“Squad Damaras to Sévin: Xeno warlord identified. Advancing on position X9-783.”
“Sévin to Squad Damaras: I see him. Descending on his position. Death to the Xenos.”
—Vox transmission, Knights of Altair frequency.
By this point, the Space Marines’ firing line was targeting the advancing orks and causing massive casualties. The orks, however, were not discouraged by their losses. Instead, the enraged xenos charged the Rhino line, ignoring the vehicles’ heavy bolter fire, and ripped the armored transports apart.
Then, they clambered over the wreckage to charge the Space Marine line.
“It was a sight to inspire the most war-weary guardsman,” Dracos said. “A large mob of blue-skinned orks rushed the lines. They were slaughtered on their approach and, although they slammed into the first line of Astartes, the noble Space Marines stood their ground.”
At this point, the second Space Marine line charged, and their momentum overwhelmed the mob and led to its slaughter.
During all this fighting, the Stormhawk was confronted by a black-armored Dakkajet. As an interceptor, the Stormhawk’s primary mission was to fend off the greenskins’ highly effective air arm, and the two fighters clashed overhead for several minutes. In the end, although both aircraft managed to tear away long enough for a strafing run or two, these flying craft were pulled away from any serious ground-support role by their need to deal with one another.
Ultimately, they played little role in the ground battle.
A Warboss Falls
As all this carnage was going on, the Warboss and Tankbustas were charging toward a still-surviving Rhino, which they tore apart. But the Warboss had drawn too much attention to himself. An Assault Squad of Astartes, borne aloft by jetpacks and led by Brother-Chaplain Sévin, descended from the sky, landed atop the greenskin leader and his small band of bodyguards, and killed him.
“At this point, despite growing numbers of xenos pressuring the Space Marines’ flanks, the orks ran out of time,” Dracos said. “With the loss of their warboss, and two companies of reserve troops reaching the battlefield, the orks lost heart and withdrew.”
Losses were minimal among the Astartes. The orks were so eager to press into their enemy’s flanks that they didn’t stop to mutilate the bodies of the Space Marine bikers, all of whom survived with grievous but recoverable injuries. Even the fallen dreadnought was recovered alive. Only one Astartes was reported killed, and his body was removed from the battlefield by a white-armored apothecary.
Ork casualties numbered in the thousands.
“The Knights of Altair are the Emperor’s gift to the Imperium,” Dracos told The Bulletin. “With their might on our side, our overall victory in this horrid war is assured.”
TheGM: This was the first big battle of 2020 (err, I mean 740.M41). I can’t recall the mission name, but essentially, you got points for killing units and, in particular, for killing characters.
If the battle had continued, the Space Marines would have been hard-pressed by the sheer number of greenskins still alive, but the Knights of Altair met their victory conditions, and that’s enough for me.
One thing I’ve noticed about playing Space Marines against orks: Unlike my Imperial Guard, my temptation to set up a firing line and wait for the orks isn’t as safe a strategy as it is with guardsmen. I need to be on the attack and try to control the flow of the game.
I wasn’t only partially successful in this plan. But that’s party because The Gaffer had no choice but to race pell-mell towards me. He had to close into melee to win, so I didn’t have much time to advance.
I managed, barely, to move forward to block a key avenue of advance and disrupt the ork plans. I forced the orks to dismount farther away from my firing lines, and I was able to position my troops for a quick counterattack after my fire devastated his lines.
Some of my units didn’t perform well. My dreadnought managed to kill only two or three orks before he went down. Meanwhile, a librarian I’d taken was poorly placed and did very little to help me.
I also did poorly on the left flank. Given the speed of my bikers (a Company Command Squad with a Company Champion), I should have raced through the war buggies (which I did hurt) and swung around the ork flank. Instead, I forgot my bikers’ strength was in maneuver and flanking. Instead, I allowed myself to take out an easy target of grots, which left me vulnerable to a charge by ork boyz. A dumb mistake. A rookie mistake.
But I’ve learned my lesson. Now I’m painting up my chaplain on a bike, so he can lead my bikers in the future. I have great hopes for this unit.
The Corvus Cluster is a Warhammer 40K blog documenting our gaming adventures in the fantastical sci-fi universe of Games Workshop.