1500 Point Imperial Guard Vs Thousand Sons: Cities of Death
Ahriman the Sorcerer stood underneath the light of a flickering streetlamp in the early dawn. The city around him burned and rocked from the destructive power of hundreds of artillery shells. The local PDF was quite indescriminate in their efforts to destroy him and his servants as they did their work in the heart of the city. While their non-stop bombardment was of little real concern to him, it was causing disruptions of his work. This, of course, could not be allowed, and it seemed as though the ancient Master Librarian would be forced to silence the guns himself.
From beneath his voluminous robes, Ahriman produced a small box, gilded in iron and etched with ancient glyphs. Though not much larger than his two hands put together, the item was so heavy that it cracked the asphault of the street when he dropped to the ground. Crouching next to it, he whispered, "Arise, tormented spirits of Xaranth...your time of vengance is nigh!"
At first there was little change, but then small tendrils of smoke began to leak out from the seams of the ancient container. Inky black and so thick as to have nearly physical substance, the smoke congealed in dark, writhing pools of fog around Ahriman's boots. He could feel the psychic screams of the mortal souls that made up the cursed vapor--psychic screams that could tear flesh apart and render even the strongest man into a heap of pulsating, mutated flesh. It even took a conscious effort for Ahriman to fight back their onslaught, but, in the end, the master sorcerer brought them to heel.
Motioning towards the Imperial artillery battery at the other side of the city, Ahriman ordered the Black Fog of Xaranth forth. "Go, take your vengance on the flesh of the living."
Moving with unnatural speed, the Fog spread and advanced, chittering and cackling madly as it sensed its prey. Silently, Ahirman strode after it.
Okay, so after a few weeks of grumbling about how miserable the new Chaos Codex had made me, I decided to put my hanky away and give the new list a whirl. After some deliberation, I figured that the best balance between fluff and efficacy I could manage would be to take lots and lots of spawn. Not having the models, I proxied them all with large black bases that my opponent, Ryan, had lying around. We played an Omega-level Cities of Death game. The mission was 'Domination'.
Ahriman's Cabal of the Black Fog
Ahriman the Sorcerer
8 Rubrics w/Sorcerer (Warptime, Meltabombs)
8 Rubrics w/Sorcerer (Wind of Chaos)
1 Land Raider w/Dozer Blade, Havoc Launcher
1 Defiler (TL Autocannon, TL H.Flamer)
STRATEGEMS: Wrecker (Defiler), Demolition, Barbed Wire
Imperial Artillery Company
Command HQ Platoon
-Command Squad w/Senior Officer (power weapon, surveyor),
Commissar (power weapon), Grenade Launcher
-2 Mortar Squads
-1 Heavy Bolter Squad
1 Infantry Platoon
-Platoon HQ w/Junior Officer (power weapon),
Commissar (powerfist), Autocannon
-Squad A (Autocannon)
-Squad B (Heavy Bolter)
-Squad C (Lascannon)
1 Armored Fist Squad (flamer + Commissar w/power weapon)
in Chimera (Multilaser, Heavy Bolter)
6 Rough Riders w/Hunting Lances
1 Hellhound (w/Heavy Stubber)
1 Demolisher (Lascannon, no sponsons)
STRATEGEMS: Sewer Rats, Demolition, Combat Engineers
Terrain and Deployment
The 'Domination' Mission called for us to control as many buildings as possible at the end of the game--victory points were immaterial, even on Omega. Fortunately, with all the fine city terrain Ryan has built for our use over the couple months, we had plenty of buildings to fight over. The South Quadrant held an intact building and part of a long 2-story office building long its NW edge. Moving towards the West Quadrant, there was most of the Office building as well as a 3-story apartment building very near the board's center. The far western corner had some rocky ridges, while the apartment building had a small shed in its 'back yard.' Directly east of this, in the Eastern Quadrant, there was a small city park (again, very near board center) and a large four-story dual apartment complex that straddles the east and northern Quadrants. Finally, in the far east there was a large crater. The North Quadrant had a large, one-story restaurant. Ryan won the deployment roll, and chose the North Quadrant.
After this, I distributed as much barbed wire as I could to clog of the city streets, making any attempt by Ryan to move his troops into buildings somewhat difficult.
In deployment, Ryan placed his mortar squads and two griffons at the back end of the restaurant, with the Command HQ and the lascannon squad deploying along its SW wall, facing towards the dual-apartment complex and the largely open territory along the NW board edge. His Hellhound strengthened his eastern flank, while the Chimera, Rough Riders, and Demolisher deployed facing the western quadrant. His Heavy Bolters, not having much of anywhere to go, sat in the open behind the Demolisher and Chimera. The other two infantry squads and their Platoon HQ deployed in reserve, as sewer rats (manhole covers were likewise distributed liberally throughout the board).
