Through the narrow visor of his helmet, the traitor Astartes known as Bhal Gaz watched the cultists attempt to repair the inoperative Rhino. Virulent diseases wracked his body, tormenting the now-insane Space Marine with alternating waves of pleasure and pain, and Bhal Gaz could only think about what it would be like to gut the cultists and watch their bodies rot in the hot sun.
What a wonderful idea, he thought.
How long will repairs take?” demanded his commander, Ghaz Tak, who towered over the sweating slaves as they worked. “There are Imperial patrols out there.”
The thought of violence faded at the harsh voice of his commander. Still, it was difficult for Bhal Gaz to concentrate. A fierce fever took hold of him, and the pain—and pleasure—tormented him in equal measure.
The date is 3 899 738.M41.
The location is a deserted village in the Tylar Desert, an arid wasteland on the war-torn world of Dozaria. On a recon mission into “no man’s land” between Imperial and traitor forces, a small group of Death Guard warriors, along with a handful of cultists, find themselves stranded. The machine spirit of their Rhino armored transport has gone silent, and the vehicle will not move.
As the cultists attempt to repair the transport’s engine, the frustrated traitor Astartes wait in ill-tempered frustration.
Little do they realize that they’re not alone. A patrol of Space Wolves have caught their scent, and these loyal Space Marines intend to bring the Emperor’s Justice to the traitors and heretics.
- 1 x Sergeant with bolter
- 3 x Space Marines with bolter
- 1 x Space Marine gunner with heavy bolter
- 1 x Space Marine gunner with melta gun
- 1 x Veteran Space Marine with plasma gun (Special Operative)
- 1 x Aspiring Champion with bolter, daemon sword
- 3 x Chaos Marines with bolter
- 1 x Chaos Marine with terminator armor, storm bolter (Special Operative)
- 3 x Cultists with auto guns
All Death Guard have Mark of Nurgle (+1 Toughness)
Rules: Shadow War: Armageddon
Objective: Kill the enemy
The old wolf could smell the stench of the traitors. Prone at the crest of a sand dune that overlooked the village, he kept his finger loose against the trigger of his heavy bolter. Soon he would rain death upon the filth below.
The wolf had a clear view of the battlefield in front of him. To his left, his sergeant and another brother were moving toward some rocks to get behind the traitors. To his right, in the distance, he could see the rest of his squad crossing the open desert, moving to flank the traitors.
“Glory to the All Father,” the old wolf whispered, “and death to the heretic.”
The cultists are placed in contact with the Rhino, as they are attempting to repair it. The Death Guard are deployed within 4” of the vehicle. As they are on “guard duty,” they will move and face randomly according to the results of a direction die and d6.
The Space Wolves choose to split into two fire teams: The gunner with heavy bolter is deployed at the crest of a sand dune that overlooks the Rhino. The sergeant and one Space Marine are at the end of the dune, preparing to cross the open sand to a cluster of rocks that will allow them to approach the traitors unseen.
The second fire team deploys at the table’s edge to the north of the village. A stone wall in the village blocks line of sight, and they will use this advantage to hide their approach as they cross the open desert floor.
The waiting was too much for Bhal Goz. The torment of Nurgle’s Gift was too strong, and he worried that his madness would cause him to turn upon his own squad in violence. He decided to distract himself.
His Terminator armor made a grinding noise as it powered up, and his companions turned warily in his direction as he began to move. But he walked away from them, out toward the open desert, and with a sigh of relief, the others turned back to their duties and ignored him.
The Space Wolves’ fire team to the north of the village stealthily approach the traitors, using the stone wall to conceal their approach. They do not run, as they fear the Death Guard, with the enhanced hearing of all Astartes, might be alerted.
To the east at the sand dune, the sergeant and his fellow brother wait until all cultists and Death Guard are looking away, then cross the short distance from the dune to the rocks. It takes them two turns walking, so they must hope that no traitor looks their way.
None do, and they reach the rocks without triggering an alarm.
As they continue their approach, they must deal with a new wrinkle: The traitor in Terminator Armor turns and walks toward the rocks. Thankfully, he moves to the north of them, allowing the sergeant and his teammate to slink along the opposite side of the outcroppings without being seen.
They ease closer to the Rhino.
At the same time, the second fire team runs into a snag. One of the Death Guard warriors walks away from the Rhino, heading north to the stone wall that the Wolves’ second fire team is using for cover. It is a tall wall, but if the traitor Astartes walks toward a broken wall section, he may see the Space Wolves through the opening.
The Wolves keep calm and stick to their plan. Fortunately, the Death Guard warrior turns back toward the Rhino, creating an opportunity for the Wolves to strike the traitor from behind. If they can kill him quickly, he won’t have time to sound an alarm.
It is not to be. Despite their best efforts at stealth, the Death Guard warrior senses their presence. As a Wolf pounces, the traitor turns and deflects the killing blows and yells a warning.
Brother Halgar knelt silently behind the stone wall, using his enhanced Astartes senses to judge the movements of his prey.
The Death Guard warrior was only three meters away, but the stench of his breath was powerful, indicating the traitor was still facing him. Halgar needed him to turn around before he struck.
Seconds passed. Then more seconds. Finally, Halgar heard movement, and the stench of the traitors’ breath lessened ever so slightly. The traitor had turned away from him.
As quietly as possible, Halgar rose and moved behind the traitor, raising his combat sword. Yet, as he struck, the traitor turned with astonishing speed and repulsed the blow.
“Die, cursed one!” Halgar yelled, striking again.
The Fight is On
With the alarm sounded, the Space Wolves charge forward. At the same time, their gunner opens up with his heavy bolter, targeting the more vulnerable cultists. The traitors duck for cover, pinned down by fire.
