Category: Warhammer 40k

Artifacts of the Dallaran Cluster

Artifacts of the Dallaran Cluster

Yes, it’s time for more 40k. Decided to try a campaign, as most of us who game at my local store really enjoy more narrative-driven gaming to encourage our painting and playing. One of our players, Tony Borzok, wrote up an idea that we decided to transform into a game–the following is almost entirely his write-up, with some edits and suggestions from the wider group. 

Artifacts of the Dallaran Cluster is a map-based campaign in which players battle on 15 different planets spread out through the Cluster in search of their faction-specific artifact. Along the way players will attack foes, defend territory, earn planetary perks, build fortifications, and race to acquire their artifact to enable victory.

Prepare the Harvest, for They Will Scythe

The Veiled Region of the Segmentum Tempestus has long held mystery, shrouded in the myriad warp storms that rage and obscure Imperial travel. Yet suddenly, one area of the storms subsided–revealing a dense cluster of stars along the fringe of the sector. Imperial probes and a survey vessel were dispatched, and examination of the cluster revealed a higher number of planetoids than expected given the small size. The survey vessel’s crew launched signal buoys to cordon off the cluster while examination for heretical or xenos evidence was conducted. Naming the major star Dallaran, they completed an initial survey of it and its two companion stars, and filed the information among the millions of other reports making their way for Imperial administrative review to be opened for further exploration, colonization, and mineral extraction. 

The system was largely forgotten until an Inquisitor, Jerubaal Valenhern, operating on a star base near the Dallaran cluster was called in for advice on what seemed like a routine customs arrest. A freebooter captain with a small ship attempted to avoid a customs search, and was caught trafficking illicit trinkets depicting heretical cult symbols and idols packed in strange, ill-smelling straw.

Strange Idol

Inquisitor Valenhern carefully purged the few customs officials who observed the images themselves, then turned to interrogation of the captain: Beyal Fabian. Captain Fabian revealed under intense interrogation and psychic pressure that she had been cutting the cordon and retrieving these items from the Dallaran Cluster planetoids. She spoke of these as only the most transportable and easily moved goods, but ranted and raved about far stranger massive artifacts that she had seen. Her words began to slur and burble as she spoke of hidden temples, strange symbols, a cruel rod held on a pedestal that seeped pure purple energy, and more.

Reports are unclear from the station what followed. Inquisitor Valenhern dashed off a desperate S.O.S. message, appended with that much of the transcript of the interrogation. His plea for help was stunningly strange. He said the station was under assault from inside and that Captain Fabian was “no more yet even more”. His final words on the transmission were “Get here. There’s no helping the station. But scour the Dallaran Cluster for these artifacts. Prepare for the harvest, for They will scythe.”

Upon receiving the message, the grand Imperial war machine rumbled into action. Inquisitor Valenhern’s superior noted the potential need for extreme force, and dispatched not merely the usual Imperial expeditionary force. He earmarked it for a Titan Legion and the Adeptus Mechanicus as well. But the Inquisition was not the only one listening. What xenos awakened on the planets with Captain Fabian’s footsteps? What other races are watching the signs and stars, recognizing the portents of Chaos? And to what does the destruction of the star base and the strange words from Fabian and Valenhern mean for yet darker daemonic prophecies and quests? One thing was sure: the artifacts of the Dallaran Cluster must be found. 

Campaign Concepts

The Campaign will take place over a number of rounds, each of which has three phases: maneuver, battle, and wrap-up. Players start with a single planet that they choose based upon a roll-off for selection order.

Maneuver Phase: Every player secretly select and write down which maneuver they will take (and the target of that maneuver). They are then revealed starting with the player with the lowest total campaign points in that round (rolling for ties). The maneuvers are as follows:

Invade: Choose a planet controlled by an opponent and battle for control. If the opponent has an HQ or Shrine in that location, that becomes the target of the invasion (requires a second invasion to conquer the world).

Explore: Choose a planet controlled by no player, and gain control of it.

Build: A player chooses one of the planets they control, and select to build either an HQ or a Shrine in that location. A player can only choose the Shrine option if they are on their correct relic planet, but an HQ can be built anywhere. Players can only have one shrine and one HQ in the system at any given time. An invasion cancels a build maneuver if it is revealed first. If revealed after in the same round, then the building is completed just in the nick of time.

If multiple players select the same destination for occupation with Explore, then they will battle–with the winner taking control of the planet. When a player has one of their controlled planets invaded, they can choose to either battle or cede control. If they cede control, treat as an Explore. If they choose to battle, the winner retains/gains control of that planet. If several players choose the same destination, that’s fine–work out either sequential games or one larger multiplayer game to resolve the event, depending upon the narrative of who’s attacking where.

Battle Phase: Should be self-explanatory, but represents the clashes between armies on the various planets. Use the following missions for guidance, depending on the situation of the battle. If the players cannot decide on a scenario that makes sense for the battle as the story progresses, consult the other players in the campaign or roll a dice.

Invasion Scenarios: Meat Grinder, Blitz, No Mercy, Secure and Control, Tactical Escalation, Deadlock. For battles targeting an HQ or Shrine, instead pick one of the following: Sabotage, Rescue, Retrieval Mission, the Relic, Cleanse and Capture, Cloak and Shadows. Note that an HQ and/or a Shrine give different bonuses to models in these battles. HQ provides the controlling player 4 additional CP for the battle. Shrine provides the general of the army a boost to their morale and fighting presence: they automatically pass all personal leadership tests and gain +1 to two characteristics of their choice from this list: WS, BS, Strength, or Toughness.

Explore Scenarios: Ambush, Patrol, The Scouring, Big Guns Never Tire, Contact Lost, Spoils of War

Wrap-up Phase: Check which planets each player controls. Reveal to that player which perk applies for that planet. During the first Round of the campaign, do not include the Faction Artifact options in the random Perk selection pool. Players can make note of the perks of planets as they discover them. Adjust player campaign points score according to their current possessions. Check to see if the campaign finale threshold is met. If so, then plan the mega battle campaign conclusion for the following week. If not, proceed to another Round of the campaign.

Planetary Perks

Each of the 15 planets in the cluster will be assigned a perk, but that perk will be distributed at random as the planets are occupied. Players will know what they possess, and there may be reasons that it becomes visible to the other players–but there will be some mystery as no one will exactly know which planet provides what benefit. That will add some mystery in people’s quests to locate their faction artifact.

King of Hearts Imperium Artifact
King of Spades Chaos Artifact
King of Diamonds Eldar Artifact
King of Clubs Necron Artifact
Queen of Hearts Lost Settlers: A community of lost settlers has established a home here, eager to rejoin the Imperium after their time away. Imperial models automatically pass all Leadership tests (except for ones for or defending against psyhic powers) in battles on this planet, to represent their zealous defense of this populace.
Queen of Spades Chaos Shift: The powers of Chaos can make or unmake worlds in their image. If the Chaos player possesses this world, they may choose to swap this world’s card for a randomly selected world card held by another player. This becomes the Perk of the world that loses its card, and the lost card becomes the new Perk of the planet that was the Chaos Shift.
Queen of Diamonds Webway Portal: Set up one Webway Portal model on battlefields when this planet and an Eldar player is involved. Eldar players may use it as a part of their force as normal.
Queen of Clubs Tomb World: This is the Necron tomb world in the system. All Necron models may gain the Deep Strike deployment special rule for battles on this planet.
10 Asteroid Defense System: Half of the attacker’s units (rounding down) must start any mission in reserve, owing to being slowed in deployment by the defenses. If an unsuccessful attacker tries to invade this planet again in their very next Maneuver phase, then this benefit does not apply the subsequent attempt.
9 Abandoned Xenos Hive: This world contains the ancient structures of a long-lost Xenos race (best translation Imperial scholars could manage is “The Future Land of Cleve”). Any battle on this planet must use a dense urban terrain set-up.
8 Death World: Maintaining a force on this planet is difficult at best, as the occupiers must deal with the constant attacks of the flora and fauna. The player who occupies this planet chooses a force that is 75% the points value of the attacking force during an invasion of this world (or add the same amount of points to the attacking force’s side as needed).
7 Null Planet: Something about the chemical composition of the soil dulls connection to the warp on this planetoid. All HQ characters on both sides of the battle gain the Deny the Witch ability, whether or not they are a Psyker.
6 Ash Wastes: Visibility is highly limited by the volcanic smoke columns and soot storms that sweep this planet.
Ace Empty Planet: No Benefit nor Penalty
Ace Empty Planet: No Benefit nor Penalty

Campaign Points and Conclusion

Players each have a static campaign score that they carry throughout the campaign. Each Wrap-Up Phase players should check and adjust their current score.

