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The Blood Deserts of Auros IX
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The Blood Deserts
of Auros IX: Battle Summaries (Battle #17)
Battle #17: All
the Marbles (Part 2) (1500
points per side)
Gray-eyed Talwar Chakram, her head shaved bald in the tradition of all Tigers of Varuna, or Fighting Tigers Chaplains, waited for a reaction from the four other officers: Khandar Madu, Raja of Mahaduyana; Shamshir Talatra, Raja of Ghuyarashtra, of whom Talwar Chakram was his closest advisor; Zaghnal Maratha, seniormost Tiger of Brihaspati, or Fighting Tiger Librarian, and advisor to Raja Khandar; and Kshatriya (or Captain) Jirbu Ghosh, Raja Khandar’s heir-apparent.
“In the two years since we arrived on Auros IX, we have captured 87% of the planet’s surface and eliminated 94% of the Ork population, a number estimated at 1.1 billion aliens. The assault on Sector 328-D was particularly effective, with 64,398 confirmed kills in a 37-hour period.
“Nevertheless,” she continued, strolling around the conference room where the Fighting Tiger leaders were seated at a table, “we have suffered 353 casualties, a frankly disgusting statistic far higher than the 10% maximum permitted by the Codex Astartes. Included in that number are 7 Tigers Eternal, ancient Vedic heroes encased in Dreadnought armor. We have lost 57 Maneater-class Armored Personnel Carriers—”
Jirbu Ghosh raised a hand. “Begging your pardon, Memsahib, but the total is 54. I compiled—”
“Fifty-seven,” Talwar Chakram snapped.“Minutes ago, 3 were discovered missing from the compound and search parties are out as we speak. This in addition to 29 Whirlwinds, 16 Predator Destructors, 14 Predator Annihilators, 12 Vindicators, 5 Siege Guns, 3 Land Raiders, 48 Land Speeders, 26 Tornadoes, and 23 Typhoons.”
Raja Khandar Madu drummed her fingers on the tabletop and glanced over to Zaghnal Maratha. He nodded grimly.
Talwar Chakram continued her report. “Armory estimates that we have 83 days of food, 42 days of water, 37 days of ammunition, and 29 days of fuel.”
“That is unfortunate,” muttered Raja Shamshir Talatra. His left arm—crushed by the Ork Warboss in the last battle—was in a sling.
“Worst of all,” Talwar Chakram said, lowering her voice, “This morning, I received a transmission from Daksha Ram, regent of Ghuyarashtra. Members of the Kabal of the Ozone Scorpions have been discovered and engaged on the surface of our home world, Veda.”
“Impossible,” Zaghnal Maratha replied. “The Scorpions were—”
“I’m afraid it is more than possible,” Raja Khandar said. “During his visit to Veda before our departure, the Space Wolf Ferin Ironhammer mentioned to me an encounter he and his men had with the ‘Svartalfir,’ or ‘Black Elves.’ I had assumed at the time that ‘Svartalfir’ was the Fenrisian name for Dark Eldar. Later, I began to wonder if he spoke literally: ‘Black Elves’—the Ozone Scorpions were supposed to have skin the color of night.”
“So say the old verses of our history,” Zaghnal Maratha replied.
“If the Kabal has indeed survived, then we must end this war now and return to Veda as swiftly as possible,” said Raja Shamshir.
“The remaining Orks are holed up near their ammunition factory. It is protected from bombardment by a force field,” Talwar Chakram said.
“I’ll organize a detachment to destroy the factory,” Zaghnal Maratha announced. “Without it, the Orks will not be able to resist one final offensive.”
“Destroy the factory, and then one final offensive.” Raja Khandar looked across the table at her counterpart. “Agreed?”
“Agreed,” Raja Shamshir replied. “And then let us quit this place. I fear for our home.”
Soon the sun of Auros IX would begin its ascent and bring light to the desolate landscape. In the darkness, the remnants of the Ork army shambled about the munitions factory. It was the only fortification the Marines had yet to destroy.
Inside, Sho-T BigHed sat heavily in a chair while Sprokkits, his loyal Mekboy, worked on his mega-armor. The armor had shut down during the last battle when one of the stripey marines got in a lucky hit.
