“It began with a drought. Normal fertile seasons that fed the planet with nourishing rains gave way to foul, acidic rains which spoiled the crops. Wells that had provided for communities over decades became pits of contagion, killing scores of the world’s citizens. Riots broke out along the northern continents with reports of human sacrifice and rivers of blood in the streets. Panic stricken, the leaders of the world had sent a plea to their Imperial masters for aid to quell the unrest. However, the Imperial response was to be much more than simple Arbites for crowd control, for the planet had attracted the eyes of Chaos. Psychic advisors tore their eyes out for the visions they witnessed of the planet’s demise. Of all the screams, two words were consistent; Nurgle and Khorne.
The Imperial Castellans Chapter had long held interest in this planet, as the Emperor himself had walked across the surface in the early Crusades. Some thought it still held mighty artifacts from the Crusades and the Castellans were naturally quick to respond when the cry for aid sounded. They made planetfall and began their defenses. The outskirts of the capital seemed to be the focus of attacks by the cultists and the Castellans quickly deployed their forces among the outlying bastions. Suddenly the cultists fell to their knees and offered their bodies to the Dark Gods by way of suicide. Soon the air began to crack and bend with strange lights… “
Ash placed the terrain as the defender and settled on 4 objectives. Three of the Imperial Bastions and one homegrown version (Ash made this for our Apoc game quite some time ago). So, given four objectives we each settled on four points worth of stratagems. As the attacking Daemon Player, I took Dawn Assault, Ground Observer and Darken the Skies. Obviously, the less I was shot and the less I scattered, the better! Ash took Force Pylons, Power Generator and Krak Missile Trap. The Force Pylons is a doozy of a pick against Daemons by the way….just don’t take it against Marines!
Daemon Player Turn 1
The Gods agreed with what I wanted for a first wave and the assault began. I decided with Ground Observer I was going to gamble big and first turn it paid off. I brought Papa Nurgle next to the Raider, Blood Thirster next to the far left bastion and my Nurgle Princes in the middle of the table supporting my Great Unclean One. I decided to deep strike my Plague Bearers deep in his corner, in hopes I could use the icon to pincer the marines. Lucky for me, my scatter (Or lack of!) was terrific! I only suffered one mishap with a Nurgle Prince and Ash placed him deep back in my corner. Not only that, but he fell prey to the Krak Trap and suffered two wounds. A two wound Demon Prince that is forced to walk across an open table is no way to go through life (or unlife) son. He was out of the game.
The interceptors did a bit of damage as well, injuring my other Princes with a couple of wounds on one and one on the other. FYI, automated interceptor Autocannons will be a necessity in Planet Strike. However, my assaults went spectacular. Nurgle blew up the Raider, Thirster blew up the bastion and I ran the two Princes up the middle next to my Great Unclean One. My Plague Bearers landed safe and things looked great. First turn I had two big pieces of armor out of the way, which makes any Daemon player happy.
Castellan Player Turn 1
Ash chose to deep strike his Dread in the middle of the river, which had a beacon on it. This was a clever move, as it allowed his Libby/Stern squad some rapid and accurate mobility. I was hoping Ash would split some fire between my Thirster/Princes/Plague Bearers….but he knew what was waiting in the warp so chose to do the smart thing; Kill my Plague Bearer Icon. Ash gated his Libby/Stern squad on the cliff overlooking my Plague Bearers and deep struck an Assault Squad right next them. In addition, two land Speeders spun around to pour fire in to them. Wasn’t looking good for the Icon unit but luck came through. Ash rolled very poorly with his Stern squad and only dropped two Plague Bearers. The two speeders and marines overlooking the Plague Bearers took down another two in shooting. At the front, the Dread and other speeder managed to take two more wounds from my closest demon prince and the marines from the destroyed bastion did a couple on Thirster.
The Assault Squad leapt into combat with the Plague Bearer unit, nearly killing all. The PF, which would have really done some damage by ignoring my FNP, wiffed all of his attacks. This proved rather huge, as only two were left standing at the end and the icon lived on.
That Night Fight stratagem really hampered Ash this turn. Overall, it could have been a lot worse had he rolled decent for shooting/night fight.
