at Home and On Campaign

at Home and On Campaign

31 May 2016

The Rilti Intervention: Air War Mission 4 – Resupply Mission

BACKGROUND
The Imperial subject world of Rilti has balked at paying unprecedented tax increases and military manpower confiscations, citing the need to keep their troops close to home.  The Imperial Government has responded with an invasion by a Space Marine Task Force.  

After the initial attack was stalled, several units of Space Marines deployed behind enemy lines to secure vital choke points are now isolated and running low on supplies.

Imperial HQ has decided on a massive airdrop to resupply these units.  All of the remaining airpower will be concentrated to ensure the success of this mission.

SITUATION
Gamma Battle Company of the Grey Knights have been fighting behind the Rilti defense line for 5 days. They are desperately low on ammunition, surrounded, and have taken heavy casualties.  Imperial Command has marshalled several units of supply transports and concentrated the Stormhawks of the Ravenguard for a massive airdrop.

If the Imperials can break through the Rilti air cover and hold off the assaulting enemy troops, they can regain the initiative and continue their march on the capital.

THE BATTLE
(cue Wagner’s “Ride of the Valkyries”…ironically no actual Valkyries were involved J )

The massive airlift descends to low level as they approach the target.

While Battle Company Gamma hunkers down in their perimeter

With the concentration of fighters, the Imperials, for once, control the skies, and the planes of the 141st VFG are cleared from the battlespace.

Heroic transport pilots of the Imperial Navy drop their supplies right on target while dodging through the buildings.

And the Rilti PDF are kept at a distance by the Grey Knights’ firepower

AFTERMATH
The air resupply was a complete success and the Imperial advance on Rilti Capital Prime will resume from this point behind the main Rilti defenses. The Rilti PDF will have to scramble to be in position to save the capital.

The 141st VFG take to the skies to avenge their losses at the hands of the Ravenguard and slow the Imperial advance!
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Ok, need to start with:
This mission had the potential to be the coolest mission in the entire book, BUT…
No way around it.  Poor writing and execution by Games Workshop ruined it.  Honestly, with the concept of landing supplies to a beleaguered and surrounded command, you have to work hard at messing the design up….
…and Games Workshop did.

For how the game went and how we played it:
 I want to make sure my grumbling does not take away from my Opponent’s victory. He played a well thought out game, and stuck to his plan.  His victory was earned.  It is a shame it is attached to this craptactular atrocity of a scenario.)

Again, Attack Patterns are devastating:
I took 2 Thunderbolts/Bulldogs, my opponent took 3 Stormhawks. I entered the board second, so I got the jump on his flyers. I only scored 1 hull point against his lead Stormhawk.  In reply, his 3 Stormhawks turned and adopted the perfect air to air attack pattern. 
It takes away jink saves!!! If I had managed to down the lead Stormhawk, he could not have adopted this pattern, but with 3 fighters, this was a killer.

He shredded my poor Bulldogs in one firing pass.
So, to all my fellow Wing Commanders, I cannot stress this more strongly. Attack Patterns are everything!

Well played Robert.

On to the problems with scenario design and ambiguous rules writing!

Biggest Issue:
5 free transports…
 What kind of transports?  The scenario does not say.

Possibility One: Stat-less flying pieces of terrain
Meaning, they cannot be shot down, they are just a scenic delivery system for the objectives, and disappear once the objective is dropped.

Problems,
-          If the transports have no stats and cannot be shot down, then why would the owning player ever deviate from the optimal flight path?
-          Since there are no rules about a minimum distance between objectives, wouldn’t the player just place all 5 objectives on the optimal spot and roll scatter?
-          The scenario rules specifically state that the objective must be dropped on the first turn the transport is on the table.  That seems to me to mean that the transport will continue to be on the table for turns after the drop. i.e. a real flyer with stats and abilities.
-          Why would you really need the models?
-          They are listed as “5 free transports”.  Do they count toward the air superiority rule? So the Invader STARTS with a FIVE flyer advantage in reserve that the Warden has no ability to affect?

Possibility 2: The transports are selected from possible transports in the book
So, actual flyers with stat lines

Problems:
-          Do they count toward the air superiority rule? For this possibility, absolutely.
-          If I shoot a transport down in a dogfight does the objective never appear? (and though common sense would say the warden should get Victory Points for that, the scenario doesn’t) So the perverse incentive is to let the transports come. WTF is that?????
-          The five Space Marine Transports are Stormravens, and they are equipped  with ALL kinds of weapons.
….for free. Holy crap
-          Since the FIVE FREE Stormravens all use the same datafax, they can be in attack patterns.  As in the 3 and 4 flyer patterns with the best bonuses.
-        Not every faction has a flying transport. How do you run this mission for them?

