The Nachmund Crusade, Part 3: Barbarians at the Gates

In the aftermath of our battle against the Custodes, we spent a great deal of time searching through the contents of the Basilica of St. Elias. The vast majority of the texts there were religious treatises, hymns, and theological dogma. Some of it was well written enough that I deemed it worthy of preservation, the rest I ordered burned or discarded: it was nothing but the same, ignorant drivel that had been spoonfed to the Imperium’s masses, feeding them the lie of the Emperor’s divinity until they could not think of anything else. I used to hate the unwashed masses of humanity for their ignorance; now I simply pity them. Their own ignorance is not their fault, but that of their masters for brainwashing them.

It was in the deepest vaults of the Basilica that we found what the Custodes must have been sent to guard: ancient texts, from before Old Night. Philosophical treatises, narrative fiction, even children’s stories…all earmarked for destruction or containment by the High Lords of Terra. There was nothing harmful about these books, nothing profane or obscene: they had been simply been labelled for destruction because they contradicted the Imperial lie, because they showed a time before the Imperium and the Emperor. I was reminded then and there of why I hate the Imperium: it would erase priceless, millennia-old knowledge, murder the written word and silence the voices of long-dead authors, just to keep their own citizens docile and obedient. If we do conquer this planet, I will see this place reconstructed as a library, open to all, so that this dogma may be replaced by knowledge and free thought.

But that will have to wait for now: we have been contacted by our Black Legion…allies…have contacted us about a developing situation in the south of the hivesprawl. Ork forces from one of the many scrap-cities in the planet’s wastelands are making another push northwards, and are threatening to break through into the hivesprawl proper. We have been ordered to head south, to link up with the Alpha Legion manning the abandoned Imperial defences and try to hold back the Ork push. The betrayal of the Alpha Legion was still fresh on our minds, and I outright refused to stand beside them. The Black Legion herald, to his credit, did not try to bully or threaten us, but simply pointed out that if the outer defences fell, nothing would stop the Orks from spilling into Hyperia.

Reluctantly, then, I left the majority of our forces behind and arranged a swift teleport towards the Alpha Legion positions, taking the carab Occult with me. If the Ork push was as bad as the Black Legion claimed, then I would need our most elite warriors in holding back this assault…

*****

For the next week of the Crusade campaign, we were allowed to start fielding 50 power level lists for slightly larger games. I was quite happy about this, as I was looking forward to fielding both my Terminators and my Infernal Master, as well as being able to run all of my Rubric Marine squads at once. So it was that I headed off to Hairy Tarantula after work, hoping to get a larger game in and fling that many more spells across the table.

Unfortunately, however, there was a bit of a snag in matchmaking. When everyone arrived, it was found that one of the regular attendees couldn’t make it. This meant that we now had an odd number of players, with myself, Chase, and an Ork player named Mark all without opponents. In order to make up for this deficit, I proposed that Chase and I both field 25 power level lists against Mark’s 50, with the combined forces of Chaos taking on an Ork horde.

For my 25 PL, I decided to take the following:

CULT OF TIME PATROL

Akhenatu Senoth- Exalted Sorceror w. Disc of Tzeentch, inferno bolt pistol, Prosperine khopesh, force stave, Athenaean Scrolls, Weaver of Fates, Tzeentch’s Firestorm, Immaterial Echo, Thrallmaster, Flesh Sigils, Favoured By Fate
Sectae Zhamat- 5 Rubric Marines w. soulreaper cannon w. Auto Loaders, & Master-Worked, Icon of Flame, Sorceror w. Temporal Surge, Battle Tested*
Sectae Abydos- 5 Scarab Occult Terminators w. soulreaper cannon, helfyre missile rack, Sorceror w. Presage
The Forgotten- Chaos Spawn
The Forsaken- Chaos Spawn

This was a little different from my usual lists, namely because (1) Apophis was nowhere to be seen, and (2) I was running my Scarab Occult Terminators this time. While I knew that running Terminators at this game size would leave me with very few models, I had been looking forward to using them, darn it, and I was going to use them! I also took Sectae Zhamat to grab objectives, the two Spawn to act as screens/diversionary units, and Senoth. Hopefully this list, while small, would be a hard nut for the Greenskins to crack.

*Note that at this time, I was still under the mistaken impression that you could give weapon enhancements to individual squad members, rather than the squad leader. After this battle I realized my error and re-did Zhamat’s battle honours to give them Veteran Warriors instead.

Chase, meanwhile, took the following:

ALPHA LEGION PATROL

“Alpharius”- Sorceror w. Mark of Slaanesh, Terminator armour, Viper’s Bite, force axe, Prescience, Death Hex, Delightful Agonies, Headhunter, Master of Lore
10 Cultists- Mark of Nurgle, autoguns, flamer, Battle Tested
5 Chaos Terminators- Mark of Slaanesh, combi-bolters and chainfists
2 Obliterators- Mark of Slaanesh, Auto-Loaders (x2), Veteran Warriors

It’s possible that I may be forgetting some battle honours from Chase’s list; otherwise, he was bringing a small but compact force, once again revolving a lot around his Obliterators and their ability to do lots of range damage. Note as well that, for this game, we both agreed that we would be sharing our command points.

