Welcome to Willard (rat-catching for science)

The planet of Willard 1971 was one of the more unremarkable planets of the remarkable area of space known as the Goatronium Expansions. Like many others in the sector it was covered in rich verdant tropical forests. As elsewhere, these were occasionally marked with the abandoned ruins of a mysterious and ancient civilization. No one knew much about the builders of these buildings, other than that had a rather dreary fondness for dark gothic construction and morbid skull decor. The Ancients had died out long ago, for reasons that were equally mysterious. Some archaeologists argued that they had been devastated by war. Others suggested plague, pestilence, or environmental catastrophe. Increasingly, however, the scholarly consensus was that the Ancients had simply expired due mass architecturally-induced depression.

Be that as it may, Willard did have two things that set it apart from most of the other planets in the sector. First, it was endowed with goatronium deposits of unusual purity. Second, it was overrun with rats.

Ratus Willardus (as Imperial scientists labelled them) were not your usual rats of the sort found skulking aboard tramp space-freighters, served up at Ork banquets, or gnawing upon the bones of prisoners in Chaos interrogation centres. No, these rats were faster. Stronger. Extraordinarily tough. Vicious. Something about the planet had changed their very DNA.

For this reason, four armed research teams were dispatched to Willard. The Imperial team hoped that by capturing rats they might derive a goatronium-based drug to further enhance the combat effectiveness of the already genetically-engineeered Space Marines. The forces of Chaos, in their own twisted way, hoped much the same. The Tyranids planned to integrate the mutated DNA into their own genotype, allowing the hive-mind to breed even more fearsome progeny. The Orks—well, the Orks thought that mutant rats would make one very cool lunch.

As the four armies headed for their collective rendezvous with scientific history, the usual plotting was afoot. The putrid forces of Chaos, having been badly battered in their last foray against the Greenskins, decided that much the easier way of proceeding was to simply buy them off. This they did with the promise of loot and barbecued rat-on-a-stick, the two sides agreeing to share any rodents that they managed to collect. This in turn forced the Imperium and the Hive-Mind into an uncomfortable alliance of their own. While later chroniclers might scoff at the improbability of it all, out in the dangerous fringes of the Goatronium Expansions necessity and the struggle for survival often combine to make for very strange political bedfellows indeed.

Meanwhile, amidst all the plotting and plans, somewhere deep in the darkness of space a Necron beeped, blinked, and booted into standby mode. Then two did the same. Then did 4, 8, 16, 32… until a vast network of cybernetic  warriors had awakened.

The Necrons had no interest in any biological life-form gaining any sort of enhancement or advantage from the mutated rats. They too would travel to Willard 1971. Once there, their programming would be simple: to exterminate.

Forces and Terrain

1,250 per contingent. The battlefield will consist of large ruined city in the centre, with jungle surrounding and a river (dangerous terrain) running between the two long table edges and hence separating allies from each other. Manhole covers will also give access to a network of sewers below.

Each contingent will initially deploy in their own quarter of the battlefield. Units may deepstrike (anywhere the surface on either side of the river, but not into the sewers), flank (anywhere on the surface), and infiltrate (on the surface on either side of the river, or in the sewers… although rats count as enemy units in terms of deployment distances) as usual.

If any Necrons show up, they may deploy by teleportation anywhere on the surface of the planet at the start of the second turn of the game.

Special Rules

The objective of the game is to capture samples of the mutant rats for scientific study (or, if you’re Ork, for lunch). Six rats will be randomly placed at the outset of the game in the city. Two rats and two rat swarms will be placed in the sewers. Each rat captured is worth d3 victory points, and each rat swarm worth d6 victory points. Unlike the other contingents, Necrons simply want to destroy the rats, and score one victory point for each dead rat or rat swarm (regardless of who kills it).

The game lasts until turn 5, 6 or 7 (as per the standard rules).

Rats are captured by moving into contact with them with any infantry unit (including special characters) during the movement phase. Thereafter they are treated as an independent character that moves with the unit.

A single rat is T4 W 1 with a 5+ invulnerable save and the stealth and feel no pain special rule. A rat swarm is T4 W3 with a 5+ invulnerable save and the swarm and feel no pain special rules. At the start of their movement phase, a player may attempt to move any uncaptured rats on their side of the river. Roll a scatter die and 2d6 to determine the rat’s movement. A hit usually represents no movement at all. Rats may move the full distance through all terrain except the river, which counts double distance.

At the start of their turn phase, a player may also secretly draw one playing card. You may not discuss the cards that you hold with anyone—including your ally. A card may be played at any point in the game, including during an opponent’s turn, and more than one card may be played at once. Cards usually only affect your own side of the river.

  • A/K/Q: Achh aye, that’s no ordinary rat! The rat immediately assaults any unit within 6″. It automatically inflicts 1 wound (or 3 wounds if a swarm). The attacked unit must immediately take a leadership test (subtracting one for each casualty it has suffered) or run away.
  • J: Pied piper. All uncaptured rats on both sides of the river move d6″ (dice once for all) towards a designated unit.
  • 10-9: Escape! A rat escapes from its captors. Roll one die: on a 4+ it is immediately recaptured. Otherwise, move the rat 2d6 in a random direction away from any figure in the unit.
  • 8-7: Rats nest. If any rats have been killed, take one of the casualties and place it anywhere on the battlefield at least 15″ away from all units on either side of the river. If placed in the sewer, the 15″ is measures as the line-of-travel, not the direct distance.
  • 6-5-4: Come here, little ratty…. When a rat’s scatter die results in a hit, the player using this card may decide the direction of its movement. If more than one player plays a card, dice off to see who determines the rat’s movement.
  • 3-2: Tunnels! Any rat above ground within 6″ of a manhole may be placed underground within 6″ of the same manhole (or vice-versa if underground).

Only infantry units may move in the sewers, which count as difficult terrain. Moving from a manhole down to the sewer (or the other way) is a 3″ move. The sewers are dark, and night-fighting rules apply there.

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One thought on “Welcome to Willard (rat-catching for science)

  1. Pingback: Willard’s War « The Goatronium Expansions

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