Arctic Apocalypse: Battle Report

Finally!  Pictures of our recent apocalypse game.  I’d originally wanted to write a detailed battle report for the game, but despite a small amount of help, I still can’t seem to get Titans to show up properly in Vassal 40k.  Well, the show must go on.  It’s been almost a month since the game, so my recollection is spotty, but lets see what kind of write-up I can muster from memory alone. Ultimately, this will develop into a long-winded write-up, so if you’re just looking for the goods, I’d suggest you check out the pictures and, if they interest you, read the nearby text.  I don’t expect anyone to go through and read this whole thing, but it’s here if you want to! 🙂

Deployment:

Objective Placement:

As we discussed in our Pre-game pep talk, we bid 27 minutes.  As expected, Team Viktim / Team Turnover bid low.  I think they bid 10 minutes for setup, so they got to deploy first.  Also, for the purpose of the rest of this write-up, I’m may refer to the teams as “Imperials” and “Tyranids,” because it’s just easier to type. After dicing off for deployment, there were some formalities that we had to get out of the way, like placing objectives.  Each time was given three objectives to place in each of the three zones (Tyranid setup zone, Neutral zone, & Imperial setup zone).  Winning the bid for deployment, the Imperials got to place their objective first.  Each player placed a single objective for their team.  In contrast, team bug nominated a single player to act as the hive mind, and place the objectives.  In hindsight, objective placement played a big part in the overall outcome of the game.  The fact that there was a single cohesive strategy for us, helped us tremendously.  For objective placement, I had originally hoped that we could get both of our objectives close to each other in the corner of the board, both of their objectives on opposite sides of the board (near the table edges), and the neutral ones would ideally be placed in a path between their objectives and ours. The thought was that we could use a minimal amount of units to control/contest the objectives on our side (such as the endless swarm), and use the outflankers to hammer their objectives.  Meanwhile, anything that moved across the board to claim the distant points would have to move over the neutral objectives. The final result was as good as could be expected.  We had to roll with the punches, as the Imperials wound up placing objectives in the center of our deployment zone, the center of the board, and behind the massive hill on the western flank of their deployment.  We responded by placing one nearby in our deployment zone, on the Eastern flank for the Neutral objective, and in the far Eastern corner for their deployment zone.  Essentially, we were able to place 5 of the six objectives where we wanted them.

Imperial Deployment:

First, it’s important to note that we didn’t use standard Apoc deployment rules for the game.  We batted the idea around of using normal deployment or Apoc deployment and didn’t come to a concensus, so I chose normal deployment.  This was predicated on the possibility that the die could really screw one team over for deployment zones, and so it was “more fair” to just give standard deployment.  Though it worked out alright, I think we were all in agreement that for our next game, we’re willing to risk the Apoc deployment rules. Prior to their alotted 10 minutes for setup, the Imperial players placed some of their strategic objectives, namely their baracades and obstacles.  After the game, it was learned that this deployment actually should’ve happened during their 10 minute threshold, but since we forced them to setup for an army shot in another room, I’m sure it was a wash. Also, before they deployed we got to drop in our twenty groups of spore mines.  I loved these guys so much because they added flavor to the game.  Though we tried to herd them to certain areas with the mines, they were almost completely ineffective.  By the end of the first turn, they had all erupted with few casualties inflicted.  Cole was responsible for clearing most of the mines with his tanks, and even joked that he needed to model a spore mine stuck in his tracks.  I’m 100% in favor of such tom-foolery, as it adds so much character to an army.  So, Cole… if you’re serious, speak up and I’ll supply the mine. Much to our surprise, they attempted to deploy the entire army–and came really close to doing so.  Kris’ drop pods were obviously not deployed, but aside from that, I think they only left three or four units in strategic reserve.  Since they weren’t using outflankers, flank-marchers, or many deep striking units, I can see their logic in trying to get stuff on the board quickly, it just surprised us that they didn’t try to keep some stuff off board for protection purposes.  I think an earlier game I played with cole’s IGuard might have had something to do with this.  In that game, he determined that it was better to deploy more of his units at the start of the game, and just risk losing a few, than bringing small portions of his force on the board to get torn apart by a full army. The logic of their deployment really seemd to be based around a couple of points:

  • Indirect artillery (basilisks) with some supporting counter attack units (assault marines) would hold their objective behind the hill.
  • Cole’s Baneblade formation deployed in the only open area on their side that was big enough to accomodate such a massive formation, and would vaporize the center of the board.  These were further protected by a Disruptor Beacon (anti-deep strikers), Shield Generator (4++ save to anything nearby), and a Librarian which would also negatively impact units moving on from reserve.
  • The Warhound was left to hold the South-Western flank on his own.

