I choose a 1500pt army of bugs and headed down to the local gaming club. Once there, I met a chap named Erik, a Biel-Tan player from 2nd edition. He had an army of classic models complete with three Armorcast Waveserpents and a Revenant. He didn’t have a lot of thorns in his paint jobs, but I couldn’t fault him because he had a really snazzy skull motif that stretched through his vehicles.
In determining the mission we rolled up a Capture & Control with Spearhead deployment. I won first turn and chose to use it. He was fine with that decision, and didn’t bother to try to seize the initiative: sneaky Eldar players…
There was nothing fancy in the deployment: basically I deployed everything I could basically as far forward as I could and sprinkled synapse around my force to keep them on task. I didn’t deploy anything in difficult terrain (forgetting that all bugs roll three dice in moving through it) because I figured it would just slow me down in getting to my pointy-eared snacks. The two squads of ‘stealers and my Lictor were held in reserve.
Erik had a very mobile force, so his deployment didn’t surprise me much. Basically all of his units deployed in cover so that the only thing I could see was the front edge of a single Waveserpent.
Turn 1: Tyranids
I had a fairly uneventful turn. I moved everything forward, and fleeted/ran, with the exception of my Carnifex, who tried valiantly (but vainly) to shoot at the one wave serpent he could see. I skirted one Zoanthrope off towards the right side, figuring I could his synapse to support my ‘stealers. He turned out to be ineffective for most of the game.
Turn 1: Eldar
True to form, the Eldar began their weenie hit-and-run attacks from the beginning. The Warp Spiders slaughtered most of my gaunt squad on my left flank, and massive shuriken fire from jetbikes managed to kill a single base of rippers on my right. One of his Wave Serpents nicked my Flyrant with a star cannon, but he made his 6+ warp field save (the only one I’d make the entire game) to shrug it off.
After his shooting, he fled everyone back into cover to minimize the damage I could do.
Turn 2: Tyranids
My second turn looked astonishingly like my first turn, except I got to shoot with three units. I rolled poorly so none of my reserves joined the battle (I forgot to use the Lictor’s pheromone trail). In the shooting phase, my right flank either ran or wiffed harmlessly, but on my left flank, my Zoanthrope managed to miraculously wreck a Wave Serpent and get a look at the tasty morsels inside. Likewise, my rippers unleashed fury on the Warp Spiders in the form of fleshborers to kill two models.
Though it’s not a popular choice, I’ve always been a huge fan of putting guns on my rippers. For 6 points, I was able to fire off 18 re-rolled shots (one base didn’t have LoS), and take out two spiders. You get a small element of surprise and some fairly lethal close quarters shots for about the price of a gaunt. How can you beat that?
In the assault, my termagaunts had a momentary lapse of reason Thinking themselves as hormagaunts, they charged into the ‘Spiders and died valiantly, only to watch their foes withdraw to live another day. I lost two more of the squad, but I was able to create a viable screen to prevent the Avatar from getting the charge on my units, so it wasn’t all in vain.
Turn 2: Eldar
My right flank crumbled to combined volleys of shuriken catapults followed up by charges from the harlequins and jetbikes. His jetbikes decimated my ripper swarms and took refuge behind combat, while the harlies did a number to the nearby gaunts. Thankfully, I had a Zoanthrope nearby to keep them in check, so they weren’t wiped out completely. Despite what the picture shows, he also pasted the lone brainbug on the bottom of the map.
On the left flank, most everything shot at my Flyrant leading to a single unsaved wound, and the Avatar managed to only kill 3 of the four gaunts that were tying him up. He did move his farseer to the top of a building in the middle of the battle, but he didn’t do much with him besides that.
Turn 3: Tyranids
With the smell of roasting elves thick in the air, all of my reserves decided to show up. Unfortunately, the rule for Outflanking states that you show up on “the short board edge.” Despite rolling two sixes and getting to choose which side I came on, I had very little I could do with my stealers. The two places I wanted to come on were both on his long board edge, and due to the diagonal setup, it would’ve made sense that I could come on from the back, but the rule clearly states otherwise. For spearhead games, I think the rule is bunk, but at least I know about it now, right?
Only one ‘stealer squad proved to be in range of the assault (and that would prove to be robbed by the Carnifed (a fact that I can most certainly live with).