Each player/side gains points as following:

  • 1 Campaign Point for each planet they control
  • 1 additional Campaign Point for controlling their Artifact world (immediately reveal that Perk card to the other players)
  • 1 additional additional Campaign Point for controlling a world with their Shrine
  • 1 Campaign point for every 500 points of their army that is fully painted and based (up to 3,000 points)

Thus, player campaign scores can range from zero to 23 (the latter representing one player controlling every planet, having built their shrine world, and have a fully painted and based 3,000 point army).

At every Wrap-Up Phase, the players should add all of their scores together. When that score totals 30 or more, the Conclusion Condition is met.

Conclusion Condition Effects: There are no further rounds of play, instead a large culminating multi-player battle–the story for this battle will be determined by the breakdown of Campaign Points, planetary possessions, and the story that has developed across the Campaign’s play. Relative campaign points in particular will come into play in determining battlefield position and secret objectives for the final mission.

 

 

 

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Ork World

Ork World

“Oi, you gitz. Listen ta ma tale o’ da Biggest Baddest Waaaghboss evah. Cuz there’s somthin’ in da tale fer all you yoofz. He started as just a ‘oi, you’ rumbling around a scrap fort in a trukkmob in a desert, and rose to be da greatest and most honored Waaaghboss in Ork legend. So listen up…” – Big Mek Mashgub Threeteef

Ork World is a set of campaign rules that combines games of Warhammer 40k and Gorkamorka to tell the tale of a number of competing warbosses on an Ork planet all vying to be the one who ascends to rule the entire group and lead their Waaagh into space and out to conquer every planet that exists. It allows multiple players to each chart the rise of their potential boss from a mere “oi you” yoof, to boy, to Nob, to Boss, and then to overall leader of the Waaagh.

Ork Growth Patterns

To track this advancement, the Ork World campaign uses the simple Title Achievements method of advancement, paced over a set schedule of games. As each participant player’s boss grows, they will do things in games that will net them specific titles: things based on in-game accomplishments, accidents, weapons used, etc. Ork leaders are judged in part by their strength, but also by their suitably impressive titles. Wouldn’t you listen to Gorgrund, Defeata of Worlds, King Choppa, and Arch-Arsonist of Callax a lot more closely than Gorgrund, dat ork ovah dere?

What makes the campaign work is that all players know all available Title Achievements from the start, and can plan toward achieving them, but each Title Achievement is given a points value that is hidden from all participants until the conclusion of the campaign. Players won’t know whether “Shoota Masta” nets more points than “Burna Fiend” until the end of things, so everyone has reasons to advance the strategy that they’ve chosen. A non-player seals the scoring info away at the beginning, making it all the more amusing as players think about what motivates the most impressive ork boss titles. Is getting injured a sign of weakness or a show of bravery? Better to shoot or to chop, to ride a bike or experiment with a jetpack, or just hoof it in a huge suit of mega armor? Each potential boss will chart their own path of destruction in games, and earn an impressive list of titles as they go that retains their unique legend of the games.

Below is the game timeline, with the notes about where each potential boss is in their journey and the number of games played.

Game Number(s) System Name and Titles
1 Gorkamorka All potential bosses are just a yoof named “Oi You!”
2 Gorkamorka Automatically advance to a Boy. Gain a first name of player’s choosing.
3 Gorkamorka Complete the Nob Duel event to move to Nob. Number of attempts to victory recorded and figure into potential first Title Achievements. Gain a surname of the player’s choosing.
4-6 (see aside) Gorkamorka Lead their Gorkamorka Band for three gaming periods, earning titles as they go. Multiple games can be played in this period to angle for other titles
7-10 (see aside) 40k Graduate to Nob within a unit. Results of Gorkamorka games can decide the unit chosen (gaining a Title Achievement), but player can also select their own spot for the Nob if they prefer a different unit type (no Title Achievement). Again, three game periods with multiple games allowed in each period to earn the Nob-level Title Achievements.
11+ 40k Rise to Warboss. Additional games of 40k permitted, allows even more pursuit of Title Achievements. When group agrees it’s time to crown the Waaagh leader, one final set of games gets played to allow any final shots at Title Achievements. Then the scoring rubric is revealed, and the score is tallied for each Warboss’ full title.

The requirements for how to track this are pretty simple. The player must build three or more distinct versions of their developing boss–each with some definable feature. A certain hat, a type of warpaint, a particular skull shoulderpad, whatever makes them definable in the progression. One serves as the yoof and boy for the first two games, one serves as the Gorkamorka nob, and one serves as the Warboss. If due to the game or player decisions, the Nob takes a particular type of journey in the transition to 40k (becoming a Biker Nob, a Stormboy, etc.) then a fourth model may be necessary to indicate them as well.

Other than that, the players simply play the games at each week and then follow along on the title chart in their provided Boss Sheet checklist. Some titles are awarded for specific one-off deeds: when they are achieved, they are marked down at the end of that gaming session and are a part of the boss going forward. Others are comparative (having the most of something at the end of a given time period) or leveled (getting the first part is easy, but then the boss that has the most of those moments at the end of the campaign gets the Arch- or Masta- prefix added to their version of the achievement). There are even a couple of potentially bad titles out there: maybe in this ork society the boyz are judgmental of a nob who focuses on firepower before speed, or vice versa.

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Though are you really going to tell this Bad Moonz Warboss that his love of firepower doesn’t qualify him as the baddest Warboss around? 

Gubbinz  in Progress: A preliminary version of the Title Achievements sheet will be placed below when it’s completed, and any other information that comes up will be placed here as well. Detailed info about the Nob Duel, Advancement from Gorkamorka to 40k, and more will be spelled out in more detail.

Future Cleveland: Story and Faces

Future Cleveland: Story and Faces

Background: The Desolation of Clevelandador Futuris

Clevelandador is a three planet system that was discovered in m.36 by the exploration fleet of Clevelandador Patel IV. One planet is resource-rich but uninhabitable, while another is a dry waste with thin atmosphere unsuitable for much. However, the third planet was the perfect spot for colonization to exploit the resources of the system. It was settled, and named Futuris, for the dream of a better future it might bring.

The primary city on the planet is formally designated “The Royal Arch-Dominastae of Prelate Xadu”, and has been named that for eight years. The curious method of rule of the planet involves the noble families having the right to have each city on the planet, or “dominastae” named after their familial liege, with the capital city having the formal name of the current majority elected aristocratic leader. The constantly switching names has led to the peoples of the system simply calling the cities by slang for their surroundings: “Metaltowne” for the small hamlet near the mines, “Mountainview” for the cliffside city, and “Future Cleveland” as the low gothic version of the planet’s name for the capital city. 

War has come to Future Cleveland. The planet, positioned with some residual resources in the system but nothing spectacular, has long escaped the most dutiful eye of the Imperium of Man. The populace has long been left to their own devices by an increasingly competitive nobility structure that seeks merely manipulate the commoners for their own electoral power and wealth. The decadence of the nobility has led to a gross public acceptance of mutation that would shock most Imperial citizens. Even the current Mayor of Future Cleveland has a most horrific mutation–yet it was simply cause for a laugh among most of the populace. 

This laxity has led to debased demagogues proliferating across the city, willing to exploit troubling ideas of the most base kind, to generate multiple cults of Chaos amongst the outlying settlements of the great city. Cults of Nurgle have been literally and figuratively festering on the fringes of the great basin (where much of the settlements exist). Cults of Khorne meet in secret dueling societies and conduct murder rituals under the smog-choked skies. Other, nameless cults proliferate as well, seeking the deeper contacts with the powers of Chaos in all their might. 

What triggered the War for Future Cleveland was the death of Prelate Xadu. The rival Chaos bands made independent play for complete control of the city–and thus the planet. Because of the street warfare between cultists, order broke down and an urgent dispatch was released before the astropath was destroyed. The city fell into ruin, rubble, and disorder as the economy died and battles raged between rival cults and fringe noble houses. As the battle raged, the different cults recruited darker and more horrible powers from beyond reality: strange oozing daemons seeking to further debase to populace and power armored Chaos Space Marines who see control of the industrial center as a way to bolster their continued efforts to win the long war against the Emperor. 

Strife breeds response, in ways both helpful and harmful. The dispatches claiming that the city, and perhaps the system, were going to be lost to the ruinous powers were heard. The Fourth Company of Ultramarines was dispatched en masse to root out the powers of Chaos, as chancing the corruption of the Imperial Guard with such blasphemy was seen as a danger. In case the entire city warranted destruction, Lapinius Rex, Warlord Titan of the Legio Immortalis, is slated to arrive on-planet to support the Ultramarines.

Lapinus Rex Warlord Titan

 

Lapinius Rex, Warlord Titan of the Legio Immortalis, Pride of Forge World Konor

But the Imperium of Man were not the only ones who heard requests for help. A nearby Tau sept had been monitoring the planet. While they were blissfully unaware of the grim warnings of Chaos corruption in the astropathic communications, the Tau noticed the unrest in other ways–merchant ships that traded with them reported the increase in strife that led to closure of the space docks. Thinking it a perfect time to arrive and spread a message of conciliation and union with the Tau Empire, the Tau sent forth a delegation ready to entreat with the citizens.

