Thursday, 17 July 2014

Amblecotius RT/Gruntz Narrative Campaign - The Genial Gene Genie Genius






This is Doctor Cilkie Bhapshene, brilliant geneticist currently on a five year secondment to the Blood Drinkers Space Marine Chapter. She is attempting to fix the well-known fatal flaw in the chapter's geneseed that causes a uncontrollable lust for hematophagy and in doing so set up a programme of cloning to ensure a future supply of suitable genetic material. She is also well over seventy years old but inherited good genes. (Actually she stole them from a previous place of employment).

For the duration of the Amblecotius Campaign, Dr. Bhapshene has relocated to the Marine rear echelon base aboard "The Daughter", the giant orbital platform/floating palace that houses the seat of Amblecotian government. A large loading and cargo bay has been set aside for Dr. Bhapshene's research machines and medical facility.

Rebel leadership of "Opfor A" regard this setup as a priority target. It is believed by Opfor A military intelligence that the Blood Drinkers have a cloning facility aboard The Daughter and will shortly be using it to mass produce cloned Marines with which to replace their losses (such as Captain Zenn Zybil who lost a leg in the after-effects of the abortive breakout at Hark Hanoid). Potentially there is no limit to the number of armoured superhumans that could descend upon the rebel forces if the campaign drags on.

Accordingly a captured mail shuttle is heading to the The Daughter under falsified call signals. A strike team is aboard armed with Vortex grenade demo charges, and a bribed space traffic control operator will "accidentally" direct the shuttle to the "wrong" cargo bay.

These call signals had better work - Abdul Goldberg swore they would be good for the day of the attack. Admittedly he was distracted by his pressing need to count his money and escape out of the window with the suitcase of cash...

(Standard "Assault & Battery" scenario. Defenders - Blood Drinkers, Attackers - Rebel PDF. Each objective represents expensive machinery of medical value to the Marines. The cargo bay is huge so vehicles are permitted. There are many piles of trade goods in the cargo bay, these count as hills - and look quite like them - but cannot be crossed. The intention is to knock up a 4' x 4' table using my AT-43 "Reversible Gaming Tiles" that look like this - not my picture).








(The genesis of this scenario idea was a throw away comment of mine when my Marine commander got killed - I just laughed and said I'd clone him. Gary later suggested an attack upon the cloning facility might be a good follow on to the previous battle).


Tuesday, 15 July 2014

Amblecotius Rogue Trader/Gruntz 15mm Narrative Campaign - The Cassus Belli



So why are there two PDF factions at war in the first place?

Because of the three players in the group and the similarity between the toy soldier forces of two of them (Webb and Gary).

Here's my write-up for why this is happening.

Amblecotius is an agri-world and exports vast quantities of foodstuff, fibres, bio-fuel (the Dark Millennium equivalent of bio-diesel), and related byproducts. This is worth a huge amount of cash, credit and prestige for the ruling House Huriatat who own a monopoly on imports/exports for the entire system as is granted by their Imperial Charter. Their single biggest customer is the hiveworld of Loschtzitay in the Novah-Tippen star cluster, a world that would be at risk of famine and wide-spread revolt should the continual traffic of freight haulers cease.

Many other houses jealously covet this monopoly. Furthermore it's an open secret that if the system changed hands yet the flow of exports and upholding of the Pax Imperium continued this would be regarded as a something of a fait accompli and of little interest to the far-distant authorities in the Emperor's Palace on Terra. This sort of thing happens all the time. The Imperium is rarely able to interfere in such forced changes of hands and is pragmatic enough to realise that in many cases of this sort of vendetta and private war where no overt threat to the Imperium exists it's business as usual after the firing and/or assassination has all died down a bit.

For such an agricultural backwater, Amblecotius actually has a disproportionately large number of men under arms in it's purely defensive army, the Planetary Defense Force. This large size is in the interests of securing the flow of trade and traffic, the occasional problems with Eldar piracy and slave raiders, and hostile local fauna. It also helps to ward off the threat of aggressive moves by other noble and mercantile houses.

Military service is compulsory for all able-bodied males, and amongst a section of the female populace - the latter drawn by lot making women a sizable minority within the PDF. Equipment for the PDF is paid for from the public purse (it is basically the private army of the Huriatat clan) and, as is usual for this sort of military outfit, is based around that of the Imperial Army but done "on the cheap" to represent the lighter duties to which they are accustomed. In the Imperium the Army is the force of the offence - the PDF is the force of the defence until the big boys can arrive.


Battalion 48, Amblecotius PDF pictured after another succesful xenocide operation. Xeno village codename G/78 had been found guilty in absentia of stealing the Emperor's firewood and illegally watering from His watercourses.

