The Ultio Expedition: Ep 6, The Fight for Ankori Colony and Event Report

Pack a lunch folks.  This post is huge! There's the story and then the behind the curtain description of
23rd Armored Cavalry War Diary
1st Division / 290th Combined Task Force
(Spc Bont, Reporting)

This is the official chronicle of Alpha Troop, 23rd Armored Cavalry for the Ultio Expedition. While this chronicle includes some information about the participation of other units of the 290th Combined Task Force, it is limited to providing context to the actions of the 23rd. It is certainly not complete and may possibly be inaccurate in some respects. Please refer to the relevant Imperial or Kingdom of Colores documents for more information about the larger campaign.

Ankori Colony, Ultio System

The  23rd Cav, debarked unopposed on Ankori Colony.  We were quickly reunited with the other 2 units of the 1st Division, a force of Grey Knights under XXXX and Strike Force Gallia Aquitania of the Ultramarines commanded by Captain Constantine.

Fighting was already heavy for the local forces, and after a quick conference with 290th High Command, the Divisions were assigned in the following manner:

1st Division (Our Assignment)
There is a team of scientists whose knowledge of the Warp Anomalies is critical to the war effort. Transit to the research complex, rescue the scientists, and return.

2nd Division   
Attack the through the Warp Anomaly to Lost Hope and establish a beachhead on the Chaos Homeworld

3rd Division
Proceed to the Ankori capital, industrial sector.  The local forces are being pushed back.   Restore the situation, and if possible go to the offensive.

Mission 1: Recover the Warp Anomaly Research Team
Speed was critical so the plan was made on the move to the battlefield.  We would be approaching the complex from the south, and from the recon of the 141st Strike Wing, the enemy would arrive almost the same time from the north.

The Grey Knights would be responsible for recovering personnel from the western building,

and the Ultramarines would do the same for the eastern building.

The 23rd Cav would form a fire support line and cover the operation. The close combat battle inside the buildings was screened from the 23rd view, so the mission became fire interdiction to keep the Chaos units from accessing the doors.

The 23rd Cav was successful on the western side in inflicting huge casualties on the enemy infantry and Maj Guiscard’s personal Punisher vehicle killed a large demon, referred to as a “Bloodthirster” among Imperial units.

On the eastern side, the Vanquisher Platoon failed to destroy 2 enemy tanks, resulting in heavy casualties among the Ultramarines.

Mission Tally
Although only 3 Scientists were recovered, this included Senior Scientist Longinuius. This was a marginal success.
Losses from the 23rd were 2 Punishers.

Strategic Picture
2nd Division was pushed back through the Warp Anomalies
3rd Division stopped the Chaos advance

Mission 2: Breakthrough
Following the 3rd Division’s victory in the Ankori capital, the 1st Division was assigned to open a breakthrough corridor. 

The 23rd Cav executed a screening mission on the “left” of the battleline, while the other elements of the 1st Division attempted to attack through the city and open a corridor for successive units to exploit.
Urban fighting is not the preferred environment of a Tank force, and the mission for the 23rd was a difficult one. The Troop undertook a fighting withdrawal from an enemy force that was composed of extremely powerful, but slow moving, constructs. It was almost impossible to inflict casualties on the enemy constructs, but as long as we could keep our distance, we were safe.  When close, they were deadly, as we learned at great cost.

Mission Tally
4 Punishers and the Recovery Vehicle were lost.

Strategic Picture
2nd Division was successful in retaking the lab complex
3rd Division results were unknown at the time of this writing

Mission 3: Evacuate Civilians
Due to all of the fighting with the enemy around Ankori Prime, the fabric of reality began to tear and fray. The city was becoming toxic to humans above and beyond the already  extreme danger of an active combat zone.  The order came down to aid civilians fleeing the city.

Again the 23rd found itself in a dense urban environment.  This time however, the tanks were protected by the close proximity of space marines and the firepower of vehicle mounted heavy weapons was used to full effect.

