The Badab War: Cut and Run

We are continuing our (re)fighting of the Badab War, with the Marines Errant trying to smash the Mantis Warriors line on Bellerophon’s Fall.

In our last battle, the Marines Errant had delayed their landings on the industrial moon to take advantage of the disruption the Salamanders’ landings had caused. Deploying swiftly on the moon’s surface, the Marines Errant tried to break through the Mantis Warriors’ line – but the Secessionists held.

As the Marines Errant committed more units to the fight, the Mantis Warriors enacted one of their classic strategies. Melting away from the assault, they would attempt to break contact from the Marines Errant so they could reengage on their own, stronger terms.

 

The Mission

We are adapting one of the scenarios from the old Battle Missions book for this fight, Cut and Run. Ostensibly it is supposed to be used for Orks, but the general strategy shown works well for the Mantis Warriors, so we will swipe it for our campaign!

The Mantis Warriors will be deploying first, close to the centre of the table, and throughout the battle their units will be able to shoot and/or charge if they flee from combat (representing the cut and run tactics). They will have the option of standing against the Marines Errant and fighting or, from turn three onwards, skipping backwards off the table to fight another day.

Victory is based purely on Kill Points – 3 for an HQ, 1 for Troops, and 2 for everything else.

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The Mantis Warriors prepared a hasty line at the edge of a disused refinery, intending to stall the advance of the Marines Errant, giving them a bloody nose for good measure before retreating.

Almost immediately, things started to go wrong for the Mantis Warriors as the close combat Terminators of the Marines Errant thundered through the barricades, slaying every Terminator except the sergeant.

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The Mantis Warriors Sergeant managed to escape the destruction of the barricade, and through the smoke and debris, he spied the Chaplain leading the Marines Errant force. Determined not to let his brothers go unavenged, he charged, seriously wounding the Chaplain with a vicious cut from his Chainfist. Unfortunately, the Chaplain recovered quickly and smashed him to the ground.

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Meanwhile, the Marines Errant flew a Thunderhawk overhead, dropping an Assault Squad right behind the Captain of the Mantis Warriors. Taking advantage of his surprise, the Assault Marines piled into him, but the Captain made good account of himself, cutting five of them down before finally succumbing to their greater numbers.

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By now, the surviving Mantis Warriors had retreated to a second line of barricades, and a Tactical Squad faced off against the oncoming Terminators. The Tactical Sergeant managed to dispatch the Marines Errant Chaplain with his power Sword but, by now, the Marines Errant just had too many units in the area. As the second Tactical Squad fled the battlefield alongside a heavily damaged Land Speeder, the assault Terminators carved through the last of the Mantis Warriors before tearing apart their Rhino.

 

The State of the Campaign

The Mantis Warriors are taking a beating from the Marines Errant and in our next set of games, they will be trying to stage a Fighting Withdrawal in an attempt to slow the advance of the Loyalists.

However, it is not all bad news, as they have had success in disrupting the landings of the Salamanders, and are now preparing a deadly ambush as Vulkan’s marines try to advance into Secessionist territory…

Badab War: Enter the Marines Errant!

We have not been doing too much with the Badab War campaign of late, mainly because someone who will remain nameless (James) has been taking his own sweet time painting up his forces, leaving the poor Salamanders fighting the Tyrant’s allies all by themselves. However, the gamer who will not be mentioned (James) has got his act together for the coming of 8th edition…

The Marines Errant have arrived!

Like the Salamanders, they are landing on the industrial moon of Bellerophon’s Fall, but are taking advantage of the distraction the Salamanders have already created with their own landings, and catching the Mantis Warriors offguard.

We are using a tree campaign structure for the Marines Errant, alongside a similar (but different) tree for the Salamanders, to represent the Loyalist landings on Bellerophon’s Fall, as you can see here.

So, the first battle for the Marines Errant is the Vanguard mission from the (old – perfectly serviceable though) Battle Missions book, where the Mantis Warriors managed to string together a ragged defence that the Marines Errant tried to punch through to expand the perimeter around their landing areas.

