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Melia's Reach: the players' journal

Nothing speaks to the flexibility of tabletop wargames like mixing in a spot of roleplay and strategic map shenanigans. Having finally gotten to do so as a player rather than as the GM I can confirm that while your mileage may vary, it is, for me, the tits. Four days of having my cake, eating it, and finding another cake in the cupboard.

I cannot take you to this magical realm, but this post might just offer a glimpse of it. Perhaps you can find your own way there. Or you might think bloody hell, I'd rather just play a competitive round robin and keep life simple. And hey, look, maybe methodone's your thing.

Before I go any further I should probably offer some context.

What we did

Essentially a weekend-long roleplay campaign (think D&D etc) but where the encounters are fought with 40K armies rather than a band of adventurers. Tom was the GM, Drew and I were the players. It's not a format that lends itself to more than two players without also having more than one GM. We could deploy each of our units to different battles on a map, and would make decisions in-character rather than necessarily doing the "optimal" thing, although when you're playing Eldar and off-brand Ultramarines, "optimal" comes up a fair bit.

You can read a fuller, richer account of the how's and wherefores in Tom's GM post.

How I prepped

By getting wildly excited and painting shitloads of Space Marines. Even Drew, deep in a hobby drought after burning out on a 100% Eldar diet for years found the enthusiasm to get some stuff done.

Drew: Not a stellar decision, in retrospect.

Charlie: Progress is progress, No? Anyway, you can read about my last spurt of hobby in this post where I talk about painting a gravis apothecary, a repulsor, and some other odds and ends.

I also prepped by making the map and its user interface for Tom. This is done by making all the elements separately in Photoshop, then combining them in a Google Drawing so that you can drag and drop your units around on the map.

How it went

The rest of this post is a mix of in-fiction logs from my characters to provide a sort of narrative summary, plus some recollections of the most satisfying in-game moments, all for your vicarious narrative gaming pleasure. The Scions’ combat log is presented in blue, while Drew has penned interjections from Taliesin in red.



MARK: -9.17.53


There are times that one can prosecute a melee while reading data inloads. In my experience, those times do not include fights with the red neverborn, so when my HUD alerted me to a new message from the sufferably smug Taliesin of Iybraesil, I ignored the notification long enough to parry my foe’s smoking blade and dispatch it with a bolt pistol shot to the mouth. 

The last of the neverborn faded as my brothers completed the chapter’s 315th operation in 29 days. 8 companies committed across the planet, 203 dead brothers, many more injured. The arrival of the Grey Knights means this sisyphean task shall soon be at an end, the rifts closed at last. An agri-world saved is a sub-sector fed.

With Lieutenant Nerva checking on the locals we had just protected, I turned to Techmarine Kelsus and asked after the status of the drop pods we’d used to arrive so quickly. He told me they would need extensive repairs; this war of rapid response has taken an even greater toll on our equipment than it has on our numbers. Drop pods are becoming a luxury.

I turned at last to the message.


+++TO: Consul Martellus Lucullus 

+++FROM: ######

+++SUBJECT: ######

Cerkish, Martellus. It has been too long. 

Whilst I am of no doubt that you must have greatly mourned the loss of our little tête-à-tête's, this missive is, alas, no social call. 

Your kingdom is in peril, perched upon a knife edge. A world of which you call yourself protector, Melia's Reach in your own tongue, finds itself the struggling prey of the Illmurheed: The Great Devourer. Their presence was revealed to me as I traversed the skeins of fate. As such, I know not exactly how many they number, only that they have already made planetfall and begun what is in their wretched nature to do. 

I need not make plain to you the danger these abominations pose should they gain a foothold in Menoriosa. I understand a substantial fragment of your force is committed to the world beneath the tear that has newly wounded this reality. With this consideration I would offer mine own support in order to see this task done, both in the spirit of our continued co-operation and with the understanding that future aid may be called on from yourself.

I await. 