The third complication revealed itself as one of the noble houses suddenly ceased all communication. Runners from the various warring factions in the area went to spy on what was happening, only to marvel as a huge force assembled for war streaking thru the sky on jet-powered vehicles. Unknown to the humans of the planet, nor the powers they worked for, a powerful Eldar Farseer had decreed that this situation of unrest was part of a broad machination that needed to be pacified. Her runes of fate determined a single image–the Avatar’s shape, standing in the center square of the main city of the planet called “Crios Meirge” in the Eldar star charts, burning with the fire of thousands of suns and striking the first blow for the resurgence of their race. She called upon the war hosts to assemble, and anointed commanders to bring the prophecy to fruition.

Like moths to a flame, a fourth external entity made planetfall at the same time. A mighty Kill Kroozer, loaded with ork warriors but limping from a recent larger engagement with the Imperial Navy, was forced to crash-land on Futuris. With the planet’s defenses in disarray and the sudden arrival of other war hosts, response to the crash was delayed too long. The Orks had quickly cannibalized the remains of their ship into the machinery of war, and began growing stronger from the initial clashes with outlying cult factions. With a city full of industrial scrap on the horizon, a new Waaagh was born.

With all forces assembled in different outlying areas of the great basin, the race was on to see which force would be able to wrest control of “Future Cleveland”.

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Forces of Future Cleveland

[Forthcoming]

Campaign Futuris: Rules

Campaign Futuris: Rules

Campaign Futuris (also known as “Future Cleveland”) is a campaign involving eight players at Drawbridge Games in Pittsburgh, PA that is being launched with the 8th Edition Warhammer 40k ruleset. Some of us are returning, some are making new armies, and some are brand-new to the game. To motivate the campaign we’re using a variant of the wonderful Games Workshop Blood in the Badlands campaign system with the rules re-purposed to 40k. Future Cleveland was the joke name for the Shadow War: Armageddon board that a participant (Ryan) built. Given all the ruined buildings, the joke was based on these amazing satires. Anyhow, here are the modified Blood in the Badlands rules as we’re using them.

Campaign

The campaign runs for one year in game time: four seasons with three sections each season (called rounds). At the end of each season is a special event game, and the finale is the culminating battle for Future Cleveland–the player that wins that battle wins the campaign.

Heroes and Armies

Each player begins by selecting three different HQ choices that will represent the three commanders of their armies. One is the overall war leader, while the other two represent lieutenants. Players will create a unique name and backstory for each of their heroes. Every season, the player gets three armies led by their three heroes. We are using a map image, and the players will decide each round where those armies move (they begin in a starting hex for the faction). These leaders can span armies as long as they make sense to be paired together (Imperial forces in particular are likely to be this way), and represent armies drawn from that faction.

Players also can decide on any allied forces, and declare them as a part of the beginning of the campaign (they can break alliances later if desired). In our Future Cleveland campaign, the Chaos players may be the most likely allies, but there is no reason they wouldn’t fight each other to gain more control of the city. No one may ally with a Tyranid player, though alliances with Genestealer Cults are allowed (they are deceptive, after all).

Future Cleveland PreDeployment

The Map

The map is composed of a set of hexes, representing the great basin on Futuris, the primary planet in the Clevelandador system. The northern portion of the map contains 7 hexes representing the city nicknamed Future Cleveland, with the remaining hexes representing surrounding areas. The players roll-off to determine order of choice. They then claim a hex and indicate it as their base, and mark the six hexes around them as their starting territories. The four Chaos players will position in spots around the city, representing their control of the outlying suburbs. The four non-Chaos players will be spread around the city, and fighting to get in. Players can then decide one hex in their territories to contain a fortress and one to contain a manufactorum. Finally, the player selects three different hexes as the starting points for their three armies. The total of controlled hexes a player has is considered their Empire for the purposes of these rules–and the size of their empire is counted by number of hexes.

Turn Order

Each round, each player follows the turn order below in order of smallest empire to largest, rolling for ties.

  1. Random Events
  2. Move Armies
  3. Declare War
  4. Roll for Manufactorums
  5. Fight Battles
  6. Resolve Victories
  7. Resolve Expeditions
  8. End of Turn

1. Random Events

Each player rolls a d66 on the random Events Table and resolves the event. The random events can affect battles, campaign-map actions, or both. The player who rolled the result is the active player for purposes of the event.

The random events table is long, so it is produced at the bottom of this document.

2. Move Armies

Armies can claim unclaimed tiles, fortify lands, fend off invading armies, and claim enemy territory–they do so primarily via movement in the campaign map portions.

At the start of each season, players can select any Hex they control to contain one of their armies (starting with the player with the smallest number of hexes).

Each campaign round (three rounds per season) players take turns, again smallest hexes first, to move armies one-at-a-time. To move an army, the player nominates the army and then rolls a d3 to see how far it moves on the map. Each player moves one army during this phase, then go back to the first player to move their second army. This way players can react to opponents’ movements. At least one army must always remain somewhere within a player’s borders to defend their empire.

3. Declare War

Starting with the player with the smallest empire, each player can challenge another player to battle. A player may issue only one challenge per turn, and may not issue a challenge to an opponent who has already been challenged*. A player who has been challenged may not issue a challenge of their own*.

* There may be cases where it makes sense to have multi-player games due to the map and the sides involved. In these cases, additional challenges can be made if they make sense to all parties involved and the narrative of how the forces are arranged on the map.

The position of armies on the campaign map is central to determining challenges. Players should review the following list, in order, to determine their challenged opponent.

  1. If you have an army in the same tile as another (non-allied) player, you must issue a challenge to them.
  2. Otherwise, if another (non-allied) player has an army in your empire, you must issue a challenge to them.
  3. Otherwise, if you have an army in another (non-allied) player’s empire, you must issue a challenge to them.
  4. Otherwise, if none of these apply, you may challenge any player an ally could challenge instead.

This should result in a game every game round for each player.

Chaos Rules

4. Roll for Manufactorums

While not every race may have a Manufactorum, each faction has their own way of supplying new troops: birthing new warriors, recruiting new cultists, traveling thru warpgates, or supply ships arriving from afar. Manufactorums are the way we represent these things–each Race is encouraged to come up with their own preferred story of how the support arrives.

In this phase, roll a d6 for any Manufactorums (and related structures) and apply the results. See the full listing below in Structure Rules for the various structures and their effects in this phase.

5. Fight Battles

When starting a battle, the players decide two things: which hex it takes place on the map and which armies are involved. Normally this will be clear, but sometimes armies are a bit further apart. Use the closest armies to the opponent and a tile that lies under them or between them in a direct line.

When picking your list for battle, the following rules apply:

  • The game may be of any mutually agreeable size. The games will use the Power Points system for Warhammer 40k 8th edition. Players should aim to assemble a starting force of 40 Power points for early games in the campaign. As players build their armies, we can raise that number accordingly.
  • You must take the Hero HQ choice associated with the army that is fighting. Their power points must be paid for out of your total. Any game effects that apply to them or their force due to prior games must be used.
  • If one army is bigger than the other army due to Manufactorums, random rolls, other map elements, or relics, it cannot exceed more than 25% more points than the opposing force.

The table is then set up to represent the hex terrain and the scenario of the engagement. If players mutually agree on a scenario that fits the narrative, they can play that scenario. Otherwise, they can roll randomly among the available scenarios.

6. Resolve Victories

After the battle, the victorious army gains while the defeated army must recover. To represent this, the victorious player rolls a d6 on the Spoils of War chart below. In addition, if the “Hero” HQ of either player was removed from play as a casualty during the game, that player has to roll for them on the Character Effects table below.

Finally, the winner must roll an additional d6:

  • 1-3: the defeated army is driven back a tile toward its own empire or capital
  • 4-6: the defeated army is removed from play as it scatters. It can reform at the start of the next season, with this Hero or a new Hero as desired.

Spoils of War Chart

1 Pyrrhic Victory: You won, but your supply lines are stretching thinner and thinner. Can you hold out? In the next Roll for Manufactorums phase, subtract -2 from the rolls for all Manufactorums in your territory.
2 Stunning Victory: It’s hard to hold territory in the face of such a dominant army. Any Fortification saves made by an opponent for a hex being conquered by this army are reduced by a further -2.
3 Ranks Bolstered: The commander of your forces wants to keep these victories rolling by sending more troops. In the next game in which this Hero HQ’s army is fielded, you get an additional 5 Power Points to add to your army.
4 Elite Status: This army has been recognized as deserving of elite support in terms of manpower and materiel. In their next battle, they may add any one unit to their force beyond the normal limits of a Battle Forged army, and still count as Battle Forged. (e.g. A Patrol detachment could include a 3rd Heavy Support choice).
5 Tactical Superiority: Your victory allowed your forces insight into enemy battle plans on the planet surface, and their designs on Future Cleveland. The Hero HQ of this army immediately gains one Relic.
6 Economic Breathing Room: Your victories have allowed your production facilities to make advances as well. You may immediately construct one structure that you can place in any hex where it would be allowed (you must control the hex, no other structure there, etc.). This can be in addition to any other building this round or season.

