In case you were wondering, some of the parts to make my groovy Rough Riders were sculpted by Rob at Curious Constructs.

Monday, 31 March 2014

The Confrontation of Tartarus Tor: A farewell to 5th ed Imperial Guard

With the new Guard codex on the horizon, it was with much glee that I managed to squeeze in one final battle with the rule set that has been my 40k life blood for the last 5 years (since May 2009!!).  At the beginning of March I dispatch an invite to a small coterie of 40k heroes for a two on two, 4000 point a side battle at my place.  This party of heroes comprised of my regular opponent James and his Space Marines, fellow blogger Liam (Muppet) with his Guard and Ultramarines, Dale joined by his Space Wolfs, and me (Ray aka Col. Ackland, aka The Beard) leading my Guard. Seeing that James and I had played against eachother many times I teamed up with him for this one.

Over the month, while we taunted eachother on Facebook, James and I secretly honed our two lists and we planned and planned and planned. One night I sat with James at his diningroom table surrounded by codices and lists talking strategy for hours. It felt like doing homework at a friend’s house – and boy we really did our ‘homework’ on those lists! In the words of Sun Tzu “every battle is won before it is ever fought”. This morning, before the battle, when Dale said to Liam “So what are you taking?” we both released that our opponents would be relying on their martial skills rather than careful planning.

Our Strategy 
Our plan consisted of having a well dug in defensive position and a fast, hard hitting vanguard force. We'd use the defensive position to hide/protect our Warlords and fill it with big guns to pound the enemy in the first few turns. 

Expecting that the defensive position would draw incoming pods and deepstriking units we added an Icarus lascannon, a quad autocannon and also Inquisitor Cotez. He would allow the squad that he joined to get a free out of turn shot at anything that dropped in within 12". The core of the defensive position was it's big guns; two Manticores, two Earthshakers and three Heavy Mortars, protected by defence lines, two blobs of 30 guardsmen, a hand full of Space Marines, an Inquisitor with conversion beamer, lots of Guard officers, two Guard lascannon teams and two squads of Guard melta vets on each flank. 

The vanguard force was decked out with six Land Speeders (with melta, flamer and heavy bolter combinations), three melta Attack Bikes,  two flame and melta Dreadnoughts in pods, two Vindicators, and two Chimerias with five Inquisitional Psykers each (both delivering a nice S7 AP2 5" blast). To boost all of these flamers and meltas, James took Vulkan as his Warlord allowing  his Space Marines 'Salamanders' lots of re-rolls.

For anti air we had the defence line guns and we also added a Vendetta for good measure. Finally, with the points that were left we through in two 5 man squads of Scout Snipers, 5 Ratings, and 3 Inquisitional Servo Skulls to direct artillery and pods, coming to a nice 2000 points each.

To win victory points, our plan was to have the artillery attempt to take out both enemy Warlords. The vanguard force would hit hard and deep into their lines so if they survived they would take Line Breaker. We'd try and get first turn or use Cortez's ability to re-roll to Seize the Initiative to have our best chances at First Blood. Early in the game the focus would be on destroying the enemy and late in the game would be to move on one or two of the objectives.

The Story
-This has built over many many battles now. Some have been blogged about while others haven't.

Previously: Commissar-General Marwood (and an understrength regiment of Teutons) ended up on the plant (HD85512) mostly by accident. James’s Space Marines attacked them with no initial reason given. The Marines had been standing sentinel over the planet for some time and apparently had a really good reason not to let anyone be there.

One damaged frigate escaped and got word back to Segmentum Command about the attack. Bakka was worried that these apparent ‘rebel’ Space Marines would use the planet as a staging ground to attack a major shipping rout to Bakka, so a Praetorian Guard force was dispatched. They rescued the Commissar-General and had several well fought punch-ups with the Marines.
Things got interesting when Col. Ackland led a cavalry charge against the Space Marines while they were moving a ‘relic’. Initially they failed to retrieve the relic but later the cavalry uncovered what looked like entrances to an underground structure and two artefacts; broken golden automata both in the aspect of large winged insects. After news of this reached Segmentum Command it seemed they were concerned.  They ordered Commissar-General Marwood and a small group of Praetorians to take the objects off world and find a certain Inquisitor and Magos Xenologist who apparently would know what they were.

In an early exploration of the planet, possible deep underground structures had been noted.  Elsewhere in the Segmentum this had been a sign of a terrifying new treat to the Imperium. Hence, a large relief force of Imperial Guard and Space Marines (Dale and Liam’s forces) were also sent to take control of the planet and investigate these possible structures.

But just as they arrive things take an unexpected turn….
In one of the previous battles with (James’) Marines a Psyker Primaris named Azzopardi, dropped into a coma mid-battle suffering ‘Perils of the Warp’ (I rolled double 1's twice!). During this psychic concussion, uncontrolled warp energy surges through the Psykers mind, driving him to the brink of insanity. He saw glimpses of possible futures. Dark horrible futures. Now, by the Emperor’s Holy Will he fought back and regained his consensus. He beseeched the Praetorian Commander not to let anyone journey beneath the surface lest they wake the sleeping doom that resided there.

