I don’t get to hang out with Cole all that much, so when I invited him sarcastically to come over for my birthday (which happens to coincide with Valentine’s day), I was amazed when he took it seriously. In our house, we don’t take the big VDay very seriously, and Cole and his wife had plans for the following weekend, so he was actually free. Though I hadn’t intended to play, it actually turned into a game.
I haven’t played with either my Ultramarines or Tyranids since their new codices were released, so it came down to what I was more comfortable with. Since I’ve been meaning to play with the Tyranids (or at least read through the codex/write up a review), I figured that was a good place to start.
Sadly, I don’t have any of the new units painted up, so I won’t be using them. Instead, I went with many of the old stand-bys:
Hive Fleet Proteus:
- Tervigon w/ Crushing Claws & Toxin, Clusterspines (Warpblast)
- Genestealers x5 +Broodlord
- Genestealers x5 +Broodlord
- Tervigon w/ Crushing Claws & Toxin, Clusterspines (Paroxysm)
- Termagants x30 w/ spinefists
- Hive Guard x1
- Zoanthrope x1 (Onslaught)
- Zoanthrope x1 (Catalyst)
- Fast Attack:
- Shrikes x3 w/ rending claws
- Gargoyles x20
- Spore Mines x4
- Heavy Support:
- Biovores x2
- Trygon Prime w/ Toxin
- Trygon Prime w/ Toxin
- Vengeance Weapon Battery x2 (w/ Battle Canons) + 6x Barricades
Nothing in here that was terribly unusual for me in the previous edition. I started off trying to choose an HQ choice and finding myself pretty dismayed at what was available. I’m not convinced that flying Tyrants are very good, and walking Tyrants don’t look bad at first, but they’re not very durable. By the time I buy upgrades, she’s pushing 200 points, and then I have to buy some tyrant guard for her. I then switched to a Prime to save points, but realized that he seemed like a complete waste. I then settled on Old-One Eye, but pulled him at the last moment when I realized he wasn’t very durable or quick, and was about the same cost as a Tervigon.
I then went through the list and started adding some of the usual suspects. I liked Broodlord deployment mechanisms before, so I figured I’d give them a shot. A Tervigon seems like a good idea, so I had to take my 30 gaunts. Then on to Elites…. I wanted to add Hive Guard (they were cheap), and then threw in some Zoanthropes for synapse. At Fast Attack, Shrikes would give me more synapse and Gargoyles are pretty. Spore mines are cheap (they originally started out six strong, but I dropped two to pick up clusterspines on the Tervs). Biovores have always done well, and Trygons gave me more synapse.
In hind sight, maybe that is a little heavy on the synapse, eh? Oh well, at least I won’t run away…
The last addition (which was really something I’d planned on all along) was the Vengeance weapon batteries. I wanted to be able to keep using my previous Mycetic spores, and this seems like a good way to do it, and also to give me some long range firepower. One thing I wasn’t planning on was that I can take barricades, so I threw them in for good measure. And voila! Exactly 2000 points (ok, that’s a lie, there was a little fiddling. I originally had a second hive guard in the list, and two more shrikes, but they had to be cleared to make room for the badda-boom.
Cole’s Necron Force:
- Lord w/ warscythe, mindshackle, res orb
- Destroyer Lord w/ weave, mindshackle scarabs
- Overlord w/ warscythe & mindshackle on command barge
- 4x Crypteks w/ misc upgrades
- 5x Lychguard
- 5x Deathmarks
- 5x Deathmarks
- 7 Necron Warriors
- 7x Necron Warriors
- 10x Necron Warriors w/ Ghost Ark
- 10x Necron Immortals w/ Tesla Carbines
- Fast Attack:
- 5x Canoptek Wraiths w/ guns
- 5x Scarab Swarms
- Annihilation Barge
This is pretty much par for the course for Cole. I don’t remember what everything does in a game, but I know what I’m afraid of (the uber wraith unit, the barge dude, and the deathmarks vs. anything tough– haha fooled you, Cole, there’s nothing tough in the new Tyranid codex!). He basically played every model he had. The exception is that he didn’t use any of the named characters.
So, there weren’t any real surprises here, other than the fact that the didn’t play GK’s (which I was actually looking forward to playing against, since Tyranids actually got a bump against that particular army, with the changes to Shadow in the Warp).