Character Effects Chart

1 Killed: The Hero HQ succumbed to their injuries, and died. Their army, now leaderless, scatters and is removed from the map. The player cannot re-use this Hero HQ in future seasons. Their story ends here.
2 Captured: The Hero HQ has been taken hostage by the enemy. Their army, now leaderless, scatters and is removed from the map. The player whose Hero HQ is captured can choose to play a rescue special mission in any subsequent round in addition to their normal battle. If they are successful, they can then replace the captured Hero HQ with their army at any of their fortress squares.
3 Mission Incomplete:  The Hero manages to limp to safety or be picked up by medical staff. However, their injuries led to a critical command-and-control mission going incomplete. The opposing army’s Hero HQ immediately gains one Relic.
4 Offscreen Escape: What looked grim on the battlefield turned out to be simply a time for the HQ to flee to safety. They participate normally in the next battle of their army.
5 ‘Tis a Flesh Wound: The HQ recovers from their injuries fully, and participates normally in the next battle of their army.
6 You’ll Get Yours: Make a note of which Hero HQ led the force that removed this HQ as a casualty. In the next game between these two armies, this force gets to field an additional 5 Power Points, representing them evening the score against the foe.

7. Resolve Expeditions

Armies can do more than simply battle–they can conquer tiles or fortify your empire.

Starting with the smallest empire, work through the following sequence with each army on the map.

  1. If your army was driven back by another army, it may not do anything else this turn as it is too busy making a retreat.
  2. If your army is in an unclaimed tile, you may claim it. That tile’s border colors will change to match your map color.
  3. If your army is in a tile occupied by an enemy army and a battle wasn’t fought, roll a d6: on a 1, your army is removed, 2-3 your army is driven back a tile, 4-5 the enemy army is driven back a tile, 6 the enemy army is removed.
  4. If the army is in its own empire, it may build a structure from the list of structures in the Special Rules. Note that some structures can only be built by certain factions. Each tile can only contain one structure, though you can replace structures as you see fit. Each army may only build once per season (not per round).
  5. If your army is in an enemy tile that does not contain any enemy armies, you may attempt to conquer it. The player whose tile you are conquering is then allowed to make a fortification save to see if they are able to garrison their lands in time to stave off attack. They roll a d6 and apply the following modifiers
  • The tile borders a tile of the attacking enemy -1
  • The tile is adjacent to a fortress +1
  • The tile contains a fortress +2
  • The tile contains a different structure that affects the roll (variable)
  • Keys to Future Cleveland. If you have any relics, you may sacrifice them to invading armies to give you time to gather your forces. For each relic you choose to transfer to an opponent, you can increase your roll by +1

If the roll is 6+ the defending player is successful and the tile does not change hands. If the save is failed, the tile is conquered. The tile changes color to that of the invading force.

8. End of Turn

At the end of each round, make certain that all things are set for the next round. At the end of each season, there is a bonus Season Climax event. Following the season climax event, all players remove any armies that they have on the board–and then to start the next season they can place all three of their armies anywhere in their empire. If they lost any Hero HQ choices, they can have that model return (with 0 Relics and no bonuses or penalties) or recruit a new Hero HQ choice for their force to lead subsequent armies.

Planning Session

Relics

Relics are a special currency used in the game to represent information and objects that will help a faction secure control of Future Cleveland. These can range from knowledge of a special access tunnel to the physical key for a secure Adeptis Mechanicus bunker in the heart of town, and anything in-between. They can be used during the campaign rounds, but also will matter for the purposes of the campaign finale. Many will simply be a “Relic”, but some special Relics with additional rules will be the rewards from seasonal games.

Relics are possessed by one of the three Hero HQ’s for the force, and their possession will be tracked in the information for the campaign. Any time that two same-player-controlled armies end their movement in adjacent hexes, the player can swap Relics between their Heroes as they see fit.

In addition to the ways that Relics can be used elsewhere, Relics can always be traded in during the Manufactorum phase of a given round. A Relic redeemed in this way gives the player an additional 5 Power Points for the army attached to the Hero HQ that redeemed it for that subsequent battle round. As the Manufactorum phase occurs after the Challenge phase, players should know which Hero of theirs will be fighting for the round.

Structure Rules

The following is a list of the various special structures that can be present on the map tiles. Note that certain structures can only be built  by certain forces–any limitations are in brackets behind the structure’s name. Where the structures have in-game procedure for the Campaign Map phase each round, they generally occur in the Manufactorum phase, unless otherwise indicated.

Manufactorum: Roll a d6 for each Manufactorum you control and consult the following:

1 – Resources Exhausted or Sabatage: The Manufactorum ceases production for some reason. Remove it from the map.

2-4 – Production Continues: For any battle fought this round, you can include 5 Power Points more forces than the agreed upon total (e.g. You and your opponent agree to a 40 Power Point game, this result means that you get to field 45 Power Points worth of army. Both players could have this, and that would mean that despite agreeing to a 40 Power Point game it ends up being both sides at 45).

5-6 – Exceptional Output: You can choose to either gain the benefit of “Production Continues” as above except with 10 Power Points rather than 5, or you can return one Army that was removed during this season to the game and place them in a hex containing one of your Manufactorums. The returning Hero HQ has the same limitations as if they were returned at the start of a season.

Fortress: Fortresses increase the fortification saves of tiles they are in and near. In addition, any battles fought by an army garrisoning their fortress (defending that hex) should include a set of defensive structures for the garrisoning player.

Psychic Anomaly: Whether an arcane amplifier, a waygate to focus a seer’s power, some blasphemous shrine to a chaos god, or a strange neural network of organic warp power, the effects are the same for this structure. If the controlling player has a Hero HQ that can use psychic powers, if they have a Psychic Anomaly structure they can reverse the numbers they roll for the Random Events table (e.g. a 36 becomes a 63).

Space Dock [Imperial only]: This structure assists in moving troops and materiel, and is essential for Imperial movements. An army starting on or adjacent to a hex they own with a Space Dock can be moved to any hex that does not contain a Fortress or is one of the 7 Future Cleveland hexes during the Move Armies phase. If the Imperial player does not choose to use this ability, then the Space Dock can be used to simply bring down more materiel. The Imperial player can field 3 more Power Points than they normally would for the agreed-upon game (similar to a Manufactorum roll).

Spore Chimneys [Tyranids only]: Tyranids not only attack the populace of a planet, but the very environment. Their consumption of the planet occurs at even a chemical level. This can generate conditions that make certain types of warfare impossible. Tyranid armies in or adjacent to a Spore Chimney hex roll a d6 and apply the following weather condition if they are the army that participates in the battle that round:

1-2 – A Nice Day After All – No effect.

3-5 – The Air is Thick with Death – The enemy player may not field any models that have both the Vehicle key word and the Flying key word.

6- The Very Earth Erupts in Horror – The enemy player may not field any models that have the Vehicle key word.

Charnel Altar [Chaos only]: While the form varies by the Chaos god, the intent is the same: this great, blasphemous altar to an unholy power of the warp focuses the intent of the Chaos forces while unnerving the Imperials. The Chaos forces receive one free unit of 10 cultists for any battle fought in or in a hex adjacent to the Charnel Altar. In addition, Imperial forces must go out of their way to target the altar to eliminate its blasphemous presence. When they have a Charnel Altar, Chaos gets a +3 bonus on all Fortification Save rolls against Imperial units for any hex that does not contain the Charnel Altar. However, due to the ire of the Imperials at the blasphemy, the Chaos player also suffers a -2 to all Fortification Saves for the hex containing the Charnel Altar itself when attacked by an Imperial force.

Waygate [Eldar only]: These structures can allow the Eldar quicker movement around the battlefield than opponents expect, allowing them to control the engagement with the foe. An Eldar force in a hex adjacent to or in a Waygate can always be the force that responds to an enemy challenge, even if there are closer Eldar armies. If they do so, that army is then moved to one hex away from the challenging army, and the battle is fought in that hex. If this would cause the Eldar player to have no armies in their home territories, they must then immediately move one of their other armies to the Waygate hex.

