Thursday, 16 February 2017

The Cold Steel Mercs Invitational 2017 - Call of the Dragon

Placing the lash on the table and picking up the glass of wine, Nestor stepped back to admire his handiwork.
The angry crimson pattern scored into the flesh contrasted beautifully with his victim’s white alabaster skin.
Quenching his thirst he picked up the lash again, holding it to his mouth he bit into the leather, working in the wine to soften the leather even further. Sweat, wine and blood mingled on his tongue, his Omophagea quickly absorbed the blood-encoded sensations of fear and torment making the Slaanesh Lord sigh with pleasure.
The piercing screams had subsided now to a soft, low moan; lending an almost rhythmic bass to the music that filled the room.
For the briefest of moments the smell of blood, sweat and wine mixed with the perfumed oils threatening to overwhelm his senses, but as quickly as he welcomed the sensation, it had already begun to fade.
Nestor’s vox crackled into life, dispelling the last traces of the experience and leaving his jaded soul empty once again.

A shudder ran down Nestor’s spine as he listened to his Sorcerer’s message…..”The Dragon summons you.”

Greetings sinners!
The annual Cold Steel Mercenaries Invitational rolled around once again to blow away the winter blues and offer succour to those in need of fresh meat. Sixteen warriors assembled to do battle once more to claim the warp infused relic known as Thermofax the Dragon.

Now in its 14th year, the Invitational is more about like minded people getting together to play some games and drink plenty of beer rather than stretching the game to breaking point. Every year Michael, the tournament organiser, devises some cunning tournament restrictions to keep us on our toes and this year proved no different. Only one rule remains a constant and if anyone breaks it they are never invited again.....that single unbreakable rule is quite simple.......Don't be a cock!

This year Michael decided that the first 2 games would be Kill Team, followed by 4 games of 1500pt Highlander (there can be only one).

Last year my Fire Raptor caused no end of problems for some armies, so I decided to leave it safely in its launch bay this year and put my faith in the Legion rules (Emperor's Children, of course) to carry the day.

The Castigators Chaos Space Marines

Nestor Lustheart (165pts)
Chaos Lord[65], Mark of Slaanesh[15], Power Fist[25], Lightning Claw[15] Bike[20], Sigil of Corruption[25].

Squad Divine (120pts)
5 Chaos Marines[75], MoS[10] Melta[10],
Darius Lewdgrip – Aspiring Champion with Combi-Melta[10] & Lightning Claw[15]
Dreadclaw (100pts)

Squad Prurient(125pts)
5 Noise Marines[95], Blastmaster[30].
Nephran Lustviper - Aspiring Champion with Bolt Pistol & Close Combat Weapon.
Divine Bliss (52pts)
Rhino[35], Dozer blade[5], Havoc Launcher[12]

Shaithis the Penitent (120pts)
Helbrute[100], Plasma Cannon[10], Power Scourge[10]

Tormentum (170pts)
Heldrake, Baleflamer.

The Sullied (165pts)
5 Chaos Spawn[150], MoS[15]

Squad Schadenfreude (207pts)
6 Chaos Bikers[130], Mark of Slaanesh[12], 2 Melta Guns[20], Icon of Excess[30]
Korath Vilehorn – Aspiring Champion with Power Lance[15].

The Painsworn (150pts)
2 Rapier Weapons Carriers[80], 2 Cyclotrathe Conversion Beamers[70]

Tantalus (125pts)

Total: 1500pts

For those who have never tried Kill Team, the rules are pretty straight forward; 200pts chosen from Troops, Fast Attack or Elite.

Kill Team

Squad Sublime 
Noise Champion, CCW & Bolt Pistol.
Noise Marine, Sonic Blaster.
Noise Marine, Sonic Blaster - Weapon Specialist, Eagle Eye (increase range by half).
Noise Marine, Sonic Blaster - Guerrilla Specialist, Preferred Enemy.
Noise Marine, Blastmaster - Indomitable Specialist, Relentless.

The Sullied
2 Chaos Spawn, Mark of Slaanesh.