However despite conscription, the small population of Amblecotius Prime is not sufficient enough to support a standing army of the size required. Therefore a good third of it's strength is drawn from volunteers from neighbouring systems and conscripts from Huriatat feudal holdings elsewhere. This one third of the strength is a mixed bag containing everything from bored farmboys from other farm worlds to hiveworld scum, mercenaries, deserters, demobbed and invalid personnel from other PDFs and disbanded Imperial Army regiments, slaves, and penal troops.

There has long been something of a split between the native and non-native parts of the forces of House Huriatat, not helped by individual units being formed from one faction or the other. The native units have a stake in the wider society, the non-natives are viewed as mercenaries and brigands out for all they can get. Linguistic, racial and sectarian differences all play a role in this mutual distrust.

Recently House Enhausen has started a scheme several decades in the planning. Alongside their "official" religion of the worshipping the Emperor as a God, the Amblecotians revere two lesser agricultural deities, Eranu and Uvavu believed by the Inquisition to be corrupted folk memories of two early settlers of the system back in the Dark Ages of Technology. It is thought that this religion is harmless and possibly of benefit to a population bound to rural servitude and thus tolerated. It is tradition amongst worshippers that the names of both deities are to be said in as low and rumbling a pitch of voice as the worshipper can manage. It is thought that this attracts the good favour of both deities and failing to observe this attracts bad luck. This behaviour is widely mocked by the non-native PDF troops to whom it causes much amusement.



Inquisitor Geenunt believes this to be the oldest existing holoimage of early Hierophants of the Eranu/Uvavu twin cult.

Enahusen's agent provocateurs amongst the native units of the PDF (such agent provocateurs use brightly colour underclothing as a secret sign with which to recognise each other) have started a propaganda campaign claiming that the non-native units are a fifth column intended to wipe out worship of Eranu and Uvavu. This appears to many to be plausible - Amblecotius's past is littered with episodes where this religion has held to be heresy and the Inquisition were not always as tolerant of this in the past as they appear to be now. The ruling House Huriatat are themselves foreign imports and cannot be trusted to protect the native religious sentiment.

Meanwhile agents have spread different propaganda amongst the non-native units. In these version of events, the cults of Eranu and Uvavu plan to remove outsiders from the system through violence and genocide, and then proscribe worship of the Master of Mankind. Belief has been deliberately spread in this faction that if forced to chose between the two factions, Huriatat will simply sacrifice the lesser (them) in order to keep the greater (the others) onside.

With both factions believing that the other is about to strike and feeling unable to call upon the authorities for aid, open civil war amongst the PDF was laughably simple to kick off by provoking incidents where units from both sides are garrisoned.

The second stage of the plan was for House Enhausen troops and mercenaries to invade The Daughter, Huriatat's orbital palace and seat of government. The PDF would be disarmed, the Huriatat family put in front of a kangaroo court on jumped up charges of wilful neglect and incompetence and the system folded up into Enhausen's feudal holdings. A two year programme of temporary price drops in system exports would be used to butter up trading partners and help diffuse any misplaced loyalty to the deposed Huritats, while the imposition of a slave labour economy would dramatically slash costs and thus raise profits.

But the Enhausen planners miscalculated badly. Their agents failed to see that the difficult-to-predict Blood Drinkers would race to the aim of House Huriatat, instead believing that no Space Marine Captain would hold that anarchy amongst serf soldiers on a farm world was worthy of their intervention.

Enhausen has now created a massive disruption to vital interstellar trade and cannot see any easy way of benefiting from it unless the Marines somehow fail in their campaign or decide that events elsewhere are of more importance.

Plans to remove the Marines from the sphere of influence are hurriedly being drawn up.

TL;DR - Native and non-native elements of the PDF set at each others throats by House Enhausen who aim to take possession of wealthy and destabilised system. Unfortunately Space Marines got involved, PDF fought back in self-defense. House Huriatat, the supposed rulers are left impotent and wringing their hands while trapped in their orbital palace.

Sunday, 6 July 2014

OGRE Big Boy Edition

Back last December I treated myself to Ogre Designers Edition, the utterly over-specced SuperDuperDeluxe version of a game that originally came with a single A4 mapsheet and a bunch of 10mm counters.

To be fair this is actually a collection of Ogre, and it's supplement GEV and Shockwave and far, far more counters and stand-up 3D Ogres than you would ever need. It did however come with it's own logistical issues.





Basically it turned out to be the only boardgame I ever owned where the box doesn't fit in the car. So the game was sitting there looking very lovely and unplayed until I realised that I'd have to decant it into smaller boxes to be able to take it down the club.




Quite ridiculously this is what it took - 3 A4 Really Useful boxes and 1 double-depth box. The bottom two boxes contain nothing but the boards for the GEV/Shockwave maps. 







Thirty-odd stand up Ogres, slotted together in the same fashion as those Pirates of the Spanish Main ships from a few years back. 30+! And that doesn't include about the same number of "flat" Ogre counters.

