Sorry about the "wall of text" this is long but I think it's worth the read.
The Chaos Gate Campaign Episode 2: Return to Corpulous Prime
Several years after the campaign Trial the Pious Heart/ Heart of Woe (depending on your faction) in which Corpulous prime succumbed to the Warp Storms that broil endlessly through the region. It drifted in this state for decades before re-emerging. In the intervening time the original adversaries had rebuilt their forces and made more informed guesses about the nature of the artifact that had sparked the conflict. When the planet re-emerged from its Warp isolation several factions were moved to action.
There were 5 players and 6 armies in this Campaign. 2 Chaos Players and Three Imperial Allied Players.
Each initial army was 2000 points, limited to two special characters each, and fought the lead-in battles using a recovery system that strongly favored withdrawing troops voluntarily from the field over allowing their destruction. In practice... old habits die hard and many units were shot to pieces rather than withdrawn.
Dark Angels Mixed Incursion Force lead by Master Belial.
Imperial Guard Tertholen 307th Regiment H Co Special Infantry with elements of the Tertholen 11th Armored Regiment "FORGED ON MARS!" 5th Co. Under the command of Major Eugene Adler with special advisement from Inquisitor Lord Maximillian Welt.
Daemonhunters Inquisitor Lord Vargas Hardt added his retinue, the retinue of his protégé, Inquisitor Harmon Locus, and a handful of Grey Knights to Welt's Redcaps to create something that was functionally a Daemonhunter force but ultimately answered to the Witchunter Lord.
Tau Kau'ui Ha'an (Cadre of Many Places) led by Commander Shas'O M'Yen Mal'Caor ( Commander in Fire Caste, The Unforseen Spider )
Dark Eldar represented by Archon Moloch Veil and his Kabal of the Blood Rain.
Chaos Daemons nominally under the command of Skull Taker.
Chaos Space Marines of The Unwritten lead by the mysterious Oracle of Siwa and advised by Ahriman of the Thousand Sons.
The Campaign unfolded in a series of five battles with each of the first four contributing to the final Apocalypse battle. Forces were set and models rolled on a severe recovery chart unless a unit voluntarily moved off table in which case they recovered fully. Named Characters were limited and these could be wounded (on a separate recovery chart) and removed as casualties in the first four battles but were returned to service (possibly in a wounded condition) for the final battle. Two battles were run at a time for the first four encounters. Each pair of battles was also assumed to be occurring simultaneously in the storyline.
The Dark Eldar, possessors of the Heart of Woe at the end of Episode One: Trial of the Pious Heart, had determined that the Heart had some benefits to them when it came to avoiding damage in combat (in game terms this was represented as a +1 bonus to invulnerable saves within 12 inches of the Heart which was considered to be built into the Ravager of Moloch Veil (a renamed Azdrubael Vect representing the leader of this Kabal)) which, while valuable to the lightly armored Dark Eldar was not a grand effect in their long view. Moloch Veil led his Kabal of the Blood Rain back to Corpulous Prime to negotiate with The Unwritten, who, under the patronage of the Sorcerer Ahriman, placed a much higher value on the Heart. The Chaos Daemons also valued the Heart very highly but, as a primarily Khornate force nominally lead by the infamously psychotic Skulltaker, negotiations with them would be unlikely to bear fruit. He was, somewhat predictably, betrayed to the Tau by an ambitious underling and was caught in an ambush (Tau Mission: Vertical Envelopment) as he awaited the emissaries of Lord Ahriman of the Thousand Sons. Tau Commander Shas'O M'Yen Mal'Caor lived fully up to his name (The Unforseen Spider) entrapping and destroying the Kabal of the Blood Rain's heavier assets and elite troops in detail. Unable, or perhaps unwilling, to gracefully withdraw Moloch Veil lost the artifact, and most of his Kabal to the Spider's web. Fleeing the field with only his raiders, a single Ravager, a pair of bikes, and barely enough warriors to minimally man them he plotted vengeance.
