Others may be advocating massed infantry for Imperial Guard in the current meta (see here and here). Meanwhile, my Fauxtorians are bucking the trend and enjoying playing as an armoured spearhead instead. Here is the latest battle report in this series (Part 1 and Part 2) exploring narrative gameplay and the fun of playing an armoured guard list in 40k 9th Edition.
The Fauxtorians previously took possession of a Standard Template Construct from a Skitarii Veteran Cohort of the Forgeworld Agripanaa (see action report here). Ultramarines have been despatched to wrestle control back from these mere men. With all parties still uncertain of the nature of this technology, it has been decreed too dangerous to remain in the hands of local planetary forces.
With reports of an Ultramarine force poised to strike against them should they not back down. An armoured detachment of the Fauxtorian Guard is ordered forward aggressively to cut them off.
This is a sweep and clear mission for both forces. The battle will be won through attrition to secure the battlefield. As both armies enter an industrial complex, they wheel towards each other from their advancing columns.
Kicking off with a BANG … and a whimper
Guard artillery begins a rolling preliminary bombardment. Rounds fall on the soft desert ground with muted CRUMPS. Their payloads largely absorbed by the sandy desert floor.
The Techmarine and Gladiator Lancer suffer minor shrapnel damage, but are quickly repaired.
Ultramarines forces have been deployed aggressively with their Invictor Tactical Warsuit providing up-close battlefield recon. But as they realise that the Guard have beaten them to the punch with artillery beginning to roll in, they react swiftly. They pull back their Warsuit and Redemptor Dreadnought to form a defensive castle to stage their operations from.
Guard armour fans out to probe enemy lines. Breaking into two columns to bring as many guns to bear as possible. They move into a loose formation to create space and reduce the risk of a destroyed vehicle causing a chain reaction of damage to nearby units.
Caught flat-footed in the open by this re-deployment, a squad of Assault Intercessors draws a withering fire from several tanks’ heavy bolters. Their power armoured bodies rag-doll under the barrage of heavy rounds before they can seek refuge.
First blood has been spilt. This battle of attrition begins in earnest.
A Storm-eagle rocket from the Manticore screeches down on the Gladiator Lancer. Buckling armour plates and unbeknownst to the crew, damaging critical targeting circuitry.
With the remaining Ultramarine units, tucked away behind cover or out of range, initiative swings back to them as Guard gunners frantically fail to locate further targets – their guns mostly remain silent.
A Trap is Sprung
The Space Marines have consolidated their position and are allowing the over confident guard commander to push forwards. In doing so they have exposed several tanks to counter attack and possible charges. Their heavy tank chassis gives them a false sense of security and invulnerability.
The Gladiator Lancer’s veteran crew watches in stunned silence as their shots fly wide of the mark. Totally missing the tank commander in their sights. Their “easy target” is left untouched with its turret beginning to turn in their direction.
A unit of Eradicators strikes next. They target a Demolisher with a trio of Heavy Flamers, marking this tank out as the biggest immediate threat to their infantry. The Redemptor Dreadnought joins in with its Macro Plasma Incinerator.
Plasma and Melta fire are directed at this fleeting target, as it speeds past dense industrial cover. Their combined fire sees the tank heavily scorched and visibly damaged. But very much still in the fight.
Bursting from cover a squad of Attack Bikes guns their engines and charges straight in. Panicked fire from the Demolisher and its trio of Heavy Bolters misses the rapidly accelerating bikers as they roar in with their Chainswords drawn.
From behind another cluster of dense industrial machinery explodes the jet packs of a squad of Vanguard Veterans. With smoke and desert dust billowing they swoop in catch the distracted tank crew entirely by surprise.
The crews’ vision is obscured as the bikers and infantry start to encircle the tank. They swing their weapons in fury at the armour.
A Power Hammer clangs noisily as it glances off the armour.
Power swords, Chainswords, and Lightning Claws strike at the tank – yet somehow the machine gods smile on the crew as they too glance off causing only superficial damage.
A single Melta Bomb is hurled and impacts cleanly, leaving scorched armour plates to fall away.
Guard Under Attack!
The Demolisher tank caught by the two-pronged charge guns its engine to fall back. Moments before it can be encircled and trapped in place it breaks free.
The moment the tank is clear a deadly crossfire is brought to bear. As the smoke clears the Bikers and Vanguard Veterans are no more.
With the air still crackling around his head from the Lancer Laser-destroyer’s blasts the Tank Commander issues an order to his Crew:
“STRIKE AND SHROUD!“Yells the Tank Commander
Smoke rounds are launched ahead and begin to generate a smoke screen to make them harder to hit. The main gun fires twice before their smoke screen can block their own view of the target. Unloading high explosives into the Gladiator. Unlike the Gladiator, their aim is true and they watch as its Repulsor drives fail as its power source is destroyed – dropping the tank abruptly to the ground and rendering it inoperable.