Total: 200pts

Game 1-Paul Scott, Death Guard
Paul is a long time Nurgle player who brought 4 Death Guard Bikers and a Nurgle Spawn.
This was the quickest game I've ever played!
I deployed first and spread out on my back line with the Slaanesh Spawn slightly forward.
Paul deployed 3 of his bikers on the right flank. A Biker and the Spawn deployed on the left. One of the Bikers on the right used his Specialist Scout ability to move forward.
Paul failed to seize the initiative and the Blastmaster opened up on a Biker on the right flank. The shot scattered 2" perfectly to cover both Bikers and both Bikers failed their FNP to perish under the sonic onslaught. The Sonic Blasters opened up on the Nurgle Spawn and stripped a wound from it.
Paul moved his Biker on the right flank, lining up a charge on one of my Spawn. His Biker on the left flank moved through some ruins to try and do the same with my Spawn on that flank. Unfortunately, for him, he rolled a one for dangerous terrain, followed by another one for his armour save, followed by another one for his FNP......oops! His Spawn charged through the same ruins to line up a charge on my Spawn. Paul's final remaining Biker charged into my Spawn on the right and was ripped to pieces by the divine creature (gotta love Initiative 4 Spawn). The Nurgle Spawn charged my Spawn, I struck first and stripped a wound from him. The Nurgle Spawn struck back and stripped two wounds.
Turn two arrived and all Paul had left was a Spawn on one wound. My spawn finished him off to seal a victory in under 5 minutes.
Of course I was full of understanding and commiserations, after I finally stopped laughing, I bought him a beer ;-).

Game 2- Paul Burke, Daemons
Paul was rocking 10 Pink Horrors, fortunately for me the mission was Kill Points, so all I had to do was not get tabled. The Sonics took out his specialists in turns 1 & 2 as he marched forward. Every time I killed one, two Blue Horrors would appear 6" forward of the pink horror. Despite that I held out for 7 turns to pull out another win. It sounds like a pretty straight forward game but it was a real nail-biter. The Noise Marines were like Movie Marines from the books, hacking and slashing at the relentless horde as their brothers were dragged down by weight of numbers. Two Noise Marines and both Spawn (both on one wound) survived to give me my second win.

Game 3 Eternal War: Crusade (4 Objectives), Vanguard Strike - Steve Pearce, KDK Grudge!
Vorlath, Jugger and probably a big axe as well.
5 Crushers.
10 Flesh Hounds.
10 Cultists
12 Bloodletters
5 Spawn
5 Raptors
My fallen brother deployed first stringing out his Spawn and Flesh Hounds in front of Vorlath with his Crushers and his Maulerfiend. The Cultists skulked about in the ruins guarding an objective. Vorlath's Raptors, Soulgrinder & Bloodletters waited in reserve, ready to Deepstrike.

The Castigators deployed the Noise Marines on the roof of the ruins, The Slaanesh Spawn covered the ground floor of the ruins to fend off any would-be attackers. The Helbrute and Rhino baby-sat the Rapiers, while Nestor and his Bikers deployed directly opposite Vorlath, hoping for an honour duel with his fallen brother.

Vorlath and his bodyguard retreated, leaving his Maulerfiend, Flesh Hounds and Spawn to show any backbone.

 The Dreadclaw came in centrally as Nestor and his Bikers chased after his brother, supported by his Maulerfiend. The Slaaneshi Spawn moved out of the ruins, ready to offer assistance to anybody who needed it.

The Rapiers opened up on the Khorne Maulerfiend, both shots hit home and although one was turned aside by the fiends daemonic aura, the other tore it apart in a spectacular explosion. The Helbrute chose not to shoot at the on-rushing Flesh Hounds and charged into their midst instead......

......locked in a sarcophagus and denied even the simplest of pleasures, Shaithis screamed in savage delight as he tore apart four of Khorne's hunters!

Vorlath called in his reinforcements, the Bloodletters scattered and went back into reserve. The Raptors came in directly behind the Castigators' Maulerfiend.......

.......and vaporised it with clinical efficiency.

The Khornate Spawn charged into the Rapiers, but the valiant Rapier crew showed their mettle and only one fell to the vorpal claws.

Shaithis the Penitent continued his combat with the Flesh Hounds, the Helbrute savoured the experience and ripped only one of them apart.

