+ inload: 9th edition battle report +

+ A Warhammer 40,000 9th edition battle report +

Running battles; dozens of them. The Church had become increasingly bold in recent weeks, and reports were coming in of attacks on numerous checkpoints, hillsides and strongholds. Many supposedly secure bunker complexes had been overrun – and more alarminngly, this was often through sheer force of arms rather than the subterfuge that had been the Church's modus operandi prior to the Mun Offensive. 

The Gatebreakers had fought the corporaptors before – Gnostic Tsenpo had consulted the records, and knew the clearest route to victory lay in killing the group's forefather; which would badly disrupt the group's abilities in both short- and long-term. Of course, this necessitated finding the accursed thing first...

Phen Mun was an outlying township, near the coast. It had suffered badly during the war as the two sides tried to strangle river traffic. Prepared for one of the short, vicious firefights that had characterised the war since the Mun Offensive – at which the Space Marines had proved ruinously successful – the Gatebreakers were wrong-footed by the appearance of the so-called All-Father and his elite forces in the region. 

Lacking the materiel and transport to track the beast, Tsenpo launched a desperate attempt to assassinate the creature before it could escape. The resulting engagement was short and brutal.


+ Game type and Mission +

+ This is a foray into the new Narrative 'Crusade' style of gaming; which seems to be a more developed version of the way our group has played since... well, forever. We opted for a 35PL game, which pushed us into the Incursion level – which is characterful jargon that basically means we wanted a fairly small game with a little space for fun stuff besides the basics. +

+ We opted for Supply Cache, which looked simple and approachable. The opposing forces would be scrabbling over four objectives. Unlike previous editions, you could build up points during the game (rather than just at the end), which we hoped would mean early engagement and less of a last-minute grab. +

+ Players and armies +

+ Bob Hunk would be fielding the insidious Church of Cosmic Wisdom, an apostolic and energetic missionary group who – sadly for the Imperium – are energetically 'improving' mankind on the Edgeworlds by converting them into half-alien horrors!
  • The All-Father: Genestealer Patriarch [Warlord]
  • Brother Onderghast: Iconward
  • The Cosmic Children: Purestrains
  • The Enlightened Circle: Acolytes
  • Kreen's Wisdom Seekers: Neophytes
  • Narek's Prayer Circle: Neophytes
  • Truck 01: Goliath
+ The members of the Church are Devoted Zealots – that is, they use the Pauper Princes rules, which grants them the ability to re-roll hit rolls for attacks made with Melee Weapons under certain circumstances. +

+ apologist – that is, me – would field the Gatebreakers Strikeforce IX:

  • Gnostic Tsenpo: Primaris Lieutenant [Warlord]
  • Eremite Ysaak Rama: Primaris Chaplain
  • Gentle: Space Marine: Primaris Apothecary
  • Thunderhead: ten-strong Intercessor squad with auto bolt rifles.
  • Hook Echo: five-strong Intercessor squad with stalker bolt rifles.
  • Cloudbreaker: five-strong Intercessor squad with auto bolt rifles.
+ The Gatebreakers Chapter Tactics are Rapid Assault, which allows them to ignore the penalty for moving and firing assault weapons, and Stalwart, which means their posthuman bodies never take damage on less than 3, regardless of the attacker's strength. +


+ Terrain and Agendas +

+ The district was typical of the winding streets of the city; bombed-out Imperial-style buildings hurriedly put back into use for storage of food and essentials. Both sides were running thin on supplies, and securing the area would be a boon to the victors. Besides this, the Church were keen to deploy vox-relays to increase the propaganda they could transmit; and had standing orders to assassinate any personalities. +

+ Bob Hunk's choice of Agendas meant the cult could spend a turn erecting vox-speakers on any objectives they captured. These would remain in place unless the Gatebreakers could capture the objective, in which case they'd deactivate or tear them down. Assassins meant that units would gain 2 experience points for each Gatebreaker character they managed to bring down. +

