In the grim, dark future there is only war and the sounds of grinding tank tracks and countless fuselage of plasma fire and bolters and energy weapons.

The forces of the Imperium of Man, guided by their Emperor forever sleeping upon his golden throne, is beset on all sides by xenos forces wishing to wipe all traces of the upstart race and claiming the galaxy for their own. Alien races like the Aeldari and their dark cousins, Drukhari strike swiftly and with deadly accuracy from their Waygates, the ferocious Orks forever hunting for the next big WAAARGHH! and the T’au (still young in relation to the other races vying for power) trying, in vain some would say, to unite the galaxy under the banner of their Greater Good.

And yet out of the forever dark and dangerous void of space come even greater threats in the form of the ravenous hordes of the mysterious Tyranid swarm and the frightening and indomitable forces of the ancient Necrons, awaking from their millennia old slumber to find the usurper races lay claim to their vast and antediluvian empire.

As if this was not bad enough, the Imperium of Man is attacked from within as well from the dark Chaos Gods forever seeking to corrupt the mortal races and claim more souls, the traitorous legions of the Heretic Astartes battle against their former battle brothers to bring ruin to the Imperium and dethrone the false emperor.

Even deeper still are the Genestealer Cults, groups of disillusioned men and women who have forsaken the empire and have begun their worship of the Great Hive that slowly and predatorily stalk ever closer toward the cradle of Mankind.

            It is within this universe we, the players of Warhammer 40K, find ourselves and align with the various factions and re-enact glorious battles on planetary (and something even galactic) scale. It might seem trivial for the layman looking in from the outside, but for us, the hobby enthusiast and avid follower of the lore and mythos of the 40K universe, it is everything but trivial. It is an eternal struggle between good and evil, between order and chaos, between survival and destruction. It is the Great Crusade of Warhammer 40K.

            With the recent release of 9th Edition there has been a positive upsurge and rejuvenation of the hobby. Many fans of yesteryear have re-joined the ranks of the forever stalwart. 9th has brought about some promising changes like new terrain rules and reinforcement rules. But, for me as a player for many years, not as exciting as the Crusade style of play.

            Crusade is a Narrative style of play that allows players to start small (50PL) and, through Requisition Points (RP), can slowly increase the size of their units and even their army. Their units gain experience and, through this, almost gain a life of their own through growth and gain dimension. Units that were once barely undistinguishable (save for the unique paint schemes that come out and the conversion of models. The Crusade style of play allow players to personalise their units and make them unique and special, so when a unit or special character dies, the player feels it because it feels like a beloved character in a novel or series has met his end after courageously slaying the Tyranid behemoth that threatened the lives of his brave men.

            Monday the 28th of September 2020, the Cabal Club had its first taste of the Great Crusade at the Colbyn Driving Range Restaurant (thanks again for the support of the staff and management of said location) where the misunderstood and often black sheep of the Space Marine legions, the Blood Ravens, faced the corrupted and diseased followers of the Plague God, Nurgle. Tempers flared and old grudges were renewed as these two age old enemies met on the battlefield. The Death Guard legion of the Cohort of Filth, led by Count Festerus (my army), met the patrol of the Blood Ravens, led by Brother-Captain Gallahad (Tristan’s legion), both forces having received word of a vital supply drop coming in near their positions. The two foes setup on either side and, with the hum of plasma weapons charging and the whirl of chainswords and grinding tank tracks and the wheezing of wet diseased lungs and putrid buzzing of plague flies, these two eternal foes charged with only the thought of serving their lord that day in victory…or death.

           

Round one started with the positioning of the troops. Tristan was the attacker, so he started off. His predator fired into the chassis of my Myphitic Blight-Hauler, affectionally named Carrie the Angry Plague Rhoomba, but she stood her ground and shrugged off the Lascannon volleys. In cover of the lancing light of the lascannons, Tristan’s Rhino with a Tactical Marine squad moved up and claimed the first objective. This was followed by the Devastator Squad claiming the second. Shots were fired at the Death Guard Plague Marines hiding in cover but very few casualties were inflicted. This led to the start of my round 1.

Carrie, still angry from the obnoxious Predator that dared scratch her paint, fired with venomous vehemence at the prow of the Blood Raven tank. She fired with everything she had, and her vengeance was granted with the glorious explosion of the Loyalist tank. The Foetid Blight-Drone floated effortlessly toward the objective on my side of the table and claimed it and sat there for the rest of the game being rather useless while its sister, Carrie, raged on over the battlefield, making a name for herself (I’m so proud of my little plague rhoomba). My plague Marines started their slow trudge toward the objectives but they, too, were unable to claim them as Tristan drop 2 squads of Cataphractii Terminators and his Captain (Warlord) in behind my marines. This halted my Plague Marine progression up the field and left Carrie to fend for herself up until turn 3, when Count Festerus finally decided to grace the field of battle with his putrid presence (note to self, do not forget to deepstrike in the future).

            Turn 1 ended with only the predator tank dropping. Turn 2 started with Tristan solidifying his hold over the objectives and the dropping in of his terminators behind my lines, halting my slow progression to claim objectives. The two pairs of units glared at each other and, with the melting to icky goo of my tallyman by the melta-gun of Tristan’s captain, urged my two units and their psyker to seek revenge for their fallen comrade. Tristan’s one squad of terminators failed their charge, but the captain got in and caused some damage. With my turn of combat, my Alpha Strain unit dropped the captain down to one wound which allowed my Alpha Phage unit to perforate him in turn 3. Not much else happened except the chipping off of Carrie’s paint (and wounds) and a casualty or two from both sides.

            On turn 3, the game swung horribly in Tristan’s favour as one of the objectives (inconveniently the one that my Blight-Drone had claimed and sat on for two turns). This meant that Tristan would claim 30 points per turn while he held the two objectives. I had to push him off the objectives, and fast. My two units, now massively whittled down by the barrage of fire from the devastator squad and the terminators, charged the one unit of terminators, wiping them out to the man, as well as felling Tristan’s captain and then charging the other unit, only succeeding in tying up the unit for a turn before being wiped out leaving the loyalist terminators with their blood red armour dripping from foul rotten intestines and gore. Carrie, supported by the fickle Count, was able to wipe the unit of Tactical marines holding the objective. At the end of turn 3 the game was still close with me at 35 points and Tristan at 55. All I needed was the random removal of objectives to go my way…but, alas it did not. The objective that Carrie so valiantly (and paid her life for) melted away leaving only the objective Tristan still held onto (the same one he claimed turn one), thus giving him the game.

            After the dust had cleared all I was left with on the table was Count Festerus and my Bloat-Drone while Tristan had his Rhino (unscathed), a squad of Devastators (two of which had gloriously blown themselves up by overcharging their Plasma cannons in the vain attempt at stopping Carrie in her tracks) and a unit of Cataphractii terminators. All in all it was a good game that could have gone either way. There was some spectacular explosions of marines overcharging their plasma weapons in attempts to cripple Carrie, brave and determined Plague Marines charging Cataphractii terminators and culling of their captain and the uselessness of the sole Bloat-Drone drifting in the corner.

Only in death does duty end.

By Logan Fourie