We ran this scenario with Stormravens as the transports.  What a massacre.
I suggest the following adjustments:

1.       Transports are GENERIC and have the following stats:
10/10/10, 3 Hull Points, Bomber, Agility 1, Pursuit 1, a 360’ Twin Linked Hvy Bolter (or other defensive weapon appropriate to the faction). Attack formations should be legal for the transports

2.       POSSIBLE OPTION: If the transport wants to wait until the second turn on the table to drop the supplies, it can do so with only 1d6 scatter. (Just a thought, but sounds cool)

3.       Any Transport shot down by a dogfight in reserve gives the Warden 2 VP’s

See Games Workshop, was that so hard?


25 May 2016

The Rilti Intervention: Air War Mission 3 – Lightning Assault

BACKGROUND
As a radical measure to prevent the total collapse of Imperial authority in Sector Six, it has become necessary to impose emergency measures and demand greater taxes, material, and men from Imperial subject worlds. The world of Rilti has balked at these unprecedented increases, citing the need to keep their troops close to home.

The Imperial Government has responded with an invasion by a Space Marine Task Force. After blunting the initial onslaught, (LINK) the troops of the Rilti PDF have fallen back to the next defensive line.

SITUATION
The Rilti PDF occupy a defensive line across National Highway 1. Their flanks are anchored by the “Emperor’s Power Plant No. 115” on their left and Hill 71 on the right.  The Infantry is deployed behind the plant and on the reverse slope of the hill to protect them from long range fire.  Tanks of the 1/18th deployed directly on the road.
 The 141st VFG, Volunteer Fighter Group (clandestinely, the 141st Kingdom of Colores Fighter Sqn), has re-armed their F/A86 Bulldogs with heavier guns and improved ammunition “liberated” from local Imperial caches, and is patrolling the skies above.
On the Imperial side, breaking this line is a difficult proposition.   Grey Knight Captain Galerus deduces that the tactic needed is a vertical assault to bypass the long killing field in front of the enemy positions. He assigns command of the Deepstrikers to the 2nd Company Grey Knights. 

The agreed upon plan is to simultaneously hit the enemy line with an airstrike, teleporting Terminators and Assault units, and a frontal attack with long range tank fire.

The BATTLE
There’s not much to cover here. It was a disaster for the Imperials.  The Rilti air cover disrupted the timing of the assault very badly. The ensuing debacle had the Imperial assault come in as 3 separate waves, each dealt with by the Rilti defense one by one.
The Air...

The Deepstrikers...
The Frontal Assault...

AFTERMATH
With the failure of the main attack, several units of Space Marines that were deployed in the initial planetfall behind enemy lines, are now isolated and running low on supplies.

Imperial HQ has decided on a massive airdrop to resupply these units.  All of the remaining airpower will be concentrated to ensure the success of this mission.
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First of all, having my 2 Bulldogs in reserve, while my opponent deployed his 2 Stormhawks on the table to start the game, completely screwed up his plan.  I had air superiority (At the top of Turn 2, I had 2 flyers in reserve and he did not have any) , causing a -1 penalty to his reserve rolls. Only a couple of his units hit the table each turn and I could pile on each time.

There were no dogfights this game, so no extra phase.

We decided to use the following profile for the Forgeworld Thunderbolt fighter to represent my F/A 86 Bulldogs. (hat-tip to Frank from http://ifitwasntforone.blogspot.com/ ):
All the same stats and weapons from the IA book, plus,
Fighter
3 Hull Points
Agility 2 (it’s heavy and should not be as maneuverable as the Marine Stormhawk)
Pursuit 3 (it has “rocket assist” engines, so we reckoned it would be fairly fast)

…and this seemed to work well.
The attack patterns are devastating.  Getting BS 4 for my Bulldogs in the attack pattern scored enough hits on the Stormhawk that his jink saves were not enough.

My opponent didn’t get the chance to use any formations this game, but stay tuned, ‘cause he sure learned some things for the next one!

See you for the Next Mission!

