Dave came over to play our regular Sunday board games, but since nobody else showed up, and he brought his models, I let him talk me into playing a game of 40k. Since we’d only played one other game, and I’d used my Ultras for that battle, he’d requested I play my bugs. Besides, he said that was one army that he’d never gotten to fight against yet…
He suggested a 1500 point game, but I wanted to use Ravers & Trygons, so I requested more. He upped his suggestion to 2000, but in a search for a random number, my eyes strayed to the Patriots/Texans game on TV, where someone had just gotten a 94 run, and the game of 2094 points was born:
Hive Fleet Proteus:
- (Warlord) Flyrant w/ Toxin Sacs, Wings, Lashwhip/Bonesword, Stranglethorn Cannon (Tyranid Powers: Leech Essence & Paroxysm)
- Tervigon w/ Scything Talons, Cluster Spines, & Catalyst
- 5x Genestealers inc. Broodlord w/ Scything Talons (Biomancy: Enfeeble)
- 5x Genestealers inc. Broodlord w/ Scything Talons (Biomancy: Enfeeble)
- 5x Genestealers inc. Broodlord w/ Scything Talons (Biomancy: Iron Arm, Endurance)
- 6x Ripper Swarms
- 6x Ripper Swarms
- Fast Attack:
- 6x Raveners w/ Rending Claws
- 6x Raveners w/ Rending Claws
- Heavy Support:
- Trygon Prime w/ Toxin Sacs
- Trygon Prime w/ Toxin Sacs
- Trygon Prime w/ Toxin Sacs
The thought process here was to use Raveners w/ the Trygons as my forward synapse. I’ve been smitten with Raveners since I used them against Simon and learned that (as beasts), they’re almost completely unaffected by terrain. I would’ve thrown more into the list, but I only own 12 models (and technically speaking, they’re painted as three different squads, but I just combined the yellow/blue squads).
For the rest of the force, I wanted to use a different HQ, but couldn’t bring myself to use the Parasite as my Warlord, so I threw in a Flyrant (don’t think I’ve used him in 6th edition yet). Rippers were another choice that hadn’t seen the table yet, so I threw three squads of them in (though one of those squads would later be cut, as I only had 130 points left, and realized that my scoring units were compromised by the use of so many rippers, so I cut a squad to make room for an HQ Tervigon).
I think the most interesting part of this list is that I somehow managed to completely omit Elites from it. I found that rather surprising, as that particular slot on the force organization chart seems so packed with great choices. I’ll be honest that I was contemplating throwing in a doom in a pod (especially when I got down to the final 130 points—which is exactly enough to add doom+pod—without cluster spines, at least). I backed down from it though, as I was playing Dave, who always runs the Doom, and I thought it’d be weird with two of him on the table. Besides, he’s one of my favorite handicaps, so why not learn to play without him?
(The Other) Tyranid Forces:
Dave didn’t leave a copy of his list, so I’m going from memory here, but I think I can get the jidst of it:
- Tyranid Prime w/ Boneswords & Devourer
- 3x Hive Guard
- 3x Zoanthropes
- Doom in a Pod w/ Cluster Spines
- 18x Genestealers
- 10x Termagants w/ Devourers
- 8x Tyranid Warriors w/ Boneswords & Devourers inc. 1 w/ Barbed Strangler
- Tervigon w/ Toxin Sacs & Crushing Claws
- Fast Attack:
- 9x Raveners w/ Scything Talons & Spinefists
- Harpy w/ Stranglethorn Cannons
- Heavy Support:
- 1x Carnifex w/ Crushing Claws, Stranglethorn Cannon, & Bioplasma
Pretty standard Dave list, containing a little bit of everything. I think it seems like a reasonable list myself, but I’d have made a few tweaks myself (we discussed this after the battle). He tends to play larger squads, which don’t seem to be as effective in the game. Cutting his Warriors/Raveners/Stealers into smaller units would’ve probably been a good idea. Likewise, he played with some upgrades that I thought questionable: Devourers on gaunts are overpriced (though it’s a small amount of points to waste), and Bioplasma is kind of meh (though it does give him an AP2 weapon). Some upgrades that were oddly missing include Catalyst/Cluster Spines on the Tervigon (c’mon, Dave), and I would’ve liked to have seen a Broodlord and rending claws on the Raveners.
Still, it was a balanced force with far more shooting than I’d normally field, plenty of sturdy troops and, of course, Doom in a pod…
Nothing fancy here. We rolled up “the relic” with deployment on the long table edges. Since we were both Tyranid forces, we used a Meotic Spore as our objective. Dave won first turn, and deployed on the line (I didn’t think to ask him his strategy).
