Friday, 30 October 2009

Great Crusade Short Fiction contest

The Great Crusade forum is running another one of its Pre-Heresy themed competitions, this time for short fiction.

The story can be about anything providing that its vaguely pre-heresy or great crusade-era in nature. Here is a story I have written for it, concerning an issue which I think is central to the World Eaters as a legion:


That other Place

‘Drip..... Drip...... Drip.....’

Warule sat entranced by the steady stream of condensation as it fell from the roof and rolled down one wall, pooling near the feet of the crouching form of Sergeant Buseyt. Though the liquid was stained and clouded it reminded him of something else; of blood, of the way which the crimson fluid stuck to a surface until sufficient weight forced it through gravity to descend, forming in rivulets and pooling like mercury. Its faint reflective aspect represented in a myriad of colours and shades, the mirror image of another world. But the water which crept morosely down the wall was very much of this reality, a sorry contrast to the dominant white and blue of the Astartes crouched throughout the room. Poor comparison to faded red, the remains of stained blood not entirely removed.

“Make yourselves ready, cohort!” The harsh digital representation of Buseyt’s voice chimed in Warule’s earpiece, breaking him from his reverie. Instinctively he gripped the haft of his chainaxe, running his gauntleted thumb over the well worn activation rune. Lime-green diagnostics winked positive in his visor; compartmentalised diagrams of his turbofans at once became opaque and then disappeared as the systems in the device were checked by the control centre of his armour. Warule had seen each and every step on a hundred occasions and anticipation built in him as it moved through its sequence: Auto-senses, environmental integrity, power levels, each confirmed in turn until only a single system remained. The diagnostic interface, as if sensing the weight of occasion, paused for a moment before an image of opened fangs enveloped the cross section of his mk3 helm; His Bio-neural implants were ready. The image faded, leaving Warule’s image intensifier staring once more at coarse granite and pool of discoloured water.

When Buseyt spoke again, this time in more measured tones, it came to Warule as if he were submerged beneath that thin film of water and in another world. Flat, undisturbed, a shade of nothing; “Ignatov is pinned down in those ruins two hundred metres ahead. Machine gun nests, a trench, heavy machine weapon fire.” the Sergeant’s words came broken and halting. Despite the digital translation, all of them well knew the crushing sense of anticipation inherent in his tone. The sense of eagerness mixed with fear. After what seemed like an eternity he spoke again, but this time the words rushed forth like a torrent, bursting to come out, “We attack from above. For Angron. For the Emperor.”

A pause.

A drip of water.

The hollow echo of his breath faded into silence, and it hung in the air for what seemed like an eternity.

“Activation code...”

The world that existed around Warule collapsed, and the man that was the Astartes did not hear that final half muttered utterance. A torrent of images cascaded through his mind, a bursting flash of memories and experience which flowed through him, fleeting, never giving him respite or chance to reflect: Of the blood red skies of Lalonde, Brother Gasker lying in his arms his life blood draining away, Commander Dreyt falling to the Reavers, The howls of his brothers caught in the Maelstrom of Iskar slain without pause, Of blood, The training camps of Bodt a thousand white glowing gauntlets held to the sky fists clenched and the galaxy their prize. The images faded to the background, decades of war, of death and destruction, condensed into a heartbeat. There and gone like the flash of bolter muzzle.

With a scream of exaltation the faded world of greys fell away from him and the veils which cloaked his vision were discarded as he burst through the surface of that sterility. To Warule it did not matter that special biological pre-cursors had been activated, that carefully targeted hormones and chemical programs were being released into his brain. That reservoirs of adrenalin and more exotic components were being dumped directly into his bloodstream.

It did not matter. At that moment it felt like lightning had struck him. As if tens of thousands of volts of electricity were arcing through his body, as his muscular frame arched and threatened to tear itself loose from his skin of armour and launch itself through the ceiling. Twin hearts hammered in his heaving chest like pistons, his helmet desperately struggling to pump air into his lungs fast enough as they heaved in great undulating and ragged gasps. As his teeth clamped together, threatening to splinter apart, he gripped the haft of his chainaxe; it roared to life, the scream of its serrated blades echoing the fire which coursed through his veins. His eyes bulged, dancing wildly and rolling backwards in their sockets with a crazed intensity. He barely noticed his brother marines in front of him, seemingly wrestling with their own invisible daemons as their bodies were wracked with the tremendous forces raging within. Ceramite strained at the seams as they stumbled out of the building, those too inexperienced not to have loosened the bonds on their armour joints now paying the price; wracked with pain as their hyper-extended musculature expanded and bulged within their armour.

Warule bounded after them in great strides, barely able to keep his footing as his legs drove him forward, chain-axe singing its chorus of death and destruction. A serrated blade symphony which occupied his attention entirely, precluding any moment other than the one he now lived in.