+ The unknowing Gatebreakers, meanwhile, were conducting sweep-and-clear operations, with orders to clear and secure the area. Cull the Hordes would give units 1 experience point every time they killed 6 or more models in one round. Secure the Area meant an infantry unit could spend a turn securing an area near the centre of the battlefield; gaining experience points equal to the number of times they managed to do this over the course of the mission. +

+ After placing the objective markers, Bob Hunk won the roll-off and picked the northern flank (left of picture above). +


+ Opening turns +

+ Picking up multiple readings on their auspices, the Gatebreakers broke into a combat jog, cradling their weapons and advancing quickly. Cloudbreaker moved up on the west, while Hook Echo occupied the small central ruin alongside Tsenpo and the Gentle. +

+ At Tsenpo's urging, both combat squads of Thunderhead raced forwards on the eastern flank, alongside Eremite Rama. The broad deployment of forces would hinge around the powerful stalker bolt rifles of Hook Echo. +

+ Cloudbreaker reported sightings of the enemy, and closed to the edge of the ruin, which obscured their sights. +

+ Inside, the Wisdom Seekers were busy erecting one of the church's accursed vox-posts, under Kreen's gimlet-eyed supervision. A number looked about them warily, their inhuman sense perhaps raising their suspicions. Were they observed? +

+ Urgently, Cloudbreaker reported an anomlous return on the auspex... Something much bigger than cultists... +

+ Corporators! The four-armed fiends were accompanying the grandsire of the whole cult. Tsenpo swiftly revised his plans... +

+ Their comrades' keen eyes gave Thunderhead perfect triangulation, and in a hail of fire, supported by Tsenpo's own master-crafted bolt rifle, the genestealers were torn to shreds. As the smoke and gore cleared, The snarling All-Father appeared unharmed and hissing in defiance. +

[This rather startling beginning to the Gatebreakers' story was a particularly fortuitous combination of the Chaplain's Recitation of Focus (+1 to hit), the Lieutenant's proximity (allowing them to re-roll To Wound rolls of 1), the Chapter trait Rapid Assault, which mean there was no detriment to the assault Bolt Rifles for moving, and the sheer number of shots going downfield. I think both Bob Hunk and I were a bit taken aback!]

+ As Cloudbreaker turned back to the Wisdom Seekers, one of the Members-Ordinary thought he spotted the Patriarch approaching... +

+ This overview doesn't show the eastern part of the battlefield, where Thunderhead and the Eremite were closing in on Narek's Prayer Circle, who were closing on the third objective. The Gatebreakers have had a strong start, wiping out a dangerous elite unit, and heavily damaging the Goliath with Hook Echo's Stalker Bolt Rifles. +

[Space Marines infantry certainly kick out a lot of damage with the most recent Codex. Being heavy, the Stalker Bolt Rifles were kicking out long range fire that caused two damage per hit, and were causing -2 to the tank's armour saves thanks to the Devastator Doctrine.]

+ Racing over to the west with terrifying speed, the All-Father's psychic might licked out, dazing and hypnotising the marines of Cloudbreaker. +

+ As his children began to spit out largely ineffectual gunfire against the armoured giants, the All-Father leapt into combat; his mighty claws tearing into the staggered Astartes, who possessed enough presence of mind to back off. +

[An unfortunate set of attack rolls on the All-Father's part were further offset by my use of the stratagem Transhuman Physiology, which meant only one Space Marine fell to the Patriarch's claws. Their own return attacks did nothing. ]

Tsenpo ordered Thunderhead to continue advancing on the central objective as the Eremite broke off to the east, the warrior long-used to fighting alone. +

+ The damaged Truck 01 continued to spit out fire, but a combination of poor aim and the Gatebreaker's heavy armour prevented any casualties. +