Finally, Mark was running the following list:

GOFF PATROL
Beastboss- Squigasaur, thump gun, beastchoppa w. Fleshbane, Beasthide Mantle, Brutal But Kunnin’
Nob on Smasha Squig-‘Ard As Nails, Big Boss
10 Beastsnagga Boyz
6 Meganobz- combi-skorchas, killsaws
3 Squighog Boyz
Kill Rig- Master-Crafted Armour, Frazzle, Squiggly Curse,
Trukk

Again, it’s possible that I was missing some battle honours in Mark’s list. Otherwise, he too was going for a list with lots of small, hard-hitting elite units over mobs of Boyz. That being said, his list was both extremely fast and extremely punchy: both Chase and I were especially worried about that Beastboss on a Squigasaur, since it would be able to hide behind vehicles for most of the game and avoid getting shot at before it was able to charge in and wreck something.

SCENARIO AND DEPLOYMENT

For the scenario, we randomly rolled the Relic…meaning that instead of hanging back and shooting, we would have to fight against the Orks for control over an objective in the middle of the board. Definitely a daunting prospect, but Chase and I were nonetheless determined to see if we could win this.

Deployment looked like this.

Most of our units started behind cover, ready to move out towards the relic at a moment’s notice.
Looking at this photo, my poor Rubricae clearly still need work.
The Obliterators were deployed with a commanding view of the battlefield.
The Orks, meanwhile, put both of their big monster squigs in the center of the table, the Squighoppers on one flank and the Trukk full of Meganobz on the other.

For agendas, I took Pursuit of Knowledge while Chase took Reaper, while Mark settled for Reaper and Megawaaagh!

I rolled off for our team, and we ended up going first!

In our first turn, Chase moved ups Cultists as far up as they were able; I can’t remember if they advanced or not, but I do know that they managed to get on top of the relic long enough to claim it. a good advance move putting them on top of the relic, claiming it. (Or at least ready to claim it next turn; again, my memory of the game is a bit fuzzy). Behind them, the Scarab Occults marched up to bring their guns to bear, while Senoth edged to the side behind some ruins and Sectae Zhamat brought up the rear. Further behind, the Alpha Legion forces huddled, and finally my two Spawn moved up either flank, staying behind obscuring terrain and ready to screen any Ork advances down that way.

In the psychic phase, I think Senoth was narrowly out of zapping range of the Kill Rig, the Orks’ foremost target, so satisfied himself with buffing the Termies with Weaver of Fates and grabbing a command point with Echoes of the Warp. Zhamat, in turn, managed to edge the Terminators up a little more with Temporal Surge, while the Termies cast Presage on themselves. Further back, Alpharius cast Prescience and Delightful Agonies on the Obliterators.

In the shooting phase, a massive amount of firepower went into the Kill Rig: the Scarab Occults used Wrath of the Wronged to get +1 to wound against the big beastie, and Sectae Zhamat joined in with their soulreaper cannon, while the Obliterators used Endless Cacophany to fire twice. Ensorcelled shells, missiles, and hellish beams ripped into the Kill Rig, tearing chunks from its rickety platform and also blasting deep wounds from the Squig-beasts pulling it. Despite our best efforts, though, we only managed to bring it down to 4 wounds remaining– enough to severely bracket it, but not enough to stop the threat it posed.

In Mark’s turn, he declined to Waaagh, but nonetheless responded with suitably Orky aggression. The Kill Rig trundled forward as fast as its wounded beasts could pull it, the Wurrboy on top cackling maniacally. The Beastboss hopped up behind the Kill Rig, ready to charge the moment the massive contraption was out of the way, while on the left flank the Squighog Boyz bounced forwards, ready to pounce on some unsuspecting spiky boyz next turn. The Trukk also edged up, ready to either zoom down the flank or disembark its Meganob cargo next turn.

In the psychic phase, the Wurrboy unleashed the Orkopalypse, casting Frazzle on the distant Scarab Occult Terminators and actually doing a wound to them. He then cast Squiggly Curse, killing a handful of Cultists and doing a wound to my rightmost Spawn, and killing the wounded Terminator! So far, things were not going off to a great start to us.