The commanders of the relief force (a Cadian Major, Ultramarines Chaplin and Space Wolves Rune Priest) were more concerned with following orders from Bakka then the crazy ranting’s of a burnt-out psyker. To the Praetorians however, Azzopardi was glorified to be a ‘divine soul’ having stood against the might of the warp and remained true to the Holy Emperor. In a further twist an Inquisitor had mysteriously reviled herself and pulled the ‘renegade Marines’ back into line. These ‘other’ Marines were also adamant that no one could enter the underground structures.

Although peace had finally been won, Major-General Sigenandus was unable to maintain control over all of the Imperial forces on the planet. At Tartarus Tor, the location of the supposed access points to the subterranean structures, two forces faced off.  Azzopardi aka ‘The Psyker Saint’ and the Inquisitor had deployed on the east side of the hill, while the relief force was to the west. The relief force moved in and preemptively fired the first shot…

The pre-game board set up
A nice big 5 by 9 foot battlefield. 

Out post 306 and the hill 'Tartarus Tor' running across the centre.

The two blue hatchways are the objectives, representing the access points to the subterranean structures. 

Extra tables for food, drink, rules and casualties.

The Battle bigins!

While I was expecting to deploy along the long edges we rolled up the short end deployment format. I then foolishly said 24” deployment zones forgetting that there was still 3 feet between us. It gave a cinematic battle but the distance was a bit too far. 

A horribly blurry shot of our lines…

Deploying that much artillery, behind loads of men and defence lines, way back in the corner of the board earned me the nickname of ‘The Beard’ for my absolute beardy play. 
Me with my 'Beardy' face on! (photo from Liam's Blog post).
Liam ready to fire.

James looks on with concern.

The ‘rat-a-tat’ of Autocannons.

James must deal with some uninvited Ultramarines in turn one.

Meanwhile James unleashes hell with his own drop pod dreadnoughts (the two on the right). Dale’s space wolf dreadnought (on the left) rounds the pod for some dreadnought on dreadnought action.
Burning Cadians! Somehow first blood wasn't awarded until turn 3!!

Cadians advance on the other flak. First their platoon HQ and then their company HQ are blown to pieces by artillery fire. 
At this point Dale and Liam have 3 VP’s for holding an objective while James and I only have 2 VP’s (Slay the Warlord and First Blood). Do they really think the game will be theirs??

My vendetta came on to the sound of “Flight of the Valkyries” playing in the background.

Turn 3 (by the number of Manticore rockets fired). The Guard had gunned down what seemed like hundreds of deepstriking Space Wolf Terminators at point blank range. 

Turn 4. Time to jump from cover and run at the objective (while the '1812 overture' played in the background).

Two Space Wolves get the jump of a group of Scouts while a lone Thunder Wolf leaps over the wall looking for an easy meal.

The lines are thinning

Space Wolf Devastators overlooking the battle from a perfect firing position.

Cadians holding the objective while Ultramarines march forward on foot to meet their doom.
Liam and I shoot each other with cameras.

End of game.

Liam gives me the finger, concerned that I'm taking a photo of his... crotch area
(or, as we were calling them on the day: "dick shots").
Our plan worked pretty well. I killed Liams Warlord and we scored First Blood then moved on one of the objectives late in the game. Liam and Dale were still holding their objective so the score was 5 to 3 our way.

Looking Back
The day was a ripper! I had the sound tracks to Ultramarines the movie, Space Marine the game and Dawn of War the game playing in the background to set the scene. Also on another stereo I had a loop of battlefield effect playing. I made it up especially for this game with loads of explosions, gun fine, rumble of tanks, sci-fi laser guns, whooshing drop pods and even the odd chainsaw - arr, chain sword. With loads of beer, nibbles, pizza and joking around it was our hobby the way it should be played. A chilled out backyard battle on a 30 degree Sunday in the suburbs - perfect. 

What it means for the story...
The 'Relief Force' took one entrance and the 'Original Force' took the other so I guess this battle may continue at some later stage down beneath the surface. I wonder what they will find down there??

Cheers for checking out our battle. 

Be sure to pop over to Muppets blog where he has some way better photos of our battle too!


  1. The lads are already talking Killteam - I'm tossing up between Inquisition, the Marines, Guard or some mix of them all.

    1. I'd like to look at a militarum tempestus Killteam. Which means building storm troopers. There is no way I could do them all as the new Scions. I think I will use those new minis as command models and convert the metal ones to match. fun fun fun :)

  2. Kool battle. And dependable weather to do in as well.

    Nice one !

    1. Cheers Zzzzzz, it certainly was a great day.

  3. What Zzzzzz said.

    Oh, and I'm glad I'm not the only one to use manticore missiles as a turn counter!

    1. LOL, yeah, in big games it is so easy to lose track!