The Mantis Warriors were strung across the battlefield in an effort to take on the Marines Errant from any angle, and were gratified to see their enemies advancing in two formations, one with two Tactical Squads led by a Chaplain, the other a Devastator Squad led by a Venerable Dreadnought.

However, the Marines Errant had a trick up their sleeves as two Terminator squads teleported right in front of the Mantis Warriors, while an Assault Squad dropped in behind them. However, the Assault Squad veered a little too close to an enemy Dreadnought, which quickly tore them apart.

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The Terminators proved to be a real problem, and a Rhino selflessly crashed into one of their units an in effort to stall them until sufficient heavy weapons could be massed.

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In the end, one Terminator Squad entered the bunker and killed the Mantis Warrior Captain before they were finally shot to pieces, while the Terminator Assault Squad took its time to destroy the Rhino, and then charged and killed the Mantis Warrior Librarian who had been holding the centre objective before the Dreadnought once more waded in and stomped them into the snowy ground.

Meanwhile, the Mantis Warrior Stormraven had free reign of the skies and after pounding the advancing Tactical Squads, it veered across the battlefield to explode the Marines Errant’s Venerable Dreadnought with a single salvo of Multi-Meltas, Lascannon and Stormstrike Missiles.

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This freed the two Marines Errant Tactical Squads to assault the central objectives, and they had only a single Mantis Warrior Tactical Squad to hold them off.

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However, the Mantis Warriors dug in around the refinery, and weathered a great deal of punishment, all but finishing off one of the advancing Tactical Squads before the Marines Errant Chaplain broke their line.

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The two forces continued trading fire, but it was rapidly becoming clear that the Mantis Warriors were secure around the objective on their back line and it was the central one that was being contested.

The Assault Terminators of the Marines Errant had already been driven off by the Dreadnought, who was in turn destroyed by the rampaging Chaplain, who was then blasted apart by the last Mantis Warrior Attack Bike after the Stormraven destroyed the last of the Tactical Squad who had been shielding him.

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The battle ended with the Stormraven moving in to hover over the objective before the last Marines Errant Tactical Squad forced it away.

With one objective each, the battle was a draw!

 

Summary, Thoughts and Conclusion

We have managed to get a handful of 8th edition games under our belt now, but this was our first ‘serious’ campaign game with the new rules.

First things first – we like the new rules, let’s get that out of the way.

However, this game did underline for us that a) we don’t really know what units do any more, even if they made regular in older editions and b) we don’t know how to use them!

I mean, consider the Rhino… we had two of them in that battle. Are they any good? No idea! One got destroyed pretty quickly by a couple of Tactical Squads, while the other held up Assault Terminators for a few turns and was instrumental in holding the Marines Errant back.

Or take Dreadnoughts. The one belonging to the Mantis Warriors destroyed an Assault Squad by itself, then finished off the Assault Terminators in a single charge. It only ran out of steam when the Chaplain came along, but that was partly poor luck and there was every chance it could have finished him off too!

However, the Venerable Dreadnought was typically out shot by the Devastator Squad next to it, and just exploded when the Stormraven swooped in.

So, is the Stormraven good? It killed the Venerable Dreadnought and then failed to repel the Tactical Squad from the central objective (it might have done better with a different weapons fit). That said, I am liking the Stormstrike Missiles in this edition, and they are a nice compliment to the Lascannon and Multi-Meltas that I have mounted on the gunship.

Anyway, looking forward to getting this campaign properly under way and finding out what more units can do!

Battle Report – Pillage

The Mantis Warriors failed in their attempt to throw the Salamanders off Bellerophon’s Fall, but that does not mean they do not have some other nasty tricks up their sleeves!

 

The Story So Far

The Salamanders had begun their landings on Bellerophon’s Fall, but they were hardly unopposed. A Mantis Warriors counter-attack had been blunted but the Secessionists were now splintering their armies and fading into the wilderness of Bellerophon’s Fall. From hidden bases and through the use of long-ranged patrols, the Mantis Warriors came back time and again to hit the Salamanders where the Loyalists least expected it.

