Time for game three of the Grim Dice Crusade League with my Ryza Adeptus Mechanicus aka The Helios Explorator Fleet. After a pair of wins in game one and two, I'd be up against tougher opposition in this round of games, and first up it was Kerryn and his Crimson Fists. Last time I played him was in the last round of the January 2020 (remember those days?) Grim Dice tournament when I got battered by his Centurion spam, so while this Crusade league is a different beast entirely, I was preparing to get a little bit battered.
Once again from the Plague Purge mission pack, this time at Incursion level, we were playing the Tip of the Spear mission, an attacker and defender mission with four standard objectives, a funky chevron deployment map and a bonus special rule for each player. Attacking units got +1 to advance and charge, while defenders got to ignore combat attrition modifiers (or ignore morale entirely if they already did) and use the overwatch stratagem for free.
Tech Priest Manipulus Eldane Katronosa was joined by their usual cohort - Destroyers, Vanguard, Ruststalkers and Sterylizors, and new additions: three Kataphron Breachers with heavy arc rifles and six Serberys Sulphurhounds. By the grace of the Omnissiah, they were also assigned The Implacable Guardians, a pair of Kastelan Robots, and their handler, Cybernetica Datasmith Cykent Bosk.
For this mission the Ryza forces were attacking the Crimson Fists - presumably they had some valuable archeotech and refused to yield ground for it's rightful recovery. One of my agendas was to search a random objective for archeotech components, and of course it was the one in the Fists' deployment zone, so that checks out.
The Crimson Fists, led by Captain Razal Solano, were fielding a full Primaris infantry force with plenty of experience among them already. Two squads of Intercessors with auto-bolt rifles and one of Veteran Intercessors were backed up by Hellblasters (a squad of both heavy and assault variants) and six boltstorm Aggressors. A sprinkling of upgrades (including a relic powerfist on the Vet. Intercessor Sergeant and an up gunned heavy plasma rifle for the Hellblaster Sergeant) meant I was behind on Crusade points and would get some bonus CP.
Deployment. As is their way the Sterylizors stayed in the skies while most of the vulnerable infantry concealed themselves where possible. Notably Captain Solano stood out in the open, (earning the moniker 'Captain Big-bollocks') though in truth he was protected by a squad behind the ruins - all posturing from these Space Marines.
Katronosa evidently made the calculated risk to offer the Fists a chance to surrender, because they immediately pounced on their attackers, guns blazing. Lessons learned - don't expect reason from Astartes.
In turn one the Crimson Fists got into firing positions, while the Aggressors advanced up to a central objective. The Hellblasters got somewhat unlucky, the machine spirits of their weapons rebelling against being turned on their creators, and suffered a series of fatal weapon overloads in killing a couple of the Breachers and damaging a robot (which reflected some mortal wounds at the heavy 'blasters).
The Veteran Intercessors however proved their worth with a withering volley of bolt fire to completely remove the Sulphurhounds.
In my turn one the AdMech forces moved up to get some shots in and line up some key charges - Kastelan Robots vs Aggressors and Ruststalkers vs the Veteran Intercessors. Shooting took out the assault Hellblasters (Katronosa getting the killing blow with the upgraded Magnarail Lance) but the Kataphron Destroyers produced a poor volley to only kill one of the heavy variants.
In melee the charges were successful and the Ruststalkers cut down two of the Veterans (could have done with more mortal wounds here - I really needed to kill these guys!) Datasmith Bosk electro-shocked the Aggressors to ensure they would be fighting last so the Robots could have a crack at them - going into Conqueror Protocols and killing three (the others saved by their trans-human physiology.) In response one robot and all the Ruststalkers fell.
A mixed turn one, but leaning in favour of the fists, if they could capitalise on it.
Turn two, the Crimson Fists moved up to put the boot in. Intercessor units in the ruins came out to play, while the remaining Hellblasters charged up and remove the Destroyers, handily winning their duel.
Captain Solano stepped up to deal with the last robot, but failed his four inch charge (with a reroll - quad ones!) The Kastelan punched another Aggressor to death.
The remaining Veteran Intercessors made it through the wall into melee with the last Breacher, punching it to death and picking up their third unit kill. They followed up by piling into the improved strength Vanguard and suriving the return attacks.
The Vanguard were able to pile into the objective to claim it for the start of my turn, but at this stage there wasn't much left on the table for me and no good places for the Pteraxii, so they stayed in the sky. The Kastelan did manage to kill the last Aggressors, though I was hoping to do it in shooting so it could charge the Captain. Sadly it wasn't to be, and even though the Vanguard Alpha did good work with his taser goad, the Sergeant of the Veteran Intercessors remained to eventually wipe the unit.
Crimson Fist turn three and it was time to turn the screws. The heavy hellblasters combined with bolter volleys from the Intercessors to finally down the last robot. With just one model left on the board - Eldane Katronosa - Captain 'Big-bollocks' Solano stepped up, actually passed the charge this time, and punched out the Tech-priest.
In my turn three the game had definitely gone, but it's Crusade so there was still glory (and experience) to play for. The Pteraxii Sterylizors dropped in and proceeded to roast the lone Veteran Sergeant from those distructive Intercessors, getting a measure of revenge (and a bunch of XP since he was on an objective and that achieved an agenda.) In turn four Captain Solano cleared them away with his dual fists, leaving no active combatants for the forces of Ryza. A victory for the Crimson Fists.
Clearly, this could have gone better - (though at least I did kill some units this time round!) But it was not all doom and gloom, since with the experience for taking part a lot of my units ticked over to Blooded rank. Sadly the Robots and Sulphurhounds were damaged and got no experience out of it, but all of my original 25 PL force are now rocking some form of upgrades.
The Skitarii units received battle traits from the AdMech book, the Ruststalkers getting Enhanced Bionics (giving them a 4+ invulnerable save) while the Sterylizors received Blessed Bodies (mini transhuman, can't be wounded on twos.) I felt that it seemed a bit odd to give the Destroyers a 'trait' so opted to go for a weapon upgrade on one of the Plasma Culverins - getting two rolls since it's not a character or vehicles/monster, and ending up with +1 strength and AP.
Finally Eldane Katronosa was both rewarded and wounded - a chest wound reducing their wounds characteristic by one and a battle trait from the AdMech book - Teleportation Node. This ability lets them jump into reserves at the start of a movement phase, to be deployed back in my deployment zone the next turn. A bit niche but could prove to be a powerful trick!
Anyway, that's two wins and a loss for the Second Cohort - including two battles against other Imperial forces! Obviously they are not here to make friends, only to recover archeotech - and there will be more opportunities. Hopefully you've enjoyed reading, thanks for checking this post out, and stay safe!