In the shooting phase, the Kill Rig missed enthusiastically, and then charged into the Cultists. All six of the remaining Alpha Legion operatives were quickly turned into a red paste under the Kill Rig’s wheels, and the Orky contraption trundled onwards, ending up sitting right in front of our entire army. The end result was that the relic was dropped as well, now significantly closer to our lines. We just had to grab it…

In our turn, I sent Sectae Zhamat up to go grab the objective, moving them in such a way that they were still hidden behind obscuring terrain. Senoth moved up to hide next to them, while both of our Terminators formed a firing line in front of the Kill Rig. Crimson and teal armour glimmered in the son as the elite of two legions stood shoulder to shoulder against the oncoming green tide. On either flank, meanwhile, the Spawn again moved up, hoping to screen against the other Ork units waiting behind the Kill Rig.

In the psychic phase, Senoth Smote the Kill Rig, doing 3 wounds to it, and then used a Malevolent Charge to take its last remaining wound. Mark, however, had been waiting for this moment, as he used the Kareen stratagem: burning and out of control, the Kill Rig nonetheless trundled onwards, swerving right into the lines of the Heretic Astartes before detonating in an explosion of green psychic energy. One Terminator was wounded the blast, a member of Sectae Zhamat was killed, and my rightmost Spawn was incinerated! In death, the Kill Rig had done more damage than it had in life. Nine slightly burning Beastsnagga Boyz came tumbling out of the wreckage, though they were heard to mutter “Totally werf it!”

Carrying on with his psychic phase, Senoth resurrected the fallen member of Sectae Zhamat with Time Flux; looking back, I should have spent a CP on The Great Sorceror to then cast either Firestorm or Weaver, but that hadn’t occurred to me for some reason. The Scarabs put Presage on themselves, Alpharius put Delightful Agonies and Prescience on the Obliterators, and that was that.

In the shooting phase, the Terminators focused almost everything into the Beastsnaggas, ensorcelled bolts churning eight of them into a green mist and leaving one alive. The Obliterators, meanwhile, focused on the distant Trukk, as it was screening the Beastboss; alas, despite their best efforts and despite Endless Cacophony, they only managed to bring it down to a handful of wounds remaining as they pummelled it with shells and laser beams. Finally, Sectae Zhamat fired their soulreaper cannon into the distant Squighog Boyz, and managed to do a wound to one of them. Chase and I both declined to charge, and the last Beastsnagga Boy had an outbreak of common sense and legged it from the battlefield.

At this stage, Chase and I were feeling pretty good about ourselves…that was, until the Beastboss let out a deep, guttural roar of WAAAAAAAGH! Moving with astonishing speed, massive Squigasaur bounded forwards in front of the Terminator line, alongside his trusty Nob on a Smasha Squig, while the Squighog Boyz bounced up to surround the leftmost Spawn. Most worryingly of all, the Meganobz disembarked from their Trukk, and, with a massive advanced roll, rapidly stomped their way across the flank, and ended up mere inches from Sectae Zhamat and Senoth. At this point, I realized that I was very much in trouble.

In the shooting phase, the Meganobz unleashed their kombi-skorchas, and actually burned down 3 of Sectae Zhamat, melting their armour with the sheer amount of flame they unleashed! The Beastboss was not to be outdone, pointing his thump gun at the Scarabs and actually killing the wounded one with a lucky grenade hit! Suddenly, the Orky shooting was proving to be terrifyingly effective.

In the charge phase, the Beastboss and his Nob buddy crashed into the Scarabs, the Meganobz slammed into Senoth and Sectae Zhamat, and the Squighogs bounced into the Spawn. All three combats went as much as I was dreading: the Beastboss enthusiastically crumbed the Scarabs, his enhanced beastchoppa pulverizing Terminator plate with each hit, and in seconds all four of the Terminator elite had been crushed utterly. The Meganobz, meanwhile, used the Unbridled Carnage stratagem, and in a rampage of snapping power klaws, they ripped Senoth and all of Sectae Zhamat to shreds. Finally, to add insult to injury, the Squighog Boyz drove their spears into the ghostly Spawn, causing it to disappear in a puff of ectoplasm.

And with that, the Thousand Sons had been wiped from the field in a single turn. Now our only hope rested with Chase and his Alpha Legionnaires. In his turn, moved his Sorceror forward to confront the Smasha Nob, while his Terminators moved up to confront the Meganobz and hopefully reclaim the relic. Finally, the Obliterators stood stock still. If Chase could kill off the Beastboss in shooting and then deal with the Meganobz and Smasha Nob in melee, then we might have a chance.

In the psychic phase, Alpharius Smote a few wounds off of the Smasha Nob, before casting Delightful Agonies on the Terminators. In the shooting phase, the Obliterators used Veterans of the Long War and put all of their shots into the Beastboss….and left him with only a couple of wounds remaining. With his last few command points, Chase used Endless Cacophony to have them shoot again…and this time, it was finally enough! Superheated death rays burnt massive holes through both the Squigasaur and its rider, until both finally realized they were dead and toppled over in a garguntuan heap! Woot, let’s hear it for moral victories! As an encore, the Alpha Legion Terminators poured fire into the Meganobz, but simply bounced off of their thick armour.