+ Midgame +

+ Overconfidence is a killer – and though the Gatebreakers had had a storming start, the genestealers were ahead on points, having captured two objectives early on and raising a vox on one of them.  The Space Marines needed to capitalise on their strong start, and play catch-up. However, the Church was now in a position to make more of its own strategems, and close-in fighting would potentially favour the xenos monsters... +

+ Heedless of danger, the Gentle raced forward to claim the central objectives – only for the smouldering Truck 01 to smash into him, moments after disgorging Brother Onderghast and the hybrids of the Enlightened Circle. +

+ Member-Ordinary Akinyemi roared out his anger, and led half of Thunderhead in an advance on the Goliath. +

[This would prove to be a critical error on my part. Having been lulled by the squads ability to advance and fire their Auto Bolt Rifles at full effect, I realised moments too late that advancing would prevent them from charging. D'oh! Bob Hunk graciously offered to allow me to take back the advance, but I thought it would be a good learning moment.]

+ Full of fire and fury, Eremite Rama burst round – or rather through – the damaged corner with a corner. The startled neophytes dropped their vox-rigging and scrambled backwards as Rama advanced upon them, bolt pistol blazing. +

+ The Gentle rocked backwards, injured but alive, as Member-Cardinal Amdu Tsang yelled out a warning. +

+ Shaking their heads to clear them, Cloudburst fell back, desperately trying to draw a foggy bead on their foe. The oppressive fog prevented any damage being caused, and the beleaguered Astartes desperately scrambled backwards. + 

+ Combat was short and scrappy, with the All-Father taking down two of the Astartes [Another set of unfortunate rolls, offset slightly by Bob Hunk's expedient use of a command point.] Eremite Rama bulled over four of his opponents, the survivors desperately trying to drag him down. + 

+ In the centre, the Enlightened Circle tore into Tsang's combat squad, their heavy rock drills and swirling combat blades bringing down three of the marines; who killed all but one of the alien hybrids in return. +

+ Brother Onderghast defiantly waved his icon, hissing and snarling at the Gentle, who was wavering from blood loss. Repeated vicious blows from the corporator hybrid nearly felled him, and he fell to his knees. +

+ The objective remained in alien hands, and Tsenpo reluctantly committed his reserves. Stepping out of cover, he was himself hit, sprawling backwards, badly hurt. +

[This swirling combat, involving the Goliath, the Iconward and the Acolytes against the Apothecary and two – soon to be three – combat squads of Gatebreakers would prove crucial. Although the Gatebreakers outnumbered the genestealers, the bulk of the Goliath prevented their troops getting close enough to make numbers count.]

+ Closing turns +

+ Strikeforce IX was closing in fast on the Church's early lead. They now contested two of the previously alien-held objectives, and had held onto their own. Furthermore, they had scored a Cull the Enemy agenda, and no characters had yet been assassinated. +

+ Screeching defiance, Onderghast was clubbed down by Hook Echo – but the hybrid gave a cackle of joy as the failsafe explosive device on Truck 01 exploded, tearing apart the vehicle and a number of Astartes in an apocalyptic blast! Shielding itself behind the bulk of the Gentle, the Iconward scrambled away in the confusion, reluctantly abandoning the Church's banner. +

[This was a crucially well-played strategem. As the Gatebreakers finished off the Goliath, Bob Hunk detonated the truck as it was wrecked. This resulted in the death of the last acolyte, but also killed the Gentle and three other Astartes with a decent bunch of mortal wounds.]

+ As the smoke cleared, the grim-faced survivors looked down on their Gentle. He was fatally wounded; a poor omen for the future. +

+ Over on the western flank, Member-Cardinal Zhangsui's luck finally ran out, as the All-Father furiously tore apart the survivors of his squad and battered him into the wall. As his vision faded, he saw the approaching Wisdom Seekers of Kreen's circle... +

[Hypnotised and battered throughout the game, Cloudbreaker had an awful time of things. Nevertheless, by keeping the Patriarch occupied for so long, and potentially threatening the vox-mast the Neophytes had erected, I think they played a crucial role. I really like the new actions that units can do, as they provide a means for less obviously threatening or damage-dealing units to have a vital place; whether that's setting up voxes or breaking them down.]