Setting up a small staging post to continue their advance to more valuable targets, the Salamanders gathered supplies and ammunition in preparation for their next push. Seizing their chance, the Mantis Warriors attacked, with the dual aim of depriving the Salamanders of much needed equipment while adding to their own armouries with weapons and ammunition taken from their enemies.

This was an important part of the Mantis Warriors’ overall strategy, as even now the Marines Errant were moving into orbit to start their own landings, and both Codicier Senufu and Captain Fulani led the raid.

 

The Forces

The Salamanders have taken a (very) similar force to the last battle, but the Mantis Warriors have removed a small handful of units and replaced them with a Captain and a Terminator Librarian, leading a whole squad of Terminators!

Mantis Warriors
Librarian (Codicier Senufu): Level 2 Psyker, Terminator Armour, Storm Bolter
Captain Fulani: Artificer Armour, Power Sword, Storm Bolter, 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
Terminator Squad (6 marines): Assault Cannon
Dreadnought: Multi-melta
Land Speeder: Multi-melta
Vindicator Squadron (3 tanks): Siege Shields

With this force, the Mantis Warriors are looking to bring the fight to the Salamanders in a more convincing fashion, teleporting the Terminators in to seriously disrupt any plans.

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 greatest punch among the Salamanders remains the two squads of Centurions, though their Tactical Squads have proven quite hard to shift in the past battles…

 

The Mission

In Pillage, a random number of objectives are placed on the battlefield (three, in this battle), each representing a supply cache or ammunition dump. Any unit that is close to the objective, that is not also engaged in close combat or running away, gains a Supply or Loot point at the end of their opponent’s turn. Both armies start with just two Troops units and one HQ on the table, with everything else arriving as Reserves.

Victory is determined by the number of Supply or Loot points gained when the game ends. The force with the highest total wins.

 

Deployment

The Salamanders had grouped their supply caches together, so there were only three sites for the Mantis Warriors to target. By the time the Salamanders had realised what was going on, the Mantis Warriors had already parked a Rhino next to one of the caches and started loading weapons and ammunition on board under the watchful eyes of Captaihn Fulani.

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The Salamanders massed their Tactical Squads in an offensive line that shielded one of the other caches, but a third was between the two forces and ripe for the taking!

 

Turn One

As the Tactical Squad led by Captain Fulani began loading their Rhino with ill-gotten gains claimed from the Salamanders, the second Tactical Squad raced forward in its own Rhino to claim another cache, conscious that the Salamanders were very close.

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The Rhino’s Storm Bolter chattered, but its shells simply sparked off the armour of a Salamanders marine, and the Loyalists started to salvage what they could from the cache closest to them before the Mantis Warriors could steal it.

However, one of the heavy weapons marines among the Salamanders had the presence of mind to stop salvaging for a moment to take a shot with his Multi-melta at the Rhino. The super-hot beam burned through the transport’s armour in a fraction of a second and its fuel tanks detonated in a bright explosion. With their squads already on foot, the Salamanders’ Rhinos then sped forward to provide cover and force the Mantis Warriors to reconsider their attack.

 

Turn Two

Now the Salamanders’ supplies had been located, Captain Fulani gave the order for the Mantis Warriors reinforcements to arrive and lend their weight to the pillaging operation – a Dreadnought, Land Speeder and the Vindicator squadron all appeared and started to move towards the battle.

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The Vindicators opened up almost immediately, destroying both of the Salamanders’ lead Rhinos in one titanic series of explosions. Captain Fulani had disembarked from his transport with his Tactical Squad, thinking they would have to leave the shelter of the silo they had taken cover behind to deal with the Rhinos. He smiled when the smoke cleared and saw his task had already been completed.

Meanwhile, the Salamanders had been desperately calling for their own reinforcements and, already alerted to Mantis Warrior activity in the area, they appeared quickly – another Tactical Squad, Devastators and Centurions.

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The rest of the Loyalists concentrated their fire upon the Tactical Squad in the open, the prefabricated bunker next to them providing scant cover. Bolter and melta fire rained down upon them, and casualties were extremely high. A few marines, however, managed to weather the storm and stubbornly refused to give up on the supply cache their squad had taken.

