Wednesday 16 April 2014

Battle at the Farm

Ok, so I've got a bit of a log jam of posts I need to write. As I mentioned in my last post I've had a great month or two in terms of getting loads of games in - a double-edged sword in terms of having a great time rolling dice but having loads of battle reports to write.

Of course I don't have to write up every game I play but it certainly seems a shame to let the stories go untold.

I think I'm going to go in reverse-chronology having just had an amazing weekend of wall-to-wall games as part of the Battle at the Farm weekend I hosted at my folks' place up in the Lake District. My game of Warhammer 3rd ed. against Ollie's Chaos army will come after that and last but not least, I'll give my version of events of the excellent Gnome on the Range scenario Warlord Paul ran at the Foundry a couple of weekends ago, which should give him a chance of posting his report up with the pics I should have emailed him the other week... Sorry mate!

So Battle at the Farm then - well I'd been itching to invite some gaming buddies up to the Lakes as there is loads of space for gaming and entertaining guests. Commiserations to Warlord Paul, cut down by some contagion of Nurgle, and to various other Oldhammer buddies who had other family commitments and couldn't make it this time round!

The venue!
Two lucky souls made it up - Ollie (The Second Founding) and Richard, plus family, (Where the Sea Pours Out) joined me in trying to play as many games as we could fit in last weekend, drink beer and eat like kings. 

As the place used to be a farm it seemed sensible to start with the Rogue Trader scenario - Battle at the Farm. We also got stuck in with some Space Marine (2nd ed. Epic) and a Dalek Civil War consisting of three scenarios. Unfortunately we didn't have time for the Warhammer Siege I had planned, but that may well happen at the next Oldhammer Bring Out Your Lead weekend at the Foundry this August...

For those of you unfamiliar with Rogue Trader or this particular scenario, here's a quick run down - 

Richard took control of Thrugg Bullneck and his Ork patrol, intent on uncovering the cache of jewels that was discovered the first time they hit and torched this particular farm. Admirably staying true and faithfully role-playing the Ork commander, Richard deployed his troops in typical Orky fashion, brashly advancing in the open over the hill.

Ollie took on the mantle of Captain Pedro Cantor and the sorry remnants of his Imperial Fist defense force. Holed up in the farm, as they desperately try tomake their way across the wartorn land to link up with the surviving Household Troops of the Governor of New Rynn City, they await the oncoming Orks, hidden from view and ready to spring a snap ambush.

Only vaguely suspicious of the wafts of fresh "humie" on the wind, Thrugg urges his Orks onwards as they near the farm.

Only a short distance across open ground separates the wily Ork leader from untold riches and perhaps even promotion...

Nothing stirs in the blackened ruins of the homestead. Yet still the wily Thrugg hesitates slightly in his mind.

The Boyz don't pick up on the Boss' unease and amble across the wasteland, laughing and cursing as they go.

It's quiet.

Real quiet.

Too quiet.

Thrugg looks over at Hruk and notices the same wariness in his squad leader's beady eyes. If any Humie survivors were going to wack them, it would be about now.

Still nothing stirs in the derelict farm yard...

With a guttural command from Thrugg, the patrol begins to split up. Can't be too careful, even if it is only Humies that might be lurking around the ruins. Good job all those Space Marines got crumped up by their own missiles!

Suddenly a battle cry and the sharp staccato of Bolt pistols break the eerie silence. The Ork squad sweeping down the left flank reel in surprise as Marines seem to emerge from nowhere!

Simultaneously the rest of the Marine Force make themselves known with a deadly salvo of Bolter fire on the main thrust of the Ork patrol.

Explosive shells tear the ground and Ork up alike. The dull crump of a Plasma shell signals the entry of the Heavy Weapons trooper into the firefight. As the smoke clears, the terrible toll of the onslaught in revealed - Hruk and his whole squad have been reduced to a fine red mist, as has Thrugg Bullneck himself!

At the demise of their leader, one of the squads of Orks infiltrating the wood loses heart and flees, ignoring the catcalls and jeers of their comrades.

The combat in the field is short and bloody. The Orks, surprised and outnumbered, suffer heavy losses.

There is no let up as they are pushed back over the hedge - the Marines following up with barely contained fury.

Another burst of Bolt pistol fire clears the left flank of any Ork threat!

Back in the farm yard Captain Cantor keeps up the relentless hail of fire, picking off the odd Ork foolish enough to stray into view. Three of the repellent creatures manage to make it to the relative cover of the orchard on the right flank however.

Feeling somewhat abashed at running away without firing a shot, their Squad Leader manages to convince his unruly charges to return to the carnage. Their Heavy Plasma gun promises to even the score a little and it was time that the Humie scum got a taste of their own medicine.

Their targets masked by the trees and undergrowth mean that the Forward Observation squad's fire is not as effective as before.

Similarly the Orks fare little better in a short exchange of fire that has noisy but without substance.

Shielded by the angle of their approach, three surviving Orks creep ever closer to the Marine's firing line.

Under the withering hail of fire the Marines are able to lay down, inevitably several more Orks fall.