To the north, the Death Guard warrior who survived the Space Wolf attack opts to fall back. He climbs some nearby stairs, to give him a height advantage in any future melee.
Recognizing the tactic—and its dangers—the Space Wolves opt to rely on firepower. Two open fire on the traitor, but both their plasma gun and melta gun miss.
The other Space Wolves, however, charge a second Death Guard warrior and cultist on the village street. The cultist surprisingly manages to stay alive, but the Traitor Astartes is quickly struck down.
Having circled behind the hulking figure in Terminator Armor, the Space Wolf sergeant rushes to join the fight. (His companion has stayed behind to watch the Terminator-clad traitor. The sergeant runs past the Rhino and targets the Death Guard warrior that has fallen. The sergeant quickly ends his miserable existence.
Over the next few seconds, the battle becomes a series of isolated, confused melees. Some Space Wolves trade fire with the traitor on the stairs, but then he surprises them by charging them! Other Wolves attempt to overwhelm the cultist on the street, who is reinforced by another Death Guard warrior who runs around the far side of the Rhino.
Meanwhile, As the Space Wolves try desperately to strike another traitor down—and manage to kill the cultist on the street— the Death Guard’s Aspiring Champion, Ghaz Tak, appears from behind the far side of the Rhino to strike down the Space Wolf sergeant.
At this point, the battle seems to be tipping in favor of the Death Guard. The Space Wolf sergeant is down, and the Death Guard warrior in Terminator Armor is moving toward the lone wolf on the sand dune to silence his heavy bolter.
But then the fight turns on its head: A Space Wolf points his plasma gun at Ghar Tak, his shot hits the traitor square in the chest, and the evil Astartes explodes in bloody gore and flame.
Bhal Gaz fired his stormbolter again, but the Emperor’s lacky ducked behind the sand dune just in time.
The half-mad traitor barely registered the blows as heavy bolter shells struck his armor, but now that violence was distracting him from his diseased torment, Bhal Gaz could only embrace the violence in him and strike madly at any target in his sight. Tactics, cover, fire suppression . . . all the lessons of a millennia of training were lost in a diseased haze.
The Wolves were here, and he was eager to taste their blood. “Death! Death to the False Emperor’s lackies.”
That was what Bhal Gaz Tak believed he was saying. In reality, all that could be heard out of his helmet’s vox speakers were guttural roars of rage and madness.
Their Space Wolves sergeant is down, and when the Death Guard strike down a second Wolf in the street, the loyal Astartes have reached 25 percent losses. As per the rules of the scenario, they are forced to roll a “Bottle Test” (morale check) to determine if they decide the battle is lost and withdraw.
They roll successfully. What Space Wolves will willingly retreat when he has prey to kill?
At this point, the Terminator-clad traitor Astartes is advancing on the sand dune. The fire of bolt gun and heavy bolter are having no effect, and the Space Marine waiting in the rocks begins to withdraw back to the sand dune.
Although it is unlikely to succeed, the two wolves may be forced to engage the Terminator in melee. Death before dishonor.
But the old wolf with the heavy bolter is an old hand at warfare. He wishes to even the odds, so he targets two cultists who are firing from behind some old barrels. If he can end their largely ineffective but still dangerous fire, the Wolves’ chances of charging the Terminator will improve.
The old wolf is successful. Both cultists are cut down. Now, having suffered more than 25 percent losses, the Death Guard must roll to see if they will stand their ground.
They do not. With the death of their leader and their auxiliary troops, the Death Guard decide to live to fight another day . . . and withdraw hastily.
The Space Wolves are triumphant.
The enemy disappeared.
In a blink of an eye, the Death Guard turned, ran down the twisted, narrow alleys of the village, and were lost to sight. The Wolves gave chase, but even with their enhanced senses, they could not track down the traitors.
“Where did they go?” one young Wolf asked, scanning his surroundings with bolter at the ready.
The old wolf had joined the others by then. He offered a mirthless laugh.
“Who is to say?” the elder Astartes answered. “The traitors have all manner of tricks at the ready. Just remember this: Their leader lies at your feet, killed by righteous fire.”
“They can be killed. and it’s your job to kill them . . . all of them.”
TheGM: This was a fun little introduction of the forces of Chaos to the Corvus Cluster. I used my recently painted Plague Marines, while The Gaffer put his Space Wolves on the table for the first time.
(It’s not their first appearance, however, in the Corvus Cluster. Two years ago, I borrowed his Space Wolves for a small skirmish action: Space Wolves raid xeno base on Media III.)
Although I’m jealous of all the support material and miniatures being produced by Games Workshop for their new Kill Team skirmish game, I’m going to stick with Shadow War for my skirmish games. I’m comfortable with the rules, and I’ve been told that Kill Team isn’t a better system—just better supported. As I see it, Shadow War is easily adaptable if I want to bring in small vehicles or new, unsupported troop types to the table.
(In this fight, the Rhino was inoperative, so we didn’t need to make house rules for the vehicle.)
The battle was a close-run thing. With the death of the Space Wolf sergeant, I thought I (as the Death Guard) was gaining the upper hand in the fight. Certainly The Gaffer was expressing some concern about facing my Terminator-clad Death Guard warrior as it advanced toward his heavy bolter-armed Wolf.
But then my Aspiring Champion disintegrated before my eyes (damned plasma gun). Ouch.! And then to fail my very first morale check. Oh, the ignominy.
The Corvus Cluster is a Warhammer 40K blog documenting our gaming adventures in the fantastical sci-fi universe of Games Workshop.