I recently paid another visit to Stig, fellow WintersSEO and Moarhammer Patron. Last time I brought my Orks against his gloriously retro Valhallan Guardsmen, this time he decided to bring it bang up to date with a fully Primaris Space Marine force, known as the Luna Crusaders, led by Marshal Kurt Rhinehart (as seen below.) Opposing him would be the ever hungry Hive Fleet Goliath.
We played Tactical Escalation - the maelstrom mission from the main rulebook where you have a number of objectives equal to the turn number. There are also bonus points on offer for achieving objectives of a chosen type - in this case I chose the secure objective X ones (the 2s) while Stig picked Purge - the selection including Overwhelming Firepower etc. We were playing at 1750 points.
I used the Jormungandr adaptation as usual, and took a Battalion and a Spearhead:
HQ: Hive Tyrant (Warlord Trait: Insidious Threat, Relic: Miasma Cannon), Malanthrope, Old One Eye
Troops: 12 Termagants, 14 Genestealers, 9 Warriors (Deathspitters, 3 Venom Cannons), 30 Termagants (Devourers)
Heavy Support: 2 Carnifexes (Talons, Heavy Venom Cannons), Mawloc, Trygon
Stig also had a Battalion, but with two Vanguards alongside it. He was using Black Templar tactics.
HQ: Gravis Captain (Warlord Trait: Something that increased his Heroic Intervention range, Relic: Something that increased his aura range), Chaplain, 2 Lieutenants
Troops: 3x5 Intercessors
Elites: 2 Redemptor Dreadnoughts (Gatling cannons), Chapter Champion, Emperor's Champion, Ancient, 5 Reivers
Fast Attack(?): 3 Inceptors (Assault Bolters)
Heavy Support: 3 Suppressors, 5 Hellblasters
Since this was a standard rulebook mission, and I finished deploying first (both the Snakey bois started underground, along with the devourer gants, while Stig's Reivers, Inceptors and Suppressors also started off the board), I would have first turn, unless Stig seized the initiative...
As you can see if you look closely at the bottom left, Stig had first turn. He drew Supremacy, but didn't fancy moving closer to me to achieve it this turn, so just started shooting. Between the Malanthrope, the Jormungandr ability and the Spore cysts on the Carnifexes, the turn was fairly ineffectual.
In my first turn, I drew a Secure Objective card that was handily close by, so my Genestealers popped over to grab it. The rest of my force slowly moved out, taking shots at the Marines and stripping a few wounds off one of the dreads. Psychic phase was a dud, thanks to the Black Templar stratagem denying Catalyst on the Warrior blob. Thanks to the mission rules, grabbing the objective gave me two points, and first blood was still up for grabs.
Stig's turn 2, and a very interesting card draw. He picked out Priority Orders received, then the Space Marine card that requires you to wound or kill a character with one of yours. This meant the Marshal would get between 4 and 6 points for killing one of my characters!
Stig's reinforcements dropped in, opening fire (except the Reivers, who popped in at the back to deny my Trygon tunnelling up there.) The Suppressors hurt one of the fexes, while the Inceptors, combining their fire with auto-bolt rifle Intercessors, gutted the Genestealers down to 7 models - and that was with some very good saving throws from me. Elsewhere fire from the left flank killed off a few Warriors, but the right was less successful, the Carnifexes proving hard to hit and tough the damage.
Still no objectives scored for Stig, but he was sitting on a lot of potential points in his hand. I forget what I drew, but I don't think it was very good.
My turn two, moving up once more. The Hive Tyrant stayed back a bit to keep his lines of fire open, while Old One Eye and the Carnifexes moved around the generators to get some charges off. The Genestealers decided the overwatch from the Inceptors was just too scary, so went for the Intercessors.
The Mawloc popped up at the back to cause a distraction, but the Trygon stayed deep underground, waiting for a good time to strike - Stig had spread out well and denied me any good spots.
Shooting went well this turn (though psychic was again a failure after the Black Templar strat denied me again.) Venom cannons from the warriors chunked down one of the Redemptors significantly, while the Hive Tyrant killed off two of the Inceptors with the Miasma cannon.
Then things got tasty. Old One Eye charged the Aggressors (only taking one wound from 6D6 auto hits) and easily minced them for First Blood. The two Fexes charged their targets, one killing two Suppressors, while the other murdering the Emperor's Champion after I used Adrenaline Surge to fight again. Finally the Genestealers started munching through the Intercessors, but losing 3 in the process.
Stig's turn 3, and the Luna Crusaders were out for blood! Shooting finished off an injured fex, but failed to kill the Mawloc, which was important as Stig had drawn Hold the Line, and was unable to claim it this turn. In melee the warlord piled in to Old One Eye, dropping him down to 2 wounds! In response he brutally stabbed the Marshal to near death with his talons. As the light of a teleport flare enveloped his failing body, Kurt Rhinehart attacked again (using a stratagem) and slew the beast!
Double KO! With objectives held for Supremacy, we rolled for the objectives, and Stig ended the turn on 8 points! Having picked up First Blood and Slay the Warlord, I was up to 4.
Turn 3 for me. I started drawing some good cards. I think I had Overwhelming Firepower - which I achieved for D3 by killing the Redemptor, the Intercessors in front of it and the last Suppressor, and defend the middle objective that my Warriors were able to stand on. The Trygon still didn't have a great spot to come up, but it was turn 3 so he didnt have much choice. The Termagants were a bit wasted killing the one Suppressor, but this turn put me back in the game.
In Stig's turn 4, he shot some things, finally killing off the Mawloc, and sprinkling a few wounds elsewhere. I think one of his lieutenants finished off the last of the Genestealers after they had chopped up the Intercessors. He scored Hold the Line, but not much else.
Into the end game. My Warriors killed the last Inceptor, who had jumped up onto the crates to take shots down at the Hive Tyrant. The Termagants shuffled around, while the Trygon moved up and managed to charge the last Intercessor squad, killing all but one. I scored a couple of points for holding objectives, putting me one point behind.
Stig's turn 5 saw the Redemptor finally get to use it's fist and, along with the Chaplain, they felled the Trygon. Sadly for Stig, it didn't score him any points as his most achievable objective was Overwhelming Firepower, and his shooting was fairly ineffective against the Hive Tyrant (thanks to The Horror, his Hellblasters were at -2 to hit). This left him precariously placed one point ahead of me, with lots of cards to draw...
I drew a secure objective card that was easily achievable, and was able to move my Hive Tyrant into Stig's deployment zone for Linebreaker, putting me into the lead, and then securing it by getting Master the Warp. We had decided to end after turn 5, so that was that, a narrow win for Hive Fleet Goliath. Excellent game, really back and forth and could have gone either way based on the cards drawn in the last turn. Also the Marshall vs Old One Eye was an awesome moment, one of the best narratives I've seen coming out of the Maelstrom cards.
If the game had continued, I'm not sure who would have won. Stig's units on the right flank could have easily dealt with the Termagants, but the Hive Tyrant was still healthy and dangerous. I could imagine it might end up pretty much the last thing standing! I was quite impressed with the Black Templar tactics as well, their relic and stratagem are handy, and the trait to reroll charges came up a few times.
We already have plans for the next game - a prequel. The Luna Crusaders trying to eliminate the Genestealer Cult that eventually summoned Goliath to this planet!