The rest of their units didn’t seem to be planned so much as placed down in a hurry.  I’m sure there was more thought that went into their placement, but we’ll have to wait for their response to find out what it was.  I do know that they had originally planned to leave some infiltrators out of the standard deployment, so they could utilize more of the board, but in the frantic rush of their time-limit, they forgot.

Tyranid Deployment:

They are coming! I feel them scratching inside my mind, scratching, screaming, running, so many – so, so many voices. They are coming for us – flesh, body and soul!  – Codex: Tyranids (4th Edition), page 66

True to our plan, we deployed the Endless Swarm, Kraken Swarm, Biovores, Zoanthropes, and little else.  While we didn’t fill our deployment area like the Imperials did, it was a pretty impressive sight.  The Kraken Swarm held the center of the board, while the Endless Swarm formed our front line.  Zoanthropes and other synapse dotted throughout our deployment to keep our bugs in check.  Nothing terribly fancy for us. Really, we just wanted to deploy the Endless swarm up front to take the brunt of the initial hit, since they would come back after each squad died.  The Kraken swarm was so huge, that it had no plausible place to deploy other than the center of the board (which proved to be unbearably painful for them later).  Aside from that, we left everything else in reserve.

Turn 1: Imperials

As our infestation of the planet had already begun, unseen alien lifeforms scurried in the depths of difficult terrain, dragging down those foolish enough to enter.  High in the atmosphere, alien biology rained down upon the advancing army in the form of spores, so thick that they blotted out the sun.  In English, we sprung our “They’re All Around Us!” Strategic Asset on the Imperials during their first movement phase. This forced them to roll dangerous terrain tests on any difficult terrain.  While it was a cute asset, we had chosen it to set the theme for the battle rather than to actually cause any damage. To add to the flavor of the board, we used my newly created Mycetic spores as Alien terrain, along with some Forgeworld Capillary towers (without the rules, just for style).  Together they did a reasonable job of making the world look suitably infested. To our surprise, the terrain actually helped us quite a bit.  Over the course of the game, at least six terminators died to these dangerous terrain tests (a 1/36 chance each!), and on the first turn alone, three vehicles were immobolized (more would come later).  It became clear that the brazen attitudes of the space wolves should’ve given way to more caution on such a darkly infested planet.  That gave way to what I think is my favorite picture of the event: some immobolized vehicles.  Something about the coloring and makeup of the photo lead me to believe it belongs in a white dwarf–or at least up on BoLS’s photo of the day… Ultimately what makes that picture work well for me is the fact that most of the models are painted (and quite well, I might add).  That plus the general hue really makes it feel like it captured a moment in a battle, and not just a few models scattered across a table. Enough applauding Simon’s photography skills, and back to the game.  Prior to the first turn, Team Bug launched a blind barrage to protect us from the devastation of the baneblades. We got some lucky dice rolls for where it landed and it effectively shut down about about 20% of their offensive shooting for the turn.  Despite that, the losses were severe for the bugs.  About two-thirds ofthe models we’d deployed had perished before they had gotten a chance to do anything!!  Granted, most of what was deployed was expendable (gaunts and such), but it was more than a little disheartening to see so much carnage.  Going back through their army list, I count 24x 5″ or greater blasts they could drop per turn on our army (not including their scheduled bombardment which accounted for 20+ kills on the first turn alone).  Virtually all of those were strength 8 or greater, which decimates even models within synapse now.  On top of that, though the board was fairly rich in terrain, cover wasn’t overly abundant.  As a result, our models died in droves. The above picture was actually taken on our turn, but does provide a good viewpoint of how effectively the blind barrage protected our units from the baneblades.