Ill news indeed. Melia’s Reach in the Saedran subsector. I cannot ignore the presence of Tyranids, particularly in a system so close to our fortress monastery.

I informed Chapter Master Drusus at once.

He bade me depart immediately to conduct initial operations. I do so with a heavy heart, for joining so much of the chapter in the defence of Ephramundi is joyous, even if I am saddened by the losses we have taken. We are so close to ending it, and yet I must be absent for our final victory, and the Third Company’s rightful share of the glory.

MARK: -1.05.30


A week of warp travel has given the men some measure of respite after our many battles on Ephramundi. Still, I cannot help but feel stretched thin, tactically, given that I bring an understrength and under-equipped company to an uncertain situation. Our erstwhile ally Taliesin of the Iybraesilii gave us warning, which in and of itself is irksome; how had there been no alerts from our own augurs? Our company is accompanied by Tolemias, a zealous codicier that Drusus holds in high regard. He tells me the Emperor’s tarot does indeed show Melia’s Reach as a seed capable of growing an ill-favoured sapling if left unchecked. Why then have they not called for aid? Is it the Tyranids casting their fabled shadow in the warp? Or is this simple Taliesin living up to the Aeldari reputation for fickle betrayal?

We have at least enjoyed an uneventful journey, and this has given me some time to meet with those members of my company that are newly elevated from the reserve. One, Naeus Ashuros, did well on Ephramundi, rallying local militia forces and giving us a vital piece of intelligence that will shape the rest of that war. He is too inexperienced for a command position, so for now he will serve in Squad IV. Hopefully he will survive the coming engagements.

Charlie: As with almost all the lore in this post, that last bit about Brother Ashuros is referring to a game we physically played. In this case it was a roleplay session Drew ran on Ephramundi, itself a follow-on from the roleplay session of Inquisitor that Tom ran in which the daemonic incursion first occurred.

Drew: It’s all connected, man. 

MARK: -0.12.14


Returned to realspace at the Mandeville Point of Melia’s Reach, and soon made contact with Taliesin aboard the Celestial Shroud. Neither he nor Codicier Tolemias can sense the shadow in the warp one would expect when encountering Tyranids.

I assume that Taliesin is not volunteering the lives of his soldiers purely out of a desire to save some humans and/or to have us owe him a nebulous favour, so his ulterior motive remains unknown.

Lo, our abysmal allies appear at last. I must remark, everytime I have the misfortune to bear witness to that vessel (what is their word, Preceptor, mayhap?) one cannot help but marvel that it manages warp travel at all. Brutish lump. Still, Martellus is good to his word and what they lack in panache will hopefully be compensated in durability. 

As of yet my visions have not ceased. With the rising sun and the cresting of each moon I bear witness still: A wave. A great, terrible wave that threatens the dam, crushing its defences and drowning all who lay beyond. The world to break under the weight of that swollen, alien ocean… No. It cannot be allowed to pass. I will cut this thread now, and I am not above using these overgrown philistines as my blade- ∆

MARK: -0.11.03


We established communications with the Imperial governor while moving in-system. They seem pleased to see us, even after I warned them I would bring “unconventional allies” to the fight. Governor Adrainyn de Bergaal-Melia and her staff provided a rough strategic picture, and introduced us to her senior staff. This is a sparsely populated world with a vibrant ecosystem; ideal pickings for a splinter fleet. Picts they have sent us show organisms I recognise all too well, and yet even more bizarre than the lack of a shadow in the warp is the lack of any xenos vessels in orbit whatsoever. How, then, have they come to infest this world?

They vex me- what vile treachery do these dribbling beasts possess to shroud themselves from even a Farseer’s eye?! My gaze is long, but it would seem they stand further still. Curses- ∆

The campaign map prior to our first deployment.

MARK: -0.00.00


Upon making orbit alongside the Celestial Shroud, we are launching four simultaneous assaults to save large elements of the Planetary Defence Force (PDF).

