Lieutenant Colonel Khazak shaded his eyes and looked up at the furious sky. There was a ship all right. It looked Imperial in outline, but why would an Imperial ship be attacking this backwater world? And why here? Suddenly great black shapes fired from the belly of the beast, too quickly for his eye to follow, and rammed into the shaking ground.
“The Angels of Death.” He muttered grimly.
“There must be some mistake sir?” A young Arkhamite officer asked him, eyes wide. He looked to the veteran Cadian commander for guidance. Khazak assessed the incredible situation with his keen military eye and came to a quick decision.
“They’re not here for a cup of tea, lieutenant. Get your sharpshooters onto that perch and prepare to hold the landing pad. That’s what they want, and they’ll kill us either way.” He slung his ivory-chased bolt gun from his shoulder and cocked it.
The young officer nodded and turned, bellowing to the shaken troops: “Right lads! As you know, the Emperor loves St. Arkham. But Him on Terra particularly loves that bloody landing pad! Don’t let the heathens get their hands on it, or we’re lost!”
- Brother-Captain Gaius – Space Marine Captain, digital weapons, artificer armour, jump pack, power weapon, bolt pistol, iron halo, melta bombs
- Squad Titus – Terminators (5), cyclone missile launcher, power weapon
- Squad Octavian – Assault squad (5), flamer, power fist
- Squad Vorenus – Tactical Squad (10), multi-melta, meltagun, power fist
- Squad Gabriel – Tactical Squad (10), missile launcher, flamer, power weapon, melta bombs
- Hellrain – Deathstorm drop pod
Stratagems: Forward Observer
- Lt. Col. Khazak, 129th Cadian – Power weapon, bolter, 3 plasma guns, carapace armour, chimera with heavy flamer and multi-laser
- Lt. Harlock, 44th St. Arkham – heavy bolter
- Squad Boxer – Infantry squad, autocannon, grenade launcher, power weapon, commissar, power weapon
- Squad Coleridge – Infantry squad, autocannon, grenade launcher, power weapon
- Platoon fire support – 3 autocannon teams
- 44th St. Arkham sharpshooters – Veteran squad, lascannon, sniper rifle, Forward Sentries
- 129th Cadian “mech-wreckers” – Veteran squad, power fist, 2 meltaguns, heavy bolter team, chimera with heavy flamer and multi-laser
- Anathema, St. Arkham 1st Armoured – Leman Russ Demolisher, multi-melta sponsons, heavy flamer
Stratagems: Command Centre, Power Supply
So Planetstrike was really fun. It was pretty brutal! If you want to see the rules of the mission we played, they are here at Sign of the Aquila. Basically it was Planetfall, and as the defender I was not allowed any bastions, only a landing pad I had to defend. I chose the Command Centre stratagem, keyed to the landing pad itself, and the Power Supply stratagem keyed to some ruins where I deployed my veteran St. Arkham sharpshooters for re-rolls to wound. We decided to allow two stratagem points each instead of the one the rules suggested because, well . . . carnage! Jay couldn’t take any of his beloved tanks due to mission restrictions, which was good news for me.
The bad news was that his initial bombardment immobilized my demolisher and one of my chimeras, as well as killing a few infantry, and his Imperial Armour drop pod wreaked quite a bit of carnage on my troopers – all that before his marines even dropped in. The Forward Observer was a really good stratagem for him to pick, as it made his initial blast templates horribly accurate.
The game was pretty straight forward so instead of giving a blow-by-blow account I’ll just comment on some decisive moments and mention units that performed interestingly, one way or the other.
First off, Planetstrike is a bit of a gamble for both sides, but moreso for the attacker. All of Jay’s marines came on in turn one. He tried to drop tactical squad Gabriel bang on the landing pad, as I had my boys lining the walls facing outwards, but they scattered onto my company commander’s tank and were lost.
The terrain gave me some good fire lanes but my demolisher being immobilized was a bit of a pain in the arse. Squad Vorenus exploded it with a meltagun after one of my sponsons melted one of them, and the ensuing explosion took out an assault marine who was standing too close. So the mighty Anathema died after killing two marines.
Things got really violent pretty quick. The assault marines, Captain Gaius and squad Vorenus jumped onto the landing pad and massacred my entire platoon except for the commissar, who held on until my turn when they smashed him. Now Jay had the objective.
Captain Gaius and his asault squad leapt down and assaulted the command chimera with krak grenades. It exploded, killing one of my soldiers, but leaving them sitting unpinned in a nice neat crater with plasma guns aimed squarely at the captain and his assault marines.
My Cadian vets climbed the ladder, melted, and then charged the remains of squad Vorenus on top of the landing pad, hoping to finish them with weight of numbers and my sarge’s power fist. They ended up locked in combat. My command squad opened fire at Gaius and the assault marines with everything they had. One of them was killed by his own plasma weapon, but the last two marines were slain and Captain Gaius was reduced to one wound.
He then promptly jumped back onto the landing pad and assaulted my Cadian vets! My boys didn’t get to use their counter-attack from my stratagem because they were already locked in assault with Sgt. Vorenus. They killed him, but were broken and swept away by the Space Marine’s commander. Since he was now the last marine on the table that ended Jay’s turn five.
My command squad couldn’t get a clear shot on the Captain so they stayed in cover with their heads down. The autocannons finally exploded the Deathstorm that had been a thorn in my side all game. Then came what was for me the most intense moment of a tense game: the sharpshooters wounded Captain Gaius, who was down to one wound, with a lascannon blast and a rending sniper shot . . . and his iron halo saved his skin!
By the end of turn five there was one Space Marine unit in contact with the landing pad, but according to the mission rules that was only enough for him to draw. We had five kill points each. Jay rolled a four and the game continued into another turn.
Hoping I think for another kill point to tip the balance, Captain Gaius jumped down and assaulted Lt. Col. Khazak, slaughtering the remaining vets. Then his luck finally ran out, and Khazak cut him down. The game was over.
The mission was great fun and worked well. The only minor problem we had was working out what the result for the campaign would be if it was a draw, as we had the same number of Kill Points at the end of turn five. We decided to roll off, but in the end it didn’t matter as we went to turn six. I found my demolisher was a disappointment – it’s hard to find cover for MBTs and everything needs cover in turn one of a Planetstrike! Captain Gaius was definitely the big hero of the game, jumping around all over the place squishing guardsmen and blowing up tanks. I also think the Deathstorm drop pod worked well, it was a pain for me the whole time. The terminators didn’t do much at least. Turns out they don’t like the taste of accurate rapid-firing plasma.
Jay picked his stratagem wisely and fought decisively, as befitted a Planetstrike. Even though I tabled him it felt pretty close, and I know if his other tactical squad had made it onto the board it would have been even tougher to call.
Result: Imperial Guard victory, 2 points to battlegroup Wyvern. Since they failed to secure the landing zone, the Ultramarines will still be without armoured support next game.
Khazak scraped through the hatch and climbed out onto the landing pad. Numbly, he surveyed the carnage before him. The entire platoon had been annihilated. Around half a dozen armoured giants lay scattered about, dwarfing the bodies of the guardsmen around them. In a century of service to the Imperial Guard, the most frightening thing Khazak had ever done was cross blades with that Astartes Captain. He knew that if it weren’t for Leto, Mesar and Tork and their plasma rifles (Emperor rest them), the outcome would have been very different.
One of the Arkhamite sharpshooters climbed through the hatch behind him, resting on his long las. “We did it sir.” He said.
“We did it. But they won’t give up so easily. Get down to what’s left of the bunker and see if you can get that comm-link up.”