 Turn 1: Tyranids

This is about when we realized that we had forgotten to roll to seize initiative.  Of course, we had to roll to “see what would’ve happened” and we were pleased to learn that the game wouldn’t have unfolded any differently.   Despite the heavy losses in the previous turn, things weren’t all bad.  None of our Zoanthropes had died (much to the chagrin of our Imperial adversaries), though one had taken a wound from a heavy bolter.  All of our MC’s had lived through the carnage (save for a lone Hive Tyrant who stared down the barrel of a Titan’s Turbolaser. Since we’d taken the Careful Planning asset, we were able to move half of our force on the first turn.  Aside from the fact that this asset is only supposed to affect on player (which you can read about on the write-up of the Assets page), it went over halfway decently.  All of our gargantuan creatures, along with the Tervigons, some Stealers, and other misc. models entered the fray. Two out of the three Tervigons broke their vaginas on the first turn, and would no longer be adding to our forces.  That’s ok though, since our main reason for taking them was to inspire the Bio-Titans forward with Catalyst.  We also intended to use Feel no Pain on them as well, since we’d agreed before the battle to utilize the 6++ save for the titans’ warpfield instead of the 3++ save from the new codex. Ultimately, it turns out that we were using the powers wrong, as gargantuan creatures are immune to all psychic powers (both friendly and hostile).  Thanks to Faolain for pointig that out to us.  On the Western front, all was not quiet.  In order to remove their Warhound Titan from the equation.  I directed one of the hierdule’s full shots into the Titan, foolishly figuring it would be enough to incapacitate it for a round.  When the first 12 strength 10 shots proved to be inadequate, the second behemoth fired it’s volley into the mechanicus’ creation.  I managed to immobolize it, reduce the number of attacks, rip off one gun, and stop the other from shooting.  All in all a mammoth of a shooting phase. Well, that is until Cole enlightened us to the fact that “primary weapon” actually means something.  Who knew that meant the weapon itself got a 4++ save against anything that would prevent it from firing?  To my dismay, Kris managed to roll both of these saves after the fact, which meant I’d only stopped it from moving. 😦  Hell, I didn’t care where it moved to–I just didnt’ want it firing those guns at my lines anymore!  On top of that, I’d positioned both of the gargs right next to each other which would only maximum the damage they took from the Titan’s blasts. The Hierophants started opening up smaller tanks, immobolizing, destroy, and ripping weapons off with their massive bio-cannons.  Meanwhile, the genestealers started coming in from the sides of the board and relentlessly slaughtering nearby guardsman on the Eastern front.

Turn 2: Imperials

 Though my guards may sleep and ships may lie at anchor, our foes know full well that big guns never tire. -Lufgt Huron, The Tyrant of Badab. (Codex CSM 4th ed page 7)

