Saturday's Re-Taking of Ghemehaal was truly epic! Around 25,400 pts of the forces of the Imperium launched an audacious assault on 25,300 pts of the forces of Disorder defending Ghemehaal.
The forces of Disorder were led by Lord Aureus of the Sylla Cell's Nurgle Sect (Iqbal), at the head of a massive host of warriors and machines - World Eaters (Kadir), Chaos Daemons and Marines (Subhan), traitor Astartes (Jo), traitor Titan Legion and Dark Eldar (Rizal), and evil mek Orks (Carl). All told, there were some 13 super-heavies in the traitor and xenos host - 1 Warhound Titan, 1 Stompa, 1 Mek Stompa, 1 Shadowsword, 1 Banesword, 2 Baneblades, 2 Brass Scorpions, 3 Doomsday Devices, and a massive Warlord Titan measuring more than 3 feet high! And this is on top of special characters such as Kharn, Mefistos (Mephiston gone wild), Skarbrand, a bunch of Greater Daemons and Daemon Princes and an entire gang of Chaos Lords, as well as assorted tanks and armored vehicles.
Major Rammstein lowered his battle glasses, deciding that with the sheer size of the enemy host standing not 1,000 meters in front of him, the Mk.I human eyeball was good enough. Arrayed against the Imperium was an enemy host so vast, it dwarfs even the traitor Baneblades and xenos Stompas making ready to unleash destruction upon him. He had counted on facing Warhound Titans and such class of enemy war-machines, but he did not have an answer for the traitor Warlord Titan towering above the battlefield to the rear of the enemy lines. To either side of his Baneblade, the intrepid warriors of the Imperium stand ready, weapons primed, souls pure and engines humming. Lord Ragnar's Land Raider sat to the fore in the middle of the battle line in formation with 2 other Land Raiders, and behind a screen of Ravenwing bikes - perhaps a full third of that legendary Astartes elite company. To either side of the Ravenwing, Space Wolves Thunder Wolf cavalry paced the ground impatiently, their riders wielding massive blunt weapons, energy-fields crackling in the cold morning air. To the left of the line, Space Wolves, Raven Guard and Ravenwing vehicles stand ready. The center was dominated by Captain Scheel's Leman Russ Company, tanks formed up in a smart battle line behind the Ravenwing screen. The rear center clustered around field HQ were Space Wolves Predators, Long Fangs and Raven Guard scouts. The right of the line was rounded up by Korsaro Khan's White Scars. The Imperium forces deployed at the start of the battle was completed by Captain Tress' Shadowsword and the regimental Manticore detachment bringing up the deep rear.
The Emperor's loyal and faithful war host was led by Lord Ragnar Blackmane himself and a large host of Space Wolves (Syamael), joined by the Raven Guard (Synide), White Scars (Doc Selvam), Deathwing (Boon Kin), Ravenwing (me), Brandenburg Imperial Guard super-heavy, tank and mechanized infantry companies (me too) and even a detachment of fearsome Grey Knights (Arzmi). The Imperium was relatively infantry-heavy, ably supported by around a dozen Land Speeders, a dozen Leman Russ, 3 Baneblades, a Shadowsword and 5 Thunderbolts of the Imperial Navy. Luminaries other than Lord Ragnar present at the battle included such names as Belial, Sammael, Shrike, Bjorn and Korsaro.
With a word from the Master of the Ravenwing, a swarm of black-armored bikes and attack bikes leapt from their starting positions, scouting ahead at breakneck speed, heading straight towards their designated targets. As the fearless Astartes elite bikers neared their assigned positions, the enemy launched a choking blind barrage, cutting off the Dark Angels bikers from the rest of the army. Undeterred, and as one, the Ravenwing activated their teleport homers on cue, and momentarily the air around them shimmered and coalesced as the first wave of Deathwing terminators teleported onto the battlefield deep in enemy lines. The Ravenwing then gunned their engines in an all-out assault, moving in close to enemy super-heavies so as to unleash a point-blank melta attack. Within seconds, a traitor Baneblade broke into flames as volleys of melta fire reduced layers of reinforced armor into molten slag, causing multiple internal fires, utterly destroying the massive super-heavy tank. To the left of the burning Baneblade, an enemy Banesword suddenly erupted in a massive ball of fire as super-heated gases from multiple melta penetrations found fuel and ammo reserves. Three Ravenwing were caught in the blast, ceramite and flesh alike vaporising in the inferno. The explosion also destroyed two Killa Kans and a Deff Dredd lurking behind the tank, now reduced to a large crater in the ground. To the right of the Ravenwing strike, black armored bikes and attack bikes slipped below a traitor Warhound Titan's void shields and unleashed point-blank melta fire, crippling the massive Titan and damaging its drive systems. A follow up charge was ill-fated, as the great war machine simply trampled the loyalists underfoot. Space Wolves Thunder Wolf cavalry launched a charge of their own, locked in combat with an enemy Defiler.
