Raid on Lachesis Part IV: Midweek War Crimes

Welcome back to the Raid on Lachesis, a 5-part campaign series in which the Word Bearers descend on an Imperial world and endear themselves to all and sundry. In the previous post it went very poorly for the servants of the Dark Gods, but they’re about to start turning it around.

What’s in the series?
Part 1: rules, maps, artwork, lore.
Part 2: The players that fought in the campaign, and their armies.
Part 3: The beginning, in which there are Imperial heroics.
This post: The middle, in which Bad Things occur to the Imperium.
Part 5: The end, in which things end up being closer than expected.

The First Crack in the Imperial Defence

[mark: 5.14.45]
Interceptors from the Word Bearers cruiser Blessèd Lady identify a Lachesian regimental staging ground for the units defending Samavor, the Tower of Duty. Word Bearers ground forces immediately assault the PDF staging area from the north and the south, preventing retreat. The assault is intended to prevent Imperial reinforcement of Samavor, ensuring the exhausted forces that have been holding the tower for days will finally succumb to the next major assault. Reinforcement from the Cobalt Scions is unavailable, with their strike force already spread thin defending Sitalayi in the absence of the Cadian battlegroup.

Jeff: with Drew having a similar problem with unfamiliarity with guard, my inexperience was balanced out. Plus, oh Lorrrr they coming, the army finally started winning some dice rolls and slapping uppity guard upside the head. Khoura especially just wading through guard squads.

Drew: Equal parts thrilling heroics and bimbling as we (mostly me) tried to figure out what the fuck we (me) were doing. Guard seemed to have so many moving parts that I was a little nervous to start with, but once I managed to get my head around things we were off and dispensing the emperor’s most mid-strength justice! Jeff’s Angriest Bible Bois looked like the stuff of nightmares and were an absolute joy to be terrorised by. I got a greatest hits of guard shenanigans, including a brick of a tank that inexplicably refused to die, soldiers dying in droves and shooting my own men to make them braver. HAVE AT YOU!

Jeff expressed himself on the campaign map with understandable enthusiasm.

[mark: 5.15.09]
Samavor is assaulted directly and decisively. Knowing that his PDF reinforcements have already been slain, the Tower Master initiates a purge of the facility. The defences, weakened by previous assaults, are overwhelmed before substantive progress is made on the purge; it merely lends creedence to Khairon’s words when he enters the facility and offers the captive psykers a chance to walk the Eightfold Path against the Terran corpse-god.

Chaos Resurgent

With Samavor having fallen, and its psychic inmates roaming across Miduma Province causing plenty of headaches for Imperial authorities, Jeff figured Lord Khoura would have the urge to despoil something else while the going was good. Word Bearers love taking a big old shit on Imperial altars [Jeff: where else should one take a big old shit?], and the relatively plush climes of Kulunu province had yet to be successfully raided. And if you haven’t upset every available demographic on a planet, have you even done a proper Word Bearer-ing? No.

To that end, we set up a pair of large chapels, and the Scions did their best to earn a very public PR victory by keeping the Word Bearers in check.

Kulunu Province
As the most affluent province on Lachesis Prime, this temperate region of fertile arable land and coastal cities is home to numerous ports, the palaces of the titled elite, and many great cathedrals and shrines to the Emperor. Less salubrious neighbourhoods are regularly either walled off, ‘removed,’ or aggressively gentrified to ensure offworld visitors remain impressed with the planet’s prosperity.

Cobalt Scions Squad Castus keep lookout for approaching Word Bearers. Credit: Jeff Scarisbrick & Charlie Brassley

By this point in the week, I hadn’t yet lost to the Word Bearers, but it was getting… bracing. In this battle, Jeff had to destroy a majority of five objective markers, and it was one of the closest-fought games of 40K I’ve ever played. He put pressure on every single objective, making good use of cultists and other small units to threaten me across the table. Not only that, but he bled me white. Following a foolhardy charge in which Drusus learned how much power fists don’t do to a venom crawler that can trigger a -1 Damage ability, he got slapped about and had the loss of reputation battle scar inflicted on him.

In my final turn, my thousand point force was down to 4 intercessors and a Stormtalon gunship. They had to kill 3 units between them – 10 cultists on one objective, the remnants of the possessed, and Lord Khoura himself. Even then, Jeff’s venom crawler would still be fast enough to despoil the statue out in the open. The only way I could stop the skittery little bastard getting there was to block the alley between the chapels with my beautiful blue lads, knowing full well the venom crawler would shred them. Incredibly, the Scions pulled it off, but at predictable cost. My win/loss record was still at 100%, but this was truly pyrrhic.

[mark: 7.10.23]
A plea for aid is made by the palace of the planetary governor; traitor astartes are attacking, but have yet to breach the palace proper. Drusus orders Imperial Guard reinforcements to his position at Vasanava in case of a surprise attack, then departs with his strike force for the palace.

