Thursday, August 11, 2022

AAR: Against the Odds

 After Action Report - Mission 1

Old Morgg squinted against the low dawning sun and looked into the horizon from his vantage point on the rocks of the small mount in what had once been an Imperial settlement near the banks of the Skull River. He couldn't see a gork-damn thing. From underneath his perch a grot emerged, winded and puffing in the hot Armageddon air. "Boss! Boss!," the excited little runt yelled at the top of his lungs, "da humies, dey are 'ere! Da shiny ones wiv da blue marks, boss, loads of 'em!". It was his adjutant, Scumbo, and leader of one of the grot mobs he was minding before the big assault on the bridge.
Morgg knew from experience that "loads of 'em" could mean anything from three to a thousand when it came to the calculation skills of Scumbo, and so with a patient blink of his eyes and a hard kick, he asked Scumbo to elaborate. "Did yer count 'em?"
When the dimnituve greenskin had picked himself up and righted his boos-hat, he started counting on his fingers. "Three, five, least five boss!" Scumbo squaled, perplexed either by his own failure to take proper stock of the enemy or by the menacing look on Moggs face and the giant grappa' stick he wielded in his left hand.
"Al'ight," the ork veteran grumbled, "gavver da ladz, dis is going to be a fight den" and plodded down the small hill towards the ruins where his charges were camped.

At the outskirt of the ruined town, Pride Leader Okore of the Celestial Lions closed the auspex and glanced back at his squad. Esrah was adjusting his flamer, while the rest of the squad were checking their bolt guns. It had been a long trek over the rocky wasteland to the ruins, but they had made good time, and now there were in the designated position for the assault to begin. He touched the talismans hanging from the straps of his armour one by one, saying a small prayer to the Emperor as his gauntlet made contact with the bones and rocks of his native Elysium, noting that his squad was observing their own rituals before battle commenced. "We are ready," he intoned. "For the Emperor, may he hear us roar."

The Forces

Squad Okore

Morgg's Grots

The Battlefield and Deployment

I set up the battlefield as close to the map in the booklet as I was able. The table is a bit smaller, and my collection has fewer small ruins, but the general overview show a close layout to the original plan.
The grots deployed first as per instructions in the briefing, with old Morgg choosing to lead the main force, while a single unit of grots were placed on the flank. We figured that old Morgg would have learned a trick or two in his career, and having a mob of grots hidden on the side was ded sneaky.

Scumbo the Grot adjutant waving his gun around and shouting orders, while old Morgg makes sure that everyone remains enthusiastic about the prospect of battle against post-human super-soldiers...

Sneaky grots taking the flank

Next we deployed Squad Okore to the center and slightly left of the ruins there. The plan was to move up and fry as many greenskins as possible with Esrahs' flamer before the grots piled in, with supporting bolt gun-fire taking out as many of the vile little things as possible. We knew that the grots were cowardly little things, and piling on casualties early on would prevent them from swarming the Lions in close combat. So far so good.

The final deployment of the two forces

Turn 1 - Space Marines

The grots were still quite far away, and a lot of them were hidden from the deadly gaze of the Lions. Pride Leader Okore opted to stick with the plan and moved forwards to get within eyesight of the closest mob, which the astartes could just spot between the buildings and the low pile of rocks to their left. 

Squad Okore readies themselves for battle, spotting the grots a distance away to the left

The squad opened fire, killing two of the little greenskins before the rest fell out of sight, cowering behind the rocks and the ruins between them and the astartes. While the grots yapped and yelped, the threat of Morgg's lash was enough to keep them in line, and not a single grot fled.

Squad Okore opens fire, killing two grots from afar, causing the rest of them mob to drop into cover

Grots Turn 1

With a string of curses that would have withered a small tree, Morgg lashed at his charges, ordering the runts forward in an unorderly mass towards the shining figures in the ruins ahead. The advance was quite succesful (by grot-standards...) and all the mobs bounded forwards as fast as their little legs could carry them.

Morgg orders the grots forward, every grot running as fast as it can towards the hated human foe

As all the grots had run, there wasn't any shooting or charging this turn. The grots felt horribly exposed, but there were a lot of them, so they took some comfort in that at least...

Space Marine Turn 2

Squad Okore continued their advance, making sure that Brother Esrah got within firing range with his flamer. With plenty of targets, Pride Leader Okore ordered the squad to concentrate fire on the closest mob, a plan forming in his mind as fast as the battle developed.

Levelling the nozzle of his flamer, Brother Esrah shot a ball of fire at the nearest grots, incinerating four of the little creatures. The rest of the squad followed suit and killed another three, leaving a single grot pushing himself into the ground, his mates either running around with their clothes on fire or reduced to pulpy matter in the dust.

Brother Esrah incinderate the closest grot mob while the rest of Squad Okore picks of the survivors

Having brought the Emperors wrath to the leftmost mob, Okore ordered a charge into the other grots, charging into the gap of the closest ruin, effectively stemming the tide of grots. The astartes warriors waded into the mob led by Scumbo, the adjutant pushing his fellow grots infront of him towards the marines. The fight was fierce, by one-sided, with the astartes accounting for four of the grots, stomping the runts into the ground and despatching them with their bolt pistols, fists and combat knives.

The marines charge the grots in the ruins, spilling dark blood into the dust of Armageddon

The follow-up from the greenskins was ineffective, the grots being unable to get enough bodies into the combat. Scumbo was pushing the mob forwards from behind, trying to get as many grots into the fight as possible, but to little avail. Things looked grim for the grots, but miraculously they stood their ground, possibly too shocked to flee.
The survivor of the unit on the astartes left took the opportunity to leg it, and was not seen again...

