(art by Games Workshop)
When chronicles of the Indomitus Crusade look back to what is now known as the Battle of Desolation Row, there is much dispute as to the cause of this battle– who fired the first shot, why it escalated to the point that it did, and what ultimately could have possessed loyal servants of the Emperor to take up arms and wage war against one another.
What is certainly known is that the battle erupted in the final stages of the cleansing of Hive Steele on Tarantulus IV. By this point, the Chaos-worshipping rebellion on the planet had been mostly defeated, its armies annihilated in open battle and its demogues slain. The last vestiges of resistance occupied an industrial district of the Hive, nicknamed “Desolation Row” by Imperial forces due to the fact that it had been largely abandoned when the shelling of the Hive had first began. The honour of cleansing this district went to the Astartes of the Storm Angels chapter, the Sororitas of the Order of the Blessed Damsel, and numerous Astra Militarum and Questor Imperialis support. Minimal resistance was encountered, and two hours into the operation, the district was declared free of Archenemy forces.
No one knows who then fired the first shot, or why. Perhaps the Storm Angels, afflicted as they were by the genetic curse of the Blood Angels, succumbed to madness and mistook their allies for yet more foes. Perhaps the Sororitas knew of the curse, and saw their erstwhile allies as little better than unclean mutants. Perhaps, indeed, one of the Inquisitors overseeing the operation was responsible, acting perhaps out of some suspicion of heresy on the Storm Angels’ part or, indeed, out of the rumour that the Astartes had time-displaced Luna Wolves serving in their ranks. There remain unconfirmed reports from after the battle that there was an unsanctioned communique sent to the battlezone that may be responsible, but who it was sent from, to who, and what it contained all remain mysteries to this day.
What is known is that, within minutes of Desolation Row having been declared purged, the Astartes and the Sororitas suddenly began to open fire on one another. Confusion reigned, and the supporting Imperial units, unsure of what was happening, quickly took sides. What began as a firefight quickly escalated into a much larger conflict, and soon one of the most tragic battles of the Indomitus Crusade began…
A while back, my LGS held a weekend Apocalypse game. I had only heard about it the night before, and so the following morning I hurriedly packed everything in my Imperial collection and rushed off. (Well, not everything. I had forgotten my Grey Knights and most of my Assassins, but I digress). I had barely managed to compile a list on Battlescribe the night before, and so had a semi-decent 3500-ish points to work with. I was feeling somewhat prepared when I arrived at the store…
…and found only one other player there. After the store managers asked us to wait for a bit, they ultimately decided to go ahead with it and have us battle it out with our full, Apocalyptic collections in a one on one game.
I had brought the following:
ORDER OF THE BLESSED DAMSEL (with allies from House Wynngarde, the Inquisition and the Officio Assassinorum):
ADEPTUS MINISTORUM BATTALION DETACHMENT
Saint Celestine- 2 Geminae Superiae, Legendary Fighter
Inquisitor Greyfax- Mental Fortitude
15 Battle Sisters- flamer, heavy flamer, Sister Superior w. combi flamer
5 Battle Sisters- storm bolter, heavy flamer
-Immolator- Immolation flamer
5 Battle Sisters- flamer, heavy flamer
-Immolator- Immolation flamer
6 Retributors- 4 heavy bolters
ADEPTUS MINISTORUM VANGUARD DETACHMENT
Ministorum Priest- laspistol, eviscerator
Ministorum Priest- bolt pistol, power maul
ADEPTUS MINISTORUM OUTRIDER DETACHMENT
Canoness- bolt pistol, Blade of Admonition
9 Seraphim- 2 hand flamers
5 Dominions- 4 meltaguns
5 Dominions- 4 meltaguns
-Immolator- twin multi-melta
SUPER-HEAVY AUXILIARY DETACHMENT
Knight Warden “Galemourn”- meltagun, Stormspear missile launcher
As is the case with a lot of my games, there were a lot of things that I was experimenting with in this list. In particular, the Greyfax, the Seraphim, and the Canoness (or more importantly, the Blade of Admonition) were all getting their 8th edition test runs…as was, more importantly, the Knight, which had been sitting unused on my shelf since late 7th ed, begging me for a chance to use him. I could think of no better a field test than an Apocalypse game. Another experiment was the big walking blob of Battle Sisters: I wanted to see how well they performed, and was particularly interested to see if I could get off massed double-tapping volleys of bolter fire with them through faith points.