This was the best shooting phase I had all game: My Zoanthrope managed to paste five ‘spiders, who spent the rest of the game cowering in fear of him, but the shining star of the turn was my Carnifex. With my gaunts dying like it’s going out of fashion last turn, there was no way they’d live through another round of assault. Since shootifexes typically can’t hit the broadside of a barn, I targeted the nearby jetbikes and hoped for a lucky deviation. That’s exactly what I got, rolling 7” towards combat. His stray shot wound up vaporizing six more harlequins and three gaunts. Meanwhile, his venom cannon took out a jetbike and broke that squad.
In the ensuing round of combat, the Harlequin Troupe Master killed all but one gaunt, and then flipped out of combat to run towards the Hive Tyrant.
On the other side of the board, the Lictor popped up, and helped the Flyrant charge the Avatar, while my fodder assaulted his Dire Avengers, who were cut down trying to flee. In the battle royale between our leaders, the Avatar sucker punched the Tyrant for one wound, but the combination of implant attack coupled with the Lictor’s feeder tendrils turned out to be too much for the mightly Khaine, and we sent him back to the warp before moving towards the jetbikes.
Turn 3: Eldar
Ok, so I’m still learning how to draw battle reports. I found another flaw in my plan. Last turn, the lower Wave Serpent was supposed to have moved farther (which is why it was out of assault range for the ‘stealers) and unload it’s cargo to shoot at the Zoanthrope. That said, all of the elves jumped into their transport, and fired their star cannons to slaughter their 2nd brain bug.
Also, despite what the drawing shows, the stealers on the right flank didn’t die to shooting this turn (but they will next turn!). The jetbikes all clumped up and fled to the corner of their deployment zone. At this point it was about an all-out route.
The Troupe Master assaulted my Tyrant and did little more than give me a scare. He did manage to save the two wounds I did to him though, so combat ended in a tie.
Turn 4: Tyranids
Though it was clearly not a good day for the Craftworld, the game wasn’t a guaranteed loss by any means. I had troops to capture his objective, but nothing was stopping me from contesting mine, so I started running my Carni, a ‘thrope, and a squad of rippers back there to tie up his force.
My winged warriors joined the fray with the Tyrant (for fear of lucky dice rolls), and together feasted festively colored entrails.
Turn 4: Eldar
So the Warp Spiders are getting ahead of themselves (I moved them during the bug turn). This is the turn that massed shuriken fire combined with Doom from the farseer slaughtered my ‘stealer squad. To add insult to injury, he assault my last model there and killed him—though I did get the satisfaction of taking one with me with a single rending “6.“
Back by my objective, the wave serpent that never misses failed to wound my ‘fex, and the Warp Spiders cowered in fear.
Turn 5: Tyranids
All about holding objectives, I moved both of my lone-gaunts up to capture his objective, supported by the Lictor and warriors. I created a screen that prevented him from running into the objective to contest—or so I thought.
My second squad of ‘stealers immediately jumped into cover after seeing the devastating effects of Doom. Meanwhile, my Carnifex stunned the Wave Serpent, and his friends moved up to support him.
Turn 5: Eldar
The farseer tried his Shuriken Doom trick on the Tyrant, but 6’s to wound coupled with a 2+ armor save proved to be more than that one-trick pony could handle, achieving little more than upsetting an already angry bug.
This is the point in the game where it became clear that Erik is a great tactician. With his army fairly well slaughtered, it came down to a single die roll of luck. He flew a jetbike over my cunning screen near his objective and managed to contest it.
Meanwhile, at the other end of the field, the Warp Spiders managed to wound the Carnifex, but it was clear they weren’t going to be able to fell the beast. It all came down to the die roll to see if the game ended. On a 1-2, the sneaky jetbike maneuver would’ve taken a seemingly obvious loss and turned it into a tie. Unfortunately for the Craftworld, the game kept going… since we were running out of time, he conceded the game.
What I’ve learned:
- Erik is a cool guy—if you get a chance to play with him, definitely do so, but watch out for his sneaky jetbikes.
- Ripper swarms with guns are good, but I think it’s worth it to buy them BS upgrades if you’re going to equip them with guns. I’ll have to do the math on it, but it seems like a solid choice.
- In spearhead (diagonal setup) missions, think twice about using Outflank…
- I have alot to learn about creating battle reports. All in all, this doesn’t seem like a dismal failure, but rather a moderate success. It did take almost 2.5 hours to draft this up though, so I’m not sure how often I’ll do this. Maybe I’ll only do them when I play two complete painted armies? Who knows… we’ll see…