Since our gaming group meets in an elementary school, we necessarily take summers off. Well, a few weeks ago school opened up, and shortly therafter, the gaming commenced. On the same token, our local gaming club announced an upcoming 500 point tournament in October based upon what I believe to be some rules laid out in Adepticon. With that in mind, there were a few people shaping up armies for the tourney, so I brought a 500 point force ready to play for that.
The turn-out for week 1 of the season wasn’t bad. At first I was leery that anyone would really show up, since another gaming location made itself available on Friday nights, but many of the old faces were back for another year, including Jeff, our resident Tau player. Over the summer, he’d been busy, and he had oodles of models to show.
Just before summer, he had started amassing a horde of Orks (somewhere in the 300+ model range), and I was expecting him to bring a slough of those models. Instead, he had a complete force of grots, most of which were basecoated. He somehow got the idea to use them as “counts as” Imperial guard, and painting them up with a Red Gobbo/Russian Star motif. Honestly, they looked awesome. At first I was saddened by the fact that a good, fun gamer had given into the dark side in order to win games–switching over to the most powerful army in the current metagame… but that wasn’t the case. His test army for the 500point tourney was made up entirely of infantry, including a fairly robust hand-to-hand element (in a Guard army!).
So, after taking a glimpse at his nifty models, and stunning plastic-card work on vehicles, we decided to throw down with our 500 point forces.
- Tervigon w/ Cluster Spines
- Doom of Malantai in Mycetic Spore
- Tervigon w/ Cluster Spines
- Termagants x10
Since the rules were identical to last year’s tourny (which I didn’t attend, mind you), I figured it would be nice to take an entirely new army to the mix. Things like the Tervigons ability to create more models in such a small game format would surely be powerful, so why not give them a shot? Well, Jeff reminded me quickly as to why I shouldn’t have given them a shot, namely: they’re illegal.
In the 500 point rules, you can’t have a model with more than 2 wounds. Sadly, this almost completely negates Tyranids as an effective force. We went through the list and found I’d violated several of the rules:
- More than 2 Wounds: Tervigon, Tervigon, Doom, Mycetic Spore
- Special Character: Doom
- No Invulnerable save better than 4++: Doom
So, it would appear that my force was about as broken as you could possibly make it for this format. Oh well, we decided to throw down anyway…
- Command squad (2x Flamers & Autocannon)
- Infantry platoon
- Infantry Squad (Melta, Powersword, Meltabomb, Commissar w/ Powersword)
- Infantry Squad (Melta, Powersword)
- Infantry Squad (Melta, Powersword)
- Infantry Squad (Grenade Launcher, Autocannon)
- Infantry Squad (Grenade Launcher, Autocannon)
- Heavy Weapon Squad (3x Mortars)
- Infantry platoon
Jeff had an interesting force with a curious strategy. First and foremost, he just wanted to put wounds on the table, and with 60+ wounds in 500 points, that’s most certainly what he did. For a guard force, I was surprised to see so many power weapons (4 total), but the mindset was that he knew he’d get locked in combat eventually, and he wanted a way out. Additionally, since none of those are independant characters, and he can use the option to combine squads, he can wind up giving those models so many ablative wounds, it isn’t funny.
And that really was his strategy. He was going to make massive squads which, when joined by a commissar, made for a very stubborn unit to break. They could, in turn, destroy anything else by just sheer numbers… Conversely, he also had the flexibility to break them into smaller squads, depending upon his opponent’s force.
Mission & Deployment
Since the tournament organizer routinely mixes things up with missions, we decided to play something aside from the standard three in the main book. So, digging out the battle missions book, we rolled up an Eldar Mission: Pre-Emptive Strike. Essentially it’s just a KP mission where everything of mine was worth 2 points, and his were worth between 1 and 3, depending upon unit type). After randomly determining who would play the role of the Eldar (me), choosing board edges (something we didn’t actually do, we just stayed on the sides we were already on), we setup.
I only had 12 models to setup, including two Tervigons. Since my ‘gaunts were worth extra KP’s, I decided to just leave them lurking in the back, and they never did anything during the game (except a slight congo line move in turn 2). So, I simply opted to put the Tervies up as close as possible, while leaving them in cover. Again, this is something I wasn’t really thinking about, since he had almost no guns that could ignore their 3+ armor save anyway. Oh well…
Turn 1: Tyranids
Nothing fancy to start off the game. I moved forward with my big bugs, in as direct a line as possible towards the core of his force, while leaving my Termagants spread out behind the rock. Both synapse creatures would be out of range of effective shooting, so both choose to run during the shooting phase. The only real choice I made during the turn was to opt not to poop out any gaunts. This was based upon the fact that additional gaunts would just make more KP’s, and that they would be shot up as they closed. I figured I’d save them for when I’d gotten closer…
Turn 1: Imperial Guard
Predictable: Everything he had opened up on my closest Tervigon, but there wasn’t all that much in range. A first rank fire, second rank fire order gave him a few more shots, but by and large, my Tervigon remained relatively unscathed.
Also, the guard may have moved up closer to try to get in range here, but I think that was actually done during turn two.
Something to keep in mind for my more recent battle reports is that I don’t take as detailed notes of the game. I do take pictures of all major occurances, and therefore have a digital record of the order that things occurred, but not necessarily the exact times. While this makes for a less exacting report, it does make things considerably easier to write up, and therefore results in me being much more willing to do a thorough write-up much more quickly that I used to do.
Anywho, net effect of this turn: two unsaved wounds to the first Tervigon.