Mission and Deployment:
We rolled up the mission “The Relic” with deployment on the short table edges. This seemed like a good mission for me, as I had a massive squad of gaunts and a troops Tervigon (not to mention the fact that I could make more gaunts at will). While I was busy finding all of my models and such, Cole had setup the terrain. We diced off for first turn, and I won. I wound up deploying my fortifications up front with the clearest line of sight to his side of the board–right up against the table half, meanwhile, the rest of my force deployed up against the line.
My deployment plan was essentially to put my troops Tervigon and the big mob of gaunts behind central building, and they could surge forward to pick up the relic. Everything else could just stay up and harass Cole’s units while I pulled the objective back into my deployment zone to protect it.
Cole was a little dismayed by my fortifications (his dissatisfaction would only increase as time went on), and deployed in a spread out area to minimize the impact that my battle cannons could have. Otherwise, he deployed rather heavily on my main flank with clear LoS to the relic. He left his deathmarks in reserve.
He failed to seize the objective and I proceeded with my first turn. I had rolled up “night attacker,” as my Warlord trait but, managed to forget about it before the game began…
Turn 1: Hive Fleet Proteus
There’s not much to say here. My gargoyles ran in front of the fortification’s barriers (in hindsight, seemingly a bad move but there wasn’t enough of a gap between the wall and the fortification, so this was more a problem with deployment than how I played). I had thrown catalyst up on them, so they would have at least a little durability to Cole’s shooting.
The vengeance battery on my right side was forced to fire at the scarabs, but that shot deviated harmlessly off the table. On the right, I was forced to shoot at the ghost arc, and scattered into a couple of warriors.
Something else fired on my turn, though I can’t remember for the life of me what it was. I only know this because I remember killing 58 points of models that turn and thinking that was super depressing. But I wasn’t a shooting army, so it wasn’t terribly realistic to ask for more.
My biovores missed their initial target (a large blob of warriors) and deviated out into the open. The funny thing about Biovores is that, since they dropped three spore mines, this meant that they would likely be more devastating than if they’d actually hit. In my assault, I wound up charging his elite assault unit, so he had no overwatch, but managed to roll snake eyes for my charge range (despite only needing 3″ or so). I thought that was worthy of a photograph, but little did I know, that would set the tone for my assault for the rest of the game…
Turn 1: Necrons
Cole moved forward with either flank of his army (wraiths and scarabs), and then shuffled around a bit in the middle to avoid pesky large blasts. A few units peppered fire into my gargoyles, killing more than half and opening up a clear line of sight to my troops Tervigon. Most of his army poured into that, and pulled off four wounds, while doing a little damage via arcing to the rest of my units.
Meanwhile, his Wraiths wound up dropping into a brainfleaf frond infested forest, failed their subsequent leadership chest, and managed to do a whopping two wounds to his assault juggernaut HQ (the character in the wraith squad—whatever he’s called). They wound up pushing out of that and charging into my gargoyles (who, surprisingly, managed to drop a wraith with overwatch, but died horribly in assault).
On the other flank, the scarabs swarmed over my vengeance weapon battery and ate it away. Actually, they only ate away 10 points of armor, but they were then able to beat it down, as they apparently get their attacks after they eat armor on things—don’t ask me how that happens.
This was an interesting dilemma though. Cole asked how many hull points they had, and—for the life of me—I couldn’t answer the question. It seems that they’re buildings and don’t have any hull points. There are rules for buildings in the BRB, and indicate that buildings “don’t use hull points and can’t be completely destroyed.” (BRB-92). IT goes on to say that units may shoot/charge at occupied buildings, but you can’t attack an unoccupied building. To go further, glancing hits seem to only hurt the occupants of the building, but vengeance weapon batteries can’t be occupied—so that has no effect. Penetrating hits let you roll on the table, but it’s difficult to destroy it that way (and difficult to get a penetrating hit, since you can’t actually fire at it). In essence, he would’ve had to deviate a shot into it.
Those are rules as written, and the more I think about it, those might even be rules as intended. They didn’t’ seem very fair though, so we opted to allow him to charge/shoot at them as he pleased. They were already AV14, and he had zero s9 guns and no melta, so it was only the scarabs and HQ’s that could hurt it (in close combat).
