Horus Heresy Session Report - Mission 4
Jester and I got a game of Horus Heresy in last night and it was a blast. We played the fourth mission - we are slowly working our way though them all. This mission played quite a bit like the first three with two big differences. The first difference is that four of the zones were 'nuked' and were impassable. The second difference was that we had a lot more freedom in placing our troops.
Since I played the traitors last time it was my turn for the loyalists. We started out by deploying the nuke markers to show which zones were impassible. We ended up with the eastern section of the palace being walled off. This was both a boon and a bane to me as it kept me safe, but also cut off my access to one of the space ports (which controlling all four is one of the victory conditions.)
We then placed our troops and got to it. I set up Dorn in the palace with his Imperial Fists, the Blood Angels were a few squares away from here waiting in the wings for a defensive push, the Emperor and his Custodes were in the middle of the palace, the Khan was in the south, and the fabricator general was holed up in a factory with his Mechanicus guards.
Jester deployed Angron and the World Eaters far in the south east space port, and then a lone Nurgle war band in the northwest port (which was right on the border of the palace.) From here he took the first turn and started bringing down troops. (In this game the traitors start with very little deployed, but are able to bring in their troops where they need them later on in the game.) The traitor player also has the chance to corrupt some of the imperial army units - this ends up being a two-fold advantage as the traitor player gets extra units and they then get to attack mine weakening me up even more. Jester had the worst luck in this phase - out of eight draws he ended up corrupting two units (each draw has a 50/50 chance of working.) He then had six orbital bombardments to try and weaken my emplaced units - again fate was not with him as he failed to do anything - it was off to a bad start for the traitors.
The game started out very slowly. This game is all about positioning and then attacking with overwhelming force. For the first few turns we each planned our moves out waiting for the other one to over commit. I was the first to strike - I recklessly threw the Emperor at Horus on his ship. I sent him with three Custodes and hoped for the best. Due to the way I played my cards I was able to make it all the way to Horus in short order. I had a much stronger force on my side (I had the element of surprise and didn't give Jester the chance to muster his forces) and I put a hurting on Horus. In this game it is nigh impossible to kill a hero off in one turn and that proved to be the case here. I managed to kill all of the supporting troops and get him down to half.
On the next turn Jester wasted no time getting Horus out of there - he jettisoned him off to the southeast space port where he would safely remain for the rest of the game.
This all happened very early in the game, and it really set the pace. Over the next few rounds Jester set up a couple of clever moves using his thunderhawks to take over the southwest space port and the northeast spaceport. Through some lucky card draws I was able to slowly pull my models back instead of having them all murdered down south so this left a really strong line of defenders heading northwards.
While this was all going on I had laid a trap of my own. Mortarian was camped outside the palace on the northwest space port. I knew I had to get him off as the southwest was in the process of being overtaken. If Jester got all four spaceports early on when the spaceport victory condition came up it would game over. (halfway through the game the sparceport victory condition becomes available - if a player controls all four they win.) A turn in advance I had put a card on the action stack that would let me move a unit without activating it - this is huge as you can then attack with it. I used this to bring Sanguinius and his Blood Angles over to within striking distance of Mortarion. Once they were in position I unleashed fury upon him by sending the Blood Angels, Dorn and his Imperial Fists, and a few units of the imperial navy all at Mortarion and his Plague Marines.
The battle was hard fought - I knew I had to do it in one turn or I would be in a bad way. We both played our cards as carefully as possible to try and accomplish our goals - but in the end I was able to wipe out all of the Plague Marines and leave Mortarion stranded. Looking back this was really what ended up sealing the deal - Jester would go on to take over all three other space ports, but couldn't muster his forces fast enough to take this one back.
From here on out I played as defensively as possible to try and draw the game out - if you make it to the end of the game the Imperial player wins.
In the end try as he might, Jester just couldn't get the last space port taken over. From what I have written here it may seem like the game was one sided, but in realty it really wasn't. I felt tense the whole time I was playing - I knew that one bad mistake and the game would swing away from me without warning. Jester's bad luck on his initial corruption and bombardment draws really slowed him down as well. I was also able to be the active player on all of our event draws and they ended up helping me tremendously. Looking at the scenario this one really did favor the loyalist player.
All in all we both had a fun time with it and are already looking forward to playing it again.