Fate appears as our binding this day, rather than a noose: it remains untampered. The nuances of such matters are lost on the brittle minds of Losseainns, darling stilted Martellus included. I endeavour to keep that particular thread obscured unless vital- ∆

Charlie: Stupid mysterious xenos.

MARK: 0.03.31


Initial engagements were 75% successful, but my own efforts met with overwhelming fire from the enemy and forced a premature withdrawal.The whole of Syras’ squad earned a trip to the medicae when an exocrine showered the woods with bio-plasma, and the Aeldari lost a grav tank. Our repulsor will also need extensive work to make it field-worthy. Such are the uncertain rewards of quick action. We have geo-flagged the location of the Aeldari wreck for later salvage.

Still, three detachments of the local PDF have been saved, and without them, the defences would have been thin indeed.

It is frustrating waging war when our equipment is already stretched so thinly; the repulsor is the only one we have with us for over 60 marines, and I cannot risk our gunships on the battlefield without risking losing our redeployment abilities entirely. We must adapt until resupply can be sent out from Thonis.*

*The location of the Chapter’s Fortress Monastery.

Our ill-fated flank attack: a whiffy first turn, and an immediate and lethal response from the gun-bugs.

Foul, savage, odious beasts. By Isha’s mercy none of my company were harmed (not including the Monkeigh, but they lived and are so hideous by nature that their visage may even be improved by some light scarring; I have yet to share these musings with my comrades) and the pilot spirited to safety. However, a wave serpent is no easy trinket to replace and I loathe abandoning it, even if it is only a temporary state- ∆

MARK: 0.05.15


I took Taliesin along with my command staff to meet planetary leadership. Their commissar was less than pleased by the presence of a xenos, from which I derived a measure of private amusement.

Let it never be said The Great Eye of Iybraesil is above a little posturing. I for one welcome this little commissar's disapproval: lesser creatures always grimace when directly observing the sun - ∆

The state of planetary command is less amusing. Failures of knowledge, pattern recognition and protectiveness on their part. They were keen to be seen as competent by hiding the problem, but they should have notified Sector Command of the presence of the xenos immediately.

The governor's staff provided me with a summary of events to date:

  • -160.00.00 days ago: missing persons and animals in Highlands.

  • -100.00.00 missing people in greater numbers. PDF regiment dispatched.

  • -87.00.00 regiment arrives. Settlements disappearing.

  • -85.00.00 regiment spreads out, heads north, encounters signs of fighting.

  • -82.00.00 regiment ambushed. 90% casualties. Full mobilisation begun. SDF moves one of three ships into orbital observance, sees nothing.

  • -81.00.00 City of Protafixos suffers total power cut. When the backup generator for the astropathic choir came online it suffered a catastrophic overload and destroyed the Tower of Voices. This was treated as a tragic accident by the government, rather than as a sign of potential treachery.

  • Propaganda used to attempt a cover up, but a recording of a sheriff talking openly about the creatures was widely shared, forcing a change in public strategy.

  • -80.00.00 emergency council formed. The River Haliacmon is chosen as a line in the sand (note the absence of any long term offensive strategy).

  • -25.00.00 spore clouds given off by xenos structures become visible to citizens living in towns to the south; news spreads as they flee towards the coastal cities.

  • -14.00.00 attacks begin across the defensive line at the River Haliacmon.

  • -09.00.00 Konitsa Bridge attacked and garrison wiped out, cutting supply lines.

  • -08.00.00 Unsuccessful counter attack on Konitsa Bridge.

  • -07.00.00 to -01.00.00 is an increasingly chaotic retreat across the Dameteran and Horaian Plains.

I restrained myself from chastising these fools for their ineffective leadership; in the absence of clear replacements, and due to their understandable inexperience with this species, little is to be gained by inciting further turmoil. I congratulated them on a job half-done and assumed overall military command.