A deafening screech announced the arrival of the Castigators' Heldrake on the left flank. The daemonic entity doused Vorlath and his Crushers in Balefire, killing one of the Crushers. The Dreadclaw took to the skies and left the battlefield. Nestor and his Bikers turned around and gunned down the Khornate Raptors. It all proved too much for the sole survivor and in typical Raptor fashion he fled the field.

The Slaanesh Spawn moved up to help out the beleaguered Rapier crew......

.....the echoes of the dark gods laughter reverberated across the battlefield as the Slaanesh Spawn charged in with 30 attacks against their Khornate counterparts.....and put a measly two wounds on them. The Khornate Spawn struck back and ripped two apart. To make matters worse, it all proved too much for the Rapier crew and they ran from the battlefield!

The Helbrute continued his slaughter of the Flesh Hounds, tearing apart another three.

Reality blurred, as the Bloodletters arrived.

With the threat of the Rapiers removed, Vorlath and his Crushers made their move, unfortunately for the Flesh Hounds it was too late to stop the Helbrute ripping them apart.

The Helbrute moved back to help out the Slaanesh Spawn....

....the Heldrake moved towards the newly arrived Bloodletters...... Nestor and his Bikers lined up to add their fire power against them. Between them they sent 7 of Khorne's minions screaming back into the warp.

The Helbrute charged into the Khorne Spawn, Killing one outright.....

.....but it wasn't enough to save the Slaanesh Spawn from being ripped apart.

On the left flank, Vorlath and his Crushers headed for an objective. The Bloodletters ran for the ruins holding an objective. The Soul Grinder blasted away at Nestor and his Bikers killing two.

The Heldrake roasted four of the Bloodletters just before Nestor wiped out the remaining three to secure the objective in the ruins.

The Rhino shot at the Cultists killing one with its Havoc Launcher as the Helbrute tore apart two of the Khorne Spawn

The Khornate Soulgrinder turned to face the Bikers and unleashed everything it had at them, failing miserably to inflict a single wound.

Vorlath broke off from his Crushers to claim an objective. The Crushers hurtled towards the Helbrute locked in combat with the Spawn......

........They slammed into the back of the Slaaneshi warmachine, but thanks to the Helbrute's Power Scourge, they failed to do any damage. The Helbrute turned swivelled around and tore three of them apart.

Nestor, realised that the Soulgrinder was perilously close to the Bikers Objective so broke away from them and charged into the Khornate monstrosity (He'd rolled Eternal Warrior on the Warlord Trait table). Nestor Lashed out with his Powerfist but failed to penetrate its daemonic hide, taking a wound for his troubles.

The Heldrake went into hover mode and roasted five of the cultists sat on an objective. The Helbrute wiped out the Crushers and turned its attentions to the Khornate Spawn.

Vorlath moved behind some ruins to claim an objective. The Soulgrinder smashed Nestor to the ground and turned towards the hovering Heldrake. Steve needed a 10" charge to reach it......

......the Dark Prince smiled upon the Castigators as he came up short. Vorlath still had a trick up his sleeve though and summoned some Crushers to contest the Objective after the Heldrake had finished off the Cultists.

The Helbrute finished off the Khorne Spawn as the Noise Marines finally stripped a Hull point from the Soul Grinder. The Slaanesh Bikers claimed the objective thanks to Nestor's sacrifice.

And the Rhino shot forward to claim line breaker.

It was clear the Castigators had won the game, 2-1 on objectives, First Blood and Line Breaker sealed the win, but crikey it had been a lot closer than it should have been.........especially when I realised that I had forgotten to bring my Dreadclaw back on after turn 3......D'oh.
So another victory to the Castigators, but more importantly, I had once again shown my deluded brother the error of his ways ;-)
The Helbrute was the star of the show. He wiped out the Flesh Hounds, Crushers & Chaos Spawn with contemptuous ease. Now that they have 4 attacks they can really do some damage, especially with the Power Scourge. Every turn he was hitting on threes which makes all the difference with 4 attacks.
I can't believe I forgot to bring my Dreadclaw back on; that's what happens when you haven't played for three months. Fortunately, I didn't need them but it would have been a lot easier if I'd remembered!