And then, in the charge phase, Alpharius slammed into the Smasha Nob, while the Alpha Legion Terminators charged into the Meganobz. The Terminators, though, charged right into an overwatch of skorcha fire, and one of them fell, cooked inside his own armour! Undaunted, the elite of the Alpha Legion carried on their charge, and managed to cleave one of the Meganobz in half with their crackling power axes. Alas, they were outmatched, and the Meganobz attacked back Unbridled Carnage, their snapping power klaws ripping apart all four Terminators.

Alpharius, similarly, failed to wound the Smasha Nob, and in exchange the Nob’z big choppa split his Terminator armour in twain, felling him!

At this point, we both saw the writing on the wall and conceded. Chase only had his Obliterators left, and they looked like they were going to receive a charge from both the Smasha Nob and the seemingly unstoppable Meganobz next turn. Despite their best efforts, the forces of Chaos had been swept aside by the green tide.

RESULT: LOSS

Thoughts: Eugh, well that could have gone better. Truth to be told, this wasn’t going to be an easy scenario for myself or Chase to begin with, as any situation that involves moving towards Orks generally is a bad idea. Things were looking up at first, of course, when we managed to take out Mark’s Kill Rig…but then he made all of his charges on Turn 2, and things pretty much went downhill from there. In particular, I was taken completely surprise, not only at how far he managed to advance and charge his Meganobz, but also at how destructive his Beastboss could be: lots of high strength, damage 3 attacks with the ability to generate even more attacks are no joke.

If there was anything I could have done better, it might have been to use my Spawn more effectively to screen my forces…though even if I hadn’t lost my right flank Spawn too early, I still wouldn’t have been prepared for that amazing advance roll from those Meganobz. Props go to Mark for being a great opponent, and to Chase for being a great teammate: the combined forces of Chaos made a valiant showing together before they were unceremoniously steamrolled by the green tide.

In the aftermath of this battle, at least, Senoth managed to level up. After having gotten pulverized the way he had by the Meganobz, I decided to give him the Artisan Bionics crusade relic, both to boost his strength by +1 but also, more importantly, to let him ignore wounds on a 5+. I also used the Path to Glory requisition to give him one final Chaos Boon, and I rolled and got…Warp Strider, allowing him to reroll advance rolls and charges. Not bad, but…not what I was hoping for (such as +1 toughness!)

GAME 2

The battle against the Ork hordes was a disaster. At first, despite our differences, we coordinated an effect defence alongside the Alpha Legion. Their intelligence networks were able to anticipate Ork surges before they happened, and our coordinated firepower and spellcraft broke many a Greenskin band as they tried to surge against us. For a while, it seemed we might weather this green storm.

This all changed, however, when one day the Alpha Legion received word that one of their operatives was standed and injured in the middle of the ash wastes. The Alpha Legion leader– who named himself “Alpharius,” a laughable pseudonym if ever there was one– told us it was urgent that this agent be extracted, but would not explain why. I told him it was folly to abandon our defences to extract one agent, but my counterpart was adamant, and threatened that the Alpha Legion would go alone if need be. Reluctantly, we accompanied the Alpha Legion on this folly of a mission.

And folly it was. Almost as soon as we reached the abandoned mining town where the agent was sheltering, Ork warbands converged on our position. The fighting was fierce and bloody, but out in the open, we were soon overrun. I myself took an Ork power klaw to the chest that punctured one of my hearts, before blacking out. When I came to, I was back on the Silver Tower, being healed by Ktesis, who explained that the Orks had broken our forces and overran into the south of Hyperia hivesprawl. All because the Alpha Legion would not leave one damned agent to die…

I had recovered from my injuries, and was about to direct more of our forces back down to Hyperia– for the new Ork threat would need containing– when alarm-tutelaries began to wail across the tower. The unthinkable had just happened: boarders had appeared within the confines of the tower. Somehow, aboard our own ship, we were under attack. Immediately, I cast my consciousness out, to try to get a read on who our attackers are. The mind that I immediately encountered was something cold, and immeasurably ancient, something that had passed beyond the shell of mortality to become something malicious, pitiless and eternal.

The Necrons had returned.

The following week, I arrived at Hairy T…and again found myself in a bit of a matchmaking snafu, as I was the last person to arrive, and everyone else had already been paired up. There were, thankfully, other players en route, but they had been delayed due to work-related issues, something which I can understand all too well.

Eventually, my opponent for the evening did arrive: Mike, my opponent from the very first week of the Crusade, had arrived with his Necrons. Not only was I looking forward to a rematch of the Space Egyptians, but now, finally, I could use almost my entire roster in this battle!