I really deployed my army at the same time as him to speed up the game, though I did shift one or two units around in response after I saw how he’d deployed. Originally, I’d had my rippers up front, but then saw his list included several large blast templates, and opted to move them away from the primary targeting areas (not that he was going to go out of his way to target the rippers, mind you, but they were originally plopped down next to large masses of other troops, and would’ve surely been collateral damage…)
One potentially unusual tactic I used was to deploy my Trygons & Raveners. Though they can both deep strike, I figured that they would be more effective if deployed. This is true because they’re relatively fast, and can get to whatever they need to in about the same time as if they’d deep striked (deep struck?). It’s also more dependable, as I can guarantee where they’ll be, and not leave myself hoping for lucky reserve rolls.
For terrain, we opted to go without buildings and went with a “burning wood” theme. Snow piles counted as difficult terrain without cover, forests were normal, smoke just caused cover (no difficult terrain). The smoke plumes from my earlier post were heavily featured in on this board, and Dave insisted that we keep them lit for the entire game.
For warlord traits, Dave got Night Fighting and I rolled up that my Warlord got FNP when within 3” of an (ie. The) objective. Neither of these ever came into play. We opted not to use the random terrain/objectives, and rolled night fight for the first turn.
Turn 1: Generic Tyranids
Dave advanced forward with the majority of his force. His Hive Guard sniped a Genestealer off my board edge. Elsewhere, one of his Zoanthropes managed to land a wound on one of my Trygons. Besides that, I don’t think he managed to do any damage to me. This was partly due to the fact that I was 24” away and received +3 to my cover saves (which almost universally equated to me getting a 4+ cover save, as almost nothing he shot at was actually in cover).
I attribute most of my survival though to the fact almost every weapon in his force was 18” range. He really was only able to fire the Zoanthropes (barely), a stranglethorn cannon off the Carnifex (deviated), the barbed strangler off the warriors, and the hive guard (yay, cover saves).
Everything else advanced forward, except his Tervigon and his spawned ‘gants.
Turn 1: Hive Fleet Proteus
I too was suffering from the range issues, but since I got to go second, it was less of an issue. Between him advancing, and my own movement, I was able to get almost everything into range (notable exception: Tervigon).
I started by throwing up Endurance on my Trygons, and Enfeeble on the devourer-gaunts, as well as his large block of Genestealers. Then I opened fire with my Trygons, and thinned out the Genestealers & Zoanthropes, followed by a charge with one unit of Raveners, which lead to me getting “First Blood.”
My other unit of raveners would’ve been helpful on the front line, but I opted to pull them back and stretch them in a line about 5” behind my forces. This ensured that they would literally never do anything the entire game, but if I had to do it over again, I’d have done the exact same move. Though 210 points is a lot to pay for a unit that doesn’t really do anything, the one advantage they did provide was that they were able to screen off a nice little pocket in the back of my force from the Doom. I knew he had it in his list, and with my initial surge, I’d created a perfect little pocket in the back of my army that could’ve given him a spot where he’d get access to 6-7 squads within 6” of him. So, despite the fact that the Raveners were complete “wasted” with this maneuver, they saved me from the Doom. It’s also worth noting that I didn’t think they’d be wasted at this point. It was really early in the game, and they’re so quick, that I thought they’d get back into the game at some point…
Turn 2: Generinids
For reserves, Dave rolled up his Doom and his Raveners (but not his Harpy). While the Doom would’ve vastly preferred to go behind my lines, he opted to throw him towards one of my flanks, where he still hit a squad of rippers, a Trygon, my Flyrant, and a squad of Genestealers. As far as Doom casualities go, it was pretty minimal: the Stealers & Trygon were unaffected, the Flyrant took 2 wounds, and the Rippers—well, that’s another story. Between the Doom and his pimped out ride, the Rippers didn’t fair too well. After the smoke cleared, they had only one or two wounds left on the entire squad…
His raveners were originally going to deploy behind my forces, but between the risk of deviating into me/off the board, and his lack of synapse, he opted not to. However, in hindsight, I’m not sure we were thinking clearly. Lack of synapse meant that he would likely get more attacks on the charge (due to rage)—but it would mean that he’d have to win combat, or start making break tests… Now that I think about it, I think he made the right decision not to deploy there. Instead, they opted to just walk onto his board edge (though I’m not sure this was a technically legal move, I was fine with it).
Since the game was about capturing the center objective, and my spawned group of gaunts was sitting on it, Dave countered by charging them with his warriors. Between his initial shooting phase and the attacks of the prime alone, the squad was all but wiped out. This allowed Dave to be in control of the objective, with a large block of boneswords in the middle of my forces.
