A failed gamble
The roar of outrage was deafening inside the Drop Pod. A rough landing had temporarily jammed the doors ramps and, in those precious moments, the orks had surrounded the Drop Pod and blocked the ramps with their vehicles.
Ancient Boras was trapped—and he was furious.
His armored fist, powered by plasteel servo-motors, slammed into the ceramite plasteel of one door ramp. A small dent appeared, but the ramp didn’t budge.
All these centuries of battle, and now the dreadnought was trapped—vulnerable—and unable to join the battle. This was a disgrace, even if it was not his fault.
Another roar filled the cramped space of the Drop Pod. Boras pounded his fist into the ramp again and again.
It was no use.
IMPERIAL TURN TWO
Disaster strikes! The Vanguard Assault Squad, led by Captain Nevarre, attempts to Deep Strike onto the battlefield. The landing veers off course, and the unit lands on another unit, resulting in a Deep Strike mishap.
A “1” is rolled, and the Knights’ most powerful unit—which cost 330 points (out of a 1,500-point army—is out of the game. (4)
The bad dice continue. An Assault Squad, led by Brother-Chaplain Arnaud Sévin, also Deep Strikes, scatters spectacularly, and lands in a nearby forest. Two of the six Marines are killed as they land in the thick foliage, severely weakening this now-out-of-position, melee-heavy unit. (5)
Meanwhile, the 100-point Dreadnought also remains out of action. So far, the Knights have seen three of six infantry-class units devastated solely, or partially, by TheGM’s own die rolls.
Still, the Knights are not ready to give up. The Predator and Vindicator fire upon the central Battlewagon. The Predator misses, but the Vindicator’s shot penetrates the ork vehicle, resulting in a glancing hit and a shaken crew. (6)
Two Land Speeders enter the table, take position beside the Vindicator, and target the same Battlewagon. Their heavy bolsters manage to cause a second glancing him. (7)
A Storm Talon also flies onto the table, but its fire at the Battlewagon is ineffective. (8)
ORK TURN TWO
Two Dakkajets arrive on the table . (9) One aircraft targets the Land Speeders, destroying one and immobilizing the other. (7)
The second aircraft targets the Knights’ Storm Talon, which will jinx and only suffer a glancing hit. (8)
A mob of Stormboyz arrives from reserves, wisely deciding that the Warp phenomenon has made an aerial descent too dangerous. They run onto the field near the shattered remains of the Knights’ Assault Squad and, despite the risk of jumping into a forest, they use their jetpacks to charge into melee. (10)
The Assault Squad is caught by surprise. Their overwatch fire is haphazard, but the ork fire is surprising accurate. By the time they close into melee, victory is assured.
The Stormboyz claim First Blood.
Elsewhere, one Battlewagon again fires at the central Rhino to no effect (6); another targets the Vindicator with a Big Shoota. Its fire penetrates the tank, resulting in a glancing hit and a shaken crew. (11)
His gambit had failed, Nevarre thought bitterly.
The Thunderhawk was not going to make it to the drop-off point. Too much of the wing was lost, and the aircraft was in a tailspin, rapidly losing altitude.
There was nothing he could do. Even with his superhuman strength, he could not oppose the heavy G forces that were pressing him back into his seat.
If only I could get to the door, Nevarre thought. Around him, his squad of elite fighters were similarly pinned to their seats. There was no way to escape the ship and use their jetpacks to bring them safely down.
Whether they survived would depend on the skill of their pilot . . . and on the determination of the Thunderhawk’s machine spirit to live to fight another day.
IMPERIAL TURN THREE
On the Knights’ left flank, the Land Speeders are largely useless. But the tactical squad in the lead Rhino is outraged by the deaths of their Battle-Brothers in the forest. They disembark and target the Stormboyz.
Through their righteous fire, along with support of their Rhino’s heavy bolder, they wipe out the offending greenskins. (12)
Having jinxed recently, the Storm Talon can only fire Snap Shots. Still, it races directly at the nearest Dakkajet but fails to hit the target. (13)
The Vindicator has a shot at the side armor of a Battlewagon. The shot penetrates but only causes a glancing hit and shakes up the crew. (14) One Rhino swings behind the ork lines (15), gains a flank shot on the same vehicle, and with two lucky hits, it manages to destroy the Battlewagon and force the orks within to disembark. (16)
ORK TURN THREE
The disembarking orks seize the Warp Portal but show no indication that the dangerous energies of the Immaterium is having any impact on them. (16)
The two Dakkajets turn and line up on the Predator. A massive volley of Supa Shoota fire destroys the tank. (17)
Once again, the Battlewagon in the center rams the Rhino in front of it (18), but this time there is no effect. The weapons of the other Battlewagons open up on various Marine vehicles but fail to do any damage.
It was beyond belief, Basina thought. In the span of 20 minutes, both Captain Nevarre and Chaplain Sévin were put out of action..
Command of the entire battle now rested on his shoulders as senior brother-sergeant.
“Alpha Three to Squad Gulterus,” Basina shouted over his vox. “Work your way behind the greenskins and hit their vehicles’ rear armor.”
A moment later, a powerful blow stuck the Rhino, actually lifting the heavy vehicle off the ground before it settled back to the ground.
His scanners go dark. “What just happened?” he yelled to the driver.
“The Greenskins rammed us,” the driver responds.
Basina shook his head in frustration. “How do these xenos manage to be so dangerous when their tactics are so primitive?”
IMPERIAL TURN FOUR
The Rhino behind ork lines races across the ork rear in hopes of reaching the objective in the top-right corner of the battlefield. (19) It drops its rear hatch, and Tactical Squad Gulterus races out toward the objective.
While the Vindicator continues to fire at the Battlewagons, the Rhino on the left flank (20) recognizes that the battle will be decided in the center of the fight. It turns about and races to intercept the massive ork force marching southwest. (24)
The Storm Talon (21) gives chase to the Dakkajets, managing a glancing hit on one.
ORK TURN FOUR
The Dakkajets fly over the battle’s center (22) and fire at the only Rhino within their firing arc (19), destroying it. In the center, the Battlewagon again rams the Rhino in front of it, destroying it and forcing the Marines inside to disembark, as well (23).
The orks on the Warp Portal sense the growing weakness in the Imperial battle line. They abandon the Warp Portal and charge the Knights that have suddenly abandoned their vehicle (24).
The orks fire 22 times at the Knights but only kill one. The Knights’ return fire is ineffective, as well, and the orks swarm over the five-man Tactical Squad and wipe it out.
The orks now control the objective.
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