For the game, I ran the following:

CULT OF TIME PATROL

Akhenatu Senoth- Exalted Sorceror w. Disc of Tzeentch, inferno bolt pistol, Prosperine khopesh, force stave, Athenaean Scrolls, Artisan Bionics, Weaver of Fates, Tzeentch’s Firestorm, Immaterial Echo, Thrallmaster, Flesh Sigils, Favoured By Fate, Warp Strider
Ktesis- Infernal Master w. Umbralific Crystal, Presage, Malefic Maelstrom, Glimpse of Eternity
Sectae Hasturos- 5 Rubric Marines w. soulreaper cannon, Icon of Flame, Sorceror w. Doombolt
Sectae Zhamat- 5 Rubric Marines w. soulreaper cannon, Icon of Flame, Sorceror w. Temporal Surge, Battle Tested, Veteran Warriors
Sectae Medea- 5 Rubric Marines w. 4 warpflamers, Icon of Flame, Sorceror w. Incandaeum, Pyric Flux, Psychic Might
Sectae Abydos- 5 Scarab Occult Terminators w. soulreaper cannon, helfyre missile rack, Sorceror w. Presage
Apophis- Chaos Contemptor Dreadnought w. multi-melta, Contemptor chainfist w. plasma blaster, Hellforged cyclone missile launcher, Elite Crew
The Forgotten- Chaos Spawn
The Forsaken- Chaos Spawn

The overall plan, going into this game, was pretty much the same as it had been previously: have my Rubric Marines rush onto objectives to perform actions, send Apophis to go kill stuff/be scary, and use my Spawn to slow the enemy down, block enemy reserves, and generally be a nuisance. This time around I was also looking forward to using my Terminators: I was hoping that, with enough psychic buffs stacked on them, they would be terrifying in the shooting phase.

Mike, meanwhile, ran the following list:

CUSTOM DYNASTY VANGUARD (Relentlessly Expansionist, Eternal Conquerors)

Overlord- Staff of Light, Orb of Eternity, Thrall of the Silent King
Technomancer- Staff of Light, canoptek control node, Veil of Darkness
20 Necron Warriors- gauss reapers
3 Skorphekh Destroyers- 1 hyperphase reap-blade
3 Skorphekh Destroyers- 1 hyperphase reap-blade
Canoptek Reanimator
3 Canoptek Scarab Swarms
3 Canotpek Wraiths
Canoptek Doomstalker

Once again, I am completely forgetting what Crusade upgrades he had.

Overall, that was a scary number of close combat units, all of which would be closing the distance very quickly thanks to his pre-game move. If I wasn’t careful, I would end up with Necrons swarming my lines on turn 1.

(Spoiler: I was not careful)

Scenario and Deployment

For the scenario, we rolled Supply Cache, yet another objective-based mission. Our deployment was as follows:

The Necrons deployed in a vast battle line, their skeleton legion of Warriors dominating the left flank while their more aggressive combat constructs were positioned on the right.
Opposite them, the Thousand Sons positioned in a refused flank, with the Scarab Occult Terminators, Contemptor Dreadnought, and two squads of Rubricae all positioned around their Exalted Sorceror and Infernal master on the center. On the right flank, Sectae Zhamat and the two Spawn stood ready.
How the battlefield looked after the Necrons’ pre game moves.

For my agendas, I took Pursuit of Knowledge and Lord of the Warp. For his part, Mike took Reaper and Supremacy Through Annihilation. We rolled off then for the first turn, and Mike won…meaning that the Necrons, after having done their pre-game move, were now in a position to get even closer now.

With the distance having been massively closed, the Necrons continued their aggressive movement, as the Overlord leading them declared “My Will Be Done” and enhanced the big unit of Warriors. The rightmost unit of Skorpekh Destroyers rushing on clicking legs towards the rightmost Spawn, and the chittering Scarabs and their larger Wraith cousins drifting towards Sectae Hasturos. Behind them, the Canoptek Doomstalker remained immobile on its tripod legs, swivelling to bring its guns to bear on the main Thousand Sons battle line. On the left flank, the other unit of Skorpekhs similarly moved up, their glowing, hate-filled eyes settling upon the lumbering from of Brother Apophis.

In shooting, the Doomstalker turned its big gun upon the Terminators and fired; a titanic beam of green energy swept across their position, incinerating one of the Scarab Occult and dealing two wounds to another. At range, the Warriors focused their guns upon the lumbering form of Apophis and fired, their gauss reapers stripping two wounds off of the Dreadnought.

And then, raising blades, the Necrons charged, with the Skorpekhs on either flank slamming into Apophis and the Spawn, respectively, while Sectae Hasturos suddenly found themselves being swarmed by Canoptek constructs. The Spawn quickly fell, its ethereal flame hacked to shreds by the glowing blades of the Skorpekhs, while closer to the center, Sectae Hasturos found themselves with Scarabs swarming all over their bodies; one Rubric Marine took a deep wound to the bites of the Scarabs, before he and two of his brothers were flensed apart by the claws of the Wraiths. Hasturos and his last brother fought back hard, but were unable to land any telling blows upon the insubstantial forms of the Wraiths.

