Daughters of the revolution

Scott bought over his growing Soviet force for Konflikt 47, the joint Warlord Games-Clockwork Goblin game of weird world war. The rules are similar but distinct from Bolt Action and bring new challenges to the table along with the opportunity to field some of your more esoteric units. The fictional diesel-punk background gives motivation for the weird-science that changes the course of the war and extends the fighting into 1947.

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Armoured SS-Shocktroopers take cover in a barn as their truck brews up

What lifts K-47 above a mere campaign book for BA, with a bit of fiction and a collection of special rules that add walking-armour, flying-troops and horror-elements, is that the core mechanics also change. The main shift is adding more complexity to the assault phase, which gives room for specialist close-combat troops to participate on equal footing in the game. Close combat is still lethal, as is shooting at a distance, but the changes mean that both types of units can compete without the game being unbalanced.  The added complexity works in this milieu because of the expanded range of abilities – it allows werewolves to exist on a battlefield full of machine-guns; handled well either can win.

Players of Gates of Antares will recognise the ability to react to enemy orders. This also brings new dimensions to game and is a welcome tweak, keeping both players engaged at the table in ways the IGYG rarely can. Reactions can be great, but while they can save a unit it still surrenders the initiative somewhat to your opponent. It is not always clear what is the best decision, which is what makes it a fun addition. I think the complexity of reaction-orders could be bought into Bolt Action too, although the ability of officers to order units when they activate does fill this niche in a simpler way.

 

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The Soviet first wave emerges from the morning mist

I pretty much took my standard Bolt Action Germans, adding some Games Workshop zombies as totenkorps, and a unit of sci-fi stormtroopers as ersatz SS-shocktroopers. We played 1,000 points, so while I usually take a Tiger in the late war (not because they’re ace, but because, well Tiger), I fielded a Stug III.

Scott’s army has more of the new units, with lots of walkers, a sonic-armed tank and a unit of daughters of the motherland. His painting skills are top-notch, let down by snaps with my phone-camera. We played the maximum attrition mission from the book.

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The Germans push forward to take up firing positions

The game was evenly balanced until turn 3. The Soviet advance was beginning to stall, with the Germans taking up good positions to take advantage of their better squad based shooting, and the Stug III was giving grief to the Soviet light walkers. It felt like to me like the Germans were about to take the upper hand and start not just laying pins but start to destroy Soviet units. Sensing the weakening resolve of their inexperienced brothers, the daughters of motherland broke cover and charged towards the not one but three LMG nests. Their rush forward left them in the open and taking fire from all sides they went to ground. However their enhanced DNA saw them survive, and by absorbing fire that would have destroyed most other units, allowed the other Soviets to push forward. The Germans found their own attack falter, and break.

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Mentioned in dispatches: daughters of the motherland

The Soviets took the field with a major victory over the fascist invaders.

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Totenkorps have yet to have a big impact in any game, but they do receive a lot of firepower

If you don’t mind a bit of weird in your world war, Konflikt 47 may well work for you. It adds lots of modelling opportunities and new challenges for your gaming pleasure.

Drop me a line if you want a game and happen to be near the Republic of Northcote.

Sisters are doin’ it for themselves

Rejoice citizens of the Imperium. Those valiant warriors of the faith the Adepta Sororitas have successfully defended Imperial Shrine world WB-R-Murphy-02 from a brutal Chaos Marine invasion. Long a shining light of the Imperial Creed, Murphy-02 found itself threatened and near obliterated by the combined efforts of several traitor legions. However, the Sisters, along with steadfast support from the Mechanicus and several Imperial Knight Houses, stood firm.

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The Sisters and their allies prepare for the initial Chaos assault

Apocalypse means beer, huge templates, buckets of dice and lots of minis. It remains a favourite with our gaming circle. Big games are especially sweet if you can assemble two themed lists and play with friends over an ace looking table. In the past we have played Tyranids versus Space Marines and lots of Marines against combined daemon and traitor lists. This time we bought in the Sisters and pitted them against a “pure” traitor marine list: no daemons, cultists or dodgy alien allies; 12,000 points a side plus super heavies.

