Of Mice and Orks

The green cloaks are so their allies won’t get confused and eat them.  Green = Orks = Our Side!

I happened to stop by Zombiesmith’s booth when I was attending Kublacon up near San Francisco in May.  They had a display case of their painted miniatures. The anthropomorphic rabbits, turtles, rats and mice of their “Netherworld’s Edge” line caught my eye, so I played a small demo game.  The game is a variation on their Shieldbash rules. I bought a few packs of miniatures at the convention and also signed up for their kickstarter, which as it turns out was successfully funded.

For now I decided to use these guys in my games of 40K.  They are about the same size as gretchin and I would imagine that there isn’t any reason why mouse people wouldn’t be at least reasonable shots.

Now my orks have had a long and close alliance with the Tau.  They’ve been our battle brothers in many a doubles tournament and four player game.  Also, the orks control a number of buffer systems on and beyond the edge of Tau space and Warboss Hungry has received the honorary title of Shas’o for his bloody services and odd loyalty to the Greater Good. So when the orks discovered burrows of primitive mouse people on one of the worlds they were warring over with the Imperium, they decided to imitate their blue-skinned friends and adopt these creatures rather than eat them.  Given the usual “Purge the Xenos” philosophy of humankind (in my meta at least!), the mice were more than happy to sign on.

Turning their guns on sneaky kommandos!

The mice do offer some advantages over goblin artillerists.  While neither are what you would call brave, the mice are quite a bit smarter so they are more likely to show some initiative in the heat of battle.  They are also imminently more survivable.  They construct elaborate escape and redeployment tunnels as a matter of course in fortifying their positions.

Further, it is difficult to break the average ork trooper, no matter how steeped they are in Greater Good, of lording it over lesser greenskins.  This inevitably leads to casualties.  There are always plenty of goblins, but the problem is that so many die to natural orky attrition it is almost impossible to keep experienced crewmen.  As it turns out this isn’t a problem for the mice since most orks don’t see them as “getting over on dere bedders” by being allowed to not be stomped, used as edible chits in drinking games, etc.  Abusing goblins seems to be an unshakably entrenched part of the order of things, alas.  Also, the mice with their burrowing tendencies are even better than goblins at staying “out of sight out of mind,” though the grots are starting to catch on to that survival tactic.  A pity most goblins’ instinct for laziness is higher than their instinct for survival!

So my plan is to paint up the other seven mice that came in the pack.  I’ll continue using them as artillery crew until the newness wears off, and then I’ll probably go back to using goblins.  I doubt I’ll field mixed units because I imagine goblins and mice being natural rivals and hating each other terribly.  However, it might be fun to try a mice versus goblins Kill Team game or maybe I can talk some of my friends into trying the new Netherworld’s Edge rules when they become available.

Necron Tomb Portal Scenario

 Two factions battle in an area which unbeknownst to them contains a portal to a Necron tomb.  Perhaps this is an awakening tomb world, or maybe an isolated pocket … a last surviving remnant of a mighty complex laid low by the pitiless march of eons.  Whatever the case, the sound and fury of war has awoken the Necron defenders.  

Objectives:  Take turns placing six objectives using normal rules for doing so.  The side controlling an objective at the end of the game (including the Necrons) receives 2 victory points.

Place a square piece of terrain in the center of the table to represent a portal into a Necron tomb.  There should be four access points on the portal, one on each side.

Deployment Zones:  Set up in a table quarter no more than 12″ away from a table edge with each player’s deployment zones on opposite diagonals.  Use the long table edges for falling back and reserves.

Secondary Objectives: First Blood, Linebreaker, Slay the Warlord. Note that the Necrons can also achieve these.  It is possible for them to score the last two twice — once against each player. Players cannot achieve secondary objectives against the Necrons.

Tactical Objective Rule (TOR): At the beginning of player turn one, before rolling for reserves, roll a D6.  If the player controls the objective corresponding to the die roll at the end of his turn, he immediately receives one victory point.  On subsequent turns, if a player has not achieved the objective on the die, he may elect to roll or continue attempting to achieve the objective number rolled on a previous turn.  Note that if the rolled objective is achieved, that player must roll the next turn. Tactical warlord traits do not apply to this rule in any way, nor does the TOR apply to the Necrons.

Otherwise the mission plays as a standard “Eternal War” mission, including rules for Mysterious Objectives, Night Fighting and so on.

Necron Defenders:  Although a non-player force, the Necrons can act as a spoiler and even win the game.  They could be controlled by a GM or third player. They have some special rules governing their behavior.

