Haestia must burn! A battle report of sorts…

WARNING: This is going to be a HUGE post, so continue at your own risk 😉

I recently played a game of 40k against cousin Andy and one of his buddies at the FLGS as a part of our ongoing campaign. During the campaign, Dark Eldar, Eldar, Necrons, Chaos Daemons and the World Eaters’ 4th assault company are fighting over the planet Haestia Primaris. One subplot has the Eldar trying to salvage an ancient weapon of mass destruction, known as the Hammer of Vaul, from the ruins beneath the planet (which they once knew as the virgin world Y’lanth’Ine).

Our game had Eldar and Dark Eldar team up against my World Eaters in a desperate bid to slow down their advance towards the Hammer of Vaul, considered a worthy trophy by the warriors of the 4th.

The battle had ended up with three players in the first place because all three of us tried to take possession of the same hex during our map-based campaign. So, considering the background outlined above, we thought it would be pretty cool to have the Eldar forces ally against Chaos. We played with 1500 points on both sides (1500 points for World Eaters and 750 for Eldar and Dark Eldar respectively). When I prepared my list, I wanted to try something different with my HQ and swapped out my trusty, footslogging Chaos Lord Bardolf, who had been leading my army during all of my campaign battles up to that point, for a Lord with jump pack. Considering our narrative approach, I cooked up a bit of fluff about the World Eaters’ battle preparations:

Huntmaster Bardolf stood on the precipice, looking down into the valley. Among the ruins, overgrown with dense vegetation, he was just about able to make out figures moving stealthily. The Eldar were here. The stench of their sorcery was polluting the area.
At the northern end of the valley, Bardolf could see a large ruin. The aura of witchcraft was rolling off it in waves. It had to be there. The artefact. The prey. Bardolf could nearly taste it, and it made him furious. The prey was in reach. But not for him.

„I salute you, hunter. “ The voice was full of derision, making Bardolf even angrier. He glanced back over his shoulder.
Huntmaster Charun walked up next to him. His sharp features were twisted into a wolfish grin. His daemon weapon was sheathed at his side. It was he who would be leading the hunt, not Bardolf. Charun pointed at the distant shapes of the Eldar: “Look at them, my brother! Look at them, preparing for war, fortifying their positions.” He chuckled. “It will all be for naught, I fear.”

Bardolf tried to keep his voice even: “What is your plan?”

Charun smiled: “We will be rushing their lines. They will not know what hit them.”
Bardolf snorted: “You hope to outmanoeuvre an Eldar force, Charun? Then you’re even more of a fool than I suspected!”
Charun turned around to face him. His face showed the hatred he was feeling just for an instant, then he smiled again: “You are a foot soldier, my brother. And I will forgive you for thinking like one. We will fall on them from the sky. My Harriers will tear them apart.”

“Be careful, Charun! This is no normal force. The Eldar and their dark kin are fighting side by side. I have seen it. Whatever it is the Eldar are guarding here”, he pointed at the ruin in the distance, “you can feel it. It must be very powerful. Or very dangerous. They will take desperate measures to keep it in their possession. “

Charun’s leering smile grew: “The more despair the better, I say! We will kill them all alike, whether they hail from the Craftworlds or from the Dark City. Their blood will be the same exquisite shade of crimson in the end.” He glanced back at the ranks of the World Eaters: “And how can we fail, knowing that a legend will walk among us?”

As if on cue, a deafening metallic roar rang out. The noise was horrifying. Full of anger. Full of frenzy. Full of despair.
Bardolf couldn’t hide his horror, but Charun’s grin widened even further: „Yes, brother. I have decided to let the Fallen accompany our hunt. It shall be a glorious day.

Bardolf had heard enough. „I shall leave you to your glory then, Charun! “, he hissed and turned to leave.

„You will not be joining us? “

„General Lorimar will make planetfall in a few hours. He has requested my presence at the spaceport.”

“That means that I will not have to worry about your survival this day?”

Bardolf glanced back at Charun: “My survival is the last thing you should be worrying about, brother”, he said and looked directly into Charun’s eyes, “The Fallen is a warning to us all. I hope that this much at least is not lost on you.” Then he left.

Charun looked at Bardolf’s receding shape for a while, then he addressed Skull Champion Memnar, who had witnessed the officers’ exchange from a respectful distance: “Has the hunt been assembled?”

Memnar saluted: „Aye, lord. Lead the way! “

Charun nodded and drew his daemon sword in one fluent movement. The blade was shimmering in a dark inner light. Charun pointed to the valley: “Warriors of the 4th assault company”, he roared, “let us go hunting!”

With the deafening howl of his jump pack, Charun launched himself into the sky. The battle had begun.

Anyway, the day of the battle came, and we were lucky enough to be able to use the awesome terrain at the FLGS. That stuff really puts my meagre efforts at DIY terrain to shame!

The mission was Seize Ground with a Pitched Battle deployment. We placed our markers and I rolled for first turn. Yay! Since Berzerkers really aren’t that good at holding objectives, I decided to just try to annihilate my opponents. Pretty risky, and not that original, I know.

Turn 1: The World Eaters are advancing on the Eldar who have dug in on their half of the table.

The same situation as seen from the other side of the table

At first, things didn’t work out that well: On the right flank, my Defiler (which had earned the “Infiltrator” USR during prior games) managed to sneak up on the Eldar but completely missed them during the shooting phase and was promptly destroyed. My tank killer Raptor squad went down in a hail of shards when cousin Andy’s scratchbuilt Razorwing let rip. On the left flank, one of my Dreads (the shooty one) flipped out and started firing at my own guys. Awesome!

