Thursday 2 November 2023

Incursion on Phargos Rex

Strike Master Ijax resentfully surveyed the slum quarter of Novia Quintus, the fifth city of Phargos Rex. He shouldn't be here. He should be coordinating the pursuit of the ragged collection of loyalist forces he'd trapped at Optera, but he'd been called back to Phargos Rex to deal with a new threat.

Cultists and insurgents were far from an unknown problem. Ever since the Ruinstorm, they'd been appearing all over the sector. Normally he'd let local forces put down the mob, but this one was different. An entire Militia regiment had disappeared and Ijax had decided to deploy the legion to send a message to the rebels and make a statement to the planetary governors that he could protect them, ensuring their loyalty.

He still had no clear intel on what he'd be facing and listened intently to the the vox traffic from the PDF units he had stationed ahead of his position. If the blood-curdling screams were any indication, they enemy, whatever they were, should be hitting his lines imminently.

For me, one of the real draws of the Horus Heresy is the opportunity to engage in a bit of narrative gaming, and so Pete and I have begun to set our games within the framework of a conflict called the Pale Stars Campaign.

Rather than explain the setting here, I'll just direct you to this handy article on the Lexicanium site, which should tell you everything you need to know.

Suffice to say that the campaign pits the Alpha Legion and the Blood Angels (our armies) against each other and includes appearances from other forces, including Daemons, Militia and Mechanicum (all of which we have or are working towards). What's more, there is very little detail about the actual conflict, which leaves things rather open for us.

Rather than having to work within a campaign system, were just going to use the Pale Stars as a backdrop of our campaign to provide a bit more of a narrative thrust.

In time this might involve choosing specific missions to reflect events or using the campaign system from the Siege of Cthonia book to determine the fate of a world, but for now we're keeping things simple.

In this game I was giving the new Daemons of the Ruinstorm PDF army list a run out against Pete's Alpha Legion, with the battle happening because a warp rift has opened on the defacto capital world of Phargos Rex, which also happens to be the seat of Alpha Legion power in the region.

The random scenario we rolled up was Onslaught, which seems appropriate as both sides are simply trying to slaughter the other.

Alpha Legion Strike Force

Praetor & 5 Cataphractii Terminators

Lernaean Terminators Squad
Apothecarion Detachment
Contemptor Dreadnought Talon (X2)

4 Tactical Squads
Tactical Support Squad (Rotor Cannon)
Tactical Support Squad (Volkite Caliver)

Fast Attack
Sabre Tank Squadron (X2)
Headhunter Kill Team

Heavy Support
Leviathan Dreadnought
Heavy Support Squad (Heavy Bolter)
Heavy Support Squad (Missile Launcher)

Pete's army was infantry heavy and could put out a large amount of small arms fire, which should whittle down the smaller Daemons effectively, but might struggle with the bigger beasts.

Daemonic Incursion of Encroaching Ruin

Daemon Sovereign (Daemon Prince)
Daemon Heirarch (Blue Scribes)
Daemon Harbinger (Changeling)

6 Daemon Beasts (Flamers)
9 Daemon Beasts (Screamers)

10 Lesser Daemons (Pink Horrors)
10 Lesser Daemons (Pink Horrors)
14 Lesser Daemons (Blue Horrors)
5 Daemon Swarms (Brimstone Horrors)

Heavy Support
Daemon Behemoth (Flaming Chariot)

Lords of War
Arch-Daemon (Lord of Change)

For simplicity's sake, and to be fair to Pete, I tried my best to make each unit reflect the 40k unit as best I could. This would mean that Pete would be able to know roughly what each unit could do. It also gave me a chance to try out different rules and see what worked.


The Search and Destroy deployment closed the gap between the forces, something my melee focused Daemons wanted to take advantage of, getting as close to the enemy as possible, whilst taking as much advantage of cover as I could due to Pete having first turn

Meanwhile the Alpha Legion stood off at mid-range, trying to balance their desire to keep the enemy at arm's length whilst also trying to work around Night Fighting being in effect.

Both armies warlord traits granted deployment shenanigans (which we alternated) which ultimately saw the Headhunters getting perilously close to their objective, whilst the Arch-Daemon and a unit of Lesser Daemons went back into reserve.

Alpha Legion Turn 1

Night Fighting being in effect meant that most of the traitor legionaries were not able to shoot, however the need to thin out the encroaching horde of Daemons saw the Dreadnoughts stomp forwards to get in range.

Meanwhile, the Sabre squadron raced around the flank and opened fire.

However, the combined fire of the few units in range was not able to make much of a dent, only managing to whittle down the smaller unit of Daemonic Beasts (the Flamers) to just two models.

Daemons Turn 1

The Deamons rushed out in all directions in order to make contact with the enemy and rip them limb from limb.

Not only do the Daemonic rules encourage this (they are stronger in the first two turns), but the Onslaught scenario rewards first turn kills with bonus victory points.

The Sovereign few directly towards the Sabres that had crept to far forwards, swinging its great blade in a sweeping arc that cut through both hulls in a single fluid movement.

The Behemoth raced in the direction of the Leviathan and was joined by a gargantuan figure striding out of a tear in realspace.

They crashed into the Dreadnought, tearing through its armour and leaving it struggling to stand on its ruined limbs.

The Headhunters suddenly found themselves swarmed by Daemons which darted towards them from all directions. A fogging of their minds prevented them from opening fire in response and they lived just long enough to regret getting so close.

