The small temple had stood in the valley since before the river had cut a wound down through it. Countless lives had been poured out over the flagstones over the centuries, and soaked through the soil to mix with the the brackish river water.
Before the sun rose, Zelos planned to add the cultists following his legionaries to the tally and bend the temple's bound spirits to his will.
In celebration of Ørnulv finishing his new gaming table, I brought 2000 points of my Word Bearers to face off against his Ultramarines. As I'm writing this, it's been almost a week since the game. Life's hard! ;)
Deployment: Vanguard Strike
Ørnulv had already set up terrain, so we just went ahead and rolled for table edges. Ørnulv won the roll, and forced me into the corner encircled by the river. We each placed two objectives; by the woods to the left in the picture above, by the temple ruins, in the crater across the river and behind the woods to the right.
I rolled for Night Fight, scoring a two. Ørnulv then deployed his entire army, save a single Land Speeder, covering the two objectives in his Deployment Zone in a blanket of blue. I deployed my Chaos Space Marines in a line abreast formation along the edge of my Deployment Zone from the leftmost woods towards where the river met the long table edge. Way back on the hill in my corner, more than 48" away from from the myriad of heavy weapons in Ørnulv's army, I placed my Defiler. He'd have to advance for a turn or two if he wanted to be rid of it! I left a mob of Cultists, a squad of Terminators and squadron of Bikes in Reserves.
I declined to Seize the Initiative, thinking it better to retain the last move towards the end of the game.
Ørnulv left the Defiler to its own devices, and advanced only a few inches before opening fire. One of the Rhinos had lost a hull Point and my Vindicator was burning brightly by the time the fusillade ended, earning the Ultramarines a Victory Point for First Blood and giving Ørnulv a one point lead.
I raced my two Rhinos across the river, reasoning that if I could Assault Ørnulv's Tactical squad holding the objective behind the woods around round three he'd have to focus on countering my attack and redeploying to retain/regain control of the objective rather than any plan he had to come across the river and take any of mine. The Defiler took out three Devastators with a Battle Cannon shot, but the rest of the CSM shooting didn't amount to anything more than a couple of dead marines in the woods.
The single Land Speeder in Reserves came on this turn, and while it didn't do much this turn it'd be instrumental in how this game turned out in the end. The rest of the Ultramarines continued to consolidate their position and pour as much fire into the Word Bearers as possible, wrecking both Rhinos at least one turn too earlier than I'd hoped and leaving their occupants a little too far away. One of the Vindicators in particular dealt a serious blow by taking out six Chaos Legionaries as they exited their Rhino on my right flank. The squad from the other Rhino was reduced to just two models, each carrying a Meltagun.
In my turn my Terminators teleported in to support the very tenuous foothold I did have on the 'blue' side of the river, and to stop Ørnulv from outflanking my position with the aforementioned Vindicator and two Land Speeder Typhoons he'd moved up along the short table edge. I couldn't touch the Vindicator, but did manage to blow up one Typhoon and wreck the other. The Defiler fired clean across the table at a Tactical squad with Plasma weapons backing up the Vindicator. After a follow-up Plasma Cannon salvo from the Obliterators, just the heavy weapon specialist and two Battle Brothers remained.
With the Typhoons now gone, the Ultramarines Vindicator and remaining marines from the Combat Squad backed away from the Terminators. An annoyingly accurate round of fire saw only one Anointed remaining. Further fire saw a few more Legionaries by the temple removed, but the cultists that had started in reserves were moving down the slope towards that position. Several shots were fired at the two Word Bearers with Meltaguns, but they made good use of the cover provided by the temple and avoided any harm. The Land Speeder with Multi-Meltas moved as fast as possible out on my left flank
The Obliterators that had been hanging out in a crater near my long table edge, being pretty much ineffective all game, saw a golden opportunity when one of the Ultramarines Vindicators presented its side armour to fire at my Terminators. Only one of them actually managed to hit with its Lascannon, and even then had to settle for Stunning it.
The Multimelta Land Speeder crossed the river on my left flank but didn't quite make it to within 12". The Defiler remained undamaged. Most of the centrally positioned Ultramarines focused on the Word Bearers melta squad, reducing it to a single model that failed it's Break test (6+5) and fell back almost to the table edge (6+6). The Marines on my right flank focused on the single remaining Terminator until it too was gone.
This was not going well! I had been down a point since turn one and needed to do something to remedy the situation before it was too late - if it wasn't already. I realized Ørn had given me a chance at Line Breaker by moving his Land Speeder across the river, so I moved the Defiler down towards it and had it rip the little paper plane to shreds. The cultists that came on form Reserves a couple of turns earlier moved up and took control of the objective by the temple. My Bike Squadron came in from Reserves over on the other side of the table, moving up behind the wreck of the Land Speeder. They took out the last three Marines from the closest Tactical Squad, and my remaining Melta squad took two hull points off the Vindicator on that flank.
...and then Night fell. At the roll of a dice, the massive long-range advantage the Ultramarines had enjoyed for four turns pretty much went away. The woods and the temple had offered decent cover thus far, but from here on out all the cultists had to do was to hug the ground and take the few bullets with specific names on them. The Ultramarines was making no moves to cross the river, Ørnulv apparently content with a one-point win. He did take the time to send all the Word Bearers on the right flank back to the Warp. All save the two Aspiring champions, that is.
In my center, the Cultist just adjusted their positions a little. On my left, the Defiler moved and ran to try and get far enough across the river. On my right flank, I had the two Aspiring Champions. They had a shot at pulling the closest Tactical Squad off of one of Ørnulv's objectives. If the game ended after this turn, that could actually win the game for me. Both the champions made it into close combat just fine, and I decided to challenge with the Bike champion because he'd be harder for Ørn's Librarian (and Warboss!) to wound. It wasn't enough, and I lost both my models to no dead Ultramarines. To top it off, Ørn rolled a three for the Sweeping Advance roll and moved right back into control range of his objective.
Fortunately for me, the game didn't end there. The Ultramarines consolidated their positions and fired pot-shots at whatever they could see in the darkness. I lost a few more cultists, and the two lone Melta gunners, but everybody held their nerves.
When my turn came around, I moved the Defiler up towards the Ultramarine Dreadnought with Twin Lascannons and Missile Launcher. The Dreadnought had been firing at the Defiler for the last few turns, but nothing had come of it. I declared the assault and rolled the dice. With what was probably the luckiest dice-roll I made all game, The defiler made it across the ten inches separating it from the Dreadnought. A couple of Strength 6 attacks was not enough to kill the possessed war machine, but the six Strength 10 attachs from the Defiler was more than enough to kill the Ultramarine hero a second time. More importantly though, as I (with more glee that is becoming of a gentleman gamer) explained after the dice had decided that the game ended there: The one Victory Point that the Defiler making it into his Deployment Zone granted me turned his game long one-point win into a tie.
Ultramarines: 3+3+1 VPs
Word Bearers: 3+3+1 VPs
A good, exiting game and a worthy opening act on the new Rural table. Looking forward to many more!