19 May 2016

The Rilti Intervention: Air War Mission 2 - Tactical Strike

Background
The Imperial forces in Sector Six are at the point of crisis.  The emergency recall of major combat units to Imperial Prime, on top of the war in the Rentlaw Sub-Sector, have been pushed the remaining Imperials  almost beyond their limits.  It has become necessary to impose emergency measures and demand greater taxes, material, and men from Imperial subject worlds. The world of Rilti has balked at these unprecedented increases, citing the need to keep their troops close to home.

There can be no negotiations with the will of the Emperor, only obedience. A Space Marine Task Force has been dispatched to seize control of the planet.

When the task force arrived, Ravenguard pilots seized control of airspace over the landing zone, decimating the pilots of the Rilti Planetary Defense Force.

However, hope is not lost. The Kingdom of Colores 141st Strike Fighter Wing has been deployed to help the citizens of Rilit.  Acting much like the AVG in China during WWII, these future “Flying Tigers” might just be able to stem the Imperial tide.

Situation
The Ravenguard, utilizing a combined arms force, will try to punch a hole through the extensive Rilti Forward Defense line.

The Defense Line consists of 5 fortified buildings.  The Rilti PDF must hold the line and prevent the fortifications from being destroyed. The Ravenguard  mission is to destroy the fortifications and clear the road for the rest of the Imperial Task Force to advance.

 The Ravenguard jump off their assault and begin firing at the defense installations, Col. Edespar in the Rilti Command HQ calls in the fighters of the 141st.






A Ravenguard Stormhawk attempts to intercept the inbound Bulldogs and rapidly closes the range



















It seems as if the Stormhawk gets the advantage, but at the last second, the Bulldog turns the tables… and scores a hit .

Damaged but still in the fight, the Stormhawk rolls away.













The Stormhawk counterattacks with a ground strike, and in one devastating volley, punches a hole in the HQ Bunker, killing Col. Edespar and the Rilti Command team instantly.
















The Bulldogs sweep in and try to exact revenge, but fail to penetrate the armor of the more advanced Imperial fighter.











Making a hard turn, the Stormhawk attacks a second fortification. The Bulldogs pursue, straining to match every maneuver turn for turn.



Yet again, the Bulldogs fail to score damage against the Space Marine Fighter.







Finally, the nimble interceptor executes a wingover the Bulldogs cannot follow and they break away high.  

But the maneuver takes the Stormhawk right into the field of fire of an ambushing Hydra…

…and is shredded!

Stormhawk down!






With his air support destroyed, Ravenguard Captain Galeus can only watch as the Bulldogs return and unleash their Hellstrike missiles on his attacking troops….

Aftermath
The Imperial attack was blunted, but the Defense Line has sustained too much damage to repel the next attack from this position. The Rilti PDF fall back to the next line.

Captain Galeus is taking this tactical draw personally, and after a short pause to regroup, the marines will be ready to renew the attack in a “Lightning Assault”.

------

Over the next few weeks, Robert and I will be playing through the Air War Campaign from the “Death from the Skies” (DftK) book. We played Mission 1 previously (not recorded on the blog), with the victory going to his Ravenguard / Grey Knights task force.

This was Mission 2: Tactical Strike.  I have to say, looking through these Scenarios, the material / terrain expectation is very high, and seems beyond the reach of most players.  This mission required FIVE bunkers.  There is another mission later on that the attacker needs FIVE transport aircraft. Seriously?!!??
Talk about “barrier to entry”!

Some observations from gameplay of Mission 2…
Playing the game was very fun. On turn one, my opponent wanted to dogfight (and knowing I was seriously outclassed)  I did not. I won the dice off, so no dogfight.  On turn 2, he won the roll, so we ran it. This was the only dogfight of the game, and I pulled off the upset and actually scored a hit.

As the Imperial Guard only gets one lousy Flyer in the book, I am forced to have my beautiful F/A86 Bulldogs “count as” Valkyries.  Good grief! That was torture!
Completely undergunned, they shot everything they had, every turn, at the lone Stormhawk and (except for scoring a hull point in the Turn 2 dogfight) only really managed to keep it jinking and  firing snap shots.

When I made the comparison to the WWII Flying Tigers, I didn’t realize I would also be simulating how outclassed their equipment was!

Anyone have any stats for the Thunderbolt in the new rules? Unofficial is fine with me.
Anything???
Anything???
Is this radio on????

About the frequently voiced concern that the new rules would slow the game down…. 
Even though I only gave commentary on the Air Battle, this was a full 40k game. (Ending with a nailbiting DRAW)
After using the air rules, I think most games will only have one or two dogfights.  If one player doesn’t want to dogfight, 50/50 it doesn’t happen. After the early turns, all the flyers are on the table, so dogfights don’t happen then either.