The Sisters set up the center of the table and Chaos came on from both short table edges.


The Sisters won the role for first turn and while tactics can be hard in a game that large, the Sisters players coordinated their first round of shooting well. Chaos never really came back from that opening round of shooting.  Orbital bombardments and combined Knight firepower took out our Titan and the Chaos mad, long dash across no-mans’ land never had a chance to gain momentum.

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Turns out all you need are some lucky orbital bombardment roles and 3 or 4 Knights and Nurgle’s finest Titan is a smoking, smelly pile.

Once close combat was joined the scores started to close, but Chaos never looked like getting in front. But that is not the point of Apocalypse. You just have to go with the flow, and “forge the narrative”.


A game this large, over 25,000 points on the table, is hard to take in. As a player I find myself concentrating on the part of the battlefield where my forces are and larger trends are missed or confused. This is part of the Apoc experience. Highlights for me include Abaddon and two terminators charging two Imperial Knights. And destroying both. At the other end of the table, not one, but four Saints teleported into the fray, and reclaimed at least two objectives. The stuff Saints live for, surely.

Don’t worry, Abaddon is already plotting his revenge.

It’s war but not as we know it

The safe route for Warlord Games would have been to release a weird war source book for Bolt Action. Add some rules for flying infantry, some new units and weapons, and a few scenarios, and they could have had a viable and fun vehicle for their diesel punk alternative history and the associated miniatures. Instead Warlord, in a joint venture with Clockwork Goblin,  did something much more brave: they created a whole new game, Konflikt ’47.

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Yep, these are GW zombies. But they’re in a truck, which tots makes them totenkorps

Anyone familiar with Bolt Action or its stablemate Beyond the Gates of Antares will recognise the core mechanics of order dice and random turns. But Konflikt ’47 has some distinct mechanics that really help bring this kooky new world to the table in a fun, balanced way.

It is a very clever and rather fun addition to the range. The two largest rules changes are to the assault rules and adding reaction orders. Close combat is still brutal, but the addition of a shooting round as units close to assault means that specialist close combat units like Totenkorp and Shrekwulfen do not automatically dominate this part of the game. Similarly, highly mobile flying units don’t get it all their own way as units can now deliver reaction fire and make other reaction type orders that keep generals at the table and making decisions all the time. All these rules interact in elegant and subtle ways that open up interesting new gaming possibilities.

Existing army books also work with the Konflikt rules. My friend Brad and I tried this out one evening at Games Laboratory. I took a Tiger, some SS vets in armour and a truck load of zombies. Brad took a Japanese list with no weird stuff. The game was compelling (albeit with some page flipping as we took in the new rules), and the Japanese won the day. Turns out medium howitzers can really mess up your day whether you start the day living or already dead!

It was nice to be rolling some dice again, and I think Konflikt 47 is a fun edition to the Warlord Games universe.
D.

VBAL May

Life can really get in the way of your hobby at times. I did managed to sign up for a tour of duty for the May Victorian Bolt Action League event. Three games in a day, held at the excellent House of War in Ringwood. I liked how Tristan organised the day. Rather than the usual swiss chess sort of thing, we were divided into axis and allies, so no blue on blue. He had also appointed overall commanders, who (in consultation with their team) allocated people to tables. Each table had a different mission, so the terrain matched the mission. Both terrific things to bring to an event, and greatly lowered the stress levels because there was no “top-table”.

I took my Germans, of course. They are still my only painted 28mm WWII. At 1,000 points I left my Tiger at home and gave my Stug III a run instead.

I faced Soviets twice and the US once. I didn’t win a sausage all day, but had a cracking good time.