All orders are focussed on protecting at-risk units above all else. So no indirect targets are issued. With all the smoke and confusion, the Manticore crew are unable to locate any targets of opportunity. So, they wait for confirmation of what to target next.
Boots on the Ground
Three squads of Scions deploy using an Aerial Drop. The first is brought in to screen and secure the force’s base of operations whilst the other two are tasked with deploying a Teleport Homer behind the enemy.
As the first squad of those squads does this, the other draws fire by opening up on the suddenly exposed Techmarine. Their hotshot Lasguns, Plasma Pistol, and Melta guns leave the Techmarine injured and they limp away to perform battlefield repairs.
The Scions take a sustained fire from the Venerable Dreadnought’s Assault Cannon and Storm Bolter. They take cover, but in the exposed position they find themselves most of them are quickly incapacitated. A brief burst of fire from the Invictor Warsuit finishes any survivors.
Plasma and Melta
An Attack Bike revs its engine and bursts from behind cover. Its Multi-melta ripping through a tank’s frontal armour as Melta shots from Nearby Eradicators catch it in the weaker side armour. The crew are killed instantly and the tank becomes little more than molten wreckage.
The Redemptor Dreadnought catches the second tank in the column as it attempts to run the gauntlet. Again, the weaker side armour is hit with the Plasma damaging but not destroying their target. Superheated panels of armour fall away, buckled and radiating heat.
Always Split Fire, right?
Barrelling forwards the Battle Tank returns fire on the Attack Bike with Heavy Bolter rounds kicking up dirt around it and a near miss from the Battle Cannon clips the fast-moving vehicle.
Seeing the battle tank ahead raked with Plasma and Melta fire from several directions, the advancing Tank Commander orders his crew to split fire. Bolter rounds once again streak towards the Attack Bike and fail to connect. Multi-meltas send superheated plasma at the Redemptor stripping away much of its armour. And a devastating volley of Demolisher shells tears the Eradicators to pieces.
The Apothecary looks at the fragments of Marines and Gravis armour in front of him in futility. There is no saving these unfortunate men.
Is it a bird? Is it a plane? No, it’s a squad of Space Marines with Jet Packs O_o
The sound of jetpacks can be heard once more. A billow of cloud and smoke and marks the arrival of another squad of Vanguard Veterans as they land alongside the backfield Tank Commander. Their Power Swords tear through armour and the crew can hear them beginning to break through.
Gunners, Kill on Sight!
The Tank Commander orders his driver to reverse, the machine accelerates away from the squad.
“Take them out! and watch your fire!”Yells the Tank Commander to a nearby Demolisher tank.
The Demolisher and its trio of Heavy Bolters are backed up a squad of Scions. The flyboys are cut down where they landed as they prepare to leap again at the Tank Commander’s vehicle to finish it.
A single squad of Intercessors have been sheltering in the Dense Industrial machinery at the centre of the conflict. A nearby tank crewman spots movement and all hell lets loose. Multi-melta, Punisher bursts, Lascannon, Demolisher, and Heavy Bolters all converge on their position and as they build to a crescendo a single Storm-eagle rocket from the Manticore lands in their midst to finish off the survivors.
The final squad of Scions try to get the drop on the Venerable Dreadnought to avenge their fallen comrades. But Auspex controlled fire catches them on the drop and after their own shots miss the mark, they meet the same fate. Their bodies adding to the growing pile.
All or Nothing
A final chance to tip the balance back in the favour of the Ultramarines. In a choregraphed set of actions they intended to remove three key tanks from the battlefield. This will leave them with a scattered and splintered armoured foe that could be eliminated in isolation. Their mutual supporting fields of fire shattered.
The Tank Commanders armour is already heavily damaged and it’s barely limping along with a misfiring engine. The Invictor moves up and lets loose with all of its autocannons with a rolling series of thuds and clangs as they strike armour. The rounds further damage the now fragile armoured brute.
Inceptors swoop in to attack. Their Assault Bolters rake the armour and more plates are warped and ripped free.
Somehow though, it remains operational.
The Space Marine Captain sights his master crafted rifle on the tank and lets rip with a single short volley of fire.
A single round finds its way through the damaged armour and the threat is neutralised. Now disabled entirely, the stricken crew abandon their vehicle to seek shelter nearby.