With a huge grin, the Heavy Plasma gunner dials his weapon up to 11 and lets rip - could this begin to save the faltering Ork attack by blowing a hole in the Marine's stalwart defense of the farm?

No - it's a bad miss!

The Missile launcher returns fire, easily targetting the Ork Plasma Gunner from his huge muzzle flash. The lone survivor makes a second and final run for it!

Another Ork falls from a lucky Bolter shot and the assault on the farm is reduced to two troopers.

They bravely charge in.

But get a good kicking for their troubles.

The sole survivor finds himself in the unenviable position of being surrounded by a gang of angry Marines intent on some revenge - not to mention Pedro Cantor and his fearsome Power Glove!

... and they don't stop even when he is down!

And so ended Thrugg Bullneck's plan to make it rich during the Ork invasion of Rynn's World by the forces of the Snagrod the Arch-Arsonist, Warlord of Charadon.

Good to see Ollie was magnanimous in victory and that Richard had no hard feelings at all over his crushing defeat!
This was a tough scenario for the Richard's Orks, even after I had added a bit of cover on the flanks to mask their advance. They were also gifted a Heavy Plasma gun - well pretty much because the mini was carrying one! (I'll do a post on the Space Ork minis I used some other time. They are from the old plastic multi-part box set that came out back in the 80's. I'll want to finish off adding markings and motifs as featured in the scenario before I get round to that though.)

Ollie on the other hand had a fairly easy task - defend an easily defensible position with superior troops in superior armour, hiding behind hard cover!

We had quite a debate about how the Orks would be hard pushed to win this one so I'd be interested in hearing from any of you who have played the scenario - is it possible for Thrugg to recover his jewels and bring back the head of Pedro Cantor?

Either way, the guys had great fun playing the scenario and it was a nice easy one to GM for me. Definitely a great start to our gaming weekend!


  1. Sounds like a lot of Fun mate! thanks for the tale...

    1. Cheers Blue - glad you enjoyed it.

      Congratulations on your successes so far in this year's LPL by the way - I've been voting but not always had the time to comment.

  2. Another fantastic report! The scenario isn't very balanced, but I guess that's RT!

    1. Thanks Gareth - we were quite tempted to run it with the Orks defending the farm if we had had the time.

      The scenario also talks about the Marines having to take out any squad leaders that might be able to radio for help. If I had had more Space Ork minis I might have made calling in reinforcements an option - although that would have put an end to Thrugg's hopes of finding and keeping the jewels for himself.

  3. I remember playing this as the orks way back when RT came out. It immediately put me off the game as my opponent wasn't very magnanimous in his win and I thought the scenario very stupid.

    Didn't play it until much later when we started doing points matches. Man, those Gretchin on powerboards equipped with melta bombs were awefully effective for their points!

    I guess RT wasn't that balanced :-)

    1. Sounded like you needed a new opponent back then but they're usually harder to come by!

      Your Powerboarding Gretchin remind me of the constant arms race we used to participate in when we were kids. My Imperial Guard ended up staggering under the weight of Synskin, respirators, mesh and flak armour, haywire and melta bombs and god knows what other kit, in order to survive more than a few turns against my mate's Space Marines who were not averse to chemical, germ and any other kind of warfare!

      I think as far as Rogue trader is concerned, balance is in the eye of the beholder.

  4. Nice report! Those poor orkses.

    1. Cheers Mr S. - must admit I did feel more than a little sorry for Thrugg and his merry band myself!

      They'll get a bit more love when I feature them in their own post after I've finished off detailing them.

  5. Wonderful battle report. It was a really enjotable read :)

    1. Thanks - glad you enjoyed it. It was certainly a blast gm'ing and gaming it!

  6. The only way I see the Orks winning is to get into cover quick and call in for reinforcements. I think the scenario gave you a 1 in 6 chance of this succeeding. Just sit tight and keep using that radio. Then the plot twists in their favour. The marines have to break cover and run to the ork lines. The game completely changes from an Ork shooting gallery to a Marine one.

    Give up on the idea of retrieving the gems. It's impossible.

    1. Reinforcements had crossed my mind although I had only painted the 21 models needed for the game. Mind you they were dying that quickly it wouldn't have been a problem.

      Richard was doing a fine job of role-playing Thrugg and calling for back-up would have meant sharing those elusive jewels!

    2. I remember thinking I could win the scenario after getting smashed a year or so ago by doing the following as outlined in the scenario:

      Turn 1 - ? Orks hide behind the generator and hill and call in reinforcements. Keep calling till you roll the 6 required to call in the hundreds strong ork horde

      Turn after the radio works: Space Marines crap themselves as they now have around 4? turns to exit the board on the Ork side of the table. They have to break cover or else an ork horde arrives and kills them. No dice are rolled; the marines on the board after time runs out are dead.

      Ork ambush turn: Orks fire from hiding when the marines are at close range giving the marines a taste of their own medicine. We finally have a fair fight.

      No jewels are recovered but eh ... you want to win right?

  7. Yeah; the Orks are just bolter fodder. In this one. When I played it through last time I replaced them with sisters of battle using space marines stats; it tends to give them a bit more durability!