So, off to Stourbridge for a game of this last Friday, introducing Gary W to the game. The scenario was "Super CP", this is basically a much bigger game of the original "One MkIII Ogre versus a horde of cannon fodder", giving the attacking player (me) two MkV Ogres (scary) and giving the defender (Gary) two MkIIIs and an armoured command post. This latter feature proved fairly decisive - with an unarmoured CP, an Ogre really only needs to get into the next hex with at least one surviving Anti-Personnel battery to wipe it out, in this version heavier weapons or ramming will be required.

Gary was the Pan-Euro forces, I made like General Farage of UKIP leading an assault on enemy Europe.





MY OGREMANS LET ME SHOW THEM YOU





GARYS OGREMANS LET ME SHOW THEM YOU

(In a strange twist of fate, the random MKIII drawn out of the box of many had my name on the "conning tower". It's partner had the name of a player at the next table).





Pan-Euro federalists and deniers-of-any-structural-issues-with-monetary-union-but-no-fiscal-union set up with a double front line of assorted armour units and a second line of infantry spam. Just off camera here is the armoured CP hiding in the right corner behind two hexes of impassible... stuff. Lava? Nuclear polluted shit? Who knows?

BTW, the scale of Ogre is pretty vast. Each hex is 1.5km across. In our Ogre Miniatures games (played with Scrabble tiles - I shit you not), where 1" is 1.5km, a 6'x4' table can contain the entire West Midlands conurbation and a lot of the green belt around. I rather like nuking Wolverhampton and Birmingham.





Broken through the first line with the usual ease that goes with the early stages when the Ogres are fresh and still have all their gun batteries. Pan-Euro Ogres coming into to support the defence, these are outclassed by the North American Combine MKVs but still annoying.


Infantry spam on a massive scale as Gary breaks down most of his 3-strength infantry units into three 1-strength counters. Couple of howitzers hiding in the mass of infantry as well which did serious damage to my Ogre tread units.

(David Luiz looks seriously unhappy about something.)





Silver going straight for the CP although attritional damage is starting to tell - IIRC at this point she had no batteries and was starting to take damage to treads. Still had most of the AP batteries so most of that infantry died in droves to machine guns, space-claymores, and the like. However the lack of big guns meant that Gary's Ogres could come into close range and blast away with relative impunity.





Oh look, it's the CP I promised you was there! Silver is down to 2 hexes a turn move now and lacking anything in the way of guns is simply aiming to ram into the CP, reverse back a bit, have another go, reverse back a bit, have another go etc. etc. Red is in better shape so ignoring the mass of infantry spam in front of it and heading straight for the CP. Those two impassible hexes in front of the target proved to be game-winning for Gary.




Nothing to stop Silver. Or is there? Now down to one hex a turn movement, every enemy save the mobile howitzers are faster. David Luiz and David Luiz still unhappy.


And that was the high water mark of the North American advance. Red did some damage to the CP with guns but lost them to incoming fire. Silver died when the blue Ogre rammed it, Gary was then able to turn his attentions to Red and reduced that to one hex movement, no main weapons at which point I conceded.

---

Fun, good looking game and very "trad"Ogre in that the early exchanges of fire are all so easy for the Ogres but they end up limping and dragging themselves forwards in a desperate attempt to finish off the job. Howitzers ability to blow away huge chunks of Ogre tread units and those two impassible hexes turned out to be the decisive element in the game although I suspect I might have been able to knock out the CP had I not somewhat squandered by missiles early doors when I got spooked by the proximity of a super-heavy tank and a couple of mobile howitzers.

So I hope Gary got a good taster of what the game is about. Next time this comes out I'd like to a big all-arms game on the GEV/Shockwave "green" maps.





Saturday, 28 June 2014

Rouge Trader 28mm - Shootout at Sourbridge






Another day, another Imperial proclamation.

Mhorrghan, Captain of the House Guard cleared his throat ready to address the crowd that clustered around the foot of the raised platform he and his detachment occupied. Weather-wise it was a typical day down at the bottom of the arcology near the great iron bridge that spanned the long-lost, flooded lower levels of Hive Termitius - the ancient Sourbridge. A continual drizzle fell from the rusty heights above and splattered brown tidemarks on Mhorrghan's olive green greatcoat. The stench of the The Sourbridge remained eternal - a mix of diesel fumes, fecal matter and balti pie.

This won't go down well, thought Mhorrghan to himself. By Decree of the House of Huriatat taxes were up on Soylent (all flavours/colours), Lho-Sticks, and brown ale, and the curfew was being extended to sectors 13 through 17 following a spate of thrill-kills and happy slapping, and the vandalising of the 200 metre tall bronze statue of Count Huriatat himself - an incident that had been seen a giant erect penis painted on the statue's forehead in day-glo yellow paint.

"Citizen-serfs of Termitius Hive. By Decree of the House of-"

There was one crack and sizzle, the distinctive sound of a lasgun being fired.