My opponent, meanwhile, brought:
THE STORM ANGELS (with allied Astra Militarum from an unknown regiment)
BLOOD ANGELS BRIGADE:
The Sanguinor- Heroic Bearing
Captain- Angel’s Wing, thunder hammer, storm shield
Sanguinary Priest- jump pack, thunder hammer
Primaris Lieutenant- bolt pistol, power sword
Primaris Lieutenant- Stalker bolt rifle
5 Tactical Marines- heavy flamer
-Razorback- twin assault cannon
5 Tactical Marines- heavy flamer
-Razorback- twin assault cannon
5 Tactical Marines- meltagun, Sergeant w. inferno pistol (painted as Luna Wolves)
5 Tactical Marines- meltagun, Sergeant w. inferno pistol
5 Tactical Marines- heavy flamer
5 Tactical Marines- heavy flamer
Contemptor Dreadnought- Kheres assault cannon
10 Death Company- jump packs, 4 power swords, 4 thunder hammers
10 Sanguinary Guard- death masks, 2 inferno pistols, 1 plasma pistol, 3 power fists
Sanguinary Ancient- power fist, death mask
3 Aggressors- Boltstorm cannons
10 Assault Marines- 2 meltaguns, Sergeant w. inferno pistol & power sword
10 Devastators- lascannon, missile launcher, 2 heavy bolters
10 Devastators- lascannon, missile launcher, 2 heavy bolters
ASTRA MILITARUM BATTALION:
Company Commander- Kurov’s Aquila
Tempestor Prime- Tempestus command rod
10 Guardsmen- flamer
10 Guardsmen- flamer
10 Guardsmen- flamer
Militarum Tempestus Command Squad- 2 plasma guns, 2 hotshot volley guns
Heavy Weapons Squad- 3 lascannons
Full disclaimer: this is actually half of what my opponent brought for the Apocalypse game. When it came down to determining the points value/power level, my opponent was forced to hastily set aside half of his army, which included most of his tanks, and a large portion of his Militarum Tempestus and transports. This still left him, though, with a lot of characters and a lot of scary units– I was particularly daunted by his giant unit of Sanguinary Guard. My opponent was quick to point out that the real one I would have to watch out for, though, was his Captain– who, thanks to a horrendous combination of relics, warlord trait and stratagems, had apparently smashed down even the likes of Mortarion in the past, and had earned the internet sobriquet of “Slamguinius.”
The game was a standard Apocalypse mission, with victory points per unit destroyed or for every 3 wounds on a Super-Heavy (something I forgot about until much later). Also, as this was only a one on one game instead of the sprawling multiplayer affair we had both been expecting, we both agreed to use only Warlords instead of Warmasters.
I set up the giant 15-girl blob of Sisters in the centre, supported by most of the characters, with the Arco-Flagellants, the Knight and Celestine all hovering nearby. The plan at the time was to use the Battle Sisters as an anvil to set up multiple counter-attacks by my hammers.
A wider look at the battlefield. My transports are spread across the field so that my other Battle Sisters can lend fire support as needed. I also had a squad of Dominions and an Exorcist on each of the flanks, and the Seraphim, Retributors and one of the Imagifiers on the right. The Callidus, naturally, was in reserve.
In response my opponent deployed a big line of red, gold and jade. The Sanguinary Guard, supporting characters and Dreadnought occupied the right flank, along with his Devastators, some Guardsmen, his Company Commander, Heavy Weapons and a Tactical Squad.
His transports occupied the centre along with his Assault Marines, Death Company, Aggressors, more Tactical Marines, more Guardsmen and his Scions.
Before the game began, my opponent used the Death Visions of Sanguinius stratagem to give him +1 attack on the charge and ignoring wounds on a 6.
I won the roll off to go first, and gladly took it. Let the purging of space vampires commence!
My turn began with a crisis of faith, as I failed to get any faith points off (even with a command point reroll). The best I was able to do was use Celestine’s free faith point to propel the Seraphim up the right flank. My plan, at the time, was to use the Seraphim to harass and slow down enemy forces on that flank, particularly that scary unit of Sanguinary Guard. Elsewhere, my Dominions…actually advanced more cautiously, edging up but not going zooming up full speed ahead. Looking back, I can’t decide if I made the right call, or if I should have sent them on full speed ahead to go blow something up.
In the movement phase, the Sisters blob moved up in the centre to get into bolter range. On the right flank, the Seraphim flew straight onwards, while the Knight, Dominions and Celestine all advanced a little cautiously. Finally, on the left, my Dominions’ Immolator took cover against the side of a building, both to take shelter from the Devastators and to be ready to drop meltaguns on the Blood Angel transports the moment they got close enough. Finally, my other Immolators hugged cover, ready to support my blob squad and/or advance into burninating range as needed. The general idea was to wait for the Blood Angels to come to me.