[mark: 7.10.59]
The Cobalt Scions arrive at the palace by overlord gunship, and upon arrival are engaged by a new enemy: Heretic Astartes bearing the colours of the Night Lords.


[mark: 7.11.05]
A distress call is made by Vasanava, the Tower of Hope. There are unknown insurgents somehow inside the tower, butchering the psykers inside. It will later be discovered that the enemy made use of the sewer system and endured conditions that would have killed mortal soldiers in order to access the tower.

Vasanava, the Tower of Hope
In theory, the locals should have no say in how a world’s psykers are treated; it is a matter for the Adeptus Astra Telepathica and their Psykana facilities. On Lachesis Prime, however, the local nobles have ensured that the tower in the wealthy Kulunu Province benefits from ‘donations’ that ensure its psyker cells are comfortable, and that there are personnel on hand to offer preliminary training such that the psychic sons and daughters of the great and good have the best possible chance of avoiding the noble duty of being given over to the Emperor’s embrace.

The tower itself is built from pale stone, and decorated with stained glass and fine sculptures; a far cry from the spartan conditions present in the other two towers.

[mark: 7.11.08]
The Night Lords attacking the palace retreat, but kept up the fight long enough that Drusus is unable to return to Vasanava in time. The Guard units who enter the tower to engage the intruders are butchered.

[mark: 7.11.52]
The Cobalt Scions return to Vasanava and find everyone inside the tower either dead or dying. The walls are decorated with filth and viscera. The violence visited upon the occupants is both nightmarish and, in places, clearly ritualistic. It is the second tower to fall, leaving only Sitalayi.

Harvey: I was so stoked to use the Night Lords for the first time, as I too had been waiting for the new Chaos codex (albeit without a 6000 point Jeff Special just ready to go). They showed up in style! Sure, they couldn’t hold the field, but they never intended to (classic cheating Night Lord energy). Winning the mission objectives meant that Icarael had held on long enough before cheesing it for his sewer crawling Chosen to infiltrate the Tower of Hope and butcher its inhabitants, securing the second tower for the Word Bearers’ scheme.

It should be noted at this point that the Night Lords were only on the scene at all for the promise of supplies from the Word Bearers. Not for them the simpering rituals and fawning worship of the powers of the warp… Guns, ammunition and fuel were their concerns. Not that the Word Bearers had ANY intention of paying them, but that just set up future games!

The Last Tower

With Vasanava and Samavor toppled, Sitalayi was now the only tower left in Imperial hands. With only a few days of the campaign left, there was no way the Chaos players could hit a 60% win rate, so total victory was off the table – there’d be no turning a wee moon into a big gate – but now they did at least have some victories under their belt, and were within reach of knocking the Imperium off its >75% win rate. Since they couldn’t pursue a total victory, the third Psykana tower at Sitalayi wasn’t technically necessary, but at this stage it had become a point of pride. It was meant to come down in the opening weekend, and had now seen off multiple assaults. It’d still be possible to light a beacon in the warp, aiding the Word Bearers’ main fleet in their journey, and that beacon might as well be lit on the corpse of the Tower of Focus.

As an Imperial player I was of course contractually obliged to put up a real fight, but I was nonetheless pleased that with these two Imperial defeats we were back in a position with real narrative stakes. There were four battles left, and all of them offered rich narrative juice.

Refresher: Sitalayi, the Tower of Focus
Far from any population centres, locked away in the frozen south of the planet, Sitalayi is the destination for Lachesis’ most promising psykers. A number of Inquisitors, Primaris Psykers and even rarer individuals began their training here, before being moved off-world to their new lives. Conditions are far from comfortable, but they are designed to give those with real potential the best chance of serving the Imperium to the fullest extent of their otherworldly powers while they await the arrival of the Black Ships.

During the raid on Lachesis, the Imperial defenders saw off multiple assaults; eventually it was the only Psykana tower remaining, and became the focus for both Imperial and heretic forces.

Stop the Launch!

Cobalt Scions versus Word Bearers, 1500 points

Due to the unexpectedly stiff Imperial defence, we’d fought a lot of missions over the towers. Thankfully the scenarios remained varied, since Jeff has a gift for coming up with the many crazed schemes of an evil genius. [Jeff: once more: buah, ha, and haaaa]

This time, his Warpsmith had finished converting a hijacked planetary defence torpedo silo in Kulunu province. Now, it was a boarding torpedo silo designed to fly halfway around the planet and straight through the tower’s void shields to get at the delicious psykers within.

Wise to the archenemy’s many diversionary attacks, the Chapter Master left Codicier Tolemias and half the strike force to bolster the 31st and repel any surprise infiltrators (Night Lords or otherwise) while Drusus himself led a mostly mechanised assault on the torpedo silo. Since he’d earned the mark of shame, I took the Quest of Atonement agenda and set my sights on some petty vengeance. No matter the rules outcomes of whether I beat up an enemy character, I was going to treat the agenda as failed if Drusus failed to prevent the launch. It just wouldn’t make narrative sense in this particular context, given the high price of failure.