Mhorrghan had just enough time to recognise the las blast before the blinding white pain erupted in his right hip and he was flung to the cold, hard surface of the rusty floorplates. There was screaming from below, the sound of panicked flight and then more of the crack-sizzle as the men of the detachment fired wildly in all directions.

As he slipped into unconsciousness he heard the sound of a trooper desperately radioing on the Commvox for urgent backup.

---

Jhonndil Injer lowered the lasgun and cursed himself. That old knife wound in his hand playing up again - spasmed and jostled the barrel as he pulled the trigger. The hated Guard Captain was now out of sight between an length of pig iron walling.

He turned his grotesquely over-muscled body towards the waiting gangers of the Typtun Taliban hive-gang.

"Get him!" he spat. "Don't let the Housedogs recover him. We'll have his decapitation live on all vid-channels before the day is out!"




Another of our "play to make a story" Rouge Trader games. Phil as GM and chief toy-provider. The terrain is all from Mantic's Deadzone range which makes for good Necromunda proxy stuff. The forces of House Huriatat are Copplestone "Neo Sovs" and the Typtun Taliban are old Necromunda "Goliaths". You'll notice a monochrome theme to this week's AAR (or as it is sometimes known "grey").

This might be a satire upon the limited horizons and limited palette of the typical hive-dweller of of the bleak, grimdark future where there is only war, it might be a deliberate stylistic choice and nod towards German expressionist cinema of the 1930s, a veiled dig at the hordes of modern 40K players who think that a single coat of Chaos Black spraypaint constitutes "painted" figures, or might it be that Jason only had access to a black-and-white laser printer when printing out the street tiles to go on his baseboard and that Phil's plastic terrain is only at the primer spraycan stage.





The upended figure is Captain Mhorrghan "bleeding out" having been shot in the tangley. House troops panicking.





My command - that's just six gangers with assorted firearms and no armour, and a man with Heavy Stubber. We are not in list-picking mode here.





Note how pasty-skinned they are. This is because while not busy Rouge Trading, they run a secret underground shop selling Magic cards somewhere in an isolated, out of the way area of the hive. In keeping with the hipster nature of the area they neither advertise nor even bother with a sign pointing to their basement location. You've probably never heard of it. (In-jokes? Yes, we have them).





Finney's lot on the right flank. By their distinctive orange skin these can be identified as the members of the Typtun Taliban who live in Jo E'essecks hab-block - the Umpa-Lumpa chapterhouse.





House Huritat troops rushing to the rescue. Note that in the full spirit of 1987 vintage Rouge Trader, the headless figure of Dicky chose to attend the proceedings in a retro Birmingham City top. He later stabbed a Luton Town supporter on the Intercity train home.





This tunnel over the railway line (some form of coaling or watering station I guess. What do Dark Millennium trains run on anyway? Probably the crystallised essence of the crushed dreams of the quintillions of Imperial subjects, or just the rendered-down bodyfat of ginger babies drowned in a bucket at birth) which later provided a lot of cover for my gangers in Wild West "richochet" style.


Aerial shot from the passing Inquisitorial spyplane, I Know What You Did Last Wednesday (When You Thought No-one Was Watching You Dirty Fecker). Dicky's troops are using the alleyway as a field of fire, Jason's troops are hugging the chest-height ferrocrete walls and Mhorrghan is still bleeding everywhere.





Dicky had a Heavy Stubber. It fired one burst. It didn't wound so he didn't get to use the Following Fire rule which basically states that if you wound you can fire again at same target or another within 4" and keep going until you miss or fail to wound. And then he got shot and died.





Aunt Sally, gang "heavy". I had a Heavy Stubber. It fired one burst. It didn't hit so I didn't get to use the Following Fire rule which basically states that if you wound you can fire again at same target or another within 4" and keep going until you miss or fail to wound. And then he got shot and died.





Finney gets up on a rooftop across the street from the position where House Huriatat troops are defending the fallen officer. Finney later attempted to jump off into the street but this shit the bed as he rolled some 1s and two of his steroid-abusers died on the way down. I think either their shinbones couldn't take the impact of all that muscle landing on them and splintered when they hit the pavement, or their disco tits overbalanced them such that they landed head-first.





Shit. I hadn't noticed this. This remarkable LOS was being laughed about in the gangers turn and ended up being one of the few shots throughout the game that wasn't hampered by cover. I could have fired back but chose not to as I hadn't noticed it of my own accord and was only aware of it because it caused much amusement. So I roleplayed "my character wouldn't know that" and green mohawk chap fired at somebody else and didn't shoot back until he'd been shot at and missed.

Would that attitude win me tourneys at events with names like GRINDHAMMER BIG COCKS and WARHAMMER WORLD ASSAULT ON FETID CANCER BOLLOCKS WEEKEND and FESTIVAL OF SLAUGHTERHELL DOUBLES TOURNAMENT 2014?