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Turn Three

Lightning crackled behind the Salamanders’ line and, when the flash had cleared, six Mantis Warriors Terminators were standing, led by Codicier Senufu. The squad seemed quite disorientated by the teleportation, and their fire went wide of the Tactical Squad closest to them, knocking down only two marines, while the Librarian could not focus enough to manifest any psychic powers.

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The rest of the Mantis Warriors were out of range, but they advanced confidently as the Salamanders had come to respect the raw firepower of the Vindicator squadron.

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The Salamanders second Centurion Squad finally arrived on the battlefield, along with an Ironclad Dreadnought and their Assault Squad, bringing the Demi-Company up to full strength. The second squad of Centurions followed their Ironclad Dreadnought in a flanking manoeuvre that threatened to trap the newly arrived Terminators.

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The Assault Squad, however, chose to drop out of an over-flying Thunderhawk and land right next to Captain Fulani’s squad, intent on decapitating the Mantis Warriors force and taking back the supply cache that had by now been heavily pillaged.

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As they landed, two Assault marines opened up with a torrent of fire from their Flamers, catching the Tactical Squad off guard as several marines were toasted inside their power armour.

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Meanwhile, the rest of the Salamanders focussed on the two biggest threats, the Vindicator squadron and the Terminators. Most of the Devastators’ heavy fire went wild, doing little more than dent a Vindicator, but two Terminators succumbed to sustained fire from Tactical Squads.

 

Turn Four

Taking care not to expose itself to heavy fire, the Land Speeder took a long and circuitous approach around the Ironclad Dreadnought. Its Multi-melta did little more than slag thick armour, but it reminded the Ironclad’s pilot that he could not simply ignore it, and he was forced to make a decision to either chase the Land Speeder, effectovely taking him out of the battle, or continue forward to the Terminator Squad and risk exposing his side and rear armour to a devastating attack.

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Both the Vindicators and Terminators began an advance that would enable them to seize the remaining supply caches and crush the remaining Salamanders resistance. Codicier Senufu blasted the minds of a Tactical Squad with a Psychic Shriek, forcing two marines to sink to their knees as they clutched their heads, while the Vindicators let loose a mighty roar as shells landed amidst another Tactical Squad. The Salamanders had no choice but to leave their dead and retreat under this firepower.

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Voxing his warcry, Captain Fulani charged the Assault Squad who had immolated his marines, and was joined by not only the surviving members of the Tactical Squad, but a Dreadnought too.

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The Assault Squad was hit hard, leaving the survivors no choice but to retreat and regroup.

The Salamanders were starting to take serious casualties but they realised that if they could just neutralise the Terminators and Vindicator squadron, they might still be able to save enough of their supplies to continue the war effort in this sector.

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With this in mind, their last surviving Rhino gunned its engines and sped forward in an effort to block the fire of the Vindicators.

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A brave but foolhardy move.

The Assault Squad collected their wits and threw themselves back at Captain Fulani and his marines, more confident now the Mantis Warriors Dreadnought had departed to reinforce the battlefield’s centre and support the Vindicators. Captain Fulani ruthlessly cut one marine down as he came into reach of his Power Sword and the melee erupted once more.

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Turn Five

The Salamanders’ own Captain ordered the Tactical Squad he had been leading to train fire upon the approaching Terminators, as they were now close enough to engage him. However, the Salamanders collectively cried out in a mixture of fury and dismay as the Mantis Warrior’s Librarian cloaked the Terminators in the energy of the Warp.

The Salamanders could now see only shadows approaching them, but their Captain had seen the Librarian’s Force Staff glow with barely restrained power before he disappeared.

As the Vindicators unleashed another salvo at the Tactical Squad they had battered earlier, Codicier Senufu led his Terminators in a charge against the bunker the Salamanders had taken cover within, and immediately sought out their Captain, challenging him to face the fighting skills of the Mantis Warriors.