A daemon engine of Khorne, sneaking through the ruins (yeah, right...)

Things began to pick up when a couple of lucky hits managed to destroy a Ravager and a Raider, eliminating the threat posed by the former and leaving the Wyches transported by the latter stranded in the path of my very angry Dread. My dice rolls were also reasonably good, whereas my opponents kept rolling snake eyes whenever they were shooting their big guns. They did manage to be awesome sports about it, though!

My World Eaters' Renegade PDF allies keeping a low profile, trying their best not to piss off the big guy in the background...

For a while there, things really did click for me: At the bottom of turn three, cousin Andy’s Dark Eldar were all but wiped out, leaving a Serpent and a couple of squishy space elves the last line of defense against the wrath of the World Eaters. I, on the other hand, still had two Dreads, a full squad of Berzerkers, a Rhino, a small squad of traitors, a single Raptor with a flamer and my Lord. What could go wrong?

The World Eaters are moving in for the kill...or are they?

Yeah, well,…quite a bit, actually. But first things first: I managed to kill a squad of Howling Banshees, a Dark Eldar Haemonculus and the Eldar Farseer, leaving only the aforementioned Serpent and a squad of Dire Avengers. My Lord had been killed when the Dire Avengers shot a bazillion times at him. Now a couple of things happened in very short order:

1.) We had to hurry up, since the table we used was needed for a MTG tournament. That left us with about 15 minutes to finish our game.

2.) I made a huge mistake and used my Dread to fire at the Dire Avengers instead of attacking the Serpent.

3.) The Berzerkers attacked and completely wiped out the Dire Avengers.

4.) The game ended after turn 6, with my opponents retaining a single model – the Serpent – and thus forcing a draw, since neither of us controlled their objective (I had abandoned mine right at the top of turn 1, remember?).

I was furious! Victory had been so close! I had totally dominated the battle, but hadn’t managed to win. For a few moments there, I considered the whole thing a waste of time!

Fortunately, I managed to cool off a bit and realised a couple of things:

1.) It was really my own fault: For forgetting the actual goal of the mission (things might still have worked out, though), for not thinking things through due to the approaching “deadline” and finally for totally wasting my Dread’s turn: He could easily have destroyed the Serpent in cc, yet I chose to have him fire at the Dire Avengers, where he would – at best – cause 3 or 4 wounds.

2.) It was really stupid of me to get as irritated as I did. My opponents were great about it, though they’d had to face far worse during the game. I should really have taken their  example as an inspiration instead of being angry at the universe when I was clearly the one to blame.

3.) Thinking just for one second that the game had been a waste of time was really dumb: This wasn’t about who controlled a hex field on some campaign map! It was about playing a game with awesome terrain, cool minis and friendly people. That is definitely its own reward. Without thinking, I very nearly cheated myself out of that great experience.

4.) Come to think of it, it really all made a lot of sense from a narrative standpoint: The World Eaters had wanted to run down their prey so badly that they had failed to focus on the bigger picture. They had fallen victim to their own anger once again. The quest for the Hammer of Vaul would have to continue…preferably with a much cooler head!

Anyway, thanks to cousin Andy and the artist known as Rock Howard for a fantastic afternoon! And thanks to you for reading!

Lord Charun, being an all around approachable guy, takes time during the battle to pose for some candids.

Oh, and here’s what happened in the fluff:

Charun tore his daemon weapon free from the body of the Eldar sorcerer, who promptly collapsed. His blood boiled away as it hit the serrated blade. “Kill them!” Charun roared, “Kill them all!”

The Eldar were all but annihilated. The prey was ready for the taking. Charun’s warriors threw themselves at the squad of aspect warriors defending the ruin. Charun could sense waves of power rolling off the artefact. So close now! So close…

Marax the Fallen was tearing apart a squad of Dark Reapers with crackling lightning claws, howling with anger and hatred, a perfect embodiment of death. Charun roared with laughter.

Suddenly, he could feel the sickly taste of witchcraft. It disgusted him. He snapped around, facing the fallen sorcerer he had just struck down. The Eldar was mortally wounded, but his face was full of determination as he moved his hands in arcane patterns. Charun felt the change in the Warp, like an explosion without a sound.

“No”, Charun hissed, “this is impossible!”

The sudden flash of light was so bright that Charun had to cover his eyes to avoid being blinded. “No!” he howled with frustration, “Nooooo!”
When the light abated, the Eldar and the artefact that they had guarded with their lives were gone. Nothing was left, except the dead and a thick smell of ozone.

The prey had escaped.

Stay tuned for more.

6 Responses to “Haestia must burn! A battle report of sorts…”

  1. […] The games themselves can be as standard or elaborate as we want them to be. But due to the background, all kinds of narrative hooks start presenting themselves, even during the most pedestrian battles. For instance, when three of us were coincidentally vying for control of the same hex, we devised a battle where a coalition of Eldar and Dark Eldar would defend a priceless Eldar artifact against the World Eaters’ fourth assault company (the battle report can be found here). […]

  2. […] provided by the store, and some of those games remain among my favourite tabletop moments (such as that one time I wiped the table with my cousin’s Dark Eldar and then let victory elude my grasp because I […]

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