Or rather, 40-k lite - neither me nor my elder brother are particularly quick at rules and much, much too used to old-school Space Crusade.
…Which we generally house-ruled a bit anyway.
Anyhow, this basically meant we played on a gameboard with squares instead of an 'open field', and we plain missed out a bunch of additional rules, keeping it extra-basic for ease of memory.
The rules we forgot about include, but were not limited to:
the non-turn player ALSO being able to fight in a melee
Acts of Faith
Basically every part of Power From Pain except the "Feel no Pain" effect
I'm new, forgiveness please.
Anyhow, some of this came back to bite me, in the best traditions of gaming.
The game, then;
It was Sisters (and a single space marine Lieutenant for story reasons) vs Dark Eldar, on a points level probably way below the standard for most games. 15 power for the Imperium vs 13 power (and eventual reinforcements) for the Dark Eldar.
The Imperium player could score victory points by claiming (standing next to) up to three objectives (represented by paint pots, because I have no suitable objectives at the moment) at a rate of 1 per turn, or by killing the enemy warlord, Idarileth Skinsplitter the Succubus, for a bonus of 3 points.
The Dark Eldar player, keeping it simple, would get a point for every dead Imperium model. If they wiped the Imperium faction out, they won by default. Killing the Space Marine Lieutenant would earn 3 points, for parity and to add a little tension.
We had 6 turns to grab as many points as possible.
The Dark Eldar were placed by throwing dice from a long way off and putting squads where they landed (to represent them already being inside the building), whereas the Sisters were deployed on a pre-determined board edge.
Now, on to the narrative required by the Iron Gauntlet, and then the battle itself.
"So what is the story with Saint Ifrida, then?" Sister Naritha asked, for the third time that week.
"I'll tell you once you show me the Dark Eldar," Acemund replied, again.
It had been a long few weeks since the contingent from the Order of the Iron Tower had left the company of Captain Barodian and the Storm Eater. Ace had spent much of it in the engine rooms, trying to avoid the prying questions of his travelling companions. Given Naritha's penchant for pestering Ace with questions, this hadn't been the unqualified success he'd hoped for.
Meeting with Barodian had worked out for the best, however. Ace had managed to secure the deal he'd hoped for - once he'd hunted down Idarileth Skinsplitter, he had permission to reveal the truth behind the story of the honoured Saint to the Order of the Iron Tower.
The clunk of footsteps betrayed the rapid approach of another battle sister, and Estrel popped her head around the corner, gasping for breath.
"There you two are! Sister Superior Ramara says you'll need to get ready for action - we've almost arrived!" Sister Estrel called out to Naritha and Acemund.
"Arrived where?" Ace replied, bemused. "We haven't been travelling that long, have we?"
"We didn't need to," Naritha shrugged. "We were only heading to Cironus."
Cironus. The planet where Idarileth Skinsplitter and her comanding Archon, Mephirion the Bleak, had slaughtered the rest of Ace's squad, back when he had just freshly made the rank of sergeant. They'd left Ace for dead, but the White Hawks were, as a rule of thumb, difficult to kill.
And good at holding grudges.
Idarileth held her own grudge, of course - Ace had killed one of her daughters during the battle, and the Kabal of the Shattered World placed something of an emphasis on family - enough so that Ace's survival had enraged the Succubus into making foolish moves in an attempt to draw him out.
It was a trap, surely. It had to be.
But Ace hadn't come all this way to turn away from vengeance. Not when it was so close.
"This must be strange for you," Naritha remarked, as Ace and the sisters made their way away from the landing pad. "Being back here after... what was it, five hundred years?"
"Two hundred and seven." Ace grunted. "And no, it isn't strange. I don't recognize this part of the world at all. When I flew here with the Hawks, we fought closer to the poles. It was much, much colder there."
There was a long moment of silence as the party continued to walk, before Naritha asked;
"Are you alright? You aren't as... talkative as usual."
Ace stopped dead in his tracks and fixed Naritha with a hard stare.
"I've waited two hundred years for this. I have a chance to kill the creature that killed nine of the brothers that I fought, bled and killed besides for a century. But make no mistake - it is only a chance. This could go wrong and end in death, for all of us.
