Suffer Not The Alien, The Mutant, The Heretic

This week, I have something a bit different. Inspired by my ongoing Horus Heresy reading campaign, I tried out the latest version of Warhammer 40k. In a hostile galaxy of corruption, psykers and xenos, I felt compelled to stand for the Imperial Truth and fielded an army of Dark Angel Space Marines. Note that some events may be…coloured…by perspective, particularly when it comes to “acceptable risk.” With a little added drama, here’s how it went:

Across a battlefield of steel and stone buildings, ruined by orbital bombardment, lurked the dark powers of the warp. They swarmed around an artefact, drawing power from its unnatural energies. From the viewport in his drop pod, the Dark Angels commander surveyed his speartip’s objective and sniffed. So incensed by the very existence of once-compliant Imperial men fallen to evil powers, he vowed that only extermination would suffice.

No sooner had the dust settled from the drop pod’s landing than a chaos dreadnought reared its corrupted bulk around a building and incinerated one of the terminator vanguards with its multi-melta. Cultists followed; twisted scraps of humanity armed for close assault and baying for Astartes blood. Kept under control by the warp-touched champion of chaos, they advanced like rabid dogs pulling against a frayed leash.

But the Emperor’s finest shrugged off the intimidation. They marched from the drop pod into a blizzard of autogun and stubber fire that chewed at their ceramite armour. Bike-mounted Dark Angels tore across the right flank, sighting chaos chosen and a second horde of cultists, no less deranged than their axe-wielding allies. The outnumbered marines laid down suppressing fire, allowing their small tactical units to find positions. Once entrenched, a tactical marine’s plasma cannon shrieked to full charge and unleashed the power of a harnessed star into the dreadnought.

The afterimage scrambled the marines’ sensors, though when it faded, the dreadnought stomped forward, unperturbed by the blast. It responded with another shot of its multi-melta and vaporised a second terminator. His assault cannon clattered to the ground. Motivated by the rate of attrition on the terminators, the chaos chosen surged forward under cover of more autogun and stubber fire.

So close that the Dark Angels could see the chosen’s crazed eyes and self-inflicted scars, the right flank opened up with a volley of storm bolters and twin linked bolters from the bikes. Despite casualties, the chosen laughed in response, relishing the pain. On the left flank, the Dark Angels unleashed a firestorm of krak grenades and plasma fire against the mighty dreadnought, which again failed to penetrate its thick armour. The Dark Angel librarian, his head pounding with demonic voices, sought out the chaos champion and charged into single combat. But, alas, the champion reacted too fast and his power sword carved through the librarian’s plate, felling the brave Astartes.

The battlefield degenerated into a smoke-filled arena of death where the thunder of guns persecuted the screams of the dying. Lightning claws tore through another terminator while the Dark Angel bikers decimated the cultists. The chaos champion blitzed through a squad of tactical marines in the shadow of the vile dreadnought. One marine survived the champion’s ferocity, invoking the Emperor’s name as his own commander deemed his presence an acceptable risk and the plasma cannon shot its banshee’s wail once more.

Like a passage from the Lectitio Divinitatus, the Emperor’s light protected his favoured warrior while plasma melted the chaos commander and ate through the dreadnought’s armour plates.

Sensing the battle tide, the two remaining terminators dispatched the remaining chosen and assaulted the flailing dreadnought. In a violent melee, the dreadnought’s hand crushed the Dark Angels’ commander, along with another terminator. Rage overcame the remaining Astartes and they hammered against the vehicle. Finally, with the screech of tortured metal, a terminator’s power fist tore through the dreadnought’s armour and the monstrosity fell.

While the bikes exterminated the remaining cultists, Menelus, sole survivor of the tactical marines, retrieved the company banner and raised it above the smoke surrounding the chaos artefact. The dark powers had exacted a heavy toll but the Imperial Truth, delivered by the iron will of the Astartes, conquers all.

The Emperor’s words rang in his head: “suffer not the alien, the mutant, the heretic.”

***

There you have it, an old school battle report! Do you still get those in White Dwarf? They were one of the best bits, in my opinion. If you want to see more of this kind of thing on the blog, leave a comment and let me know.

As a player of a much older release, I found much to learn in this edition. The game time seems to have reduced and the battle was wide open until, perhaps, the last turn. There’s always an element of luck in dice games but fortunately my worthy opponent courts Lady Luck just as well as I. Tip: never buy dice from a games shop after either of us have been there.

The miniatures are as beautiful as ever and you seem to get quite a bit for your money in this edition. It gets this veteran’s seal of approval and I urge you to hassle your nearest games shop for a demo game if it takes your fancy. I have no affiliation with the Games Workshop, by the way, just sharing the wealth of a decent game in a rich universe.

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