Edit: The “Sentry Defense System” special rule specifically says this particular building can be attacked even if unoccupied.
Anywho, we let him charge it, so he took out my first weapon battery and earned himself first blood.
Turn 2: Hive Fleet Proteus
Things weren’t ideal, but I wouldn’t say they were going that badly at this point. My shooting wasn’t great, but that’s really to be expected. The biovores and the vengeance weapon battery kept plucking away models (which had a predilection to stand back up), and the rest of my units wound up shuffling around. My hive guard did penetrate the ghost arc and shook it, so that was at least one unit that I didn’t have to deal with. I put up FNP on one of my Trygons (figuring that the troop Tervigon was already dead with just two wounds left).
Speaking of the Tervigon, she pushed forward and grabbed the relic, and the gaunts surged up behind her. Since she was effectively dead, she passed it immediately back to a termagant and shielded her babies with her body (the Shrikes actually hopped in front of her and attempted to do the same).
On the right flank, my two squads of genestealers charged forward and ate the scarabs (or at least most of them, leaving a single base with two wounds left to keep from being shot in Cole’s next turn). On the left side, my FNP Trygon and Tervigon charged into the Wraiths. The Trygon made his assault, while the Tervigon also rolled snake eyes and just watched helplessly as the Trygon flailed against invulnerable saves. That combat was relatively close, with Cole doing three wounds to the Trygon and taking 2 from his attacks.
It was a good chance to see how painful the changes to scything talons hurt Trygons. In the last codex, I generally hit with everything (or all but one), and then wounded with everything (thanks, in large part, to Toxin Sacs). In this edition, I miss with 2-3 attacks on the charge outright, so that brings the wounds down from 5-6 to 3-4, which is pretty significant.
With nothing left to do, I passed the turn.
Turn 2: Necrons
Both deathmark squads came in, and both essentially hit in their desired locations. Technically, one deviated four inches towards the board edge, but they landed where they wanted. Each squad marked a Tervigon, and between them, they managed to slaughter the wounded one, and put four wounds on my Warlord.
The rest of his army peppered various units. He killed most of the shrikes (leaving one standing with a lone wound remaining) and did some wounds to the Trygon that wasn’t locked in combat. Between the exploding Tervigon and some other shots, I managed to drop the relic.
In assault, my Trygon died helplessly to a unit of Wraiths (can I say, that unit is stupid powerful. Tons of S6/S7 power weapon attacks and they force me to I1, so I didn’t even get to attack back).
Turn 3: Hive Fleet Proteus
The previous turn was a little disheartening. At this point, he’d proven he could basically take out whatever units he wanted in shooting, and that my most powerful assault units could do absolutely nothing against his assault unit. I was down to a single unit of troops that could reasonably be expected to hold the objective, and my warlord was down to 1/3 of his starting health.
It wasn’t a forgone conclusion, but if I was going to pull a victory out of this, I was going to need a change in luck very quickly: my dice were going to have to get hot, and Cole’s would need to slow down. It wasn’t very plausible, but you can’t win if you don’t try…
My Tervigon pooped out her first squad of gaunts for the game (I had forgotten in earlier turns—can you see a pattern emerging?). The gaunts fired an ineffective volley at the wraiths, and the Tervigon managed to kill herself to Overwatch shots on the charge against the deathmarks…
My genestealers had managed to kill the final swarm during Cole’s turn, and both had good consolidation rolls. Between that and their movement, both were brought to within six inches of a nearby Necron unit; however, both managed to fail their charges… Sadly, I was so out of practice that I’d forgotten that fleet allowed me to re-roll charge range (doh!).
My Trygon charged his crypt guard (or whatever those “elite” assault units are called) and killed a few, then ran the rest down (which, for those who are counting, was my first kill).
Turn 3: Necrons
With a few small wounded lefts, Cole would wind up focus firing large swaths of his army against each of my units. He managed to drop the Trygon, and thin out the termagants (who had managed to pick up the relic again) to a pittance before charging him with his wraiths and his super chariot dude (which didn’t end well for me).
By the end of his turn, I had a wounded shrike still standing and a wounded Zoanthrope for synapse. I also had an unwounded hive guard, two biovores, and two tattered genestealer squads (one reduced to merely a wounded broodlord).
It was definitely not looking good for our hero.