So if I'm not talking, it's because I'm watching everything, and looking for the inevitable trap. I appreciate the attempt at companionship, Naritha, but now is really not the time."
Naritha looked taken aback for a moment, and Superior Ramara looked back at the two of them, a glint of amusement in her eyes.
"Easy now, Space Marine. We're on the right track," Ramara gestured ahead. "We'll know more once Karinda and Safyl get back."
A scant few minutes later, the vox crackled into life.
"This is Safyl to Superior Ramara - we've found them. There's an old temple ahead - they've set up camp there."
There weren't any guards.
Every sense Ace possessed was screaming that this had to be an ambush, but thankfully the Order of the Iron Tower weren't so stupid as to walk blindly into it.
The two Sister Superiors, Ramara and Lenadra, motioned their squads around to the side of the temple, moving quietly towards it.
The structure was worn and dilapidated in places. Odd symbols showed veneration of the Emperor in strange aspects, such as Cironus' moon, or as a being of blinding fire.
After some quiet contemplation, Lenadra gestured to Safyl, and sketched the outline of a door in the air with her pistol. Safyl nodded, brought her meltagun up, and blasted a neat, rectangular hole in the wall with practiced efficiency.
Immediately there was a great hue and cry from within the temple, voices calling out in alien tongues.
The Kabal of the Shattered World lurked within.
Ace stepped forward, drawing both his chainaxes.
"In case of ambush, I'll go first."
Ramara shrugged. "After you, Space Marine."
Inside the temple, there was a thrumming in the air, as well as the panicked voices of Dark Eldar in the distance. They were coming to investigate the noise - of course they were.
There was a voice amongst the throng - female, authoritative, and without mercy. It should have blended in to the rest of the noise, but the voice of Acemund's hated enemy stood out to him like a ray of sunlight through the clouds.
Despite himself, a savage grin formed on Ace's face.
Oh please, Emperor and ancestors, let her not realise I'm here, he thought.
"Over there," sister Karinda voxed, pointing the other way down the corridor. "They're building some kind of... device. It looks like a controller for something...?"
"Whatever it is," Superior Lenadra voxed back, "We're going to shut it down."
The tone of the distant voices had changed now. War-chants could be heard as the enemy began to close in. Ace's hands itched to activate his chainaxes, but he forced himself to wait. The machine Karinda had spotted began thrumming, a heinous, pulsing sound as the device began charging up.
"Weapons ready, sisters," Ramara voxed. "We're in for a fight!"
Here we go then; the battle at last.
Please imagine complex and foul xeno devices where the paint pots are!
Nothing happened in the first turn, save for movement. Dark Eldar first, then Imperium.
I forgot to take a picture of the end of the first Imperial turn, but I'll recap.
The Wracks drew the short straw, being able to rush almost up to the corner of the objective room next to the left-hand group of sisters, but not without getting in range of Estrel's heavy Flamer.
Under a torrent of searing flame, three Wracks were put out of their misery, leaving the remaining two out of sight.
Then came the counter attack.
The Wracks rushed into battle fearlessly, weapons swinging. Estrel survives the onslaught, relying on the strength of her armour to ward off the attack.
On the other end of the battlefield, a kabalite warrior steps out and takes a shot at Ace. His armour keeps him from taking a wound, but it sure does make him mad.
At this point, I am seriously impressed with the durability of my troops.
And then not worrying about forgetting some of the rules comes back to bite me, because we totally skipped charging, with the result that:
Ace thumbs the activation runes on his chainaxes (count-as lightning claws on my lieutenant), looses a mighty roar, and... moves his usual 6", stopping short of the kabal warriors. The sisters cut loose with a hail of fire and sister Izumi's heavy bolter shreds one vile xeno into tiny chunks.
The warriors respond by forming a firing line, and the Emissary of the Legio Bolter and Chainsword has a moment to experience regret:
Fortunately for Ace, he takes seven splinter gun shots at point blank and suffers only a single wound for his trouble.
Roaring in fury and hate, the Hawk of Talhon makes ready to push through the storm of firepower.