Turn 2: Tyranids
Tervigons advance, and plop out two squads of gaunts (5 strong and 11 strong, respectively), before both of their vaginas broke. Hardly the superior performance from them that I was expecting, but their raw size and sheer number of wounds was proving to be more than enough of an advantage. The 11 man gaunt squad surged forward, while the 5-man lurked back behind the rear-hill, fearfull of dying to the blinding wall of lasgun fire…
Everything else shot at the nearby unit, including a direct hit from one cluster spines, causing some pretty massive damage to the unit, but they stood fast with help from the local commissar. Weighing my options of taking some more melta to the face, he then charged in and proceeded to whack at the guardsmen in what would be an extended stand-off.
Turn 2: Imperial Guard
Instead of directing fire at the unengaged unit of 11, Jeff opted to fire at the other Tervigon, who escaped completely unscathed. I’m not sure I agree with this strategy, but his viewpoint was that the Tervigon was far scarier (which was true…). The only casualties this turn were four gaunts from the rear-mortar squad–who also managed to scatter a shot into the nearby combat and fell three guardsmen to boot.
It was at this point where the question of whether units engaged in combat were forced to take morale tests for suffering 25% casualties. Jeff was pretty sure that they weren’t, and frankly I don’t play enough of this game to remember rules exactly, so we looked it up. We eventually busted out the rulebook, and found it, clear as day on page 44:
“A unit that is locked in close combat does not have to take Morale checks for taking 25% casualties.”
Sure that’s probably widely known and fairly intuitive, but it’s been a while, so it’s a good refresher. Oh well, no broken unit. I dont’ remember who won combat. I do recall that in all the rounds we fought, he only won one (by doing a wound, and then I wound up failing the additional save I needed to take due to being fearless).
Turn 3: Tyranids
The doom dropped in here and really just mopped things up. Have I mentioned how much I love this guy?
I debated where to land him to do the most damage. Since Jeff had 4 total units (one of which was already engaged), my original plan was to stick him in the back and fire on the mortars, but that ran the risk of deviating off the board. I instead went the safe route and butted him in against his units in the middle. Though he deviated a full eight inches to the south, it would’ve put him squarely on top of Jeff’s heavy weapon squad, so he got kicked back to his original point of entry.
By the time he snuck out and started sucking souls from the nearby grots, he was in range of all three squads. Their leadership rolls? 15, 15, & 13, immediately bringing him up to max strength. That proved to be enough to kill off the heavy weapon squad entirely, and thin out both of the other units. Lucky for Jeff, he lost LoS to anything for his demolisher-cannon attack.
To ensure I’d win the nearby assault, I also lumped in the gaunts and the Tervigon, and managed to reduce the platoon down to two guys. At that point, Jeff opted to kill off the commissar, so that I’d run him down and be gun fodder for his forces.
During combat, he did manage to one more wound to my Tervigon, who was down to one wound left. Once I’d won combat and consolidated, I tried to shield him with my other Terv… This section of the game reminded me of Starship Troopers, when they finally found the brain-bug, and wounded it… so it started slinking away…
Turn 3: Imperial Guard
Much like in Starship Troopers, he didn’t get far. Sniped to death from Autocannon fire, he fell to the ground in agony. But by this point, it was already a done deal. In order to fire the Autocannons, the platoon couldn’t move–so they again faced the wrath of the Doom (who promptly killed 6 more models).
Well, at least he got a morale victory for taking down the big beast. Unfortunately, he had very few models alive, and it made sense to call it here.
So, though I won the game, keep in mind that I completely violated so many rules of the tourney. This was just one of those times where the cheaters got to prosper.
What I Learned:
- In hindsight, I never rolled for Instinctive Behavior tests for my termies in the backfield. I’m not certain they were ever really required, and despite the fact that it wouldn’t have made any difference anyway (since they would’ve simply lurked in place, should they have failed), it’s something I need to be more aware of at the beginning of each turn. I’m good at remembering when I have to poop out gaunts, and when the Doom goes off, but this is something I need to work on.
- Units locked in combat don’t have to take morale tests for suffering 25% casualties from shooting. This is a basic rule, and one that’s clearly written… but neither of us was 100% sure of it when we played the game.
- READ THE RULES! I can’t believe I missed so many rules when building this list. Truth be told, I was originally going to play a Marine list, but then thought of Tervigons as an after thought. That just snowballed into a completely illegal list… If this has been in the tourny, I’d have been thrown out immediately, and Jeff would’ve gotten the win here. His army was far superior to mine in composition for this reason. It was a silly mistake, but luckily it was just a fun game.
- Practice, Practice, Practice. I don’t go to tournies much (it’s been about 10 years since I’ve been to one, and that’s the only one I’ve ever attended), so it’s a bit unusual that I’m considering going to this one. I can definitely see the advantage of planning things ahead of time (to ensure your army is legal), and getting plenty of games in (to understand what your army should do in each situation).
- When choosing an army, it’s important to not only choose one you like, but one that compliments your skills. Case in point: Jeff has demonstrated tremendous skill with butchering up plastic card and making it suitably orky. On top of that, he has a rough & dirty painting style that lends itself perfectly to the army. Though his force looks almost haphazardly painted, it’s absolutely perfect for orks. I found myself truly impressed by the way his red-star motif was working out. Had he chosen an army with notoriously clean lines, it might not have worked, but the force he did chose, suited his painting and modeling skills to a T.Hopefully he gets a hold of some of those nifty russian goblin resins I’ve seen floating around the net. They’d just go with this army perfectly…