame at top.

The Scenario chosen was Annihilation, with the deployment zones determined randomly as Dawn of War. The Orks put down their HQ (Skullface) and two Troops units as per the mission rules: Skullface's Mob shoota boy mob, and Buzzsaw's slugga boys. The other three Ork mobs remained in reserve.
Imperial Guard Deployment
Turn 1
The training company moved inexpertly through the wooded terrain in the pre-dawn darkness, until noise from up ahead caused Lieutenant Chilton to urgently call a halt. He recognized the noise ahead--the mindless crashing through the underbrush, punctuated by growls, grunts, and even the occasional report of gunfire could only mean one thing. He gave orders for his men to take up firing positions and wait for the orks to appear.

Two ork mobs appeared out of the gloom to the Imperial Guard left flank. Lt. Chilton ordered First rank FIRE, second rank FIRE on 2nd Squad, 1st Platoon (1/2) and 1st Squad, Second Platoon (2/1). The darkness and the range didn't help, however, and no orks were killed. Chilton then ordered Fire on my target on his own command squad, and two grenade launcher shots killed a pair of slugga boyz. 1st Platoon's Command Squad (C/1) orderd First rank FIRE, Second rank FIRE on 1st Squad, 1st Platoon (1/1), who, in range, downed four shoota boyz. The rest of the guardsmen, unable to pick out targets in the darkness, waited impatiently for targets to appear.
The Ork Mobs advance
Skullface and his mob of shoota boyz advanced, along with the mob of slugga boyz. Skullface's mob opened fire, killing three guardsmen in 1/1.

Turn 2
The Imperial Guard, now having detected the enemy, advanced to meet him. Out of range and isolated on a flank, the Heavy Bolter Squad advanced off their hill to take up firing positions closer to the enemy. The Company Command Squad and Platoon Command Squads issued their orders and the guardsmen prepared to fire.
1/1 and 1/2 close the range on the orks to rapid fire
1/1 fired on Skullface's shoota boyz, killing a pair, while 2nd Platoon's Command Squad (C/2) fired its three grenade launchers at the same squad, killing five, while Frag missiles from the missile launcher squad killed one more. The remainder of the guardsmen in range fired on Buzzsaw's Slugga boyz, killing eleven of them--two of which were brought down by the jubiliant, yet terrified conscripts. Both mobs passed their morale checks and continued to advance.
The Ork Mobs, whittled down
Blackhorn's shoota boyz arrived in the center, behind and to the left of Skullface's mob. The Kommandos succeeded in outflanking the Imperial Guard force and arrived to their left, within striking distance.
Blackhorn's Shoota Boyz (top left) and Stonejaw's Kommandos (bottom) arrive

Skullface's mob opened fire on 2/1, killing seven guardsmen easily, then charged and massacred the three survivors without even trying. Buzzsaw's mob fired on 1/2, killing one, then charged and krumped four more. The surviving guardsmen retaliated and managed to bring down two of the orks. The survivors fell back out of range of the orks.
Buzzsaw's boyz assault 1st Squad, 2nd Platoon (1/2)
The Kommandos fired upon 1/1 with their burna, killing four guardsmen and then charged, killing three and finishing off the squad.

In the rear, Blackhorn's mob shot and killed a single guardsman in C/2.
The orks tear into the guardsmen and massacre them

Turn 3
1/2 regrouped and prepared to fire on Buzzsaw's mob. 2nd Squad, 2nd Platoon (2/2) moved towards them in support. 2nd Conscripts moved forward was well, ready to fire on Blackhorn's approaching mob.

Lt. Chilton and his Platoon Officers all passed down multiple First rank FIRE, Second rank FIRE orders to various squads, as their prepared to unleash a close range fusillade.

2/2 fired on Buzzsaw's Slugga boyz, killing one with their flamer, while 1/2 fired on them with rapid firing lasguns, killing the rest and wiping out the squad. 1st Conscripts Squad killed four shoota boyz from Skullface's mob, while C/1 killed two more with their grenade launchers. Despite the casualties, Skullface was determined not to be sent packing by a bunch of puny humies.
Skullface's Mob gets decimated

The Missile Launcher Squad killed a pair of Ork Kommandos. The Heavy Bolters killed one ork from Blackhorn's mob of shoota boyz, while C/2 killed one more.

Toogunz' mob arrived in the center, eager to get in the fight.

Blackhorn's mob fired on 2/2, killing five guardsmen. Behind them, Toogunz' mob fired on 2nd Conscripts, killing three of them. Skullface and his surviving boyz fired on 1st Conscripts, killing seven, plenty to make them lose their nerve, and the conscripts ran for their lives.

The Kommandos moved in for the kill, ready to pounce on C/1, out in the open and very exposed. They killed two with their burna, and one more with slugga fire. Charging in, the nob killed one more. The Platoon Commander whipped out his chainsword and struck, decapitating one of the boyz before he was struck down under a frenzy of rising and falling choppas.
Toogunz' mob arrives (upper left) while Skullface and the Kommandos overrun the Imperial Guard left flank (right)

Turn 4
1st Conscripts were far too panicky to regroup, and fled out of the battle area.

2/2 advanced on Blackhorn's shoota boyz, and the flamer unleashed a spray of promethium on the orks, killing five. Las-fire killed one more. C/2 then fired a barrage of grenade on the shoota boyz, killing three more. The Heavy Bolters killed one more, but Blackhorn and his remaning boyz were not frightened and did not flee.

2nd Conscripts fired on Toogunz' mob, killing two boyz--not nearly enough to deter the mob.