In the psychic phase, Greyfax cast Mental Fortitude on the Sisters blob, no doubt reassuring them that this was in no way witchcraft. In the shooting phase, though, the Seraphim let rip on the Guardsmen right in front of them with bolt and flame, burning down 8 of them and clearing a path to the Tactical Squad and Contemptor beyond. My right flank Exorcist followed up by doing 3 wounds to the Contemptor, while the Retributors blasted down 2 of the Tactical Marines next to it. In the centre, the large squad of Battle Sisters fired their bolters at long range and killed 7 of the leftmost Guardsmen, while the left Exorcist plinked 3 wounds off of the leftmost Razorback.
Then, finally, the Knight opened up. Its Avenger gatling cannon whirred to life, firing at the Aggressors…and proceeded to shred all three of them in one volley! To make things even better, its Stormspear missile launcher fired at the distant Heavy Weapons Teams, accurately hitting and killing all three lascannon teams! At that moment, I was quite amazed at just how brutal the Knight was.
In close combat, my Seraphim multi-charged both the Contemptor and the Tactical Marines, aiming to tie them up and then fall back out of combat to shoot more stuff at his rear lines. This turned out to be a horrendous idea: the Seraphim suffered four losses in overwatch. After making it into combat, they proceeded to flail uselessly at their opponents…and then get wiped out with contemptuous ease. Well, that was a bad plan. In the morale phase, at least, I was consoled when both squads of Guardsmen I had shot at evaporated from morale.
In the Blood Angels turn, a wall of tanks came zooming towards my massed Sisters, with Death Company and Assault Marines jetting up in their wake. I was rapidly getting the impression that things were about to get extremely bloody in the centre.
On the right flank, Guardsmen moved up, and a Lieutenant moved up alongside the Company Commander to bolster the Devastators and the Sanguinary Guard.
Speaking of whom, the Sanguinary Guard and their attendant characters moved up as well, screened by the remaining Tactical Marines and the friendly neighbourhood Contemptor.
In the shooting phase, my opponent had a lot of firepower to dole out. On the right flank, the Knight took fire from lascannons, missiles, Kheres assault cannons and even bolters, and under this withering hail of fire took 9 wounds, leaving it just barely clinging to its first level of damage. The Company Commander ordered the last Guard squad to First Rank Fire on the behemoth, but thankfully, I was spared the ignominy of it being damaged by lasguns. On the left flank, the Tempestor Prime ordered his squad to use Elimination Protocols on the Dominions’ Immolator. After all was said and done, both my left Immolator and rightmost Rhino took a few wounds.
Finally, in the centre, my poor Battle Sisters were hit with assault cannons, heavy bolters, storm bolters and miscellaneous other weapons. 7 Sisters went down, almost half the squad, but thanks to Greyfax’s mind control…er, I mean, inspiring leadership…they suffered no further losses to morale.
By the end of the turn, I hadn’t lost anything to enemy firepower (thankfully), but some of my units were beginning to take some serious damage. Next turn, I would have to deal with the Blood Angels’ firepower somehow…and at the same time deal with that scary golden death star that was coming my way.
Sisters of Battle: 5
Blood Angels: 1
At the start of my turn, faith points actually started to go off for a change. Celestine faith-jumped forwards, while the Retributors opened fire on the Tactical Marines who had all too recently killed the Seraphim, mowing down one. The Battle Sisters on foot, in turn, fired at the damaged Razorback, but failed to do any damage to it.
In the movement phase, Celestine flew around to the flank of the big Sanguinary Guard unit, while the Knight stomped up onto the hill in front of the Tactical Marines and Contemptor. The plan was to get rid of both of these units with shooting so that the Knight and Celestine could tag-team his Sanguinary Guard– a risky proposition, but I had to deal with that death star somehow. To support them, my rightmost Dominions disembarked and moved up to deal with the Contemptor. Elsewhere, my rightmost Immolator wheeled up onto a hill to target another squad of Guardsmen, while in the centre, the depleted Battle Sisters moved back, while the leftmost Dominions moved up to target line of oncoming Razorbacks. Between the Dominions and Battle Sisters, I made sure that there were few areas that his Death Company could jump down on to to go after my Battle Sisters/characters. My Rhino carrying the Arco-Flagellants also edged up, the cargo inside ready to bail out and counter-attack once the inevitable Blood Angel onslaught came.
Last but by no means least, my Callidus Assassin came out of hiding near one of his Devastator squads, as I figured I needed to neutralize if not tie up his shooting. In response, though, my opponent used the Auspex Scan stratagem to have his Devastators fire immediately at the Callidus; I was forced to watch in helpless surprise as my poor Assassin took a lascannon beam and several dozen bolter rounds to the face, killing her in mid-dramatic entrance. Okay, that was just rude.