The Imperium's opening turn was horribly effective, with the Ravenwing taking out 2 super-heavies, severely damaging another, and destroying other targets. The enemy Disruptor Beacon was also targeted and destroyed by Ravenwing Land Speeder Typhoons, opening the way for deep-strike assaults currently held in reserve. The other enemy Baneblade received the attention of concentrated lascannon fire, destroying its main weapon. The bulk of the IG tank force used the enemy blind barrage to its advantage, advancing forward and fanning out behind its cover.
As hordes of daemons started appearing in the middle of the battlefield, creating oceans of green and red warp entities, the forces of Disorder struck back with great vengeance, wiping out the entire Ravenwing bike assault force with firepower and assaults. Sadly for the forces of Disorder, Skarbrand himself did not survive manifestation into the physical world and was sent reeling back into the warp ("1" on mishap table). A vortex missile from the Warlord Titan narrowly missed Lord Ragnar's Land Raider, but vaporized 2 other Land Raiders filled with Space Wolves and White Scars terminators. Firepower from the Titan also destroyed a Leman Russ and several Raven Guard and Space Wolves marines. A Brass Scorpion came in from reserve and assaulted a White Scars bike squad, tearing apart the hapless Astartes. Another Brass Scorpion flank marched around the lines and struck near the Imperial field HQ, shooting up Long Fangs and together with a Bloodthirster, charged and destroyed a Space Wolves Predator. The Dooms Day Device in the center-right suffered a meltdown and erupted in a fearsome apocalyptic explosion, killing many Deathwing, destroying a Leman Russ and a Rhino and severely damaging a Brass Scorpion. All along the Imperium's weaker left flank, Land Speeders were being shot up and blown up by the enemy.
Major Rammstein involuntarily ducked his head as a gaggle of Imperial Navy Thunderbolts streaked overhead at treetop height. Upon Lord Ragnar's orders, the precision strike struck home, as wave after wave of Hellstrike missiles and concentrated volleys of massed autocannon and lascannon fire ripped open the Ork Stompa's gigantic armor plating, chewing away at the twisted metal like so much confetti until the massive war machine burst into flames. To the right, Korsaro and his band charged forwards, his vortex grenade scattering off enemy terminators, finally landing onto the damaged Warhound Titan, tearing up its innards and destroying it utterly. A lone White Scars attack bike opened fire with its multimelta and yet another great explosion tore through the battlefield as a Brass Scorpion erupted. Back at field HQ, reinforcing Grey Knights had severely damaged the other Brass Scorpion when the great Bjorn delivered a mighty blow, creating a huge explosion which took some Grey Knights in the blast.
Meanwhile, Astartes lascannon and assault cannon, and Brandenburger battle cannon, Manticore, Baneblade and Shadowsword fire swept across the enemy lines, causing untold destruction amongst the daemonic horde. With accuracy borne of faith in the Emperor, the Brandenburg Basilisk fired over the heads of White Scars marines into a pack of Khorne Berzerkers, obliterating the enemy. Amidst this great mayhem, a trio of upstart Brandenburg Sentinels outfanked deep into enemy lines, easily negotiating the enemy's defensive minefields and opened fire into the rear of an enemy Shadowsword, causing serious structural damage. A similar infiltration by Space Wolves scouts attempted to cause severe damage to the Warlord Titan with a massed meltabomb attack, but none of the deadly bombs hit their mark, and in return the courageous scouts were trampled by the Titan's giant legs, causing them to withdraw from the battle. In numerous close combats across the battlefield, forces of the Imperium performed their holy duty with courage and murderous efficiency. Grey Knights easily dispatched daemons and Greater Daemons alike, while Space Wolves cavalry were efficiently cutting up even more Chaos minions. A combined assault by the Deathwing and Korsaro's White Scars cut down enemy terminators - save for one wounded enemy leader, whom the Deathwing trussed up as prisoner for reasons unknown but only to them.
