Once again five opposing forces were in conflict in the Pariah Nexus, this resulted in the first three-way battle of our Warhammer 40,000 narrative campaign as the Ultramarines, the Aeldari, and the Death Guard all battled over some buried archeotech. Elsewhere in the sector the Sisters of Battle triumphed over the not quite Chaos but that is a tale for another day.
Due to our campaign currently having five active players it was decided to try a three way battle. Also the local gaming store was ridiculously busy so we barely got to play at all. There are a lot of extra rules for a three-way narrative campaign battle, I’m not sure I remember them all. I could spend a requisition point to make two of my units treacherous which I did. Then I could have a different agenda but there were also special stratagems and underdog points.
Another Sub-optimal Death Guard Army
This time I did have a plan, I took all my cheap units with the idea being I’d have more units than my opponent and thus would get to put my better units down last, alas I never planned for a three-way game with sparse cover. I’m sure the Internet will be disappointed. Next week we may go back to 25 PL or bigger tables or maybe if we have to play a three-way game that can be the 25 PL game and the standard match can be 35 power level.
- Billalexdevin, Spawn of Chaos 1 PL
- The Cancer Cell, ten Chaos Cultists 3 PL
- Rhino with havoc launcher 4 PL
- Syphilis squad, five Plague Marines 6 PL
- Maceo the Maligned, Chaos Lord 5 PL
- Toe Jam, Hellbrute 7 PL
- Boris the Defiler 9 PL
The terrain was once again setup before we knew what mission we would be playing. This one was called “Buried Treasure” or something. There were six objectives but there were also three deployment zones so it was very tight placing the objectives. Then one of the objectives was the actual buried treasure the others were nothing of value. You could preform a dig action with your Infantry and if you found the archeotech you would learn by consulting a die hidden under a cup. If you didn’t find it you’d learn which objective was actually the buried treasure.
Once again I did a poor job at choosing my agendas. None of the treacherous agendas seemed like I’d have a good chance at accomplishing them but with three armies I thought Assassins might be a good option. The Ultramarines alone had three characters, the Aeldari had but one. From the Death Guard codex I chose Turn their Hope to Rot. The Aeldari had a Wraithlord and Dark Reapers which were the same power level and I wrote down the Dark Reapers but I ended up in H2H with the Wraithlord where I forgot to use my Contagion ability and spent many turns stabbing the toughness eight paint.
There is a bidding mechanism where you can wager command points for a greater chance of going first. Alex must have been paying better attention than me as he wagered and won first turn. Bill and I opted not to gamble and ended up rolling off to go second which I won, which meant Bill got first choice of deployment zones. This combined with our tight table meant I did not have a lot of cover. There is also an underdog mechanism. The Ultramarines were somehow considered to be the best force and the Aeldari the worst so Alex got two extra CP and I got one.
Seeing I had little cover, I opted to put both Syphilis and Maceo in the Rhino but it never even got to move. I actually deployed the Cultists first and put them behind some ruins as they actually benefit from cover, but what they also benefit from is the fact they are cultists and are not a high priority target. Boris went by them pointed towards the Ultramarines but after seeing all the Aeldari first turn firepower he rotated to return fire. Toe Jam was deployed out of sight as best I could, but the Aeldari can move, shoot, then move again! The last model I deployed proving it isn’t so useful was Billalexdevin which I hid behind the rhino.
We played that you couldn’t score any victory points in Battle Round One and both the Ultramarines and the Aeldari had rules allowing them to deploy outside their deployment zone so they weren’t cramped in a corner. The Ultramarines also had the Intercessors in reserve. The Ultramarine army had three characters and one Primaris squad, the one I dubbed the Plain Janes, and some Incursors. The Aeldari had two Guardians squads with weapon platforms, the aforementioned Wraithlord, some Rangers, some Dark Reapers and an Autarch with a Dark Reaper missile launcher.
Battle Round One
The Aeldari got to go first and if it isn’t obvious they were by far the shootiest army on the table and almost all of that fire was directed at the Diseased Sons. I think one squad of Guardians and their weapon platform went towards the Ultramarines. The Aeldari are all kinds of words that are hard to spell and they have Strands of Fate which apparently will be even more powerful next time as Alex is still learning the rules.