“I always said dat Speedo was no good, Boss,” Sprokkits said. “I always sed yoo couldn’t trust ‘im. But did Boss lissen to good ol’ Sprokkits? Nooooo—Boss didn’t, and now Speedo’s gone.”
“So what?” Sho-T rumbled. “I gotz ‘is armor and now he’s prolly a hood ornament on a Tiger tank. Can yoo pitcher dat stoopid zogger runnin’ ‘is bike right into one of dem Lan’ Raiders? SPLAT! KA-BOOM!” Sho-T laughed.
“But Speedo got tru da lines once, an’ iffn ‘e did again, he’s out dere stirrin’ up trouble for Boss. Maybe him and dem Tigerz is in kahoots now. Real buddy-buddy, yoo know? Maybe dey always been in kahoots. Maybe dat’s ‘ow ‘e got tru in the first place. I tol’ yoo, Boss, I always did sez dat Speedo ain’t no good—”
“Yeah, yeah, yeah, so’ze yoo always said Speedo was no good and yoo wuz right: whattya want, a cookie? Iffn he’s out dere, I’ll get ‘im some udder time and lern ‘im right. Now shut yer piehole.”
Sho-T grunted as Sprokkits fiddled with some gadgets on the armor. A spark leapt from the armor and Sho-T cuffed the Mek on the head. “Be careful yooz don’t you break nothin’!”
“Sorry, Boss,” Sprokkits rubbed his skull and went back to work.
All around, Orks were milling about dejectedly. After the last defeat, all of the energy seemed to have drained from the army. Speedo, the leader of the Kult of Speed, had deserted with the remainder of his boyz and all of the Battlewagons. No one knew if he had made it through the Tiger cordon—nor did anyone really care. Now the Orks were holed up, waiting to make a final stand.
To replace the vehicles Speedo had taken, Sho-T had sent his Kommandos, some Skarboys, and two squads of Burna boys to steal some of the ‘umie tanks. Suddenly, the radio the Orks had to monitor the ‘umie talking sprang to life. Amidst the squawks and whines, the voice of Gordo, the Skarboy’s Nob, could be heard. “Boss! Boss! Yoo dere?”
Sho-T jerked himself to his feet, knocking Sprokkits on his kan. He grabbed the mike. “I’m here. Whatchu want?”
“Eh, Boss, we got some good news and we got some bad news. The good news is we boosted t’ree of dem ‘umie tanks like yoo told us.”
“Damn yoo, Gordo, always tell me da bad news first. How many times I gotta say dat?”
“Sorry, Boss. Da bad news is dat da ‘umies is right behind us.”
“Yoo step it back here pronto wit’ dem Tigerwagons or I’ll skin yoo alive, yoo zoggin’ Panzee!” Sho-T roared. He swung his power klaw down, smashing the radio to pieces. The armor whined as he flexed, black smoke coughed out of the backstacks, and a few sparks crackled here and there—just enough to sting Sho-T’s hide and get him REALLY honked off—but the armor worked. Good enuff fer govmint work, he thought, and chuckled to himself.
“Nertz,” Sho-T swore. “Dat fool Gordo. He’s really put his boot inta it dis time. Like I always say: iffn ya want somethin’ done right, yooz got to do it yerself. And yoo ladz wonder why I drink.” He scowled at Sprokkits. “Come on, boy, quit yer lolly-gagging. We’ze got a battle comin’. Who knows when dose idjits are gonna bring the Stripies down on our ‘eads.”
Sho-T looked over the assembled Slugga Boyz and Gretchin and hoped they would be enough.
WHAT WE DID DIFFERENTLY: Pat and I have been playing the campaign for about two years and we’ve come to the conclusion that as players, we’re too evenly matched to continue fighting the campaign using the original parameters. Despite our best efforts, winning the initiative and then winning the following game to claim an objective has been like pulling teeth: slow, painful, and a lot of hard work. Just when you think you’re getting somewhere, the other guy pulls off a win, regaining the initiative and putting you back at Square One. While the campaign has been fun, it has to end sometime!
We had decided that if Pat won Battle #16, he would be the winner of the campaign; if I won, we would have one more game. Well, I won that fight, so it was my turn to pick a mission and see if I could win "All the Marbles."