Moments later they found themselves in an open space of sand covered pavements and roads. Warule’s heart sang at what was to come next and he thundered to a halt beside his squad, sending chips of dirt tumbling through the air. Placing his arms by his sides he planted his feet into the ground and squatted. He looked up into the red-tinged hue of the sky. To Warule it looked as though scarlet clouds drifted amidst the falling blood of his colleagues. Of Gasker, of Dreyt, of every World Eater who had ever fought and fallen.

Diagnostics blinked positive and screams of exaltation sounded in his earpiece as with a thunderous roar the turbofans in his jump pack ignited. His armour shook, feeling as though it would tear itself to pieces and with an almighty and ear splitting crescendo he was launched into the sky in a corkscrewing trail of black smoke and ozone.

Towards his enemies, towards blood and destruction, towards that world which existed so fleetingly and to which he always longed to return.

Sunday, 25 October 2009

Gedren Prime: Pre-Heresy Event

This weekend I was fortunate enough to attend the 'Gedren Prime' event organised by Laurie & Will of the Great Crusade forum.

The background narrative was produced in collaboration with none other than Black Library writer Graham McNeil. I've written a heavily abbridged version of it below, although it can be read in its entirery here.

The Gedren system is comprised of a number of mining colonies, a result of humanities colonisation of the galaxy some ten thousand years previously. Life on these worlds is far from idyllic - a series of small empires, spread through the system, are ruled by the Fief Lords; These tyrannical individuals maintain their position through the mining of Pyrox, a substance as valuable as it is deadly. Such is the danger presented by the mining of these materials, that the Fief Lords have turned to a nearby lost oupost of the Mechanicum for assistance, and whose knowledge from the dark age of technology has allowed the production of massive clone workforces for the system.
The various Fief lords constantly vie with each other for power, armies of clones heading forth into battle at the behest of their lords, but this animosity is due to be put to rest, heralded by the arrival of a common foe....


It is the 77th year of the Great Crusade. The Emporer of mankind leads his twenty legions ever outward through the galaxy, their military domination absolute as Alien empire and lost offspring of humanity alike fall before the might of the Adeptus Astartes. Now the Crusade approaches the system of Gedren, yet another world seeded by humanity in the dim and distant past, and the thoughts of those commanding the Emporer's armies turn towards the possibility of not only a world brought into compliance without bloodshed, but perhaps even the discovery of yet another of the Emporer's lost sons' the Primarchs. But such an occurrance was not to be - a closed fist rather than an opened hand met the Imperial Diplomats, the Fief Lords of Gedren at last united under the banner of hostility. Corax, Progenitor of the Raven Guard and master of the expedition, was quick to order the invasion fleets of all twenty legions into position. Of the other Primarchs present within the fleet; Khan, Leman Russ and Malibron, there was no argument.


The military and industrial capacity of Gedren IV was impressive indeed. The world was ruled by the machinations of Fief Lord Nihl Macon, whose clone army controlled one of the largest artillery contingents in the system. Realising that such a force posed a threat to any future troop landings, Corax ordered the 12th Legion contingent, the War Hounds, to take the artillery at any cost. Such an assault favoured the inherent ferocity of the Legion, but the complex was protected by regiments of Macon's clone troopers, who would no doubt die for their lord without question...

You can now read all 3 reports of the games from the weekend, as well as a continuation of the narrative, in the Battle Reports section.

Wednesday, 21 October 2009

New Section: Tactics & Strategy

Although 'the art of Warhammer gaming' isn't going to be a large focus of the blog, nevertheless its an area I've just started touching upon and so is perhaps deserving of its own section.

So far it only has a single discussion of an army list for the Gedren Prime event but hopefully this will grow in time!

In the meantime, there are several other blogs I will recommend which feature some great information on both tactics using the Blood Angel army list, and tactics in general:
Pitched Battle - Blog with some great info on Blood Angel units and tactics.
Jawaballs - A library of BA resources and a very well established blog.
Pathfinder - Very amusing blog with tactics on various armies and units. Perhaps not that relevant, but always makes me laugh so is in this list on that basis!
Sweet Dreams - Quite a new blog, but some interesting titbits on the BA and army lists.

Warseer, Tactica Blood Angels Thread - Put your power armour on before you enter this one, well worth a visit as there are some interesting bits of information and varied ideas found within.

Army Lists:
Gedren Prime: Dawn of War 1000pt army list

If there are any other Blogs which feature Blood Angels tactics and strategy, please let me know and I'll add them to the list!

