40k Battle Report: A Fell Tide

A few weeks ago we reviewed the new Narrative mission “A Fell Tide” in White Dwarf 465. The mission’s hook – that armies were clashing over an offshore platform with objectives beneath the raised platforms, being periodically covered by the waves – was really cool, and one we were eager to play with. Fortunately, a few Goonhammer contributors – namely Greg, Condit, and SD47 – were hanging out at my place the following weekend and more than happy to oblige.

Full disclosure: I’ll be splitting this story into two parts. That’s because while in this section I’ll be talking about the game itself and some of the quirks of setting things up for it and how we incorporated it into our Crusade campaign, there’s also a hobby article to be had here, because the table itself was a pretty significant project and one that I was rushing to complete before everyone got here. So if you’re looking for more info on the table, stay tuned for part 2.

The Mission: A Fell Tide

In case you haven’t read the last article, a quick review of the mission is in order: It’s basically a standard Strike Force mission with 6 objectives, only the catch is that the mission should be played on elevated platforms with the objectives underneath. Because models can hold an objective 5″ vertically, this means that they still need to be within 3″ horizontally on the platforms to hold an objective. The catch is, each turn the player with more victory points randomly chooses one objective on their side of the table, which becomes lost under the waves for the duration of the battle round. This adds a dynamic element and helps the losing side catch up.

The Armies

We decided to slot this game into the Astradus campaign, our ongoing Crusade campaign. I recently started the whole thing back up about 6 weeks ago, with everyone creating 1,000 point orders of battle for Combat Patrol games. Right before the game weekend we escalated to 1,000 point games and 1,500 point orders of battle. We knew we wanted to run this as a Strike Force game, so I punched up my order of Battle to nearly 2,000 points to run 1,500 points against the combined forces of SD47’s Space Wolves and Condit’s Drukhari. A strange pairing, but fighting against Chaos makes for Desperate allies.

TheChirurgeon’s Death Guard: The Decrepit

Credit: TheChirurgeon

For this campaign I’ve been playing with my Death Guard, who are led by the Lord of Contagion Loimos, arch-poisoner of the Astradus System. His Death Guard forces have been on a tear, and are currently undefeated in the campaign. For this game I was bringing the full brunt of my Death Guard forces, and I painted up an extra fleshmower bloat-drone just to ensure I had some additional units with FLY to mitigate the landscape.

Death Guard Battalion (0 CP, 1,500 points) - Click to expand

Plague Company: The Inexorable

HQ: Lord Loimos (Lord of Contagion)

  • Warlord Trait: Hulking Physique (+1 wound, wound rolls of 1-3 always fail)
  • Chaos Boon: Favored by Nurgle (re-roll one hit, wound, damage, or save roll per turn)
  • Chaos Boon: Appended Limbs (+1 Attack)
  • Tactical Experience: While this unit is on the battlefield, roll a D6 each time you spend a CP to use a Stratagem; on a 6 you immediately regain 1 CP

HQ: Charon Daggus (Malignant Plaguecaster)

Troops: The Shambling Horde (Poxwalkers)
Troops: Battle Squad Decimus (Plague Marines x10 w/Blight launcher)
Troops: Battle Squad Obsterus (Plague Marines x5 w/Flail and Power Fist)

  • Writhing Tendrils: Ignore hit modifiers on melee attacks

Troops: Battle Squad Vitrium (Plague Marines x5 w/Flail and Power Fist)

  • Empyreal Vision: Enemy units don’t get the benefit of cover from ranged attacks made within half range.

Elites: Gnaxos Thrax (Tallyman)
Elites: Limus (Foul Blightspawn)

  • Relic: Revolting Stench-Vats
  • Deadly Pathogen: Viscous Death (+1 strength, re-roll the number of shots)

Elites: Kraxon Gnar (Plague Surgeon)
Elites: Thrulgh Sphek (Biologus Putrifier)
Elites: The Unforgiven (Blightlord Terminators x5, bubotic axe + combi bolter, 1 flail)

  • Empyreal Vision: Enemy units don’t get the benefit of cover from ranged attacks made within half range.
  • Cool-Headed: You can re-roll failed morale tests for this unit. Also if a unit charges this unit, you can fire Overwatch and you hit on a 5+ instead of a 6 when doing so.
  • Weapon Enhancement: The Champion’s Bubotic axe has Brutal (+1 strength) and Razor-edged (+1 AP).

Fast Attack: Fastidius (Foetid Bloat-Drone w/2x Plaguespitters)
Fast Attack: Naevulus (Foetid Bloat-Drone w/Fleshmower)

They’re a nasty bunch, and they’ve been slowly accumulating a ton of battle honours. When we sat down to play this I was something like +12 Crusade points over my combined opponents’ lists, so they got 6 CP to split between them during the game. 