Still careening from the near miss of the Battle Cannon the Attack Bike’s Meltas overheat and fail to pierce the armour of the battle tank bearing down on them. Seeing their plight, the Redemptor let loose with its Macro Plasma Incinerator and slags the tank once and for all. It rolls to a stop with moments to spare.
It now rests on the Ultramarine Captain to bring down the 3rd target of this play. He drops his rifle to his side and turns his attention to the damaged Demolisher rolling towards him. He draws his power sword, the blade crackling to life as he presses the thumb stud on the hilt.
Imbued with courage and purpose, he plants his feet, ready to charge.
A Forlorn Hope
The battle now pivots on this moment.
The Ultramarines Captain charges towards this heavily damaged and bracketed tank. His power sword raised, ready to finish it. Knowing that if he can that his momentum and agility will carry him on to the tank behind.
The tank crew remain calm. Their trio of Heavy Bolters opens up in overwatch and a burst of heavy rounds catches his armour. Most of the rounds glance off. A single round hits directly with enough energy to penetrate his power armour. This round has dissipated most of its energy and spalls, causing only a single resulting wound of damage to this veteran warrior.
Momentarily unbalanced by the hail of bolter fire he resumes his charge.
The Demolisher lets rip like a giant shotgun. Several pieces of shrapnel hit and pierce his armour. Shredding him before he can stagger a single step further.
Pieces of him rain down with a wet thud on the desert ground. With this the remaining Ultramarines do what Ultramarines do best. They fall back (tactically), leaving Guard to claim the battlefield and the victory.
Armour of Contempt is no joke. But overwhelming firepower from the combined weaponry of multiple tanks still chews through improved power armour (especially with a lot of high AP weapons).
My focus was on targeting fast moving units (bikes and jet packs) and damage dealers (Lancer and Eradicators). Doing this as early as possible reduces the ability for an opposing force to counter the armoured threat.
The Punisher against Marines is fun to roll, but does very little. 40 dice resulting in 2-3 wounds.
Telling Stories with Dice
It takes time to get past the factual stage and into the narrative stage – you need to play enough to get a flow going – where you aren’t constantly pausing to check and query rules and stats.
I thought it might be interesting to take the final set piece of action and play it back as actual gameplay. To show how the game played compared to how we experienced the narrative.
The reality was:
- The Ultramarine Captain declared a charge.
- I spent 1CP on Fire Overwatch, another 1CP on Defensive Gunners (to hit on 5s).
- I rolled 9 dice for the heavy bolters, getting 2x 6s (which auto wound) and 2 other hits (5s) which also successfully wounded.
- He saved all but 1 (rolling a 3+ Save as he ignored the AP-1 with Armour of Contempt). And then rolled 2 dice for the resulting 2 wounds, and got a 6 to feel no pain on 1.
- I then rolled a 3 for the number of shots for the Demolisher, which I re-rolled to a 5 using the Gunnery Experts Regimental Trait.
- In the hit rolls, I got a 6 to auto wound and 2x 5s which also wounded on a 2+.
- He failed to save all 3.
Iterating my Army List
In the last battle report, I mentioned that I’d talk a bit about tweaking the list for GT play and picking secondaries. I’ll go into the process of Designing Army Lists in more detail in a future article.
Not much has changed from the previous army composition to make this list more suited for GT play but a few considerations have been made (and the list was built with that in mind). A fourth squad of Scions has been included, and the Cyclops Demolition vehicle removed. Some tweaking of loadouts has also taken place (like a couple barebones units of Scions for Actions only, alongside the 2 Melta squads).
I’d likely be taking the following standard secondaries (to be adjusted based on mission and matchup):
For The Emperor
Score 1 victory point at the end of the battle round for each enemy unit that was destroyed during that battle round by an ASTRA MILITARUM unit from your army (to a maximum of 3 victory points per battle round).
Retrieve Nachmund Data
Retrieve Data (Action): One INFANTRY or BIKER unit from your army can start to perform this action at the end of your Movement phase if it is wholly within a table quarter that has not had a servo-skull retrieved by your army (see below) and it is more than 6″ away from any other table quarter. This action is completed at the end of your turn provided the unit attempting it is still within the same table quarter. If this action is successfully completed, roll one D6, subtracting 1 from the result if the unit that completed the action has the Troops battlefield role: if the result is less than or equal to the number of models currently in that unit, that table quarter is said to have had a servo-skull retrieved by your army and you add 1 to your Retrieved Data tally.
At the end of the battle, score 4 victory points if your Retrieved Data tally is 2, score 8 victory points if your tally is 3, or score 12 victory points if your tally is 4.
Score 3 victory points at the end of your turn if you control 3 or more objective markers and you also control more objective marker than your opponent controls.