In the center, the guardsmen were determined to take out Skullface. A flamer and lasgun fire from 1/2 killed the two remaining boyz in his mob, leaving Skullface standing alone in the open. Then three krak missiles came soaring his way, the resulting explosions left the Big Mek half-buried in a smoking crater, down and out of the fight.
The Missile Launchers take aim at Skullface

Raising their choppas into the air and roaring, the orks called Da Waaagh! and surged forward. Stonejaw's Kommandos assaulted the Company Command Squad and 1/2. The Orks killed nine guardsmen while suffering a pair of dead, the result of which had Lieutenant Chilton, the sole survivor, fleeing the combat. Blackhorn's mob assaulted 2/2, losing one ork on the charge and then killing all five guardsmen. Toogunz and his mob assaulted 2nd Conscripts. Toogunz killed one conscript for each of his gunz and his boyz killed thirteen more, leaving two left, who turned to flee and were mercilessly cut down.

Stonejaw's Kommandos plow into the Guardsmen. At lower left, Lt. Chilton is about to fire a bolter round into a Kommando's brain.

Turn 5
Lieutenant Chilton recovered his wits and made for the Missile Launcher squad, frantically pointing at Stonejaw's Kommandos and ordering them to Fire on his target, immediately! The Missile Launchers opened fire, and the frag missiles killed five orks. The fire caused the Kommandos to lose their nerve and they began to fall back. On the Imperial Guard right flank, the Heavy Bolter weapons teams opened fire on Toogunz's mob, killing three of them.

Blackhorn's mob fired on C/2, killing a pair, while Toogunz got his revenge on the Heavy Bolters with massed shoota fire, killing five out of the six guardsmen. Blackhorn then assaulted C/2. The guardsmen got in two kills, but then the squad was annihilated by the ork's return attacks.

His force nearly wiped out, Lt. Chilton ordered all surviving guardsmen to retreat and save themselves. He had to get word back to headquarters that there were orks on the planet, but with all of his vox-caster operators killed, that would be no easy task.

Imperial Guard Kill points: 3
Ork Kill points: 11
Result: Ork Victory

Imperial Guard Debriefing
Well, what did I expect? A poorly trained, raw infantry force of guardsmen, stumbling into mobs of elite orks. I was asking to get pasted. As it happened, I was pleased to finished off two mobs of orks and send a third packing. Using the orders was fun too--First rank FIRE, Second rank FIRE definitely comes in handy and is a great force multiplier. I did make a mistake in moving one of my units ahead to get within rapid-fire range, and in doing so I forgot to keep one of them within range of the officer. Had I remembered that, I stood a chance of getting Skullface's mob to flee much earlier. Had that happened, the result of the battle might have been different--so I'll take that as a valuable lesson learned.

While the orders are fun to use, I do feel that they will slow the game down somewhat, which is bad enough considering the number of models in a typical guard force. We'll see how much of an effect that is once the battles get larger.

We'll also see what happens once I started fielding armor. 8-)

Ork Debriefing
Well, an interesting battle. Although Darkwing only really put two of the Guard's many "orders" to use (First rank FIRE, Second rank FIRE and Fire on My Target), I can see these putting a lot of aces up the sleeves of crafty Guard generals. Although I came out on top in terms of Kill Points and probably overall units still on the table, it wasn't as clear-cut as might be expected. I only had one unit over half strength - Blackhornz shoota boys were only a handful cowering in the woods, and Stonejaw was left running away with only one remaining kommando in tow. If the battle had gone one more turn, I could have definitely seen the missile launcher heavy weapons team hammering Blackhornz with frags and whittling that unit down to a useless size, and while Toogunz would have no double wiped out the remaining heavy bolter team, they'd be so far away as to not be able to do anything to the missile launcher teams. In the end, if fought out to the last possible turn, I'd see Toogunz and the ML team as the only two intact units left on the board.

In conclusion, this fight, relatively small as it was, was a great introduction to both the IG codex and this campaign. I can definitely see, however, the IG special orders slowing things down somewhat in a much larger battle, but then again, if these orders are treated more like BFG special orders - i.e., not used all the time, but instead only when tactically appropriate - things should be a lot more manageable. It'll also be interesting once we begin to add some more specialized units and, of course, some heavy armor. Personally, I can't wait for round two...


Anonymous said...

wicked report! The game felt much closer than the kill points lett except.

Max said...

Very nice, interesting story based campaign. Can't wait to hear more!

suneokun said...

Nice battle report - fancy sending conscripts to fight Orks - shame on you!

The only thing I would have done differently was to amalgamate the infantry squads - giving you more bang for your orders and potentially giving you the chance of dropping enough orks through numbers.

The conscripts were, well, naff. That said, that was their job.

I'd love to see a rematch with some penal troops thrown into the mix - nothing like emptying the plantery penatenary at the Ork Horde to slow them down.

sovietspace said...

Yeah a great battle report as usual guys, very well done!

I do agree that sending out that IG was a big mistake - personally I would have stuck to the line and hopefully got in another turn of shooting before the choppas started to fly. Either way the IG made a fine account of themselves :)

Looking forward to the next battle in the Campaign!

Jon D said...

If the IG squads had squaded up, this might have been a different fight.

More Lasguns focused on one target, only needing one order per unit and less kill points are the best tools we have now.

Darkwing said...

@suneokun - Yes, I realize that fielding conscripts against the orks isn't smart, but as I explained in the briefing, the fluff of the campaign is that for this mission it was a "training force" that ran into the orks.

@Jon - I agree that squadding up the IG might have helped, especially with respect to orders, etc. I'm less concerned about kill points as we tend to play friendly games. I'm also a bit leery about making huge mob-like squads because they can be so unwieldy. At some point I'll have to get over that though and give it a try.