SD47’s Space Wolves: Grognar’s Grunts

Credit: SD47

SD47 brought his Space Wolves, a relatively mobile force backed by a Redemptor dreadnought that’s more than capable of hitting like a freight train.

Space Wolves Patrol (750 points) - Click to expand

HQ: Bran (Librarian) w/Jump Pack, Runic Sword, Bolt Pistol, Powers: Murderous Hurricane, Storm caller

Troops: First Squad (Intercessors)
Troops: Second Squad (Intercessors)

Elites: Redemptor Dreadnought w/2x Storm Bolters, Onslaught Gatling Cannon, Macro Plasma Cannon, Battle Trait: Regenerates 1 wound per turn

Fast Attack: Thunderwolf Cavalry w/3x Thunder hammer + Storm shield

The list is small but hits hard. The Thunderwolves and the Redemptor are both pretty nasty at the Incursion level and below, and my list isn’t exactly stacked with things that can handle them. May need to have Loimos chop them up.

Condit’s Drukhari: Flight of the Crimson Wyvern

Haemonculus and Wracks of the Coven of Twelve | Credit: Garrett “John Condit” Severson

Condit’s Drukhari have a few more games under their belt than most of the players in my campaign, and came into this game with a few upgrades and spoils under their belts.

Drukhari Patrol (750 points) - Click to expand

HQ: Archdeacon Ymodrian Anachroi (Haemonculus)

  • Master Haemonculus

HQ: Lady Khatryx Venas-Thryn (Archon)

  • Master Archon

Troops: Cell of Incomparable Torment (Wracks)
Troops: Fang of the Shadow’s Kiss (Kabalite Warriors)

  • Privileged Position: Automatically Pass out-of-action tests

Elites: Shrine of Salvation Denied (Incubi)

Heavy Support: Transient Perfection (Talos)
Heavy Support: Well of Disfigurement (Cronos)

DT: Ebon Chalice (Venom)
DT: Shadow’s Haunt (Raider)

Condit’s list has a lot more flying firepower, which makes it very dangerous on this mission since it can hang out over the water parts of the map. There’s also enough land that I’m unlikely to force him to bury the passengers at sea. The Cronos and Talos are also particularly bothersome when the former can just regen all its wounds off my plague marines.

The Battlefield

Moving forward on Turn 1

After two weeks of frantically painting all of my Sector Mechanicus terrain, I finally had a full 44×60 table to play on. Most of what I added were larger, open platforms to make having real armies playing on this more reasonable. Here’s an approximation of the top-down view:

The ocean platform where all this took place

It’s a pretty large space overall, and I’ve added some islands around the edges to help supplement the platform space. I also spent some time cutting crates in half to create a “submerged” effect which also made it easy to create a slight “bridge” of them across the table. That’s key here – any time you build a table like this you’re absolutely constraining the way models can move across it and you don’t want to screw over everyone who doesn’t have the FLY keyword. So one way to mitigate this is to ensure that you build in multiple ways to travers the battlefield. In this case that meant multiple walkways and a bridge of floating crates. All said and done, the walkable paths across the table looked like this:

The walkable paths across the table

When it came to playing on the terrain, we settled on a few guidelines. The first was that each discrete section of the board counted as an area terrain feature for the purposes of making ranged attacks, and would give light cover accordingly – so if you shot frmo a walkway to the next platform, the target would get light cover. The second was that shooting across any struts, platform supports, or guard rails/shields would incur a -1 penalty to hit rolls. These two rules ensured cover would still be a real effect in the game. Otherwise it was all Scalable.

The Game

For this game SD47 and Condit each had their own pool of 9 CP (6 each plus 3 each for our Crusade Points differential), and they’d share any CP generated in a common pool every Command phase, and they’d take shared turns.

I ended up deploying along the left side of the table (as considered in the diagrams above) and deployed mostly in the upper left on the taller structure, though I put a unit of poxwalkers on the lower dock near the islands. I also put Loimos and his retinue of Blightlords into a teleportarium – this kind of battlefield can be slow to traverse even when advancing and I was comfortable with the idea that I’d find room to deploy. For agendas I took Honour the Patron, Reaper, and Priority Target. I don’t remember all the opposing agendas but I do remember that Condit was taking credit for all of SD47’s Space Wolves’ kills.

Condit: Since it was a 2v1 game, we agreed that SD47 and I would both be allowed to choose our own agenda, then the third one would be shared between us. For the shared one, we chose Assassins due to the ridiculous number of characters Rob was bringing. SD47 took A Worthy Trophy as his solo agenda.

