With bleary eyed gamers piling back into the convention on Sunday morning, The Relic seemed like a nice easy mission to kick things off with only one objective in the centre of the table to worry about. Unfortunately it is also one of my most hated and therefor least played missions, mostly due to the "seizing" occurring at the end of the Movement phase, allowing the opponent to blaze away with their whole army at the unfortunate soul holding the hot potato. In hindsight it perhaps wasn't best to rush headfirst and try to capture it every turn, but the blood of Sanguinius compelled me to charge forward into battle...
My opponent was running a Sons of Horus 30k army transposed to 40k using the certified Imperial Armour books. This meant there was a lot of explaining regarding things like open-topped Drop Pods, Dreadnoughts with Interceptor Lascannons and Invulnerable Saves, and of course the Sicarian Battle Tank. The rest of the army consisted of a mixture of familiar Tactical Squads with Las/Plas, in Rhinos and on foot accompanied by beautifully painted Garviel Loken as a Space Marine Captain.
Winning the roll off for first turn, the enemy Dreadnought Drop Pod arrived and landed in the far corner. The rest of the army opened up on my tanks...and promptly immobilised my Land Radier! This was becoming all too common, and a good indication of how little they are feared at an Escalation tournament. The rest of his army repositioned minimally, leaving the Relic wide open.
In my own turn I turbo-boosted my Assault Bike forward on top of the objective (and as mentioned did not actually 'seize' the Relic due to moving onto it in the Shooting Phase, but put a giant target on his head), while the waiting Tactial and Assault Marines in their transports positioned for second turn seizing. The Rhino popped smoke, while the rest of the shooting (including the Furioso who survived the Interceptor shots from the Contemptor) whittled the Tactical Marines on foot down to three members. My Inquisitor/Captain/Librarian inside the Land Raider abandoned ship and made for the Contemptor in the far corner (in hindsight not the wisest move...).
My opponent played it cool in Turn Two, positioning himself away from any immediate Assault threats, killing the Attack Bike on the Relic, and ensuring the Furioso was dealt with before turning his attention to the Imperial Knight. A few Hull Points more and it would be game over for the large walker...
With the Relic within my reach I charged forward, shielding my Assault Squad with the smoke covered Razorback, while my Knight and Baal Predator knocked out the closest Rhino and prepared to hold the flank while I moved away in the following turn. With one Hull Point remaining I was not counting on the Knight to survive, but merely take the majority of the firepower away from the rest of my army.
Alas, all it took was a single Lascannon shot from the now disembarked Tactical Marines, leaving the rest of the army to concentrate on the Assault Squad holding the Relic. The height of the new bases combined with some difficult terrain meant most of their bright yellow heads were sitting right in the sight lines of both the Contemptor and Sicarian. Another turn, another missed Relic opportunity.
With the sun shining bright across the table I charged forward with my Tactical Marines and used the Heavy Flamer to toast half their opposing namesake, screening the remaining Assault Marines once more on the Relic. Their Meltagun took care of the closest Contemptor, while the remaining foot slogging Blood Angels from inside the Land Raider made their appearance in the centre of the board, ready for the late game where I was moving second each turn.
The Sons of Horus now had three squads vying for control of the Relic, and the most mobile squad in the Rhino now moved forward within striking distance. The Sons of Horus Captain elected to run around my Razoback rather than charging it, and in a game of inches trying to seize the Relic it was going down to the wire.
When making my army I had initially planned for a more static Missile Launcher Tactical Squad, but was now very happy to have the new Heavy Flamer available to hose down Traitor Marines! Combined with the Storm Bolter this gave me the opportunity to thin down the enemy's numbers and charge in with extra Initiative and Strength thanks to the new Blood Angels codex. Alas my rolls to hit were atrocious, and we ended up locked in combat for the rest of the game. With bonus Attacks thank to the Librarian's Psychic Powers, my Captain sliced open the last Sons of Horus Rhino, and the two Assault Cannons cut down the enemy Warlord's Tactical Squad to one member. My Inquisitor Warlord hopped into my own Rhino and hid for a few turns mere inches from the objective.
Four turns, four different Blood Angel models on top of the Relic. This time it was the Scouts who finally rolled well enough to move through cover on top of the objective, having hidden there all game.
In turn five my Captain got a taste of his own medicine thanks to some amazing rolls from the enemy leader. With very few models left on the table I chose to try and 'game' a finish by dropping the Relic outside of combat when my Scout Sergeant moved into combat in his Initiative step. This would leave me free to seize the objective in my own turn with my un-engaged Inquisitor Warlord inside the Rhino.
I knew my Librarian was doomed in my own Assault phase but with a lucky roll to see if the game would end I would be left holding the objective surrounded by enemy models. Predictably poor rolling from the single Attack models in combat saw my Inquisitor holding the hot potato ready for the end of game roll...
...and luck was against me. The now infamous Garviel Loken proved my undoing, charging in during Turn 6 and slaughtering my Toughness 3, Carapace Armoured Warlord. All that was left was to pose for the victory shot. I look forward to seeing more of this army once it is finished painting! Well played by my patient opponent, and many things to consider for a revised version of my army in the future, not to mention a revised game-plan for the Relic!