A Very Bloody Valentine- Apocalypse: Earth AAR

The sun glittered on the waves, reflecting across the expanse of the North Sea. At this altitude you could smell the salt, and thanks to the backwash from the helicopter blades and manoeuvring thrusters on the Silverbugs, you could taste the spray too.

Lt. Grant looked back at his new command, a platoon of infantry jammed inside the brand new Westland Wessex transport. Spread out either side of him, as far as the eye could see, were transport helicopters and Silverbug antigrav gunships, skimming across the waves. He felt a mixture of immense pride and trepidation – Ivan wouldn’t be expecting this, but the 1st Air Cav, although an elite division on paper, was as yet untested in battle. Grant himself was fresh from West Point, a young officer with much to prove. He flicked through his briefing notes one last time – get in, destroy all the supplies you could reach and get to the extraction point before Ivan could react and summon reinforcements. The damage they did here would be crucial in stemming the tide of Holy Soviet Empire forces currently engulfing Central Europe, and rampaging across Eastern Germany.

It would work. It had to work.

The pilot tapped his helmet, held up a hand, four fingers and thumb extended. Grant nodded, and turned to his men.

“Five minutes to drop!” he yelled. “Lock and load!”

With a metallic crash, his men did so. Grant smiled – they looked ready..

With all the 40k stuff that’s been going on of late, you’d be forgiven for thinking that we’d forgotten our first love – our own universe and game system, cobbled together over the years and finally codified back in 2014. For those who aren’t familiar, Germany wins (sort of) WW1, and the result is a proto-EU (The League Of European Nations), an Atlantic Alliance bloc comprising the UK & Commonwealth along withe the USA, and a demented theocratic hellhole Holy Soviet Empire, ruled over by everyone’s favourite baddie, Emperor Josef Djugashvilli I! (aka Stalin to his mates).

January 1954 sees the Holy Soviet Army invade the West, and in the first catastrophic days the Europeans struggle to contain the Red Hordes as they mobilise their reserves. So it’s Blighty and the Yanks to the rescue, as on Valentine’s Day 1954 the joint US-UK 1st Air Cavalry division (including a few experimental vehicles) pull off a devastating raid from an unexpected quarter on a massive Soviet forward logistics base, causing severe damage to the ammunition and fuel supply chain.

We’ve been kicking around a few scenarios to try out, and this has stuck with us as a fun one to try, focusing on a single platoon trying to get in, cause havoc, and get out again before the Holy Soviet Army wakes up and flattens them! So, as Valentines Day dawns and you think you’re in trouble with the missus – well, it could be worse!

We laid out the 6 x 4 board with the objective in the middle, and let the Soviets deploy within 60cm of the objective marker with no idea yet where the attack might be coming from. Next up, they were subjected to three barrages of 155mm artillery fire, simulating the bombing runs from the lead Silverbug attack vehicles. At that point, the Atlantic Alliance forces would deploy on the table anywhere at least 50 cm from the objective, and the Soviet player would nominate which edge should be the extraction point.

The Atlantic Alliance job is to hit all the buildings around the objective marker with C4 demolition charges (setting the charge counts as a Combat Action) and extract as many forces as possible off the nominated table edge. The Soviets would be trying to stop and/or kill & capture as many of the elite cavalrymen as possible.

The Soviets had the Platoon HQ, three rifle squads (nos. 1, 2 & 3), a support squad (no. 4)reinforced with an additional Lightning Launcher, a Noble Sniper (who we both forgot about throughout the game), a squad of Siberian “Strong Men” assault troops, a section of Tesla armoured troops, the Holy Mystic and his bodyguard, an APC, the SU-152 assault gun, 4 T-48s, the Inferna and Elektra specialist tanks and the two Shock Drones – basically everything but the big superheavies!

Meanwhile Buffalo 2-7, were in lean, mean “airmobile” mode, which meant leaving the tracked vehicles behind, giving us Lt Grant and his Platoon Command Element, two rifle squads (Alfa & Bravo), a heavy weapons squad (Charlie), machinegun squad (Delta), Rocketeers (Warhawk 4-9), Dreadnaught squad, three Humvees armed with minigun, Stinger/TOW and railgun, and sniper team (Ghost 7). Also present were our ace in the hole – two Avrocar Silverbug gunships toting Stinger/TOW launchers and Avenger autocannons, along with the M85 combat support robots.