Daemon Player Turn 2
Everything else in my army showed up (Damn those reserve rolls are friendly for Daemons!). I deep struck the Skull Taker Letter group off my icon to jump into the Assault Squad it was engaged with. I deep struck the other Letter group from the same icon towards the nearest speeder and risked my Crusher unit by deep striking behind the 2nd bastion and rhino, no scatter! (In fact, I didn’t roll a single scatter this turn). The Crushers ended up assaulting the rhino/group of marines next to it, killing all. I dropped my Beasts of Nurgle in front of his dread and assaulted it. Thirster Assaulted a Castellan rhino that had advanced and blew it up, killing one of the marines inside and Papa Nurgle ate the Marines from the last bastion.
SkullTaker and company nearly wiped the Assault Squad, with the Storm Shield Sgt. Falling back. The other letters assaulted and blew up the furthest speeder. Again a terrific turn of rolling scatter and damage tables.
Castellan Player Turn 2
Ash gated the Libby and Stern from the cliff to down by the river and two speeders moved up in flanking positions. He rallied his Storm Shield Sgt and advanced him towards my unit of 5 BloodLetters that killed the Speeder last turn. Automated fire dropped a crusher and a few letters…and then Ash’s ‘luck’ continued. His Vortex of Doom scattered so badly, it ended up killing two of his own Stern Guard. Luckily Ash is a great sport and just laughs at such luck, whereas others might have been throwing dice after two rounds of such rolling! Still, the Stern Guard and Speeders dropped the SkullTaker unit to 4 Letters. The Storm Shield Sgt, with a powerfist, bravely charged into a five man unit of Letters…and killed the entire group! Definitely MVP of the game for Ash, as he continued to drop units until the very last turns. The Dread dropped one of the Beasts of Nurgle this turn and they made their fearless saves.
Daemonic Player Turn 3
I jumped Thirster over on the Dread now that he was in range and he ripped it apart. Skull Taker and company charged the Libby/Stern squad (Failed to get Taker in btb with the Libby though). They dropped five and made the unit run. Papa Nurgle and fellow DP charged and blew up the second bastion. My big unit of Crushers charged the Speeders….and only blew one up. Ash's dice must have touched mine during that roll. Furthermore...Night Fight had ended. Could be a rough turn.
Castellan Player Turn 3
Ash's dice turned a bit for him this turn and he started to bleed me pretty good. A BloodThirster, a foe that exists in the warp and plots across oceans of time…..died to an automated gun at the start of the turn. The Libby/Stern squad rallied this turn and once again turned the heat on the SkullTaker unit. Between the Stern squad, a marine group and the remaining speeder, the letter group was wiped and SkullTaker was down to a wound. Ash also advanced the two remaining combat squads near the river, shooting and assaulting the Nurgle DP. Although they lost combat, they dropped another wound (Half dead now) and stuck in hand to hand. That damn Storm Shield Assault Marine killed off my Plague Bearer unit and advanced towards one of the ruins of a bastion. That dude just wouldn’t quit!
Daemonic Player Turn 4
To be honest, I was a bit nervous now. Although I had had terrific luck with my scatter and vehicle damage rolls, Ash had really taken a chunk out of my assault. Thirster was dead, my Prince was near dead and Taker was down to a wound. I jumped Papa Nurgle into the Marines on my Prince this turn and wiped the unit. SkullTaker joined up with the advancing Crusher squad and took out the remaining Speeder near the river. The Beasts of Nurgle advanced towards the last complete bastion to claim it (but not dying next to it!). Ash still held the high bastion and far right bastion…and I had no units claiming the ruins from the others. So, despite my early fortune…the game was still tight.
Castellan Turn 4
Ash had both Marine units from the last bastions opened up on the Crushers this turn and failed to drop one. Ash's Libby/Stern Guard were safely put on top of the cliff adjoining the overhead bastion. They focused fire on Papa Nurgle this turn, the Vortex went off and hit Papa Nurgle, along with the remaining Stern, which did a wound on the beast. Ash advanced that Storm Shield Assault Squad Marine (Yes, THAT one) over to a ruin by skirting the table edge.
Daemonic Player Turn 5
I activated my last stratagem this turn, the one turn Night Fight. I hoped this would limit fire from the high bastion. Remember my Demon Prince that misshaped at the first of the game? Yeah he finally joined the fight and moved up to help claim a ruined bastion. The Crusher unit along with Papa Nurgles help finally finished off that Assault Squad Marine. Yeah, I wasn’t going to risk anything with this guy and they finally killed the bastard. What a stud that Marine was though, he killed five blood letters, two Plague Bearers and nearly claimed a bastion all on his own. Had I not rolled high on my terrain roll, he might have survived this assault as well.