The overall strategic picture is that a cloud of spores is coming from the Adynatan Highlands, and occludes aerial reconnaissance, radio communications and orbital auspex scans. Consequently, we cannot monitor the xenos’ movements, and for now, must ensure the defences hold while we send recon units to find out what is creating the spores, and hopefully, provide coordinates for orbital bombardment.

By the stars, were this not war one might think they had been brought to show! Martellus was greatly perturbed by his people’s ludicrous response, but remained remarkably calm when addressing the shabby little simpletons. I wasn’t aware they were sagacious enough even for that, my word. 

Site remains unmolested, but I fear even now that the waters begin to lap at our feet- ∆

MARK: 0.09.40


Recon operation under Lt Andrus dispatched to identify source of atmospheric spores. It's a joint task force containing both Astartes and Aeldari scouts. Even if they are successful, they will be gone for days.

Other operations undertaken with focused application of force; local PDF assets preserved, but Tyranid numbers rising and spore infestation spreading. Until Lt Andrus returns, hopefully with actionable data, we must hold the line - something the locals have had little success with thus far.

We stacked 3 of these 4 fights heavily in our favour, but that meant we absolutely had to fight Lt Nerva's rather sketchier mission to hold the PDF FOB in the centre.

MARK: 3.15.01


Personal note: The trouble with having “rapid” response detachments of PDF between the major cities is that they are themselves a target for the Tyranids. This divides their forces, but it divides ours as well. Still we await Andrus’ return. A purely defensive war will always be lost to Tyranids, and their numbers grow daily. Ours shrink.

Lt Nerva helps the PDF stand firm in the Dametera Plains.

MARK: 4.01.53


We are betrayed by the local Space Defence Force. They made a desperate surprise assault on the Preceptor with their three ships, and met with predictable failure. Port Marinos has stopped responding to hails. My suspicions about the sabotage of the astropathic choir are confirmed, and the perpetrating faction revealed. I have authorised a strike on the Port; Veteran Sergeant Callimachus will board the command deck and ensure our Judiciar and his Bladeguard apprehend Marshal Purelocke, the SDF’s commander. The dead soldiers of Iybraesil accompany them. Unless the enemy harbour purestrain genestealers, they will have little hope of holding against our attack.

And so the waters rise. Even now, Osinell and two units of wraithguard go with Martellus’ men to wreak death upon this world’s port. One of these Losseainns Martellus sends is unlike his brethren. He is clad in dark armour and I see the magnitudes of mistrust by which he holds my kin, his roiling hatred. Of course I hold no fear for myself, this midnight wretch is welcome to test his blade at the far end of an eldritch storm, but I have grown accustomed to my strange little spiritseer, and should harm befall Osinell as he attempts to aid them, well- there will be no corner of this galaxy in which he might escape my wrath. What is it his kind say, “Suffer not the alien”? By Khaine, he shall suffer me- ∆ 

MARK: 5.11.32


It has been an eventful first week. We have seen off the Tyranids’ attacks, but the increasing number of spores in the atmosphere may conceal rapidly growing numbers. At least we have kept much of the PDF in the fight.

Our teleport assault on Port Marinos by our terminators and the Aeldari necromancer Osinell following the insurrection of the SDF has revealed an endemic Genestealer cult presence. Multiple broods of purestrain genestealers as well as mobs of hybrids assaulted our boarding party as they made their way to the port’s command centre. Port therefore deemed unsalvageable with available assets and, following mid-battle conversation with the Governor, has now been destroyed to prevent the cult being able to weaponise it as a suicide weapon.

Squad Callimachus save themselves with overwatch while butchering their way to the command centre of Port Marinos.
Further cult activity should be expected; we have genetically screened the governor and her staff at Fort Alkestis. They are now responsible for organising a screening programme more generally.