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The Salamanders’ Captain fought well, but he could barely land a single solid blow upon the Librarian. He did not see the Force Staff swing  until it was too late, and his soul-shrivelling shriek was heard across the battlefield. The other Terminators clambered onto the bunker and made short work of the few surviving Tactical marines.

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The Mantis Warriors had taken the bunker and, with it, another supply cache that they immediately started to pillage.

Determined not to let the Mantis Warriors take a single shell more than could be helped, the Ironclad Dreadnought and two Centurion Squads closed in on the Terminators.

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However, only one squad was close enough to reach the Terminators and, despite going in without any support, they charged.

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This fight was extremely brutal and short-lived as the Centurions smashed through the flimsy bunker with their siege weapons, the Terminators desperately trying to avoid being crushed by the mechanical monsters.

However, once again it was Codicier Senufu who saved the day. Maintaining his concentration on the cloak of Invisibility that wreathed his Terminators, the Centurions mighty swings could not find a target. Unseen by the brutes, Senufu leapt down from the bunker and laid about himself with his Force Staff, quickly snatching the souls of two Centurions while the third was pummelled by a Power Fist to the chest.

As Captain Fulani dispatched the last of the Salamanders’ Assault Squad, he looked up to gauge how the rest of the battle was going – and it seemed very much in his favour. Knowing that the Salamanders would move more reinforcements into the area very quickly, he gave the signal to retreat, his Mantis Warriors weighed down with supplies stolen from the Loyalists.

It had been a good battle for the Secessionists.

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Conclusion

The Mantis Warriors managed to pull a victory in this battle, with just one more Loot point than the Salamanders had Salvage points – the Secessionists had claimed a small but early lead in the battle, and managed to maintain it throughout.

The Vindicators, once again, more than proved their worth, and I have a feeling the Salamanders will be moving up some serious heavy support in future battles in order to deal with them! The Terminators and Librarian made good account of themselves too, though I am not sure they could have held back the second Centurion Squad, much less that Ironclad!

 

The Story Continues…

The Mantis Warriors have managed to severely deplete the front line supplies of the Salamanders, which will greatly slow down their assaults across the entire moon of Bellerophon’s Fall – their advances will be blunted until they are able to bring down replacements from orbit and then transport them to the front line. However, the Mantis Warriors are masters of this sort of warfare, and you can be sure they will be targeting any supply train their scouts can find…

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.

Battle Report – Surprise Attack

The Badab War begins! While the Secessionists launch an ambush on the Karthan Convoy (and we’ll be coming to that soon enough!), the Loyalists target the industrial moon of Bellerophon’s Fall, a vital navigation and supply point held by the Mantis Warriors.

Using the campaign tree we created, we can see we are starting off with the Surprise Attack mission (drawn and adapted for the latest edition of 40k from the old Battle Missions book).

 

The Story So Far

The Maelstrom Warder Chapters had been guardians of the Badab region of space under direct charter of the High Lords of Terra. Led by the Astral Claws, they had provided an effective barrier against the horrors of the Maelstrom. The Chapter Master of the Astral Claws, Lugft Huron, was aggressive in safeguarding against all threats to the Imperium that entered his territory and when a civil war erupted on Badab itself, his marines crushed it brutally and installed himself as effective planetary governor – Lugft Huron began styling himself as the Tyrant of Badab.

This was not without precedent, as the Warders Charter gave him great scope to act and, far across the galaxy, the Ultramarines ran their own fiefdom. However, friction rose with Terra when Huron refused to pay the tithe of Badab, citing a complete lack of support from the Administratum in providing resources to properly protect the Maelstrom Zone – if Terra was not going to give him the required support, he would have to provide himself from the resources of his worlds.

The High Lords of Terra did not see it that way, and dispatched a fleet to take the tithe by any means necessary. This grand fleet, the Karthan Convoy, was ambushed by the Warder Chapters as it voyaged between Vyaniah and Khymara. Ready for hostilities, Loyalist chapters gathered and began invading the Maelstrom Zone – civil war between Space Marines had begun.