When the fog of the blind barrage lifted, it was immediately replaced by the smoke from the machines of the Imperial Guard.  The additional damage reaped by the baneblade contingent proved to us at once that we deployed the Blind Barrage in the right spot.  Had they been able to fire on the first turn as well, nothing would’ve survived. Adding some of their might to that of the Warhound titan spelled doom for the hierodules on that end of the board.  One of them died outright, while the other escaped with only a single wound left on it.  Everything else nearby was obliterated. Our Zoanthropes weren’t as lucky this turn as they had been before.  Shells rained harder than spores and our forces didn’t stand up to the might of the Imperium’s cannons.  We literally had relays of players whose only job during Team Turnover’s shooting phase was to cart away handfuls of dead models to another table, to be sorted for later use as an endless swarm.  Just how much that parallels to the actual way Tyranids attack a planet is a bit eerie: Tyranids send wave after wave of gaunts into battle, and their only real job is to determine how effective their opponents are.  Once they figure that out, they can collect the genetic material of their own dead and spawn more resilient waves to send in.  Essentially, this is what we were doing. Nowhere was the expendability of our forces better illustrated than with our ripper swarms.  We’d originally had such grand hopes for our army composition that we’d include every ripper swarm we owned as our first wave.  Unfortunately, reality set in as the rippers aren’t an ideal unit choice against massed artillery, so we had to settle for about 15 bases.  Of those bases, we DS’d most of them right into the heart of the enemy. The plan was to plop them down in front of targets to force them to waste fire on the swarms, thereby letting those units behind them live a little longer.  The fact that we brought the swarms onto the table immediately in front of units who had no other viable targets to shoot at sort of ruined those plans.  True, the swarms dropped in and looked fierce, but with so many nearby lasguns, none of them lived to see combat.  It did give the back line something to do other than try to keep our fictional flank marchers from coming in behind their tanks. Meanwhile, as the Genestealers rampaged through the flanks, Ryan started doing something unheard of: he started making armor saves with his guardsmen.  Several times a raving unit of ‘stealers would clash into a unit of helpless guardsmen, and Ryan would make 90% or more of his saves.  Rumor has it, that this was due to a new form of grey ceramite paint his warriors coated themselves in before the battle.  To the untrained eye, it looks as if these are bare plastic models, but clearly they’re protected by something.  Whether it’s the grey ceramite paint, the blessing of the emporer, or a ton of luck, these models proved invulnerable to the normally devastating units of genestealers.

There is only the Emperor and he is our Shield and Protector. –  Book of the Astronomican p78

Turn 2: Tyranids

The wounded Hierodule fired pot shots past the Titan and managed only to shake a Leman Russ with it’s scores of str10 shots.  It proved more successful in assault though, when it charged the Warhound and brought it down without a grand explosion (much to our disappointment… where’s the Kaboom?  There’s supposed to be an earth-shattering Kaboom!!!) One of the Hierophants squashed a seemingly harmless space wolf librarion who deep struck down in the middle of the board but forgot to do anything else that turn.  This turned out to be a brilliant tactical maneuver on our part, as he was armed with a Vortex Grenade.  The only reason he hadn’t already thrown it was that he had deviated too far from the creature, and was hoping to stay alive just a little longer to throw it next turn.  Sadly, bugs are pretty ravenous, and indescrimnate eaters.  If you cover it in fur and dangle it in front of their faces, it’s going to die… Our living teleport homer (eg. Lictor) didnt make it through the last round, and that didn’t help our Trygon and friends, who seemed to all scatter away from their targets.  To add insult to injury, they seemed to all roll poorly for fleet.  The facilitator of their entrance, the Trygon Prime, was unable to do anything the turn he arrived, but due to the formation rules, he was able to convey the ability to charge to his ravener friends.  In the interim, he roared triumphantly and blasted his spiny shots into a nearby squad of Cole’s guardsmen. Luckily, the pinning test cause by the Subterranean Swarm formation caused several nearby units to become inneffective (including a squad of decked out Sternguard), and the raveners that did make their charge dispatched with their metal-armored prey rather succesfully.  The Ymgarls proved more succesful.  Since their new rules don’t require them to actually deep strike, rather just to appear (after which they can move, run, and assault), they can be devastating.  Nowhere is this more evident than on this turn.  The unit was able to come up between three squads of guardsman, a hellhound, and a unit of Space Marines.  So cleverly hidden were they that the marines had walked over them the turn before and not noticed a thing.  The ‘stealers managed to pull of a multiple assault against two squads of guard and the marines.  Though it wasn’t an immediate victory, the Ymgarl’s would wear down the opponents over time in what could only be considered a win for the greater Hive Mind. Meanwhile, on the Western flank, Ryan’s impervious guard maintained their ability to hold off genestealers.  Despite being outnumbered by a vastly superior foe, the servants of the Emporer held fast… as did their armor.

