On 3 110 739.M41, a large force of mutants from the ruined city of Ungoloth stormed the walls of Promethium Plant 117, an isolated facility of the Adeptus Mechanicus that is 270 kilometers southheast of Ungoloth on the world of Morkai.
Although troops from Charcharoth—part of the Home Guard of the ruling House Fenring—were dispatched to reinforce the plant’s small garrison, they arrived too late. Just before the military column marched to the plant’s front gate, the mutants overran the plant and consolidated their hold of it.
The mutant assault was a serious escalation of violence on the desert world. Several small clashes have occurred between Imperial and mutant forces in recent years, but the attack on an Imperial promethium plant is a blatant challenge of Imperial rule.
The Story Begins
The GM: I origin-ally began to write my report on the Battle for Promethium Plant 117 as a true narrative story, told through the eyes of the battle’s participants.
But I’ve thrown out that version. For me, at least, I think it’s more interesting to describe what happened through the eyes of the scenario designer and player: myself.
It all began with an idea I had for a story: What if mutants attacked an isolated mining complex? Could a small band of plucky miners, supported by a small detachment of Skitarri guards, hold off a horde of poorly armed but determined attackers?
As an idea, it sounded a bit like one of those bad sci-fi movies released in the 1970s, when no one treated sci-fi as a genre to be taken seriously. But, heck, it also sounded fun.
To that end, I set up my game table. Pulling out my new desert tiles, I put down a few shanty buildings and a Ferratonic Incinerator and surrounded my new plant with a mix of stone walls and corragated-metal fencing.
To ensure that the surrounding terrain wasn’t simply flat desert, I also added a few sand dunes, some rocky mesas, and some spiny alien plants (Shardwrack Spines). After all, a bit of terrain would offer combatants a few tactical options in their maneuvering.
The Imperial defenders of the plant included:
• 10 plant workers equipped with lasguns (treated as conscripts)
• 10 Skitarri Rangers with galvanic rifles
• an Enginseer accompanied by three servitors with heavy bolters
The mutant attackers included:
• sixty mutants equipped with lasguns (treated as Imperial Guard conscripts)
• three giant mutants (treated as Bullgryns)
• a chorus of five psykers (treated as Wyrdvane Psykers)
• three heavily armored mutants wielding hand-held heavy bolters (treated as a heavy weapons squad)
• an armed civilian truck (treated as a Wyvern mortar battery)
Imperial reinforcements included:
Arriving on the table on Turn 2 would be:
• a platoon command squad and Primaris Psyker (embarked in a Taurox with auto cannon)
• three infantry squads
• a special weapons squad equipped with meltaguns
• a heavy bolter squad (three heavy weapons teams)
• a squadron of three Scout Sentinels
(All reinforcements were treated as Tallarn, although they represented, in fact, the Household Guard of Charcharoth.)
The Fight Begins
The force points were approximately equal, but each side had distinct advantages. The defenders in the plant had a 4+ save due to the plant’s outer walls. The attackers had a sizable numbers advantage in the early turns before the Household Guard could reach the fight.
As I was playing both sides, I tried to be even-handed. But the first two turns proved the scenario strongly favored the mutants.
A die roll indicated that the first turn would involve night fighting, which the mutants used to good effect by running out of cover straight at the plant.
As they ran, the only mutant fire came from a heavily converted ork Trukk, with a quad gun on the rear chassis that “counted” as a Wyvern with two twin-linked Stormshard Mortars. The four fired rounds hit home, killing four Skitarri.
The plant defenders responded by firing everything they could: 10 lasguns, six galvanic rifles, and three heavy bolters.
Alas for them, the first turn’s darkness boosted the mutants saving throws, which were good. Only four mutants fell.
As dawn arrived, the mutants decided to see what their firepower could do. Although they were rated as conscripts, there were 56 alive—capable of firing 112 lasgun shots at close range. Add to that firepower three heavy bolters and the Stormshard Mortars . . . well, another eight plant defenders fell.