Triangulation Nexus [Necrons only]: Necron architecture and energy is dependent upon carefully calculated yet arcane loci and lines of magnetic power of a planet. Should the Necrons construct a set of them that complete a triangle, they are at a strong advantage. Individual Triangulation Nexuses have no benefit. If the Necron player is able to build three Triangulation Nexuses in non-adjacent hexes that form a perfect triangle (same number of hexes per side) then they can gain a set of nearly-permanent advantages. Hexes containing the Triangulation Nexuses themselves and any within the triangle automatically pass all Fortification rolls (Triangulation Nexuses can be lost thru rolls on the random events table, however). In addition, any Necron armies that are positioned in any of these hexes gain an additional 10 Power Points in any battles in which they take place. Finally, at the end of the campaign an intact and properly triangulated monolith trio yields the Necron player a bonus d6 Relics immediately before the final game.

Recruitment Center [Tau only]: Tau present themselves as beneficial conquerors, able to provide access to material comforts and stable existence to the planetary population. Any Tau-controlled hexes containing or adjacent to a Recruitment Center structure gains +1 to all Fortification saves to represent this loyalty. In addition, Tau forces can ignore result 13 “Enemy Sympathizers” on the random events table if they have a Recruitment Center in any of their hexes.

Big Mek’s Scrapyard [Orks only]: Once they get onto a planet, Orks go into full scavenger mode to produce all manner of machines of war. During the Manufactorum Phase, roll a d6 and apply the following result:

1-2- Still Werking. No appreciable gain.

3- Kan I have Kanz? For any battle fought this round, you can include 4 Power Points more forces than the agreed upon total. You MUST include a unit containing a single Killa Kan in your list to represent this addition.

4- Construct the Trukk. For any battle fought this round, you can include 5 Power Points more forces than the agreed upon total. You MUST include a Trukk in your list to represent this addition.

5- Kan I have Moar Kanz? For any battle fought this round, you can include 8 Power Points more forces than the agreed upon total. You MUST include a unit containing exactly two Killa Kanz in your list to represent this addition.

6- Deff-initely Dread-ful! For any battle fought this round, you can include 8 Power Points more forces than the agreed upon total. You MUST include a unit containing exactly one Deff Dread in your list to represent this addition.

The Core Chamber: This is a strange structure at the center of Future Cleveland. At the end of the campaign it counts as 5 relics. The Core Chamber is the prize for winning the scenario at the end of the Fall season, and cannot be built or claimed until then.

Faction Rules

Each faction gets a special rule in the campaign.

Chaos (Undivided): Due to their consort with the warp, Chaos armies’ Fortresses count as Psychic Anomalies, and can be used by Hero HQ’s of Chaos Undivided forces that are not themselves Psykers.

Chaos (Nurgle): The waves of plague unleashed by their forces undermine the defenses of the foe. All Fortification Saves made by forces that lose to a Chaos Nurgle army suffer a -1 penalty.

Space Marines: Space Marines are the premiere strike force, designed to take out enemy Fortifications with lightning fast raids. The bonus provided from the Fortress structure is lessened by 1 (that means that adjacent hexes gain no bonus whatsoever) if a victory from Space Marines prompted the check.

Adeptus Mechanicus: A player with any Adeptus Mechanicus armies in their hexes may re-roll the result for any Manufactorum rolls they make.

Inquisition (Ordo Xenos): Ordos Xenos not only eliminates the key technology of alien threats but works behind the scenes to protect the populace against their insidious threat. Hexes adjacent to or occupying an Ordo Xenos army gain a +1 to Fortification Saves versus Eldar, Tau, Tyranids, Genestealer Cults, Orks, Necrons, and any other Xenos armies. In addition, when an Ordo Xenos army wins a battle in an enemy Xenos territory hex that contains a structure other than a Fortress, the Ordo Xenos player may immediately destroy that structure.

Eldar: Eldar forces do not re-arm in the ways that normal forces do, as they must import all of their technology. Eldar gain no benefits from Manufactorum structures. However, Eldar are also swift in their assaults. During the Move Armies phase, Eldar armies can always move up to three hexes rather than having to roll.

Genestealer Cult: The Genestealer Cult may be welcoming the Tyranids’ arrival, but they’re not exactly allies. Genestealer Cult armies may not be placed in the same hex as a Tyranid forces. If they are moved into a hex that contains a Tyranid force they are immediately removed for the season.

Tyranids: Tyranids can regrow and replace their HQ organisms with ease. Tyranids ignore results 1, 2, and 5 on the Character Effects tables–treat as result 5 instead. Their relics often represent information about how to access the city or the tactics of their foes–and thus when a Tyranid Hero HQ is removed, they can transfer any relics to a different Tyranid Hero HQ that is on the board.

Necrons: Necrons rise from below the ground when they strike, which can take opponents’ armies unaware. During the Move Armies phase, the Necron player may roll a d6 for each of their armies on the map. On a result of a 6, instead of moving that force normally they may move that army to any hex on the map they wish, representing forces emerging from a crypt network in a surprise assault.

Tau: Tau work carefully with local populations in order to hopefully recruit them. They frequently carry non-lethal loadouts and riot suppression gear to minimize civilian casualties should they have to resort to violence. This manifests in two ways in the game. First, in any scenarios that use civilian models, any injuries inflicted on them by Tau have a greater change to be nonlethal (see scenarios for particulars). Second, any time an opponent rolls on the Character Effects table after a battle against Tau in which Tau units were still present on the battlefield at the conclusion of the game, the Tau player can choose to make results of a 1 “Killed” or 3 “Mission Incomplete” be a 2 “Captured” instead–representing the selective use of nonlethal rounds to subdue the target.

Orks: With roar echoed by 1,000 Ork voices, the Waaagh gets sounded. Once per Season during the Move Armies phase, the Ork player may declare a Waaagh (by shouting appropriately). All of their army movement rolls get counted as a result of 3 that turn. In addition, Ork players re-roll result 44 on the Random Events table.

Season Mission Preview

As the seasons progress, there will be a special culminating event that occurs between each of the three sets of rounds. I’m keeping them somewhat under-wraps for now, but here’s the teaser:

Spring: “Titanfall”

Summer: “A Call Answered”

Fall: “The Core Chamber”

Winter: “The Battle for Future Cleveland”

As each gets played, I’ll provide the full rules here as a record for the campaign.

Random Events Table

11 Recalled from War: Remove one of your armies from play until the start of the next season
12 Embattled: Roll 2d3 when moving all of your armies this turn and pick the lowest result
13 Enemy Sympathizers: Any fortification saves you have to make this turn are at an additional -1
14 Assassin: A random opponent picks one of your Hero HQ choices. You must immediately roll on the Character Effects chart for that Hero HQ.
15 Deserters: Pick any of your hexes. It is immediately lost to you (and Structures it contains are destroyed)
16 Plague: Remove one of your structures.
21 Temperate Weather: No effect, for good or ill.
22 Heavy Rainfall: In your next battle, models with the Vehicle keyword move at half their listed speeds unless they have the Fly or other keywords that keep them from being bogged in the mud.
23 Sporadic Lightning: In your next battle, models with the Flying keyword must roll a d6 each time they move. On a 1, they suffer a single wound (save as normal).
24 Lava Vents: In your next battle, infantry models that do not fly or have jump or jetpacks are in danger of falling into lava. Each time you and your opponent Advance with an infantry unit, roll an additional d6 and allocate that many wounds to the unit (saves as normal).
25 Clear Skies: Thanks to the lack of obstructions, both sides in your next battle can try to leverage their air power. Both players can bring one extra Flying unit (up to Power Points 10) to the battle.
26 Terraforming: Due to the weapons and forces deployed around Future Cleveland, the very earth itself is changing. At the end of each player’s turn during the game, scatter any non-occupied, non-building terrain pieces d6” in a random direction.
31 Stoking Unrest: Pick any of your enemy’s hexes that do not contain a Fortress. It is lost to them.
32 Settlement Mission: Pick an unclaimed hex that is not within Future Cleveland. You immediately gain control of it.
33 Raiding Party: Pick any of your enemy’s hexes that do not contain a Structure. They must make an immediate Fortification save. If they fail, you gain control of that hex.
34 Sappers: Remove one of your opponent’s Fortresses.
35 Resource Capture: Remove an enemy’s Manufactorum from the map. Immediately build a Manufactorum in one of your tiles, per the normal rules of building by an army.
36 Seize the City Center: Gain control of any one hex in Future Cleveland that is currently unowned.
41 Forced March: Move one of your armies again.
42 Logistic Success: Roll 2d3 when moving your armies this turn and pick the highest result
43 Bad Intelligence: You can move one of your enemy’s armies this turn instead of them
44 Diplomacy: Name an opponent. They cannot challenge you this turn.
45 Subvert Command and Control: Pick an opponent. You may choose who they challenge this turn.
46 Secret Tunnels: You may pick any opponent to challenge this turn, regardless of location.
51 Spies: For your next game, your opponent needs to reveal their army list in advance of the game to you (allowing you to tailor your force to beat theirs if you wish)
52 It’s a Trap: In your next game, you may pick whether to deploy first or second and who gets to go first or second, regardless of the rules for the scenario
53 Prepared Ambush: In your next game, you may pick the scenario played, the deployment zones, and who is attacker/defender (if applicable)
54 Reserve to the Front: You get an additional 5 Power Points in your next game
55 Overwhelming Force: You get an additional 10 Power Points in your next game
56 La Grande Armée: You get an additional 20 Power Points in your next game
61 Strategic Information: Gain one Relic
62 Schematics of Future Cleveland: Gain d3 Relics
63 Bolstered Defenses: Any fortification saves you make this turn are at an additional +1
64 Cunning Commander: For the rest of the turn you count as having the smallest empire
65 Reinforcements from Home: For the rest of this season, you gain an extra army. They get their own Hero HQ that you designate, and operate as normal armies in every way
66 Fortune Favors the Bold: You can play two games this round. If you are challenged, you can make a challenge of your own. If you get to make the challenge first, then you may immediately make a second challenge. Either way, this second challenge can lead to another player getting an extra game in as well.
The Behemoth Approaches

