As noted previously, this background information can all be found on the Tempus Fugitives website, where the entire campaign and special rules can be downloaded. So without further ado..
The Graia Campaign
Located far to the Galactic north, Graia was a verdant agri-world which was home to not only several regiments of the Imperial Army, but also held a resource which would prove vital in the upcoming campaign - foodstuffs. Virtually the entire surface of the planet consisted of fields of grains, its seas a mass of hydroponic bays producing algae (which give the planet its distinctive green glow). But now this was set to change - realising the importance of keeping his armies well fed, Horus has ordered the 4th Legion, the Iron Warriors, and elements of the 12th Legion the World Eaters to assault the planet and secure the primary objective. Great landing craft, designed with transport of the titan legions in mind but now used for a far more mundane purpose, come down through the atmosphere following massive orbital bombardment. Such an approach is necessary, despite the importance of the agri-world, for the planet is defended by the most stubborn and unyielding of Legions - the Imperial Fists.
The efforts of the Traitor forces orbital barrage have resulted in vast clouds of dust being forced into the atmosphere. As the initial exploratory forces of the 4th and 12th Legions make planetfall, and are met by the planets defenders, from the layers of snow covering the ground it is obvious that the current harvest will be the last for many years to come...
Battle 1: Initial Recon Foray (Vanguard Doubles)
This game consisted of four 1000pt armies, with 2 players on each side. Armies were focused towards 'elite' army options, to represent these being both the first troops to make planetfall, and the special reaction teams which have come to greet them. My ally was a chap named Derek, who had a regiment of Imperial Army, and we were against both another Imperial Army regiment, and a Mechanicum force played by Ben (Apologist from the Great Crusade forum). The objectives were simple – Take your opponents objective while protecting your own.
The game started inconspicuously enough – chimeras of the traitor Imperial Army raced forward along with the transports of the World Eaters. Desultory fire was exchanged will little effect, although our forces lost a Hydra and the World Eater Rhino got stuck trying to cross a marshy bog. Essentially the Loyalists, fearing an assault from the World Eaters, were hidden right in the rear corner of the battleground. Perhaps because their sacrifice was seen as more acceptable, robotic units of Skitari moved forward to engage. On the right flank, a large scouting unit of Beastmen moved forward and charged toward the guardsman guarding the objective...
Desperately the guardsmen opened fire, and managed to down several of the charging mutants. Unfortunately this was too much for them, and they fled (I took the LD roll for them and rolled an 11, this was the last time my partner let me roll for his troops!)
The berserker unit lead by Captain Sevruk had attempted to deep strike on top of the enemy objective, but an unfortunate mishap meant they found themselves on the wrong side of the battlefield! Knowing that they would have little impact, they focused their attention on the remains of a Skitari unit, who were being scattered by the attentions of the Dreadnought Bale:
Meanwhile on the other side of the battlefield, a special prototype agent of the Mechanicum forces (who’s rules were essentially the same as those of an Assassin) snuck her way around the flank. Though Ratling snipers stationed on our own objective and a hydra opened fire, she dodged all of the incoming shots – her own shots from her hyper-technology pistol destroyed a hydra in return! A chimera with a squad of guardsmen turned around away from its objective, with an aim to take her on..
Meanwhile on the right flank the beastmen, shamed by their earlier show of cowardice, rallied and charged into the guardsmen in the forest. The combat was short and bloody, and the angry mutants made short work of the guardsmen. The victory brays of the beastmen were met by the answering cry of the loyalists charge as another loyalist guard unit assaulted to avenge their fallen.
In the centre the World Eaters butchered the Skitari unit they faced, as did Bale. But, it was obvious that they would take no further part in the battle. The rhino had managed to break free from the swamp it was stuck in, but unfortunately there would not be enough time left in the game to reach the objective. We had spent far too much time admiring each others armies and discussing tactics, and the game clock was rapidly counting down!
The troops on the battlefield all heard the rumble of approaching aircraft and turned their heads to the sky, and two loyalist gunships swooped low over the battlefield. One pilot mistimed his approach and ended up stranded near the now victorious beastmen (who surely could do little but hurl insults at the aircraft hovering overhead?)But the other landed directly on the traitor objectives; troops carried by grav-chutes leapt from the sides of the vehicle amongst the now terrified looking Ratlings. Though we would never find out the perhaps quite predictable result of that fight, the last minute manoeuvre by the loyalists had contested the objective and given them victory!
The game finished with a couple of close combats, fought simply for the moral victory! The beastmen finished off the guardsmen who had had the bravery to charge them, their leader (who actually turned out to be very competent in close combat) knocking down one of the loyalist commanders! Finally, a squad of five assault marines charged the remaining commander of the Skitari. Thoughts of victory turned to disbelief as not only did they not manage to cause a single wound on the Admech (who essentially was a human hero with power fist), but had four of their number cut down in turn! The surviving marine decided discretion was the better part of valour, and tried to run away, only to be cut down himself! Surely the darkest of days for the World Eaters, I shall have to give some thought as to whether the legion has an equivalent of the pain glove :)
Thoughts on the Game
Although this game was a loss, not only was it great fun with some very friendly and gracious opponents, but it was really nice to be able to see four well painted and themed armies taking each other on! Looking at it now, I think there was little the traitor forces could have done differently – there was a unit of World Eater veterans ready to charge the unit of abseiling Imperial Army, and two hydras which would surely have made short work of the Valkyrie! Sevruk and the remains of the beastmen unit were in a position to charge the loyalist objective.. if only there had been another turn!To add another excuse to the growing mountain, having our most powerful unit (the berserkers lead by Sevruk) materialise amongst a bog on the wrong side of the battlefield was also very costly! But, this is the risk you take with deep strike..
Still, we were heartened by the fact that our loss had been the only one by the traitor forces, and all across Graia the initial landing units turned their attentions towards the loyalist bulwarks and fortresses guarding the key centres of the planet...
There will be two further battlereports, along with a continuation of the narrative, being posted shortly!