Meanwhile, Estrel does her best to push back against the wracks, but their continued striking with their poison weapons overcomes her armour, and Estrel falls before the Drukhari Flesh-constructs.
I forgot to take a picture of the next turn, but let me summarize, narratively.
Estrel falls; even as she slumps to the floor, her sister Bethana screams in grief and fury, rushing the alien creatures alongside Superior Ramara and her power sword. The two strike with the limitless fury of the righteous and vengeful, and the Wracks are obliterated.
Ace crashes into the kabalite warriors like a thunderstorm breaking, cutting down two of them in a frenetic whirlwind of devastation. Safyl vaporises one warrior with her Melta, and Lenadra drops another with a careful shot from her pistol.
Then, as the last kabalite warrior falls back, the Succubus arrives.
Idarileth Skinsplitter rushes around the corner and charges into Ace. (Kind of - it wasn't a Charge move, but you get what I mean)
I insisted on taking that pic partway through my brother's move. He wasn't thrilled, but the narrative needed it.
Hated enemies, long-separated, finally joined in battle.
Uttering curses and fury in her alien tongue, Idarileth managed to score two wounds with her Archite Glaive, leaving Ace with a single wound remaining.
"Pitiful wretch!" Idarileth snarled. "You won't escape me this time!"
Ace grunted a reply, gamely ignoring the deep wounds the xeno had scored on him.
"At least your brothers put up a fight," Idarileth sneered. "You can't ev-"
Ace suddenly threw himself forward, the pain forgotten, striking relentlessly at the Succubus, reciting the names of his fallen brothers with each swing of his axes.
"Beremont! Garril! Yandir! Jorcan! Runis! Macharan! Tumol! Olsius! Morgamus!"
(This really looks like Ace is recoiling from taking a smack in the face, which is more or less what happened in this turn)
Meanwhile, Ramara's squad is interrupted by the arrival of some Kabalite warriors, while in the distance more Wracks can be heard marching in unison down the distant corridors.
Despite the alien's best efforts, the Sisters hold, making a criminal amount of armour saves. The Emperor protects!
Acemund was in over his head, and he knew it. There was no realistic way he could keep up with the Succubus - she was too fast, too capable. All his training had barely made any difference, he realised bitterly.
"Get around the corner," he heard Lenadra call out on the vox. Avoiding a wild strike from Idarileth, Ace moved awkwardly around the succubus, ducking clear of the corner of the corridor as he did so.
Lenadra, Naritha, and the rest of the squad following Ace raced into the fray.
Idarileth turned to bring her Agonizer into play against the valiant sisters, and Ace dropped one of his chainaxes, reaching out with the speed of a striking snake, and grasped the whip firmly.
Pain shot through him, more so as the Succubus wrenched her weapon free of the Space Marine's grip, but in that time Lenadra's sword found it's mark, cutting Idarileth's leg. Naritha, swinging her bolterin both hands like a club, caught Idarileth in the chest. There was the crunch of breaking bones, and the enraged Succubus staggered back, glaring ice-cold hatred at the sisters.
Ignoring Ace, she launched a ferocious blow at Naritha with her Glaive. The Sororitas barely had time to raise a hand before the blow struck, but Superior Lenadra was already moving - stepping across Naritha, she took the strike in her stead, collapsing backwards with a vicious wound in her chest.
(In game terms: my brother decided to kill the Battle sisters for easy VP. However, Idarileth failed all but one of her attacks - the one he aimed at Lenadra. Ace would have landed all four of his attacks, and wounded with all four, except Idarileth kept making her Dodge save!)
(Naritha clobbering Idarileth with a bolter still worked fine, I guess I just need sharper chainaxes)
Meanwhile, the Dark Eldar on the other front concentrated their fire on Superior Ramara. The sheer volume of firepower directed at her meant, inevitably, something found it's mark, and she fell to her knees, struggling to rise, leaning on her sword, a desperate prayer to The Emperor on her lips.
Bethana, still screaming the name of her fallen sister, loosed a tide of cleansing fire over the cackling xenos, slaying two of them. Karinda's bolter managed to punch through the armour of another, but Power from Pain spared the Dark Eldar another casualty.
