++ Inhuman howls ring through the underhive as humanity’s defenders hunt its own mutant aberrants. Eldritch rituals commence, runes are cast and balefire roars. In the shadows beneath Terra’s deepest underhives, a deadly enemy mobilises. Devices of untold power wait to be discovered, harnessed… unleashed. To the victor, the victory. Nothing more, and nothing less. The time is nigh, and Winter will take its tithe…++
Heralds, this has been a long time coming. We hosted the second Terran Classic at JustPlay in December, and it was a blast!
The Terran Classic is so named because we only play the Heralds of Ruin Classics missions during the events – they tend to be where players start out, and we all have favoured strategies, “not again” pitfalls and epic memories of these scenarios. They make a pretty great tournament…
Personally, this was quite a “money where your mouth is” tournament for me, because I was running a list I’d written as a gold-standard example of a Heralds team for our blog, months earlier, absolutely word-for-word. If this didn’t work I’d have to challenge my whole view on skirmish gaming, and Isha forbid that ever happens… You can check that article right here.
On the day, we appeared to have lost one combatant in transit, probably to Kroot bounty hunters hiding in the ice clouds, or perhaps the after-effects of a lot of medicinal-grade beverages, leaving us with 7 players! To make sure everyone would get the three games they were expecting, we tacked a fourth mission onto the end of the event, and jumped straight in with Possession.
I drew relative newcomer Rob and his pure-Rubricae Thousand Sons team for game 1, quite a happy matchup for my lightning-fast jetbikes and infiltrating Rangers – or so I thought! In the end, the Warlock Libellen was held to a psychic stalemate by the Aspiring Sorcerer of Tzeentch, and entirely outgunned by his Rubricae. My Rangers weren’t quite survivable enough to hold the relics they did find, and a close game ended with nobody holding any artefacts at all, and the sons of Magnus took the win on First Blood and Assassination. I learned a harsh lesson about buffed up Soulreaper cannons that day!
Space Wolf clashed with Imperial Fist, meanwhile, and the savagery of the Fenrisians proved enough to overcome the stoic children of Dorn. During the first Terran Classic, Sam led his team “Tizca’s Bane” to a dead-last finish in his first ever Heralds event, so already their fortunes were looking up! By contrast, Josh’s Imperial Fists closely mimicked the last event’s winning list, which served only to pile more glory on the Wolves’ victory here…
Round 1 also pitted two of the day’s coolest and most gruesome teams against each other – Matt’s Chaos Ogryn mob, along with their Malefic Lord leader and his renegade Guard retainers, went toe-to-toe, club-to-fang with Charles’ Genestealer Cult. The cult of Lady Erzebeth is a gloriously Victorian-Gothic realisation of a traditional cult – their white-veiled Primus is a ghastly pale figure, attended by bestial werewolves, a monster Aberrant that only Doc Frankenstein himself could love, and a coven of ragged revenants in scarlet and black robes. Ultimately the brute power of the traitorous Ogryns proved no match for the ferocity, bloodlust and sheer sneakiness of the Cult, and the Lady drank her fill.
Clandestine warfare behind enemy lines is hungry work. After being fed well and generously on hearty stew, burgers and fries, it was time for the sideshow event. Kromlech.eu provided us with an enormous pile of bits for their various ornate sci-fi warrior ranges – happily extremely compatible with Games Workshop Astartes! We fleshed out the pile from our own bits boxes and set to drafting pieces and building characters as fast as possible – you can check out the fruits of our labours here! The finished minis were left on display throughout the day so competitors, store staff and the HoR Facebook group could vote on them, and in the end Matt’s shield-toting firebrand won our hearts! Looks like he’ll be coming for our skulls next…
Back to the fighting!
After running around in game 1 looking for powerful artefacts, it was time to defend our gains. Everyone’s got a love-hate relationship with this mission – Doomsday Device!