In the psychic phase, Greyfax against cast Mental Fortitude on the Sisters on foot. In the shooting phase, the multi-melta Immolator did 3 wounds to the leftmost Razorback, before the Dominions fired and finished it off. As the Tactical Marines bailed out, my centre Immolator then burned down one of them.
The rest of my shooting in the centre was dismal, however, with my Battle Sisters, Exorcist and characters all managing to do only three wounds to the other Razorback.
On the right flank, the other Immolator burninated 8 of the last squad of Guardsmen, while the Retributors mowed down the last 2 Tactical Marines. The Dominions then fired on the Contemptor…and only did a dismal 3 wounds to it. The Exorcist was forced to pick up the slack, firing a salvo of missile and blasting off its last wounds. The Exorcist must have hit something vital, though, as the Contemptor proceeded to explode, killing a Geminae and two Dominions, wounding a Sanguinary Guard, the Ancient and the Priest, and most of all, doing 3 wounds to the Knight, bringing it into its second tier of damage! In death, the Contemptor had done far more damage than in life.
Unfortunately for me, in its damaged state the Knight was now hitting on 4s. It unleashed all of its guns on the nearby Sanguinary Guard…and when the dust had cleared, had only killed 3 of them, despite the sheer volume of armour-piercing, multi-damage fire I had thrown their way. For whatever it was worth, Celestine then fired at the Sanguinary Guard and flamed a wound off of one of them.
In the charge phase, the Knight thundered into the Sanguinary Guard, shrugging off their overwatch, while Celestine charged in as well, before the Sanguinor, Sanguinary Priest and Ancient all heroically intervened. In close combat, the Knight unleashed 12 attacks with his big stompy feet…and whiffed horribly, killing only one of them. Celestine, at least, showed him how it was done, killing three Sanguinary Guard while her Geminae wounded a fourth. In exchange, I was reminded then and there of the Blood Angels’ special rule, which, thanks in part to the Sanguinary Priest, saw them wounding the Knight on 4s (and on 2s with power fists). The Blood Angels tore 8 wounds off of my Knight, leaving it teetering on 4, while the Sanguinor hacked down the last Geminae and did 3 wounds to Celestine.
By the end of combat, my glorious charge had fizzled, and although I had severely reduced the Sanguinary Guard, now I was in very real danger of losing two of my most hard-hitting units. The last two Guardsmen, at least, went poof in the morale phase.
(Incidentally, one thing I realize that I could have, and probably should have done this phase was to charge the left Dominions into the surviving Razorback or the Rhino. This would not only have given the squad inside less room to disembark, but, in the case of the Razorback, would have kept it from shooting for a turn. That’s hindsight for you).
In the Blood Angel turn, everything withdrew from combat against the Knight except for the Sanguinary Guard, who kept the behemoth locked. The Captain, however, powered up his thunder hammer and flew in to say hi.
Meanwhile, the Assault Marines flew up to deal with my rightmost Immolator, and in the centre, all of the Blood Angel transports disgorged their contents, flooding the centre of my deployment zone with angry Tactical Marines (including his Luna Wolves squad).
If that wasn’t enough, the Death Company and Lemartes flew up onto the building overlooking my centre, looking for a potential multi-charge on my strung out Battle Sisters and vehicles. Oh joy.
In the shooting phase, the Tempestor Prime once again ordered Elimination Protocols on the Scions, and combined with the nearby Tactical Squad to plink a few more wounds off of the melta Immolator. The Assault Marines combined their fire with a squad of Devastators to wreck my rightmost Immolator, sending the Battle Sisters inside bailing out. The other squad of Devastators murdered my hapless squad of Dominions on the right flank, while in the centre, massed assault cannons and bolters shredded my other Dominion squad. Plasma and melta fire further damaged my centre-most Immolator, though by some miracle, my central Battle Sister squad only took one casualty. Given the losses my army had just taken, though, that was a small comfort.
In the charge phase, the Captain charged the Knight, while the Sanguinor, thanks to his special rules, charged back into combat with Celestine. In the centre, the Death Company multi-charged my Battle Sisters and melta Immolator, losing one to a heavy flamer and another to multi-meltas along the way, while two Tactical Squads multi-charged the Battle Sisters and my Dialogous. In response, Greyfax heroically intervened against the Death Company, as did the Canoness, though the latter was only able to get into base contact with Lemartes.