Turn 3: Imperials

To this point, the massive bio-titans had escaped relatively unscathed.  One of the lynchpins in the Imperial battle plan though was to focus fire on them.  Though they had taken a few pot shots prior, nothing resembling a concentration of fire had been unleashed.  This turn, Cole turned everything he had on our first Titan, and it proved to be barely enough to take the monster down..  Considering the titans have toughness 9, with regeneration and a 6++ save, that’s a lot of firepower! With only a few more turns, it became clear that Cole was going to need help if he was going to take the rest of these juggernauts down.  Unfortunately the rest of the newcomers to the Imperium’s forces were unable to get the messages from the Astropaths which said simply: Bring… More… Lascannons. Back on the Western front, Ryan knew it was only a matter of time before he started failing armor saves, and so he called down one of his strategic assets directly onto the battle: “On My Coordinates!!” Apocalyptic barrages are a really poweful asset already, but when given one for every Vox in your army, it could get abusive.  Sure, you lose a squad of guard in the process, but think about how much stuff you can take out!  Lucky for us, Ryan only used it once this game, and it was a fitting end to some of the Emporer’s finest.  In the end, they destroyed their own tank, and vaporized their own squad to a man, but in the process, they felled a broodlord, and almost an entire squad of genestealers.  While it probably wasn’t point-for-point a tactical advantage, it was clear that their lines had been over-run, and those units would be dying soon anyway and there’s really no way that they could’ve taken out so many ‘stealers with them otherwise. This act really serve to add to the theme of the battle.  Each player was quick to add quips of what they thought the guard would say just before they called the airstrike on themselves…

“When you decide to die, remember to give your enemy the same honour.” — Commissar Grenville

Turn 3: Tyranids

With the battle on the Western flank looking pretty hopeless, we surged forward to the East.  Since there was really only a single objective to the West, it was a better strategy for us to ignore it and concentrate on the five objectives on the other half of the board.  You know, the five far away from Cole’s superheavies! Bugs and men were dying with atrocious speed as the battle raged on, but all attention was really focused to the East.  By this point several of the objectives were already ours, if we could just clear out the little pockets of resistance nearby.  The most glorious battle in the entire game happened at one of these objectives in the neutral section of the board.  Logan Grimnar, along with a battle-weary bodyguard stood atop an objective, boldly threatening our swarm.  Despite turning the attention of five Zoanthropes, a Tervigon and a slough of termagants in the shooting phase, we couldn’t do enough wounds to bring the great wolf down.  No bother though, there’s always assault! What do you get when you cross 10 termagants, 8 hormagaunts, and a tervigon with Logan Grimnar?  Well, 48 attacks for starters.  Of those, the hormies got to re-roll misses, an the termies got to wound on 4+.  Logon made every save against the Tervigon.  He also saved countless times against the hormagaunts.  It all boiled down to the termagants: in the end Logon only had to make seven saves to stay on his feet (he had already stood toe-to-toe with a bio-titan and lived to tell about it–though he did bear a few scars from that battle). The roll?  6, 6, 5, 4, 4, 2, 1.  Logon Grimnar falls! Another one of those epic moments in the game, and a pretty nifty photo to go along with it.

Turn 4: Imperials

After felling the first Hierophant, Cole’s forces had a taste for ichor and surged forward (I’d say he had a taste for blood, but ichor really sounds more appropriate).  Disregard the Titan in the middle of this photo, as he actually died last turn; however, the photo of turn 4 looks almost identical, except the bug is absent, and you don’t have a stray blurry finger in the middle of the shot either).  I’m sure you can tell, that my passion for writing this battle report in every detail, along with my recollection of the game are both waning at this point.  I do recall though, that the Imperials were realizing at this point that they were out of striking distance of many of the objectives, and were doing their best to realign their targets to break us off the objectives we controlled.  The hushed whispers of “Kill the Tervigons” were starting to be heard (if not followed).  Though much of the fire was focused on our synapse creatures, we either had enough of them out there, or enough luck that synapse was largely held. In fact, by this point in the game, I don’t believe we had to take any synapse tests (ok, maybe one or two).  By and large, the bounty of Zoanthropes had been good to us, and our lines had not lived through enough ordnance to advance in any real fashion to the West.  We did have a concentrated push to the East though… and it didn’t seem like there was much the Imperium could do about it.