My armoured assault opened with an incredibly whiffy turn. I took a big gamble, sacrificing my hellblasters by rushing the main entrance to try and maximise damage, and did nowhere near as much as might have been expected. Jeff duly punished me for it, and the fight for the entrance to the silo compound ended up being a wild brawl.

The Word Bearers’ deployment: plenty of thuggery waiting behind the gates, and surprise Gal Vorbak hidden in counter-charge positions. Credit: Jeff Scarisbrick & Charlie Brassley

Hellblaster Squad Castus serve as the forlorn hope, running through the gates of the missile silo and achieving… not a lot. Credit: Jeff Scarisbrick & Charlie Brassley

The Scions’ faltering assault was ultimately saved by Word Bearer hubris; Lord Khoura should have gone for the injured Dreadnought Gaius Atalus, but instead got excited about bracketing the Repulsor Executioner Boriel’s Wrath. It didn’t go well for him. The tank certainly had a dent in it, but Atalus survived the attacks of Sorcerer Khairon and the Master of Executions, then promptly took a big fucking sit on the pair of them. Not only that, but Drusus dismounted Boriel’s Wrath and completed his quest of atonement all over Lord Khoura’s thicc self, at which point, things had strongly swung in my favour. Happy days.

Gaius Atalus (deceased) follows up on Castus’ failed breach, seeing off first the Venom Crawler, then Sorcerer Khairon and the Master of Executions. Credit: Jeff Scarisbrick & Charlie Brassley

*Beep beep beep* This Repulsor Executioner is reversing… and Drusus is completing his Quest of Atonement. Credit: Jeff Scarisbrick & Charlie Brassley

Boarding the Revenant

Cobalt Scions versus Night Lords, 500 points

[mark: 8.16.22; comms record; Lachesis system command to strike cruiser Axios]
+SYSCOM: 412th scan survey complete. Anomaly detected near Lachesis Prime, bearing 273 mark 42, distance 14,587km. Metallic object, minimal energy signature. Visual confirms frigate-sized vessel, minimal weaponry, running on low power. Authorise activation of planetary defence grid Y/N?

+Axios: N. Do not engage or attempt communication with the vessel. Do not alert system defence ships. Await further instructions.

[mark: 8.16.59]
Chapter Master Drusus arrives back aboard the Axios and it begins its run on the unidentified vessel. If it belongs to the Night Lords, Drusus is concerned they may have a foothold in the sector already; he intends to introduce certain chemicals into the vessel’s fuel lines so that it can be covertly tracked in realspace, and perhaps be followed to their base of operations if and when the forces of Chaos withdraw from Lachesis.

With the campaign having been focussed on a terrestrial war, there had been few opportunities for more unusual terrain setups like boarding actions. Harvey and I jumped at the chance. We kept it small – 500 points – and deliberately avoided making this pertinent to the safety of the final tower, since we were now saving that for the big finale.

We used the Deathwatch: Overkill tiles for the Revenant’s interior. Here Aggressor Squad Lastratus take cover behind bulkheads while Intercessor Squad Tyvus emerge onto a balcony and engage the Night Lords at range. Credit: Charlie Brassley & Harvey Kent.

The game was fun, and ultimately came down to my Bladeguard bum rushing the fuel pipes while Drusus kept their leader Icarael at bay by blocking the corridor with his big blue gravis booties (since by that point the rest of my boarding party were very much on the floor getting murder humped by Grunge Lords). Icarael did manage to take Drusus out of play, but not quickly enough to prevent the Bladeguard completing the mission. Out of thwarted spite, Icarael used the Flay Them Alive stratagem on Drusus, which given the time constraints we interpreted to mean putting a nice ugly scar on my chapter master’s noble face. The crew of the Revenant had no idea what I’d done or why I’d done it, and crucially, this served to set up a fun little mini-arc for Harvey and I to play at a later date, in which I could follow his ship to his secret evil lair and, God-Emperor willing, blow it the fuck up.

Harvey: Insert a gif of full edgelord Anakin Skywalker saying “You will try…” right here. RIGHT HERE.

As great as this little game was, I am powerfully stoked to see what GW do with their impending boarding action rules for 40k.

I hadn’t taken SPACE BATTIL into account when making my map, so improvised and added an empty frame to the map in which to stick another chufty badge. Here’s how the map looked going into the final weekend:

Next Time

The final installment covers the Siege of Sitalayi, split over two games, in which the fate of Lachesis Prime is decided. Chaos needed to win both games, and in the first of those games, they’re up against the plucky 31st Light Infantry. After that it’s the final showdown between the Word Bearers and Night Lords against the Cobalt Scions in front of the tower itself. Chapter Master Drusus and Lexicanium Tolemias are both in for a rough ride…

If you have thoughts or questions about any of the nonsense on display in this post, or others in the series, leave a comment below or email