+ Find the start of this battle report here [+noospheric inloadlink embedded+] +
The wind blew hot and airless around the bleached wattle and plaster buildings of Pradesh Novum, , kicking up clouds of ochre dust which were lit from within by gunfire, smoke and screams. The armoured vehicles of the Imperial Fists and Iron Warriors had clashed – many sat smouldering – and the battle would now be determined by the infantry in bloody close-quarters combat.
Letholdus, Praetor of the Imperial Fists, did not merely watch as the Leviathan tore open Thunderchild, his Land Raider transport. Even as the beast withdrew its whirling siege drill from the wreck, the Fists were drawing firing solutions.
On the left flank, Çjarn ordered his men to brace for the charge. A storm of boltgun fire spanged ineffectually from the Custodes' inviolate armour as the golden giants charged, and the Iron Warrior Centurion felt his choler rise as his hand gripped the red-bladed axe he had been gifted.
+ Çjarn's daemon axe Barashu is represented in-game by the Combat Augment Array relic – there's generally a half-decent way to represent even the most obscure story element in-game. However, had this not been an option, it's always worth remembering that even upgrades that might get written off as basic are often pretty scary when measured against the standard equipment of your army. A power axe upgrade would be a perfectly acceptable way to represent the magic daemon axe: AP2 is a huge advantage. +
+ This sort of things is doubly true if you keep the rest of the army 'honest' by taking such upgrades more sparingly rather than par for the course – something I'm normally guilty of by upgrading all my Ultramarines and Iron Hards sergeants with artificer armour etc. For the Officia Monstrosa, I made the deliberate choice of keeping such upgrades stripped back. This means my grubby trench-dwellers strike more of a contrast with Bob Hunk's awesome Imperial Fists elites – giving the additional visual benefit that the goodies are usually outnumbered by the baddies.
+ Such an approach also means that these upgrades stand out and are more special when they are taken – generally by those characters you want to build your army around. +
It the tight alleyways and backstreets of Pradesh Novum, Breachers show their quality. Neither side was inclined to close; instead trading fire at point-blank range.
+ Fighting Imperial Fists against the Iron Warriors gave us both a pleasant surprise – both armies' rules meant that we stood to benefit by standing back and shooting, rather than immediately slam into combat, which is more typical of 40k. Just a nice example of how Forge World's characterful Legion rules make these games more than a straight 'mirror match'. +
The Basilikoi elite find out the hard way what new Terran technology can do, as the Fists' Contemptor opens up with its state-of-the-art Kheres Assault Cannon.
Shield-Captain Hyperion calmly accepts Çjarn's maddened challenge, even as the other Custodians begin parting heads and limbs from frantic Iron Warrior bodies.
Letholdus steps forward himself, calling out Siegemaster Artabas. The Iron Warrior is no coward; and spits out a hateful response as he pushes past his men.
The fight is short – despite a flurry of swift blows, the Siegemaster's strikes have little effect, and Letholdus finishes the short fight with a dismissive backhand of his Solarite Gauntlet, which shorts out the Iron Warriors' protective force field and sends Artabas crashing through the dismayed ranks of the remaining Iron Warriors Tactical squad. They hold; but barely.
The Legionaries are able to drag down one of the Custodians, but despite putting up a brave fight, they're killed to a man. Çjarn's bellowed cries of rage are choked off by bubbling blood as he succumbs to Hyperion's measured but telling strikes.
+ Yikes, but Custodes are tough! It was great to see them in action; and they really live up to the hype. Being on the receiving end, I found them scary, but suitably so. The Iron Warriors did manage to put one of them down, so they weren't over-the-top in my opinion. +
'Faith? I have faith in big guns and strong supply lines.' – The Rapiers continue to impede and degrade the exposed Imperial Fist armour.
The Iron Warriors Predator squadron shoulders its way forward, determined to salvage something as their supporting infantry waver.
The alleyway steams with effort as the Fists capitalise on Letholdus' success; pushing the Iron Warriors away from the archway, and securing another objective.
With a mechanical growl, Hekaton Zodios turns to face its tormentors. A hail of autocannon fire from Predators and Dreadnoughs alike fails to do more than chip the paint of the Leviathan.
'Kill sight.' The barked order of the Fists' breacher sergeant sees the disciplined warriors consolidate into their shield wall once more, and begin advancing into the Iron Warriors' crumbling line.
Forced into a bottleneck, the Iron Warriors' tanks track around, preparing to stem the Breachers when their Tactical marines fall back.
The fight is hard-fought, with legionaries from both sides falling, but the impetus is with the determined defenders of the Imperial Palace.
As another VIIth Legion tank detonates with a dull gravitic boom, Zodios tracks back to persecute the Breachers. Hindered by the dense terrain, the frustrated Leviathan is reduced to unleashing its varied weaponry at the hapless Breachers. The volkite array and storm cannon turn the alleyway into a charnel house, but it is the launch of the dread banned crawl-fire – phosphex – that causes the most casualties in the confines of the archway.
+ Apologies for not getting more pict-captures here – I obviously got a bit carried away! Suffice to say that even the void-hardened armour and Breacher shields of the surviving Imperial Fists didn't save them from the hail of fire. Letholdus made a narrative escape here, but was also brought down at this point. +
The scattered Iron Warrior survivors – a mere three – regard the smouldering alleyway. Artabas, incapacitated and spitting blood, orders them back in.
A lone Iron Warriors sergeant dutifully steps forward against the Custodes. Hefting his power maul, he doesn't even get to strike before he is cut down; impaled on the Guardian spears.
The dust clears briefly, but there is no respite. Both sides have taken hideous casualties, but the Imperial Fists have kept their dutiful eye on objectives.
+ While both sides were exhausted here, Bob Hunk's canny early moves ensured he had a healthy advantage going into the end game. I was trailing Victory Points badly; but I couldn't be too despondent – it was an awesome game! +
Ignoring the advancing Custodes, the Rapier crew spitefully continue persecuting the Fists' beleaguered tanks, keeping the centre clear.
The Contemptor was stuck behind the walkways, but treated the Iron Warriors to some of their own medicine, cutting down one of the few survivors with its assault cannon.
Ranged casulaties bother the cold-blooded warriors not one jot!
+ Thank goodness for the Iron Warriors Legion special rules, which kept even these battered survivors standing. +
The battle is short, and the big guns fall silent. With their loss, the Iron Warriors retire, shifting into sullen reverse.
Both sides were battered and exhausted, but it was an undeniable victory for the Fists. There was little time to rest on their laurels, however. The Warmaster's forces seemed innumerable; doubtless the Iron Warriors would return, and in greater numbers...
+ Conclusion +
+ Coo, what a game! The combination of dense terrain, mission and – of course – a fantastically painted army to fight made this a real treat to play. The eventual VP count was something like 14–3, so it wasn't even close! :D Nevertheless, it's a great demonstration that a visually and narratively-led game is a victory for everyone involved. +
+ In hindsight, my drive up the centre was hindered early on by the wrecked Predator; when that happened I should have tracked Zodios and the Predators over to deal with the Custodes while Çjarn's squad pushed up the centre behind the Land Raider. Bob Hunk did a great job of getting his men where it counted while I was distracted by destroying tanks; that lone Rhino squad just kept racking up the objective points and I simply couldn't get anything over to deal with them. +
+ Man-of-the-match has to go to the Rapiers. They were hugely effective in stymieing the centre and helping with my traditional blindspot – dealing with heavy tanks. What little fire came their way caused little damage, and until they were brutally murdered by Hyperion and his men, were sitting pretty! +
+ Congratulations to Team Fisto on a great win, and I'm already looking forward to the next game. +