Turn 4: Tyranids

In an attempt to keep us off the Eastern-most objective a wall of tanks and troops created a pocket around that objective.  There was no way the Hive Mind would let some scrapheaps and a pile of organic matter to stop us from taking what was rightfully ours though.  The nearby Hiero let loose full-force into the guardian baneblade (which had been softened up turn after turn by a resident Broodlord).  The 16 str10 shots ripped through the armored compartments and lodged into it’s ammo stores.  The bio-acid ate through the warheads and triggered an apocalyptic explosion that devastated that corner of the board. FINALLY!  AN EARTH SHATTERING KABOOM! The damage report for this explosion:

  • KILLED:
    • 1 baneblade (duh)
    • 8 genestealers (acros two squads)
    • 1 Broodlord
    • 12 Guardsmen (across three squads)
    • 2 Sternguard
  • WOUNDED:
    • 1 Hellhound: Weapon Destroyed
    • 1 Chimera: Weapon Destroyed
    • 1 Hierophant: Wounded
  • TOTAL: 27 Models Wounded or Killed

Only a single guardsman escaped without a scar.  Well, at least not a physical scar… From that point on, he trembled every time he saw a cockroach.  To follow up this carnage, the ‘phant continued forward and charged the nearby hellhound, destroying that as well.

Turn 5:

By turn five, the game was a forgone conclusion.  The Imperials tried their best to contest what objectives they could, but they came up lacking.  Though they were actually tied with us in VP’s during their turn, it was clear that it wouldn’t hold up.  One of their objectives was held by a broken chimera, that was  staring at a hierophant, a ravener squad, a hive tyrant, and some gaunts.  Another was contested only by a drop pod surrounded by Zoanthropes and Tervigons.  While they were able to nuke all of the ‘gaunts off the two objectives in our deployment zone, three squads of “without number” units were set to come back on–and with no Imperial units in our deployment zone, they would capture those objectives.  Additionally, the value of the Kraken Swarm came to bear, as three models from the original formation had live through the game: one gargoyle and two termagants, who could now strategically redeploy to contest any objective in the game.  Since they were purchased as part of the Kraken Swarm, this redployment had the added advantage of allowing them to only have to stay 3″ way from enemy units, instead of 12″.  For last minute objective grabbing, the Kraken Swarm is king.

Conclusion:

What self respecting Apoc game writes up a battle report without the obligatory winners and losers photos?  Below you can see pictures of both, though I’ll leave it up to you to decide which team won.

Overall, a good time was had by all.  Though things certainly didn’t go perfectly as far as rules are concerned, we found an amicable way to settle any disputes quickly and friendly, so that they didn’t get in the way of anyone’s enjoyment.  I’m really thankful to have gotten in with such a good group of gamers, and I’m anxiously awaiting the next Apoc battle.

Until then, Hive Fleet Proteus sleeps… Demotivational “posters” courtesy of http://diy.despair.com/motivator.php.

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9 comments on “Arctic Apocalypse: Battle Report

  1. I think you did a bang-up job on the report, Rob! You covered about everything I could remember and of course I love the picture of my Relictor-Logan standing off against a swarm all by himself… how epic that would have been if he survived and won combat *sigh* if only. Yeah, awesome job on the write-up and I'm excited for another game like that.

  2. I read through this again and am impressed at how much of the game was captured. I don't think there was anything that happened worth mentioning that you didn't already mention. I had a blast at that game and blame you for reivigorating my 40K habit, er, hobby.

  3. Very nice report! I can tell Cole isn't happy (He's the only dude I recognize, I'm sure I'll meet some of you at this year's Brimfrost). It must have taken you ages to type up a report of this magnitude, props Rob!

  4. ACTING!The original idea was to have them all look down-trodden, but it morphedinto having the one army that did spectacularly well look down upon hiscomrades who didn't seem to get the Astropath's message: BRING…MORE… LASCANNONS!Ultimately, they devastated so much of our army, and if they'd have had amore stable player base, they would've been able to strategize more, focusfire on the big bugs, and ultimately claim the day.

  5. nah i had a great time, sure it would have been nice to win but with how well my force did its hard to not have a blast! (im second from the left just to clarify, my look was probably more going for the “i told u…..” lol)

  6. Pingback: Battle Reports for 5th Edition: A Summary | Warhammer 39,9999

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