Round 1 Loss to Rick Vaveliuk’s Soviets. I ran out of momentum (and men) in the centre, while a T34 demolished my supply dump on turn 7 to turn a draw into a good win.
It is always a pleasure to fight Rick and was a nice way to start the day

Round 2 Another loss. Soviets again. Having trouble keeping the Bolshevik hoards back today. Kittyhawk Down and a great game.
Thanks Tim, and nice to see the citizens’ militia on the table

Round 3 Loss to Chris in hold until relieved. Turn 3 just saw my Germans taking too many pins and I failed order tests across the board.
Clear victory to the marines.

D.

Operation Cleanslate

I attended Operation Cleanslate, a one day Bolt Action tournament held at Games Laboratory in Melbourne. One day, three 1,250 point games and 15 players is a recipe for a top day.

I took a Tiger supported by a lot of mid-war grenadiers (and a squad of SMG armed fallschirmjager). A minor bum note was although I had Germans, I played against Germans in all three rounds. My opponents more than made up for this historical aberration. And, it was interesting to be on the receiving end of Hitler’s Buzz-Saw for once.

For once I remembered to take photos.

Game one: Demolition, against Garret who had a German armoured company. No tanks though, it was all half-tracks with various gadgets and just two infantry squads, both veterans. Garret is a gentleman but he knows Bolt Action and I had my work cut out right from the start. It didn’t help that my Tiger got lost on the way and didn’t arrive until turn 6! Just in time to take out his command vehicle and his most expensive unit, but too late to help defend my objective or destroy his.

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Garret advances behind smoke

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Contemplating the long run to the objective

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Vets well dug behind a hill

I did OK, and thought I might get a draw but with pins piling on I couldn’t get forward as my squads went to ground. An 8-16 Loss.

Game two: Point Defence. Off to the ruins of Stalingrad for a fight against Robert’s DAK (man, they must have really pissed Rommel off to get posted to the Volga!) A wonderful board to fight over, I thought I played it well keeping the DAK at bay and keeping my units alive in depth on two of the three objectives.

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Table supplied by Battlefield Accessories

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Tiger hunts in the ruins

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MVP: Rober’s lieutenant siezes the 3rd objective

Lesson this game: read the mission. Point Defence defender only wins if they hold all three objectives. I chose to  defend two objectives in depth, largely ignoring the other one, which left me playing for a draw right from turn one. Doh! 12-11 Draw.

Game three: Kittyhawk Down! Another German armoured list, against Aaron on a very open board. While there was some line of sight blocking, there was nowhere to hide.

Kittyhawk down really starts at turn 4, when a Kittyhawk crashes at a random spot along the centre line of the table and becomes the objective. It comes down with a bang, exploding with the effect of a medium howitzer. I lost an entire squad in the wreckage and went from being in a good place to being on the back foot as truck loads of (opposing) vets poured onto the objective.

The end result was a draw, 12-13 Aaron’s way, but if we had gone to turn 7 it would have been all his.

Tigers are ace. They can take a lot of damage and they are a one hit one kill unit. But they take a lot of points and will still accumulate pin-markers. This means that the rest of your army needs to work hard to take and hold objectives.

To win with a Tiger list you need to stay focused on the mission and know your army. Actually, that is really just advice for winning with any list.

And some of the other armies:

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Tristan’s Finns (winner of best army)

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(Another) DAK army; with added 88

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I love these biker dudes

See you on the battlefield. Maybe even the next BA event.

D.

 

Arc40K report: part two

Onto day two of Arc40K 2016. Some thoughts on day one can be found here.

The Players Awaken Crusade with Dawn of War deployment. The mission special rule was Traitor: each side nominates in secret one enemy unit as a traitor. The traitor is not revealed until after the game ends and is otherwise unaffected during play. At the end of this game the traitor is revealed and counts as an objective secured unit for your side.

This was a neat idea that meant that wins might turn into a draw, or worse, and added a nice layer to the game.

I played Sean with a rock hard Nurgle Daemon list and copped a 20-5 loss. They don’t come bigger than that. I just couldn’t deal enough damage into regenerating, toughness 6 (and more) beasts to make any headway.