The Dark Reapers shot first and I of course popped smoke on the Rhino, but it didn’t matter as the Guardian’s Bright Lance was easily able to destroy the rhino. It did not explode and everyone in it survived, so I can’t say all my dice rolls were bad, but I once again forgot key rules and didn’t use my command points wisely. Now outside the safety of the Rhino the Rangers could target my Chaos Lord even though he was behind the Plague Marines. He took two wounds.
The Wraithlord simply walked around the cover to target Toe Jam with two Bright Lances. The Wraithlord also has two flamers and some big sword with multiple attack modes I would come to learn. Toe Jam can not pop smoke and in two games has yet to move or shoot. I think the Aeldari also killed an entire squad of Ultramarines who had popped smoke somehow.
Death Guard Turn One
I knew with three armies on such a small table it would be a bloody battle. There is an opportunity to make deals, we didn’t do much of that. Alex killed 11 PL of my forces and one cultist died when Toejam exploded. The cultists moved towards an objective. They did not advance as if you do they can not shoot, but they only had three autoguns so perhaps I should have advanced, as it was they fired towards the Ultramarines doing nothing. Boris turned to face the Aeldari but his shooting was not so effective. With two blast weapons and twin-linked heavy bolters I chose the Guardians as his target.
I did kill five Guardians then they failed their morale test and four more fled but enough remained to operate the gun platform. I actually shot Syphilis at them and possibly Maceo too. I knew the Rangers would be hard to hit in cover so didn’t even try.
Ultramarine Turn One
The Ultramarines did stuff, just not very effective stuff. With one squad dead, one in reserves and three characters most of their fire went towards the other Guardian squad. I couldn’t see it, every now and then Bill would shoot at the Cancer Cell but they actually survived a while, passing at least one morale check and accomplishing something by digging on an objective.
Battle Round Two
The Aeldari were clearly winning but the score was officially tied. This mission scored at the end of your turn. One Guardian squad did stand still and dig, the one over on the Ultramarine flank. Even though it is expensive and Aeldari move seven inches I aimed the Blight Bombardment the turn before right at an objective forcing the surviving Guardians and more importantly the Rangers to scatter.
It didn’t matter the Wraithlord strode forward and Boris died. The Wraithlord had help from the other Bright Lance which did six wounds! I don’t know why I didn’t pop smoke… We had a very small table so I spent a lot of time getting stuff out of a bag or putting stuff into a bag. Maybe I’ll move to the burbs and get a bigger place someday. Actually the notes show Karic something something, the Autarch killed Boris but most of the wounds were done by the three Bright Lances.
The Ultramarines have some banner where when they die they can still return fire, this resulted in the Ultramarines firing at the Cultists who were just standing around at least once during the Aeldari turn. The Wraithlord charged Syphilis, I used overwatch and with their plasma guns and the Arch-Contaminator warlord trait and Maceo’s other aura they did a wound. The best thing I can say is he didn’t wipe them out in one turn, but I completely forgot my Contagion and spent half the game trying to wound toughness eight armour with strength four weapons.
Death Guard Turn Two
The Aeldari scored twenty victory points from digging and standing around and I was now down 20 PL of my 35 PL army. The cultists moved right on top of the objective their shooting isn’t the best, they are just random models, I will improve the squad eventually, but their offensive output will always be limited due to low strength weaponry. Maybe the next Chaos Space Marine codex will help them? Maceo went one way around the melee and Billalexdevin went the other.
After last week’s game against the Sisters of Battle I started using both barrels of Maceo’s combi-plasma gun. I think I shot at the lone Guardian. The Blight Bombardment actually landed and one Ranger was a little too close but using Strands of Fate, Command Points and who knows what else I think one died even though I swear I rolled six mortal wounds. I also played the Blightening as I had three Plague Marines in H2H. But due to my forgetting a key rule I had to roll sixes to wound. Maceo lets Plague weapons re-roll to wound so I rolled a lot of dice, but the Wraitlord always seemed to get re-rolls and this turned into a long melee.