As the Karthan Convoy was attacked, Loyalists started hitting at holdings of the Secessionists, starting with the industrial moon of Bellerophon’s Fall. An important supply and navigation point, it was garrisoned by the Mantis Warriors. The Salamanders and Marines Errant launched a series of landings with the aim of creating a beach head from which they could then combine their forces and defeat the Secessionists.

The Salamanders were the first to touch down, quickly deploying their lead elements and heading for a small refinery known only as Alpha-Six-Gamma. The Mantis Warriors had been using the refinery as a staging post during long-ranged patrols and the small force there was completely unaware that the Salamanders were closing in on them.

 

The Forces

We have only recently painted up these forces, so everyone is a little lacking in choice for their forces, but both Salamanders and Mantis Warriors have put together 1,500 points for this opening fight.

Mantis Warriors
Librarian (Lexicanium Seawa): 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 Mantis Warriors have opted for a normal Combined Arms Detachment, preferring flexibility to formation benefits. This means they have few infantry but can back themselves up with Elites and Heavy Support – most notably that squadron of three Vindicators which could give the Salamanders a real headache.

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
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
Stormtalon: Skyhammer Missile Launcher
Predator Destructor: Heavy Bolters

 

The Mission

Surprise Attack is a fairly easy mission. The Mantis Warriors start strung out across the battlefield, having been taken unawares. The Salamanders take the first turn, moving onto the table from any and all edges, as they desire. Any Deep Strikers the Salamanders have can arrive on the first turn, while the Mantis Warriors are very familiar with their home ground, and so have Move Through Cover and Stubborn.

Victory is determined by Kill Points – 1 point for a Troops unit, 3 for an HQ and 2 for anything else.

 

Deployment

The Mantis Warriors had scant time to react when they saw the Salamanders strike force appear. One Tactical Squad leapt into its Rhino, while another (led by Lexicanium Seawa) took cover within the refinery as its Rhino reversed  into position.

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The Land Speeders were already spooling up their engines, but the Stormraven remained on the ground, its greater mass needing more time to become airborne. Meanwhile, the Dreadnoughts and Vindicators gunned their engines and prepared to repel the assault.

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Turn One

The Salamanders announced their presence with the arrival of an Assault Squad, jetting down from an overflying Thunderhawk – landing straight into trouble, next to the Tactical Squad led by Lexicanium Seawa.

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As the Devastator Squad ran to take cover and set up a superior firing position, Rhinos roared onto the battlefield, each carrying a Tactical Squad.

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Fire from the Salamanders was light as they moved into position, with shots from the Devastator Squad going wide and the Bolt Pistols and Flamers claiming just a single marine from Lexicanium Seewa’s squad.

Realising they were under attack, the Mantis Warriors turned to face their enemies as the Stormraven took off on screaming jets. Seewa consulted his runes and passed a word of forewarning to the Vindicators and fed power into his Force Axe to ready himself for close assault.

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The Vindicators hurled three massive shells at a Rhino, blasting it apart and seriously injuring four marines inside., while the Assault Squad was mauled by the Tactical Squad, a Land Speeder and the closest Dreadnought. The Stormraven claimed a second Rhino with its Multi-melta, while a charge from the second Dreadnought destroyed the third and brought it very close to the Tactical Squad who staggered out of the wreckage.

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Turn Two

The Salamander’s reinforcements turned up, in the form of a Stormtalon, Ironclad Dreadnought and a Predator Destructor. As the Stormtalon swooped in on the Tactical Squad threatening its Devastators, the Ironclad and Predator approached the Vindicator squadron from the rear.

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The Assault Squad raced towards the Tactical Squad within the refinery, but got caught up in its defences and failed to reach their targets, leaving them right in the open with little cover.

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Aside from a Tactical Squad shooting down a Land Speeder, losses for the Mantis Warriors remained light as they moved to engage their enemies.

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The fifth Tactical Squad moved up to pound graviton fire into the Devastator Squad at point blank range, and the Salamanders’ casualties started to mount up. Meanwhile, the Stormraven and surviving Land Speeder swooped round to launch fire into the flank of the Predator, destroying it instantly as they were joined by a Dreadnought, though they inflicted only light damage on the Ironclad.