My other Prince assaulted the last bastion, shaking it and not doing much else. The Beast of Nurgle milled around the base. SkullTaker split from the Crusher unit that was heading back to claim a ruin and hoped to run up the hill to claim the high bastion, provided the game advanced.
Castellan Player Turn 5
The Libby and remaining Stern Guard attempted to drop the Nurgle Prince beating on the right bastion and failed. Night fight bit Ash again and really shortened his turn...as this saved my Demon Prince several shots from the high bastion…and then my Prince blew up the bastion during his assault phase.
Turn 6 and 7 (Yeah it went that far)
I decided to condense those turns, as they were mostly uneventful. The upper bastion dropped the Nurgle Prince that blew up the bastion, SkullTaker wiped the remaining Marines in the open and the gate jumping Libby failed to blow the Beasts of Nurgle off the far right bastion.
End Score: Daemonic Player: 3 Bastions Marine Player: 1 Bastion
Daemonic Player Summation:
Three phrases stuck in my mind after this game; No Scatter, Night Fight and Underperforming Stern Guard. Our group had wondered and mused on how strong Daemonic forces would be in Planet Strike and this game certainly fueled our thoughts. My first turn was rather obscene, where I killed a Land Raider and Bastion. If you don’t scatter with Daemons….you can expect to do a lot of damage the first turn. Daemonic Icons, normally a bit expensive, are gold in Planet Strike when you can assault off them. I can see Daemonic Strike forces consisting of thick Plague Bearer units with icons forming now….
Papa Nurgle, normally an ‘ok’ pick really seemed to shine in Planet Strike. He can assault when he strikes, they really can’t run from him (Unless they abandon their bastions) and he just. Doesn’t. Die. I think he’ll be in all my Planet Strike Forces. This was the first time I tried out the tri-Nurgle Prince combo too (Grinders just don’t survive with all the AT people pack now)…and I was happy with their performance. Ash had some really dismal rolling early on too, with his Stern Guard rolling in particular. He also failed to end Night Fight for several turns (4+ roll) which hampered him in the early phases.
I guess that tells you how strong of a player Ash is. Despite my incredible fortune on scatter and damage tables and his unfortunate rolling, as I looked things over at the start of my fifth turn…the score was 3-1 his flavor. He held the last intact bastion, the high bastion and the ruins of another bastion. So, all in all, a good learning experience about the supplement. I’m on the defense next week with my marines against his Chaos Space Marines…and I’m already devising some dirty tricks….
Castellan Player Summation:
Let me say first, I think we really like PlanetStrike. It really does add a new dimension to 40k and this led us to begin talking of starting a 40k campaign. In that campaign we are going to take advantage of standard 40k, PlanetStrike and Apocalypse. I can hardly wait; now, on with the summation.
There are a couple of areas that stand out (or things I could have done better):
1. My Force. When I began to make a Marine list for this game, I realized that my Marines are sort of stuck in 4th Ed. There isn't a Combi-weapon in site, powerfists are everywhere, my speeders are set up wrong (plus too expensive) and my Assault Terminators are in need of a storm shield make over (which they are in the process of and the reason they were absent from the battle). Suffice it to say the force needs to be updated.
1b. Do not underestimate how powerful Daemons are in PlanetStrike. You are going to be assaulted, early and often, so be prepared and have some good counter-assault units ready. Assault Terminators would do nicely. Thunder Hammers would be nice to have against Daemon Princes and Greater Daemons. Reducing their initiative would be huge. Assault Marines die rather quickly so are probably not a first choice. It would also be worth considering Marnius or Lysander to lead your Terminators.
2. Deployment. This is where I messed up. I tried to limit the areas where Age could deep strike but all it really did was spread me out and cost me a Land Raider. Looking back I should have split the bastions into two groups and placed them on opposite ends of the table, and then I should have kept most of my force in reserve. Now age would have had a choice: go after both areas by splitting up or concentrate on one bastion group at a time. Either way it would have bought me time to shoot more. Since I, as defender, can choose which edge to enter from reserve, I could have reinforced whichever bastion group looked most promising by concentrating my remaining force there. (Edit: Re-read the rules and saw that the defender reserves come in on a random board edge. Still the idea could work, but it would be harder to pull off.) Oh, well, live and learn.
All in all, it was a good game versus a good opponent on excellent terrain. That is what this hobby is all about.
Thanks for the report and the game.