The 23rd set a free fire lane the length of South Avenue. The enemy was swept clean,

but by the third wave, the holes to warpspace were too numerous and large…

Mission Tally
While some civilians escaped, far too many were lost to the battle and the enemy.
2 Punishers were lost

Strategic Picture
2nd Division failed to hold a Warp Projector
3rd Division was successful in establishing a beachhead on Lost Hope

Mission 4: Defend the Warp Projectors
The establishment of a beachhead on Lost Hope by 3rd Division was a major victory. However, with the loss of one of the few Warp Projectors to breach and stabilize warpspace passage, our hold on the Lost Hope beachhead was tenuous. As the 2nd Division passed through to Lost Hope to relentlessly continue our attack, it fell to the 1st Division to defend the last Warp Projector.

The enemy’s approach to the facility was long, but had good cover through a scattering of worker slums.

The 23rd established a gunline to engage the enemy at max range and through the course of the engagement, fell back into the main complex.

As the enemy closed to close combat range, elements of the 23rd were overrun, but the attack on the facility was thwarted.

Mission Tally
5 Punishers Lost, including the Command Tank (Maj Gusicard wounded)
Warp Projector Facility Held

Strategic Picture
2nd Division expanded the foothold on Lost Hope
3rd Division completed civilian evacuation of the Ankori capital city

The 23rd Cav (with the support 141st Strike Wing) was an essential component of the 290th Combined Task Force and vital to the success of the forces of civilization.  The 23rd Cav was withdrawn with the 290th after fresh Imperial formations arrived.  Major Guiscard will recover from his wounds.

The war for the Ultio System continues.

Apologies, but there is simply too much to describe and too many people to thank for this incredible weekend to do the event description justice.

Having said that...
Let me thank the Narrative Guys
That is Glenn Boswell on the left and Dan Grandquist on the right. They (and their crew!) ran the most fun and interesting miniature event I have ever participated in. (Hmmm, that sounds really milquetoast... )


The dry mechanics of the event are thus:

1. There is a back story that sets the stage (see the previous Ultio posts)
2. There is an online map campaign that begins about a month before the event and these results set the boundaries for what is at stake and what is possible from the back story going into the event.
3. There are 4 battles of 3v3 players over 2 days for the event, and each battle begins with a briefing of what each side is trying to accomplish for that round based on success or failure from previous round. And there is a 1v1 Narrative event running in parallel that contributes to the story as well.

The Briefings:

These guys give a back story and big picture before every round of games, and they take the time to explain that each player is responsible for eveyone's fun. And if at a table of six players you cannot spot the guy who is violating that rule....
....take a look in the mirror and do a quick check

The "Hounds of Abbadon" and the "290th Combined Task Force" get together for a post DEATH WAR AND CARNAGE picture (BTW, those "Hounds" are some of the best people I have ever rolled dice with!

So, thanks to our Opponents:
Josh and

You were all gentlemen and women and thanks for all the games!

On the side I played with, our club membership managed to put a team of 9 players called the "290th Combined Task Force", to face off against an established group of 9 Chaos players (seen above) called the "Hounds of Abbadon". Now, when we first heard, "established team"  a little paranoia took over and we all individually started thinking about strategies and army lists, and ...and ....and .... and then we took a breath.

After some communication (one of the many things at which Dan and Glenn EXCEL) and some feedback on list construction, we homed in on the spirit of the thing and built lists with stories and names and the things we thought were cool.

If you ever get to go to one of these, throw away any concerns about power lists, and bring the list you want, full of heroes ready for a desperate battle for civilization. DON'T PLAN! No really, just let go. Spend the energy enhancing your army as a vehicle for the story.

The 290th held no strategy meetings. The most planning we did was to split ourselves into 3 "Divisions" of 3 players, and even that was mostly pre-ordained because we had 2 father/son pairs and some established gaming buddies. (Now that I think about it, we did more planning around getting an order of custom made "club dice" that had little Texas flags with "290" in the white field in place of the 6)  During the online pre-campaign we didn't even email each other about where to attack or concentrate our efforts.  Anarchy sorted it all out, and by the time of the event, the battle lines all organically made sense. (ironically, a nice example of applied Chaos theory)

Of our 9 players, 3 had never played in an organized event, and 3 others had only started playing again during the past year after long absences (I was one of them). Over 60% of our overall team was inexperienced in the current rule set. OTOH, we got a big rules knowledge boost by playing all those games during the online campaign.  (Further evidence of the sneaky machinations by Dan and Glenn to make a better event)

But my FAVORITE part is that only one of our 9 players had a Chaos Marine codex, and none of us could even remember playing against Chaos Demons. We went in almost totally blind about our designated enemies.

