+ inload: Battle report: Meeting Engagement on Gundrun Prime +

+ Meeting Engagement on Gundrun Prime +


Dawn; and the cobwebs stirring in the windows of the long-neglected abbey were all the indication of the former population. Having endured Old Night, the degraded inhabitants clustered in what had once been an important regional centre for the safety it offered. 

It had already been proven an empty promise. Over the course of less than a century, the people had been contacted and made Compliant; brought into the light of the Emperor – and then abruptly been informed that the Warmaster Horus was now their liege lord. 

If he were even aware of the planet, one wonders at his reaction at finding elements of two Legions supposedly under his command squabbling over the scraps.

The locals huddled together as distant gunfire began to be heard...

Game rules: Antares 2 [+noosphericinloadlink embedded+]
Mission: Meeting Engagement – aiming to degrade the enemy while maintaining their own strength, both sides were attempting to break the spirit of their enemy. The game would last for six turns, or until one side was reduced to half or fewer of their starting Order Dice (achieved by destroying whole units). 
Combatants: Apologist, commanding the Emperor's Children; vs Lucifer216, commanding the Night Lords.
Battleground: The Feudal World of Gundrun Prime – of little value itself, but a good proxy for control of the Luciferran forges. The victor would be able to throttle control of heavy armour across the region.

+ Building on the playtesting done for our earlier game, The Mirror Plains [+noosphericinloadlink embedded+], this was a further test of our adaptation of the Gates of Antares 2 rules. It was also Lucife216's first introduction to the rules, so again it was deliberately fairly low-key and simple. +


+ Forces +

+ A larger game than the Mirror Plains, each Commander had been entrusted with a standard mechanised demi-company of thirty Legionaries deploying as six five-man tactical combat squads. Each side also deployed two Rhinos and a Land Raider apiece. +

+ Each side thus had nine units. Since both Rhinos and Land Raiders are Mulit-Order-Dice (MOD) units – meaning they can act twice in one turn – there were twelve Order Dice for each side. To win, an army would have to reduce their enemies' Order Dice total to fewer than six at the start of a new turn. +

+ Deployment and early turns +

+ The Night Lords clustered their forces on the left, with a lone combat squad on the right in support of the Land Raider. The Emperor's Children, meanwhile, adopted a more centralised deployment. Both sides quickly advanced to take advantage of the available cover, while taking pot-shots at each other. +

+ The early turns were characterised by the Land Raiders wheeling around the central woodland, looking for advantage. The Night Lord Land Raider had the better of the duel, inflicting blast markers on its opposite number, while the purple tank's shots went wide or were saved. +

+ Night Lords Tactical Squads in the centre +

+ Boltguns had received some tweaks since the last game, being upgraded to firing 2 x SV1 shots, with Rapid Fire. Along with the introduction of Bolter Drill (a rule that replaces the fun buddy drone reroll lost in the translation from Antares to Horus Heresy), this meant that they had the potential to deal a lot more damage once the two forces closed. For the moment, the few blast markers being inflicted were the result of long range support weapons like missile launchers and autocannons – and even these were causing no out-and-out casualties. +

+ Emperor's Children mass to defend against the Night Lord Land Raider. While the tactical legionaries had no hope of destroying it outright, being able to place blast markers would be a way to render it combat ineffective. +

+ At the end of turn 2 of the six turn game, there were no major casualties; cover and range meaning that only a few scattered blast markers and a couple of luckless Emperor's Children legionaries would trouble the sides going forward. +


+ Mid-game +

+ The Night Lords advance with the limited force on the right were risking pinning down a superior force. Wanting to avoid this, the Emperor's Children vehicles consolidated their forces towards the centre, hoping to strand the Night Lords Land Raider while it circled the wood. +

+ Realising that hesitation was allowing the Emperor's Children Land Raider to dominate the centre, the Night Lords began an advance on the left, pushing forward their mounted troops. It was somewhat hampered by the numbers of blast markers building up on their unmounted allies. Not one but two Night Lord combat squads failed their Order rolls – perhaps wanting to see how their fellows fared first! +

+ While the advance was thus not the knock-out blow it could have been, it did succeed in establishing a position on the flank, from where the Night Lords threatened to encircle the Emperor's Children lines. +

+ Wanting to avoid this, the central Emperor's Children Rhino moved forward, ready to receive the Emperor's Children tacticals and redeploy. A key failed order meant that the tacticals hesitated a moment too long – and were caught by an assault from the Night Lords! +

+ In the centre, ten Night Lords were being hammered by long-range support weapon fire – and more pointedly, the Emperor's Children Land Raider, which opted to take the risk of acting early and hoping that it could avoid too much damage when its opposite number came to move. +

+ On the right, twenty of the Emperor's Children marines were still struggling to deal with the Land Raider. Although they had managed to wipe out the supporting infantry, it had a been a poor trade, with the Land Raider destroying their support Rhino with little effort. At risk of being stranded out of position, the infantry 
began moving forward and left. +

