Battle Report – Dawn Raid

The Badab War got off to an explosive start as the Salamanders began their landings on Bellerophon’s Fall – but can the Mantis Warriors capitalise on the recent victory?

 

The Story So Far

The Salamanders had launched their surprise attack after the initial landings, targeting a small Mantis Warriors patrol that had taken shelter at a remote refinery. However, despite being caught off-guard, the Mantis Warriors repelled the attack, albeit with heavy casualties.

This threw the plans of the Salamanders into disarray for but a short time – but the Mantis Warriors, led by Epistolary Oromo, were quick to react. Utilising their guerrilla training, Oromo led an assault on one of the Salamanders’ staging areas, hoping to deliver a knock out punch that would leave the Loyalists reeling and open to further attacks.

The Salamanders would have to show a robust defence if their entire planetary landing was not to stall before it had really begun…

 

The Forces

We still do not have a huge range of miniatures to choose from for our forces (that will change soon enough!), but both Mantis Warriors and Salamanders managed to rouse some different units for this fight!

Mantis Warriors
Librarian (Epistolary Oromo): Level 2 Psyker, Meltabombs, Digital Weapons
Tactical Squad (9 marines): Veteran Sergeant (with Power Sword and Meltabombs), Grav Cannon, Graviton Gun, Rhino (with Extra Armour)
Tactical Squad (10 marines): Veteran Sergeant, Plasma Cannon, Meltagun, Rhino
Dreadnought: Twin-linked Lascannon
Dreadnought: Multi-melta
Land Speeder: Multi-melta
Land Speeder: Multi-melta x 2
Vindicator Squadron (3 tanks): Siege Shields
Stormraven: Multi-melta, Lascannon, Searchlight

The Vindicator squadron forms the hard-hitting core of this force – short-ranged, but nothing wants to move inside their ‘umbrella’ for long.

Salamanders
Captain: Artificer Armour, Lightning Claw, Primarch’s Wrath
Tactical Squad (10 marines): Multi-Melta, Flamer, Rhino
Tactical Squad (10 marines): Multi-Melta, Flamer, Rhino
Tactical Squad (10 marines): Multi-Melta, Flamer, Rhino
Ironclad Dreadnought: Heavy Flamer
Centurions (3 marines): Hurricane Bolters
Centurions (3 marines): Hurricane Bolters
Assault Squad (10 marines): Veteran Sergeant (Lightning Claw, Meltabomb), Jump Packs, Flamer x 2
Devastator Squad (8 marines): Lascannon x 2, Missile Launcher (Flak Missiles) x 2

The Salamanders have ditched their Predator and Stormtalon from the previous battle and, with a little jiggling of points, have included two squads of Centurions.

 

The Mission

Dawn Raid is an objective-based battle, with one objective in the centre and another in every ‘quarter’ except the one the Mantis Warriors start in. The Night Fighting rules are in effect every turn, and only cease when the sun rises on the roll (made at the end of every player turn) of a 6!

Both players start with very limited forces, with the rest coming on as Reserves. The Mantis Warriors begin with Troops and Fast Attack units only, while the Salamanders have Troops and Heavy Support.

Victory is determined by the number of objectives held when the game ends.

 

Deployment

The Mantis Warriors deployed first, with two Tactical Squads in Rhinos (Epistolary Oromo leading one) and two Land Speeders, streaking ahead to gain first contact with the Salamanders they knew would be nearby,

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In contrast, the Salamanders were far more prepared than the Mantis Warriors had expected – they were met by three Tactical Squads, a Devastator Squad and two Centurion Squads, already mobilised and rushing to meet them.

Was it a trap?

 

Turn One

One of the Mantis Warriors’ Rhinos slewed to a halt, and its Tactical Squad disembarked to set up their weapons. Epistolary Oromo had already identified the Centurions as the greatest threat before his force, and he ordered the Tactical Squad to train its Grav weapons on the hulking brutes striding through the darkness towards them.

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Though the fire was directed hastily, it proved telling and two Centurions succumbed to their wounds. Meanwhile, the two Land Speeders had swept around the right flank and their Multi-meltas blasted apart a Rhino, killing two marines of the Tactical Squad inside.