Turn 2: Hive Fleet Proteus
Dave had all sorts of threats incoming, and I didn’t have enough resources to allocate to them all. My primary focus was going to be the Tyranid Warrior squad that was right in the heart of my army, and that infernal Doom, so I threw up an enfeeble on both (neither of which was denied; in fact, I don’t think he managed a single deny the witch roll the entire game). I also threw up Paroxysm from my Flyrant on the Warriors, and charged them with both of the Trygons (neither of which bothered to shoot). When combat came, his Alpha Warrior struck first (are Trygons really only I4??), but due to hitting me on 5’s and wounding on 6’s, managed to do no damage. In response, my Trygons ate his entire unit. With two sets of scything talons, paroxysm, & toxin sacs, I was hitting on 3’s (with re-rolls) and wounding on 2’s (again, with re-rolls). With my Strength 6 and his (enfeebled) toughness of 3, I was instant killing everything except the prime. I managed to roll 12 wounds though, and that was enough to eat the unit completely.
The doom shared a similar fate. Naturally, everything moved away from him (except the Trygon, which I was feeling particularly afraid of making a 6.5” charge). In the shooting phase, he managed to suck out 4 wounds from the Trygon, but that wouldn’t be enough to prevent his grizzly fate. Again, charging in and hitting on 3’s (with re-rolls) and wounding on 2’s (with re-rolls), proved to be too much for the doom. Again, enfeeble saves the day and insta-gibs another model.
Elsewhere, my Raveners (the ones that did stuff in this game), surged forward and multi-assaulted the lone surviving Zoanthrope and a squad of termagants. I managed to kill of the ‘thrope, and got stuck in with three remaining gaunts; damn you, fearless.
Turn 3: The Other Bugs
Somewhat demoralized by the loss of his key components, Dave struggled to regain focus. His Hive Guard and Carnifex had lost synapse and subsequently failed their instinctive behavior rolls. The good news is this gave the Carni rage; the bad news is the closest target to the Hive Guard was a lone & damaged ripper. Still, he was able to salvage that by firing his Mycetic spore first, and killing the ripper with his appropriately named “ripper tendrils.”
For reserves, his Harpy arrived, but it didn’t do much: flying 24” onto the board and then it may have done a wound or two with his cannons. Elsewhere, his Tervigon sat in the back and quietly spit out more babies (which it did every turn and never rolled doubles). His raveners counterassaulted mine, and did a number to my unit. Luckily, fearless worked in reverse for me this turn, and I stayed in the thick of it.
His Carnifex then opened up on my wounded prime (the one without Catalyst), but didn’t manage to do any wounds. In fact, he managed to hit and wound himself with his stranglethorn cannon, but luckily made his armor save before charging into combat. The problem there is nobody told him that charging a Trygon with Toxin sacs might not be in his best interest (frankly, I thought it would be a closer battle than it was, but 6 hits and 6 wounds later, the Carnifex had died before it got a chance to strike back).
Turn 3: Hive Fleet Proteus
New targets acquired: Genestealers & Raveners. With these in mind, I focused my energies on them. The ‘stealers fell in the shooting phase. Once enfeebled, 24 shots from the nearby Trygons and a Cluster Spine were enough to finish them off.
For the raveners, they also sucked down an enfeeble, and then were promptly multi-assaulted by two squads of genestealers, and a Trygon. My ‘stealers were able to thin out at least three Raveners before they got a chance to strike back (truth be told, the Broodlords did most of the heavy lifting), and he opted to strike back at my Raveners, reducing me to just two models. Between those two, and the dreaded Trygon vs. Enfeebled targets, that was enough to slaughter the rest of his unit.
Other units of mine shifted around slightly, but didn’t do much of anything. The only other thing I recall going on at this time was that my Hive Tyrant was desperately scrambling around looking for something to leech the life out of. At this point, I think he tried to suck the Doom’s ride, but failed to do any wounds, so it just gave up and charged. I was a little wary about the ripper tentacles and return attacks killing my warlord, but my Flyrant managed to escape unscathed.
Oh, and as an afterthought, I’d managed to grab the objective at this point; however, my attention wasn’t on the objective so much as it was tabling my opponent…
Turn 4: Dying Bugs
Despite my offer to call it, Dave insisted on playing. When I asked if he wanted to call it, I believe his exact response was: “Do I still have models on the table?” Kudos to him for being a good sport.
The turns were going fast at this point. He was down to a Tervigon, a small squad of spawned gaunts, and the unit of Hive Guard. He, of course, added to this by throwing up another screen of spawn between his Tervigon and my forces. He peppered a few of my units with fire, but didn’t wind up doing all that much damage.