Grab yourself a beer – this is going to be a good one….

The field of battle – objective marker is dead centre, with two plasma generators, a communications centre and two supply warehouses clustered around it

The Soviets deploy for all round defence
Winter storage hasn’t been kind to everyone :-/ still, comparable quality to Forge World resin, or so I’m told….
Lt. Polikarpov and No. 4 support squad take up residence in the centre, with heavy weapons deployed to cover every avenue of approach.
The sh*t hits the fan! Allied airstrikes crash amongst the Soviets, destroying the Shock Drones, the assault gun, Elektra and wiping out a good portion of No. 1 squad!
Led by the Silverbugs, the main Allied thrust comes in from the Western table edge (now that air strikes have cleared a path)
Rocketeers enter from the south to take out the Mystic with extreme prejudice…
The defenders take cover and try to react!
Alliance Humvees streak in from the south west in a diversionary attack.
Alliance Silverbug brews up a T-48, but the treacherous Holy Mystic successfully mind controls the second ‘bug, firing on its comrade and stripping off both Stinger/ TOW launchers!
To add insult to injury, close range rifle fire from the Mystic’s bodyguard squad massacres Warhawk 4-9!
Burning vehicles and casualties litter the board
Gutter fighting as the defending Soviets take their toll on the assault forces!
Lt. Polikarpov rallies the troops for a counterattack – Za Rodina!
Large parts of the battlefield on fire, copious casualties on both sides – and it’s still only Turn 1! At the end of this turn, Dan nominated the northern table edge as the extraction point for the Alliance frces.
Dreadnought power armoured troopers clear the hill, capturing the Soviet artillery observation team, but in the end phase of the turn Soviet artillery hits hard, killing two of them
The survivors expose themselves to gun down the Siberians massing at the bottom of the hill
Surviving Soviet rifleman launches a one man attack to prevent a Delta squad trooper planting a demo charge on the western plasma generator..
Fortune favours the brave! This time, anyway…
Second Delta fireteam guns him down and dive into contact with the generator
Before one falls to Soviet fire – this is going to be HARD FOUGHT!
The still-mostly-intact No. 2 squad emerge to gun down the surviving Dreadnought troopers
The Soviets bring down a Silverbug with a Lightning Launcher
Lt. Grant leads the Allied infantry towards the buildings
The view as turn two draws to a close…
BEDLAM!!
Turn three starts with the Soviets gaining the initiative – the remains of No. 2 squad gunning down Platoon Sergeant Elias and wounding Lt. Grant!
Retribution is swift and deadly!
Turretless T-48 crushes a Delta squad member just before the first plasma reactor erupts in flames..
…like that!
Not my best camera work – with a Silverbug in amongst the Soviet infantry and wreaking havoc at close range, an immobilised Inferna rotates her turret and drenches the gunship in napalm, bringing it down in flames in the centre of the Soviet position
Lt. Polikarpov and Commissar Kuryakin lead the remains of HQ and no. 4 squad in a counterattack against Allied Platoon Command Element
The last member of Charlie squad falls
His squad may have been gunned down or crushed beneath the tracks of Soviet T-48s, but Delta’s sergeant carries on with the mission, attaching a C-4 charge to the Soviet communications centre…
…Before the remnants of No. 1 squad gun him and another rifleman down!
Who’s winning? F*CK KNOWS!!!

 

As the communications centre and supply warehouse erupt, Soviet HQ gun down Platoon Sgt Elias and RTO Smashy!
With three buildings blown, a wounded Lt. Grant realises his command is practically annihilated, with only a few infantry left – time to run!
Enraged, the Soviets open fire at the fleeing Alliance, downing the remaining rifleman!
Doc Macauliffe and a wounded Lt. Grant just make it to the extraction zone!
A scene of utter devastation!

Stumbling through the undergrowth, nursing a gunshot wound to the shoulder, Grant and Macauliffe ran for their lives. His lungs afire, Grant stumbled and fell, pain shooting through his shoulder like a lightning bolt. It was nothing to the pain he felt on the realisation that apart from the big medic, his entire command- men he’d trained with, whose lives were his responsibility – was annihilated. Destroyed. His men dead or prisoners. He dropped his M15 in the dirt, sagging to his knees.

“Go on without me, doc, I’ll only slow you down” he panted, throat raw.