Finally, the other unit of Skorpekhs crashed into Apophis with a frenzied slashing of energized blades. Apophis reeled as hypherphase blades cleaved through his armour, their relentless assault leaving him sitting on two wounds…but the Dreadnought’s vengeance was swift. His massive khopesh swung out, once, twice, three times, each blow tearing one of the Skorpekhs in half. Within seconds, Apophis stood, damaged by victorious, the Skorpekhs having been obliterated by his return blows and their remains vanishing into thin air. Victorious, Apophis consolidated closer to the Necron lines.

In the Thousand Sons turn, Ktesis made a diabolic pact and imbued the guns of the Terminators with a Malevolent Maelstrom. Apophis strode towards the Necrons, with the Terminators, assembled Sorcerors and Sectae Zhamat advanced in his wake, with Sectae Zhamat performing the Pursuit of Knowledge action upon the leftmost objective.

On the right flank, Sectae Hasturos used the Desperate Breakout stratagem and fell back from the encircling Scarabs and Wraiths, retreated onto the rightmost objective. Though things were looking bleak for them, some help was still on the way, as the other Spawn moving towards the Wraiths to potentially tie them up. Finally, Ktesis pulled the Umbralific Crystal free from his belt and shattered it: neaby, Sectae Medea shimmered and then vanished in a swirl of violet energy, before reappearing further behind the Necron lines.

In the psychic phase, Senoth unleashed Tzeentch’s Firestorm upon the distant Necron Warriors, and managed to zap down only one of them, before using Malevolent Charge to vaporize another two. A Smite blasted down a fourth, before he then cast Weaver of Fates upon the Terminators. The Terminators, in turn, cast Presage upon themselves, while Ktesis cast Glamour of Tzeentch upon Apophis. Finally, at the back of the Necron lines, Medea cast Pyric Flux upon her squad, before then unleashing a Smite upon the Technomancer, sending a bolt of energy slamming into the Cryptek and dealing 3 grievous wounds to the Necron!

In the shooting phase, Apophis trained his guns upon the Canoptek Reanimator, his multi-melta and missiles both piercing the Necron construct’s armour, bursting it apart in a spark of dispering gauss energy. The Terminators, swivelling around, unleashed Infernal Fusillades into the distant Wraiths, and in the blink of an eye, all three of the ghostly constructs had been torn to shreds in a volley of ensorcelled bolts! Zhamat, able to shoot even while performing an action, turned their guns upon the distant Necron Warriors, but alas, even their ensorcelled bolts failed to permanently fell any of the Necrons. Last but not least, Sectae Medea unleashed their flamers upon the Technomancers: the Necron could only give a metallic cry if horror before it was incinerated by the unleashed warpfire.

Even as the Overlord whirled in surprise at the death of his Technomancer, Apophis was charging right towards him. With a swing of his great khopesh, Apophis effortlessly cleaved the Overlord in twain in a shower of sparks, the shorn halves disappearing before they hit the ground. Carrying on his bull-like charge, Apophis careened into the nearby horde of Necron Warriors, who swarmed the Dreadnought, hacking into it with the axe-blades of their rifles, but none managed to pierce the heavy armour of the Contemptor.

How the battlefield looked at the end of the turn

Reeling from the loss of their command protocols, the Necron forces instead reverted to more basic functions, with the Necrons Warriors falling back from combat with Brother Apophis. On the right flank, the Scarab Swarms went after the remnants of Sectae Hasturos, while the Skorpekh Destroyers rushed on clacking, insectile legs after the last Spawn. Finally, the Doomstalker, sensing the nearby presence of Sectae Medea, slowly stalked away from them, and ended up standing on an objective in the process.

With the Warriors retreating, the only Necron firepower of note was from the Doomstalker, which fired a blast on low power into Sectae Hasturos and vaporized one of the Rubricae, leaving Hasturos on his own. Hasturos didn’t even have time to defend himself before he was surrounded by buzzing Scarabs, one of the metallic insects biting a deep wound past his armour. Determined not to fall, Hasturos swept left and right with his force stave, the crackling energies of the weapon obliterating one whole swarm of the creatures. Elsewhere, the Skorpekhs charged into the Spawn, their hyperphase blades making short work of the ethereal creature, before they consolidated into the already embattled Hasturos, surrounding him.

Once again, Ktesis blessed the guns of the Scarab Occult with a Malevolent Maelstrom. As the now surrounded Hasturos prepared to sell his life dearly as the Necron constructs ringed around him, Apophis stomped off to his aid, while Sectae Medea similarly advanced towards the Canoptek Doomstalker. Senoth, however, shifted his focus on the Necron Warriors, directing the Scarab Occult Terminators towards them, while Sectae Zhamat and Ktesis advanced in their wake, with Ktesis stepping onto another objective to do the Pursuit of Knowledge action.