Inquisitor Lord Maximillian Welt spent those intervening years validating rumors of a hidden STC facility on Corpulous Prime and marshaled his own personal troops, the Inquisitorial storm troopers of the notorious Redcaps, and Imperial Guard elements of the Tertholen 307th Special Infantry H Company with attached Armored elements of the Tertholen 11th Regiment "FORGED ON MARS!" 5th Co. to help him recover it. Complicating his mission was the sudden arrival of Master Belial with a Dark Angel Mixed Incursion Force. On the face of things Belial was also after the STC but he was more interested in rumors that one of the Fallen was orchestrating the events on Corpulous Prime. In a typical Dark Angel oblique Belial allowed Inquisitor Welt to believe that he was in control of operations but crafted the flow of battle in such a fashion as to allow the Dark Angels the maximum possible flexibility to respond to developments that might lead to the possible Fallen.
The Imperial plan called for a surprise attack (Space Marine Mission: Surprise Attack!) on Swelter (the remains of the primary industrial hive on Corpulous Prime) by the Dark Angels. Following this successful attack the Dark Angels withdrew and were replaced by the Imperial Guard who dug in and waited for the inevitable counter attack by the Chaos Space Marines. This freed the Dark Angels to launch intensive intelligence and scouting operations in search of the Fallen. Meanwhile, screened by the Dark Angel and Imperial Guard engagements, Inquisitor Welt launched a probe with his Redcaps, under the command of an old associate Inquisitor from the Competing Ordos Malleus, one Inquisitor Lord Varag Hardt who brought his Protégé, Inquisitor Harmon Locus, a small contingent of Grey Knights and some Adeptus Mechanicus Tech Adepts in the hope of verifying the existence of Archeo-tech schematics from the STC facility. He also hoped to recover and keep secret any such information from his erstwhile allies.
The Chaos response to the Dark Angel onslaught came swiftly as seemingly endless numbers of Chaos Space Marines assaulted the dug in Tertholens (Chaos Space Marine Mission :Black Crusade). The Unwritten were joined in this affair by Lord Ahriman of the Thousand Sons, who had just arrived to negotiate with Moloch Veil for the now lost Heart of Woe. The Daemon Hunting Inquisitor Hardt moved aggressively on the STC facility only to be confounded by appearance of a warp rift that spewed Chaos filth onto the small contingent of Grey Knights (Chaos Daemon Mission: Invasion!) that accompanied the Redcaps, destroying them utterly and rapidly driving the tattered remains of Welt's gambit from the field. Back in Swelter, in spite of a spirited defense, the Imperial Guard were eventually dislodged and the scene was set for the final showdown there.
As a result of Dark Angel intelligence operations it was determined that there was a process underway in Swelter that was going to culminate in a catastrophic event and that the process was interfering with the Imperial ability to return to their ships in orbit. The Chaotic forces had constructed two important ritual control centers and six structures that appeared to contain volatile liquids. The spaceport at Swelter contained an old, but functional, Arvus Lighter and some AA defense guns (providing the Long Range Ack-Ack Stratagem) that were controlled by The Unwritten. Augurs warned that the Warp Storm isolation that Corpulous Prime had so recently emerged from was again gaining strength... and rapidly. Exiting the planet had become imperative and great buffeting storms in the upper atmosphere rendered surface to orbit operations impossible. These storms were artificial in nature and seemed to be controlled by the Ritual Sites in Swelter. Master Belial informed Major Adler that his Tertholens would be supporting a Dark Angel assault on Swelter with the primary objective of controlling the Ritual Sites and securing the Space Port to allow withdrawal of forces to the orbiting support fleet.
In the meantime Shas'O M'Yen Mal'Caor had made a temporary alliance with the pragmatic Inquisitor Welt to help secure a mutual escape from Corpulous Prime. Having smashed the Dark Eldar earlier in the campaign they entered the final battle with mobile superiority (Flank March Stratagem) and would use it to secure the Space Port once the enemy had fully committed forces to the fight for the Ritual Sites. If successful this would also position the Tau commander to make an escape with the mysterious artifact without interference from his allies-of-the-moment.
Unfortunately for the Imperial coalition a key detail of the situation escaped their attention. The six tanks of volatile liquids were already fueling the Warp Beacon that was attracting and focusing the Warp Storm around Corpulous Prime! This oversight would have serious consequences for the entire operation.