  • On turn one, after both player turns, deploy one unit of five warriors from each portal entrance, exactly like disembarking from a vehicle.  Allocate aggro for each unit based on whichever side has a unit closest to that portal access point so that two warriors units are aggroed against each player. Necron units are controlled by the enemy player they are not aggroed against.  Necron units will never change their aggro status unless one player is eliminated from the game.  If the game continues all Necrons will aggro against the remaining player.
  • Each Necron unit must perform at least one of the two following actions each turn.
    • Perform a full move so that at least one model is able to shoot at a unit from the faction they are aggroed against.  Then they must either shoot or attempt an assault.  If the Necrons are too far away to do either, they must run in order to decrease the range from the closest unit they are aggroed against.  If no units from the aggroed player’s faction are on the table, the Necrons can fulfill this condition by moving and then running closer to that player’s deployment zone.
    • Move within three inches of an objective.
  • From turn two on, deploy one unit of five warriors (or three scarabs) from a random portal at the beginning of the Necron turn. It will aggro against whichever player has a unit closest to the access point they disembarked from.
  • If the Necrons cannot enter play from a portal access point, they will enter play from another random access point. If all of the portal access points are blocked, no new Necrons may enter play that turn.
  • The Necron turn always happens after both players have had their turn.  The game turn ends after the Necrons have concluded their turn.
  • If no warrior miniatures are available on a given turn, deploy a unit of three scarabs in their place.  The limit to the number of Necrons that can be on the table is the players’ available warriors and scarabs in their collections.
  • Necrons fall back toward the portal.  If in falling back a model touches the portal, the unit is destroyed.
  • All Necron warriors have the Objective Secured rule.
  • The Necron portal otherwise counts as neutral terrain.
  • If either player is leading against his human opponent by 4 or more victory points at the beginning of the Necron turn two or higher, the unit that materializes on that turn will automatically aggro against the player currently leading the game.  Include potential end-of-game victory points for controlling objectives and Linebreaker to determine how much a player is leading by.

Optional Rules

  • Quantum Shielding: The Necron portal counts as enemy terrain and can be temporarily “disrupted” through shooting or assault on turn two or higher.  If a player scores two glancing or penetrating hits against AV 13 in a single player turn, no warriors or scarabs will materialize on the subsequent Necron player turn.
  • Quantum Facing: One glancing or penetrating hit against AV 13 in the shooting phase will deactivate the portal facing the shot until the beginning of the shooting player’s next turn.  Barrage weapons affect a random facing.  Necrons can materialize from the other unaffected facings.  (Thanks to Ethereal Mark for this one.)
  • Tactical Imperatives: Use the tactical objective cards, either in addition to or instead of scoring victory points for objectives at the end of the game.  The scenario Tactical Objective Rule in no way interacts with the cards or Tactical warlord traits.
  • Other Defenders:  I chose warriors and scarabs based on the miniatures I own in my collection.  Also, I usually play smaller games so more powerful Necron units would have a greater effect than in larger games.  Feel free to vary the types of Necrons you use based on your collection and preferences.  For example, I think a Canoptek-themed Necron defense force might be fun.

Our Tomb Battles

  Orks vs. Orks (1000 points, June, 2015).  A close battle (7-6 when we called it due to time) with the Necrons really putting the hurt on both of us.  I’d assault the warriors with my trukk boyz and if I didn’t wipe them out on the initial charge they would become very hard to shift.  They certainly gave new meaning to “It will not die!”  As for my opponent, the less said about his poor, maligned battle wagon the better.

Saga of Scarbag Flashboy

From Phil Kelly’s 2009 Space Wolves codex:  “Sagas are intended to encourage players to develop some seriously cool names and stories for their Space Wolves characters.  You’ll find that after a few games your heroes become a lot more interesting as they accrue personal histories of victory and (dare we say it?) defeat.”

This seems like a lot of fun to me, so I’ve decided to start keeping tabs on some of those figures of note who emerge from our battles.  Will they stand forth and become heroes or as so often happens shine brilliant but then like a flickering star fade too soon … forgotten in the empty spaces between Eternities?

Scarbag began his career in Waaagh! Hungry with the kommandos, but soon undertook missions with the rocket troops as well.  He quickly rose through the ranks and holds the current rank of Senior Lieutenant.  While capable of great patience and subtlety, his preference is for dashing exploits and daring, lightning strikes.

The lieutenant is highly admired by his men.  Most of them don’t understand half of what he says, but he is pretty good at translating his plans within plans to something like, ‘Go dat way an’ krump stuff.’