Game 4 Maelstrom: Tactical Escalation, Hammer & Anvil - Rob Simms, White Scars
Rob was rocking White (green) Scars. I'm a big fan of White Scars, If I was going to build an Imperial Marine army, it would be White Scars (or maybe Space Wolves), I love their background and the way they play is very appealing to me.
Rob had (roughly) the following list:
Chapter Master, Bike, Shield Eternal Thunder Hammer.
Command Squad, 5 Bikers, Apothecary
5 Bikers, Multi-Melta Attack Bike.
5 Scouts.
5 Tacticals, Rhino.
5 Tacticals, Razorback.
3 Centurians, Drop Pod and Libby with Hunter's Eye.
Storm Talon.

Nestor and his bikers deployed in front of the Rapiers in the Northwest woods. The Maulerfiend deployed alongside them.
The Noise Marines deployed in some woods in the Southwest covering the Spawn and Helbrute.
The White Scars Chapter Master deployed in the Southeast with the Razorback covering them in the ruins.
Centre was held with the Rhino and the Bike squad. The scouts deployed in the woods in the Northwest guarding an objective.

With Rob's Drop Pod full to bursting with Centurions ready to come in first turn, I decided to give Rob first turn so that my Dreadclaw could target them once they had deployed......that was my thinking anyway.

The White Scars' Pod smashed into the ground showering Nestor with dirt and debris. No sooner had the Slaanesh Lord dusted himself down than the Centurions opened up on him and his Bikers. Despite the  cloud of dust that surrounded them, eighteen shots found their mark and 14 wounds penetrated their armour! Slaanesh smiled on her chosen son and only two Bikers succumbed to the fusillade (Nestor had rolled +1 to his Feel No Pain).

The rest of the White Scars moved forward sniping at targets of opportunity.......

......the Spawn took the brunt of their shooting, losing one of their number and wounding another.

Nestor and his Bikers moved forward to exact revenge on the Centurions and Librarian. The Maulerfiend moved up in support. The Spawn scuttled over to the ruins in the centre hoping to get a charge on the White Scars Bikers, while the Helbrute re-positioned to draw a line of sight on the Drop Pod.
The Rapiers opened up on the Centurions killing three, the Librarian and stripping two hull points from the Drop Pod. The Helbrute stripped the final Hull Point from the Imperial transport to claim First Blood. Nestor and his Bikers shot at the last Centurion leaving it on one wound.
With no shooting left, to target the Centurion, Nestor and the Maulerfiend attempted to charge him and both failed miserably. The Spawn also failed their charge against the mperial Bikers and lost a wound for their trouble......curses!

The White Scars re-positioned around the ruins, mindful of the Rapiers. The Imperial Bikers moved into the ruins to claim the central objective and give themselves a commanding lead in Maelstrom points.

The Storm Talon arrived in the Southwest to add its fire power to the White Scars formidable arsenal... a devastating display of accuracy, the Bikers and Storm Talon wiped out the Spawn. To add insult to injury, the Centurion on one wound shot at the Maulerfiend and immobilised it!

The Castigators' Heldrake arrived, dousing the Bikers with Balefire and reducing them to one Biker. The Rapiers opened up on the Centurion, blasting him apart. Nestor and his Bikers shot at the Rhino annihilating it, as the occupants spilled out, Nestor charged in wiping them out in a shocking frenzy. The Noise Marines shot at the Razorback in the ruins but the shot flew wide.

The Command squad closed in on Nestor and his Bikers. The Storm Talon banked around and shot at the Helbrute, wrecking it. The Comand squad charged into Nestor but both units of Bikers held their ground.

The Heldrake swooped forward ripping apart the lone Biker with its claws. The Noise Marines stripped a hull point from the Razorback.

Nestor and the Chapter Master once again failed to cause any damage in their combat and the White Scars Hit and ran from the combat to ready themselves for another charge.

The Storm Talon moved in behind the Heldrake, stripping it of two Hull points and 'immobilising' it.

