Greetings Terrans! Well, finally it is done. The Wolf Time is over, and the dust is settling on another superb BOYL. As a reminder, here is the context:
“Five years ago, Commander Enoch, with nine of the ten warrior companies that comprised the Spacewolves, had joyously begun the chapter’s five hundred and nineteenth crusade. There were few warrior-brethren left now. The crusade was almost at an end. Soon they would return to their own world of Lucan and the formidable fortress-monastery that was their ancient home. Xit would be their final challenge – the last campaign of a five year mission to cleanse the recently discovered worlds of alien occupation.
The years had taken their toll on the chapter’s resources – both human and otherwise. The Restitution’s sister ship, the Vengeance, had been lost in the fighting around Tulwa. Her brave crew and half the fighting contingent died in the burning hulk. Most of the transport still lay immobile and rusting in the swamps of Jytor. It was doubtful if the Restitution was in any condition to fight, twenty seven percent of her hold capacity and thirty four percent of habitable areas were sealed pending major repairs. Over a hundred men had been trapped in the damaged sections when the threat of depressurisation forced the decision to seal. The Imperial edict that began the crusade was an inestimable honour, but its completion would allow much-needed time to rebuild the weary and depleted Spacewolves.”
Here is the account of their final challenge on the planet Xit::
1st game: Temple Mountain
Ork forces: Commander Alug (power armour, heavy flamer, power glove), 3 Ork combat units (4 bolters & 1 heavy bolter per unit), 5 Ork Technicians with pistols & swords
Marine forces: Commander Enoch, Librarian Edrigar, Recon unit (jet bikes), 2 Spacewolf combat units (Yellow & Red), 1 Support Squad (Red)
A bold start from the Spacewolves – they committed a strong force to recon the mountain top temple and locate the energy source that delivered power to Kulo’s Castle. The jet bikers flew in to the midst of the Ork camp, while the remainder slogged their way up the mountainside on foot. The Jetbikes suffered a hail of fire, resulting in all 5 bikes down on turn 1! The ancient machines crashed spectacularly, killing an Ork and disturbing a nest of squigs in the Ork dunny (toilet). Two of the jetbike riders managed to roll out of the crash, but were immediately set upon by angry (and shitty) squigs. However, the distraction was enough to allow the remaining Marines to make short work of the disorganised Ork force, and to notice that the retreating Technicians seemed to disappear into the temple through a hole in the floor! A squad investigated, and found a grav lift to a hidden control room, where the power source could be deactivated. Unfortunately, once the power was out, the grav lift ceased to work, so the enterprising Marines mined the place with explosive canisters and blew the room to pieces. Meanwhile, Commander Enoch and another squad tracked down the Ork commander and remaining boys. They were dispatched with brutal efficiency. Marine casualties are light, and most of the injured make a full recovery on their way to the rendezvous at Kulo’s castle.
2nd game: Into the Pit
Ork forces: Commander Thrallgash (power armour, hand flamer, plasma gun, power glove, jump pack), 4 Ork combat units (4 bolters & 1 heavy bolter per unit), 5 Ork Technicians with plasma guns & swords
Marine forces: Capt. Greylock, Capt. Inferno, 2 Spacewolf combat units (Orange & Green), 1 Support Squad (White)
The Marines arrive to find alarms blaring and the Orks running around like headless squigs. What they don’t realise is that the Ork generator is moments from overloading and blowing itself to pieces! The Ork’s only hope is for the technicians to control the pressure build-up while the troops open the safety valves in each corner of the board. Surprisingly, the Marines opt to trip one of the safety valves themselves, while the Orks manage to trip another two… Things are looking good for the Orks, but their plans are dashed within a few turns, as the Marine support squad sits back and blows the generator doors off before firing a missile directly into the building! Miraculously, the generator itself is unscathed, but the supporting technicians are wiped out. Commander Thrallgash acts decisively, using his jump pack to get within plasma range of the support squad before opening fire and almost wiping out the entire squad in a single round of shooting. Enraged, Captain Inferno charges the Ork Commander, and a protracted combat ensues, while the remaining Marines push on to the generator compound. The Marines slowly gain the upper hand and Inferno eventually dispatches Thrallgash, allowing the Marines to destroy the second generator. Again, many of the Marine casualties make a recovery in time for the final scenario.
