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The Blood Deserts of Auros IX
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The Blood Deserts of Auros IX: Thoughts on Battle #16
Battle #16 was more than just another installment in the Auros IX campaign: it was its own event! Here, the two players ruminate on this mega-battle.

Battle #16: Kenton's thoughts
KentonLet me explain in a little more detail how I won against an opponent who had beaten me 5 times out of the last 7 games. Hopefully what I describe here will be of some use to you. 

I needed to win this game very badly, because if I didn’t, the campaign was over. Pat’s Orks—once fairly easy prey at the beginning of the campaign—seemed invincible. He had tweaked his army so that it was fast enough to easily assault my Marines and powerful enough to crush them once hand-to-hand combat began. I had lost count of how many times his burnas, choppas, and power claws had made mincemeat of my Tigers. Up until the night before the game, I had no expectation of winning. 

What happened the night before the game? I take martial arts: that night, my instructor told me, “It’s not about speed, it’s about distance.” He was referring to knife-fighting, but I realized I could apply that lesson to 40K. Speed wouldn’t help Pat very much if the distance were too great: naturally, my Marines had a substantial advantage in firepower. 

But how to increase the distance and take advantage of that firepower? We would be playing on a 8'x4' table. I thought about it for awhile and the answer came to me.

The funny thing about an 8'x4' table is that it has 8'. Long-time 40K players (including myself) are accustomed to playing across the width of the table: given the scenario’s 12" deployment zones and the speed of Pat’s army, his Orks could easily cross that in two turns and negate my firepower by assaulting. But if I could turn the fight sideways, so that we were playing down the 8' length of the table…well, that would be a whole different game, now wouldn’t it? 

As is our method of setting up, I placed the terrain and he chose what side he wanted. We rolled to determine deployment zones: “First Blood” gives you the choice of deploying in the corners (which I would have preferred) or along the width of the table. Pat won that roll, and he wisely chose to deploy the second way, which would quickly allow him to get his Orks “up close and personal” with my Marines. 

I deployed the Vedic Siege Gunand one unit of Tactical Marines at one end of the board (my right). Pat deployed one unit of Shoota Boyz (as per the rules), his Outriders, and his Dethkoptas at the other end of the table, well of out (Night Fighting) range of my Vedic Siege Gun. “First Blood” normally only allows you to deploy one unit of Troops at the beginning of the game, but the Outriders were there  because of their special deployment rules. At the time, the Vedic Siege Gun was designed as being immobile, so in return for Pat allowing me to deploy the VSG, I let him deploy the Dethkoptas. Fair is fair, after all. 

Pat then won the roll to see who would go first and chose to attack right away. This was fine by me—I wanted to go second to allow him to commit about half his army before my first batch of reserves came on. Speed Freeks can begin coming in from Reserves on Turn 1, so by Turn 2, all of his Speed Freeks (and quite a few of the rest of his Orks) were on the board. 

Orks on the move
Above: The first wave of Orks attack! Dethkoptas, Warbikes, and infantry

Obviously following the motto “Nothing succeeds like excess,” Pat sent his Looted Basilisk, a Battlewagon full of Skarboyz, a Battlewagon full of ‘ard Boyz, and a mob of Stormboyz after the Vedic Siege Gun and the Tactical Squad. Sure enough, in 3 turns, both the Gun and the squad were toast. Which was fine with me: those units were mere distractions.

Yeah, he got the Vedic Siege Gun, but the action's at the other end of the board
Above: The Orks come on, but most of the Tigers are at the far end of the board. 
The Vedic Siege Gun was bait.

The real fight came about 7' down at the other end of the board, where my entire army came out at that end and began shooting whatever was green. Vehicles led the attack, with infantry and Dreadnoughts mopping up whatever the big guns didn’t obliterate. I sacrificed some firepower at the beginning to keep my tanks moving, to create room on the board for my other units to come on, and to continually push back the Orks. The Land Raiders, with their twin-linked weapons and machine spirits, were invaluable in this respect. 

Pat shifts his attack
Above: Pat shifts his attack as he realizes that everything is coming from this corner 

As I mentioned, I wanted this fight to be down the length of the board, so the units along my left hand edge of the table pushed forward and the units closer to the center kept their distance or pulled away. This resulted in a “big left hook” that smashed whatever it hit but stayed tantalizingly out of reach by the rest of the Ork army. “It’s not about speed, it’s about distance.” 

On the Millenium Gate forum, Paul Hill detailed his “Target Priority List,” which I followed during this game. Here it is in his words:

Speed dies first. This is true regardless of your army. If you can outmaneuver your opponent, you win. Next to die are targets that can be killed relatively easily. This means Rhinos get shot before Land Raiders, Trukks way before Battlewagons (Trukks are both faster and softer). And finally knock out the best shooters and/or close combat specialists. Example: Dreads and Killer Kans before infantry. It is simply a better chance to permanently and thoroughly end a Dread’s assault. 
So as the fighting began, I dutifully shot up Pat’s Outriders, Dethkoptas, and Warbikes: they were coming across the board first. Fortunately, my vehicles were leading my advance and didn’t give them many opportunities to do damage. As my Dreads finished off the Warbikes, I trained the big guns on Pat’s Trukks, then the Warbuggies and Skorchas, then R2Ork2 and the Killer Kans, then the Boar Boyz. 