Strike for the Heart. The only mission not from the book, but they kept it pretty simple. Dawn of War deployment and you chose one of two objectives, which was kept secret until the end of the game: kill points or more scoring units within 6″ of centre of table.

With all my units scoring and facing a Deathwing army, I selected to dominate the table centre. Not surprisingly, my opponent Shaun went for kill points.

Despite a cheeky last stand by Brother Captain Varus and his rhino, I lost 20-5. Did I mention that the Deathwing also bought an Imperial Knight. It stomped. A lot.

The final mission was kill points with a hammer and anvil set-up. Modest twist was that the kill points escalated so units destroyed later in the game were worth more than those early.

I faced off against Jessie with a bunch of space wolf terminators in landraiders.

Initially I found it hard to crack open his landraiders, and a poor initial set-up left me finding it hard to concentrate fire. The Librarius Conclave were still telling each other stories about killing Tyranids to do anything useful, but a veteran sergeant did deliver a power fist to Jessie’s captain, so the game wasn’t a complete right-off.

Jessie got his first win for the tournament and I got tabled in a 20-6 loss, for a final tally of 5 losses and a draw to finish 115th!

So back to the Arc drawing board. I have 12 months to sort out an actual game plan.

Photos are starting to surface, check out Arc40K on FaceBook and also this flikr account by dirkpawlik.

Despite the sorry tale on the tabletop, Arcanacon rocked. Congratulations to the winners and thank-you to my opponents – good winners, all of you – and see you next year.

A fez of the heart! An Arc40K report

I enjoy Arc40K. The granddaddy of Melbourne tournaments ran for the 19th time over the weekend with two firsts: the first time in February, and at a new venue The House of War in Ringwood.  Dan and team do a great job running this tournament. They run about dealing with broken software, overheated venue, and round draws, so players can have six fabulous games. A big thumbs up for all your work. (I helped run Arc for a while; it is no easy thing and takes way more than just the weekend itself.)

There are a lot of things I like about tournaments: guaranteed games, painted and often inspirational armies, catching up with friends and meeting new ones. Tournaments can also be hard work. Multiple games over the week-end, negotiating different rule interpretation during the competition. Arcanacon brings all this, plus more, including that special fug that only 120+ sweaty gamers bring on a sunny summer day.

In some ways this was perhaps my worst Arc ever. Having got my army together, managing some last minute (for me) painting, and wrestled with the Community Comp system, I got to the table and discovered that I’m out of step with the current approach to 40K here in Melbourne. Too much beer and forging the narrative on my gaming days have left me exposed like a n00b at the table. I had a couple of close losses and draw on the first day, and on Sunday three comprehensive losses. At least packing up didn’t take long.

Don’t get me wrong. The failure was mine and congratulations to my opponents who stuck to their plans, knew what their army could do and generally out generaled me.
I’m living the 5th edition dream in a 7th edition world.

I took Strike Force Varus. Perhaps there was some karmic backwash from naming my Captain after one of the biggest disasters in Roman military history (and there are some doozies to choose from).

There were lot of nice armies on show. Almost everyone had something of interest: nice highlights, a unique conversion or unusual list combination.

Check out Arc40K on FaceBook for photos from other gamers. I always seem to promptly forget my resolution to take more photos at these events.

The missions were good. Each one was basically straight from the book with one special rule added. Not much to remember, which is a plus, but often enough to deliver a twist.

Get Your Fix was Big Guns Never Tire, using Hammer and Anvil deployment. The special rule replaced mysterious objectives with new table and a twist where the function might move from turn to turn.

I was competitive until turn 3, but just couldn’t hang on and my hopes of draw faded as a daemon prince gorged on my command unit leaving the centre of the table to the enemy. Jeremy got a 5-19 win to start the tournament with his nice looking Khorne Daemonkin.

Lessons for me: read the special abilities for your formations more than 5 minutes before the game starts and read the mission sheet!

We could be heroes was a Crusade with Vanguard Strike. Mission special rules was some random rules added to our generals. Neither of us rolled rules that were relevant to our list and did not affect the game.