The Behemoth Approaches

Don’t worry, frequent readers–I’m not starting another Warmachine faction and painting a big nasty for Khador. Rather, this is the inital set-up for my new 40k project. With the new rules coming out for 8th edition 40k, and the promise that starting a small new team for Shadow War holds, it’s time to explore some Genestealer Cult.

Genestealer Generations

I’m envisioning them as a preparatory force, hiding and making way for the arrival of Hive Fleet Behemoth to a system. There’s a little note in the fluff about the second spot the Hive Fleet struck and consumed: Occulus. The 5th edition codex has the following mention: “Occulus was a moon-sized observator station caught in Behemoth’s path as it pushed onwards past Tyran. The station was a bio-artefact claimed by the Imperium nine thousand years earlier and was devoured, along with its crew.”

I figure that a bio-artefact would be a popular mining spot in addition to the Observator station–to research the artefact and what resources it might provide. In some way (I’ll determine later) a Genestealer Cult could have formed on the planet, and been a part of the lure of the fleet to the system. With splinter cults on a variety of other planets in the system (to represent the other types of battles/foes they may face), it is a fun way to origin my force. At least that’s my starting notion about the force.

In deference to the picture above, I wanted to work on painting the different generations first to get my sense of how they would look. And I wanted them to be of the strain that would lure Behemoth, so figured the distinctive red chitin with blue plates look from that Hive Fleet. This is my first shot at the different generations (akin to the art above).

Genestealer Cult Behemoth Color Scheme Warhammer 40k Hybrids Purestrain Acolyte

I’m pleased with how they turned out, and they’re going to look really good as groups I think. For a special added bonus, the guy on the far right is in the colors of the Macragge planetary defense force that my good gaming buddy Justin painted up as allies for his extensive Ultramarines force. I figure that clashes against him made sense, which is why I chose the Hive Fleet Behemoth look in the first place.

Now that I’ve got the colors down, my first stop is to get a full group painted up for Shadow War: Armageddon. That way I can get some games in while still working on the basic building blocks of my force.

Shadow War: Armageddon

Shadow War: Armageddon

I’m a rather infrequent Warhammer 40k player, but I have a Tau army that I’ve been monkeying with painting amidst all the Warmachine/Hordes and Bolt Action in my painting queue. With the release of the new Necromunda rules, I mean Shadow War: Armageddon rules, I wanted to get a team finished up and ready for some games.

Given that this rule set really is just a return to Necromunda, I wanted to give my Tau the right feel for wars in the Hive stacks. Thus, I had to ensure that they had the proper mohawks to fit in with the local gangs.

3 Tau Pathfinders Shadow War Armageddon Mohawks Kill Team Necromunda Eschers Goliaths

I figured that the Water Caste must have studied up on Hive Gang operations before committing the team, and recognized that many Hive Gangs in Necromunda (their study site) used raised tufts of hair down the centers of their heads to identify themselves. Given that the Tau would certainly want to be culturally respectful, they had to don such garb themselves. 

4 Tau Pathfinders Full Kill Team Shadow War Armageddon

 

Here’s the full force for the game. It’s the Pathfinders with mohawks, plus the Recon Drone, a Juvie Tau armed with only a combat knife (my Tau dock worker), and the Tau local operations translator human that I’ve used before. 

40K: Protest

40K: Protest

Part three of a continuing project log of my 40k Tau army and their efforts to retain control of the United Systems of Atreidia, against the gradual uprising posed by my buddy Enrico’s Terran, Chaos, and Genestealer Cult forces. Check out part one and part two if you’re inclined. 

The Story So Far:

To say that the rhetoric among the citizens of Atreidia was getting violent would be an understatement. Groups of Terran citizens took to the streets to protest Tau occupation, Tau taxation, and Tau development policies. Again, the segments of the city that were in process of being rebuilt after a massive acid typhoon were where the sentiment was strongest, as off-world xenos laborers were being shipped in to take many construction jobs. The Tau tried to explain that the Vespid workers they were employing could better handle the conditions of acid residue labor, but it fell on deaf ears. One popular voice demanded that the Vespid pay for their work privilege, and pay for a full protective shieldwall on that side of town themselves.

Tau Chaos Khorne Daemonkin Cover Photo March

That sparked a march in the sector, which drew a variety of people interested in the proceedings. While some were the most virulent of anti-Tau proponents, many others were simply lured in by economic crisis or the sheer charisma of the organizers.

1 Counter Protest Tau

Trouble began when an off-duty Tau Fire Caste Warrior showed up at the protest. Unarmored and unarmed, he nonetheless began yelling back at the crowd and preventing their marching. The situation turned ugly quick, with cries about freedom of speech clashing with his own shouts about how good the Terrans have things under Tau guidance and they should all just go home. It was then that someone in the crowd threw a rock, striking the arguing Tau in the head and knocking him out cold.

2 Tau Suppression Fire

Tau military units had been monitoring the protest, suspecting that additional infiltrators from the desert group that was organizing resistance were among them. When a Tau was injured by the crowd, the forces responded with an attempt to disperse the masses. Their DS8 Tactical Support Turrets had been loaded with gas shells, which would launch a ultimately harmless but quite unpleasant plant pollen into the crowds. The stinging itch was calculated to disperse the protesters without causing undue harm. And thus, they fired on the crowd.

3 The Daemon Emerges

It was the organized munitions launching into the group that finally turned outrage into pure hatred. The entire crowd surged with a wave of anger. It was the moment that the demagogue amid the crowd was waiting for. He and his followers were in tune with that anger, and savored the crackling energy it released into the air. The ritual sigils from ancient Terran myth that they had smeared on themselves using the blood of desert bovines began to hum with power. In seconds, they were reborn. The demagogue’s robes tore free, and strange brass armor began to grow from his skin. Around him, the faithful were sprouting all manner of change–their muscles enlarging with madness and strange growths protruding from their bodies. They had become possessed by the spirits of pure anger.

4 Summoning Reinforcements

With horrifying confidence, the new form of the demagogue waved an arcane pattern in the air, and two pools of energy formed on the city streets. Striding from one nearby were a cadre of strange, armed and armored figured, their armor colored blood red. The far one shimmered and beings exited as well, but the distance of their arrival and strange, cloven-footed forms had trouble being recorded on Tau viewscreens.

5 The Civilians Scatter

With screams of panic, the protesters abandoned their signs and fled for their lives. Judging the new arrivals to be a threat, simply because of their mad dash at the Tau lines, the Tau security forces opened fire. The fleeing protesters were struck by errant bullets from the Tau, but those protesters that neared any of the new arrivals’ positions met and equally grisly fate as they lashed out indiscriminately at all life near them.

6 Brave Resistance

The Tau used what redeploying methods they could to buy more time against the onslaught–the Breacher team that took cover in their Devilfish emerged again to deliver a close proximity burst at the armored foes. Yet their numbers were small, and the Devilfish and Piranha that were helping patrol the sector didn’t carry the kind of ordinance needed to repel such desperate foes.

7 Strange Alien Allies

The distant creatures that had arrived finally made it to the Tau lines, and the Ethereal Commander Lisbet W’ren looked on at the strange alien race that seemed to be working with these Terrans. They had cruel hooves for feet, strange elongated heads, red blistered skin, and carried wicked blackish swords. Ethereal Commander Lisbet had never seen such creatures, despite contributing to over thirteen colonization missions personally. Their deadly strikes made short work of the nearby drones.

8 Tau Ethereal Versus Khorne Herald

Pressed between the jaws of two forces, Commander Lisbet tried a desperate gamble. She rushed forward to try and stop the threat of the warped demagogue with her own honor blade. While she managed to fend him off for a bit, his deadly strength proved too much for her under-armored form. She fled on foot, with small drops of blue blood littering the path she took as she ran. She glanced back, seeing that every one of her Fire Warriors had fallen in brave service–only the crews of the vehicles had survived besides herself.