This was quite a shock. The plant’s defensive walls gave the defenders a 4+ cover save. But the math made it clear: One hundred and twelve lasgun shots still meant 37 or so hits were suffered. Of those, 15 defenders were hit, and the cover save only protected slightly more than half of those. Meanwhile, the heavy bolters and mortars took out the three servitors and their heavy bolters.
It was obvious that defending the walls was suicidal for the plant defenders. It was time to try something different. So, the surviving workers and Skitarri fell back, surrendering the walls to the mutants and redeploying at an inner redoubt consisting of cargo crates, promethium drums, and mechanical machinery.
Thus the mutants were unchallenged as they raised their siege ladders and climbed over the walls. Yes, the defenders killed a few as they clambered over the walls, but in the first turn, enough mutants crossed over to outnumber the defenders two-to-one.
And there were many more mutants lined up to cross the walls in the next turn.
Help was on the way. The Household Guard was crossing the table at a run, having started on the opposite edge of the table. Yet, even at a run, the Guard were not going to get into the plant in time to save the defenders.
There was only one chance—and it was a long shot. The company commander ordered his Taurox to go full out, allowing him to race his command vehicle through the plant’s front gates just in time to affect the battle.
The plan was to use the Taurox’s bulk as an obstacle and protect the front gate long enough to allow the running Guard to get inside before the mutants blocked the gate.
What’s more, it was hoped the Taurox’s auto cannon could fire at the horde, then disembark the company command squad and bring the fire of the five new defenders, along with an accompanying Primaris Psyker, into the fight.
Maybe, just maybe, they could slow the mutants down.
It didn’t happen. A mutant with a plasma gun fired at the Taurox, penetrated the armor, and rolled a 6 for the penetration result: a big explosion that destroyed the vehicle and two of its passengers.
So, no autocannons, no vehicle to help defend the gate, and even fewer guns for the company command squad to use in its own defense.
Needless to say, things went from bad to worse. Just before the main Household Guard force reached the front gate, the mutants charged, wiping out everyone inside the plant’s walls.
The now-outraged Guard wanted revenge for the death of their commander, but they found themselves stymied by the walls. They needed to spend an entire movement phase clambering over the walls, which meant that only about ten at a time could get inside the first attempt—and the odds were that these brave souls, exposed without cover, would die quickly to the massed mutant fire.
So, the Guard tried to use the walls as cover while they fired over them. But I ruled that only one rank could stand at the wall and fire over it, while the mutants inside could fire two ranks normally. Sure, the Guard had the 4+ cover save of the wall, but the mutants had the numbers.
The Guard ended up taking more casualties than the mutants, particularly when you added in the nefarious mortar fire by the “play as a Wyvern” Trukk.
The Guard did send their Sentinal squadron to deal with the Wyvern. But, with a front armor of 12, and the Sentinel’s multi-lasers having a strength of 6, the Sentinels barely managed a single glancing hit each turn.
Time was against the Imperials. By Turn 7, the mutants had complete control of the plant, Imperial forces had suffered heavy casualties, and two Sentinels were lost to heavy bolter fire and the witchfire of the mutant psykers.
It was hopeless. The Household Guard could not win this fight. The withdrawal order was given, and the mutants had control of Promethium Plant 117.
When you play a brand new scenario, it’s hard to judge if it’s really a fair fight until you playtest it.
But, so what? How many battles in a war are fair? This was a narrative story about an incident that I imagined happening on Morkai, and, at least on paper, it seemed fair.
It didn’t turn out that way. The mutants seemed unstoppable. But that’s okay. I had a good time—and the battle has moved forward the narrative. The mutants of Ungoloth are on the march, and a full-scale war on the desert plant seems likely.
I have no idea what’s going to happen next. But, in time, we’ll learn about the next chapter in this story . . . .
The Corvus Cluster is a Warhammer 40K blog documenting our adventures in the fantastical sci-fi world of Games Workshop.