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I faced a drop pod heavy Salamander list run by Lachlan. With just three objectives the game became crowded very quickly.  I got to the objectives in numbers but twin-linked flamers and a grav heavy vet squad took their toll on my army. The game ended with two objectives held by the Salamanders, and just one from me. A 6-16 loss, but I did get the satisfaction of seeing Vulcan go down under a hail of bolter shells.

The Touch Emperor’s Will with Vanguard Strike. The special rule was that we had to nominate just three units to be objective secured. So much for the formation bonus for my army 😦

Pav fielded Tyranids and we duked it out to a 12-11 draw. This was my best result for the tournament, and the difference was totally down to my Librarius Conclave. This was their moment: taking out the hive tyrant and a hive crone, both in the psychic phase.

So ended day one. I’ll save day two for another post, if anyone can be bothered to continue with this tale of woe.

 

Fight for the trenches

The Battle of Loos was fought between September 25 and October 15, 1915. With most of the major fighting along the rest of the front coming to an end, the trenches of the Hohenzollern Redoubt became a priority, as both sides send reinforcements to the area. Desperate close fighting continues for control of the Hohenzollern Redoubt, but in the following days, the Germans manage to push the British back to their initial position.

Scenario 6 from the Great War game continues the story of Loos. The twist here is that the two sides are basically identical: the same number of units, command cards, combat cards, HQ tokens and reserve artillery. Even the first move is a coin toss. Just to make things really interesting, units start facing off in the same trench system.

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Andy took the Germans, and me the British

There is a victory medal for having an absolute majority of units in the central trench system, the Hohenzollern Redoubt, and otherwise it is kill points. First to seven wins, and the Germans start 1-nil up since they occupy the trenches in the beginning.

Andy took his newly painted Germans and I commanded the British.

Andy was tenacious and aggressive, bringing up his reinforcements and concentrating fire to eliminate entire British squads. These were shrewd tactics because while a squad with only 1 token left is fragile, it still dishes out the same damage and doesn’t count towards victory until it is gone. After some initial British gains, Andy clawed his way to a 6-4 lead for the Germans.

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Andy’s newly painted Germans. They really do look great on the table, and the gloss varnish finish leaves them robust in game play. These boys mean business.

The British were in a fragile situation, with several units down to one or two men and at least one unit caught in the open. The next moves were crucial. I tried out a card I had not used before that allowed for random extra hexes of movement. The British units went over the top from the reserve trench and dashed for the Hohenzollern Redoubt, gaining a majority of units there. The British turn ended with 5 victory medals each!

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Andy’s British

The Germans were still right in the game but had some unlucky rolls and could only destroy one of the weakened and exposed British units. Either side coult still win when I played a “big push” card. This activates a random number of units, but gives those activeated additional dice for combat resolution. The additonal fire power saw the British come out on top 6-7.

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There isn’t much to see at the end because there wasn’t much left on the board!

Winning a game of Great War takes a lot of focus. Simply pushing units forward will not gain ground or kill or the opposition. Trenches are dangerous, but forcing units out of them, or destroying them outright, takes co-ordinated effort.

Tension builds as losses mount and you try to concentrate forces and give them multipliers from the command cards and HQ resources. The hand you’re dealt is random, but seeing the potential of the different combinations is how to win.

The stage is set, the battle lines are drawn, and you are in command. The rest is history.

(Opening and closing quotes are from the Great War rule book)

Great War Battle Report

Andy and I have now played The Great War against each other seven times, using four different scenarios. Most recently we played the 5th mission in the rulebook, Loos (German Counter-Attack), which extends the story of a British attack on the preceding days.

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This is the first scenario where the Germans are attacking, although this doesn’t change the dynamic much as the capabilities of the two forces pretty much mirror each other. In Great War differences between opposing sides are captured through the scenario with different set-up for order of battle, command and resource cards.