In close combat, the Captain swung out with his thunder hammer and inflicted 12 wounds, horrendously overkilling my poor Knight. Despite my hopes, the big guy did not explode, and thanks to the scenario rules, my opponent immediately gained 8 points for killing my Lord of War. Goodbye, big guy, I only knew you for two turns. (*Sniff*) The Sanguinor, meanwhile, wasted no time chopping poor Celestine down…though thankfully, the Living Saint then magically resurrected all the way on the other side of the battlefield, far out of cheesy Auspex range of the Devastators. (In retrospect, perhaps I should have brought her a bit closer to the big scrum in the centre).
Finally, in the centre, carnage happened: the Death Company effortlessly smashed apart my Immolator and shredded the remnants of my Battle Sister squad, while the Luna Wolves did 3 wounds to the Sister Dialogous.
I used a pair of command points to interrupt with the Canoness, eager to test out the Blade of Admonition. The Canoness did 3 wounds to Lemartes…and then my opponent proceeded to make all three of his invulnerable saves, before clubbing four wounds off of my Canoness in turn! Argh! The only highlight of this round was Greyfax, who fearlessly stood her ground and cut down two of the Death Company.
To make a bad turn even worse, at the end of the round, the Death Company consolidated into my other Immolator, leaving it unfortunately unable to shoot next turn. In retrospect, that had been my fault for leaving it so close, but still…argh.
Sisters of Battle- 9
Blood Angels- 15
At the start of my turn, things were looking grim. My Knight was down, I had suffered horrible losses, and while my Battle Sister trap had worked (sort of), I was still falling behind on points. Thankfully, I had plenty of faith points this turn. I had Celestine jump closer towards the centre, ready to join the big mass melee in the centre if need be, while one of her Geminae spontaneously resurrected. I debated healing up the Canoness, but, figuring that she wasn’t going to last long in that big melee anyway, instead had her swing out at the Death Company, hacking down three of the crazed lunatics. Finally, my Retributors fired at the Assault Marines, but only managed to fell one of the Blood Angels.
In the movement phase, I got to do what I was waiting for all game: [dramatic voice]release the Arco-Flagellants![/dramatic voice] The murder-cyborgs and their attendant Priest piled out of their Rhino and moved into charge range of the nicely compressed mass of Blood Angels. Elsewhere, the rightmost Battle Sisters, after losing their Immolator, edged back (hopefully) out of line of sight of the Blood Angels’ guns; the Dominions’ Rhino moved in in turn to shield them. Further near enemy lines, I did some pre-measuring and realized that unfortunately, Celestine wouldn’t make it into the central scrum without a really long charge, one that could potentially leave her exposed to fire from the Devastators. Instead, I flew her and her Geminae up to deal with the rightmost unit of Tactical Marines and their Scion buddies.
Finally, the Dialogous and Immolator withdrew from combat, content to let other people do the punching and the stabbing and whatnot.
In the psychic phase, Greyfax cast Smite and freemed down another three Death Company, leaving just one hammer-wielding psycho left. In the shooting phase, the Retributors again unloaded on the Assault Marines, and mowed down three of them. The two Rhinos then combined fire with their storm bolters, and to my pleasant surprise, blasted down three more! The rightmost Exorcist fired a salvo of missiles at the Sanguinary Guard, blasting apart two of them and leaving just one remaining. Last but not least, the leftmost Exorcist, lacking much else in the way of targets, blew away three Scions, while Celestine pointed with her sword and burninated the fourth.
Then came the part I had been waiting for: the Arco-Flagellants charged into the Blood Angel Tactical Marines, while elsewhere, Celestine and her Geminae multi-charged both the leftmost Tactical Squad and the Tempestor Prime. In close combat, the Arco-Flagellants went to town, unleashing something like 52 rerollable strength 5 attacks, wiping out one Tactical Squad and reducing the Luna Wolves to just one very shocked Marine. The Canoness, meanwhile, swung again at Lemartes and this time managed to get a hit past his save, dealing 3 wounds to him and leaving him hanging on 1. Lemartes, however, took umbrage to this and proceeded to smash the Canoness down, ending that particular duel. Greyfax did no better, failing to repeat her earlier success and taking 3 wounds from a thunder hammer.
On the other side of the field, Celestine elegantly hacked down 4 Tactical Marines, before her Geminae stabbed down the fifth. In return, the Tempestor Prime swung wildly with his command rod, but failed to do little more than mildly annoy the Living Saint.
At the end of the turn, the remaining Assault Marines evaporated from morale despite the And They Shall Know No Fear reroll. After consolidation, the last Blood Angels were nicely surrounded– save, that was, for Lemartes, who, now no longer engaged with anyone, was free to consolidate out of combat. I had, for the time being, taken the lead again in points, though retaining that lead would be tricky.