I thought it would be appropriate to end the campaign as it began, so I opted for "Sabotage." We had already played it in Battle #1 and in Battle #9, but decided later, for ease of play, to change the objective from a radio mast to a munitions factory.
I was thiiiiiiis close to winning Battle #9: I needed one more turn, but the game ended on Turn 4. So I went with what (almost) worked then and took all foot troops: 2 Tactical Squads, 2 Scout Squads, 1 Veteran Squad, 1 Assault Squad (no jump packs--just didn't seem to fit the mission), and one Devastator Squad.
For his part, Pat brought lots of Gretchin and Slugga Boyz, accompanied by his Warboss and retinue, and packed them around the objective. Just for gits and shiggles, he left his Kult of Speed units at home and asked to borrow three of my Rhinos as Looted Vehicles for some of his other mobs. I thought it was a perfectly cool idea and fit in beautifully with the story of the campaign.
We played this
game at Borderlands
in South Carolina as part of Fall From Grace
II. Only fitting, as we had played Game
#12 (New Git on the Block) there last year at this time. The last
battle was called "All the Marbles" because it used all the figures
("the marbles") we owned. This battle would be for "All the Marbles" in
the sense that it would determine the winner of the campaign. So what happened?
POST-GAME ANALYSIS: There were probably easier missions to play than "Sabotage," but blast it, I wanted another shot at it! Before this game, I had played "Sabotage" three times, as the attacker and as the defender, and had lost each time. I knew going into the game that I was probably handing Pat an easy win, but I really wasn't pressed about it--winning the last battle had been good enough for me.
The thing that cost me this battle was speed: I couldn't get my guys to the objective fast enough. I brought only foot troops because it seems to me that the idea behind the mission is to sneak up on the objective: vehicles or troops with jump packs just don't seem right for this scenario.
I almost won Battle #9 because we were (unknowingly) playing the Sentries rule wrong. In Battle #9, I made sweeping advances after killing the sentries in hand-to-hand combat: this isn't allowed, but neither Pat nor I knew this until just before this game, Battle #17, began.
Ah, well. I suppose the next time I'm the attacker in "Sabotage," I'll just use vehicles and let the alarms go off. In my opinion, you're really tieing one hand behind your back if you take foot troops and try to sneak past the sentries. You can't cross the board as fast; the alarm might be raised anyway, despite your best efforts; and all the while, the clock is ticking--and you're not even guaranteed six turns, anyway, like in most games.
Kind of a shame, though. "Sabotage" is a lot more fun if you try it "the quiet way."
Even though I lost the game, it was still very enjoyable, mostly because of the challenge it presented. At the beginning of the game, my Scouts with sniper rifles fired at two sentries and killed them. When Pat and I rolled to see what the other sentries would do, I lost the roll for the sentry closest to the casualties, Pat moved his Gretchin within 2" of the bodies, and the alarm was raised.
I thought that would be the Play of the Game, but Pat kept all his Troops clustered around the objective, so it really didn't matter. Had he wanted to, he could have rushed his Troops out to attack mine, but that would have left the objective vulnerable.
Another reason why the game was fun was because we were more than ready to end the campaign. We also had a fine time engaging in whimsical bits of silliness like using an Ork for a turn counter (below). Ever seen boxing matches where a hot girl in a bikini walks around holding up a big card indicating what round it is? Well, the only "model" we could afford (get it?) was Pat's figure for Speedo, so that's what we used.
As I mentioned, Pat's use of my Rhinos as Looted Vehicles was an excellent touch--not strictly legal by the book ("...the model for a looted vehicle must be converted and/or painted appropriately to show it is being used by Orks; simply borrowing a [vehicle] from an Imperial...army is not allowed!") but I was more than happy to disregard that in the name of fun. It's safe money--even at 10:1 odds--to bet that Ork armies with Looted Vehicles have a Basilisk as their choice, and though I certainly can't blame Ork players (after all, Pat has one too!), I'm always happy to see something different.
That's it, folks! Let's wrap this
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© Copyright Patrick
Eibel and Kenton Kilgore, October 2001
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