Following the review of Grimdark Future, I thought it would be natural to post a small battle report of a game we had.
In the far reaches of space, on a backwater planet even further out than Melnibonea, so far out in fact that the planet doesn’t even have a proper name, but is just referred to as XB-29, lies the Imperial Colony 123. The colony has been busy mining minerals, and trying to weather the weather on XB-29 for a few decades, but lately the standard “We’re OK” radio card has stopped broadcasting. A nearby space marine chapter, The Solar Hawks, was despatched to the planet to investigate. Upon arrival they found that a Dark Angel battle ship was already in orbit around the planet. The two forces quickly communicated and settled on linking up for the investigation. The Dark Angels indicated that they were to be first in the communications center, under pain of death if anyone else went in before them.
To appease the Dark Angels, the Solar Hawk commander agreed to let the teleport a detachment of terminators in in advance. The terminators went to the vicinity of the colony, where he signs of the xenos were quickly apparent. The carcasses of lesser creatures were found here and there, and pointed to some sort of defense having been mounted by the colonists. No signs of the living were about. As the terminators advanced, they were suddenly engulfed by a tide of black and silver bodies. Communications were lost.
The operation now changed towards a focus on investigation and rescue. The Solar Hawks and Dark Angels decided to go in in force, as the dreaded Xenos enemy historically had proven to be always present in large numbers.
We played 2100 points armies. The imperials combined for 1000 points each roughly. From rough memory it was:
1 Brood Lord
1 Attack Bike
5 Assault Marines
We played the game with two additional rules: The activations used the Fog of War in which we drew random counters to see who got to activate (essentially like in Bolt Action). Two sets of dice were used as counters, and for each unit a die (colour coded by army) was placed in a bag. A black die draw would mean tyranids activated and a green/grey would mean marines.
Additionally we used the “Prolonged battle” meaning that the battle would last an unknown amount of turns. (roll at the end of turn 4, 4+ there’s a 5th turn, 5+ at the end of 5th turn, there’s a 6th turn and so on). I find that not knowing if you have the last turn is good for less static play (consolidating on objectives becomes more of a gamble and so on).
As has been custom lately, I forgot to take an overview of the deployment… however the below image comes close. We had 5 objective on the board, and deployed 12″ in from each long edge.
In the initial turns I tried to hog the terrain and advance to points where my great movement would allow a direct charge the following turn. In Grimdark the ‘Nids have a 18″ charge range, and you don’t have to have line of sight to your target. Pummeling a unit several times, with individual charges seems to be the way forward due to the fatigue rule. After a unit has fought once in a turn, it will only hit on 6’s in subsequent melees.
Applying this tactic allowed me to engange the unit of Dark Angels on the right flank, and the attack bike on the left flank. The Hormagaunts are really glass cannons (or maybe glass throwing stars).
Each Marine that goes down to a Hormagaunt is great, but it is hard work. The hormas hit on 5+ and the Marines block on 3+. If I had had my genestealers ready for a second wave charge, I could have finished the Dark Angels in one fell swoop.
I deployed my Carnifex across from the Dreadnought, with the specific aim of taking it out and consolidating on the objective afterwards. Despite the range of my gun, I just had to get within psychic range… which was a mistake in hindsight. The dread and the carni were both rather shooty. But the dread was probably happier about the melee than the carnifex. Eventually the Dread was snuffed by the Carnifex, that was left with 1 (out of 12) wounds.
The Solar Hawks advanced in the centre of the table through woods behind a screen of scouts. I tried to take them out with my termagants, but being in cover granted them a -1 to hit, and I needed 6’s which just didn’t happen. Eventually I redirected the termagants towards an objective instead.
Another attempt at double whamming a unit – my two units of raveners charge in two waves. The stats of the Raveners were somewhat underwhelming, compared to what I imagined (should have read closer). In fact they simply had 3 attacks each, hitting on 4+ and no rending/armour penetration to speak of. The attack bike survived with 3 out of 6 wounds left!
As all melee end with the combatants 1″ apart, the bike could swerve to the right and try to divide its fire. The idea was to take out a single termagant that was keeping me 1 activation die in the dice pool.
Now I popped my secret one trick pony! My Mawloc was capable of bursting out of the ground up to 1″ from the enemy. He would automatically deal damage to units within short range… in my case the ferocioius beast managed to kill a single marine. Disastrous! Not at all what I had anticipated, when planning this. The lack of tactical cunning was evident. I had stranded my best weapon in the middle of nowhere, in the pursuit of kills, out of range of most, if not all, objectives that were still being fought over.
From here the game boiled down to 3 defining moments:
First moment, was when the scouts killed the carnifex, and took the objective… and then the genestealers killed the scouts and took the objective. In turn they were killed by the Dark Angel leader who then took the objective.
Second moment was the Brood Lord going for the objective near the chemical containers. He could not get within charged range of the Assault Marines, but his Psychic Scream power could just about reach them. However, he failed to manifest the Warp powers, and was instead gunned down by the Marines, leaving the objective in their hands.
The the last ditch effort to force a draw was when I charged my remaining Ravener into the remnants of a Solar Hawks squad holding the leftmost objective. I rolled badly and the Ravener did not force a morale test or anything, but was instead killed itself leaving yet an objective to the Marines. This is probably where the Mawloc should have gone. But hindsight is 20/20.
As the game drew to a close, the only objective claimed by the Tyranids (indeed the only tyranid…) was the one in the Slurry Tank which was held by the Mawloc. The Tyranids got a sound beating on this one.
This was a truly thrilling and awesome game. We had lots of good laughs, and the game just flowed seamlessly, which is a rare thing from my recent experiences. We have already started planning the next game. Haha!
A huge thanks to Torben and Ezekiel for playing Grimdark Future with me!
Thanks for these posts; I hear much evangelism for OPR but not much citation of actual play in the wild.
Funny how the name of a rule can soothe or agitate. I detested “Random Game Length” (I know how long I have to play, the bus and the pub are calling, do not test me with uncontrollable extensions), but “Prolonged Battle” (the same rule but expressed as what it simulates rather than what it does) slips down much more easily.
Yeah, I think most battles are on YouTube these days. There’s quite a few GrimDark at least.
Oh, and I think random game length is essential. 😄
If you know you have the last turn you will be able to take objectives much more safely… when instead, you might have to brave another turn then you have to take that into account.