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However, when the Vindicators lined up on a Tactical Squad, their powerful blasts shredded power armour, kill seven marines instantly. Meanwhile, a single blast from a Plasma Cannon finished off the few remaining Assault Marines near the refinery.

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Turn Three

Slowing down, the Stormtalon engaged its hover jets to engage the Tactical Squad, its Assault Cannon claiming the lives of two marines, even as the Tactical Salamanders just behind it immolated the Dreadnought threatening them with a Multi-melta.

Near the refinery, the Ironclad staggered through the firepower being directed towards it, and punched through the armour of a Vindicator, detonating the shells inside.

As the Land Speeder disengaged form the Ironclad to confront the Stormtalon, the Stormraven hovered closer to the Dreadnought to unleash its full firepower, aided by the Dreadnought close by.

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However, when the smoke cleared, the Ironclad was still up and fighting!

 

Turn Four

The Stormtalon’s pilot caught sight of the Land Speeder jetting towards him, and directed his Assault Cannon onto it, shredding the light vehicle. Meanwhile, the Ironclad could tell the Stormraven was now flying far too low and while its pilot nimbly jinked a Multi-melta blast aimed at it, he failed to see the massive claws of the Ironclad until they dragged him down from the air.

The Dreadnought let loose a loud electronic war cry as it charged into the Ironclad, and both veteran machines tore chunks off one another in a furious battle of metal against metal.

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When they were done, neither machine was functioning well enough to continue fighting.

 

Turn Five

Seeing his chance, the Stormtalon pilot swooped low to engage the Tactical Squad Lexicanium Seewa was leading. Three marines died from his Assault Cannon and missiles, but the Librarian was untouched as the shots rained down all around him.

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As the last surviving Vindicator gunned its engines in an effort to reach the two Tactical Squads who were now duelling on the other side of the battlefield, Lexicanium Seewa called upon mighty psychic powers to Forewarn his Tactical Squad and grant them Prescience – however, the powers were a little too mighty, and the resulting Warp Surge left him reeling and unable to fight.

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By this time, both armies had suffered heavily and were forced to withdraw, but it was clear the Mantis Warriors had completely blunted the Salamanders’ initial assault.

 

Conclusion

A good opening battle for the Badab War!

The Salamanders put in a very good show, lagging behind only a single Kill Point – that rampaging Ironclad certainly did a lot of damage, and Lexicanium Seewa facing the Perils of the Warp did not help the Mantis Warriors at all.

Still, a win is a win at this stage of the campaign, and we will now be moving onto a Mantis Warriors counterattack!

 

The Story Continues…

We now continue down the campaign tree for the Salamanders landings on Bellerophon, and can see that with a victory for the Mantis Warriors, we move onto the Dawn Raid mission as the Secessionists take advantage of the stall in the Loyaists landings and try to hit back!

The Badab War Begins: Phase I

For the past few months, in-between a air few models for the Age of Sigmar campaign, we have been building up forces to re-fight the entire Badab War! Andy and James chose to take the side of the Loyalists (Salamanders and Marines Errant respectively) while went for Secessionists with the Mantis Warriors (though I think it likely that the Tyrant’s Legion will be showing up sooner rather than later!).

With the Salamanders and Mantis Warriors now painted up and in fighting form, it is time to engage in our first battles (the Marines Errant are going to be arriving a little later, something about transfers not quite finished…).

We are using the Imperial Armour books as the baseline for this campaign, and so are starting with Phase I: Shadows of War. This covers the basic opening fights of the war, before the balloon really goes up in Phase II. How long will we spend on Phase I? No idea, really – it will probably depend on how long it takes for us to get forces ready for Phase II!

What we do know is that we are breaking Phase I up into two parts.

 

The Karthan Convoy

An important Imperial (Loyalist) convoy is travelling from Vyaniah and Khymara, but is ambushed by the Secessionists. What this means is that we are going to be fighting a lot of boarding actions (again, using the rules in the Imperial Armour books), interspersed with a few big battles on the hulls of ships and in cavernous holds and hangars. Most will be with small armies, but I think some Kill Team games will also get a look in. Also got an idea that we can also use Death From the Skies to do some dogfighting, but we’ll see how it goes.

