Friday, 11 August 2017

The Invasion of Scipio - Chapter 2 - The Liberation of Gnaeus

This is the second battle in the Invasion of Scipio campaign. You can read about the introduction to the campaign here:
The initial space invasion here:
The defenders of Scipio barely had any time to take stock and consolidate their forces, they needed to conduct a counter attack on the cities that were overtaken during the invasion and were now being subject to unspoken horrors by the xeno invaders. They needed to do this immediately not only to relieve the populations of these cities but also while they had complete superiority in the space and air in the Delta Valley. There was no knowing precisely when reinforcements would arrive for either side of this conflict.

The xeno invasion wreaking havoc on the captured cities

Of the three cities that were captured by the invaders Barca would be the most difficult to counter-attack; during the initial invasion the xenos had dropped defense batteries that were effective in shooting down the drop pods that the defenders attempted to land. Many marines died in the skies over Barca before reaching the ground. This means that Barca would have to be taken overland from a northerly approach and thus time would be required to assemble the necessary troops.

Of the remaining two cities, Gnaeus was an isolated target and a smaller settlement, it would be easier to launch an immediate counterattack using launch troops and orbital support. Gisco would have to wait to be liberated afterwards; it was a much larger urban centre, it could be reinforced overland by xeno forces form Barca, and the dropships would need time to avoid the batteries there.

The map of the Delta valley after the invasion
Gnaeus is a commercial and industrial town surrounded by smaller villages and country side. With their complete superiority in space and the air, the Imperial fleet is able to surround the city, dropping troops on all sides and bombarding it from orbit in support of the counter-attack. In this scenario the Imperial troops are tasked with liberating the two key areas of Gnaeus, while the invaders have been cut off and are trying to defend their gains. The scenario is played using Epic Armageddon, with NetEA army lists as per below.
8 Exterminator, 2 Demolisher

8 Exterminator, 2 Executioner

3 Basilisks



10 Infantry, 5 Chimera

3 Salamanders, Salamander Command Vehicle
Emperor Class
3 Termagants, Dominatrix, 3 Hormagaunts

3 Termagants, 3x Tyranid Warriors, 3 Hormagaunts

3 Termagants, 3x Tyranid Warriors, 3 Hormagaunts
2 Termagants, Hive tyrant, 2 Carnifex, 4 Hormagaunts

2 Termagants, Hive tyrant, 2 Carnifex, 4 Hormagaunts

6 Geanstealers
5 Biovore

3 Exocrine
The Xeno defenders have encamped in Gnaeus, both in the eastern industrial district and the western commercial sector, while the Imperial troops have surrounded the town on three sides. The scenario provides one victory point (VP) for each sector of the city that is held by either side (circled in red), one VP for destroying the opponent's most valuable formation and one VP for capturing the opponent's blitz (circled in blue, this represents the supply line).  The game would last three turns, after which the VPs would be calculated.
The battle began with the Imperials moving their tank companies within shooting range of the towns while the Basilisks rained down some artillery fire: 
The alien defenders taking cover in the industrial sector. The biovores move to the edge of the sector to return fire on the artillery.

The firepower of the Imperial tanks proves to be overwhelming, even with cover they manage to destroy a hive tyrant that was the leader of the forward xeno formation.

The might and firepower of Imperial armoured vehicles.

Meanwhile in the western commercial sector, the Dominatrix is kept in reserve to counter the Imperial attack while another tank company advances on the town.

The tank company moves forward and takes fire from the exocrines but their return fire breaks the small exocrine formation. Meanwhile the Imperial salamander scouts advance to identify targets.

The Imperial salamander scouts got too close and underestimated the speed of the xenos, they are assaulted by a terrifying formation lead by a hive tyrant and carnifexes. The scouts are wiped out to a man, a heroic sacrifice for the planet.

At the end of turn one, the xenos have taken heavy losses from Imperial firepower but still have a grip on the sectors, the Imperial troops are moving forward slowly and cautiously. However, this is when the Imperial dominance over space really pays off. The Imperial troops call in an orbital bombardment on the industrial sector, soften up the target before moving to liberate the sector.
Coordinates and timing of the bombardment received by the Imperial space fleet.

 Bombardment launched, stunning the xeno troops fortified in the industrial sector and causing many losses.
On the other side of the battlefield, the dominatrix exchanges fire with the Imperial super heavy tank, baneblade, the first round of shots were inconclusive.

While the baneblade was focusing on the xeno war engine, the same formation advanced quickly and overwhelmed the tank, wiping it out.

Meanwhile the Imperial guard infantry, supported by their tanks assault, into the commercial sector. Being careful to stay out of close combat and using their firefight capabilities they push the defending xenos out of the town.