9 Khorne Daemonkin Herald of Khorne Olim Yia Maw of Rage

As the Tau fled, the demagogue climbed up a structure. The portable microphone and amplifier he had been using when in the crowd was now strangely fused to his new body. He lifted the skull-shaped microphone to his mouth, and his shout reverberated around the entire sector. “I am Olim Yia, prophet of what is to come. Join us Terrans. Resist the Tau and embrace what is fundamental to your nature, what ancient power runs in your blood. Embrace your true Terran feelings of hatred and anger. The Tau do not understand them with their alien fishbrains. It’s what sets us apart, and through our natures we can become strong. Join me, join us, join the great spirit of Khorne that lurks in every Terran’s soul. You can feel him there, calling you even now. Give in, and we can ‘Make Atreidia Great Again!'”

Thus was born the first of the revealed prophets, Olim Yia, the Maw of Rage.

Tau Project Log

Tau Full Force June 2016

Like I mentioned last time, my goal was to at least have a force org chart filled. So a Breacher Squad, an Ethereal, a Piranha, and two DS8 turrets were what I focused on to get there. A very small force (around 450 points) but still enough for a regular game.

Tau Ethereal Wargame Exclusive Alternate Sculpt Widow of Vengeance

The Tau Ethereal I added is a resin model from Wargame Exclusive, a company from the Ukraine (at least that’s where it was shipped from) that does creative sculpts of various models in the 40k universe that don’t have models created by GW (such as Tau models with some persona and character to them, including female Tau). I really liked a number of their models, and while some are a little cheesecake, I figured that the diversity in the model would look really nice amidst the army–and I think it came together nicely.

Tau Piranha with Fusion Blaster

Finally, I’m really proud of the look of the Tau Piranha that I finished up, so I couldn’t resist a close up (there wasn’t one in the “footage”, as it mostly swooped around and missed its shots).

For the battle itself, we used a limited number of turns plus HQ kill as the deciding factor. In addition, we built up rules for the fleeing members of the demonstration group: missed ranged hits by Tau would potentially kill them, while missed melee strikes from Khorne models may kill them. Whichever side killed the most civilians would get the worse of things in the “press”–and sadly the Tau missed more shots and thus contributed to more injured or dead overall.

40K: Entrances

40K: Entrances

Part two of a continuing project log of my 40k Tau army and their efforts to retain control of the United Systems of Atreidia, against the gradual uprising posed by my buddy Enrico’s Terran, Chaos, and Genestealer Cult forces. Check out part one here if you’re inclined. 

The Story So Far:

Unrest is up in the United Systems of Atreidia, complicated by economic downturn. In particular, the dust wastes that lie between the three main cities on the central planet have suffered a severe reduction in arability. Tau scientists have pointed out that the actions of the Terran in the wastes, particularly carbon-based fuel usage, has increased this effect, the Terrans insist on denying their culpability. Instead, streams of wastelanders are seeking entrance to the city looking for better work. Yet not all wastelanders have pure intentions.

1 Tau Checkpoint and Desert Pilgrims

The lines grew long at checkpoint 72-R. Security was tight, as the local populace of the city was still resenting the unfortunate events of a week prior. The Shas’ui of the Strike Squad that patrolled this city entrance swapped out his Gun Drones for a more peaceful Shield Drone in hopes of quelling the concerns of the populace. He watched from a vantage point in an abandoned construction project as a group of wastelanders approached the city seeking entry.

2 Tau inspection and cult leaders

The two Tau Fire Warriors stationed at the entrance stopped the head of the column, two men in heavy robes leading a large and over-burdened pack animal. The Tau were allowing entry in orderly fashion, but demanded that all weapons and contraband items be confiscated upon entry.

3 Chaos Cult elements waiting in the city

Little did they know that the two pilgrim leaders, and the group of wastelanders that followed them, were coming to join up with resistance elements inside the city. A new story was spreading about human resistance. Some viewed it as one grand old movement opposing the Tau order, while others talked of divisions and factions within the group. Needless to say, their rhetoric was clearly in opposition to the Tau arrival. In fact, recently they were publicizing the fact that a high-ranking Tau Water Caste official had been transmitting classified transmissions over a private Comms relay server. These transmissions were intercepted by the Terran leaders, and were rumored to contain sensitive cost-benefit analysis of Tau Gun Drone usage: how many civilians were tolerable losses given the benefits of automated defense.¹

4 Tau vs Chaos Cultist first attack

Given the charged tension, the demands of the Tau border security to surrender all weapons struck the match. When the Tau denied entrance and insisted on starting a scan protocol for weaponry, one of the wastelanders knew that their armaments–designed to help arm Terran resistance agents in the city–would be confiscated. Thus, he decided to attack, and began firing his autopistol wildly toward the Tau.

5 Workers and Tau Drones

The squad manning the border checkpoint was supported by a Devilfish personnel carrier, which immediately began scanning the crowd for threats. Very quickly the call sounded over the Tau communication systems: “There’s a bomb! One of them has a bomb!” The Shas’ui trained his markerlight at the pack animal, presuming the weapon was large and carried on its back. The Devilfish scrambled its Gun Drones and moved to block the roadway. Nearby Terran repair workers watched everything unfold with shocked disbelief. Even though the wastelanders had shot first, seeing Gun Drones moving and firing at Terrans incensed the passers-by.

1 ANN Newsflash Tau Game 2

The calculation to take out the bovine was a mistake on the Tau’s part, as they underestimated the fervor of the Terrans who opposed them. With a cry, one of the two hooded pilgrims ran forward and produced a demolition charge from under his robes. He threw it onto the Devilfish, but it bounced back toward him before detonating: killing him instantly, but still managing to damage the Tau vehicle.

6 Death Toll Chaos Cultists vs Tau Devilfish

The Tau at the checkpoint were easily overpowered by gunfire from the wastelanders and attacks from incensed Terran civilians. Only the crew of the Devilfish managed to continue the fight. It tank shocked its way out of the streets and into the wasteland for more room to maneuver. Wastelander, cultist, and angry citizen alike scattered and then renewed their assault on the craft. They charged it, attempting to blast it open with whatever they could–including all manner of repair tools supplied by the work crews that rose to violence. In another Tau miscalculation of necessary use of force and the value of automated systems, the flechette discharger housed on the Devilfish began spraying the attackers with flying metal spurs, injuring and killing many of them who assaulted it.

7 Worker and child flee the scene

One lone workman, grabbing a child and dragging them along from the scene, fled from the carnage dished out by both sides. The streets ran red and blue with blood from both races. As the worker fled, he heard a blast in the distance. A lucky shot to the rear of the tank from a flamethrower managed to destroy the Tau craft. It would take hours before the Tau could secure the entrance point, and another two waves of anti-Tau wastelanders and their armaments would make their way into the city in the meantime.

8 A Clue the Tau missed

In the aftermath, the Tau treated the clean-up as another instance of shovel-ready projects to employ the Terrans of the city. This was a critical mistake, not only for shoving the death toll in the Terrans’ faces. Also because the Tau missed a critical clue as to the nature of their foe. The pilgrim leader who didn’t throw the demo charge, lay dead on the pavement with a pulse rifle shot to his head. Yet as the workmen pulled his corpse away, his right arm was exposed–a strange, pincer-like claw was at the end of his hand, while the strange red symbol that was spreading through the resistance movement was worn on a lanyard around his neck. Things were brewing, both in the wasteland and the city, and the Tau remained unaware.

 

¹ Thanks to GeorgeJetson of the Advanced Tau Tactica forums for the idea on this!

Tau Project Log

Tau Devilfish and Shield Drone

Slowly but surely I’m painting up more stuff for these games. This week I finished a Devilfish and a Shield Drone. I wanted to get a vehicle completed, as I wanted to make sure the color scheme worked okay at that larger scale. I’m pretty happy with how it turned out. The next battle I’ll actually have a regular force organization chart filled!

For this battle, we again used the Combat Patrol Rules where each model is independent. The wastelanders outside and the cultists inside were all unmarked Chaos Cultists. One of the two pilgrims was also equipped with a Demolition Charge. Again, the groups of citizen workers would start attacking the Tau if they made a leadership test by their groups. We also recognized that the Devilfish was pretty impervious, so we made a special rule for the scenario that both cultists and workmen could harm it in melee with an attack roll of 6, followed by a damage roll of 6, representing bringing work-designed rather than weapon-designed tools, or crude wasteland bombs, to bear on the Devilfish. It also made for a reason to attempt to charge the vehicle, and try to live through the deadly flechettes. As I said just above, next week will be the first battle we do where both sides have a somewhat regular command structure (HQ and two Troops plus FOC elements).