Channeling the winds of the Warp, Senoth attempted to unleash Tzeentch’s Firestorm upon the Necron Warriors…only for the spell to fizzle upon his hands, the discharged energy failing to fell any of the Necrontyr. (I failed to roll the 9+ needed for the super-powered version of the spell, and then failed to roll any 6s!) Irritated, Senoth nonetheless cast Weaver of Fates upon Apophis, while the Terminators cast Presage upon themselves. Once again, Sectae Zhamat cast Temporal Surge upon the Terminators, speeding them up as time around them was distorted; finally, Medea Smote two wounds off of the Doomstalker, before casting Pyric Flux on her own squad, and Hasturos lashed out at the Necrons surrounding him, unleashing a Doombolt that obliterated another Scarab Swarm.

Once again, though, the inferno bolters of the Thousand Sons roared to life: the Terminators and Sectae Zhamat both targeted the Necrons Warriors, shredding more than a dozen of them with concentrated fire; although a great many Necrons simply stood back up, nine of them had still been obliterated by the combined volley. Further at the back, Sectae Medea tunrned their warpflamers upon the Doomstalker, and burnt four wounds off of the Necron War machine. Apophis tried to finish it off at range, but his missiles and melta and plasma blasts all bounced harmlessly off of the machine’s force field.

With a cry of detestation for the alien, Medea tried to lead her squad in a charge on the Doomstalker, while Apophis attempted the same: the distance was too great, however, and both charges failed. The Terminators, however, had no such issues as they ploughed into the Necron Warriors along with Senoth: khopeshes flashed, hewing through necrodermis with deathless efficiency, and in an instant all seven of the remaining Necrons had been hacked apart. Alas, it was too late for Hasturos, as a Skorpeh’s hyperphase blade cleaved deeply into his chest. Collapsing, the Sorceror barely managed to croak a word of power, vanishing before the Necrons could finish him off.

At this point, though, the store was closing, and as such we had to call the game then and there.

RESULT: LOSS

At the time that the game ended, Mike was winning 50 points to 20. His early game rush had allowed him to secure most of the objectives on the battlefields, and while I had managed to defeat his initial assault in many areas and had fought back hard, he was still retaining a lot of those objectives at the end of the game. Although Mike was willing to give me the win, as he strongly suspected he was going to be tabled in the next few rounds, I felt that fair was fair, and gave him the win instead: even with a lot of things going my way in this game, I would have to play a lot of catch up after that massive early lead that he had picked up.

All in all, I nearly lost this game at deployment, as I severely underestimated the speed of Necrons when they get a pre-game move. As such, I ended up getting Skorpekhs in the face on turn 1. It is a testament to the durability of Thousand Sons that I not only managed to survive this initial onslaught, but then hit back harder with a lot of arcane firepower and spellpower. I was particularly impressed with the Terminators, who, when buffed with Prescience, Malefic Maelstrom and (I think) Ensorcelled Bolts, annihilated the Wraiths in one wound of shooting. Apophis was also an absolute all star, taking a Skorphekh charge on the chin and then wiping out them, the Reanimator and their Boss before finally taking a doomsday cannon to the face. In retrospect, I should have buffed Apophis with Presage on that turn, as he would have needed it more to land hits against that Doomstalker, but you live and you learn.

All in all, props go to Mike, who played a great game and was an excellent opponent. Had the game gone on, it would have been interesting to see if I could deal with that last remaining unit of Skorphekhs (plus that Doomstalker!) Either way, despite the loss, I am extremely happy with how my list performed.

BATTLE HONOURS

After this battle, Sectae Hasturos finally levelled up after being ignored by me for most of the campaign. Like their brothers in Sectae Zhamat, I decided to give them Battle Hardened so that they, too, could reliably shoot while performing actions. The Terminators, similarly, levelled up, and I gave them the Grizzled battle honour, so that they would have a 6+ ability to ignore wounds on top of their hefty save and 3 wounds apiece.

In the meantime, poor Sectae Hasturos suffered my first Battle Scar of the campaign. For whatever its worth, though, I forget which one it was, as I then immediately used requisition to heal it.

Tune in next time for more Crusade action, fellow wargamers!

*****

The Necron attack was as relentless as it was sudden. One moment, things were as they should be, with the thralls performing their many tasks while we focused on our many studies. The next, legions of metallic warriors were marching through the Silver Tower’s halls, ruthlessly exterminating our thralls wherever they encountered them. I was recovering in the chirurgury when the attack came; I gathered what servants of ours that I could and conducted a fighting retreat alongside Ktesis, who summoned a great many gibbering tutelaries in an effort to slow the Necrons down. Slowing them down was all we managed to do, as the Necrons exterminated the daemons as easily as they did our mortal servants.