Both Maceo and Billalexdevin got to charge. The damn Rangers had done two more wounds to Maceo in his turn two, so I spent command points and made some key armour saves to live a while longer. Maceo was made years ago for 4th Edition and is definitely not optimal but he has weapons basically no one else in my army has, so I gave him a chance to command to start 9th Edition. The Power Maul is +3 to strength but then has low AP and does one wound. He also has a Chaos Boon which I did remember to use which gives him +1 to wound in melee so he could wound on a 4+ against the Wraithlord but it could actually be even better if I could remember to take one Toughness away.
I also used Trench Fighters. I’ve been giving a lot of thought to making my Plague Marine squads better and I think especially in a Power Level game the powerfist armed champion is looking better and better. He would still have his knife and thus would benefit from Trench Fighters. I seem to like that Stratagem and the Blightening a lot, often opting to take the charge especially with my plague flamer squad. I plan to add some more plague flamers to my army.
What I didn’t remember to do and never again had enough CP to do was Release the Toxins that is another stratagem I like, the Death Guard Characters have a lot of short ranged stratagems so I need to both get close to the enemy and then not die, so at some point I’ll have to either boost my HQ or invest in more powerful HQ choices. I also could have benefitted from the Plague Surgeon model I bought. So much painting to do, so little time and energy.
Ultramarines Turn Two
I swear there were three armies set up on the table, but all the Ultramarines did was kill a couple cultists and even then it took them most of the game to see that squad off. They actually dug and discovered objective five was the treasure, aka the second farthest one form my deployment zone. Since we all dug the score was 20-20-20 but I’d taken by far the most damage and was now getting underdog points.
Battle Round Three
I was saving my underdog points as basically you could buy XP with them. I was also making zero progress on my agendas and to get the archeotech would have to go through the entire Aeldari army. The Wraithlord can shoot in H2H so he flamed Maceo and put a Brightlance into other unit(s). Billalexdevin had gotten 2D3 plus another D3 attacks in H2H but he has very poor armour and his part in the game was over. Syphilis or at least Bagonhead their champion would prove more resilient.
With almost all my surviving models in H2H or being lowly cultists the Aledari firepower killed more Ultramarines. Apparently squads of less than three models can’t screen so the three Ultramarine characters not only became the target of the Rangers but the Bright Lance and Dark Reapers too. The Autarch eventually stood on the key objective until he could stand no more.
In H2H the defender fights first so Maceo who was by far the best at wounding the Wraithlord went first he did two wounds but then the Wraitlord struck him down. This meant my re-roll all ones to hit and failed plague weapon wounds ended, but the Wraithlord was running out of wounds.
Death Guard Turn Three
I think I had three cultists and one plague marine left maybe I had slightly more models, but the cultists moved towards the key objective and got in flamer range but then I rolled a one and they did very little with their flamer they had been lugging across the battlefield for three turns. I think I played the Blightening again and a lot of dice were rolled, the Wraitlord may have been down to one wound, he may have even died then re-rolls were used.
I actually may have killed the Wraithlord the turn before, Bagonhead did the deed then advanced to hide behind a rock. I assume the Ultramarines did stuff, they may have spent all their shooting to kill three cultists as eventually my army was down to a single model.
Battle Round Four
The score was now 30-30-40 with the Ultramarines ahead, they used one of their characters to dig and learn that objective five was where it was at. It was about now that my underdog points were not proving very valuable. I used them to buy basically 3 XP. The Guardian fired at Bagonhead the one man army. The Bright Lance however fired at the Ultramarines, the Rangers, the Reapers, and the Autarch too.
Bagonhead Turn Four
The one man wrecking crew known as Bagonhead the Unbearable moved out from behind the rubble and put two plasma shots into the last Guardian. As you can’t shoot a weapons platform without a Guardian the last Bright Lance took the damage then I charged the surviving Guardian. I rolled box cars and with my three attacks killed the Guardian. Then I consolidated to within an inch of the Rangers.
Ultramarine Turn Four
It was about then that Bill started doing math. He had lost his banner bearer due to a Bright Lance to the face and there was some H2H, with the Autarch being involved, my memory is getting hazy but the Autarch died, there may have been four Ultramarines left, so the Aeldari may have outnumbered both forces, Alex certainly killed the most stuff over the course of the game.
