Friday, January 29, 2010

Warhammer 40,000 Battle Report: The Battle of Zagstruk's Head - Part 1

Story
All across the planet, battle raged between the invading Ork horde, and the defense forces of the renegade Imperial world, supported by Chaos Space Marines from various chapters. In one small area of one of these battles, an ambitious Aspiring Sorceror of the Thousand Sons legion prepared for an arcane ritual he hoped would summon dark forces from the warp to eliminate the Ork threat. In the midst of battle he set up an area to perform the ritual that included a willing virgin to sacrifice to the Chaos gods, a massive icon of chaos on which to sacrifice her, and most importantly the ancient tome that contained the neccessary incantation. As he was finishing his preparations, some of his human followers were in a nearby cemetary unearthing the final necessary component for the dark ritual: the head of an Ork warboss. And not just any Ork Warboss, but Warboss Zagstruk in particular. Why the spell required the head of a specific Ork is something of a mystery. Sorcery is funny like that.

Just as the workers unearthed the severed head of Zagstruck, the nearby battle spilled over into the cemetary. Some Orks saw the humans stealing the head of an Ork, and decided they wanted it back. They slaugthered the human workers and returned the head of Zagstruck to its sarcaphogus. Seeing the trouple, the Aspring Sorceror called in reinforcements, led by a bloodthirsty Champion of Khorne riding a Juggernaught. By the cemetary, a Warboss and Weirdboy showed up to take charge of the gathering swarm of Orks. The Weirdboy saw the arcane rigual being prepared across the battlefield, and wanted the book of sorcery being used. The Warboss really wanted the girl, or the book, or whatever it was the Chaos Marines were trying to defend, since he assumed it must be valuable. Come to think of it, since Orks aren't able to read, or reproduce sexually, he probably just wanted that fancy chair. There is some precedent for that, as can be seen here. Perhaps that same Warboss was back for another try. In addition, the Orks wanted to protect the head of Zagstruk from being defiled by the Chaos worshipers. The Chaos Marines needed to retrieve the Head of Zagstruk to complete the ritual, while defending the book from falling into enemy hands. And thus a battle that could decide the fate of the world began.

Setup
Here is a view of the entire battlefield, from the Ork side. Near the center of the Ork side of the battlefield is the graveyard containing the Head of Zagstruk. One the opposite side of the battlefield to the left of the picture is the area being set up for the arcane ritual to be performed, including the ancient book of sorcery.
Chaos Marines vs Orks

The arcane ritual was being set up on the Chaos right flank. Defending the area was a squad of 5 Havoks with one missile launcher, one lascannon, one heavy bolter, and one plasma cannon, along with a squad of 11 plain Chaos Marines led by an Aspiring Champion with a power fist. To their left can be seen a squad of eight Khorne Berzerkers joined by the Khorne Chaos Lord riding his Juggernaught. To their left is another squad of eight Khorne Berzerkers behind some primitive ruins.
Chaos Marines vs Orks

On the far Chaos left, another squad of eight Khorne Berzerkers lurk amongst some trees. To their right is a Rhino containing a squad of Thousand Sons marines, led by the Aspiring Sorceror who was to perform the ritual. To their right is another Rhino, this one containing a squad of renegade marines of the Crusaders chapter, with two flamers, an icon of Khorne, and an Aspiring Champion with a combi-flamer.
Chaos Marines vs Orks

Facing them across the battlefield on the Ork right was a Battlewagon containing Burna Boyz and a unit of Tankbustas with a couple of quig bombs hiding behind a hill. Closer to the center of the Ork army there was a large unit of Ork boyz guarding the Weirdboy behind the cemetary, another large unit of boyz in the cemetary, and another large unit of boyz to the left of the cemetary. This army had a lot of Orks.
Chaos Marines vs Orks

To the far Ork left was a unit of Stormboyz, a unit of mega-armored Nobz in a truck, and another large unit of Orks (maybe Nobz?) with the Warboss. They also had a looted tank for some serious marine killing firepower. It looked like, as usual, the Chaos Marines were severely outnumbered, and would have their work cut out for them.
Chaos Marines vs Orks

Below is a shot of the entire battlefield just before the beginning of the battle, showing the deployment of both armies.
Chaos Marines vs Orks

Chaos Marine Turn 1
The Chaos Marines made the first move. The Khorne Berzerkers at their far left ran forward at full speed out of the forest. The two Rhinos also moved forward at full speed and fired their smoke launchers to give them some cover. The unit of Khorne Berzerkers led by the Khorne Lord also ran forward quickly, but the remaning unit of Berzerkers got bunched up trying to all rush through the old ruined building at the same time, and didn't manage to advance very far. The two units defending the objective held their ground, and the Havoks fired on the quad of Nobz containing the Warboss, only killing a few of them with their long-ranged shots. (Had I known that there were mega-armored nobz in the Ork Truck, I probably would have fired at that, but I forgot to ask what was in the Truck and so didn't realize it was such a big threat.)
Chaos Marines vs Orks

