Monday, January 5, 2015

Blood in the Void: 1000 pt Horus Heresy Battle Report

Can the Imperial Fists launch a successful attack on a Death Guard Frigate?


This is a Zone Mortalis game using the base rules found in Horus Heresy Book 1 and the specializations in Horus Heresy Book 3 for boarding actions.  From a rules perspective, these games are nice because they offer smaller point values and more immediate action, while still using basically the same set of rules as a normal game.  We are just ramping up on 7th edition and on 30k, so this gives us a chance to get the rules down in smaller games.  From a fluff perspective, Christian loves his boarding shield Imperial Fists, so what could be better?

This is our second ZM game.  The first one we attempted to use a modified Space Hulk board as a setup and it was a little too small, resulting in not much tactical movement.  Here we've set up a 4x4 with lots of walls, similar to the official FW Zone Mortalis terrain.  On error we made was not specifying where the valid entry points along the edge were during deployment.

Each list is split into a spearhead and a reserve.  Christian's Fists have a Contemptor Dread and a unit of 10 breacher squad troops in the spearhead.  They are using the special rite of war and are extremely nasty -- +1 toughness, +1 BS when they fire bolters, +1 Initiative when they are charged, and a 5++ in close combat.  The reserve waiting to come on is 15 Phalanx Warders and a Praetor who re-rolls misses in a challenge.  My Death Guard are using 'The Reaping' rite, which will prevent me from running, but it gives me the Move through Cover special rule which will come in handy if the ship quakes (and because walkers always treat Zone Mortalis as difficult terrain), and most importantly, the ability to take Rad grenades on my squads, which will give a -1 penalty to toughness to counteract his bonus.  My spearhead is a Contemptor with a Kheres autocannon and a 12 strong tac squad, kitted out for close combat and with rad grenades.  My reserve is a unit of Grave Warden terminators, a 13 strong tac squad outfitted like the other, and my own Praetor.

The mission objectives are First Blood, Slay the Warlord, 1 pt for destroying each unit, and 1 point for each Objective Secured unit that gets to the opposite edge of the table.


Christian chose the table edge to attack from (he later redeployed his infantry using his warlord trait)

I managed to roll a 4+, allowing me to set up a little further to meet him:
Infantry just shy of the halfway mark

Contemptor trying to cover the open lanes

Turn 1

Christian advances his dread up his right flank and his infantry up his left.  We realize our Dreads can't hurt each other except in CC.  I move my infantry out around the corner and shoot ineffectually at his squad.  My Contemptor moves up and makes an incredible 11 inch charge (go Fleet!) to get into CC:

Three claw attacks later and the Imperial Fist dreadnaught explodes.  One of his two return attacks pens, but I manage to make my 6++.

Turn 2

Every turn after the first, you roll to see the effect the wider battle is having on the ship.  We get shipquake -- everything becomes difficult terrain.  Christian's reserves come on, he pushes his boarding squad forward and takes out a few marines:

I move up in return, and figuring I'm going to get the charge off, do a 'Fury of the Legion' attack with my bolt pistols allowing me to fire twice (at the cost of not being able to fire for a turn).  I also open up with the Contemptor's Kheres.  My shooting is maybe a bit too effective, weeding out the enemies closer to me.  I roll of 5 on the charge distance and don't make it in.  Now in a normal 40k game this wouldn't be a big deal, but in Zone Mortalis you get 'Reaction Fire' where if you pass your initiative you can shoot into incoming charges at your full BS, so I take some more casualties.  (My reserves also come on, and start slogging their way from the entry points).

Turn 3

Shipquake again.  Christian's Phalanx Warders close the gap some on my dreadnaught, his outnumbered boarding squad falls back and shoots.  My Contemptor can't be hurt by any range weapons, so it also falls back and shoots.  My lead tac squad advances some more, but can't shoot.  They try to charge again and roll another 5, which of course still fails.

Turn 4

Charge turn!  The warders get a charge off on my Contemptor.  The sergeant has a Thunder Hammer, but while Christian manages to get a pen the 6++ saves the day again.  In my half of the turn, I finally manage to get the charge off against his boarding squad.  With the charge bonus, the extra CC weapons, the rad grenades, and the weight of numbers, I slaughter all but one.  30k marines don't have ATSKNF, and the last warder breaks from combat:

Turns 5 and top of 6

Night fighting on both of the last turns (power failure) -- doesn't really matter.  The warder ends up running off the board and I move my tac squad up for scoring.  Christian lands a breacher charge on my Contemptor, but I 6++ it again.  Other attacks miss.  My Grave Wardens move up just outside the combat, ready to countercharge if the dread goes down, but otherwise wanting to stay out of combat at least till more warders get whittled away.  My reserve tac squad tries a long charge and fails.  In turn 5, Christian uses another nifty Imperial Fist ability to force the game to a full 6 turns, hoping for better luck against my Contemptor.  It doesn't come.

The Final Charge

On the last turn, I'm finally in a position to charge my other tac squad into the scrum.  The Grave Guard charge in too -- with the weight of numbers, I'm not worried about them taking hits before their power fists get to strike.  Also, the tac squad has rad grenades.

Christian's praetor finally has someone to challenge, and the Grave Warden steps up and is promptly slaughtered, with an extra wound going into combat resolution -- oh well, he's not an IC, so it doesn't matter.  My praetor manages to pop four warders at I6.  The warders strike back at I5 and kill several of my marines, but I still get 31 attacks back from the squad.  They kill all but one warder, though that's enough to force the Grave Guard to allocate all their attacks to him instead of his Praetor, who manages to break from combat and avoid my lumbering attempt at a Sweeping Advance:

Final Score: Death Guard 5, Imperial Fists 0  (partially avenging my 7-0 thumping in the first game)


  1. Great write up! Looking forward to seeing more ZM action.

  2. Yep, really nice write-up! I especially liked the mixture within the ebb and flow of the game between narrative and ZM rule descriptions. Looking forward to getting some Ad Mech in ZM... when they finally arrive! ;)