At the start of the Blood Angel turn, I had figured that Celestine was safely out of reach those nasty Blood Angel characters. My opponent proceeded to show me just how wrong I was, though, using the Upon Wings of Fire strategem to teleport his Captain across the board behind Celestine (prompting an “Okay, seriously, what?” from me). Lemartes, meanwhile, flew over the combat to confront Uriah Jacobus, and the last two Tactical Squads moved up towards the central combat. The last Razorback, meanwhile shuffled to get line of site to my disembarked Battle Sisters, and the remaining Blood Angel characters and the last Sanguinary Guard. no doubt wanting to conserve points, flew and hid behind the closest unit of Devastators.
In the shooting phase, the Devastators combined their fire to destroy my Dominions’ Rhino, exposing the Battle Sisters hiding behind it. Said Battle Sisters were then shot at by the Razorback, which did 5 wounds…and I proceeded to fail all 5 saves, wiping out the squad! ARGH! As a painful encore, Lemartes threw a grenade at Uriah and blasted 3 wounds off of him. Oh, well that was just rude.
In the assault phase, Lemartes charged Uriah, prompting a heroic intervention by the power maul-armed Priest. The Tactical Marines charged the Arco-Flagellants, and the Captain charged Celestine (I think he might have used the Descent of Angels strategem to do so).
In close combat, Lemartes and Uriah had a nice theological debate, one that ended with Lemartes bludgeoning Uriah into the ground. Vengeance was swift, however, as the angry lesser Priest bludgeoned down Lemartes in turn, putting an end to the crazy Chaplain’s rampage. In the big central combat, meanwhile, the two Tactical Squads combined to smash down one Arco-Flagellant and wound another. In exchange, the Arco-Flagellants went berserk, wiping out one of the new Tactical Squads and killing four from another, leaving one lonely Marine to face them. As an encore, the Priest accompanying the Arcos hacked down the last Luna Wolf with her eviscerator. It was all too late to save Greyfax, though, as she was pasted by the thunder hammer of the last Death Company Marine.
Finally, in the big title fight, the Captain used the Red Rampage stratagem to gain 8 attacks(!!!!). I braced myself as the Captain inflicted a bucketload of hits and wounds on Celestine. The last Geminae was quickly obliterated, and the tension was palpable as I rolled my saves. Somehow, by some miracle, Celestine weathered the storm of thunder hammer blows, still clinging to one wound. In return, I was faced with a conundrum: whether to have Celestine kill the Tempestor Prime and go for an easy point, or whether to do the cinematic thing and swing back at the Captain. In the end, I decided that an epic clash between heroes like this couldn’t be ignored, and had Celestine direct all of her attacks back at the Captain…only for them to bounce off his storm shield. The Tempestor Prime, meanwhile, whiffed his attacks again.
For a moment, I thought that Celestine was going to survive another round…until my opponent announced he was using the Honour the Chapter stratagem to strike again. This time, there was no miracle of the dice to save me: the Captain swung again, pulverizing the Living Saint with a storm of thunder hammer blows, netting my opponent Slay the Warlord and leaving me cursing his stratagems yet again.
Sisters of Battle- 16
Blood Angels: 21
At this point, it was getting late, and both my opponent and I agreed that this would be the last turn– which was just as well, since neither of us had much else left on the field. With an abundance of faith points, and no other targets in range, the Retributors fired at the Razorback and plinked one wound off of it. In the movement phase, the last Immolator moved up to threaten the Tempestor and Captain, though I had completely forgotten to disembark the Battle Sisters still inside. Everything else at this point was staying put, was locked in combat, or was dead.
In the shooting phase, the Retributors and rightmost Exorcist combined their fire and did 4 more wounds to the Razorback, but it was still left hanging on 3. The Immolator tried to burninate the Tempestor Prime so that the leftmost Exorcist could have a shot at the Captain…only to discover that I was well out of range. Once again, in typical me fashion, I had forgotten to advance and shoot with the Immolator. Out of sheer spite, the leftmost Exorcist fired at the Tempestor, obliterating him and his impressive moustache in a volley of missiles.
Close combat was a short and sweet affair, with the Arco-Flagellants massacring both the last Tactical Marine and the last Death Company dude before consolidating upwards, the two Priests taking shelter behind the wall of chem-induced murder cyborgs.
In the Blood Angels turn, the Razorback angled back a little to get full line of sight on my Arco-Flagellants, while the Captain flew up to confront my squad of psychos in what promised to be the title fight of the game. Everything else in the Blood Angel army stayed put.