His Harpy surged forward and unleashed his fury: Vector Strikes on a Trygon, dropping spores on my Termagants, and firing his stranglethorn cannon. It sounded good in principle, but in practice, it turned out horribly. He only managed to get 2 Vector strikes on the Trygon (neither of which wounded), one got one Spore mine (which deviated a whopping 10” into nowhere), and wound up with a bad facing with zero available targets in his facing. So, all in all, a complete whiff…
Turn 4: Hive Fleet Proteus
I collapsed my forces to encircle him. I engaged his gaunt screen with raveners & genestealers (I’ll let you guess who won that combat), and charged the Hive Guard with the forward most Trygon. Practically speaking, I might have been better off leaving them to the other Trygon and the “do nothing” Raveners, but that would’ve required some really lucky assault rolls. Instead, I went with the sure thing, and squished the unit.
Elsewhere, he had a unit of termagants that I opened fire on with my Termies and a cluster spine, but I wasn’t able to kill them all. In hindsight, I probably should’ve charged my ripper swarms into them (I had three surviving against his 3-4 models), but I opted not to. I’m not sure what I was thinking. Maybe I was figuring that they had to assault through cover and might lose the combat? That would’ve been silly, because what do I care if I lose some ripper swarms? Perhaps it was the thought that if they were in combat, I wouldn’t be able to shoot at them again next turn, and it would make it difficult to charge them with something more sizable? Either way, I opted not to charge.
Oh, nevermind, that wasn’t this turn, that was next turn. Instead, my Flyrant took to the skies and vector struck his Harpy, causing two wounds, and two Trygons opened up as well. They weren’t able to ground him, but that didn’t matter, because between the 24 shots, they hit 4-5 times and were able to do the last two wounds necessary to kill him.
Turn 5: Dave’s Bugs
Again with the spawning of a Termagant wall to protect the Tervigon (the last surviving model from his original force), and again with the peppering of insignificant fire. He did manage to kill an entire squad of genestealers (or at least the actual ‘stealers, leaving just the Broodlord standing there), and he subsequently charged it with his Tervigon. Both of us managed to do wounds, and neither unit died.
Turn 5: Hive Fleet Proteus
I killed the Termagant screen with a combination of peppering fire from the distant Trygon (who had no other available targets), and a charge from the Raveners. Elsewhere, my front Trygon charged into the battle with the Tervigon and the Broodlord (who threw up Iron Arm, for good measure). Despite my suggestion that Dave issue a challenge with his Tervigon (which he did), I was able to decline and still murder him with the Trygon. Elsewhere, I was unable to kill the last few spawned gaunts sitting in the woods, and figured I’d kill them next turn (as described in the previous turn). This really put more emphasis on charging, as there were fewer and fewer reasons not to do so. Whatever the case, I didn’t bother, so we kept playing…
But then, we rolled for the end of the game, and those three little bugs were saved in the nick of time! Dave was happy with his ability to pull out a moral victory (not getting tabled), and I walked away with the Objective, Slaying his Warlord, First Blood, & Line Breaker. Actual score: 6 – 0.
What I Learned:
- Trygon + Enfeeble = Win. Statistically, that’s such a solid combination, especially with Toxin Sacs (which are a requirement for Trygons, IMO). That combo was responsible for killing the Warriors, Doom, Raveners, & Genestealers (the last of which, in shooting).
- Raveners are just good. Sure, they suffer instant death, but they’re so fast, that I don’t think I care. I did the mathhammer on them once, and I believe their damage output to be similar to that of a Trygon for the same points. The fact that I can use them together is just gravy. I expect to use them more in the future.
- Fleet allows the ability to re-roll one or more dice during a charge. I thought fleet sucked in the new edition, but it’s actually quite good. Sadly, whenever I used it in this game, any dice I re-rolled literally rolled the exact same numbers. Doh! I also overlooked this several times during the game (for instance, when the Trygon charged the Doom, I should’ve been over 6” away, as 2d6 with a re-roll should net me a 7” charge fairly regularly).
- Rippers did nothing. I wouldn’t go so far as to say they’re worthless (they could be a good tarpit), but the fact that they’re not scoring negates any value that they’d bring to the list. I wish they either scored (unrealistic), or that they didn’t eat up a slot in my FOC. If either was true, I could see myself fielding them more often…
- Deny the witch rules. I think we played these right for the most part, but I might have screwed Dave on at least one occasion. This is based upon the “If the unit contains a psyker, it gets +1 to the die roll.” So, Dave should’ve denied the enfeeble on the Doom on a 5+, but I think I might have had him roll it on a 6+. Either way, I think he’d have failed it, but it’s worth noting so I can force it into my memory. I do know that when I attempted to enfeeble his Tervigon, I had him deny on a 5+. Still, I need to ensure consistency…
- Large units aren’t great. This isn’t a universal truth. Large, durable, fearless units that are cheap (*cough, plague zombies*) can be very solid; however, I think for Tyranids, smaller units tend to be better. Dave keeps using large units, and I really think he’d do better if he broke them up into smaller squads.