Most boyz consider Scarbag a proper ork so they obey him without question though membership in his squad is seen as a dubious honor except by the most fanatic.  While there is always sure to be a good fight it is not unusual for Scarbag to be the only survivor.  Still, if you die then you’ll go out with a flash and if you live then there will be teef, growth hormones, and glory all around.  What more could any greenskin ask for?

Rivals and subordinates who challenge his authority often have strange `accidents.’  Coincidentally, these happenstances usually take place right when the unfortunate comes to blows with Scarbag.  Their shoota jamming, power klaw cables coming disconnected, falling down a fifty foot pit full of electrified, poisoned metal stakes and a booby trapped rocket packed rigged to explode that just happened to be a few feet from where they were fighting and so on.  Accidents happen.

Can you find the 27 hidden ork kommandos?


Mystery of the Mega Armor (Feb, 2017):  Flashboy captures vital information on a mysterious enemy warboss, who is unstoppable in his strange high tech suit of mega armor.

Curse of the Red Git (Dec, 2016): Scarbag’s and his stormboyz’ attack on a manticore goes horribly wrong courtesy of an evil deffkopta pilot.  Naturally, the good lieutenant vows revenge.

First Battle of Aptos-III (May 2015): Sisters of Battle were assaulting a fuel dump and refinery as a lead up to a general advance.  Flashboy and a small squad of rocket orks rocketed behind enemy lines where they caused much mayhem.

Warhammer 40K Mission: Archeotech Hunt

This scenario is from White Dwarf #68, published in May 2015 to help introduce the Adeptus Mechanicus.  We did make some changes.  The idea is our battlefield is a site littered with lost high technology or perhaps some sort of forgotten base.  One side is attempting to explore and uncover the technology while the defenders try to prevent them from doing so.

Objectives: Take turns placing six objectives using normal rules for doing so.  Each objective is worth 3 points at the end of the game.

Deployment: Vanguard Strike.  Note that an easy way to do this is to measure from one corner approximately 35.5″ along the short edge and 50.25″ along the long edge.  Place a marker at each of these locations.  Now connect those points with a line of markers forming a triangle.  You may deploy your forces within that triangle.

Stubborn:  Units from both sides have the Stubborn special rule when within 3″ of an objective.  This was a slight departure from the rules as presented.

We played the rest of the scenario as a standard mission, i.e. normal secondary objectives and so on.  The scenario as presented in the magazine gave the exploring player some advantages, which we chose not to use or ameliorated.

The meat of this scenario is instead of Mysterious Objectives the players roll on a special archeotech chart.  I don’t want to list the rules verbatim because of copyright considerations.  I think it will be fun to make up one’s own lost technology devices as well in order to keep this mission interesting.  In any case the choices presented were:

  • Icarus lascannon array.
  • Ammo Cache that makes your shooting attacks stronger.
  • Teleportation device.  We ran it so it worked on any unit, including vehicles!
  • Night fighting.
  • Field that makes enemy shooting attacks weaker without stopping them outright.

There was also the usual “Nothing of Note” but we decided this was no fun, so I made up my own option instead — a void shield generator that doesn’t always work as intended.  Perhaps it was cobbled together by orks?  It had to be since you roll on a chart.  For anyone reading this who isn’t in the know, a “void shield” is essential a force field.

Malfunctioning Void Shield Generator.  The controlling unit can activate the generator at the end of its movement phase.  It remains active until start of the activating player’s turn, after which the shield goes down and the generator can be activated again.  When activated roll on this table:

  • 1. D6 strength 4, AP — hits against the activating unit.  Owning player allocates wounds and no cover saves may be taken.  Vehicles are hit on their side armor.
  • 2-5: AV 10 Shield, which goes away after it takes one glancing or penetrating hit.
  • 6: AV 12 Shield, which goes away after it takes one glancing or penetrating hit.

I’ve played this scenario twice now and found it quite entertaining.  I’ll put some links here when I write some battle reports about this mission.  In the meantime:

Our Archeotech Hunt Battles

Play Testers (thank you!): Commissar Alex, Ethereal Mark.

    Khorne Daemonkin, Orks and Necrons versus Imperial Guard.  For this game we replaced the lascannon array possibility with a “time distortion field” that gives the unit controlling the objective initiative ten.  A close game won by the imperial forces with the game ending by die roll on turn five..

  Orks versus Imperial Guard (1000 points, June 2015):  No additional house rules this time.  Simply a big mek and imperial forces clashing over lost technology.  As it turned out three of the six objectives were the Night Fighting one!  The orks managed a resounding victory.

