The tank commander wiped grime from his goggles and peered out the murky viewport. Another explosion rocked the battle tank, slamming him against the cabin bulkhead. Behind him, a panel blew out in a shower of sparks. Through the billowing smoke on the battlefield, the commander saw another tank from his detachment lurch into view, tracks churning mud, sponson bolters spitting death even as its turret tracked around, seeking the enemy. In the distance, just glimpsed amid the chaos of the battle, entrenched Guardsmen fired volleys with their lasguns. Dirt and debris rained down from the near-constant explosions ripping apart the Imperials’ battle line.
“Target acquired!” the gunner bellowed from over his shoulder. “Tracking … it’s closing fast!”
“Bugs?” the commander asked.
“No … the auspex is going haywire!” the gunner replied, his voice hoarse and ragged. He looked at his scanning device again, not believing what he saw.
“It’s not … no … BRACE FOR IMPACT!”
I’m back with the second installment in my two-part battle report of our recent Apoc-Luck game. If you haven’t read Part One, click here to jump in. Part Two focuses on the latter turns of our Apocalypse game.
The last couple of turns took place at increasingly close ranges, which you might expect given that the players were competing to seize and hold various objectives scattered across the battlefield.
Without a doubt, close range combat favored the enemies of the Imperium. The photo above represents a fearsome assault by no fewer than three Chaos dreadnoughts led by Torrigahl Bitterborne, the murderous daemon prince of the Night Lords. Over two turns, they breached the infantry lines, slaughtered dozens of brave Guardsmen, and began ripping apart several battle tanks and APCs.
John was able to deal with this menace, but only just — it took some careful maneuvering and the full force of his armored units to defeat the daemon prince and get a little breathing room. Of course, by that point, the Tyranids were upon them.
Paul’s Tyranids were moving at what can only be described as a gallop for most of the game. Here’s a photo of him leaning across the table to move his genestealers some ungodly number of inches. Nothing was safe!
The front ranks of Tyranids got annihilated as they closed in, predictably, but there was plenty more where that came from. The second line was composed of bigger bugs!
Being claw-to-barrel with a Tyranid carnifex is really not where these tankers wanted to find themselves. But they were tough nuts to crack even for a bunch of hungering monsters. The back-and-forth in the center of the battle continued unabated, with corpses piled three meters deep at the defense lines. Acidic poison burned into thick adamantium armor while tank treads pulped dozens of Tyranid infantry. Heretic Astartes blasted apart the defenders with stupendous displays of firepower, followed up by bloodthirsty hand-to-hand combat. Truly, it was total war in the Forgotten Reach.
The Tide Turns
As the third turn wrapped up, Paul’s Hive Queen (a gorgeously painted model first glimpsed in last year’s Apoc-Luck game) arrived and claimed the ancient ziggurat at the center of the battlefield. Her mere presence caused the heads of nearby Guardsmen to burst like ripe melons. Those who survived were cut to ribbons by her scything claws. An unlucky few were carried off to be consigned to a short, agonizing tenure in the Queen’s breeding pits. The Emperor protects.
The latter turns saw players commit their strategic reserves to shore up different areas of the battle. John’s Tempestus Scions arrived and neatly outflanked the Night Lords in the center, claiming the objective during a critical turn. Shortly thereafter I returned the favor, dropping a flight of Raptors (led by Haarken Worldclaimer) onto the Scions as they were consolidating their position in the center. Here’s a photo of that pitched battle. You can see a portion of Paul’s starship bulkhead terrain piece, complete with a removable turret gun. Sweet!
The Salamanders continued pouring fire into the surging mass of Tyranids rushing across the battlefield at them. Their vanguard elements (Terminators and a Land Raider) got slaughtered, but their strongpoint remained secure even as the endgame approached.
The strongpoint was protected from above by the angular shape of the Thunderhawk gunship, but a mighty Tyranid harridan swooped in toward the end of the game, grappling the Thunderhawk in mid-air and ripping the aircraft apart with its gnarled talons. Here’s a photo of the last thing the Thunderhawk saw before all contact was lost with it.
Big Bird was pissed.
After a few turns of scoring, the enemies of mankind began to pull away in the points total, as they held more objectives and contested others. The endgame loomed, and the Imperium players began focusing their efforts on the few objectives that might realistically help them achieve victory. Their impending demise came into sharp focus, however, with the arrival of the Paul’s heirophant bio-titan!
Yes, it’s true: the hero of last year’s Apoc-Luck game returned with a vengeance, stampeding across the battlefield and dicing up men and machines alike. The heirophant carved a swathe of destruction across the center of the board and enabled Paul to decisively claim the central ziggurat.
Here, by tradition, is a photo of John contemplating his doom while the heirophant pulps his poor dudes in the foreground. This is a photo that I’ve managed to capture every year without fail. You can see some late-arriving Chaos Terminators in the foreground, too, contributing to the mopping-up activities.
We did one more round of scoring, which confirmed what we suspected — the enemies of the Imperium had triumphed!
Thus, the game concluded with a victory for the Night Lords, Alpha Legion, and Tyranids. Alex narrated the outcome: the enemies of mankind had succeeded in destroying the entire Forgotten Reach, rupturing the webway and enabling the Chaos god Malice to leave the Caluphel Sector and wreak havoc on the wider galaxy. “Oops.”
Conclusion — and Secret Santa Exchange!
Once again we had a great game. This year we tried a few new things, including using the actual Apocalypse ruleset. Personally, I think this was a good decision that enabled us to play a satisfactory game within a reasonable amount of time. Everyone had plenty of fun new toys to put on the table, and Apocalypse ensured they all saw some action over the course of the game.
This year, I organized a Secret Santa-style miniature swap. The guidelines were pretty simple: We drew names from a hat (actually Elfster), then selected a single infantry-sized miniature to paint up for that person. Everybody provided some general guidance as to what armies they played and what they might like to receive, but other than that it was up to the individual painter. The goal was to spend less than $20, and players were strongly encouraged to gift a mini that was already in their collection.
The results were impressive, to say the least! Here’s a group shot of all the minis that were painted and exchanged at the game this month.
Let’s see … we’ve got some fantasy wizards, knights, and monsters, a Master of Possession, a 3D-printed Sisters of Battle bunker, and even a Great Unclean One (lightly converted to get into the holiday spirit). Wow! Everybody went home with something new. We’ll definitely be doing this swap again next year!
After that, Alex reviewed the point totals for all the campaign participants and ceremonially crowned Paul the winner of this year’s campaign. He was presented with our trophy plaque, engraved with his name to memorialize his achievement for all time. Well done, Paul!
So that’s a wrap on our third (!) annual Apoc-Luck game. The event grows more fun and more epic with each passing year. The storyline of the Caluphel Sector is wide open at this point. If you’ve read this far, do me a favor and leave a comment and let us know what you’d like to see next year!