Genestealer Chaos Cult

One last note and spoiler. Rico started out working on expanding his excellent Khorne Daemonkin army as a part of this story. However, we’re both old (oooooold) 40k players, and he dug out on idea from an ancient compendium: the original compilation of the rules for Genestealers. I didn’t realize this, but they were divided between Genestealer Invasion Force and Genestealer Cult. And the “Cult” part was an actual Chaos Cult that they used to advance their power. All those classic photos of the Genestealer Cult with the two custom limos, if you look close you see the symbols of Khorne and a Daemonsword and everything. Thus, Rico wanted to do an homage to that force, and add the Genestealer Cult as allies to his Khorne Daemonkin forces. It sounds amazing, and it’s all the funnier for the campaign as it represents a diverse faction for satire: are the demagogues that lead them actually believers in the principles of Khorne? Or are they merely running under that banner for their own ends?

40k: First Spark

40k: First Spark

Part one of a continuing project log of my 40k Tau army and their efforts to retain control of the United Systems of Atreidia, against the gradual uprising posed by my buddy Enrico’s Terran and Chaos forces. 

The Story So Far:

Some people ask what the spark was that started the Atreidia revolt. Certainly the initial seeds were planted eleven cycles ago when the Tau first arrived and made their compacts with the system to provide technology and improvements in exchange for military presence in their expansion. However, a much closer flash point moment happened recently when a Tau Fire Caste patrol got into trouble, and one death led to many more.

2 Tau with interpreter

Tau patrol 271-R was working with a local Terran interpreter to help root out some local gang activity. The Shas’ui was assigned four other Fire Warriors to the patrol, along with two Gun Drones for security and monitoring purposes. At a busy intersection in the part of the city where an acid typhoon had rotted away some buildings, creating the perfect slum conditions where gangs could hide, they conducted their interviews of the working people who passed through the area.

1 ANN Newsflash Tau Game 1

Sadly, a young child and his sister were out in the street nearby. According to eyewitness accounts, the boy had a small street cleaning device and was attempting to scrape a subsistence wage through community beautification “shovel-ready” projects. A passing Tau Drone registered the cleaning device incorrectly, and security protocols were initiated incorrectly. Security film footage later released on the Atreidia News Network shows the Drone bleating a warning out twice, but the noise of the cleaning device may have made the child miss the warning. As the child turned toward the Drone, the hostility matrix was triggered and the Drone fired. The child died instantly, with his sister watching on and mother nearby.

3 After the Drone strike Tau

The Shas’ui recognized the malfunction of the Drone, and endeavored to apologize to the mother and child and promise both improved revision of the Drone protocol as well as full restitution from the Tau government for both loss of life and grieving. The mother, a poor scrap-cleaner from the ruined area, was inconsolable. Also, the excessively legalistic way of the Tau language was poorly translated by the fresh Terran interpreter, making the mother wail all the more.

4 Angry civilians

A group of local laborers were nearby and not only saw the shooting but also heard the mother’s crying. This particular group had recently been threatened with reduced work hours at the manufactorium where they worked because a contingent of Vespid workers, who needed less sleep cycles, were inbound from the neighboring system–which made them all the more incensed at the Tau and the young child’s death. One of their number started the chaos by approaching the Terran interpreter and starting a shoving match with him.

5 Known Chaos Cultists of Khorne

Meanwhile, one of the Terrans-first hate groups that had organized as a gang was nearby. Their leaders had been preaching a story of anger and rage against the Tau, and this armed group was ready to act. The shoving match, and seeing the Tau Drones responding with further security protocol warnings, gave them the opening they needed to embrace their anger and attack.

7 Tau vs Khorne Cultists

The rest of Tau patrol 271-R was trying to get back to their Shas’ui when the armed gang of angered citizens struck. Opening up with shotguns and autoguns, bullets flew at the outnumbered Tau patrol. The Fire Warriors’ instincts kicked in, and their return fire with pulse rifles hit with deadly accuracy against the unarmored rabble. The noise of shooting and the sight of Tau firing their weapons at Terrans caused the situation to escalate quickly. One of the Tau was killed by a gout of fire from a flamer carried by one of the gang members.

6 Civilians attack the interpreter

The group of Terran workers turned into an angry mob instantly. The Terran interpreter was beaten senseless at their hands. They seemed enraged at his collaboration with the xenos who had killed the child, and now were firing on people they took as citizens.

8 The last of the Tau are beaten

It devolved into chaos in the streets, with the sheer numbers of Terran citizens being too much for the small patrol of Tau to handle. With wrenches, tools, and servo-assisted work fists, the Fire Warriors were beaten and killed by the rampaging mob. With the images broadcasted on the news network across the system, resentment and anger began building among the populace. Meanwhile, the Tau had lost five Fire Warriors themselves, and had a brewing bout of anti-colonial resistance on their hands.

Looking back at all the bloodshed and war that came through the Atredian campaign, this little moment of spark was what set everything in motion in the years to come.

Tau Project Log

9 Painted Tau

In addition to finishing the Terran interpreter model (seen in pictures above), I settled on a color scheme for my Tau and got a first unit of Troops finished up. Five members of a Fire Warrior Strike Squad, with two Gun Drones. The Shas’ui has a Pulse Carbine with markerlight and target lock. I’m pretty happy with the color scheme, inspired somewhat by the N’dras paint color suggestion GW had on the back of the Stealth Suit box. It was just enough to run our small mission above.

The mission was pretty simple, and used classic Combat Patrol rules where each model activated independently. For the interpreter and the Terrans, we used the stats of Chaos Cultists but armed only with hand weapons. Working people were weapon skill 2 however, and the few children models (manufactorium apprentices) were additionally strength 2 and toughness 2. The gangers were simply Chaos Cultists unmarked. We placed the citizens in groups around the board, and each group did leadership tests to “hear” the situation, and would activate accordingly. The Tau waited to fire weapons or fight until the Terrans acted first, and the Shas’ui spent time using leadership tests to try and order the bereaved woman and her child to flee the area of danger when things started to get out of hand.

40k: Make Atreidia Great Again

40k: Make Atreidia Great Again

So a good friend of mine, Rico, and I are long-time 40k players. And while I’m very excited about Warmachine and Hordes recently, both of us have been discussing a want to fiddle with some 40k as well. So we decided to effectively do a two person, story-driven campaign to motivate both of us to paint up a full army for 40k. When we play, we usually end up talking politics, so we thought: why not something political? So, here is the official beginning of our campaign. 

Tau SymbolThe story so far:

 

For eleven cycles now, the three-planet system of Atreidia has seen some great changes. Consisting of three planetoids in close orbit together around a sun, the peoples of Atreidia were long ago human colonists from Terra. Yet the activity of the Maelstrom separated them from the Imperium of Man for millenia, and the small size of their planetoids meant that Imperial exploration of the Ultima Segmentum only stopped briefly at their system to reinstate rule of the Emperor, installing a planetary governor, then moving on. At that point, the Atreidians had developed rudimentary space travel of their own, and had colonized the two near planetoids as well as Atreidus Prime–calling themselves the United Systems of Atreidia (USA).

Chalkboardwar United System of AtreidiaImperial star charts map the United Systems of Atreidia where the green N’dras sept marker rests in the lower right. 

Then eleven cycles ago, the Tau arrived. They first came with a Water Caste ambassador and a small retinue, then with only slightly more force. The population, far from Imperial center and even farther from concern, was quickly brought under Tau rule as they were unable to organize even passing defense. And while some citizens have come to embrace the Tau philosophy and system of rule, others resent the imposition on their rights and freedoms. New taxation provided many services that the human population lacked in the past, but the arrival of the Tau and other immigrant races from their Empire also spread a great deal of xenophobia and mistrust. As discord became more widespread, violence followed. And in the wake of that, the Tau increased their security presence in the system.

Tau Propaganda PosterNow, a movement has started underground to violently resist the Tau oppression. Rumors tell of a charismatic, angry leader that is spreading the word of a new set of goals and leadership for the people of the United Systems of Atreidia. The slogan “Make Atreidia Great Again” has been appearing on graffiti across the planets. Those who are closer to the movement speak of the quasi-religious overtones being adopted by the human resistance. They speak of something buried in the race-memory of man and of ancient practices that are unique to mankind’s culture and unknown by the Tau. The more citizens connect with these ideas, the more unbridled rage and anger seems to suffuse their speeches and their actions. To identify each other, adherents have been crafting symbols of their affiliation: small wooden or brass carvings dyed red.

Khorne_Mark

With this level of unrest, it’s only a matter of time until war sparks in the streets and full revolt happens across the United Systems of Atreidia. Will the promises of better life through cooperation and governmental action win, or will the raw fury of unbridled nationalism and chaotic rebellion triumph?