3rd game: Miasma at Trembling Teeth
Ork forces: Commander Kalug (power armour, bolt gun, bolt pistol, chainsword, heavy plasma gun), 4 Ork combat units (4 bolters & 1 heavy bolter per unit), Additional combat unit (bolters, leader has a hand flamer)
Marine forces: Capt. Storm, Navigator Ocellati, 2 Spacewolf combat units (Blue & Purple), 1 assault unit
The Marines arrive to find their approach is shrouded by a thick cloud of fumes and smoke. They cautiously begin to make their way towards the Ork compound before discovering just how dangerous the Trembling Teeth are as a number Marines disappear through the thin crust of cooled lava and are instantly killed. Meanwhile the Orks peer into the gloom, looking for any trace of danger. Eventually, the Marines get within firing range, but find that their shooting is relatively ineffective and serves only to give away their positions. The Orks let rip with abandon, and begin to thin out the Marines as they scramble for some secure footing away from the treacherously thin lava crust. Slowly, the Marine firepower manage to even the odds, but the battle becomes a grinding war of attrition. Eventually, Navigator Ocellati and Captain Storm are the only surviving members of the task force, and the remaining Ork sentries & Commander continue to push them hard. Finally, only Ocellati remains, and after punching the door of one of the generator towers, he takes cover and fires his digi-lasers into the exposed machinery. This sets off a chain reaction that destroys the generator, and when the dust settles, only Ocellati remains standing. This was the closes battle so far, but Ocellati’s survival allows the Marines to claim the field and recover their wounded for the final battle*.
*This proved decisive, as the recovery of these injured Marines increased the amount of available troops by a third for the final game
4th game part 1: Kulo’s Castle – Spaceship level
Ork forces: 1 Ork warrior unit (bolters, bolt pistols, hand weapons), 5 Ork Scumbo units (pistols & swords), 5 Ork guards (power armour, bolter, chainsword)
Marine forces: Cmdr Enoch, Librarian Edrigar, Capt. Storm, Inferno & Greylock, Navigator Ocellati, 2 Assault Marines, 5 Support Marines, 25 Tactical Marines, Phase Field Generator
The Marines finally arrive at Kulo’s Castle – they had successfully disabled all power to the fortress, but their late arrival allowed the Orks to intercept their supply cache and steal their Plasma and Melta grenades. The Marine phase field generator had also been vandalised and no longer worked reliably. Undeterred, the Marines entered the first level of Kulo’s Castle from the north and south, and began a slow advance through the complex. The Ork guards seemed more interested in retreat, while the Scumbos fought (and died) bravely. The Marine advance looked unstoppable, but the northern assault had surged ahead and found themselves exposed to concentrated overwatch fire – this was not helped when a swarm of angry squigs erupted from the dunny, pinning a squad of Marines in place while a mob of Skumbos gleefully lobbed their looted melta grenades into the melee. Librarian Edrigar lost his life in the struggle, as did many other Marines, but eventually only one Ork Warrior squad remained behind a makeshift barricade with Capt. Greylock pushing the assault. The Orks managed to hold the line for a short time, but were utterly crushed when Navigator Ocellati flanked them thanks to the cunning use of the phase field generator to tear a hole in a wall & allow the Navigator to get behind the defenders. The remaining Marines discovered the main stairs and a hidden ladder that led to the dungeon level, and prepared for the final assault.