Ork Turn 1
The Orks responded swiftly. The Truck on their far left zoomed forward 18" at full speed, and the Storm Boyz nearly kept up with them with their supercharged rocket packs. The Warboss and his retinue of Nobz also moved forward to get some shots on the closest Berzerkers.
Chaos Marines vs Orks

The three huge units of Ork Boyz in the middle all moved forward a little and took what shots they could. I think it was some lucky Rockit Launcer shots that shook and immobilized the Rhino with the unit of Crusader marines in it. The wind must have blown their smoke away pretty quickly, because it didn't seem to help at all.
Chaos Marines vs Orks

The Battlewagon moved forward at cruising speed, and all of the Burna Boyz inside opened up with their flamers at the nearby unit of Khorne Berzerkers. (In retrospect, I believe this is illegal, since I don't think you are allowed to fire from a vehicle if it moves more than 6") Amazingly, all of them manage to fire their flame throwers out the exact same opening in the front without burning each other at all. (To be honest, I've always thought the rules about shooting from a vehicle were pretty stupid) The massive gout of overlapping flames torched 4 of the Berzerkers.
Chaos Marines vs Orks

The Tankbustas fired, as they are copelled, at the closest vehicle, but failed to harm it. They then unleashed their quig bombs, which caused no actual damage, but managed to shake the crews of both the nearby Rhino, and their own Battlewagon.
Chaos Marines vs Orks Chaos Marines vs Orks

Fire from several Ork units, including the Nobz with the Warboss, managed to take out four of the eight Khorne Berzerkers accompanying the Khorne Lord. The looted vehicle didn't manage to hit anything with it's battle cannon, but overall it was a pretty effective turn of Ork shooting.
Chaos Marines vs Orks

Chaos Marine Turn 2
Stunned by the stiff resistence from the suddenly appearing Orks, the Chaos Marines didn't have much of a response. The Khorne Lord and the four remaining Berzerkers with him moved up behind a rock wall and took a few pistol shots at the Boyz in front of them, killing a couple. The other unit of Berzerkers moved up behind them. The unit of Crusaders disembarked from their immobilized Rhino and advanced, getting off a few shots at the same unit of Orks with little effect, since they were still too far away to make use of their flamers. Dramatically, the other Rhino drove right up to the cemetary walls, and the unit of Thousand Sons disembarked, some leaping directly from the top of the Rhino to the top of the wall, ready to pour fire into the Orks there. Unfortunately, they must have been surprised by the sheer number of Orks hiding out in the cemebary, because between the Aspiring Sorceror's Wind of Chaos attack, and all the bolter shots, they managed to kill hardly any of them.
Chaos Marines vs Orks

The Chaos Marine squad near the book of sorcery moved up to get some shots at the swiftly approaching Stormboyz. The Havoks also fired at the Stormboyz, and between the two units they killed about half of them, but they didn't break. (Again, had I known the truck was full of mega-armored Nobz, I would have been firing at it instead. This was a mistake I would soon pay dearly for.)
Chaos Marines vs Orks

One thing did go their way, as two Obliterators (in this case, the falled Techmarines of the Crusaders chapter) showed up, teleporting right behind the Ork army, close enough to open up with twin-linked flamers on the unit of Boyz with the Weirdboy. They killed around 10 or 12 of them, but there were still enough left in the unit to make them unbreakable. The Chaos Marines hadn't caused much damage, and they were about to face a brutal counter-attack.
Chaos Marines vs Orks

Ork Turn 2
On the Ork left, the Stormboyz flew far enough to get get behind the unit of Havoks. The Truck drove right up to the hill and the previously unseen Nobz in Mega-armor disembarked onto the hill directly in front of the other Chaos Marine squad. Suddenly surrounded, the marines stoically steel themselves for the coming onslaught. At least, the few of them who aren't having sudden doubts about their path in life.
Chaos Marines vs Orks

In the Ork center, some reinforcements arrived in the form of another large unit of Boyz, who immidately fired at and then assaulted the two Obliterators. The Ork unit with the Weirdboy, possibly disturbed by the smell of their still smoldering comrades, fell back behind the cemetary to reassess the situation. The other two Ork units in the center moved forward to engage the many enemies advancing quickly in front of them.
Chaos Marines vs Orks