Acemund of Talhon struck as though The Emperor himself guided his hand. Idarileth's supernatural speed availed her nought. Landing two ferocious blows in rapid succession, the wounded marine found himself slumping to one knee even as the Succubus stumbled in front of him. Ace dropped his remaining chainaxe as Idarileth slumped forward against him, pushing her back roughly, so she fell to her knees barely a pace away from him.
In one quick motion, Ace wrenched his helmet free. Blood trickled from his face as he fixed the injured Succubus with a grim stare. Idarileth looked, for the first time, frightened.
"You're not-" Ace began, drawing his combat knife. In the blink of an eye, Idarileth lashed him with her Agonizer - not a killing strike, but enough to make Ace drop his knife with a roar of anguish.
As the Drukhari tensed to leap to her feet, sister Safyl brought the weight of her meltagun down on the back of Idarileth's head. There was a sickening crunch, and the Succubus crumpled like wet paper.
Ace stared at the broken body of his most hated foe, then turned a rueful gaze on Safyl, who reached down to help the Space Marine upright.
"Sorry. I know you wanted to kill her."
"...It's fine." Ace sighed, and took Safyl's hand as the sororitas leaned into pulling him upright. "A dead enemy is a dead enemy."
A familiar voice came over the vox, audibly shaking.
"This is Bethana - we l-lost Estrel and Superior Ramara... I think that's all of the aliens."
It wasn't, of course.
One cheeky kabalite warrior took another couple of shots at Ace but missed both of them, so I'm skipping over that.
I did take a picture though, so there it is, one Warrior's poor accuracy immortalized for all to see.
The Final Turn:
The advancing Wracks moved into cover, seeking to make it impossible for Bethana and company to engage.
To be fair, they were too far away to successfully reach me anyhow.
Likewise the other Kabalite warriors, who couldn't reach the heavily injured space marine or any of Safyl's squad.
So with Idarileth dead for 3 points, and two devices activated in one turn, that's 5 Imperial Victory Points, scored against the Kabal's 3 Victory Points for slain Battle Sisters.
IMPERIAL VICTORY ACHIEVED!
"Put an axe in that machine. You're hurt, leave the fighting to us," Naritha ordered Ace. The White Hawk couldn't help but spare a glance to where Lenadra had fallen. She was sat, slumped against the wall, her eyes closed, a peaceful expression on her face. Sister Uthenya knelt beside her, a hand on her Superior's shoulder as she recited a benediction to The Emperor.
"Now!" Naritha roared, breaking Ace from his reverie. Wordlessly the Space Marine picked up his axe, stumbled to the xeno device in front of him, and hacked it clean in half with a double-handed strike. The rumbling noise it had been producing faltered and grew silent.
Bethana scrambled over to her sister, dropping to her knees and lifting Estrel into an embrace as she wept openly.
"Bethana, there's more Eldar incoming," sister Karinda reminded her, as gently as she could under the circumstances.
Bethana didn't reply instantly.
"We need you," Sister Oriko urged, glancing nervously down the corridor.
Bethana let loose a deep, shuddering sigh.
"Oh Estrel, why didn't you wait for me?" She sobbed, mournfully.
There was a clattering at the corner. Oriko and Karinda turned their attention to the approaching Warriors, filling the corridor with a hail of bolts, roaring the battle cry of the Order.
"Forged in Faith! Tempered in War!"
Bethana began lowering her sister to the floor.
Estrel let out a sudden gasp, her eyes flickering open as she yelped in pain.
"Estrel!" Bethana practically squealed. "You're alive?"
"I-I'm alive?" Estrel echoed, bewilderment on her face. "Bethie, I saw Him! I saw the Emperor! I-I mean, I think I did..." Estrel squeezed her sister's hand.
"Sisters!" Oriko shouted, pleadingly, as splinter rounds pinged off her armour. Bethana grabbed her flamer, her expression grim, but her eyes bright.
"Tell me later, Estrel. I'm not letting any more of us die today!"
Clearing out the remnants of the Drukhari didn't take long. Their alien devices were disabled and destroyed, and found to link to what looked like a crude attempt at shaping a webway portal from plasteel parts, in the back of the cathedral.