Turn 4: Tyranids
Without much to do, I tried to focus on killing his troops—to at least prevent him from snagging the relic. I charged my last shrike at his wraiths and managed to avoid being mindshackled, but didn’t actually do any wounds. My gargolyes charged at two nearby units of Necrons. The lone broodlord died to incoming overwatch fire, and the other squad was reduced solely to a broodlord—who made it to combat, and spent several phases of minor wins/draw combats.
My biovores finally pinned a unit (the immortal unit that was closest to the relic), so something had gone my way, but it wouldn’t be enough.
Turn 4: Necrons
At this point, the rest of the game blurs together for me, so I’ll just summarize the next three turns all right here (though it did wind up going six turns). Most everything died during the fourth turn, leaving only biovores and my vengeance battery as the only unengaged units for the rest of the battle. The termagants and broodlord held out until turn 5, but neither really managed to do any appreciable damage to their foes, both of which would eventually fall…
By turn five everything had died except the weapon battery and the biovores, and I could at least be comforted by the fact that I hadn’t been tabled, but Cole wanted to take that away from me too. He fired everything he had at the biovores, but they proved amazingly resilient (4+ armor, 5+ cover, and three wounds each). They also had managed to pass two instinctive behavior tests on turns five and six, and still were raining death (in small quantities) upon various necrons.
In the end, Cole did manage to charge the vengeance battery with his HQ’s and the wraiths made it to the biovore to take off his final wound, leaving me with nothing..
Tons of things could’ve gone differently though. I’d have been hard pressed to wind up winning the game, but it certainly could’ve happened. My genestealers should’ve been alive because they would’ve most likely made the charge (fleet re-roll). Had I spawned gaunts earlier, I would’ve had more targets for Cole to deal with. Had I thought about my fortifications placement, they should’ve been set back from the center of the table (both so they didn’t get assaulted first turn, and so I could get stuff between them and the barricades).
I guess it wasn’t as hopeless as it seemed—though I still would’ve been nearly tabled for sure, it might have been enough to sway my bad roles/playing/luck/etc. to actually pull out a draw.
What I Learned:
After the game, I sat back and questioned what happened and how I could’ve done better–like I do in all games. I started by asking myself what went wrong. The list was incredibly long: bad dice rolls, misremembered (or entirely missed) rules, bad psyshic powers, inferior army book, subpar list choices, deployment issues, etc. It wasn’t until I asked myself the opposite question that things really started to help.
That was a much easier question to answer. Well, for units, my biovores did great. They weren’t crushingly powerful or anything, but they were reasonably accurate and cause some damage, a failed pinning test, and even wound up proving themselves fairly durable at the end of the game. They were definitely the star of my army.
Likewise, the Hive Guard did well. He hit fairly often and did quite well with his penetration rolls. It was an anomaly though, as he hit slightly more than he should’ve and rolled well every time he did. I think it’s a decent unit, but it looked better in this game.
The Vengeance Weapon Battery did fairly fantastic, and proved nearly impossible to kill. I’d really love to know how these rules work—is it as invulnerable as it seems? Even if it wasn’t so invulnerable, I still think it’s a fantastic choice. It would make much more sense in a shooty list than it did in mine though.
So, to distill some of this down to bullet points:
- I need a refresher on the rules. I don’t play nearly enough to remember them all (nor does Cole). We’re pretty lax, but there are a ton of basic rules I simply forgot: Tervigon spawning, fleet re-rolling charges, etc.
- My initial assessment that the Tyranids seem to be subpar is seeming to hold true. Granted, conclusions can’t be drawn from one game alone, but this was the most devastating loss I can remember having–no matter what the score says.
- How do fortifications work? Who knows and can shed some light on this for me? Were we that far off?
- I still need to work on my sportsmanship. Nobody likes losing. Nobody likes being tabled. I’m happy that I played it to the very end, despite it seeming hopeless from very early on. I felt the urge to whine part of the way through though, so that’s something to work on.
- Tyranid psychic powers are meh. I rolled up three different powers on the psykers I had (plus I had Zoanthropes for Warp Lance and Broodlords for pinning tests) and only one had any bearing on the game (and not even all that much). Big surprise: it was catalyst.
That’s all for now. I’m sure there are oodles more lessons to learn, but we’ll stop there. Now, if you’ll excuse me, it’s way past my bedtime.