Once those were negated, I unloaded on any infantry that was around. Yes, yes, I know, I know: don’t sweat the big guns, sweat the little guys. But as Pat was leading with the “big guns,” (or in this case, the “way-fast hand-to-hand monsters”) the paramount thing I had to do was keep them off my infantry and vehicles. In general, I followed Paul’s list but ignored it when an Ork unit of any kind threatened to get too close. 

Fighting Tigers roll down the field
Above: The Tigers keep pushing forward at a 6" pace, firing as they go.

You do know what the victory conditions are, don’t you?” Pat asked me this about midway through the game, when his Orks owned half the board (but still weren’t in range of my guys). Sure, I knew the victory conditions. In “First Blood,” you get +100 Victory Points for every table quarter you can claim at the end of the game. I was willing to let Pat have the other three table quarters if I could kill more of his army than he could of mine. In the end, Pat claimed two table quarters, I had another, and the last was contested. If this was “Cleanse,” he would have won.

Did my plan work perfectly? Of course not: “No plan survives contact with the enemy.” I neglected to take a shot at Sho-T BigHed when he was in the sights of the Vedic Siege Gun and I paid dearly for that mistake. Sho-T and his bodyguard attacked the right side of my line. They tore through all three Dreadnoughts, my Gray Tigers, the Emperor’s Champion, Raja Shamshir Talatra, and part of two Scout squads before I finally finished them off with my Librarian and Chaplain. In particular, the Librarian’s force weapon, with its ability to kill multi-wound creatures (such as Nobz) with one hit proved to be very useful.

Pat’s Looted Basilisk, which was at the other end of the table, also gave me a lot of problems. With my army packed into one corner of the board, the Basilisk was taking out something even if it didn’t land on target. It blew away most of my “bait” Tactical Squad, destroyed my Vindicator before it fired a shot, and obliterated my Predator Annihilator and one of my Razorbacks (not before they did quite a bit of damage, though). 

The Basilisk also caused some incidental infantry casualties. I probably should have sent a squadron of Land Speeders in my first Reserve wave to deal with the Basilisk before it pounded my guys, but I was more concerned about killing all the fast Ork stuff at the other end of the board. I would rather lose a vehicle or two (or even three) than let Pat’s Trukk Boyz and Killer Kans get anywhere near my lines. 

So that’s how I managed to pull off this upset win. Because I managed to “kill” Sho-T and gain an objective, we’ll consider this as the Tigers having at last succeeded in their mission (“Assassinate Ork leader”) to knock the Warboss out of the war—at least for the time being. Sho-T, like any 40K character, can never really “die.”

Battle #16: Pat's thoughts
PatFrom a player’s perspective, there is something innately cool about fielding all of your models during the course of the battle. For this battle in particular, I spent hours painting and preparing my army. Because battles this large are not played too frequently, there is inherently more of an emotional investment. It becomes “an event” even if there is no real significance to the battle other than the size. And thus, there is the downside: the frustration when you end up losing after so much hard work.

Three things contributed to the defeat of the Orks, only the last of which I had any control over—and that one is the most important. 

First, there was the playing field (see below). Admittedly, the campaign has been set on a desert world, but as the board was set up there was absolutely nothing that blocked line of sight on the table, a table set up by my opponent.

The table: not enough terrain? Or just placed the wrong way?
Above: The table before the battle. Perhaps we should have moved more boulders into 
the middle and counted the oasis (at the far end of the table) as a wood.

Second, there was my opponent’s strategy. As anyone can tell you, the thought of facing an Ork horde is enough to make one queasy. My opponent’s strategy was to cluster his entire army to one side of the board and only fight half of the Orks, which is an effective strategy as long as you don’t let yourself get hemmed in. 

Which brings me to three, my own hubris. I came to the table thinking I could not lose, and then proceeded to react to my opponent rather than stick to my plan. Had I been more aggressive and continued with my plan, at least four units would have had a chance to reach close combat. As it was, I foolishly was distracted by the tanks on my right flank and ended up sacrificing four units to a killing zone.

It’s hard after a battle of this magnitude to regain morale. I am mad at myself for not playing better. In time, I know that I will be ready to try and avenge the loss, but for now I am content to just sit and paint for awhile. Maybe the painted Boyz will perform better….
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The Blood Deserts of Auros IX
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© Copyright Patrick Eibel and Kenton Kilgore, July 2001


Fighting Tigers:
Codex <> Tactics <> Gallery <> Allies and Enemies <> Tales of the Tigers

Other Pages:
Main <> What's New <> Site Index <> The Tiger Roars <> Themed Army Ideas
Events and Battle Reports <> Campaigns <> Terrain <> FAQ <> Beyond the Jungle