For my deployment, I was placed in the awkward position of having a massive intact building taking up most of my deployment zone. Checking my sightlines to make certain there wasn't a firing solution from the IG's lascannon, I deployed my Defiler atop this building. To its east went the 'Wind' Rubric Squad as well as a trio of Spawn, to its west went the 'Melta' Rubrics with a trio of Spawn in front of them, and another trio of Spawn went right in front of the Defiler. Behind the Melta Rubrics went Ahriman and the Land Raider. My basic plan, such as it was, was to allow the Spawn to run forwards and cause mischief while, hopefully diverting some fire. It would be the Land Raider/Ahriman's job to pop any vehicles that slowed the spawn up, while the Defiler and Rubrics moved into position to take objectives. I set the dual apartments to blow up with the Demolition Strategem in turn 2.
Whole Board (Taken from Southwest)
I started out by, uncharacteristically, winning first turn. Unfortunately, with a whole mess of urban terrain between me and my enemies, there wasn't a whole lot to be done. The Spawn charged forwards, heading towards the closest enemy, which happened to be the Chimera. Making a mental note to blow up the Chimera by the next turn or so (to prevent Spawn wastage), I loaded up the Melta Rubrics into the Land Raider and gunned it 12" to the western quadrant, whereafter I popped smoke (hell--they give you the things for free, why not use them?). Ahriman followed up closely behind, managing to toss a trio of Bolts of Change at the front armor of the Demolisher. I managed to score a penetrating hit (yay AP1!) which was downgraded to a glance (boo obscured!), and shook it for the next round. The Defiler clambered off its building and into the park and took a battlecannon shot at the Chimera, but missed. Finally, the Wind Rubrics marched slowly forward along the eastern flank, looking at nothing much.
Ryan's turn was somewhat more productive. Firstly, his armored fist squad trooped into the dual apartments, occupying the first and second floors on the northern side. Then, his Demolisher trundled forward 12" towards the Land Raider, while the Chimera scooted a couple inches over some debris between the triple-decker apartments and the dual apartment complex, firing its multilaser at some Spawn, wounding one. The Hellhound blasted 12" east, and the Command HQ made for the dual apartments, but didn't roll high enough on difficult terrain to make it inside. The rough riders, though all of this, stayed more or less in the same spot, waiting for a ripe target to charge, while the lascannon in the IG squad occupying the restaurant took a cross-board shot at the Land Raider that missed. Finally, the sundry artillery of the IG opened up. One Griffon blast killed three of the Wind Rubrics, losing 69 points of chaos to a single, 75 point tank (lousy one-wound, cut-rate rubrics!). Then, the remainder of the shots (6 mortars and another Griffon) pounded the same Spawn squadron, killing 1 and wounding another. Frustrating for him, but vindicating for myself--the Spawn were diverting fire!
The Imperials Sound the General Advance
My second turn saw my spawn continue to shamble ahead, some faster and some slower, towards the Chimera (still the closest unit). Not wanting them to waste their assault move against the front armor of a tank, I moved Ahirman towards the north in order to blast the Chimera to pieces with a single Bolt of Change. This, in turn, permitted two groups of spawn to assault the Armored Fist squad in the apartment buildings immediately after that same building exploded due to my Demolition strategem. The explosion killed two guardsmen and wounded the Commissar, and the ensuing tide of unholy, viscous fog quickly consumed the remainder. Before they could, though, the commissar took one last wound off of the spawn mortars had winged the round before. Nevertheless, this allowed four spawn to consolidate through the smoking ruins into the Command HQ squad on the other side.
Elsewhere, the Land Raider scooted up and blasted the Demolisher's front armor with a lascannon, but failed to do any damage. The melta rubrics also disembarked from the beast and, finding themselves out of charge range of the Demolisher, took some pot-shots at the Rough Riders, killing two. In the south quadrant, the Defiler took a battlecannon shot across the board at one of the Griffons, but it scattered off and killed a lone guardsman in the lascannon squad, instead. Finally, the wind rubrics roll a 2 on their difficult terrain, and just spread themselves out a bit.
Ahriman toasts the Chimera at long range.
'The Black Fog' seeps through the building to eat some command personell.
In Ryan's half of the turn, his sewer rats show up. The autocannon squad pops up in the office building behind the Defiler, the heavy bolter squad shows up behind intact building near the wind rubrics, and the Platoon HQ (with its powerfist and autocannon) show up behind the Land Raider. Ryan had intended the Platoon HQ to pepper what he presumed to be the weaker rear armor of the Land Raider. When he was informed that there was no such thing as 'weak armor' on a LR, his platoon HQ popped their smoke grenades and waited to be pummelled. Another oversight we both made was that I forgot that units arriving from the sewers counted as moving, and therefore couldn't fire heavy weapons. Fortunately for me, though Ryan fired his other autocannon (the one in the full squad) at the rear of the Defiler, only a single shaken result came of it, which the daemonic engine just shook off. Also, the combined lasgun and heavy bolter fire at the wind rubircs only killed one, and that one was killed by a lasgun. As far as I'm concerned, the rule oversight resulted in no real change.
