â˜…â˜…â˜… STALINGRAD â˜…â˜…â˜…
Fate decreed that the Soviet-themed Minervan Tank Legion should meet the Wehrmacht Steel Legion on the board nick-named Stalingrad. Who are we mortals to question such bounty offered by a tournament's random matchup system?
(Since I wanted to run something different from my usual Hoth Krieg, the tanks were kindly leant to me by local tread-head Tyson, and the Warhounds by Steve.)
The invader's army was equally impressive: Basilisk artillery formations and Hydras cover the blitz, a formation of 3 Bane Blades guard the central road, while Leman Russes prepare to move out on the right flank. An armoured company take the left, while both armies' thunderbolts wait on nearby airfields for launch.
Objectives were placed in a very tight group of 4 as is often the case when Imperial Guard armies meet. This was no meeting of friends or allies however, there are no times for niceties in this shell of a city.
Behind the rubble of the ruined metropolis an entire Armoured Company lie in wait. Immediately behind them are artillery formations, with Hydras providing an anti-aircraft umbrella.
The Initiative roll, like history, favours the Communists who open up with Manticores to take out one of the enemy Artillery formations before it gets to fire, and manages to break the nearby Hydras as blast templates rain down. The Deathstrikes then launch, taking out a baneblade and badly damaging a second.
Even after impact of this first exchange, the Steel Legion still have a superiority in ranged weapons and fire back to break the manticores. In an attempt to redress the balance in ranged-firepower, scout Salamanders rush forward in a suicide attack. While only armed with autocannons, their mission is to double move forward and at least place a blast marker on the enemy artillery to suppress one or make them fail an activation.
This is a success, but in retaliation the armoured company is ordered forward, smashing through the debris to engage and destroy the salamanders.
Their sacrifice shall not go unremembered! Martyrs for the Motherland, history is written in the blood of such patriots!
Meanwhile Steel Legion Leman Russes pour forward looking for an early breakthrough. They swiftly overtake their scout screen of Sentinels, which allows them to take shots at the Soviet armour but leaves them exposed to possible counter attacks.
Spurred forward by their commissar tank, the Executioners rush forward to engage, although their weaker Twin linked Autocannons aren't capable of doing the same damage as the Leman Russes' battle cannons. With the smoke of turn one fading, this sets the two formations up for a struggle for the heart of the city in turn 2.
In the next turn, a Warhound doubles around behind the Leman Russes and opens up on them. The goal of this risky move is to set up crossfire; Formations that take fire from the flank or rear are caught in a deadly crossfire, and will suffer additional casualties as troops struggle to find cover from attacks coming from an unexpected direction. If the firing unit can trace a line to a friendly formation 45cm or less long, the enemy armour saves are reduced by 1, the effect of which is magnified when firing at Reinforced Armour units like Russes who get to reroll their saves.
The Warhound does minimal damage killing just 1 tank, but the next activation is the Executioners who Sustain fire to gain a +1 bonus to their shots, a -1 to the enemy armour and +1 extra blast marker for the enemy's first casualty after coming under crossfire.
The result is devastating, and the few broken survivors rapidly retreat from the area. This sucks the wind out of the sails of the Steel Legion offensive, who are fored to switch to damage control mode.
They do however still have a virtually unscathed an armoured company, which is positioned to take two objectives in the midfield.
Seeing the threat a Warhound joins the second Exterminator formation, both of which take up position right between two objectives as the armoured company comes rolling down towards them to engage.
The resulting assault turns into a massive firefight involving massess of infantry and vehicles, but it is the Steel Legion that eventually break under the weight of casualties. The troops routed and cut down as they flee, this seals the battle.
The tanks form an unplanned but appropriate victory parade through the war-torn and battered streets - both formations stretching out to their maximum coherency to take 5 objectives between them.
The result is a triumph for the Union of Soviet Socialist Minerva, as the capitalists are chased from the city.
5-0: Break their Spirit, Take and Hold, They Shall Not Pass, Blitzkrieg, Defend the Flag.
Blitzkrieg: Capture the objective that was set up on the opponentâ€™s table edge at the start of the game
Break Their Spirit: Destroy (not break) the formation worth the most points in the opposing army.
Defend To Flag: Control all three objectives in your half of the table.
Take And Hold: Capture a total of two objectives in your opponentâ€™s half of the table.
They Shall Not Pass: No unbroken enemy formations in your half of the table.