Wednesday, 14 October 2009

Pre-Heresy event: Gedren Prime & Army List

On October 23rd and 24th, the members of the Pre-Heresy forum 'The Great Crusade' will descend upon Aldershot, Hampshire, for the 'Gedren Prime' event. Set during the peak of the Crusade, Gedren Prime is the latest world to recieve the attention of the ever expanding Imperium, and no less than all 18 Legions are descending upon the poor inhabitants of the world!

The weekend will feature 3 games, each with unique rules and objectives. I will be using Codex: Blood Angels to represent my forces - one of the rules is that no 'special characters' are allowed. So for me, this gives me the challenge without using the normal mainstays of Dante and Lemartes!

I'm going to dip into something I haven't done thus far; that of army lists. When first coming up with the design concept of the Blog, I had a good look around some of the 40k fansites already up and running. A pretty high proportion of them were focused on tactics and army lists, obviously written by people who spent a great deal of time playing games and so knew their stuff! For someone who plays a casual game once every two weeks (if I'm lucky!), I thought I should leave this aspect of the game to the experts, as it were, and focus instead on the background and modelling of (specifically) the Great Crusade.

But, it looks like events have forced my hand and, can of Heinz-brand worms infront of me, I must reach for the opener! So without further ado, here is my army list for the first of the 3 games, known as 'Dead by Dawn' (a 1000pt game). This game features the following Caveats:
- No special or named characters.
- Normal force organisation chart.
- The entire game is set during night fighting rules.
- An objective on each players side, the claiming of which will give victory.
- The game will almost certainly be against Imperial Guard (representing the human defenders).


Jump pack 20
D. Company (berserkers 3 free DC, 6x J. Packs, 120
x 6)

Tactical Squad x 10

Flamer, M. Launcher, razorback

(with E. Armour, Multi melta) 85
Assault Squad x 5

P. Fist 25
Veteran A. Squad x 7

P. Fist, Combat shield x5, p.pistol,

p.weapon, melta gun (free Rhino) 90

total 970

I figure that the night fighting rules will give me a big advantage. My transports will speed forward, with the jump pack troops moving up behind. Then they'll roar and charge into combat, and hopefully kill everything :)

My thoughts on tactics haven't gone beyond this so far. I've got a number of points left to spend, which at the moment I'm leaning towards spending on melta bombs to take out the armour I'm undoubtably going to encounter.

Any thoughts on the army list and/or tactics would be greatly appreciated! :)

Friday, 9 October 2009

Defending Ground: World Eater Bastion

Though the Compliance of Konos III was accomplished well within the time forecast, and with acceptable casualty rates, it was vital that real gains on the surface of the planet be supported by dedicated military strongholds. Members of the Mechanicum and expedition serfs descended into secured zones days or sometimes even hours after the area had been declared clear, constructing a variety of hard points, landing zones and communication centres with which to aid the rest of the invasion. These were often constructed using special machines which utilised the minerals and other materials found on the surface, following a standard template pattern.

Here we see an example of one of these strongholds, with a Heavy Support unit on sentry duty on its roof. The remains of several Lalondian Dragoon troopers hang from the parapet, their crime; dereliction of duty, their deaths serving as a warning to other members of the regiment that failure will not be tolerated.

The purpose of the stronghold is to not only provide an easily
defensible refuge point for the troops inside, but also an ammunition store with supplies held safely behind a foot thick of reinforced Adamantite. In the months following the invasion such a Bastion would become a favoured option of the expedition, the open plan storage and factory areas proving far too vulnerable to the increasing number of guerrilla and remote attacks launched by members of the insurgence.

If I were to be brutally honest, I would never have bought a Bastion had it not been a requirement of the AoTE event. Even then, it was a completely token effort on my part - just a single coat of spray paint and that was it! Fortunately it's use was limited to a single game...

So anyway, I thought why not make a better job of it, and try and give it some character that marks it distinctly as being owned by the 12th Legion? If nothing else it can be used as a terrain piece or bunker in a game.

I remember reading an interesting extract about the World Eaters (unfortunately I can't remember where!) which stated that the Legion was infamous for its use of 'decimation' on Imperial Army regiments who were fighting alongside them in battle. For anyone not familiar with their Roman history, this revolved around the execution of 1 in 10 of the soldiers who fled the battle or else dishonoured themselves in some way. I wanted to model this into the Bastion, and so there are two unfortunates in the colours of the Lalondian Dragoons (an Imperial Army force I have been painting up alongside the WE) hanging from the Bastion!

Monday, 5 October 2009

Age of the Emporer part 2: Battle reports of the Heresy

Although I briefly touched upon the games and campaign setting in a previous post, I thought that it deserved an entry of its own (not least because the battle reports section of this blog is still looking ominously empty!) Here are the details of the campaign that the 12th Legion took part in during the Horus Heresy weekend, which will hopefully give some ideas to anyone thinking of running a campaign themselves.

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 l
ayers 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

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!