The Command squad, Scouts and Razorback opened up on Nestor and his Bikers, gunning two of them down. They charged in and smashed the Biker champion to the ground leaving Nestor to fight on alone.
The Heldrake shot forward locked into position. The Noise Marines shot at the Razorback but once again failed to hit. Nestor finally succumbed to the White Scars' Chapter Master to give the Imperials control of the battlefield.
And then it happened, just as I was putting Nestor away, I noticed my huge mistake.......I hadn't brought on my Dreadclaw.....Aaargh!
My final turn and the Dreadclaw arrives. it landed on target in Rob's deployment zone and out jumped the Chaos Marines behind Rob's troublesome Razorback. If I destroyed the Razorback, I could claw back 3 Maelstrom points, but despite having two Meltas they only managed to strip one Hull Point from it! With that, the game was over and although I had First Blood and Behind Enemy Lines, Rob had a commanding lead on Maelstrom points to give him the win.
It was a great game nonetheless, very tactical, with both sides giving as good as they got. Unfortunately, forgetting the Dreadclaw made all the difference, The Centurion wouldn't have survived on one wound and the Maulerfiend would never have been the words of Captain Mainwaring "Stupid Boy!"

So day one came to an end and Michael had booked everyone in at an Italian restaurant where tales of derring-do and and misbegotten fortunes were only interrupted by the sound of maniacal laughter! Ale was quaffed, the wine flowed and all too quickly we turned our attention to the optics shelf......someone would pay dearly in the morning!

Alas I was one of the bedraggled souls that paid his due to the dark god named hangover.....Ouch!
One of the players was called away in the night so they couldn't make it the next day. Fortunately for me, I eagerly agreed to miss the first game and recover my senses. Neil and Rob....remember him? He used to post on here sometimes ;-) .....had drawn against each other so they had a leader-off to decide their game. Naturally Rob lost, but to be fair to him, he did did well just to roll four dice.....I've seen zombies from the waking dead look healthier!

With the help of many cups of tea, the dark god hangover was banished to the doubt biding his time until the next portal is opened!

Game 6 Maelstrom: Contact Lost - Geoff Hammilton, Death Guard.
Geoff is another long time Death Guard player (we had three at the Invitational) but what he is undoubtedly known for is his ability to roll ones (on some forums he actually goes by the name of Snake Eyes!). However, there had been a great disturbance in the warp and Geoff had been rolling rather well the day before.....some blamed it on the stars aligning, others credited it with some obscene ritual that had inverted his dice, me? I blamed it on Donald Trump.

Chaos Lord, MoN, Bike, Plague Bringer
6 Bikers, MoN
7 Plague Marines, MoN
5 Terminators, MoN
7 Havocs, MoN, 4 Autocannons
5 Spawn, MoN
3 Obliterators, MoN

I deployed first spreading my army across the table. The Spawn held centre ground flanked on either side by the Helbrute and the Maulerfiend. The Noise Marines deployed in the ruins on the right flank with their Rhino parked alongside them on an objective. On the far left the Rapiers deployed in some woods with Nestor and his Bikers alongside them.

Geoff deployed his Havocs on the left directly opposite my Rapiers, with his Terminators in front. Alongside them was his Lord with Bikers and holding the centre was his Obliterators.

On the right were the Nurgle Spawn with the Nurgle Marines in some woods towards the centre.

The Dreadclaw came in on the right (Woohoo, I remembered the damn thing!). Nestor and his Bikers moved towards the centre as the Spawn, Maulerfiend and Helbrute moved up on the right of the ruins.

The Dreadclaw Flat-Outted back towards the ruins. The Noise Marines and Helbrute opened up on the Plague Marines killing two. The Rapiers opened up on the Plague Havocs, both shots hit their mark causing 12 wounds.....the skies darkened, the earth shook and the dark gods laughter could clearly be heard against the din of battle. The world tilted back onto its rightful axis as Geoff proceeded to roll 7 ones.....order had been restored, the Geoff we know and love was back!
With the threat of the Havocs neutralised, Nestor turbo'd back towards his own lines.

Aghast at what had befallen the Havocs, the Death Guard redeployed to avoid the Rapiers.

The Obliterators opened up on the Maulerfiend, stripping a Hull Point from it.
That's a nice flamer shaped group. Better hope my Heldrake doesn't show up ;-)

The death of the Havocs had a startling effect on the Terminators and they sprinted 12" forwards.

The Castigators' Heldrake arrived and roasted the Lord and his Bikers. Geoffs luck had returned with a vengeance, and he failed to make a single FNP roll. The Helbrute shot at the Obliterators killing one before the Maulerfiend charged in. The Slaanesh Spawn charged into the Plague Marines......