Here he is drawing a bead on that Muscle Mary. Who is he anyway? Trooper Lee? Peart? Lifeson? Emerson? Lake? Palmer? Wakeman? Brock? Fripp? Gilmour? Waters? Anderson? Who cares, I fucking hate prog anyway.




Mid-game overview. My lads are in cover on the left side of the board and starting to whittle down the house troops that were originally heading towards the rooftop where the injured officer was.




Finney's heroic descent to ground level via the lamppost isn't going too well. See above.




Probably the closest in game equivalent to Jhonndil Injer's vantage point from the Sourbridge Book Depository (also functions as a combined incinerator and memory hole). House troops ready to defend the fallen Captain and await back-up.


It didn't end that well for them. In fact hidden from view in this shot is a Juve with a laspistol who calmly plugged three house troops on three consecutive turns from a range of about 4" and didn't receive a single scratch from lasgun fire coming back at it. (+2 for laspistol fire up to 8" probably helped here).



After most people were dead (helped by ignoring the unit coherency rules and ignoring morale) there were only two players left in the game and I declined to pursue the retreating troops. The survivors were dragging the wounded man at half rate and managed to retreat from view around a corner. It might have been possible to outflank them but with three players now out of stuff to command I felt that it didn't justify dragging out the end of the game.


And here's the thing that amazed me. We got about two hours gaming (i.e. not long enough to outstay it's welcome) with less than 30 figures on the board for five players, and with only two (crap) support weapons and everyone else with popguns and the house troops wearing paper mache bulletproof vests.


Wednesday, 25 June 2014

Rodney Matthews Does Car Wars


I didn't even know this was a thing. Somewhere in a parallel dimension, Rodney Matthews illustrates issues of Autoduel Quarterly.

Monday, 23 June 2014

St. Helens and Stafford Show Swag

Had a train ride up to St. Helens a couple of Saturdays ago for the Phalanx show. I did this last year as well, as it's quite an easy train journey from the West Midlands as the train stops directly opposite the leisure centre the show is held in (Glasgow train from Wolves or Brum, jump off at Warrington Bank Quay and get the commuter line train heading towards Liverpool Lime Street and all the Scouse Brows, three stops in is Lea Green, walk out of the car park and you can see the venue. All for cheaper than the petrol would cost in Barbie's Convertible at 22mpg).

Saw this big fuck off Panzer II - The Dragon plastic kit in 1:6 scale. That's basically the equivalent of twelve 1:72 scale PzIIs laid out end to end and side to side. This is a £240 kit and I suspect that larger tanks could not practically be made in this scale - build something like a King Tiger and it probably won't fit through the door.





Basically an Action Man tank.

(Those white and blue midgets are 28mm 40K Space Marines BTW.)

Last year I picked up a copy of Chainsaw Warrior here (to my eternal shame I haven't even opened the box yet - it might be full of other crap instead) and the GW printing of Cosmic Encounter, a version of the game that is entirely illustrated in wonderful Blanchitsu. This year I got a set of rulebooks for 2nd edition 40K for the grand sum of £9.


Actually play it? Don't talk nonsense.

Now 40K 2nd is a weird one. I hear a lot of yak about how this is the favourite version of many long-standing players and there seem to be groups who have never moved past this version. But I have no memory of it at all. None whatsoever. In my memories there was RT that was released in the period of time known as WD93 and then at some point (1998 I think) 3rd edition came out and I bought that and felt that it was quite a good game for which I painted up most of a Fetish Elf army, some Field Police and camo'd Marines and then flogged them when my old schoolmate who was interested in playing moved away.

Knowing that this was the 3rd edition should have tipped me off to the fact that there had been a 2nd edition at some point (1993) but.... it never crossed my mind. At no point did the existence of a successor to RT ever bubble up to the top of the mudpool that is my gaming mind and make me aware that something had happened that I should have paid attention to.

It could be that something truly terrible happened to me around this time and accordingly knowledge of 2nd is a victim of some defensive mechanism of the sub-conscious that has blanked out all memory but... fuck knows. Anyway this is a bit like owning Led Zep I, III, & IV and then twenty-odd years later going "there was another one called II!? When!?"

(This might be a result of me losing interest in 40K when the game started to drift away from being a firefight game and towards shooting guns being something that happened on the way into melee).

Not actually from Phalanx (Webb got it for me for what he paid for it - £5) was this.



Which is also weird. It's as if GW continued to produce material for their lesser known 1987 sci-fi expansion to WFB 2nd edition and later collected it in a softback anthology. Most odd.

Back to St. Helens. A good show and worth getting to as I think it's the only show in the North-West of England these days. The catering van there can fix you up with something called a "barmcake" but I never found out what that was as I didn't like to ask in case I inadvertently violated some local custom or taboo. You can't be too careful when trying not to draw attention to yourself in alien climes.