+ By the end of turn four, casualties were mounting up, but the Night Lords were slightly ahead, remaining one Order Die ahead as the sides traded units. +


+ Closing turns +

+ Things were tightly in the balance. While the Emperor's Children were fractionally behind in Order Dice at the start of turn five, a string of their Order Dice being pulled from the bag (four in a row!) meant that they were able to press the attack in a number of key areas, and place additional blast markers on the already-disrupted Night Lords. +

+ As an illustration of this, the Emperor's Children Land Raider shrugged off the lone blast marker on itself (units that successfully pass an order check remove one blast marker – that's why it's generally best to focus on key units with at least two of your own) and opened up on an exposed squad of Night Lords gamely attempting to support the drive down the centre. Two rounds of firing saw the squad all but eliminated – and the resulting number of blast markers meant that the survivors of the squad broke and fled. +

+ On the right flank, the Night Lords Land Raider had got fearfully embroiled. While it was still undamaged and threatening, the constant harrying from the Legionary squads was preventing it clearing its blast markers, and the resulting negative modifiers to its command meant that it suffered a failed Order check. This resulted in the crucial order being changed to Down: making it more survivable (units targetting a Down unit have to reroll successful hits), but meaning that it was unlikely to be able to make headway. +

+ While it was able to move and target the Emperor's Children Land Raider at last, its shots proved as fatefully ineffective as the Emperor's Childrens' had at the start of the battle. + 

+ Fate was clearly wearing a wry grin, as this was followed up by the two Emperor's Children tactical squads in the centre each failing their crucial order rolls, leaving them Down and their beleaguered colleagues in the lurch! +

+ On the left, the Night Lords continued pressing the attack, being rewarded by wiping out the Emperor's Children behind the rocky outcrop. Had their fellow made it across to support, it was likely that they could have pressed onwards – but it was not to be, as they were instead driven back by weight of fire of the rapidly-redeploying Emperor's Children. +

+ The closing turn saw the critical events – the loss of the Night Lords' Land Raider, and some final piece trading. It was close – both sides had lost around half their starting number... but which could claim the field? +


+ Result: Emperor's Children victory! +

+ Almost too close to call! The result of this razor-close game came down to a single Order Die – a fitting six remained to the Emperor's Children, while the Night Lords were down to five, thanks to the eventual loss of their Land Raider. +

As the Night Lords slipped away into the approaching darkness, the Emperor's Children began counting their casualties. 


+ Post-game musings +

+ We enjoyed a post-game cup of recaf and talked over the events. Lucifer216 really enjoyed the flow and sense of manoeuvre – a key appeal of the Antares 2 mechanics for me, too. +

+ The adjustments to the movement characteristics (up to 10cm from 6cm) helped with the above, and felt about right to me in comparison with the Mirror Plains. You still need to run to make substantial redeployments, but standard advances feel decisive – and crucially, it doesn't look weird when you sprint, either. +

+ Likewise, the boltgun tweaks made firefights with basic weapons a bit more interesting. The high resilience stat (Res) of 7 that I gave to Space Marines means that they're hard to hurt – so adding SV1 to the gun reduces the save to 6 or less. Also leaves some space for future-proofing (for SV0 lasguns, for example). +

+ I think, however, there is an argument that the boltgun could be further refined by simply making it 2 shots. Even taking into account the -1 to accuracy (Acc) this adds, neither Lucifer216 nor myself chose to use the single shot option. In fact, I'm not really sure where that would ever really come into consideration, as in almost every case, it's better simply to roll more dice, even at -1. Perhaps I'm missing something crucial. +

+ We'll discuss things further, but I'm erring towards testing bolters as simple two-shot guns. That takes one modifier out of the equation, and generally frees up brainspace for things like range, cover etc. It'll clean up the statline, too. +

+ The other big thing that I'm wondering about is the resilience of the Land Raider. As it stands, it's all but untouchable to the infantry. One the one hand that's fitting; one the other, I don't want the Space Marines themselves to be a burdensome tax that you take to maximise the number of vehicles you can field. +

+ Whether we deal with that by reducing the Res of the Land Raider (currently 15), or by tweaking the stats of anti-tank weapons – or whether it's simply that we haven't yet painted up the sort of stuff you would take to deal with heavy tanks (Predators, Devastators and the like), I'm not sure. I'd suggest we keep this iconic battle tank as-is for now, and make a mental note to reassess after some battles with other tanks. +


+ ...and speaking of other tanks, I imagine that this conflict, having opened up the route to the Luciferran Forges, will see follow-up battles featuring Dreadnoughts, Predators and so forth sooner rather than later. Perhaps even some slightly bigger stuff? Watch this space. +

+ On a final note, I'm pleased to say that the spectacle got both Stuntwedge and Warmtamale interested, so the struggle for the region will face the addition either of the Salamanders or the Sons of Horus – and perhaps some xenos... +


Greg B said...

What a cool looking game, well done.

Suber said...

This is so glorious. Fantastic!!