In the opening moments of the battle the remnants of the Blood Rain formed up as a Splinter Attack Force and came screaming into the Imperial right flank artillery section with devastating effect! Moloch Veil had almost no troops but his raiders had a lot of Dark Lances that they put to good use in the Imperial backfield effectively silencing the Imperial Guard's big guns and crippling the Tau heavy armor. Once its initial fury was spent the Blood Rain were locked in an attempt to control one of the Ritual Sites. Hampered by a severe shortage of actual troops, they were only able to deny Imperial control of the site by committing the Archon himself to a personal, but indecisive, close combat against the stubborn Dark Angels.
On the Imperial left a Chaos rift again opened vomiting Blood Crushers, Bloodletters, a fearsome Blood Thirster and, a fuming Soulgrinder into the lines overrunning the Terminators of the Deathwing as well as the Dreadnought and Dark Angel armor that was deployed in their support. This victory was not without cost to the Daemon horde and the assault faltered short of the Ritual Site... in part because the Daemons became distracted by the slaughter and failed to focus their assault on control of mission objectives.
Meanwhile The Masque, supported by an entrenched unit of Dark Eldar warriors, had dropped into the fray in the center towing a contingent of Daemonettes. The timely arrival of the Tau Fire Warriors in the Chaos rear saw off the Chaos AA gunners (unfortunately too late to turn the guns against the Dark Eldar who had reverted to skimming by this point) and gutted the Chaos Center. The Masque and her cohort of Daemonttes were caught in the collapse and destroyed while The Oracle of Siwa only escaped capture due to the timely intervention of an enormous pack of Daemonic Fleshounds.
The battle ended with the Imperial Forces in control of one of the two Ritual Sites (the other remaining in contest) and none of the fuel tanks having been destroyed. Even as the Forces of Entropy yielded Swelter to the agents of The Corpse God the Warp Storm enveloped the planet once more trapping the antagonists on Corpulous Prime and setting the stage for Episode Three:Escape from Corpulous Prime!
1) The Dark Angels perform a Surprise Attack on The Unwritten in Swelter. If the Dark Angels win: Battle #3 is Chaos Space Marine Mission: Black Crusade where the Space Marines attack the Imperial Guard. If The Unwritten win: Battle #3 becomes an Imperial Guard Mission: Prepared Assault with the Imperial Guard attacking the (post recovery roll) remains of the Chaos Space Marines.
Defenders in either case are considered to be dug in (36" of barricades).
The Dark Angels won this battle with light casualties and drove The Unwritten from the city determining the format for battle #3 to be a Black Crusade. This actually allowed The Unwritten to rebuild some of his forces which we thought balanced the fact that the Chaos Space Marine army was the only one that had to fight two preliminary battles prior to the final fight.
2) The Tau perform a Vertical Envelopment of the Dark Eldar. The winner of this battle got the Flank March Stratagem for battle #5. Additionally the Dark Eldar had possession of the Artifact at the beginning of this fight.
The Tau won this fight seizing the Artifact and badly mauling the Dark Eldar forces who did not withdraw in a timely fashion and were hit hard on the recovery rolls losing half or more of their points value.
3) The Black Crusade of The Unwritten retakes Swelter. The winner of this fight (detailed in battle #1) got the Long Range Ack-Ack stratagem for battle #5. They also got to pick their deployment zone for Battle #5.
The guard fights to the bitter end but recovers very well entering battle #3 at nearly full value. The Chaos Space Marines win and recover some of their strength but still enter battle #5 at little better than half their initial force level.
4) This is a variation of the Invasion mission and saw Daemon Hunters pairing off against Chaos Daemons. In this mission the Inquisition had one Adeptus Mechanicus Tech Adept per Inquisitorial Retinue. the Adept could destroy one of the objectives on a D6 roll of 3+ made in the shooting phase of any turn that the Adept was in base contact with the objective. Once all the objectives were destroyed the Warp Rift in the center of the table was removed and became an objective (the STC entrance) the Inquisitor could touch the objective and then leave the table to win the game. If the Inquisitor was killed prior to leaving the table after contacting the objective Trophy Kill would go into effect.
The winner of this game got a free vehicle or daemon from their collection for battle #5.
The Chaos Daemons won this game with almost no losses and proceeded to game #5 nearly unscathed and with an extra Blood Thirster that would arrive using a modified Major Possession. Major Possession was changed from replacing an Independent Character to replace any infantry or jump infantry model with the arriving Daemon.