Back at the front lines, the Demolisher fired its big gun at the Land Raider, hoping to destroy it, but it scattered onto the melta rubrics, instead, killing 2 (and I am forced to give a lukewarm cheer for their invulnerable save). The heavy bolter squad along with most of the mortars also pounded my poor rubrics, causing me to lose another 2. Some scattered other shots hit the last and only unengaged group of spawn, but only managed to take off 2 wounds and, thus, no spawn were lost. Finally, in assault, the Rough Riders attempted to assist the Command HQ by charging the spawn with which they were engaged, and caused 4 wounds. In response, the spawn ripped up a rider and a guardsman. They lost combat but, being mindless, they didn't really give a damn. Realizing the combat was soon to be lost, the Hellhound made its way back towards the melee in the hopes of nabbing the spawn when they were out of combat.
The Guard tries to goose the Defiler
Rough Riders' Counter-assault
To start turn 3, my remaining group of unengaged spawn find themselves closest to the Demolisher, and run up to its side. In keeping with my 'spawn leapfrog doctrine', I proceed to have Ahriman toss another trio of Bolts of Change at the thing's side armor, immobilizing and stunning it, and then finish it off with a meltabomb from the melta rubrics. This enables the spawn to attempt a charge at the *next* closest unit, which are the heavy bolters, though they had no such luck this round. The Land Raider, bereft of any better targets for the nonce, perfomed an about face and, glowering at the tiny guardsmen half-hidden behind their smoke screen, blasted at them for all it was worth. Several crappy dice rolls and nice cover saves later, the various armaments of the ancient warmachine fail to kill a single member of the platoon HQ. Things went more smoothly elsewhere, though. First, the wind rubrics tore apart the heavy bolter squad to their rear with a wind of chaos which killed 7 and a volley of bolter fire that finished off the other three. Then the Defiler turned around and killed 8 guardsmen in the office building with a heavy flamer and autocannon, and then charged to mangle the remaining two, there. So much for 'opening a 5th column'.
In the assault with the riders/officers, one remaining spawn killed all remaining guardsmen in the Command HQ, while the others finished off two of the rough riders, who promptly fled and were run down. However, since those same spawn were mindless, they consolitdated into the Commissar and officer, who were still locked in a desperate struggle with the unholy Fog.
The Platoon HQ stares down a Land Raider
Only the Officer and Commissar remain...
In Ryan's half of the turn, he parked his Hellhound as close as he could to the Spawn fighting the Commissar/Officer so that, when they were eaten (as they were moments later), they were forced to charge towards it. The rest of Ryan's flagging firepower was devoted to killing the melta rubrics and last remaining spawn. The combined mortars, lasguns, and heavy bolters killed two more rubrics and accounted for another spawn, but my advance wasn't terribly slowed.
It looked as though I'd have Ryan on the ropes this time around, as my slow inexorable advance tightened the noose around the artillery squads holed up in the restaurant at the north end of town. Ahirman blasted a Griffon with a Bolt of Change, while the melta rubrics shot and then slaughtered the heavy bolter squad in hand-to-hand. The spawn advanced, too, but did little--the one group just pounding their psychic onslaught against the hull of the Hellhound while the other didn't roll high enough to assault much of anything (but were heading for the lascannon squad). The Land Raider, embarrassed from its performance last turn, obliterated the Platoon HQ from existence. The Defiler, having nothing much in LOS, shambled into the street to decide what building it would occupy.
In his turn, Ryan blew up the office building, leaving me with only one scoring objective in my range to occupy. The rest of his shooting attempted to blast away the spawn encroaching on the lascannon squad, but couldn't quite destroy them--a single spawn with a single wound remained. The Hellhound likewise killed a spawn with its various weaponry and kept backing up to lead the mindless beasts away.
The artillery company stands alone
At this point, Ryan and I took stock of our situations. I had one building in my possession whenever I wanted it (the triple decker apartment), while Ryan had another (the restaurant). In the remaining 2 turns (maybe more), I *might* have been able to kill/run off the remaining 22 guardsmen and single griffon + Hellhound that he had protecting his objective, but there was no *way* he was going to push me anywhere. His entire assault had been blunted and turned aside. In the interest of time, we elected to call it a draw. We shook hands, and tallied up our losses.
Thousand Sons: 1 Objective, ~650VP
Imperial Guard: 1 Objective, ~240VP
Well, I must say I was happy with the way this little list of mine performed. I realize that it isn't the most optimized thing in the world, but it is lots of fun and gives the Ksons the eldritch, sorcerous feel they deserve (rather than just being an over-expensive mechanized list with no variation). The spawn weren't game winners, but they were excellent distractions and kept elements of the enemy busy. Admittedly, I was playing an opponent who made some big mistakes and was using a list not terribly optimal for taking on Chaos (it was a list he had devised for fighting hordes), but it's success proves that I can play this and not necessarily be obliterated *or* be forced to use units I don't want to.
As a final note, Ahriman is SCARY! The guy is a walking artillery company, and I daresay he is worth every point. I will, of course, need to experiment further, but I think he has a good future in my army lists.
As usual, thanks for reading and thanks to my opponent! I was a good time!