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This barely slowed down the Centurions and they lumbered ahead, eager to get to grips with the elusive Mantis Warriors. One of the surviving Salamanders’ Rhinos ground to a halt as it disgorged its Tactical Squad, while the other gunned its engines and sped to the far side of the battlefield, keen to claim the ground as belonging to the Salamanders.

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As the Mantis Warriors’ Tactical Squad took cover behind their Rhino, the Centurions swept in, their siege weapons grinding through the transport in seconds to leave it a smoking wreck, even as the Devastator Squad poured fire into it.

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Turn Two

The ultimate plan of Epistolary Oromo began to unfold as the Vindicator squadron and a Dreadnought entered the battle. They quickly assessed the situation and determined that the Tactical Squad closest to them could not repel the might of the Centurions. Their targeting solutions were updated accordingly.

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With a mighty roar of their guns, all three Vindicators hurled massive shells into the Centurions, blasting apart even their enhanced armour. Only one staggered out of the smoke and craters.

On the right flank, the Land Speeders had come under fire from the Salamanders’ Tactical Squads, and one burst into flames before crashing into the frozen ground. The other jinked the incoming fire and dashed behind a rocky outcropping. However, the Mantis Warriors had tallied just a little too long and, as the sun arose over the battlefield, the Land Speeder crew were alarmed to see the blocky shape of an Ironclad Dreadnought striding towards them.

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As a Salamanders’ Assault Squad jetted onto the battlefield, one of their Rhinos unloaded its Tactical Squad who quickly spread out, preparing to defend the terrain they had picked as their own. This was not a moment too soon, as Epistolary Oromo had chosen to lead his own Tactical Squad against it as well.

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The last Centurion staggered towards the Tactical Squad before it, roasting four of the marines with its Heavy Flamer as the Devastator Squad supporting it continued to pound them too. A little further away, the last Land Speeder jinked the Multi-melta blast of the Ironclad, but could not avoid the widespread of its Heavy Flamer. As the crew sought to put out the fires, the Dreadnought quickly closed range and tore the craft apart.

 

Turn Three

Though Epistolary Oromo was expecting further reserves, none arrived, and he wondered if a Salamanders’ flanking force had intercepted them.

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However, he knew he could not delay his attack, and he ordered the Techmarine driver of his Rhino to take cover, leaving the Tactical Squad before them to the tender mercies of the Vindicator squadron.

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Another series of massive booms shook the entire battlefield and, when the echoes had died down, nothing remained of the Salamanders’ Tactical Squad or their Rhino – only a smoking crater signalled where they had once stood.

Doubting their ability to weather the Vindicators’ shells any better than the Tactical Squad, the Salamanders’ Assault Squad used their jump packs to boost behind a fist of rock sticking out of the battlefield, threatening the Rhino with Epistolary Oromo inside and, perhaps, being able to launch an assault against the Vindicators and neutralise the greatest threat in the battle.

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As Epistolary Oromo prepared to give the order to head full speed out of cover, the Salamanders’ Devastator Squad caught sight of him and, despite the cover of the rocky terrain, their Lascannon found its mark, destroying the Rhino and forcing the Tactical Squad to proceed on foot – they were now very vulnerable to the nearby Assault Squad.

 

Turn Four

The Vindicators repositioned themselves, this time lining up on the Devastator Squad who had remained in the open to continue providing support to the rest of the Salamanders. They soon came to regret that decision as Demolisher shells landed amongst them, gouging great holes in the ground and killing all but three marines in the squad. Meanwhile, another Mantis Warriors Dreadnought had arrived on the battlefield, close to the Salamanders’ Ironclad. Its Lascannon drilled a hole in the Ironclad, leaving the machine immobilised and unable to move closer to the objective it had been tasked with capturing.

Meanwhile, Epistolary Oromo decided to take charge of the tactical situation and led his squad around the rock to charge the Assault Squad before they could do the same to him.

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The two Sergeants challenged one another, Power Sword against Lightning Claw, with predictable results – both were spitted on the weapon of their opponent. The rest of the fight was chaotic in the extreme, with a lot of pushing but few actual blows landed, leaving just a couple of casualties on either side.

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The Salamanders’ Captain, having led the Devastator Squad up to this point in the battle, left the unit to sprint around the rocky terrain and counter-charge the Mantis Warriors who were engaged with the Assault Squad (this had absolutely nothing to do with the Captain being worried that the Vindicators had managed to get the Devastators in their sights, we are told). However, the terrain was tricky to navigate, or maybe the rising sun briefly blinded the Captain – either way, he failed to reach the swirling melee.