Rob’s Rubricae faced the swift terror of Lady Erzebeth and the Monster with no fear and no ground given. Despite the Cult smashing several dust-filled suits of armour with power hammer and autocannon, the warp-fuelled guns of the Thousand Sons, and their power to implant thoughts and intentions via the Suggestion action, proved decisive. The real swing came when a key charge by the werewolves went badly awry, and the exposed monsters were quickly shredded by inferno bolters. The Device wasn’t activated, but the Cult were thrown back. Another win to the Thousand Sons!
Their victory mead drained, the Wolves’ next challenge was perhaps the literal embodiment of a hangover – the Daemons of Nurgle had arrived to corrupt a Doomsday Device to their own ends. A cohort of plaguebearers surrounded a glorious converted Palanquin, its corpulent rider bestowing blessings and curses with every step, while a pair of Plague Drones made the air heavy with their droning. In the end, both the Plagueridden and the wolf pack leader were laid low, and despite the daemons claiming first blood, the win went to the Wolves.
I faced the Chaos Ogryns under Matt’s command. Personally I’d been dreading this one, as I’d lost both our practise games earlier in the week. Damage 2 weapons are all very well until you come up against 3-wound models, and I kept leaving just enough enemy muscle alive for the backswing to be utterly devastating. If you didn’t already know – be careful of Ogryns! I stuck to my tried and tested strategy of checking all the devices I hoped would be duds first, and avoided committing to an attack until I knew the best place for the Shining Spears to do their bloody work. The device ended up on a flank far from both our main forces, and from that point I could easily obliterate the Renegade Guardsmen looking after it and kite the Ogryns to their deaths on the points of my laser lances. A close game, but a win for the Craftworlders. After one win and one loss I was a little less confident than I’d started out, but I knew the next mission was a good one for me in any given matchup – unless I had to defend myself against the Genestealers!
Time for mission 3 – Last Stand. We adjusted the rules for this one slightly, using a version of the campaign bonus points to reward players for forcing their way into the defender’s deployment zone, or for successfully sticking around to defend it. You can’t just go Théoden-ing out of the door at the first opportunity! A nail biting last stand, indeed – this round could determine the winner, or leave it wide open for round 4.
Opening with a classic grudge match – Space Wolves vs Thousand Sons. True to form, the Wolves were on the attack against an intimidating Prosperine castle – but with Thunderwolves and jump packs aplenty, the Wolves would be able to cross the No Man’s Land in short order and start hitting things with hammers!
Unfortunately, just as they reached the boundaries of the defending zone, disaster struck. An outrageously good roll from Rob on a Tzeentch’s Firestorm caused the Pack Leader and both Thunderwolves to go up in flames, leaving the rest of the Fenrisians easy targets for the high AP of the defenders’ guns. After turn 2 it was all over, and the Wolves were tabled. 19 Kill Points to 1. Ouch…
On the next table over, the daemons of Nurgle set about the odd task of inflicting disease and corruption on a load of vampire genestealers. After taking some early casualties, the Palanquin’s powers started to go off, and the match looked fairly even… Until the Lady and her werewolves got involved. Chasing the extra victory points, they went round after round of combat with the Plaguebearers and Plagueridden – and nothing happened. I’ve never before or since seen so many Disgustingly Resilient rolls made. 5 followed 6 followed 5… At one point I think I saw Frankenstein’s Aberrant get a wound through the Daemon leader’s invuln… Only for Iain to casually roll triple 6 and ignore the whole thing. In the end, the horrible experience ended with 9 losses on the Genestealer side and an appropriate 7 for the Daemons.
For my game, it was time to loose Khaine’s Arrows against the Imperial Fists. I drew the attack, and the Fists squirreled themselves away behind walls and atop fortifications, ready to hit my bike-star with a Null Zone and a LOT of bolter fire. His bikes waited in reserve to mow down any Eldar foolish enough to find themselves on the edge of the map. I noted this with what I have to admit was pure vindictive glee, and left a couple of Rangers hanging out as bait.