In the shooting phase, the Razorback, Rhino and Devastators all opened fire on my Arco-Flagellants. Despite being two wounds each, the Arcos’ meagre toughness of 3 and 5+ save showed just how vulnerable they were to shooting, as little by little they were whittled down. By the end of the shooting phase, the Arco-Flagellants were wiped out entirely, earning the Blood Angels another kill point and removing the only unit left that could have feasibly stopped that Captain.
In close combat, the Captain charged the eviscerator-armed Priest (again, he might have used Descent of Angels to do so), prompting the maul-armed Priest to heroically intervene. In the last, epic close combat of the game, the first Priest revved up her eviscerator…and was mercilessly swatted aside by the Captain. In response, her fellow Priestess lunged, dealing three wounds with her power maul…and, anticlimactically, the Captain saved all three. Darn.
And with that, the game was over…
Sisters of Battle: 19
Blood Angels: 24
RESULT: BLOOD ANGEL VICTORY!
Thoughts: HAH! Unbeknownst to my opponent, my true objective this whole time was to kill his squad of Luna Wolves! With that done, the true heretics have been destroyed, the timeline has been corrected and victory is mine! Right? No? Okay…
Holy crap, though, what a game! It had been ages since my last large-scale game, and I had quite forgotten how destructive they could be. The amount of firepower we were trading back and forth and the sparse amount of terrain meant that a lots of units on both sides were dying fairly regularly. Despite my loss, it was a thrilling game, and I am rather amazed to see that, despite my blundering, I had managed to make the score so close at the end.
So, quick thoughts and lessons on that game:
-I wasted my Seraphim early on. I had some vague idea of using them to tie up the enemy flank and harass the enemy backfield; in retrospect, maybe I was remembering how I used them in prior editions, when they could either turn their saves invulnerable or have Celestine tank damage for them, and were a bit more durable.
-In general, I went into this game without any sort of plan, and it didn’t help that I had more or less forgotten about the Blood Angels’ rules and stratagems going into this battle (or blissfully forgot them after my opponent gave me a quick explanation before the game). As such, I was completely at a loss on how to deal with things like, say, the Blood Angels wounding my Knight on 4s, or Slamguinius pulling off his teleporting trick, or Devastators countering my Callidus so easily.
-The big 15-girl unit of Battle Sisters isn’t really that effective an anvil unit, as despite its large size, it will take casualties far too quickly. Even with their 3+ saves, they are still only toughness 3, and will still suffer heavy losses to dedicated firepower. Unsurprisingly, there was little left of the unit by the time the Death Company came steamrolling in. Even so, my tactic of using them as an anvil/bait worked (sort of), as it ended up drawing a lot of his units into Marine-munching range of my Arco-Flagellants.
-My Callidus Assassin was wasted going after the Devastators; had I remembered the Auspex Scan stratagem, I would have instead had her show up in a remote part of the battlefield and instead use her Reign of Confusion ability to force my opponent to spend more command points; given how many CPs his Captain was going through in the later stages of the game, I think this would have been a much wiser and much more effective use for her.
-The Knight was fantastic…until it wasn’t. I think after that first turn where the Knight’s firepower obliterated two units at once, I got overconfident with him and charged him headlong into the Sanguinary Guard death star. To be fair, the exploding Contemptor knocking the Knight into a damaged state probably was the main reason why he failed as much as he did, and if he had still been in his top damage tier, I feel he would have done a lot more damage thanks to hitting on 3s. My opponent suggested that in this game, I probably would have been better hanging back with the Knight and using his firepower to the fullest, and using a Knight Crusader build (gatling and battle cannon) instead. I don’t disagree, the extra firepower would have been nice, so maybe I should start getting some of the Knight’s other weapon arms assembled and painted. Regardless, the Knight was another classic example of me playing far too recklessly in this game– against Blood Angels, a more cautious play style is needed, I think.
-The Arco-Flagellants, as always, were amazing, and their timely counter-attack nearly swung the game around for me. My opponent admitted that he had charged his Tactical Squads into them to protect his Razorback, but in my opinion, all he did was exchange one kill point for two, especially since my Arcos gain rerolls to hit again when they are charged. Easily, they were my MVPs in this battle.
-My opponent’s army build has inspired me to consider an allied Astra Militarum detachment for my own army. Although his Guardsmen died in droves, their very presence gave my opponent yet more Command Points that he used to excellent effect (especially in the later stages of the game, when his Captain started going Super Saiyan).
-At present, I really have few counters to enemy stratagems, save to hope that they fail or to hope that my units can survive them. Hopefully, when Chapter Approved 2018 comes out, the Adepta Sororitas will have some updated stratagems of their own to help them compete.
Also, some rules mistakes I made in the game:
-For some reason, I had thought that the Knight’s ion shield applied in close combat as well as shooting. Thankfully, it didn’t matter too much at the end, as it got pulverized in close combat anyway.
