Although one member of the Honor Guard fell to enemy fire, the rest of Ioculus’ bodyguard closed with the Deathmarks and slaughtered them in their entirety. The Astartes then turned and raced toward the Destroyers, who were being savaged by a strafing attack by a passing Stormhawk Interceptor and the boltgun fire of the now–advancing reserve.
In a last-ditch efort to break the Astartes, the Destroyers and Tomb Blades (all skimmer) raced over the heads of the Space Marines and seized a copse of woods that sheltered a logistical center of the Knights. The Necrons were pushed back, however, by Iocuslus’ Land Raider and a Whirwind artillery piece that “tank shocked” the xenos.
(In other words, the armored vehicles charged at the enemy, forcing the xenos to fall back or risk being crushed under the treads of the tanks.)
To the north, the Necron’s Monolith caused significant casualties as its powerful energy weapons battered at Astartes aircraft, tanks, and individual Space Marines. But, in a clear tactical choice, the Astartes focused on the xeno infantry. The squads in the eastern woods managed to drive back repeated Necron attacks, while the Astartes on the road and the Terminators in the center of the line, although surrounded, held their ground.
Although the xenos fought stubbornly, by nightfall their casualties were so great that gaps began to appear in their line. The Astartes armor quickly exploited these gaps, breaking through and surrounding the xeno infantry. Countless xenos were destroyed, which freed the armor to begin to target the Monolith with overwhelming heavy weapons fire.
By this point, the battle was all but over. Suddenly, flashes of light illuminated the battlefield as xeno warriors, vehicles, and even the massive Monolith teleported from the battlefield.
The Knights of Altair had won the day.
Unwilling to surrender the initiative, High Marshal Ioculus led his Astartes forward—and sent word that all Imperial forces on the planet were to advance at once.
Xeno resistance to the Imperial advance was light, although the Imperial Navy in orbit found itself in a rapidly escalating fight as Necron war vessels suddenly appeared in orbit. The warships traded fire for hours as Necron aircraft began rising from the planet’s surface to take refuge in their void craft.
“It appears the xenos are evacuating the planet,” General Backus reported. “Our ground forces are advancing rapidly into enemy-held territory and meeting minimal resistance. Ground sensors report powerful explosions underground, suggesting the enemy is destroying its underground facilities.”
“The battle now appears to have moved into the void above the planet,” he added. “The Imperial Navy is attempting to prevent the xeno warships from escaping, and the fighting in orbit is fierce.”
“The end of the war on Tophet appears to be a very real possibility.”
Scenario: The Scouring
Objectives: Six primary objectives worth 1 to 4 victory points each, plus secondary objectives of Slay the Warlord, Linebreaker, and First Blood (1 v.p. each)
Imperial Victory Points: 4 x Primary Objectives (10 v.p.) + First Blood (1 v.p.) + Linebreaker (1 v.p.) = 12 v.p.
Necron Victory Points: 1 x Primary Objective (1 v.p.) + Linebreaker (1 v.p.) = 2 v.p.
Overwhelming Imperial Victory!
TheGM: While the Knights of Altair delivered a knockout blow to the Necrons by game’s end, there was no guarantee of victory for either combatant until the last turn.
I cannot deny that, when I first tested my Knights of Altair against the Necrons (some battles ago), my subconscious was rooting for the Astartes. So, my decisions on behalf of the xenos may not have been as well considered or as aggressive as fairness would dictate. (I’ve been solo gaming for the past year.)
So it’s no surprise that the Astartes won the first two battles of this mini campaign.
But I was very curious about what the Necrons could do on the battlefield, and in this fight, I really used the Necrons’ superior maneuverability to good effect. I took full advantage of the Monolith’s Eternity Gate, a Cryptek’s Veil of Darkness, the teleportation ability of a Night Scythe, the “deep strike” ability of Destroyers, and the high-speed movement of Tomb Blades.
Using all these abilities, I was really able to get Necrons where they were needed.
But my wonderful Space Marines, played as Black Templars (using 7th Edition rules), were monsters. Only one of five Terminators ended the game on the table, but the unit held off all comers. Ioculus and his Honor Guard were melee monsters—anyone they fought were slaughtered to the last man.
Even the tactical squads (actually Crusader Squads) showed remarkable durability. Only one squad was wiped out, and although the rest were whittled down quite a lot, they never faltered, even when outnumbered.
So is the war on Tophet over? For now, I think. The Knights of Altair won three out of three battles, and the last one was so decisive that I believe Overlord Agamunzu will withdraw and lick his wounds.
But I think the Necron warlord will be spoiling for a rematch. Where the next Necron blow will fall—and whether they will one day return to Tophet—is yet to be determined.
The Corvus Cluster is a Warhammer 40K blog documenting our gaming adventures in the fantastical sci-fi universe of Games Workshop.
Categories: Tophet Campaign