+ inload: The Strange Fate of Shas'Nel Naseel +

The Kau-ui had deployed a few days earlier; scouting out the old river valley and forcibly evacuating the few reluctant aboriginals from the nearby hamlet. Shas'Nel Naseel had overseen the operation on the ground, directing his experienced Strike teams while the Shas'El ranged ahead with the Stealth Teams.

Fewer than a hundred kilometres behind them sat Waygoan, one of the principal cities of the region. There, an entire Legion of local auxiliaries were undergoing their hastened training. By now, Naseel mused, the first would be graduating. The more time the Fire Caste could buy, the more prepared the cities would be to withstand this strange invasion.

He reached under his helm, flicked the securing catch with a practised finger, and lifted it away. He closed his eyes and took a moment to enjoy the soft breeze and balmy evening. It was quiet, and peaceful. For a moment, he was reminded of the Civilised Hall of Serene Obedience on Luye'st. 

After a few stolen moments, he replaced his helm, checking the readouts and heads-up display. Two chimes were pending; likely status reports from his subordinates. 

His Kau-ui was well-equipped, had air support and knew the territory. Reinforcements in the form of Fire Caste cadres, armour units and aircraft were en route from deeper within the Tzi'Na Enclave; and Enclave-Commander Strongheel had – just three days ago – made a public augmit-cast pledge to the population that Or'Na would stand. 

So why did Naseel feel a nagging sense of doubt?


+ Game type: 40k 8th edition; Open Play
+ Mission: Blitz, 32 Power Level
+ Combatants: Apologist, commanding the Bleak Vespers; vs Bob Hunk, commanding the Hunter Cadre Hun'k.
+ Battleground: The Septworld Or'Na – the G'loshes Pass approach to Waygoan. Fertile farming land amongst steep hills, the dried-up river valley narrows to a defensible pass. An infantry force of Death Guard – the Bleak Vespers – has used the hills to avoid air strikes, and is advancing towards Waygoan City.

+ Deployment and early turns +

+ The Fire warriors hunker down, forming the first line of defence. A cry goes up as the Death Guard emerge from the gathering dusk – but a low-flying Thunderhawk performs a preliminary bombardment, killing a number of Fire Warriors on the Tau's left flank. +

+ Undaunted, Naseel orders disciplined volley-fire against the invaders. The Death Guard's armour and unnatural resilience protects them. +

+ Pulsefire echoes down the lines. +

+ From the hill, kroot and another Strike Team lend their weight to fire; and first one, then a second Plague Marine falls. +

+ Ducking down to avoid the increasing return fire, the Shas'Nel pauses to report contact – and a flutter of nervousness arises. They're not doing enough damage to stop the invaders yet... +

+ Ponderously but inexorably, the Bleak Vespers march towards the Tau lines. Their advance is accompanied by the disturbing sound of turgid bells and tocsins. +

+ Forcing their way over – or simply through – the fences and hedges, the Plague Marines get to grips with the desperate defenders. +

+ His squad wiped out, Naseel attempts to fall back. A Plague Marine seizes him by the throat, lifting him into the air... + 

+ Gurgling, his vision dimming, the Tau sub-commander kicks out frantically, but hears nothing but the gloating laughter of his captors. +

+ Dismayed, the remainder of the Kau-ui make a disciplined fall back, firing on the move as they displace again and again. More of the Plague Marines fall – but not enough. Too many creakingly regain their feet, shrugging off the most heinous wounds. +

+ A counter-charge by the Kroot auxilia meets the same fate as the Fire Warriors – crushed by the fists and heels of the ominous invaders. +

+ With their forces fading, the Stealth Teams redouble their attacks – but even their heavy rotary cannons can't find a chink in the Astartes' plate. +

+ The Death Guard press on through the valley, boltguns raised to eye level and reaping their enemies. +

+ Redeploying from the burnt-out farmhouse, the remaining Strike Team gathers on the hill. +

+ The concentrated firepower of the remaining desperate Tau takes down the last member of a Death Guard squad – but the filthy sorceries of the Plague God find a weak link... +

+ One after another, half a dozen Fire Caste Warriors collapse, their bodies overcome with a strange wasting disease. The remainder, already fearful, flee as the strange bells toll. +

+ Result: Chaos victory +


+ It was surprising to see just how much firepower Plague Marines can take. This infantry-focussed skirmish probably played to their strengths, and I suspect Hunter Cadre Hunk will bring more specialised equipment next time! +

+ As with the game summarised yesterday – the First Battle of Heyn'Am [+noosphericinloadlink embedded+] – the Plague Marines didn't kick out much firepower of their own, with the majority of casulaties being caused either by morale losses or through mortal wounds generated by the sorcerer. Curse of Lepers involves rolling seven dice; each that exceeds the nearest enemy unit's toughness causes a mortal wound. This proved deadly in this game, grievously hurting the battlesuit commander and wiping out half of a Strike Team. +

+ While the 'shock and awe' effect of seeing a new army was novel, I can't imagine that a whole army of Plague Marines – as I'd originally planned – would be very fun to play against, purely owing to the sheer difficulty of removing the buggers. I think I'll prioritise some cultists and things to help with the variety for larger games. +

+ Nevertheless, it was a fun game, and – as 8th seems to encourage – packed with fun little events that suggest stories. +

+ What next? +
+ With the Bleak Vespers having made their way through the mountains, they have the option of pushing on to Waygoan, one of the Tau-held cities on Or'Na, and claiming it in the name of Kainan and the Curdling Armada. Will the Tau's auxiliary forces be ready in time to defend it – or can Strongheel's veteran forces such as  Commander Starblade and Commander Suna Sene launch a counter-assault? +

+ Secondly, whatever will happen to Naseel? I can't imagine being captured by Chaos is good for him... Will he escape, be rescued, or will some strange fate happen to him? +


Dutch_Law said...

Fantastic report, all the better for great terrain and minis. Well done. The sense of hopelessness at the Plague Marines advance really came through. I'm looking forward to reading about the next encounter.

Paul-Friedrich von Bargen said...

Thank you for the great Battle Report!

The Composer said...

Oh very pretty! A well written report and a lovely table. Very good to see some story-telling spirit in the game. :) Well done!

slovak said...

Love it. Compelling and cinematic story telling, well done.