Game 5 teams:
This is an Apocalypse battle.
The Allied side selected three of the four available (post recovery roll) forces. They selected Dark Angels, Imperial Guard, and Tau.
The Chaos side fielded all three of its (post recovery roll) armies. Dark Eldar, Chaos Daemons, and Chaos Space Marines. Having only two players it was determined that the Chaos team would dice off for control of the Chaos Daemon army at the beginning of each turn. Additionally they agreed not to discuss plans regarding the Chaos Daemons. As the Chaos Daemon army was by far the most intact army on the Chaos Team side this made for an interesting byplay. Also potentially amusing was the fact that, if the chance arose, the one of the Chaos Team players might try to nab the Artifact and go for an individual win and might be able to use the vacillating control of the Chaos Daemon army.... or not!
The victory conditions for this battle were complex.
Control of the field (winning the Tactical Battle (Team victory)) was determined control of the two Ritual Sites and the Space Port.
Preventing the Planet from being enveloped by the Warp Storm (winning the Strategic Battle (Setting the Narrative for the next Campaign)) was based on destruction of the Volatile Liquid Tanks. There were six of these placed using the regular method for objective placement in Apocalypse. At the end of the battle a D6 roll that was greater than the number of remaining Tanks would prevent the Warp Beacon from re-immersing the planet in the warp storm. The fuel tanks themselves were very hazardous. They counted as stationary vehicles with an armor value of 13. They could be destroyed normally by immediate or accrued damage but "Destroyed-Explodes!" results were spectacular. The explosion was D6+6" s7 AP4 so exploding the things was quite a hazardous endeavor. In the actual game only one of the tanks was damaged and none were actually destroyed.
Escaping with the Artifact (Achieving an individual win) required that the player possessing the artifact be able to contact the Arvus Lighter at the Space Port with the Artifact at any time after three of the Volatile Liquid Tanks were destroyed. This did allow for friendly players to fight among themselves. It was envisioned to be a way to keep things interesting in the event that one team entered the battle as a serious underdog. In this battle the Forces of Chaos were only fielding about 70% of the points that the Imperials were fielding and had another potentially serious handicap to consider in the randomized control of half of their forces.
In spite of the complexity of the scenario the last Battle went surprisingly well. The Chaos side was at a serious disadvantage in points on the field and in terms of coordinated control of their largest force but fought well and the final outcome was never a foregone conclusion.
The Allied team won this game on control of objectives but failed to prevent the Warp Beacon from drawing Corpulous Prime back into the Immaterium. No individual victory was achieved. This sets the stage for the next campaign "Escape from Corpulous Prime" .
All in all a great break for tournament style games.
The Recovery Mechanism:
I lifted most of this on the fly from someone else's campaign. In retrospect I think it yields overly severe rank and file casualties and would tweak the recovery rates to base them on the quality of the unit (troops, elites, fast attack, heavy, special,... etc) rather than the base figure type. This system does that a little but only in regards to HQ units. I think the full recovery players could get from withdrawing a unit prior to its destruction balanced out the rank and file values and gave a big incentive to withdraw before a unit was destroyed. Anyway the game went well using it... just always is room to improve so here it is:
Roll for each casualty in a unit. Replace your choice of models up to the number recovered.
Special Characters use the Chart from the campaign in IA8. Basically 1-2 = Serious Wound (Reduce a random characteristic by 1 and enter battle #5 with only 1 wound remaining), 3-4 = Wounded (Enter battle #5 with only 1 wound remaining), 5-6 Concussion (Enter battle #5 fully recovered).
Infantry and bikes recover on a roll of 5+
Vehicles recover on 4+ )If recovered roll 1 apply a penetrating hit, 2- 3 apply a glancing hit. 4+ fully recovered).
HQ recover on a 3+
This system resulted in under strength units. Players were permitted to combine under strength units with other units that were similar in type (i.e. Infantry to Infantry, Jump infantry to Jump Infantry, Bikes to Bikes, etc...) and achieve over strength units. This did result in some unusual and fun unit composition.
At the end of event we discussed campaign badges for the individual armies.
More on that in future!
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