Finally, Taliesin’s motivations have been revealed: there is a webway gate on this planet, near Mt Smolikas, and the Iybraesilii don’t know where it leads. Taliesin foretells that if left unchecked, the Tyranids could breach the webway. Since this would be disastrous for everyone, our goals align. I suspect there may be some disagreement about how best to deal with the webway gate once we’ve defeated the Tyranids, but that is not today’s problem.

And so comes the hour where secrecy can no longer be bartered. A pity. The Illmurheed pressed towards the webway gate in numbers too great to ignore, gnawing upon the visions in mind’s eye, and action had to be taken. Our withdrawal from this world has now become more tangled, but we are nothing if not delicate. For now, Martellus’ least Monkeigh instincts continue to hold and he recognises the need for its defence- ∆ 

MARK: 6.08.49


Early recon by Lt Andrus has returned; it seems the enemy's primary nest lies within a dormant volcano in the Highlands. Note well: within, not on. Orbital bombardment will thus be ineffective. There is however some measure of hope: Archmagos Cythakum tells me the Mechanicus were building an experimental geothermal power plant within the mountain.

It seemed this was news to the planetary governor.

Cythakum believes this power plant could be remotely overloaded, with a 97.4% chance of dislodging the volcanic plug and triggering an eruption. That might also poison the spore clouds, but at the least it will disrupt the xenos’ reproduction.

Before the spore cloud came, the Mechanicus could have overloaded the facility from anywhere. Now, with radio communications disrupted, our best bet is the nearest place with a hard line to the power plant, a Mechanicus-operated mine in the Highlands. It lies within Tyranid territory, and will require a substantial portion of our strike force. Before we go, we must ensure the coastal cities’ defences can hold without our help.

Lieutenant Andrus and the Rangers of Iybraesil go on a booze cruise through bug country, with Rippers and spore mines all over the place. In this mission, our objective was to just get the hell off the table without running over so many spore mines that our hulls melted, all while trying to clear out marauding bands of flappy boys, and unexpectedly rescuing some kids hiding in the trees. Some time was needed to clean the Rangers’ Wave Serpent after it spent a few turns getting lovingly tongued by the meat barnacle visible in the bottom right.

The scouts return to us in high spirits, bearing a rescued Monkeigh and its offspring, amidst much merriment and cries of ‘Gun-Bus’- how droll. As rambunctious as they are, their safe return soothes my soul. I do not intend to leave a single Aeldari body on this forsaken rock, these pathless louts included. I shall remark that they do seem somewhat impressed with their Scion counterparts, a sentiment which appears to be shared. Perhaps it is a truth universally shared: scouts are always the eccentric ones- ∆ 

MARK: 6.12.16


It seems the cult was limited to the SDF personnel, and was not well established. Their numerous genestealers were not a product of generations of preparation, but instead had arrived on a ship relatively recently. To my chagrin, we all but wiped them out during our teleport assault, and might just have preserved the facility if we'd known. It seemed impossible to believe there could be any uncorrupted souls among Port Marinos’ crew, and yet horrifyingly it transpires that the overwhelming majority were not yet under the xenos’ sway.

Taliesin is pleased by my discomfort. Had he expected an Astartes to know no guilt? Perhaps, if my armour were black and white.

That said (to take a leaf from the scarce books of my Templar cousins) without knowing precise numbers, it would have been hard to confirm we had destroyed all the purestrains. At least this way we know there is now only one left, since our captive knows one was sent planetside to orchestrate the sabotage of the astropathic choir. We have sent word to the Inquisition; finding a small cult like that is not a task to which I am suited.

Either way, it seems best not to tell the governor that the cult turned out to be smaller than initially thought. The port is gone now; such knowledge would only serve to sow resentment. Our Chapter’s fleet will have to support the Navy in providing the planet with sufficient food deliveries for the next few years while a new rudimentary dock is constructed - assuming the planet can still be saved. In the short term, I will request the deployment of Archmagos Morelio’s Mater Castellorum to begin construction of the new dock and provide immediate relief. It is perhaps beyond the remit of an Astartes Chapter to provide such support, but a failure to ensure a world’s viability after military action often breeds recidivism.