.......dragging one of the Noisome Marines down.

The Maulerfiend ripped apart the two Obliterators and consolidated back towards the ruins.

The Death Guard's Heldrake arrived and killed two of Nestor's Bikers (Nestor had once again rolled +1 to his FNP). The Terminators charged in dragging a Biker from his mechanical steed, but not before Nestor had eviscerated two of them. On the right the Nurgle Spawn charged into the Slaanesh Spawn stuck in combat with the Plague Marines and killed three leaving one Slaanesh Spawn left.

The Slaanesh Heldrake left the table, vector striking the Nurgle Heldrake as it went and stripping two Hull Points from it. The Helbrute counter-charged the Nurgle Spawn, killing one and locking them into a combat they couldn't win.
The Maulerfiend charged into the Nurgle Lord and ripped him apart. Nestor gutted another Terminator reducing them to two models.

With the Death Guard, locked in combat with opponents they couldn't beat, the pitifully few retreated to leave the Castigators with total control of the battlefield.
Poor Geoff, I don't know anyone who can roll dice as badly as he does, it's a wonder he has the enthusiasm to play any game that involves dice. To his credit, he does, and more importantly, he does it with a smile on his face......a top bloke is our Geoff, I salute you sir!

The Master of Fate (AKA Michael, the Mitch or the Accidental WAACer) tallied up the scores and we had a clear winner......

Rob Simms pipped Paul Scott in a close fought game to claim Thermofax the Dragon.

But the real prize was once again taken by the mighty Rob Cullen.....the Golden Turkey!

Michael read out the placings and I was amazed to discover I had come second, but much more importantly I had finished above my fallen brother ;-)

Robert Sims (White Scars) -90
Gary Marsh (Castigators) -75
Alex West (Space Wolves) -70
Michael Bolton (Necrons) -70
Paul Scott (Death Guard) -70
Steve Pearce (Khorne Daemonkin) - 70
Paul Burke (Daemons) - 60
Geoff Hamilton (Death Guard) - 60
Iain Miller (Red Scorpions) - 55
Matthew Pearce (Tau) - 55
Aythlan Crookes (Imperial Guard) - 50
Jason Miller (Daemons) - 50
Robert Kancidrowski (Death Guard) - 45
Neil Gibbons (White Scars) - 40
Andy Marshall (Marines) - 40
Rob Cullen (World Eaters) - 30

I'd like to offer a huge thank you to Michael for organising yet another great Invitational. This event really is the highlight of the gaming year for me mate, thank you so very much for keeping it da best!
A big thank you to Tim from Element games for letting us use this excellent venue and thank you to all of my opponents for entertaining me all weekend.

So another Invitational came and went and we all had a great time. While I'm thanking people I may as well thank you the reader for reading all of this......until next time......may Our Lady grant you her number ;-)


  1. Lord Adiatun Varunn16 February 2017 at 11:51

    Congratulations for the result, an excellent placement but especially a tournament that, from your report, appears to have been a really nice and pleasant experience.
    Maybe next time Fate will smile upon the Chosen of Slaanesh:-)

    1. As long as I finish above my fallen brother, all is well. ;-)

  2. Always a pleasure and always fun. A great read as usual.

    1. Cheers mate.
      It just keeps on getting better every year!

  3. I am the 1 and only 1......LOL
    I know my place. Thanks for the game, pleasure as always.
    Best weekend of the year for gaming, thanks to Mike for organising!

    1. One day Geoff your dice will roll average.....and woe betide anybody that gets in your way when that day comes! ;-)

  4. Nice event report Gary. Not sure how you remember everything that occurred in your games throughout the weekend.
    Nice to have plenty of photos, not only to show off the nicely painted models but also to assist the readers with getting an excellent perspective on the Battlefields.
    As you've already stated, the best event of the year, made so by the fact all the attendees play in the spirit that winning is secondary to the enjoyment of both Players in each game.
    Looking forward to 2018's get together already.

    1. Cheers Rob.
      It will be different for all of us next year because 8th edition will be out you might be struggling to hold on to the Golden Turkey ;-)