The battle cannon on the looted vehicle managed to hit something this turn, but only killed two Thousand Sons. Last turn it had missed completely. Meanwhile, the Weirdboy concentrated so hard trying to unleash the psychic power he wanted that the psychic energy he summoned began overloading the nearby Orks, causing five of their heads to explode in a spectacular light show of green energy. The rest of the Boyz decided they rather not suffer the same fate, and fled the battlefield dragging the out-of-control Weirdboy with them to safety.
Chaos Marines vs Orks Chaos Marines vs Orks

The remaining Thousand Sons marines were forced to endure an incredible hail of fire from the unit of Orks Boyz in the cemetary. The concentrated fire took out three of them, including the Aspiring champion, all of them falling from the wall to be impaled on the Rhino's spiky decorations. Nearby, the Burna Boyz had disembarked from the Battlewagon to roast another three of the Khorne Berzerkers with their burnas. The Tankbustas failed to harm the Rhino right in front of them.
Chaos Marines vs Orks Chaos Marines vs Orks

The already depleted unit of Khorne Berzerkers led by the Lord took fire from the Ork unit directly in front of them, and the Warboss's retinue. Another two were gunned down, and the Lord wounded. The Orks in the cemetary charged the five remaining Thousand Sons, and the other unit of Boyz nearby scrambled over the stone wall to assault the Lord and the two remaning Khorne Berzerkers with him, though many of them were too far away to take part in the fighting.
Chaos Marines vs Orks Chaos Marines vs Orks

Back by the book of sorcery, several of the Mega-armored Nobz opened up with their burnas, amazingly killing about half of the Chaos Marine unit. The Stormboyz fired at the Havoks, but it had no effect. The Nobz then assaulted the five remaning Chaos Marines, including the Aspiring Champion, and the Stormboyz assaulted the Havoks.
Chaos Marines vs Orks Chaos Marines vs Orks

The Chaos Marine Aspiring Champion managed to kill one of the mega-armored Nobz before he and his unit were easily wiped out by an abundance of Power Klaw attacks. The Havoks should have been able to easily fight off the seven or so remaining Stormboyz, but perhaps the sounds of the other Chaos Marines being ripped apart behind them unnerved them a bit. They only managed to kill two of the Stormboyz, and lost three of their own due to some spectacular failures in their armor. (I believe I failed three out of five armor saves, due entirely to me having to roll them all individually because they all had different weapons.) To top it off, the surviving two Havoks attempted to flee and were cut down, trapped between the Nobz and Stormboyz. The Stormboyz and Nobz then followed up to consolidate their position near the objective. And because the Orks were led by a Warboss, the Nobz were taken as a Troops choice and could therefore hold objectives. So the Chaos Marine objective, the book of sorcery, was now solidly in the hands of the Orks. And 16 torn apart Chaos Space Marine bodies were strewn over the massive Chaos Icon where the arcane ritual was to take place.
Chaos Marines vs Orks

Elsewhere, the Thousand Sons marines were easily wiped out by the Ork Boyz assaulting them, who then consolidated back into the cover of the cemetary. Not shown, but in the other combat the two Khorne Berzerkers with the Lord were killed, but the Lord did several wounds and won the combat. The Orks, however, were still numerous enough to be fearless.
Chaos Marines vs Orks

The final remaining combat was the newly arrived unit of Boyz assaulting the two Obliterators. They would have a total of 71 attacks. I think that may be the most attacks I've ever seen for a single assault. One of the Ork players decided he would roll all 71 attacks at once, and I took some pictures to document the event. Here is a picture of his hands holding all 71 dice for his Boyz's attacks.
Chaos Marines vs Orks

And here is the to-hit roll. I'm not sure if all 71 dice made it into the picture. They were pretty spread out. But there is the biggest single roll I've ever seen made.
Chaos Marines vs Orks

And the results from those 71 attaks: 2 wounds. One of the Obliterators is slain, and the other one kills a single Ork and continues to fight on.
Chaos Marines vs Orks

At the end of Turn 2, things were looking bad for the Chaos Marines. The Book of Sorcery was solidly in the hands of the mega-armored Ork Nobz, and the Chaos Marine force didn't anything left that could stand up to that unit to take it back. Not to mention that even if they had the book, the Aspiring Sorceror was probably dead, or at least badly wounded and lying impaled on a Rhino. The Thousand Sons, the Havoks, one squad of Chaos Marines, and one squad of Berzerkers had been wiped out, with a second squad of Berzerkers down to one remaining. Things weren't looking good.

The battered remnants of the Chaos army had only one hope now, which was to capture the Head of Zagstruk from the Orks, and force a draw. But the Khorne Lord leading them was out for blood and not about to give up. Check back for Part 2 of the battle report to find out of the Chaos Marines managed to pull out a draw, of if Ork forces could hold on to their advantage to be victorious.

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