Martellus continues to surprise me. I have known many of his kind in my three centuries of life, and no hostile alien race has ever spent his people’s lives faster than they can spend it themselves. It’s part of what makes them so abhorrent. And yet he mourns, in his own strange, stilted manner. For a second, a mere fraction of time, I saw the faint echoes of my own cares in those pitted features of his. This is troubling news indeed- ∆

MARK: 7.10.45


Judging by the movement and density of the spore cloud, there is a secondary hive on Mt Smolikas. With no extensive cave networks in that region, it should be possible to destroy those hive structures if a reconnaissance in force can source good positional data and escape again.

Meanwhile the capital city of St Crasus has come under attack again. This was not unexpected, and at this point we have consolidated PDF forces accordingly. It was hoped we would therefore be free to mount our great offensive, but alas, the Tyranids have also tunnelled behind the front line. The bulk of our forces are already committed elsewhere, but I refuse to let the capital city fall just because a small contingent have erupted from the ground. Were this any other foe I would respect their tactical acumen, but Tyranids will have no such grudging admiration from me. They disgust me, and I have seen too many cities and people reduced to ruin by their unthinking appetite. Hearing that a major city has had foul serpentine things gnawing at its roots calls my home planet to mind, and the suffering my original chapter endured. Today, I feel as though I march for Macragge again. I bring only squads Tyvus and Lastratus, but they will have to suffice. It has been said that I favour defensive tactics; not today. I will feed these beasts bolt and blade, and let them wash it all down with their own blood.

Captain Lucullus and the Aeldari begin their assault on the Tyranids’ incursion behind the lines of St Crasus.

Charlie: This battle behind the lines in St Crasus was a blast. We’d gotten all ready for the big push north only to learn the Tyranids had undermined the capital, and in theory we could’ve hung the city out to dry in exchange for a much quicker victory, but that would’ve meant millions of civilian casualties. The cost was simply too high. It wasn’t like we needed a massive force to go into St Crasus to face the small force of tunnelling bugs, but all the same, the captain himself went in for a spot of petty vengeance.

I normally play him quite defensively, but had a crack at being hyper-aggressive in this mission to reflect his frustration. The Gladius Task Force’s Devastator Doctrine really helps you build momentum in the early stages of an assault. It also gave maximum flexibility to Sergeant Lastratus’ 5 Aggressors, with Lucullus himself leading 10 Intercessors on the other flank alongside some serious support from the Eldar. In the end, the marines ran in ahead of their allies as I was apparently trying to establish how many bugs I could flatten with bolters and enthusiasm. The answer: a lot. Wiping units in the shooting phase, charging the units behind them, just pure bolter porn. While the Eldar used their big guns to clear out the monsters, the marines butchered their way right up to the tunnel entrance and dropped in the incediaries and explosives. Job done. And that’s when it all went wrong for Lucullus.

Drew: It was incredibly tense, with the final dice roll reducing Tom and I to just holding each other in a state of sheer panic. 

MARK: 7.19.03


Lucullus victorious at St Crasus. Struck down at moment of victory (lictor, terminated by Sgt Lastratus immediately afterwards). Now in medically induced coma. We are keen for revenge. Strike force now under my command.

Personal note: lamentable for the captain that he missed the triumph at Ephramundi, and will miss our final triumph here. He cares more about such things than I do.


Consolidated PDF forces within cities, advised them on strategies. They should hold alone for now. Full Cobalt Scions and Iybraesilii strike forces to attack xenos in three groups.

GROUP 1: Chaplain Verus leading Squad VI to Mt Smolikas to get orbital bombardment coordinates for secondary xenos hive. Given their pick of the armoury; have taken plasma guns and servo turrets. Will be guided to target by Aeldari pathfinders, with emergency reserve of Aeldari skimmers and one gunship flying at ultra-low altitude to avoid spores. Would prefer to send more men; can’t spare them.