Alpha Legion Turn 2

The first light of dawn broke to reveal a scene of devastation amongst the forward units, and the Alpha Legion set about pinning their fast moving enemy in place to buy time for their weight of fire to win out.

Bolters, Rotor Cannons, Missile Launchers and Lascannons lashed out, grazing the Sovereign and decimating the unit of  pink capering Daemons.

It was then time for the Terminators to move in.

The Lernaean Terminators moved to engage the Sovereign. Two of them fell to its fell blade but they held it in place, determined to prevent it wreaking havoc amongst their more lightly armed brethren.

Strike Master Ijax lead his honour guard forward to support the beleaguered Leviathan. Although they could not save the honoured ancient, they are least could set about avenging the fallen, and viscously hacked into the Behemoth.

Despite the successes of the Alpha Legion assault, the fall of the Leviathan left the Arch-Daemon free to attack where it pleased.

Daemons Turn 2

With a terrifying screech the Arch-Daemon took to the air and plunged deep into the Alpha Legion's lines, baring down on a Tactical Squad with murderous intent.

Another gibbering pack of Daemons tore it's way into reality and swarmed a Contemptor, seemingly intent on preventing it bringing it's guns to bear.

The venerable Leviathan was avenged when the Behemoth was brought down in a flurry of lightning claw blades, and to add to the traitors' relief, only one of the Lernaean Terminators fell to the Sovereign.

However the poor Tactical Squad was swept aside by the Arch-Daemon, which stride through the carnage looking for its next victims.

The Alpha Legion were thinning the enemy horde but we're losing men to the colossal threat of the Arch-Daemon, which they seemed unable to halt, whilst the fast moving creature that had torn apart the Headhunters now surged up in support.

Alpha Legion Turn 3

++For some unknown reason there was a hiatus in transmission of visual recordings at this point in the battle. This report has been compiled from the verbal accounts of this involved, many of whom reported hearing the phrase "Samus is here" repeated over their vox units.++

Small arms opened fire in the Arch-Daemon to very little effect as each wound seemed to heal up by itself.

The pink Daemons attacking the Contemptor were slaughtered by the assault if the Centurion and a squad of Tactical Marines.

A pack of blue Daemons was brought down by concentrated fire followed up by the bayonet charge of a Tactical Squad, although this cost almost half the unit.

Again the Lernaean Terminators managed to withstand the inaccurately swung blade of the Sovereign and prepared to sell their lives dearly when the gliding shapes of the Daemonic Beasts arrived.

Strike Master Ijax made directly for the robed figure that had been tearing holes in reality to disgorge more Daemons onto the battlefield.

Just like the Behemoth before it, the aberration was torn assumed by the Honour Guard's claws.

Daemons Turn 3

The remaining nightmare entities of the warp once again surged forwards, and although they seemed to be weaker than before, they were still able to inflict terrible damage upon their foes.

The Arch-Daemon ploughed into one of the Contemptor, hacking chunks out of it but not doing enough damage to bring it down.

The Marines that destroyed the blue Daemons were set upon, routed and run down by the swooping Hierarch.

The Sovereign finally cut down the brave Lernaean Terminators and surrounded by a pack of Beasts was now ready to rejoin the attack.

However, there was a sudden rippling of realspace, a blurring of existence flooded by a blinding flash of nothingness. When Strike Master Ijax's vision returned, the Daemonic creatures had all gone, leaving only carnage in their wake.

Final Result

We had to call the game early due to real world issues and at that point the Daemons were winning 2-0 thanks to the two units they had destroyed on the first turn.

We tried to count up what might happen, but with the destroyed units tally even it was hard to call what would happen, as I was running out of units to by killed or kill things with. We figured the honours would probably stay even on this point and it appeared that my Lord of War would now survive as there was very little left that could hurt it.

What would decide the battle was whether either of us could kill the other's warlord. Although concentrated small arms fire could bring down my sovereign, it was unlikely, and with his immaterial wings he could quite easily get the hell out of dodge if necessary. Again we reasoned that honours would stay even.

And so, unless there was a dramatic turn in Pete's favour we decided that it was a very closely fought Daemonic victory.


We both really enjoyed the game and the Daemons really bought a different feel to the game as they are so fast and savage. The larger Daemons felt like the powerhouses the should be whilst the smaller ones were reliant on swarming yo get anything done.

I'll be making some changes to my list based on this first battle (mainly taking out the useless ranged weapons) before giving them another run out.

In terms of the campaign, the Alpha Legion have had a pyrrhic victory, holding the line but losing valuable men and resources. The sudden appearance and disappearance of the threat means they won't be able to fully engage with the loyalists at large in the sector.

The breathing space this attack has bought has allowed the Blood Angels 121st Company to find safe haven at Fief 771/38/qz, informally known as Crow's World, a recruiting world for the Raven Guard which had been desperate to throw off the shackles of traitor rule. The Blood Angels have also been given access to hidden supply dumps and armouries which will better furnish them for the coming conflict.

I think this is how we'll run things, a battle or campaign will allow the victor to dictate an event that happens in the wider sector and so drive the narrative.

Additionally, the winner will select the next conflict (although I'll have to check this with Pete) and so I think we might try a Blood Angels assault on a traitor held planet using the so Onslaught campaign system from the Siege of Cthonia book - which will be a linked series of games.

I'd better get painting as I'm still not at 3000 points.

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