I went back and forth on it for a while, but eventually Rob and I agreed that, despite the fact that Take Credit is written to only count for kills made by Drukhari models, it would be much funnier if Lady Venas-Thryn went back to Commorragh and convinced everybody that, actually, all those dead bodies with chainsword scars and bolter wounds were definitely her kills. I had some Raid Spoils on hand, so I spent one to take a second agenda, taking Reaper.

Early on the big clashes were SD47’s Thunderwolves pushing into my Bloat Drones, spending two turns and losing two models taking out the one with plaguespitters before the third was able to charge and thunder hammer smash my flsehmower off the table, though only after it was able to kill a Cronos. The rest of my army pushed to mid-table to meet the Talos and Condit’s archon, and I managed to sandwich his Drukhari between my plague marines and my blightlords on turn 2.

Key Moment: Loimos Wrecks the Incubi

Rising up to the challenge of fighting Incubi, Lord Loimos made his charge out of deep strike and shrugged off the Incubi’s attempts to make him fight last. He plowed through them with ease, then took out Lady Khatryx when she failed her fourth Shadow Field save. The blow was a devastating one to Condit’s forces, and they never recovered – though his wracks would stick around to wreak havoc later on and enact their revenge.

The Redemptor cleans up the Blightlords

Although points-wise things were going well for the Death Guard – at this point I was leading 35-25 – the Blightlords were not faring well against SD47’s Redemptor. They’d managed a few wounds to it, but over the course of the next few turns the Redemptor squeezed the life out of them, tossing their corpses off the drilling rig. His victory would be short-lived however, as Loimos would charge in right after and destroy the Space Wolves warrior a second time.

Condit: This one took a little finesse on our part, actually. We had a couple of fights going at the same time, and went back and forth on who was going to fight first, as we were pretty well convinced that whoever went second would lose a model. This wound up being true, much to my chagrin.

Meanwhile back near my deployment zone, my Malignant Plaguecaster put in work, smiting Condit’s raider to death, forcing its occupants out and onto the walkways above as their transport sank into the sea. This unfortunately left them right where the larger squad of Plague Marines could see them and pick them off with bolters.

Loimos kills the Intercessors but is taken out by the Haemonculus and his raptors

In the final turns, Loimos was finally laid low, felled by wracks and their haemonculus after destroying a squad of intercessors. The Space Wolves were felled nearly to a man, while only a small number of Drukhari remained, more than happy to take credit for all the Imperials’ kills that day. The Death Guard never let up on their holding objectives, and I won 60-45 when it was all said and done. Ironically, the mission’s catch-up mechanic worked against Condit and SD47: The objective on my half of the table was the first one to disappear, right as they crossed the table to capture it. Had they been able to hold it, the game might have ended in a tie.

Condit: I was super proud of my play with my transports to contest objectives at key points, right up until they got scared and hid from my Raider. Not that I can blame them, but it wound up costing me another unit.


The Results

I managed to avoid failing an out of action test with any of my squads, and in the process of the game I scored Honour the Patron with a few of my units, I scored a bunch of points for my Foul Blightspawn taking out Priority Targets, and likewise for Loimos. In total I ended up scoring 12 points off agendas, and I marked the Plaguecaster for greatness after he survived with 1 wound left and wiped out the Raider.

It was at this point we noticed that the Fell Tide mission has no victor reward; we ended up settling on the “you get 2 RP instead of 1 for winning” reward for it since that’s the bog-standard baseline. Otherwise, the mission was a blast. Playing on the table was a big part of that; it looked great and I think SD47 and Condit also had a fun time, though they certainly had to reckon with the standard challenge of “trying not to get in each other’s way” that you get in team games.

Condit: The game was a ton of fun, and the map was incredible. Plus, between the various agendas my Archon picked up enough experience to level up – twice. She got some pretty nasty upgrades, and got a decent part of the way through to picking up the Master Archon upgrade, a feat she’d accomplish by the end of the weekend. All in all, I had a blast, and getting in a team game was really cool.

At this point my Death Guard have cleaned up most of the opposition they’ve faced in the campaign and they’re rapidly escalating in power and also campaign points. At this point I’m planning to start adding some less-leveled models to the mix so I can scale things back down against newer campaign entrants. But I’m also pretty happy with how they’re progressing. The one aspect of Death Guard Crusade I haven’t really engaged with yet is the custom Contagion; it just isn’t good enough for me to spend time on and I need to invest a lot of time and RP into it making it something that I’d actually want to pay attention to in a game (so far I just forget it). I’ll revisit my Crusade Army in a future article and possibly more battle reports, if people seem interested in hearing more.

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