GROUP 2: My force. Leave ahead of Group 3, head northwest of mines in Adynatan Highlands, lure Tyranids away from mines.

GROUP 3: Main assault force. Our Librarian Tolemias coordinating assault with Aeldari psyker Taliesin. All heaviest units (tanks, gravis armour) committed to Group 3. Objective: escort Archmagos Cythakum to terminal at Mechanicus mine. Terminal has hardlink to geothermal plant in same dormant volcano as primary Tyranid hive. Cythakum to initiate overload in geothermal plant; trigger volcanic event.

Charlie: Given time limitations, we only had the time to play one of the final three engagements. Ultimately, for the satisfaction of finishing with a big battle, we settled on Group 3, the primary assault force. We committed sufficient resources to the other two groups to ensure the outcome was in no doubt, and knuckled down to Taliesin and Tolemias’ attack run.

Counterintuitively, one of the cool things about playing only some of the games in each campaign round is that you can imagine how the other battles went, and they look cool in my head. Chaplain Verus and ten heavily armed marines rushing from cover to cover when told to move by the Aeldari pathfinders as they approached the secondary hive on Mt Smolikas, and at some point having to ‘go loud’ and call in the airborne reinforcements, who then would have the terrifying job of flying full tilt at treetop altitude to avoid the spores to bail out their buddies.

Lt Nerva’s distracto-flank attack would’ve been cool too. Phobos marines kiting Tyranids for all they’re worth, Howling Banshees sprinting out from unexpected directions and carving bugs up before legging it past the marines covering their retreat, and then the remnants of Terminator Squad Callimachus doing site-to-site teleports to outmanoeuvre the enemy despite their cumbersome armour.

Given the above, one might expect a big ol’ scrap to be boringly conventional fare, but I find that once you’re visualising the action more, even that was frankly the content I’m here for. Given that the Eldar can’t take a punch, and since we didn’t want to risk losing our high damage output troops in the Tyranids’ first shooting phase, we actually led the primary assault with Codicier Tolemias leading a big unit of Intercessors, the hope being that his psychic force field would be sufficient to weather the incoming fire from absolute horrors like the Exocrine.

Our first round of shooting absolutely failed to take out any of our key targets, specifically the Exocrine and well-hidden Tyrannofex.

The horde surges towards the oncoming allies.

Tolemias and his squad make their bracing run down the central approach, taking fire from the bulk of the Tyranid force.

Tyranids are always a cinematic army to fight, particularly en masse. In the opening few turns, Tolemias’ squad began their pyrrhic charge towards the swarm. Tolemias’ psychic force field did keep them going for far longer than usual; weathering the Zoanthropes’ attacks thanks to the 4+ Feel No Pain save against psychic attacks was particularly satisfying.

The Aeldari of Iybraesil pour on supporting fire, trying to clear the way for Tolemias’ mad advance.

Tolemias and the remains of Squad Tyvus, having finished their task, keep going anyway, putting me at risk of losing three named characters from my force. But it’s what he’d do, so it had to be done.

Osinel and his Wraithguard respond to the Tyranids’ own flank attack while the Hive Tyranid attempts to slow down the armoured assault.

At the 11th hour, the Trygon bursts up from behind the centre-field and charges Hadrios Kelsus sitting on his las-y-boy. The combat went precisely as you’d expect, in that I had to make a death save for Hadrios. Mercifully, he passed.

Ultimately, with the Aeldari very effectively clearing out the bugs blocking the path while simultaneously operating a rearguard action, the marines pushed through and delivered the archmagos to the cogitators at the head of the mine. As hoped, it still had an active hardwire link to the geothermal power plant miles away in the volcano. Hell yeah. Time for a big explosion.

MARK: 11.03.51


GROUP 1: Mission success; secondary hive on Mt Smolikas destroyed from orbital strike.