This will be a semi-map based mini-campaign, as we fight ship-to-ship, boarding each and taking important targets in them. Space Hulk tiles are going to be used a lot here.

 

Bellerophon’s Fall

Our opening battles, however, will be on the industrial moon of Bellerophon’s Fall, a vital supply and navigation point. It is currently being garrisoned by the Mantis Warriors, but the Salamanders and Marines Errant are both conducting their own landings.

These will be handled by two tree campaigns, each covering the landing zones of the Salamanders:

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…and Marines Errant:

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For the scenarios, we are drawing heavily from the old Battle Missions book, adapting them (where needed – it is not a great deal of work) to the latest edition of 40k.

After these landings have been fought, we will move to a small map-based campaign for Bellerophon, following a similar system to that presented in the General’s Handbook for Age of Sigmar, using perhaps a dozen hex-tiles from Mighty/Planetary Empires.

The battle for Bellerophon’s Fall ends in a special massacre scenario, where the Marines Errant have been caught unawares as the Mantis Warriors move in to kill/capture their entire leadership.

 

Victory!

All that will cover Phase I of the Badab War. So, how will we tell who wins?

Well, while we will be fighting hard on the tabletop, we are ever mindful that this is a story-based campaign and not a competitive tournament. There is a ‘Force of Story’ at work – we know that the Loyalists will drive the Secessionists back to the Palace of Thorns, and the only question is whether the Tyrant manages to escape or is killed during that assault. What is important is how we get to that point and what happens along the way.

So, for Phase I, each side gains 1 Campaign Point for every victorious battle. They gain 3 points if they win a boarding action, and there are 4 points up for grab in the final Massacre mission.

Up for grabs is control of the space lanes. If the Loyalists have more campaign points, they will gain a +1 bonus to all Reserve rolls for the rest of the war! If the Secessionists win this phase, they can instead re-roll Deep Strike scatter – again, for the rest of the war.

So, getting those victories, even this early on, could be important!

We are kicking off this campaign in the next couple of days, beginning with the Salamanders landings on Bellerophon’s Fall…

Heavy Metal for the Mantis Warriors

I managed to get all the infantry for my initial Mantis Warriors force sorted out a while ago. However, I was informed that the Badab War would be kicking off in less than a week (tomorrow!), so I had to get all their vehicles done sharp!

Fortunately, I had already been working on them, and much of the base colours were done – I just had to polish off some details, along with the unit/squadron markings.

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First up, I had to give my infantry something to bomb around the battlefield in – and for that, you cannot beat a Rhino (or two)!

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The painting of all the vehicles more or less followed the scheme with the infantry, the only exception being that the Castellan Green did not get a Nuln Oil wash – I drybrushed straight on top of it (washing large flat panels can be a trying experience and always leaves  tide marks).

Transport is all well and good, but we want something to give the enemy a good smacking. The Mantis Warriors are known for their fast assaults and lightning strikes, so I thought a couple of Land Speeders would serve them well.

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These two are Melta-weapon heavy which, given that I know both the Salamanders and Marines Errant forces I will be facing are big on infantry, may seem a bit over the top. However, I also know the Salamanders and Marines Errant players well, and there is just no way they will be able to resist putting lots of vehicles in later. So, best prepared!

Now, Land Speeders are all well and good but, when it comes to fast strikes they tend to lack… ambition. Enter this chap:

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The Stormraven or, as I like to call it, the flying Land Raider. This is another vehicle that has gone heavy on the anti-vehicle weaponry but, frankly, the Stormraven does not care much who it is targeting.

Finally, I rounded all of this off with the real heavy-hitters of the force – a full squadron of three Vindicators.

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Both the Salamanders and Marines Errant are going to have to find a way to deal with these bad boys, as having the full squadron running rampage over the battlefield is going to be just plain rude. Their range is limited, for certain, but if all three tanks target the same spot with their massive guns, they are going to be capable of taking out two or three tightly packed units in one titanic blast.

Personally, I am looking forward to that!