The ferocity of the Imperium's second turn attack took all by surprise (both the Imperium and their enemies) as swathes of daemons were cut down in murderous fire and assaults. Most importantly for the Imperium's morale, 4 Chaos and Ork super-heavies were destroyed in a single turn. The arrival of Master Belial and the rest of the Deathwing, as well deep-striking drop pods delivering Astartes dreadnoughts behind enemy lines, were also morale-boosting.
By the time the forces of Disorder started their second turn, 7 of their 13 super-heavies were destroyed, and a further 2 were heavily damaged. The Imperium had totally ignored the gigantic Warlord Titan (with 9 structure points, they just said, "forget it"), and the great war machine once again unleashed its fearsome firepower onto the Imperium’s warriors, destroying the Brandenburg tank ace Captain Hartmann’s Leman Russ Vanquisher, as well as nearby vehicles.
Waves of Khorne infantry – Berzerkers, Raptors and Terminators – flank marched into the left flank of the Imperium, slaying Master Sammael, destroying a Basilisk, and many a Land Speeder. Only Chapter Master Mavles Khan of the White Scars and his assault marines held on against the Chaos flanking onslaught. The next wave of daemons – foul Plaguebearers – appeared in the center of the battlefield, along with other Greater Daemons and Daemon Princes, as well as the feared Fateweaver. The Ork Mek Stompa, belching smoke and bellowing xenos obscenities through oversized loudspeakers, projected its lifta beam and flung a Space Wolves Land Raider right across the battlefield, narrowly missing some Thunder Wolf cavalry. On the Imperium right, Kharn himself led a rabid headlong charge with a squad of Khorne Berzerkers, cutting down Deathwing terminators and White Scars bikes, including Korsaro. In the center, a traitor Stormraven roared onto the battlefield, disgorging its dreadnought cargo, which charged the nearest Deathwing terminator squad.
But the Chaos onslaught had clearly lost momentum, as the bulk of the Imperium’s firepower was still left intact.
Major Schaeffer’s Chimera thundered onto the battlefield, his Brandenburg mechanized infantry pouring in to reinforce the Imperium center. 1st, 4th and 5th squads forged ahead on the left to capture an enemy objective, while 2nd and 3rd squads sped ahead to secure the vital Imperial HQ objective. The mechanized infantry’s left flank was well covered by Devil Dog and Hellhound light tanks. Major Schaeffer watched in awe as Grey Knight Paladins rushed in and cut down Khorne terminators at will, while further still to the left, Space Wolves Storm Claws jetted in and made short work of enemy Raptors. Overhead, the roar of ramjets filled the sky as Navy Thunderbolts split up and began individual strafing runs, autocannon and lascannon fire chewing up the ground and daemons alike. From his sheltered firing position, a Vindicare Assassin’s shieldbreaker round broke the Fateweaver’s enchanted ward, opening the way for a hail of autocannon shells to impact directly into the daemon, sending him back to the Warp. One Thunderbolt deftly manouvered behind the traitor Stormraven and opened fire, but the traitor pilot was able to avoid the incoming fire with unnatural evasive action. Higher still, Astartes drop pods of the Raven Guard and Space Wolves screamed down directly onto designated objectives. As the Baneblade and Leman Russ companies focused battle cannon fire into the daemon horde, the ground shuddered with multiple high-ex impacts, spewing bits of daemon and earth into the air in a most horrible bombardment. This was followed up by a spirited charge led by Bjorn and Deathwing venerable dreadnoughts. On the far right, concentrated fire from Raven Guard marines, Leman Russ battle cannon and plasma cannon, as well as the Laser Destroyer cut down Kharn and his Khorne minions, even as the Deathwing made good ground amidst the enemy position and the surviving White Scars moved to secure an enchanted enemy objective. Major Schaeffer was about to signal a cry of triumph when a blinding flash, followed by a deafening roar, marked the demise of the Baneblade Pride of Brandenburg, Major Rammstein’s tank.