GROUP 2: Mission success; sufficient Tyranids drawn away from mine.

GROUP 3: Mission success; Tyranid forces insufficient to stop main assault. 

IMMEDIATE EFFECT: Volcano detonated; eruption ongoing. Primary Tyranid hive eradicated; spore production temporarily stopped.

LONG TERM EFFECT: Spore cloud dying in volcanic smoke. Smaller hive nodes now growing across highland region, but can now be scouted out and destroyed with spore cloud dying.

Personal note: The war is not over, but we won it today. Because our assault was delayed by the attack on St Crasus, the Tyranids were able to spread much further. It will be many months before the continent is made safe, and years before the planet recovers, but the assaults on the mine and Mount Smolikas were both victories. Tolemias is jubilant. He spoke proudly of destroying a brood of Zoanthropes in concert with the Farseer. I am less sure how to feel about fighting alongside these aliens. I know most in the Imperium would have very clear views. The Aeldari’s similarities with us make them more uncanny than other xenos to me. I am sure they see us as a tool to be used.

I must remember that diplomacy is a tool, and here it has enabled an otherwise impossible victory.


One of the veterans who joined us from Squad Callimachus died during the assault on Port Marinos. Four marines of the 3rd Company were slain. Currently in the apothecarion: Captain Lucullus (lictor), Techmarine Hadrios Kelsus (half-crushed by a trygon), and 14 brother-marines (various, see attached summary).


Aeldari webway gate to be explored. I do not trust Taliesin as much as Captain Lucullus seems to, so we will keep some of the Aeldari force here with us while a joint force led by Taliesin and Tolemias explore the gate.

Reinforcements requested from the Novitiate Auxilia on Thonis; emergency humanitarian supplies requisitioned from Phratry Munitorus on Thonis. The scout auxilia has built up to substantial numbers over the last few years, and finally, I have a good use for them in finding and destroying small nests of lesser Tyranids, and I cannot trust the local forces to be thorough.

MARK: 12.09.01


Taliesin and Tolemias have returned. Necrons found in the webway led by an individual called Trazyn. Our strike force made a fighting retreat and sealed the gate shut. Tolemias tells me that Trazyn seemed to know who Taliesin was; my mistrust was well placed. Tolemias thinks I am being unfair; Taliesin appeared to have no love for the necron.

To me, “appeared” is the most important word in that sentence.

Charlie: So there we go, another parochial border world in the Eridani Sector saved from Hive Fleet Hangry. One of the difficulties of writing things like this up is the number of cool moments I have to cut out just to keep the length down. I feel like I’ve really only provided a summary, but this post is 5,000 words long as it is! But then, it is about seven battle reports all in one.

I hope you’ve enjoyed it! If anyone takes anything from reading this thing, I hope it’s that 40K can be a lot more than tournaments and beerhammer. If you enjoy visualising what your toy soldiers are up to, the narrative context of a campaign really lets things come to life.

The Melia’s Reach campaign may be over, but now the first Tyranids have been seen in the Eridani Sector. Since every campaign we play becomes part of the fabric of our broader campaign setting, it’s time to start reinforcing the defences.


  1. Thanks for posting this! Really enjoyed the story and the pictures were great as well (particularly the Eldar, which I feel we do not see enough)

  2. Thanks for this lore recap, love the way the Captain and its Eldar buddy have different ways of seeing things and considering each other! And also playing 40k in co-op is really a nice twist!

    Are you planning to come back at Warhammer and its campaign now the Oldworld is coming back? Or is it of little importance in the grand scheme of the Beard Bunker?

    1. Hi Major! And thanks :)

      Re: Warhammer, funnily enough we ran a finale (kinda) to the old Hochland campaign just last month. I'm definitely going to write it up, I just haven't quite figured out the format yet. In terms of future campaigns, I think we'll head to the Border Princes later this year. We started something in the Border Princes in 2019, but it was interrupted by the pandemic.


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