Battle Round Five
There were still Dark Reapers but I’m not sure if the Autarch made it to turn five. He and the Ultramarine characters all died. The Rangers shot then charged Bagonhead the Unbearable as Alex needed to have two objectives to win. Both the Rangers and Bagonhead had Objective Secured so I had scored no victory points in turn four. I think the Dark Reapers also charged, they have two attacks each with the butts of their guns, but the Rangers just have one, however chargers fight first…
Bagonhead survived and may have even killed an Aeldari Ranger. On the other flank the Dark Reapers died but it might have been in shooting as the tricksy hobbits I mean the Ultramarines can withdraw from H2H then shoot.
The legend of Bagonhead the Unbearable grew as he managed to defeat the Rangers in H2H. He had to make some key armour saves and I used my underdog die to buy smokescreen for just him which was +1 to his armour save against shooting and the Rangers did shoot at him doing a single wound, but at the end of the game there was no Aeldari! All three Ultramarine characters were killed by the Aeldari but the two jump back pistoleers or whatever they are called also survived with victory going to Bill as he got fifty VP on the last turn for holding the archeotech objective, he also earned a campaign relic!
That was a bloody battle with four models surviving. Bill was the big winner as he gains XP for passing morale tests and earned a campaign relic. Alex’s Aeldari are super shooty but not so strong in H2H and will be weaker next we play as I will remember my Contagion for the entire game and actually ordered some game aids to help me remember. I failed at both my agendas as the Ultramarines killed the last three Dark Reapers, I think the Cultists killed one but with one plague champion I finished off three Aeldari units so I gave Syphilis man of the match and then with my underdog points and having done so well at digging I gave the Cancer Cell +3 XP too.
Death Guard Infantry Battle Honors
Post game, Bill and Alex were going gangbusters adding buffs to their units, Bill got a relic, Alex killed most everything on the board and got extra XP for killing Chaos aka me. I wanted to get food, but looking at the chart unless your squad is H2H focussed I don’t see how Death Guard infantry don’t take +1 to hit in shooting first so all three of my troops now have tri-lobes. I also spent a requisition point to boost the size of Syphilis so it will now be ten models strong and have a third plasma gun.
I still think the optimal plague marine squad has not been determined but I do think I can boost my champs more. I like the Sigil of Decay and Trench Fighters so I’m not sure you want to max out on upgrades especially if you are paying points for them, so I will build my Plague Marine squads to all be different and “realistic” rather than trying to cram every upgrade into one unit. I also may create two new units, one green and one purple as I don’t think 14 let alone 20 model plague marine or Nurgle renegade squads are coming back, even the 30 model Death Guard Chaos Cultist squad may disappear at some point.
Small squads have their place. I’m not sure if I want to do ten Blightlords in a single squad as when teleporting it would be even tougher to find a landing spot. I will still give myself some flexibility to swap champs, special weapons or go down to five models, but I have enough painted models to field 111 Nurgle renegades which is more than seven squads. Plus I have HQ, undivided troops, even Khorne bezerkers and noise marines waiting to be requisitioned. And I know I can build more models, so I will try to paint all the new ones I bought or at least most of them, I’ll mostly be painting special weapons and champs for 9th Edition because I have plenty of power armoured bulk.
Requisitioning New Troops
Now that they are bloodied I bought Syphilis five more members, I actually plan to enbiggen six more models including one with a plasma gun, but after that this squad may be done. I can also use my squads as Nurgle renegades so they have heavy weapons or options that Death Guard can no longer have, but based on rumours I have models that will have no rules in the new Chaos Space Marine codex too so some models will spend this edition in cases.
I plan to get a Lord of Virulence eventually because I’m the plague flamer guy apparently. I never used my Plague Brewers stratagem this game, but eventually I may buy more bits on eBay or convert more plague flamers, I have several on the painting table now, but I don’t plan to buy many more new models this year, I gotta paint some of the ones I already own, what is optimal anyway? Hopefully next game all my +1 to hit and -1 to toughness will start adding up to victory.
If you have thoughts on using the Death Guard in a narrative campaign or how best to equip a plague marine squad you can leave a comment below.