The Chaos Dooms Day Device had found its mark on the Baneblade company commander’s tank, utterly obliterating it in a great ball of flame and gas, the explosion also destroying Captain Scheel’s command Vanquisher. The forces of Disorder gave everything they had in their final turn to grab victory from the clutches of the Imperium. Recognizing that it’s down to grabbing objectives, they focused on doing just that. To the Imperium left, the Keeper of Secrets and lone Chaos Hound (two of the handful of survivors of the Imperium bombardment and charge) leapt forwards and charged the lead Chimera, blowing it up and killing most of its occupants. More importantly, they had managed to contest the objective the mechanized infantry were holding. To the far right, reinforcing Khorne Berzekers brushed off a Raven Guard charge and made good their advance to contest the objective there. A supporting charge by Chaos and Dark Eldar on Shrike’s squad failed however, with the Raven Guard Captain emerging triumphant. But the Chaos forces were really focused on denying the Imperium of the objective they held in the center. Repeated attempts to deep strike terminators to contest the objective were foiled either by the Imperium’s Disruptor Beacon or mishaps. Chaos finally called a precision strike on the defending Raven Guard marines. Volley after volley of murderous fire poured in the Raven Guard, but they still held on. That is, until the Warlord Titan opened fire with its fearsome volcano cannon, incinerating all in its blast. The Imperium’s back-up to hold that objective, a squad of Grey Hunters who had drop-pod in next to the Raven Guard, was unfortunately within striking distance of a Daemon Prince, whose magicks and charge made short work of the indomitable Sons of Fenris.
It all came down to Mefistos’ charge into the surviving Deathwing on the right, who were barely holding on to their Fallen special objective. The close combat was fierce, with the traitor sorcerer slaying 3 Deathwing, while also incurring 3 wounds himself. At the end however, the Deathwing were still holding onto their objective, which counted as a vital objective. Thanks to this amazing act of defiance, the Imperium won the day 4-2. The forces of Disorder held one vital objective which was right at the foot of the Warlord Titan and held by Dark Eldar, while the Imperium held one vital objective at their field HQ, plus the Deathwing’s Fallen, which counts as a vital objective only the Deathwing could claim or contest.
Face spattered in blood and gore, Lord Ragnar looked up from his handiwork as a long baying sound of war-horns marked the retreat of the enemy. Even with the severe punishment meted by his forces, the vile enemy still seemed to be able to disengage in good order, leaving behind a sea of dead and the husks of their destroyed war machines. Navy Thunderbolts harried the enemy along with their strafing runs, even as the surviving Imperium armor kept up their fire into the retreating enemy. He consulted his data slate and grunted in satisfaction. The Imperium triumphs! Ave Imperator!
I’ve taken part in many Apoc battles, but I must admit this has been the biggest and baddest so far. So, the final results for the Re-Taking of Ghemehaal (photos at http://spunkybass.multiply.com/photos/album/54/The_Re-Taking_of_Ghemehaal_-_25_June_2011_Birthday_Bash):
Victors!: The Imperium – 4 victory points
Survivors!: Forces of Disorder – 2 victory points
Best Painted Character: Skarbrand (Subhan)
Most Freakin’ Impressive Army: Deathwing (Boon Kin)
Most Valuable Unit (Imperium): Deathwing squad (Boon Kin)
Most Valuable Unit (Disorder): Warlord Titan (Rizal)
Killer of Giants: me!
I don’t remember what the losses on each side were (maybe you guys can help remind me), but I lost my entire Ravenwing force, a single Baneblade, the Basilisk, a Chimera, 4 Leman Russ and 6 guardsmen. Other than that, I believe all the detachments were badly hurt – Deathwing, White Scars, Raven Guard and Space Wolves forces were all mauled. The forces of Disorder lost 7 super-heavies, with 2 more heavily damaged. From my point of view, the Daemons, Orks, traitor Astartes and World Eaters suffered the most, though I could be wrong.
It was absolutely awesome! Thanks guys for taking part so enthusiastically. It was my privilege to see many great models, conversions and scratchbuilts (e.g. Mek Stompa, Thunderbolts, Banesword, Warhound Titan, some excellent Dooms Day Devices and of course the Warlord Titan) and excellent hobby spirit. Let’s do this again! Soon!