Sister Uthenya had voxed through to a nearby Navy vessel, and they'd sent word to the nearest Order forces. Reinforcements, with explosives enough to flatten the temple, were incoming.
Sisters Superior Ramara and Lenadra were carried out of the temple. The sisters of the Iron Tower - Estrel miraculously still amongst them - saw to the bodies, washing them, binding their wounds, cleaning and polishing their weapons and armour.
Acemund sat and watched the sisters go about their work.
He could see the pain in their eyes, but he could tell by the practiced nature of their actions that the Order of the Iron Tower were no strangers to the pain of loss.
After a long interval, replete with prayers and hard work in equal measure, Naritha came and sat by Ace. She said nothing, and the two of them simply sat, keeping vigil over the bodies of the slain.
After an hour or so, Naritha's stomach began to gurgle. She was about to excuse herself and search out some food when Ace spoke.
"She fled, in the end. Saint Ifrida. She led an army at Syphrian against the traitorous Hatecrowned. The White Hawks and the Brotherhood of Crows had kill-teams assigned to the Saint's protection. The Hatecrowned and the cults accompanying them simply terrified her, and she listened to her fear. She died running, being shot in the back by cultists."
"She fled? There's stories about Ifrida's courage." Naritha said, mildly. "I grew up hearing them."
"That's all they were, stories." Acemund shrugged. "The Church asked both Chapters to keep silent on the matter, after the fact." Ace turned his gaze to the sky. "Ifrida was sainted as a healer - she cured the Grey Withering, after all - and mostly she's only lionized as a great warrior because that's what inspires people to fight."
After a long moment, Naritha shrugged. "I don't know what Ramara hoped to do with that information. I'm not even sure it's worth telling to the rest of the Order."
"That's up to you." Ace shrugged, and turned his attention back to the bodies of Ramara and Lenadra. "What I do know is that those two women died so your Order could fulfil a promise, and they showed courage in the face of death, far beyond anything Saint Ifrida herself did."
"I wonder what stories will be told of them?" Naritha sighed. Ace turned to face Naritha, and smiled for the first time since making planetfall.
"Good ones. I guarantee it."
"They'd better be," Naritha countered. "Don't overshadow them with your own vengeance."
"About that..." Acemund sighed. "That wasn't Idarileth."
"What?" Naritha looked at Ace, puzzled. "I've seen the pict-captures - they looked just like her."
"It was her daughter," Ace continued. "The one I killed at the last battle at Cironus. I recongized her eyes, just before Safyl broke her skull open. I assume the Kabal's flesh-smiths adjusted her to look like her mother with some fell sorcery or the like." Ace waved a hand dismissively. "She knew I wanted vengeance on her mother. I've been hunting the wrong enemy all this time."
Naritha opened her mouth to reply, but hesitated.
"In any case, she's dead." Ace shrugged. "And about to be cremated by a lot of firepower. I doubt she's going to come back for a third round."
"What will you do now?" Naritha asked, warily.
"Go back to the Legio," Ace replied. "My mission's over. There will be more, inevitably."
Naritha nodded a few times.
"This is farewell, then?"
"Oh, no. It'd take The Emperor himself to keep me from attending your sisters' death ceremony. I owe them at least that much. And by then I'll have finished the saga of their last stand. It would be only fair to recite it, and to show that they will be remembered in halls far beyond here."
"Maybe it'll become as popular as Saint Ifrida's tales," Naritha mused.
"It might," Ace replied. "Who knows? Maybe the tale will get as far as Terra itself."
"Perhaps even The Emperor will hear it one day," Naritha said, a genuine smile creeping across her face.
"Maybe one day," Ace agreed, solemnly.
Phew, that's finally done.
And with it, my battle report for the Iron Gauntlet 2020.
Hopefully it was even done in time!
This was a lot of fun - I'll probably do another report like this if I get chance to play again.
We might even use all the rules next time!
Anyhow - if you've read this far, thank you very much for putting up with my badly-played game, clunky story and poorly explained narrative (I swear it makes sense in the wider context of the Iron Gauntlet stuff).
Fixed some clunky grammar.
Edited by Ace Debonair, 16 December 2020 - 06:11 PM.