The Kessel Run: Last Stand

The breakout failed, succour is not coming.

The only thing left is to inflict as terrible a toll as possible before annihilation.


Game 3. Last Stand. To be played if the attacker losses game one, Breakout.
If the Breakout was successful instead play Rearguard

Deployment: Dawn of War.

Set up three objectives, one in the centre of the table and take turns placing the remaining two somewhere in the defender’s half of the table.

The defender sets up first anywhere in their deployment zone; units may be placed in reserve, make scout moves or infiltrate as normal.  The Attacker then deploys anywhere in their deployment zone. The Attacker goes first unless the initiative is seized.

Mission Special Rules:  Night Fight, Slay the Warlord, Variable Turns, Last Stand, Final Push

Last Stand: The defender may nominate one location as their bastion, increasing its cover save by one.  Defenders within 6” of the bastion gain the Stubborn special rule

Final Push: Attacking infantry units (but not any dedicated transports) that are destroyed or are falling back are not eliminated but instead may be placed in ongoing reserve. Units arriving from ongoing reserve will enter the table along their long table edge.

Victory: 3VP for each objective.  The winner is the player with the most VP.

Recycling units can be a bit underwhelming, as units returning to the table often have little impact on the game. Alternatively the attacking force could have more points than the defenders, say 2000 to 1500. In this case I would be tempted to force the attacker to keep at least half their army in reserve and not recycle troops.

There is no opening barrage for two reasons: the other two missions have them and I want to reflect the fragmentation and confusion in the kessel after the breakout has failed. I assume that the barrage has allowed the attacking units to get to their start lines relatively unmolested and must now go in for the final assault.


Now to the play tests.



The Kessel Run: Rearguard

Here is the next mission in my mini-campaign, The Kessel Run.  Play this one if the attacker in the first mission (Breakout) wins and opens a corridor back to their lines.

Game 2: Rear Guard.  To be played if attacker wins game 1.

Piercing through the ring surrounding your forces is only half the battle. Now you must effect a withdrawal under fire to get as many units as possible free from the trap.


In this game the defender must withdraw units before they are destroyed by the enemy.

Deployment: Hammer and Anvil.

The defender must set up all their units on the table unless a unit special rule states that they must start in reserve (e.g. flyers).  At least half of the defender’s units must be more than 12” from their short table edge and less than half way.  Other units can be set up anywhere in their table half.

The attacker sets up normally, anywhere within 24” of their table edge. The attacker may place units in reserve if they choose.

Mission special rules: Night Fight, Slay the Warlord, Reserves, Variable Turns,
Fire Support Mission, Fighting Withdrawal. In your face

Fire Support Mission: the attacking player receives one fire support mission. After deployment but before turn one the attacking player gets 3 S8 AP3, ordinance, barrage, large blast attacks. Due to the fluid and confusing situation in the kessel these shots are subject to mishap. Roll scatter: hit= hit; otherwise scatter 2d6” but on doubles the opposing player gets to move the target up to 24” and roll scatter again (to hit or scatter 2d6″). This second result is final  .

Fighting Withdrawal:  the defender can choose to withdraw units along the short table edge. These units do not count as destroyed but may not return to the battle.

In your face: the usual restriction on charging during the first turn is not in play. Units that use a scout move or infiltrate may not charge on the first turn as normal. Nor may units charge from outflanking as normal (unless they have a special rule that allows this).

Victory: the defender gets 1VP for each scoring unit withdrawn. Scoring units for the defender are all units except dedicated transports or flyers. Units that flee because they are falling back count as destroyed rather than withdrawn.
The attacker gets 1VP for each scoring unit destroyed.

Note: Sudden death victory (40K rules pg 133) is still in play until the end of Turn 4. While the rear guard must successfully withdraw, it must also buy sufficient time for the rest of the army to escape. For this reason they cannot fully withdraw until at least turn 5.


Rather than repeat the opening barrage mission special rule from Breakout, I wanted to reflect the chaotic and fluid situation in the kessel as the breakout occurs and both sides scramble to respond to the new situation.

Unlike Breakout, I think 1VP for a successful withdrawal is right, as moving away from the enemy is generally easier than going forward. Sudden death victory forces the defender to keep units on the board, allowing the attacker time to accrue victory points.  The task of the defender is made harder by forcing them to deploy some units forward, with added complications from In your face allowing assaults from the first turn.