Scombos mob holds against all odds...

While Fergit decides that it might be wiser to fight another day. Possibly while the marines' backs are turned.

Grot Turn 2

Things looked grim for Morgg's boyz, and the veteran ork could see that he would not be able to get his prodder near the golden astartes slaughtering Scumbos mob in the ruins. However, old Morgg was not put off so easily, and he stumbled around the ruin, seeing a chance to take out the marines while they were occupied with killing the grots. The last mob of grots, Grit's mob, copied their leaders move, and went around the other side. A pincher was forming!

Both Morgg and Grit got into combat, Morgg taking Esrah and Zaniba by surprise, the two marines barely escaping his grabba' stick while desperatly fighting off the grots who had now regained their wits and were crawling out of every hole in the ruin to get at the astartes.

Morgg charges the flank of Squad Okore, hoping to take out the flamer

Grit was equally eager to get into combat, but the small grots also failed to do any harm to the astartes. As they descended on Squad Okore, H'ka and Mwfande turned about and laid into them, killing several of the grots in just a few seconds. The nerve of the little runts held, driven by bloodlust and thoughts of revenge.

Grit's mob charges Squad Okore on their right flank, only to be met by the bolter and blade of Mwfande and H'ka

Space Marine Turn 3

Squad Okore was now hard pressed, despite still being full strength. Okore himself was holding back the mob in the ruins while his brothers were protecting his flanks from the rest of the horde and their foul leader. This was the crunch. This was where the battle would be decided, and Okore knew it as the sprayed the inside of the ruins with the blood of the grots milling around his legs, stabbing at his joints with their rusty knives and firing their junk-guns at him point blank. Outside the ork with the grabba' stick was forcing his two opponents onto the defence, neither being able to land a blow on him. The grot reinforcements were threatening to overwhelm Mwfande and H'ka, both astartes almost drowning in little green bodies. 

Squad Okore is hard pressed by the sheer numbers of the greenskins

A cry of pain came over the squad vox as Zaniba was caught in a thrust of the grabba' and driven to the ground, the metal teeth closing slowly around his torso, pinning him like a giant, golden insect. Before Esrah could intervene, the ork had released the mangled form of his brother and turned his focus on him.

Old Morgg takes down Zaniba and turns his full attention to Brother Esrah

Grot Turn 3

With one of the Space Marines down, the greenskins shouted and roared, the grots taking heart from the example of their tyrant-leader. The astartes closed ranks, H'ka slashing wildly about him with his combatknife, freeing Mwfande from the swarm of grots covering him. The two brothers stood back-to-back in the press, more and more grots throwing themselves at them, landing blow after blow. Okore killed again and again, but the grots kept coming, shoved forwards by a bow-legged champion in the back of the mob. He pressed forward, leaving his men to hold the breach behind him. The runt would die by his hand.
It seemed like the grot felt his burning gaze upon it, and as it shoved the last two grots between itself and the vengeful Pride Leader it turned and ran towards the hills from were it had come.

Scumbo decides that discretion is the better part of valor and legs it...

Outside the ruin Esrah fought a lone battle against Morgg, grappling with the large ork. Just as he thought he had the upper hand, he felt a sharp pain in the right leg, as an unseen grot placed a dagger in between the armour-joints of his knee. He kicked the little runt in the face, desintergrating its grinning features, but the distraction had been enough. Morgg's grabba' came down fast and closed around his helmet. He felt the crushing weight of the pincher and then, nothing.

Space Marine Turn 4

As the mob of grots thinned out, so did their courage, and more and more grots turned and ran. A trickled turned into a flow, and the remaning grots were fleeing the field, leaving their dead at the feet of the remaning Lions. In a last bid for revenge, Morgg thre himself at Okore, trying to catch him off-guard with his grabba', but the Pride Leader dodged the blow and retaliated with a thrust of his combat knife, wounding the huge ork. Morgg cast one grudging glance at Okore and followed the grots into the rising dust-storms, leaving the Lions to tend their wounded...

Morgg tries to lay low Okore, but is twarted by the lightning reflexes of the Pride Leader

Result: Space Marine Victory

After-Action Thoughts

Phew, that was intense. The game was only four turns, but what four turns! Although the forces and the objectives were limited, it still felt like a real battle, with the flow going back and forth. I'm glad I decided to include an Ork Runtherd, otherwise the game would have been over much sooner. His aura ability to keep the grots in line and his mini-hero stats helped a lot and made the combat a lot more interesting than just marines pounding grots into the dust for two turns. 
Setting up the terrain and then playing it out, I learned that it's good to have a clear plan, even for small games such as this, and then follow through with them. Space Marine tacticals are not close combat fighters, and the combat against the Runtherd and his grots became a bit of a slug, with neither side landing clear blows, simply because the astartes does not have a lot of attacks after their initial charge. Using cover I managed to keep the grots bottled up and force the orks to go around for a turn, but having an additional round of shooting might have been a lot better in terms of wearing down the horde of greenskins. The grots choose to run in their first turn, but would maybe have done better if they had banded up instead of attacking me piecemeal. All in all a good game, with loads of inspiring moments and some nice grudges already building between the two armies. Looking forward to the next scenario!

Squad Okore voxing in objective secured after seeing off the last of the greenskins

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AAR: Against the Odds

 After Action Report - Mission 1 Old Morgg squinted against the low dawning sun and looked into the horizon from his vantage point on the ro...