Then a weekend later (or yesterday as it is sometimes known) I jumped on the train again to go to Stafford. (Coop's "practicality of train ride" rating - Excellent - sixteen minutes from Wolves and a sub-ten minute walk makes it faster than the car - however I believe the venue is moving next year so YMMV).

This was a small show in the hall of the local Polish social club, all a bit tight and rammed on a very hot day. A few traders and a lot of tables manned by wargamers having a clear out so excellent for a rummage. I picked up these...


...and some Warmaster magazines. I recall Drachenfels as being really good BITD which probably means I should put this straight on the shelf and never open it again...

Also a proper Oldhammer score in that I got 15 Necromunda Cawdor for £25 most of which were Fairy Powersprayed back to bare metal by teatime. Now I just need to discover if I still own the Necromunda rulebook...

Stafford reminded me of the old days of wargames shows - the local club putting on a few games and the opportunity to get hold of somebody's castoffs as well as new stuff. The only downside was hearing an exuberant youth boasting about his local 40K scene with the word "and we have some of the best players in the area!".

I said nothing. Teeth were gritted.

Then the moment had passed and nobody had been slapped. I must be mellowing in my old age.

Wednesday, 18 June 2014

Action at Hark Hanoid AAR

A flying column of Marine forces have sortied out and levelled the small town of Hark Hanoid, an important supply base for one of the belligerent factions currently identified in Space Marine intelligence as "Opfor A". The small guard force have been eliminated and survivors mopped up (literally in some cases of suicidally brave attempts at tank-killing).

Suddenly, Communications-Brother Brawd Kastinhaus reports signals of large numbers of Opfor A force closing into encircle the Marines. Captain Zybil gave the order for all men to embark in their transports - a breakout attempt is to be made.



This was played with the oddly named "Bring Me My Spear"(*) scenario. The attacker has to cross the table and scores victory points only for units that escape. The defenders starts with 50% of his force deployed around the centre of the table and reinforcements will randomly arrive on the unused table edges - i.e. on the flanks of the attacker. He scores points for destroying attacking units.

(Yes, it's a breakout scenario. Yes, that's why the title is a pun)




Firstly, some yak about the rules (which are Gruntz! 15mm)

You've possibly played this before.

Each unit has two actions per turn, only one of which can be ranged action. If you move twice, you basically run at double rate and can't fire.

To hurt things roll 2d6, add SHOOT. Equal or exceed the targets GUARD to hit it. Hit it? Good, roll 2d6 and equal or exceed the targets SOAK to dish out damage - one point for equalling it, an extra point for every die score in excess. Rank and file have 1 damage point, heroes and bigger stuff have multiple damage points.

This is of course radically different to something like Hormachine in which:

Each unit has two actions per turn, only one of which can be ranged action. If you move twice, you basically run at double rate and can't fire.

To hurt things roll 2d6, add RAT. Equal or exceed the targets DEF to hit it. Hit it? Good, roll 2d6 and equal or exceed the targets ARM to dish out damage - one point for equalling it, an extra point for every die score in excess. Rank and file have 1 damage point, heroes and bigger stuff have multiple damage points.

To this add a full unit builder so that you can stat up just about anything and loads of typos and contradictory shit and you now know everything you need to know about Gruntz!

(There is a little bit of extra detailing added to reflect the fact that the game is about small squads of 15mm sci-fi soldiers rather than Warcasters and steampunk clockwork automata - "PRONE" gives +2 to RAT SHOOT and +1 TO DEF GUARD but costs an action to do/undo, Morale is interesting in that tests occur after every source of damage - not just at the end of the turn - and the penalties for dead/injured figures stay until that unit is next activated. This means that keeping a unit under fire can cause multiple forced retreats in one turn).



Photo-Intel From the Frontlines

Orbital spy cameras and stills from "beakie" helmet cams have gathered the following visual photo-intel on this action. Astropath Fift Hekay-Mohdem is currently transmitting these back to Chapter Fortress for staff-level analysis. Would you like to know more? Then read more books.



The settlement of Hark Hanoid, still smouldering from the reimposition of law and order on behalf of the benign Master of Mankind. How peaceful it looks.


A Buttfucker class tank of the "Jagerbomb" company, 8th Moninav (Armoured) Regiment leads a PDF APC, now in the service of the Blood Drinkers. (RH1NOs? In 1987? No idea what you are talking about. Piss off back to your 7th edition games.)

(Oh, and Jagerbomb? I had some Jagermeister decals left over from Scalextric cars. Used the Jagermeister logo as the unit insignia).


Another APC alongside Captain Zenn Zybil's personal transport aka "The Ice Cream Van". Glad I never got around to painting that now - oops, spoiler...



Not-Grav-Attacks. These are absolute crap - the way Gruntz stats up Light-class tanks they don't really come out fast enough to benefit from their light armour and minimal damage points. I haven't really found a battlefield role for them yet. As they are Matchbox tanks and not stick deodorants I didn't even get fragrant armpits out of the build process.