In this scenario it is the turn of the British to have fewer units and resources, as their depleted starting force seek to repel the Germans who have launched a fierce counter-attack. It is a daunting thing for a general to see a big disparity in starting forces. In this scenario the British have 5 infantry units defending against the German’s 11. The British also start with fewer machine-guns, command cards and HQ (resource) tokens.

But this is no easy task for the Germans, as to leave the safety of your trenches is pretty much a death sentence. However, there is no way to win without pushing forward to take ground and destroy the defending British.

I haven’t kept careful notes, but I think that the attacker – despite the danger – seems to have a slight edge over the dug-in defenders. This may be because the game is relatively new to both Andy and I, but I think the abiltiy to take higher casualties is probably the difference. As the defender takes casualties, their ability to acheive their aim diminishes.

However, there are no foregone conclusions in this game. Even though the attacker has better odds (in our games), wins have all been narrow and bloody. So far, the scenarios seem very balanced and are definitely at the heart of the game.

Just to mix things up, in our most recent game the defending British held off the Germans. It was a long game. The British started well, but the Germans developed their attack in depth and pushed. And pushed, and got back into the game, until it was 5 all. It was the German turn, but the British (via a command card) had an opportunity to perform counter-fire, winning a sixth medal and the game. It doesn’t come closer than this.

The final two turns were good examples of using the cards to turn the odds. The Germans were able to order a general advance across all three sectors, creating multiple threats and get back into the game.  The British counter-attack coming before the Germans could finish their shooting finally broke the assault. This might seem like mere luck, and at times both dice and cards will desert you, but seeing the combinations available to create force multipliers is the way to bring victory.

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The Landsers pushed forward in the face of terrible losses, but the Tommies held on to seize a narrow – and bloody – victory

We will be back for more.

For something a little different, there are a couple of days left to listen to this BBC podcast on the sounds of the first world war. Only 15 minutes and is well worth a listen.

See you in Flanders

Blood for the blood god (and Nurgle)

It’s Queen’s Birthday weekend even here in the Republic of Northcote, so we marked the occasion as fits a monarch by waging some war.  James, Cam, Steef and I got together for some 40K. James and I gave the current Space Marine codex a last outing against a joint chaos incursion by Cam using Nurgle marines and Steef who tried out Khorne Daemonkin.

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Chaos mass in their deployment zone, waiting the signal to charge

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We used 3,000 points a side, with Dawn of War deployment and the maelstrom of war mission Deadlock, where the maximum number of tactical cards reduces each turn, starting from six cards per side.  We placed the six objectives evenly along the table. Imperial won the toss but let Chaos set up first. Knowing they were most likely to just charge across the table at us we wanted a chance to set up some clear lines of fire.
A plan that went awry right from the start as Khorne bikers arrived in our face on turn one.

Go get'em boys

Go get’em boys

Chaos hounds and bikers, along with the a Khorne lord on a juggernaught were all in combat in the first two turns, with charge and counter-charge defining this flank for the rest of the game.

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The chaplain gets a mention in despatches for successfully taking around 10 invulnerable saves

The Imperials held this flank, at some cost, but beyond a victory point for slay the war lord, there were no points to be won.

Chaos dominated the other flank. With plenty of big toys, including a very nice looking hell chicken, they slapped down, burnt and generally stomped on every loyal marine in the vicinity.

I forget what we played this as - not an imperial knight. It had a battle cannon and looked awesome

I forget what we played this as – not an imperial knight. It had a battle cannon and looked awesome

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The only marine in the village. “One, this is recon alpha, I need a bit of help over here”

The centre was tough. This was the key for the loyalists if they were to achieve their objectives and the Exorcists threw in all they had.

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Despite the carnage, Chaos held on and the Space Marine attack bogged down to contest but not seize the objectives in the centre.

It wasn't a game changer, but this mauler fiend still had a fun day out

It wasn’t a game changer, but this mauler fiend still had a fun day out

Imperial strategists cut their losses, leaving Chaos to win 12 VP to 6.

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So it appears that Chaos has returned to the offensive. Faith and Steel recommend that your emergency plans are current and to standby for further orders.