    1. Durability is definitely the key. Next time (if there is one) I'll probably give the Orks better equipment - scanners to spot the Marines, a few more heavy weapons and grenades. Their armour is completely useless against the -1 modifier Bolters have so that'd need improving too.

  8. As I said to you, the scenario would work far better if the Orks were already there in the farm, and then they were attacked by the Space Marines (thus putting the Orks in the defenders position); this would not only give the orks a bit of cover, but Thrugg could very easily say "oi, you lot, you just keep shooting while I pop over here a minute" and dig up that treasure without anyone else noticing.

    1. Yeah - if we get the chance again I reckon we should make Ollie assault the farm and see if you can even the score!

      I'm sure the GM could have some fun with initiative/intelligence tests to see whether Hruk or any of his boys notice what Thrugg was up to - perhaps even ending up with an Orky brawl over the loot in the teeth of the Marine's assault...

  9. Yeah robot I agree; it does make sense from a balanced scenario perspective if the troops with the crap armour/kit start in the hard cover. I'm not sure why the games developers didn't swap these sides around before going to print.

    Thants; that -1 modifier is a killer for the Orks; that's why replacing them with power armoured (or at least carapace) makes the game a bit more fun to play and less like a day on the shooting ranges for the space marine player!!

    1. Definitely need to give them carapace armour at the least.

      Like Suber says - perhaps the Orks even it up with the Jadeberry Hill scenario?

  10. Haha, it is always great seeing someone playing this scenario again! :)
    In my experience, every time I have played this particular scenario, the poor Orks never had a chance. Cover is the only thing they could use until they get to close quarters, and there is none!
    Anycase, the game is fun indeed, I encourage you to play part 2 of the scenario, the Jadeberry Hill Battle (WD#94 if I am correct), maybe the greenskins have their chance for a sweet revenge!

    1. Cheers Suber - know what you mean about cover. I ended up adding a hedged field and additional woods to give the poor chaps something to hide behind!

      I'll have to dig the Jadeberry Hill scenario out and take a look...

  11. I ran this about a month ago with the wife and a friend battling it out. The wife played the orks and did quite well (so much that she forced one marine squad to rout) but in the end the marines won. As noted the scenario is badly unbalanced - the orks need at least one more 5 ork squad (and probably two) to have any chance of actually winning. And by winning I really mean recovering the gems...

    1. Sounds like she had a great game! I'll have to see how many more Orks I can piece together to give them some reinforcements.

      I still think some kind of fracas over the jewels would be a great way of ending the game if Thrugg actually did dislodge the Marines by calling for reinforcements.

  12. Glad you all had such good fun, wish I could have made it but equally had great fun on our little family holiday to Norfolk. Do let us know how the families got on whilst gaming was going on. Be good to let the Mrs know in case you do this again.

    Nice to see you didn't need my minis either, you got the marines and Orks painted up nicely in in timely fashion.

    I've never seen the orks win, even when I added some dreadnoughts to the mix. I suspect the marines are just meant to win.

    1. Cheers Erny and glad to hear your holiday went well. Richard's son had a whale of a time tearing about the place with my two! They didn't quite make it up Catbells (one of the smaller local mountains) but I gather there was a successful trip to the Mining Museum, along with steam train rides on the Sunday.

      The Orks were a bit of a rush job - the Marines were among the first minis I painted on getting back on to the hobby, except for the metal guys who came a bit later.

      Crikey - not even Dreadnoughts helped! At this rate we'll end up with the Zulu style attack involving waves and waves of Orks, Dreads and buggies that were involved in that Rourkes Drift style game of 40K that featured in WD a while back!

  13. Great write up mate! One of the most enjoyable weekends gaming ever!

    1. Ah, and to the victor go the spoils of war! Hope we haven't taken the sheen off your success with all this talk of game balance!

  14. You been Liebstered, son.

  15. Aw gee - thanks Pop!

    I don't need any more reasons to keep procrastinating when there's a backlog of 6 games to write up! ; )

  16. A very cunning plan indeed - as cunning as a fox what used to be Professor of Cunning at Oxford University but has moved on and is now working for the U.N. at the High Commission of International Cunning Planning, as Blackadder would have said! It certainly gives the Ork player a bit more to do other than getting shot. I think roleplaying as Hrukk trying to get the jewels at all costs is the key for an Ork player to enjoy the scenario and callously calling for back-up to just provide a distraction while he sneaks in for the loot is a good way of doing it. The GM can obviously spice things up a bit by making secret rolls to see if any of the Boyz with him get suspicious of his motives and there could be some great role-playing opportunities for Hrukk to haggle/bribe/stab in the back any of his lads who get wise about him once they reach the farm.

    I think Richard's problem was that he was up against a trained soldier - Ollie did a very good job of assessing the situation, reinforcing his strongpoint that was easily defended with a heavy fire team and deploying a flanking ambush force forward of them that could then switch to providing covering fire for a Charlie/Delta style section action if the Marines did in fact end up having to fight through the Orks to escape. I guess I could have sowed some seeds of doubt in Ollie's mind about his plan by hinting at large Ork troop movements going on off the table that might have encouraged him to break cover.

    You're definitely right about no plan surviving first contact with the enemy though!