As I drove home from my latest game of 40k on Friday night, the local radio station was just getting to the end of the countdown of what they described as the heaviest albums of all time. Immediately my dad’s 1970′s super deluxe vinyl edition of Jeff Wayne’s War of The Worlds sprang to mind. I remember it being a massive slab of cardboard and vinyl, with a whole array of discs, artwork and other very dense inserts. It was a hefty album indeed, but apparently not as heavy as the winner of the countdown which must have been sold in a concrete CD case with a steel ball and chain security tag. Anyway, the winner was ‘Raining Blood’ by Slayer. Now I like my metal as much as any other headbanger, but not to the Slayer end of the spectrum. I actually met Napalm Death in a bar once and completely did not get excited. Back to the story; the track the DJ decided to play off the previously mentioned supermassive album was called ‘Angel of Death’, an entirely suitable choice to end the evening!
The battle was myself versus J; an epic face off between the might of Vulkan He’Stan and his rampaging hordes of master-crafted-thunder-hammering-assault-terminator Space Marines and the power of their dark brothers, a spiky mob of Slaaneshy-Daemon-Princey-Lash-whipping-plasma-cannoning-and-more-plasma-gunning Chaos Space Marines. We lacked terrain, and in the end used J’s homemade bastion and other bits and pieces picked up in the kitchen, including a Scooby-Doo lunchbox, which was to become the focus of brutal slaughter.
The game was table quarters, seize ground with three objectives, including the bastion and lunchbox. Early on in the game Chaos had parked itself on two objectives, with a combat squad of Salamander loyalists holding the third. A Chaos Land Raider stuffed with khorne beserkers soon ejected the loyalists, allowing Chaos to grasp all objectives by mid-game. The loyalists attacking the bastion had become bogged down in heavy terrain, with their heavy support Vindicator throwing a track early on. The loyalists attempting to seize the lunchbox were taking withering fire from obliterators and plague marines on the objective and were making little progress.
Meanwhile, Vulkan He’Stan and his hammertime posse had driven their Crusader deep into the enemies back field and were busy mullering anything not on an objective, but having little impact on the game outcome. Whilst they were busy splattering non-scoring units, their Crusader returned to annihilate the khorne beserkers and destroy their Land Raider transport in a turn of furious firepower, leaving the objective vacant.
At this point the loyalists slowly trudging through rubble towards the bastion decided to abandon their prospects of ever capturing it this century and split up, a Space Marine combat squad heading to capture the now vacant third objective, and a squad of assault terminators heading off to mash a daemon prince who happened to fly by too close.
By turn six Chaos still held the lunchbox and bastion, and loyalists were still struggling through the rubble to reach the third vacant objective. The last desperate gamble of turn six had been a final assault by a loyalist combat squad on the lunchbox in an attempt to remove its final defender, an aspiring plague marine champion with power fist. The assault failed as the single champion beat down all of the attackers. It looked set for a two to nothing victory for chaos until J rolled for end of game. Unluckily for him it went to turn seven. By this time Vulkan had been picked up by his Crusader and was busy speeding towards a final decisive battle atop the lunchbox. A final loyalist combat squad who had been walking to the box since their transport got destroyed in turn four finally arrived. The other squad who had done nothing all game other than struggle through rubble finally made a run for the uncontested objective, only just making it in turn seven. Vulkan scaled the lunchbox, and the final assault went in against the lone aspiring champion who up until this point had been winning the game. Vulkan had to employ both his master crafted relic blade and digital weapons to shift the stubborn defender, which allowed his supporting combat squad to seize the objective.
In conclusion, it was an extremely close game. The loyalists won 2-1 in the end, but only after being behind 2-0 at the end of turn six. The most effective units on each side were probably the loyalist’s Crusader, which survived the entire game playing a key role in the capture of two objectives, and Chaos’s Obliterators, who from turn one proved to be a menace and slowed any hopes of a swift loyalist advance and victory.
It was an enjoyable game, and showed the nail-biting tension a decent game of Warhammer 40k can bring. I find it a shame that the Sheriff is intent upon changing this great ruleset for something else in the next edition, probably to the benefit of no-one except shareholders. It just makes me hope that rather than going for codex creep, GW can actually concentrate on gameplay, good models, good balance and good fun rather than the need to release ever more all-conquering all-powerful armies. It is an interesting coincidence that this game was played on the day that Warpath released. If all games of 40k were this fun then Warpath wouldn’t stand a cat’s chance at a cacodaemon’s barbeque of being successful.