I’m not so sure about In your face, I would love to hear your thoughts on whether it should be included or not.

Either way, nobody said life in a kessel was easy.


Kessel Run: Breakout

So this is the first mission for my Kessel Run mini-campaign. In this game the trapped force are the attackers. To win, they must try to get forces into the enemy deployment zone.  The defenders must stop them.

I’ve written this as 40K, but the idea would work for just about any modern or sci-fi system. The actual points don’t matter much, I think something around the 1,750 mark makes a nice game. Also, in the grim dark future pretty much any two factions will work.


Some of Joe’s lovely 30K Death Guard get ready to bust a move

Game 1: Breakout

Attacker: You have found yourself encircled and trapped. Supplies are low and you must breakout or face annihilation.

Defender: You have managed to trap a sizable battle group of your enemy. You must keep them from breaking out while a final assault to destroy your enemy is planned.

Deployment is dawn of war.

Defenders set up to half of their force in their deployment zone, the rest must go in reserve.  The attacker can set up normally. This represents the element of surprise. The attacking force may not outflank.

Mission special rules: Night Fight, Slay the Warlord, Reserves, Variable Turns,
Opening Bombardment, Limited Fuel.

Opening Bombardment: after deployment but before turn one the attacking player gets 3 S8 AP3, ordinance, barrage, large blast attacks. These shots are considered indirect fire (full 2d6” scatter).

Limited Fuel:  Fuel stocks are critical for the breakout (attacking) force.  All vehicle units, except flyers which are assumed to operate from a base beyond the kessel, are subject to Limited Fuel.  All terrain is considered difficult to vehicles and on a roll of one run out of fuel and become immobilised.  Dozer blades and similar do not confer re-rolls for running out of fuel. Note: vehicles do not need to roll twice for actual difficult terrain.

Victory: the attacker gets 2VP for each scoring unit in the attackers deployment zone at the end of the game. Scoring units for the attacker are all units except flyers and dedicated transports.  The defender gets 1VP per destroyed scoring enemy unit.


Khorne defend the only way they know how: launching a counter-attack

Hoping to test this mission in a couple of weeks.  My main concern is around the victory conditions. I think the goals are right but I’m not sure that the victory point balance is right. 1VP for reaching the deployment zone doesn’t seem enough, so I think it is OK.


The Kessel Run: Genesis

Ever since Xenophon got stuck in the middle of Persia with 10,000 buddies and had to fight their way out, envelopment and pockets have been a feature of wars. Some the largest, most fluid and destructive pockets occurred on the Russian front during the second world war. In one, attacking Russians found themselves surrounded by German forces who were in turn trapped in a pocket! Only parts of India and Bangladesh may be more confusing to cartographers

Initially the Russians were being trapped by the invading Germans. Increasingly, from Stalingrad onwards, the Germans were pursued by Russians. Units of all sizes, from handfuls of soldiers up to entire armies, suffered being cut-off and surrounded in this vast and confusing war.


My gaming spidie-senses tingled as I was reading Eastern Front: Encirclement and Escape by German Forces, a Pen and Sword volume I picked on spec from the rather excellent Hyland’s Bookshop (the web-site is rubbish just head into the bonzer shop).
I thought, there is some good gaming to be had here.

Now WWII would the obvious choice to game some of these situations. But, while I have German forces for both Bolt Action and Flames of War, I don’t have any Russians and – I hope you’re sitting down – I don’t actually need a new project just now. But, I do have lots of 40K, so the seeds of the Kessel Run were sown.

My vision is a series of games that will capture some of the flavour of pocket-warfare. The reality of getting my gaming buddies together gives a useful constraint to keep things focused and contained.  I’ve settled on two linked games that will be able to be played in a day, creating a mini campaign inspired by a trapped army attempting to breakout or be annihilated.

Game one: Breakout. Can the trapped forces succeed in escaping?

Game two will be either Rearguard, as those forces still in the pocket seek to exploit the gap and return to their lines, or Last Stand as the trapped forces make peace with their gods and seek to exact a terrible price for their death.

I’ve got some thoughts for each of these missions. I will post these separately. Ultimately I hope to have some game reports too.


See you on the battlefields.