4th game part 2: Kulo’s Castle – Dungeon level
Ork forces: Governor Kulo (2 bolt pistols, power glove, neuro disruptor), Captain of the Guard Rulko (power armour, flamer, bolt pistol, chainsword), Navigator Fogg (bolt gun, 2 bolt pistols, vortex grenade), Doc Spleenripper (bolt pistol, bionic arm – power glove, shainsword, 4 digilasers), Cook Ram’s-Eye (hand weapon, swarm of squigs), 2 Guard squads and 5 individual guards (power armour, bolter, chainsword), 2 warrior squads (bolt pistol, bolter, hand weapon)
Marine forces: Cmdr Enoch, Capt. Storm, Inferno & Greylock, Navigator Ocellati, 2 Assault Marines, 4 Support Marines, 15 Tactical Marines, Phase Field Generator
The final assault was brutal – the Marines ignored the more obvious approach down the staircase, and proceeded to mass a beachhead at the foot of the secret ladder in the north-west corner of the compound. The Orks scrambled to respond to this threat, but their efforts were hampered by a surprise incursion of local primitive humans who seemed hell-bent on killing as many greenskins as they could*. In addition, the Ork defence was strangely disjointed, as various characters held back and failed to commit fully to the fight**. Navigator Fogg unleashed the fearsome power of his Vortex Grenade, but rather than target the Marines, he used it to block their progress and force them to fight Kulo and his guards. Cook Ram’s-Eye held back, but Doc Spleenripper and the Ork warrior squads were cut down by the rampaging natives! Navigator Fogg was also cornered by the natives and was duly massacred, while Rulko managed to slow the Marine advance with his flamer. Cook Ram’s-Eye went down fighting, his loyal squigs snapping and snarling at the Marines to the end. Only 18 Marines remained, and Capt. Storm and Greylock were lost, but finally, Kulo was cornered. Commander Enoch fought the warlord hand to hand, but was displaced out of combat by his displacer field. Eventually, Navigator Ocellati managed to land the killing blow on the Ork Warlord – the Spacewolves had triumphed, but the cost was high… Only 20 Marines remained from the entire Spacewolf chapter, including Enoch and Inferno. Navigator Ocellati also survived – less than a third of the starting force.
*I introduced a small force of natives who were trying to rescue their shaman. However, the shaman died before he could even move, so they settled for some vengeance on the greenskins.
**I had added some political infighting subplots for the Ork players, meaning that each was also trying to be the last Ork character standing!
Well, what a campaign!! I am so chuffed with how it went, but there are definitely some things I would correct/do differently next time. I think the Marine recovery rolls could do with being a bit tougher, and I made a rules gaff on the third game which would’ve prevented the Marines from doing recovery rolls (digi-laser are cc only, so Ocellati should not have been able to stand off and fire!). That said, I think the game could’ve handled those mistakes, but I fatally unbalanced the last game with the introduction of the native humans… They easily accounted for about half of the defending Orks, and it made for a very one-sided final battle… this was a let-down for the poor Ork players, and that is entirely on me. Otherwise, the campaign was extremely well constructed and very nicely balanced. At one point, Rick Priestly himself came over to see what was going on, (along with Nigel Stillman), and his first question was ‘does it work’… I think the answer is a resounding YES!!
I got a lot of really nice comments about the terrain and the quality of the minis over the weekend, so that was awesome, but the most important thing for me is that the players really enjoyed themselves. I take no credit for that, it was entirely down to how well they bought in to it, and their enthusiasm really brought the games to life. Huge shout out to Jesper, and variously, Paul McW, Paul E, Chris & Garth on the Marine side, and to the J-team (Jochen, Joel & Julien) on the Ork side – you guys took something good, and you made it awesome. Special mention to Colin and his expert handling of the Azmaa too, (native humans – vengeance has been served!).
Also I want to say a massive thanks to Mark @ Heresyofus for pulling out all the stops to make the the superb 3D printed spaceship/dungeon, and to those who loaned bits of scatter to dress the set, (JB and James), and particularly to Curtis for making me a kitchen from scratch! I also want to thank everyone who liked, commented and supported me on the road – it was a long slog, and you guys kept me going way past the point where a sane person would’ve called it a day. Finally, as always, the biggest thank you goes to the Ansell clan & Garth for making the event possible. BOYL is undoubtedly the jewel in the crown of the Oldhammer scene, but it wouldn’t be possible without them.
Well, that’s all for now folks – I’m going to take a break from hobby and blogging for a few weeks while I recharge the old batteries. I’ve got the post-BOYL blues at the moment, and I need to find something to get my juices flowing! Catch you all soon :-)