The big medic looked at him. “I don’t leave my men, sir. I ain’t leaving you. We did what we came here to do – those boys knew the risk. “

The next thing Grant knew, he was across the medics shoulders, being carried a trot to the extraction point. The sound of rotor blades had never been so welcome.


 

Whichever way he looked he saw flames. Lt. Polikarpov tried not to cringe as caskets of ammunition cooked off in the blaze around him. He straightened as the pair of riflemen – all he could spare from the shattered garrison – threw him a salute.

“We are sorry, comrade Lieutenant, but the fascists made it out. We have a few personal effects they abandoned, however” – the riflemen handed over Grant’s pack for inspection. 

Polikarpov’s lips moved as he read the stencil. Grant, 2nd Lt, B-2-7 1st Air Cavalry.

“I’ll get you, you bastard” he swore silently. “I will see you again, Amerikanisch, and I will end you”


 

Conclusion:

Probably the most brutally violent four turns either if us have ever played! We agreed it was a draw – 3 out of 5 buildings blown, but Grant and Mac the only Allied survivors. Probably a bunch of things we could and should have done differently, but we got so swept up in the cinematic feel of the game, we were both running on adrenaline! Action packed and immense fun – props to Dan for also suggesting that it functioned rather well as an “origins story”, setting up the saga of Grant v Polikarpov for many years to come!

Thanks to all who stuck with us through a pretty sizeable post -hope you enjoyed t as much as we did, and if you want to get in on the fun, check us out on Wargames Vault.

Till next time, stay thrifty, see you soon!

CheapHammer 40k: The 2nd Ed Revival Project Pt. 5 – DIY Dreadnought

Honestly, if I hear the words “edge highlighting” coming from Dan one more time…. 😉 While my comrade in arms readies the remainder of his Deathwatch Space Marines for our showdown climax game, I’ve been looking at getting my ladz something a bit heavier – now, the original 2nd Ed boxed game (and our inadvertant eBay purchase) included this little fella:

20171109_210215
100% GW, 100% tournament legal!

But it wouldn’t be right to rock up to our final battle with a bit of cardboard with a picture on it, so I did a bit of digging and found the genius Eli Patoroch’s Facebook group, and amongst the many amazing papercraft template kits, sure enough there was an Ork dreadnought – printed out onto card stock and off I went!

Built up the body from template cardboard parts – after some deliberation, opted to build the legs from foamboard and glue the cardboard over the top for solidity and stability. Base made from two layers of thick card – I drew around the base a redundant Christmas decoration to get the circle right…
Buzz saw arm cut out and constructed
Close combat arms added – reinforced with chopped up cocktail sticks for pistons, the cylinders in the Patoroch template were too fiddly for my clumsy fingers!
Gunz! Some bitz from the template, some cocktail stick, some chopped down drinking straws – all equates to one lascannon and one heavy bolter
After “riveting” – done by applying dabs of PVA with a bent paperclip – it was out to the shed for a white undercoat
Followed by a light pre wash with Vallejo Smokey Ink (aka “bottled talent”)
Two thin coats (the Duncan Rhodes way) of cheap red craft paint
And a thin Smokey Ink wash, followed by a pin wash of mixed Smokey and Brown inks – those rivets really popping now!
Highlighted with a drybrush of the original craft red, then further drybrushing with red mixed with yellow, and then pure yellow
Metallics – Vallejo silver (lost my gun metal craft pot :-/ )
Washed with thinned black ink mixed with Vallejo Smokey ink. Viewer lenses undercoated whte.

 

Slightly blurry action shot…
Let loose wiv da ladz!

I finished the lenses yellow, green ink wash, and gem highlighting technique building up to pure white. The “tusks” were undercoated white, then layered with tan, building up to bone, and a light brown ink wash. Basing was the same as the rest of the force – home made texture paste painted brown and drybrushed up, a smattering of flock added and then a spray of matt varnish… and done! All for a grand total cost of somewhere around £1- not too shabby!

Of course, if you want to do things properly, you want a real GW model – they ain’t cheap, but they are lovely. However, if you can’t afford £31 for something that has no practical application (despite being, as I mentioned, extremely pretty) – this isn’t a bad way to go. And there’s always a nice feeling about creating something from nothing, isn’t there?

Stay tuned, stay thrifty, we’ll see you again soon!