On a visual note, the rules state that for a dogfight, players should put the flyers on another table. There is no need for this.  All you are tracking is distance and facing. Use the main table for dogfights. It looks wayyyy cooler.


On to Mission 3: Lightning Assault!

15 May 2016

Death from the Skies: New Fighters for the Kingdom of Colores

An undisclosed amount of time ago, the Kingdom of Colores, Bureau of Military Acquisitions, obtained a large supply of abandoned Imperial airframes. These planes were reconstructed to a "zero condition" (like new, zero hours), and upgraded with better avionics, engines, and weapons. For service in the Kingdom of Colores, the plane has been given a new designation, the F/A-86 Bulldog.
Today is the debut of the 141st Strike Fighter Squadron!


The F/A86 is single engine, multi-role fighter. It has transitional capability, meaning it can be deployed from a carrier in space, carry out a mission in atmosphere, and can regain orbit to be recovered by the carrier using it's servo rockets,
It has a mixed reputation among Imperial pilots. It is considered capable of many tasks, but master of none. To the Kingdom of Colores pilots, it is a godsend. A fighter finally at least within the same operational range of capabilities as the major powers.

Below is the basic F/A86A single seat model.

The "I" model is the two seat variant. In addition to the pilot, it carries a Radar Intercept Officer (RIO) who operates the sensor mast and other electronic warfare systems. The sensor mast allows the F/A86I to attack both ground and capital ship targets at long range with guided heavy munitions.

Finally, a couple of beauty shots from the 141st's maiden flight...



______________________________________________
So, Robert and I went out an bought the "Death from the Skies" 40k expansion.  As you can see, a couple of  flyers were purchased as well. (He picked up two of the Stormhawk / talon flyers) :)
These conversions are not my idea. I was inspired by the converted ork planes from this post on this blog:


Robert and I will be running an event at Goldmine Games on May28th and revisit the "Bomberz on Da' Sulfur River" scenario, adapted to the new rules!

AIR WAR!

I would like to welcome our new reader:
The Responsible One
Welcome aboard!

03 May 2016

Late Night Blather on the “Rise of Tyranny” Campaign

Hi Readers,
I was going to title this post something called analysis/breakdown/post-mortem, but all of that seemed too pompous. So, simply here are my thoughts:

What Worked
Well, the campaign in general. The first rule (written by someone much smarter than me) is that:
YOU MUST FINISH THE CAMPAIGN!
Through everyone’s dedication, we certainly did that. There was an ebb and flow as to how many battles were fought each week, but the last week had just as many battles fought as the first week.  We maintained momentum.

It had a storyline.  Nazi’s get ahold of a planet and advanced weaponry, attack the crap out of the local Imperial forces. Imperials fight back. I put in a fairly large amount of world-building, and by soliciting for even more material from the players, certainly Malathorne and Telebrainia became very real.

What I Don’t Know
Did the narrative translate to the casual readers?  Was there a sense that the Nazi’s attacked with overwhelming force, but were eventually ground to a halt by a painfully slow positive winning curve from the Imperial side?  Is it clear that Telebrainia is a devastated wasteland (having been fought over 3 times as much as any other planet)?
…or did it just seem like record keeping with a thin veneer of fluff?

What Did Not Work
My vision for the Sector Six blog is to tell the stories I see in my head using toy soldiers as the medium. Also, I like to express my thoughts a little about the hobby itself.

I’m not sure I accomplished that.  I look at the posts and I see progressive maps, random pictures, (and a few links to cool Battle Reports), but the toys themselves are not guiding the reader through a narrative.

I think I traded focus for scope.  There were a whole bunch of people playing a whole bunch of games and contributing a great deal of well thought out background, but I was weak on providing the type of content that could harness all of that awesome sprawling material into one cohesive epic.

My Takeaway
This was A. TON. OF. FUN.
A TON
I met new friends, collaborated globally, and the back story was advanced.

I would do it again, the exact same way, in a heartbeat.
BUT
When (not if) it’s time to invite my fellow gracious and generous hobbyists to chronicle the next major war in Sector Six, I want it to be BETTER.

I certainly will provide more source material and get ahead of the story. Things like Strategy Briefs (what is your side really trying to accomplish?), maybe appoint Commanders to play a strategic game and assigning battles to captains in the field to generate context ( and actual mission scenarios)?

I welcome your input. How was your experience?

What do you think could be improved?