Breakout scenario? Armoured thrust? Panic-stricken sprint towards the opposite table edge? The armour moved about 7" all evening. Then the APC exploded and the tank clearly was too close to the enemy to sufficiently depress the barrel to actually hit the fuckers.



Cheating rebel bastard commander rides a bike with stabilisers like a girl.



Cheating rebel bastard laser Segway thing. (Does this remind anyone else of the vehicle from the opening sequence to the Banana Splits? Maybe you have to be at least my age to know what I'm talking about). The presence of Buddha's head shows that the Inquisition haven't been quite as forceful with their iconoclasm here as they should have. Those Taliban chappies have the right idea.



Cheating rebel bastard infantry occupying a FarmHabUnit. Cheating rebel bastards proceeded to do serious damage using Overwatch, the cheating bastard art of standing still and waiting for our brave boys to show themselves to the enemy. I can only imagine that "SHORT" is some form of seditious graffiti.


Cheating rebel bastard missile team hiding like the cowards they are in a ruined FarmHabUnit.


 Cheating rebel bastard missile team reinforcements arriving in the combat zone immediately on the flank of a Marine Not-Grav-Attack hovercraft. Fucksticks.


 Cheating rebel bastard Attack Bikes with full auto weapons. I can't recall whether it was laser or projectile, there was just too fucking much of it to pay attention to the specific calibre the incoming was comprised of.


It just crashed itself honest. Squad Octavius is making the decision that it is far, far more important to return to base and punish the heretics and traitors in the motor pool than worry about this rabble of disaffected, inbred Soylent farmers and their emplaced multi-lasers.



Cheating rebel bastard photo-manipulated black propaganda designed to suggest that cheating rebel bastard forces killed lots of Marines and made them run away across a ploughed field where many of them died in a ditch. This never happened. Inquisitor Geenunt is sanctioned to take actions against heretics who either believe this nonsense or disseminate information about these foul and slanderous lies.



Even more cheating rebel bastard black propaganda designed to suggest that the Marine rout (never happened) allowed the cheating rebel bastard infantry to actually leave their hovel in the interests of getting better shots at the fleeing red shapes. Inquisitor Geenunt is compiling a report proving that these photographs were actually faked on a holofilm sound stage many clicks behind the lines. It's all in the shadows apparently and the way the flag ripples.





I can't explain why this helmet-cam still appears to be from the vantage point of lying on the floor behind an APC. Maybe Brother Hudovmann temporarily put his helmet on the floor with the camera still running so that he could vent his rage at the enemy easier. It's difficult to spit bile at the heretic and mutant while wearing a Mk6 helmet - tends to collect in the beak.



More cheating rebel bastard laser Segway.


 Success! Brother Marines bravely died in the face of the enemy thus allowing some of our brethren the opportunity to quaff ale in the honoured presence of their ancestors in whichever post-mortem feast halls they believe in. Also a lot of cheating rebel bastards died at this point when they finally dared to show themselves outside of mere muzzle flashes from inside cover but to be honest this was utterly irrelevant to the outcome of the abortive breakout attempt. I couldn't even take my usual pleasure at seeing their tiny, fragile forms jerking and disintegrating into a pink mist under a hail of bolter shells. I think I'm suffering from ennui.



Cheating rebel bastard Attack Bike parked up behind a barricade observing some giant-sized lifeforms off beyond the misty horizon.

...and that went really, really well. One Grav-Attack got away which is probably for the best as they haven't contributed anything to any of the games they have fought in and we'd probably be better off forgetting we have had them. Captain Zybil took a nasty blow early doors allowing a six-wheel laser Segway thing to later sneak around and blow his Space Ice Cream Van up in one shot, thus killing the only named character in the campaign in campaign game one.



We decided to tone down Overwatch for future games. What happened here that didn't happen last game is that the ranges were all much shorter. Gruntz! has quite short ranges for weaponry (mostly 8"-16") but allows you to fire at up to double range for -3 on your dice. As Overwatch and Full Retard Auto both carry -1 penalties, then long range overwatch with "spray and pray" basically does fuck all - this is the problem I had in the previous game, the three-wayer. However the game appears designed that close range, in the open fire is lethal, longer range, in cover is more of an irritation. So accordingly Overwatch fire at close range is deadly, especially when Full Auto firing allows for d3+1 shots with the ability to change target after each shot.

The problem is that Overwatch never "switches off". It takes two actions to set up and then can fire at every target of opportunity. For ever. This stamps all over the idea that units can only fire once per turn and need a special rule (the "Rapid Fire" perk) to fire twice. Some of Gary's Overwatch targets were firing 3/4 times a turn. Now I don't entirely have a problem with this. It chimes in with a famous post-WW2 study by the New Zealand Army that drew the conclusion that casualties inflicted on the enemy were dependant upon the number of enemy exposed to fire and NOT the number of friendly firers - in other words the length of battles in modern warfare allowed a small number of adequately supplied men to knock out huge numbers of enemy if targets kept appearing. It's just that it did spoil our attempt at an evening's entertainment of moving little soldiers around.