  Orks versus Orks (1000 points, May 2015):  The story we used were two rival big meks in the same Waaagh.  Both wanted access to this valuable site and ended up battling over it behind their mutual warboss’s back.  We introduced some further house rules for our battle of the greenskins.  Not surprisingly the orks won!

  1. The warlord must be a big mek.
  2. A warboss cannot be fielded by either army.
  3. Big Meks and meks have the Objective Secured rule themselves, but they do not confer OS onto other members of their unit.


Orks vs. Adepta Sororitas: 1500 Pts (May 2015)

Imperial forces have invaded an ork-held system in the Santa Cruz sector and for this battle our company level microscope focuses in on a fuel dump/refinery garrisoned by a big mek.  Lots of walkers, a couple of trukks of boyz, some grots, and a big unit of artillery made up my starting forces.

This was a surprise attack by the Sisters, so I started more forces in reserve.  These represented whatever assets the orks could scrape together and get to the battle in a timely response to the mek’s frantic pleas for reinforcements.  So I chose accordingly from my collection:  A single outflanking deffkopta, a warboss (more of an under-boss really) on a bike accompanied by a few nobz, and a dakkajet.

The Adepta player’s forces were in his words “a typical list” and I have to agree though I haven’t played against Sisters since 5th edition.  A couple of exorcist tanks, which he had converted to look like missile tanks, and a couple of immolators formed the core of his armored forces.  A bunker with lots of heavy bolter-armed infantry.  They had the usual troops with plenty of melta and flamers, and jump infantry. St. Celestine put in an appearance though his warlord was a priest.

The mission was the Maelstrom mission, “Deadlock,” where each side starts out with six tactical objective cards and the number decreases by one each turn until turn seven where each side can only have one card.

Armored orks on the rampage.

Early Game: Although the orks knew there was jump infantry facing them, I guess they were used to seeing those bulky Astartes jump packs.  They completely missed the fact that the seraphim were threatening their right flank and consequently the artillery.  The walkers, which should have been protecting the right flank were merrily off chasing tactical objective points mid-board instead.

The Sisters’ troops took fairly heavy casualties early from the artillery and especially the big mek’s shokk attack gun.  By turn two, however, the jump infantry had rolled up the ork artillery, along with the big mek.  Other ork forces tried to stem the tide as best they could.  A sergeant tried to hussle his grots into some semblance of a screening line, but the goblins were having none of that.  They tough but not suicidal!  A truckful of boyz arrived just in time to get mopped up themselves.  Although the seraphim lost their lives to a woman, and St. Celestine spent one of her lives taking a rokkit to the back of the head, their spearhead cleared the way for the priest and his large force of battle sisters to crush the ork right flank.

Mid Game: The orks did try and make a battle of it, doing their best to throw back the advancing imperial forces.  The right flank, near the fuel tanks, belonged to the Sisters the entire battle, despite a counter-attack by boyz supported by a ground attack fighter.

A biker boss on the left flank did manage to cause some concern, when he motored up to a bunker an Adepta heavy bolter squad was using as a strongpoint.  He smashed out one side of the building in a brutal charge.  The remaining sisters conducted a fighting retreat, in accordance with orders, since overall there seemed no reason to sacrifice themselves with things otherwise going so well.

Sisters charge ork artillery on the right flank.

End Game: With the right flank secure, the imperial forces were able to concentrate their fire on the threatening bikers along with a group of armored boyz, backed by a deff dread.  The deff dread originally was the leader of a large group of killa kanz, but over the course of the fighting they had done little more than soak up missile fire while running back and forth, occasionally taking an ineffectual pot shot here and there.  The walker did manage to crush an immolator, before it could toast the armored orks, only to fall before a criss-crossing white web of meltagun fire.

When the dust settled at the end of turn seven, the only orks remaining was the armored orks trukk that had gotten its rear axle hung up in a ruin and immobilized itself.  They gamely shot targets of opportunity with their heavy machine gun until they looked around and realized they were alone.  The driver and gunner looked at each other and jumped out opposite sides of their trukk screaming, “Leeegggg itttt!” As they dodged their way through the ruin, one of them turned as their trukk exploded.

Post Script: The orks are going to have to remember next time that not all jump infantry look like assault marines, and deploy accordingly.  With the loss of their fuel depot, this will hamper their offensive efforts greatly, forcing them to adopt a siege mentality against the invading imperial forces.  The Adepta forces were well led and competent.  Throwing them back will take all of the cunning and focus the orks can muster if they are to be successful in the future.

Still, there was one bright spot for the orks in the battle.  The actions of the assault ork sergeant, Scarbag Flashboy, were of a character to mark him a hero and thus worthy of his own Saga, which will be my next blog post.