Finally, the Arrows showed their worth. I deployed in tight formation, raced forward, cast Quicken – they were in the enemy lines before the first shooting phase had begun. Once it did, every laser lance shot found its mark, toppling assault marines from the ramparts while a storm of shuriken fire knocked wound after wound from the Librarian leader, eventually bleeding him white. With no models left on the table at the start of his turn, Josh rolled well for his reserves and the clumsy, chugging Imperial Fist bikes arrived en masse – but where? Realising at the last second that my two Rangers represented only twenty four twenty-fifths of a victory point, he opted for the riskier strategy that at least carried the potential for a reward, and began to chase down the jetbikes. He did manage to knock a single Shining Spear from her saddle, grinding her into the mud with iron-clad tyres before her kindred exacted bloody revenge, wiping out the Fists to a man. With Linebreaker, Assassinate and First Blood in the bag, I hoped I’d done enough to go into round 4 with a shot at the win. For Malan’tai!
For our final mission, we rolled Take and Hold – time to consolidate our territory and fight to the last warrior over whatever meagre holdings were left on the field. To win the tournament, I needed Rob to lose by a greater margin than I won, and get at most one secondary objective, so we’d end up on the same record and I could take it on overall secondaries. Not the best odds, considering his undefeated record so far and my draw: the apparently indestructible warp-spawn of Nurgle!
I admit I didn’t get to pay much attention to the other tables during this last round – our game went down to the last second. I can reveal that Charles’ Genecult continued to widen the holes I’d put in the Imperial Fists last round, and proved that defending fortifications is all well and good, as long as the enemy starts the battle outside them.
Excitingly, the Ogryns gave the Thousand Sons their first and last defeat of the day, taking the win 5-3. Closer than I would have liked, and Rob managed First Blood and Linebreaker – which meant I’d need to win by 4 clear points and achieve all the secondaries. Engines revved, spears powered up – it was time to purge some daemon.
We played on the maglev trainyard board that, in Terran Classic 1, Iain spent all day on! Each end of the transporter was an objective building, along with a couple of outbuildings and the dead centre of the freight section of the train – sparse cover counting for little when one team relied on invulnerable saves and had no shooting of its own!
I tried to replicate my success against the Imperial Fists, with a tight, fully buffable formation of bikes swooping in for a couple of early daemon kills, including the Palanquin – I’d seen how bad things can get when Epidemius-lite starts handing out blessings! I had better luck than Lady Erzebeth when it came to the Disgusting Resilience of the daemons, but still lost a couple of bikes and my Warlock in some melees that went on longer than I’d have liked. Turn 5 rolled around, and the play was as follows:
My shuriken cannon Windrider contests the centre “building” against a single Plaguebearer. A Ranger with no targets whatsoever holds Linebreaker. Two more plaguebearers hold the train driver’s cabin. Everyone else is dead. To win, I need to kill three plaguebearers with three bullets and, possibly, a spirited charge.
Feeling the suspense? I was. The jetbike moved to put the two daemons in the cockpit in his sights, fired. Three hits. Three wounds. Two failed saves and for Disgustingly Resilient – Snake Eyes! Now it’s just the Windrider and the single Plaguebearer – mano a mano. 7” charge succeeded, single attack hits, wounds… kills! All secondaries achieved! I’d cleaned up a train alright, but had I brought glory to Malan’tai?!
Well, never mind that now. Painting votes had given us a 3-way tie between my Eldar, Charles’ Vampires and Matt’s Ogryns. Continuing the day’s trend of flipping TC1’s results on their heads, the deciding vote gave the prize to Charles, who undoubtedly got the Wooden Spoon prize for painting last time!
In the end, I came a respectable 2nd place after Rob and the Robric Marines (sorry) who had done just enough to keep me at bay in the last round! Huge congratulations to our new Aspiring Sorcerer for a win made all the more amazing by the fact he’d only learned to play Heralds of Ruin the week before!
It would be rude not to thank everyone who attended for a brilliant day. Congratulations to everyone who won anything, and to the others – better luck at the Terran Classic 3! Hope to see you there, dear reader! It’s going to be awesome.
If you’re interested in the final standings and stats, check them out here: https://tabletop.to/terran-classic-2-winters-tithe/ladder/print
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