+ The vengeful Gatebreakers took up positions in the ruins. The survivors of the depleted Thunderhead combat squad began to secure the centre of the battlefield while the full strength squad moved to evaluate the chances of apprehending the patriarch. Hook Echo took up position on the first floor, and the remaining marines tore apart the exposed members of the Wisdom Seekers – the survivors scrambling deeper into cover, towards their All-Father. +

[The closing turns were swift, with both sides opting to consolidate their positions. The final turn had no shooting at all, as the Wisdom Seekers were deep in area terrain.]

+ Endgame, postgame and conclusions +

+ The sounds of gunfire dropped, as it became clear the Church's forces had been thoroughly routed. The field was littered with tattered dead – but at a high cost. Despite relatively low casualties, the Gatebreaker's Gentle had been slain, and the Astartes would be forced to retreat and let the local army occupy the battleground. Worse than this, thought Tsenpo grimly – the accursed prime-corporaptor would now be alerted to its plight, and the nature of its enemy... +

+ Result: Gatebreakers victory +

+ The postgame sequence was necessarily fairly hurried, as Bob Hunk had to head back to his alien lair (or his house, one of the two). It provided some nice narrative results, with Truck 01 being granted Bob Hunk's Mark of Favour (and for any Tenacious D fans, gaining the nickname The Pick-up Truck of Destiny). The only casualty of the Out of Action tests (made by destoryed units) was my nameless Apothecary, who rolled the dreaded '1'. As a result, he suffered a 'Devastating Blow' which meant he lost all his experience. Serves me right for fielding him without a name! +

+ I thought I'd build this into the storyline, and have him actually dying – he can (narratively) be replaced by a new upcoming Gentle – who'll have some shoes to fill, thanks to his predecessor's heroic charge, and will presumably be under the close eye of Gnostic Tsenpo. The same datasheet will be used for his successor, as it has no in-game effect. +

+ Squad Thunderhead, unsurprisingly, were the big beneficiaries for the Gatebreakers. They had claimed scalps in both shooting (including a Cull the Hordes for the puretrains) and in combat, and had Secured the Area. I thought it fitting to give them my MVP award, which meant they gained their first Battle Honour. I opted for Battle-tested, an upgrade which means they can shoot while making an Action, and gain a morale bonus near an objective – a nice all-round bonus that complements their role. +


Rather than add some scrappy notes here, I'll pop up some more extensive thoughts on the game, and 9th in general at some point soon in a dedicated inload. For the moment, suffice to say that I thoroughly enjoyed the game and thought that Crusade is very promising. Thanks as always to my gracious Skumgrod, Bob Hunk, for a fun and involving game. +


RSF_Angel said...

A cracking read. The photography is good and I appreciate the time it takes out of the game to set that up.

I like how the different primaris 'all boltgun' loadouts help sell the idea of a chapter making do without heavier /rarer equipment.

Looking forward to getting some crusade in after lockdown.

Greg B said...

Very nicely done - I appreciate how the new variants of the basic bolt gun allow for more variety of approach on the table. Plus, they look great!

I still miss the heavy weapon specialists, though, and remain a grouchy grognard in terms of the vehicles having "wounds" in the 8th/9th edition...

That said, this is a great example of some fun with a smaller-scale game! Inspiring my own 9th edition snail-pace progress. Thanks for sharing!

Suber said...

Oh, sir, *that* is a game. Everything looks fantastic, and the pics are truly awesome, I love them!

Dutch_Law said...

Super game, minis and write-up. Just wow. Thank you.

slovak said...

"Gimlet-eyed". Well done, nice descriptor and good battle.