How desperate does humanity have to be to rely on these guys? Seriously...

Left to Right
Robert, Me, JR. Derek, Colin, Jonathan, Nathan, David and Gerry

If you're an Oldhammer guy, it has the whiff of "Stillmania".  If you don't get the reference, this post is going to be long enough, follow this link to airbornegove26's excellent blog:
He is a Stillmania FANATIC and even has an interview with former White Dwarf / GW guy Nigel Stillman himself about the philosophy.

The TL:DR version is
1. Build a list that fits the background (resist all temptations of gameyness)
2. NEVER Change... practice with that list
3. The only surprises any opponent should ever have from you is your tactical deployment and moves
4. Then the victories all belong to you

Thanks to all my fellow gamers for the recognition. I won the Grand Prize!

... and lastly, (and most importantly to me!) thanks to all of you for making the experience so great for the younger players.

This handsome guy is mine (luckily, he gets his looks and brains from his mother)

He still hasn't stopped chewing Mom's ear off three days later.


  1. That was great, and as your son was involved even better! Brings back many fond memories....)

    1. Gaming with my kids really is the best. Everyone there was very helpful toward him and the organizers made sure all of the young 'uns got some sort of "bonus prize"

  2. Great report, and good to hear that you all had fun.

  3. Looks like you all had a ball Will & this to me at least is what 40K should be all about not the let's build OTT armies that any idiot with half a brain could do & make the game a none event as you win the game before you even deploy.

    Thank's for a wonderful AAR Will & well done on your reward, I've put a post up on a form in Ireland with a link to this post to show that there is another way to play 40K & imho a better way.

    1. The event was run right alongside an ITC 40k Tournament. The stark contrast was proof positive that competitive players may use the same rules, but play an entirely different hobby.

      Huge thanks for the mention in the forum. Which one, if I may ask?

    2. Heh, yes, good to see 40k being used for good and not for evil ;)

  4. Sounds superb! Wargaming at its best. Love that it was about the story and 'flavour', not just about winning.

    1. Absolutely! It was difficult to trust people we had never met that our translations of "Narrative" would be compatible.

      It reaffirms one's faith in humanity that we came together and truly embraced the same ideals of fairness and responsibility for everyone's fun.

  5. Awesome report! A lot of inspiration here to be looked over. Also thanks for the plug, it is greatly appreciated. ;)

  6. I was glad to link to your blog. One of the highest compliments for me is when somebody says they find my blog/stuff/conversation "useful".

    Aside from being full of cool scenery, background, and battles, your blog has a pile of useful material. I never knew anything about Stillman (or even heard of him) until you posted it.

  7. Wow, if I used words as 'awesome' or the like, that would be a total understatement. Everything looks great and you clearly enjoyed the experience, so that makes a 10/10. Thanks for sharing, I'm hypnotized by the pics!

    1. Those Narrative Guys really threw an amazing event. I was fortunate to get to be just a participant. I feel like I could do a whole additional post on things I haven't mentioned yet.

  8. Well done folks, playing the game the way its supposed to be played ;-) Effort that went into it from start (table prep and organisation) to finish (dice down) looks EPIC!

    1. It was truly epic. Dan, Glenn, and the crew have put together something truly special.

  9. Oh, nicely done! That really does sound like about the greatest miniature gaming event I can imagine. The story is top notch. The games look like they were well fought on all sides. (They really sweated that victory out of you. Chaos may be down for now . . . but they'll be back!) I am genuinely jealous. :)

    1. It was so much fun, I am already planning for next year.

  10. Just found this post from BOLS and I am super glad that I did :) looks like an awesome event and one that I'd love emulate at some point!

  11. Thanks Mandragoran!
    I can't wait for it to come around again next year.


Post a Comment