Next game Overwatch will "switch off" after a shot and needs two actions to go back onto it.

(We also tripped over Gruntz! shitty proof-reading - the first paragraph of the Overwatch section says it is used when enemy activate in sight, the last paragraph amends this to move in sight. Not the same thing at all...)

Upshot for the Narrative Campaign

Miserable failure for the Blood Drinkers. Having failed to get away more than one damaged Grav-Attack, the breakout attempt failed and they remain encircled by rebel PDF of "Opfor A". Furthermore Captain Zenn Zybil was "waxed" (to use the Gruntz! parlance). What happened to him?

Well I rolled 90 on this table from the science fiction supplement for Warhammer Fantasy Battle 2nd edition.

Severe Right Leg. So this probably means that after emergency field amputation, Zybil will be shipped off to the Chapter Fortress (on planet San Guisaga I believe if Lexicanium is to believed but to be perfectly frank that "official", "Chapter Approved" fluff is such utter dogshit I wouldn't even bother reading it let allowing rolling your eyes at it) for surgery and fitting with a bionic leg. Much like this fellow on the left has.


So really the next couple of games should see a different model being used as a field commander for the Marines while Zybil recuperates. Maybe a Brother-Lieutenant takes over or I'll have a look through the unpainted pile and see what I could turn up as a temporary alter-ego. I have a few Ion Age figures that might do as an Inquisitor.

As a result of the loss I imagine that the next game will see the Marines as defenders as the rebels attempt to push their advantage.



Brother Hudovmann clung to the flank of the damaged APC as it rocked and pitched over the shellhole-blistered roadway. One hand was holding onto a hole in the armour of the machine-beast, punched there by a rebel armour multilaser shot, the other periodically slapped his helmet in an attempt to restore the enhanced vision granted by his auto-senses which were malfunctioning no doubt a result of a lasgun blast striking his head.

A loose connection somewhere surmised Hudovmann. Any more visual blackouts like this and I'll have to abandon the helmet.

It had belonged to Veteran-Brother Beayhond as well before being passed down to him upon Beayhond's noble death against the Giant White Apes of Bazoom(**). Such a shame to lose that link with the glorious past.

The retreating convoy limped through rebel settlements levelled by Hudovmann and his brothers less than twenty four hours earlier. Plumes of black smoke reached to the skies and fanned out into greasy grey clouds where the winds caught them. It reminded him of Bulbo trees lining the white gravel roads of his homeworld.

Steaming blackened skeletons lay contorted around the shattered shells of plexi-plastic hab units. The APC juddered slightly as the auto-drive continued straight on through a jumble of bones lying in the middle of the roadway bone splinters raining down on the ground.

+++ CONVOY HALT CONVOY HALT CASEVAC ZONE REACHED AWAIT FRIENDLY AERIAL INTERVENTION HOLD FIRE HOLD FIRE +++

As the crackling voice came through to Hudovmann's helmet an Imperial Shuttle flashed in from the horizon, flying dangerously low to avoid rebel radar sweeps. The long tail plume of electric-blue plasma cut off from the rear of the shuttle as the pilot killed his thrusters and skid-landed on his skids leaving a great blackened streak through the bio-cornfield to the convoys left.

Two Marines immediately leaped from the back of the APC one position ahead of Hudovmann in the convoy and reached back to pick something out. Something seven feet tall, armoured in power armour the colour of dried blood and missing a leg. Captain Zenn Zybil's helmet was removed and he was shouting out orders even as the Marines carrying him ran over to the shuttle. Hudovmann expected the wounded Captain to have felt no pain - Marines simply didn't. Amputation would have fired off all manner of pain-killers and stimulants in an attempt to keep the Captain awake, conscious and able to command.

The injured Marine was unceremoniously bundled into the cargo hold of the shuttle. The engines immediately fired causing a fire to break out amongst the bio-corn stalks behind and the craft shot forwards in a textbook emergency takeoff showering the Marine convoy with gravel and burning wheat matter. It was a take off of such violence that a lesser wounded man would surely have suffered even more grievous wounds but Zybil was a Marine, a veteran of two hundred years of continual warfare against the enemies of the Emperor.

+++ CONVOY RELOCATE TO POSITION ALPHA-TWO-XERXES TAKE DEFENSIVE POSITION AWAIT AID PRAISE THE EMPEROR +++





TL;DR - It was like this






and this




(*) I know where the phrase comes from but can't see the relevance to the current situation. I was in no way attempting to build Jerusalem in England's Green and Pleasant Land.

(**) You can win OVER 9000 THE INTERNETS if you can identify that one.