Despite the loss, it was an incredibly fun game, and my opponent was equally fun to play against. I look forward to the rematch…or hopefully fighting alongside the Blood Angels, rather than being shredded by them, in a proper multi-player Apocalypse game…
Roboute Guilliman could only shake his head in disbelief.
It had only been half an hour since he had personally intervened with a combined force of Ultramarines and Custodes, descending from near orbit to put a stop to this madness after his repeated voxes to both sides fell on deaf ears. His very presence had been enough to put an end to the fighting, however, the warring Imperial factions settng down their weapons at the sight of the Emperor’s Son descending in full glory from the ramp of his Thunderhawk. In that instant, all involved seemed to have realized the terrible folly they had committed. By that time, though, the damage had already been done: the battlefield was strewn with smoking wrecks and the bodies of Astartes, Sororitas and Guardsmen alike. In the distance he could see a stricken Knight, slumped over as though slumbering, its head and cockpit section smashed open like an egg.
So much senseless death and destruction, wrought between loyal Imperial servants…and for what? This could not have simply been caused by the gene-induced madness of the Storm Angels or the unrestrained zeal of the Order of the Blessed Damsel. No, there was something else at work here.
As he stared at the devastation, he heard the approach of Felix, his trusted equerry. “The survivors have been separated, my lord,” the Primaris Captain said with a curt bow. “They are each petitioning for your clemency, asking for chances at forgiveness and redemption. As for the signal we detected on the ship…we have traced it back to the original sender.”
Slowly, Guilliman turned away from the quiet scene of destruction to face Felix, nodding for his equerry to continue.
“It was as you suspected, my lord,” Felix went on. “The transmission was a genuine Inquisitorial order, transmitted to both sides with full data-encryptions, each ordering one group to attack or support the other. It was sent from orbit, and luckily we apprehended the sender before he could escape. As per your instructions, we have brought him here for you to question personally.”
At this, Felix stood aside, and two more Primaris Ultramarines strode up in his wake. Between them they held a thin, squirming figure, clad in a fine greatcoat and wearing an amulet fashioned in a stylized letter I around his neck.
Guilliman’s face darkened as he took a step towards the captive, recognizing the man from among the hundreds of Throne agents attached to the Crusade. He let his shadow fall across the squirming man as he allowed the sheer enormity of his size to become apparent to this mortal captive. “Inquisitor Krane,” the Primarch intoned. “As I recall, you were assigned to provide orbital surveillance and intelligence for the cleansing of Desolation Row.” He gestured outwards to the scene of devastation behind him. “I can see you provided much more than that. Would you care to explain all of this?”
Krane quivered. He was an Inquisitor, which by definition meant that he had a discipline and a willpower greater than that of most regular men, but all of this melted in the face of the angry war-god that stood before him. “M-my lord, my actions were just!” Krane stammered. “The Storm Angels are heretics and madmen! They needed to be destroyed before they could endanger the crusade! I have proof!”
“If you had proof, then you would have brought it to me directly,” Guilliman growled, the very words shutting Krane up. “But instead, you ordered both the Storm Angels and the Sisters to attack one another. This is a slaughter of your own making, Krane, and it was done deliberately.” His right hand curled into a fist, lightning hissing around the Hand of Dominion. “One way or another, Krane, you will tell me the truth. Who are you working for? Who are your real masters…Inquisitor?”
For a few seconds, Krane seemed dumbfounded, his mouth gaping uselessly as he tried to answer the Lord Commander of the Imperium. Then, abruptly, his expression changed, his panic sliding into an icy calm and his wavering mouth stiffening into a satisfied half-smile. Whatever persona he had been adopting before had dropped like a mask sliding off.
“Your brother says hello, Roboute,” Krane said. “He has missed you. He wants to continue what the two of you began at Espandor.”
Guilliman stiffened in recognition of the name of that world. If his expression had been one of dark fury before, now it cooled into guarded, expressionless ice. “My brother is dead,” he said slowly. “I killed him myself.”
At this, Krane’s smile seemed to widen a little. “Hydra Dominatus,” he said.
And with that, he suddenly shook violently and then slumped over in the grip of his Primaris guards. Guilliman’s enhanced ears heard Krane’s heart stifle and stop as whatever meme-induced kill command he had triggered took effect, snuffing his life out instantly.
Exhaling slowly, Roboute motioned for the Primaris to take the body away. Slowly, he turned back to the battlefield, only now seeing it for what it truly was. This had not been an accident, or a miscommunication, or even a battle in any sense of the word. No, this had been a message.
This was just the beginning…