John and I have been looking for an opportunity to try out some weeknight gaming at a slightly smaller scale, so we organized a game of 40k at my place earlier this month. We settled on Power Level 40, which is a small-ish threshold that still allows for one or two vehicles or monsters per side.
In planning this game, we forgot to take into account John’s gaming style — he is a classic Imperial Guard horde player who is happiest when he is maneuvering huge squads of infantry and unleashing massed volleys of lasgun fire. I think he had at least 60 figures on the table for our Power Level 40 game …. maybe even more!
So that’s my way of saying that our best-laid plans for a quick, two-hour weeknight game were dashed by his enthusiasm for sci-fi army men. Check out his deployment for our game. This is just a 30-man squad of conscripts plus a command squad!
We wanted to do a follow-on scenario to last month’s Ambush at Teknolog Pass, which saw the diseased Plague Marines of The Weeping Legion rout a probing attack from the disoriented remnants of The Shattered Regiment.
A number of prisoners were taken after that battle, so we set up a scenario whereby a Chaos sorcerer was using a captive as a blood sacrifice for an unspeakable ritual in the craggy peaks of the Upper Norse Ring Mountains. The unfortunate captive is here, along with a nifty objective marker that perfectly suited our needs for the game.
Anyway, we used the Sabotage scenario from the Warhammer 40,000 main rulebook. The scenario called for me to place 10 sentries (I used Chaos Cultists) around the battlefield, with the rest of my guys held in reserve, waiting for the sentries to raise the alarm.
Normally, weapons fire raises the alarm, which makes sense from a narrative standpoint. But John’s guys had the ability to use silencers on their ranged attacks, which dramatically reduced the risk of raising the alarm and allowed them to pretty much walk all over my carefully placed sentries, annihilating them in short order. Because they were cultists, they had to get in really close to raise the alarm, and John ensured that I was unable to do that.
Because of this, I didn’t get to actually place my figures on the table until more than halfway through the game, when John’s Guardsmen reached the objective and began attempting to stop the ritual. We observed what was happening as we played and immediately concluded that the silencer rule combined with 30-man mobs of infantry made for a fairly crummy game experience for the opposing player. I was literally locked out of the game until more than halfway through the game.
Once my newly painted Plague Marines and Poxwalkers arrived, the game was mostly in the bag for John. He still had 40+ infantry figures swarming around the objective, and even though I had a mostly fresh fighting force, I lacked the raw firepower necessary to eject him from the salient.
I thinned the ranks a little bit with some well-timed psyker powers from my Nurgle Sorcerer, but we crunched the numbers and found that it was numerically impossible to stop him from successfully thwarting my ritual.
In the end, we agreed that this particular scenario was a bit broken when one player brings 60 infantry figures to the table. It didn’t seem to make sense to either of us that a 30-man mob of conscripts could rampage around the battlefield with impunity, using silencers to assassinate individual sentries.
The scenario doesn’t put any firm requirements on what you use for sentries, so I think in the future I’ll use Chaos Space Marines — they’re a little harder to kill, and they can raise the alarm from a longer distance away. It was probably a mistake to use cultists … but dammit, I was playing up the narrative component! The game was about a Chaos ritual, so it just made sense to use cultists!
Speaking of the narrative, this was a campaign game for our Caluphel Prime 40k setting, so there will definitely be some outcomes to explore in future games. This victory was a much-needed morale booster for the Shattered Regiment, which had crash-landed on Caluphel weeks ago after the planet got sucked into the Warp and re-deposited in a dusty corner of the Eastern Fringe.
And my Plague Marines are definitely re–grouping after their failed Chaos ritual. If they had completed the ritual, I was going to use it as a way to introduce this sweet zombie dragon that I’ve been wanting to get onto the table as a greater daemon of Nurgle. That plan is on pause for now!