Onwards we ran, retreating through the astral wards, the Pavoni galleries and the spinward study, before we came upon the geoarcanium. Here, in the great telekine-shifted space that we use for experimentation grounds and battle simulations, we finally linked up with the rest of our brothers, and joined battle against the Necrons in earnest. Even then, the Necrons pressed the attack vigorously against us, their combat constructs closing the distance and tearing into our Rubricae with crackling energy blades or razor-sharp claws. We retaliated with spellcraft and disciplined bolter fire, sundering the Necrons in ways even they could not repair from. At the height of the battle, Hasturos fell, his chest slashed open by an energized blade, and Apophis was sent staggering by an intense energized beam even after he had rampaged through the Necrons lines, and while Medea began to bring flame and ruin to the Necrons’ rear lines…

And then it was over. Just like that, the Necrons vanished.

Even as I write this, we are still repairing the damage caused the Necron assault. I do not even know how they gained access to the Silver Tower– for it is protected by numerous networks of pentakairic glyphs that should render it proof against aetheric assault– but then the Necrons, with their vast technology, always seem to have a trick up their sleeves. Apophis, for what it is worth, was not badly damaged, and while Hasturos’ injuries were grievous, he is recovering swiftly under Ktesis’ care. Even so, up until now, I wondered at why the Necrons attacked us in the first place.

Now I know. The books that we recovered from the Basilica are gone. The long lost texts that we saved from destruction by the unthinking Imperium– the hallowed, ancient knowledge that we had left in the study so that we might learn more of the bygone ages they were written in– are missing. For whatever reason, the Necrons took them.

It has been a long time since my twin hearts knew such pain. Those damned soulless xenos have stolen our prize– stolen a precious piece of humanity’s past with their filthy alien hands. Words cannot express my sorrow, nor will they be adequate to describe my vengeance when it comes. I cannot imagine what the Necrons would want with these books, and a part of me dares not imagine…

*****

“It is done.” The Overlord gave a gesture, and the piled of mouldering books drifted forwards, bound together as they hovered above the obsidian floor in a stasis field. “We have recovered what you asked of us. Now fulfill your end of the bargain.”

In front of the Overlord, an equally tall, cloaked figure stepped forwards, his footfalls clacking lightly with each step. With one silvered hand, he reached forwards and plucked the topmost book from the pile. From where he was standing, the Overlord was able to read and translated the crude human glyphs on the cover. THE TIME MACHINE, H.G. WELLS. He glanced at some of the other titles in the pile.

THE MAHABHARATA
THE HOBBIT
DAS KAPITAL
THE QU’RAN
THE ANALECTS
CLOUD NINE
TARTUFFE AND OTHER PLAYS
GRIMM’S FAIRY TALES
ACTION COMICS, ISSUE #1

Nonsensical human drivel, all primitively stamped with an oil-based pigment on dead vegetation bound in hide. Utterly worthless to any sane being…but the one who stood before them peered intently at them, his impassive death-mask not sufficient to hide the greedy glow of his eyes.

“These will make a fine addition to the literary wing of the pre-spaceflight Terran galleries,” Trazyn the Infinite said. With a dismissive wave of his hand, the pile of books disappeared, teleported into one of the many hundreds of thousands of galleries on Solemnace for compartmentalization and sorting. “You have my thanks, friend. As per our agreement, you may help take any one of the early dynastic artefacts in this section, as a token of my gratitude.”

“A token?” Had he still been organic, he would have spat the words; as it was, his vocalizer was insufficient to capture the sheer vehemence of his intended tone. “These artefacts belong to my dynasty, by right!” He gestured around them, where row upon row of weapons, jewellery, armour and treasures hung in suspension. “I am reclaiming what you have stolen from us whilst we slumbered, thief!”

Trazyn gave a laugh. “Please,” he said, “at least three other dynasties have made the same claim as you over these same items, so spare me your trite indignation. If you really wish to press your claim, then go to the council on Mandragora and tell them how you were wronged– maybe in a few thousand years they will pay attention to you. Or better yet, bring it before the Silent King, and maybe he will pay attention if you grovel enough.” The humour in Trazyn’s voice disappeared at that point. “Until then, be glad that I am grateful enough to allow you to part with even one item from my galleries. Just be sure to see yourself out afterwards, before my gratitude reaches its limits.”

And with that, Trazyn turned and walked away, disappearing into the labyrinthine halls of Solemnace while his erstwhile guest seethed with several aeons of hatred in his wake…

P.S. Some shots of the other armies in attendance.

Ultramarines battle the perfidious Aeldar in the urban sprawls of Vigilus
In the ruins of Megaborealis, treachery begets treachery as a Chaos Space Marine warband and their Chaos Knight allies turn upon the Death Guard
The Ultramarines receive a devastating charge from the Goff Squighopper Boyz

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