In the bombarded industrial sector, the Imperial tanks mop up the broken enemy formations. The remaining defenders fall back to get out of line of sight

At the end of the second turn the situation doesn't look good for the defenders, they are being pushed out of both sectors, their one formation that counter attacked attack was broken from short range fire from a tank company.

The third turn ended pretty quickly with the xenos limited in what they could accomplish due to many broken formations and the Imperial shadowsword killing off the dominatrix. The scenario was a 3-0 victory for the Imperials. Their firepower and the extra orbital bombardment were decisive in this battle. For my part I played the xenos wrong and should've started out of the enemy line of sight, forcing them to move forward to shoot me, I was relying on the cover of the urban terrain. I also deliberately didn't bring the best units I could've in order to replicate a
Gnaeus was liberated, and while the orbital bombardment devastated the industrial sector, it was critical in softening up the defenders and enabling to attackers to move in. The sector was back in Imperial hands and the rebuilding process could begin. Now onto the rest of the cities in the Delta Valley


Tuesday, 11 July 2017

The Invasion of Scipio - Chapter 1 - Planetary Invasion

Introduction and background to the campaign can be read here:
This game was played using Dropfleet Commander with each side commanding 999 points.
Standard scenario scoring was used with the space station being a critical location for the Xenos only.

The invasion of Scipio has begun, with the spearhead of the attack focusing on the resource rich Delta Valley. The planetary reserve forces combined with the Imperial Rapid Response force were able to muster a defensive battlegroup to meet the invasionary forces.

Imperial Rapid Response Force and Planetary Defense Space station deploy to meet the Invaders
The Delta valley has several strategically important cities, the most important is the city of Theseus which is central to the valley and contains the military, communications and orbital defences infrastructure. The other cities surrounding the valley contain key commercial and industrial assets.

Delta Valley and legend showing location and content of cities
Orbital defences in the stronghold Theseus
The defenders focused their forces centrally in the valley enabling them to react to any attack trajectory from a central strong point.  Meanwhile the invading force advance on each of the flanks, avoiding the orbital defences in favour of the softer civilian targets.

The Invader right flank, the Xeno heavy ships, Basilisk and Shenlong advance aggressively with their cloaking technology

On the Invader left flank, the cruisers and carriers advance towards the vulnerable sectors of Gnaeus.

The Imperial forces advance up the middle of the valley towards Theseus, the Atlantis battlecruiser on the far side holding up the Imperial left flank.
The xenos advance aggressively towards the civilian soft targets and trying to go around the Imperial flanks with their speed. They seem, however, to have underestimated the firepower that the Imperium has at it's disposal. The heavy cruiser Shenlong blows up to concentrated fire from the burnthrough laser of the cruiser Berlin and the supported by battlecruiser Atlantis. The terrible explosion also damages the Xeno battlecruiser Basilisk  which is left to spearhead the assault on the right flank.
Behind the spearhead advances the Xeno dropships and landers capturing the key assets at Gisco and Gnaeus.

The heavy cruiser Shenlong blows up in spectacular fashion as a result of concentrated enemy fire.

The Basilisk is now spearheading the attack and is in position to return fire at close range.

Xeno troopships advance behind the spearhead and capture soft civilian targets.
On the opposite flank, the defenders manage to secure Flavius with troops just in time as the invaders continue their advance up the flank. Once again firing at close combat turns decisive as the advancing attackers take long range fire from the cruisers the defenders but inflict terrible damage with their close action weapons and bombers launched from the cruiser Hydra.

The Xeno Djinn frigates and Wyvern cruiser get in range to use their close action weapons, supported by the bombers launched by the Hydra.

This flank turns into a stalemate as both sides shoot down each other's frigates and cruisers in mutual destruction. In the end the invaders manage to land some troops Flavius but they are quickly overwhelmed as the Imperials had managed to secure the objective in advance.

The invader left flank cancels out the defender right flank as both sides take heavy losses from the exchange in fire.

Over the skies of Flavius, the invaders try to land troops but to little effect as the defenders had time to prepare. 

Meanwhile in the middle of the board and on the invader right, the Basilisk manages to shoot down the Imperial cruiser Berlin and the Toulon frigates supporting it. However, the big guns of the Atlantis and the bombers launched by the Seattle finish the Basilisk off before it can do more damage.

The Basilisk goes out with a boom.
The destruction of the Basilisk leaves the remaining frigates and Chimera troopships of the attackers vulnerable. Knowing that their doom is pending these ships rush to their objectives and drop more troops on the undefended cities of Barca and Gisco. They are then shot out of the sky by the Imperial defenders, who were one turn too late to prevent the suffering of the populations of these cities.

