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The Blood Deserts of Auros IX
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The Blood Deserts
of Auros IX: Battle Summaries (Battle #13)
#13: Midnight at the Oasis (2000
points per side)
The greenskin Nob clutched at his belly, holding in his intestines, but bellowed his defiance. Zaghnal Maratha pounced on him, striking the choppa from his hand, then stabbing the barbaric warrior through his black heart. The Tigers of Kali struck, hacking down the Orks. In a matter of moments, the fight was over.
The battle was going well. The Orks had tried again to break through the encircling Tigers—and again they had failed. He turned to Devi Derakshani, Veteran Sergeant of the Tigers of Kali. “Let us press our advantage and move toward—”
He stopped. A report from a squad of Tigers of Puchan—a scout unit—was coming in. By accident, they had found an oasis nearby. One that was not on any of the maps the Tigers had. Fresh, clear water, the report said. Lots of it. Enough for an army.
“Change of orders!” he shouted. He was on the commnet again, re-directing units and placing Jirbu Ghosh in charge of the mop-up now that the battle here was won. As Zaghnal Maratha and the Tigers of Kali bounded off, towards the oasis, he suddenly realized how thirsty he was.
WHAT WE DID DIFFERENTLY: I had won the initiative with Battle #12, but rather than re-run one of the missions I had failed before, I thought it would be more fun to come up with a brand new scenario to go along with a new piece of terrain--an oasis--that I had created.
Probably the biggest change from the Auros IX campaign rules is that this is a “jump ball” scenario—because water is so important in the desert, you don’t have to have the initiative to claim this objective. In addition, the winner will not only claim an objective but will also “take the initiative”: he will decide what the next game will be (one of his missions, of course) and be the attacker.
POST-GAME ANALYSIS: Like all the other parts of the Auros IX campaign, this was meant to be a friendly competition between folks who are more concerned with getting the “atmosphere” of the games right rather than who wins or loses.
Basically, the idea behind this scenario is a mad dash to the middle, then a mad dash back off the board; fighting is actually less important. We based most of the scenario’s parameters on the “Rescue” mission and threw in some extra elements for fun and atmosphere.
We used the Night Fighting rules for no other reason than Pat and I have a weakness for cheesy puns and we deliberately borrowed the scenario's title from Maria Muldaur's 1970s song of the same name. We used Reserves because forces are supposed to be coming from another battle already in progress. And we created the Desperate Circumstances rule (described in the scenario write-up) to help foot-sloggers get into the action.
Pat set up the scenery and I chose what deployment zone I wanted. Just for kicks, we included the Frogklam piece (above) I made (treated as a “Carnivore Lair”; see page 128 of the main rulebook). I wisely decided to deploy on the other side of the board, which forced Pat to give the monster a wide berth on each side During the game, by the way, the 'klam ate one of Pat’s mega-armored Nobz—GULP!
We also treated the oasis area itself as having lots of vegetation, enough to give anyone on the base of the piece a 6+ cover save. The spring itself has lots of red rocks around it: we counted these as giving a 5+ save to troops on or behind them.
PAT'S POST-GAME ANALYSIS: A scenario like "Midnight At The Oasis" seems perfectly suited to a Kult Of Speed army list. The ability to mount all your troops in trukks and battlewagons and go fast certainly would give the edge to the Orks for mobility. Unfortunately, I was still building and painting my Kult of Speed, so I was limited to the regular Ork army I already had assembled.
I decided to take as many large squads as possible to withstand being whittled away by Marine bolter fire. I also wanted to maximize my shooting with as many big shootas as possible by bringing Shoota Boyz and Flash Gitz. The shooting Orks would provide cover fire for the assault Orks. For speed, I brought a squad of Boar Boyz (see p. 254 of the main rulebook) and Trukkboyz, as well as Sho-T and his bodyguard in a Kustom Trukk (based on the old Armorcast battlewagon model and using the Vehicle Creation Rules from White Dwarf #251).
To round things out, there was a squad of Slugga Boyz, Stikk Bommas in a Battlewagon, some Kommandos and some Gretchin. The Slugga Boyz would focus on getting the water, while the Stikk Bommas and Kommandos would act as strategic strike forces to engage the enemy. The Gretchin would act as a screen and hopefully absorb enemy fire.
The plan worked pretty well, with the bulk of the troops surrounding the oasis. The Slugga boyz, Trukk boyz and even Sho-T concentrated on getting water while everything else tried to keep the Marines at bay. There were some unfortunate Reserve rolls, so that the Stikk Bommas did not arrive until Turn Four, but Kenton was having similar problems. The critical play of the game was destroying the Tiger Veteran Squad a round before the Assault Squad arrived. If the Orks had to face the combined force of both squads, they would not have fared so well.
One of the best things about this scenario was the collaborative nature of its creation. Kenton and I decided what the special rules and conditions would be before set-up and I think came up with a fair and interesting scenario. We decided to award Victory Points for water taken from the oasis to take the focus of the mission away from killing the enemy (not that there is anything wrong with those kind of missions). Also, using Night Fighting in scenarios adds such a different dimension to the game.
Special scenarios like this can keep the game interesting, especially when you play the same person over and over again. Changing the terms of victory, the setting, or the organization chart can all have an effect on how you approach the mission.
KENTON'S POST-GAME ANALYSIS: Make no mistake about it, I had a tough assignment ahead of me. I had to move quickly to the center of the board, repulse a foe whose specialty is close combat, and then get back off the board. In addition, Night Fighting and the Desperate Circumstances rules handicapped me.
I lost this game because I tried to “fight fire with fire” by throwing expensive (and ultimately futile) hand-to-hand units (like Assault Squads and Veterans) at the Orks. I thought for sure that if my Assault Squad and Veteran Squad got to the oasis before the Orks, they could hold the greenskins off and secure victory.
Guess what? Thanks to the Reserve and Desperate Circumstances rules, the Assault Squad and the Veteran Squad did not reach the oasis before the Orks. In fact, they didn’t even reach the oasis at the same time, allowing the Orks to go after one, crush it, then go after the other. And while either of those squads does well against the Ork unit they charge (usually crippling it or wiping it out), they get pummeled by the unit right behind the Orks they charged. This has happened so many times, I’ve lost track. Vet Squad charges Ork Mob A and gobs of Orks die. Then in the next turn, Mobs B and C charge in to defend what’s left of Mob A and crush Vets. Lord, I hate when I let that happen.
What I should have done was leave the Assault and Veteran Squads at home and taken a lot of big guns instead, to throw so much firepower into that oasis that no greenskin would have gotten near it.
The Desperate Circumstances rule aided Pat more than me. Our theory behind it was to give the Orks the speed to reach the oasis and get back to the board edge, but in practice, what it did was get them to the oasis faster—and thus, into hand-to-hand combat faster. The rules negated the speed advantage I had by taking Rhinos and jump packs (we had decided that jump pack troops could not use Desperate Circumstances), and, in fact, the Ork units that got off the board were ones that had transports.
This is not to say that the rule is unbalanced or that Pat cheated—far from it. It just didn’t help me much because I hadn’t taken it into account when I put together my army list. The only units I had that could benefit were my Scouts—who didn’t move anyway, because they sat back and shot with their sniper rifles and heavy bolters. If I had taken more units on foot, the rule would have been more useful.
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© Copyright Patrick
Eibel and Kenton Kilgore, December 2000
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