The two Mantis Warriors Dreadnoughts continued their advance on the right flank, the lead machine absorbing three shots from Multi-meltas with just a little damage.

 

Turn Five

Over the noise of the melee he was engaged in, Epistolary Oromo heard the sound of screaming jets and he smiled – finally, his Stormraven had arrived!

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Now, perhaps, he could overwhelm the Salamanders entirely. His confidence boosted, he called upon the power of the Warp and shrouded his squad in the immaterium, causing them to all but disappear from sight. Few swings of Chainswords from the Salamanders’ Assault Squads now connected with their targets.

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The Vindicators now concentrated their fire upon the centre of the battlefield as the Salamanders struggled to hold onto it. Their first volley smashed into the Tactical Squad who had taken possession, forcing the survivors to reel back in confusion and disarray. On the other side of the battlefield, one of the Dreadnoughts had managed to bull rush into a lone Tactical Squad, killing two and forcing them to retreat as well.

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However, it was the Techmarine pilot of the Stormraven who claimed the highest honours of the battle so far. As he flew above his Librarian, watching the ebb and flow of the melee, he spied a figure skulking around a nearby rock – the Salamanders’ Captain!

Grinning, the Techmarine brought up the targeting recticles of the twin-linked Lascannon and Multi-melta – and then he flicked a switch on the control column to add two Stormstrike Missiles to the salvo. The Captain was blasted out of cover and launched into the air. When he landed, he did not move.

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The Salamanders’ last surviving Rhino accelerated and took position on the far right flank, both to claim territory and provide the now immobilised Ironclad with a little cover from the Mantis Warriors’ Dreadnoughts. However, its guns were still active, and a finely-aimed Multi-melta shot immolated one Dreadnought while the nearby Tactical Squad destroyed the other. The Mantis Warriors had lost their right flank entirely.

 

Turn Six

Traffic over the Mantis Warriors’ communications network alerted Epistolary Oromo of a much larger Salamanders’ force closing in, and he knew he had to win this fight quickly or be forced to withdraw.

The Stormraven banked hard and boosted across the battlefield, laying down withering fire upon the Salamanders’ Rhino. However, despite great gouges being torn out of the side of the transport, it remained defiantly intact. The Vindicator Squadron fared better, their repeat salvo tearing apart the Tactical Squad that had tried to venture onto the central objective for a second time.

Meanwhile, the close combat training of the Assault Squad began to make itself felt at last, and Epistolary Oromo was pushed back by his few remaining marines.

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By now, it was clear that the Salamanders’ larger force was about to arrive and, bolstered by this overwhelming presence, the surviving troops pushed forward. The last battered Tactical Squad raced for the centre of the battlefield while the Assault Squad drove Epistolary Oromo further back.

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However, these were rapidly becoming small, inconsequential skirmishes and, as a Salamanders’ Thunderhawk appeared over the horizon, the surviving Mantis Warriors retreated form the field.

 

Conclusion

That was a very bloody battle, with heavy casualties on both sides!

In the end, the Salamanders managed to capture two objectives and contested a third, leaving them in the lead when the battle ended. With another turn, the Mantis Warriors may have cleared those two objectives but the third (contested by the Librarian and Assault Squad) would probably have remained unclaimed by either side – so the best they could have really hoped for was a draw.

We did get a couple of things wrong in this battle, notably the Centurions (Assault Centurions, so they should not have started on the table – a little bit of confusion over what ‘Troops’ meant…), and I just plain forgot that un-arrived Reserves come on automatically on Turn Four. Still, won’t make that mistake again for, oh, at least three more battles!

The Salamanders still have not found a good answer to those Vindicators yet but, it has to be said, the Mantis Warriors have not yet found a way to kill Tactical Squads quickly and that, frankly, is probably an easier job…

 

The Story Continues…

The Mantis Warriors have tried to turn the tables on the Salamanders – and they have failed! Following the campaign tree, the next battle will be Pillage, featuring the Mantis Warriors as they avoid direct battle with the Loyalists as much as they can and instead hit ammunition cashes and supply dumps to bolster their own war effort and erode that of the Salamanders.

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