Xeno dropships landing from atmosphere on their targets

Xeno troops get shot down in the process of capturing their final objectives. Gnaeus and Barca are now overcome, one can only imagine the horror of the inhabitants.
In the last turn the Imperial forces attempt to counter-drop troops on Barca, however the Xenos had anticipated this and dropped orbital defence guns which shot down the dropships as they were landing from atmosphere. The poor marines on those ships never had a chance before their ships were turned into burning wrecks.
The last of the attackers on the right flank drops troops to secure Barca

The Imperial troopships fall to heavy defensive fire as they try to land on occupied Barca.
In the battle's conclusion, the attacking force was destroyed almost to the last ship, but not before the invaders were able to land troops and capture Gnaeus, Barca and Gisco. It was a pyrrhic victory for the Imperial Rapid Response Force; it proved able at doing it's job in space and in the air, however, large parts of the Delta Valley have fallen to the invaders. It will now be up to the Imperial ground troops to retake these strategic areas, and they must do so quickly while they have complete superiority in air and space.

The next chapter in this war is set; the Xenos are busy wrecking terrible damage on the cities they have captured but have lost their fleet in the process, the Imperial troops now race to liberate these cities with the support of their spaceships. The Imperial troops await their reinforcements knowing that there will be an enemy relief force behind the first wave of the attack.......

Friday, 7 July 2017

The Invasion of Scipio - Prologue

Planet Scipio, while not the richest or biggest planet in the Imperium, had sufficient mineral wealth to fuel its economic and industrial development. It was relatively peaceful before the invasion, tucked away in the corner of the galaxy far from any of the conflict zones. It didn’t have the same depth or breadth in planetary defences as the other worlds that were thought to be primary targets for invaders. This is probably why no one anticipated the alien invasion and how the invaders got so close before they were noticed.

Industrialised heartland of the Delta Valley on planet Scipio
No one knows why the hive fleet decided to launch a surprise invasion at this location. Presumably the hive mind saw a soft target, wanted to exploit the planet’s resources and exterminate its inhabitants. The first wave of the alien attack is focused on the Delta valley on Scipio where there are a high concentration of economically important assets. When the hive fleet Hydra (Imperial codename for the invaders) first arrived within range of the Imperium’s planetary sensors the signal was sent out to the defensive net which detects and responds to threats anywhere in their ring of colonised planets.

Hive Fleet Hydra coming out of warp ready to begin the invasion.
Luckily the Imperium’s Rapid Response Force is designed to respond to just such a threat, and while not carrying the full weight of the Imperium’s power, the response force is able to muster the limited forces on Scipio, supplemented by assets from nearby space ports. The plan is to effectively meet and stall the first spearhead of an attack while further reinforcements can be sent. The fate of the planet Scipio and its inhabitants will be determined in space, air and land.
Imperium's Rapid Response Force deploying to defend the Delta Valley

Chapter 1 of  the campaign for the planet Scipio will be played as a series of linked scenarios that will each affect the other to form an overall narrative. This chapter focuses on the first spearhead of the alien invasion into the Delta Valley, an area with many industrial, commercial and military assets. The lore is loosely based on the Warhammer 40K universe with some liberties taken to suite the narrative.

The campaign will be played at three different levels:

Space Combat – battles in space and orbit to destroy enemy fleets, capture territory and drop land-based troops for battles, using Dropfleet Commander.

Land Battle – military operations to destroy enemy forces and capture key territory, using Epic Armageddon in 6mm.

Skirmish – covert and special operations missions to disrupt enemy activities or capture asset, using Shadow War Armageddon rules in 28mm.

I have a long wanted to run something like this, it took a while to organise the miniatures, rules and terrain for two factions in three different game systems. Not to mention the many other gaming diversions that I have gone on. You may ask, why not stick to the 40K universe and play Battle Fleet Gothic (BFG) for the space battles? Well because the BFG ships are expensive, hard to find and I bought into the DFC Kickstarter which was designed by the same author as BFG, Andy Chambers. I’ve roughly shoehorned the DFC factions into the 40K universe: UCM will be used to play the Imperium and the Scourge will be the Tyranids.

I was originally planning on using a campaign structure and victory points system to determine who will win the campaign, however, the results of the first battle made me realise that I could create a better narrative by keeping it free flowing and play the games that I like based on what happens on the tabletop. The goal is to organically form a cohesive story that ties them all together.

If successful, I will keep it going with more chapters that expand the conflict and bring in new belligerents. The first part of the story will deal with the initial space invasion by the xenos, the battle report is coming soon. As a preview, here are some pictures of my two DFC fleets:
The Xeno spearhead invasion fleet
Close up of the Xeno heavy ships
The Imperial Rapid Response Force
Large Imperial Ships