It’s been a month since I’ve played a game of 40k–heck, over that. It’s not that I don’t have a regular forum to play in, as I have a regular weekly game night, it’s just that there are so many other factors. Sometimes it’s a matter of not having the right people, or people not bringing armies. In both of those cases, I don’t want to leave someone out and play 40k without them. After all, we want to encourage people to come to game nights, so leaving them out is counter-productive. Other times, there are just other games that are more compelling: new board games, good weather, or ongoing campaigns.
This past week, I had my heart set on 40k, but we wound up playing a game of Small World and a few rounds of Giant Uno (which is far more fun that it sounds, believe me). But I still wanted to get in my 40k fix, so Sean and I agreed to meet in secret on a Saturday to get a game in…
Space Wolf Battalion
- Arjac Rockfist
- Wolf Lord w/ Master-crafted boltgun & powerfist
- 5x Wolfguard Terminators w/ Wolf Claws
- 5x Wulfen w/ 4x Thunderhammer & Stormshield, & Pack leader w/ Frost Claws
- 10x Blood Claws w/ Flamer, & Powersword
- Heavy Support:
- 6x Long Fangs w/ 5x Plasma Cannons, Plasma Gun, & Frost Sword
- Super Heavy:
- Knight Paladin w/ 2x Heavy Stubber, Rapid-Fire Battle Cannon & Reaper Chainsword
Technically speaking, this was not a battalion and should’ve only earned him +3CP to start the game; however, it’s only his second game of 8th and he was confused. It didn’t even cross my mind until he sent me a text the next day to tell me that he had “cheated.”
I don’t view misunderstanding the rules as cheating. He’s not that sort of guy, so no harm. The list was rather small, and it seemed that the lynchpin was going to be the Knight. Unlike when I’d faced them in 7th edition, I wasn’t at all scared by him. Bolstered by the notion that so many Tyranid MC’s can do as much as 6 wounds per hit, I figured I could take out a Knight without too much worry.
He did warn me about the Wulfen, but he also told me that they had been removed from the table during his first game (Against Tyranids) without really doing anything, so I wasn’t real worried. He gave me an overview of what they could do, and I figured I’d try to avoid them (if possible) but that they’d die under concentrated firepower…
Hive Fleet Proteus Battalion
- 3x Tyrant Guard
- 10x Hormagaunts
- 5x Genestealers
- 5x Genestealers
- 3x Tyranid Warriors w/ Rending Claws, Deathspitters, & Barbed Strangler
- Heavy Support:
- 1x Biovore
- 1x Sporocyst
My goal with 8th edition is not to break the game, but rather to see what the various units are like in the new edition. With that in mind, my armies are really more diverse than they’ve ever been before as I figure out what options I have.
The Swarmlord is one of the last HQ’s that I haven’t played with, so he started the list, and then I through in a Hauraspex, figuring that he could be an ideal candidate for the Hive Commander ability. Tyrant Guard were included because they go well with walking tyrants, and I figured old ‘swarmy could use some help. The Maleceptor was added because I didn’t have enough synapse.
The rest of the stuff was just cobbled together because I hadn’t really used it before. Well, except the genestealers and broodlord. The Broodlord was added because I needed a second HQ to make a battalion and I want to avoid over-using Old-One Eye. The genestealers would be better with the broodlord in tow, so they rounded out the list.
Mission & Deployment
The mission was “Cloak and Shadows” which basically grants night-fighting at 18″ range. I was pleased with that as I really don’t have much long range shooting–not that Sean did either, but he did have some and it was far better than what I had.
I got to pick the deployment method and board edges. Technically the rules say that you must roll on a chart to pick what kind of deployment method you get, but Sean felt that you should get to choose. I’m fine with that, so I chose long board edges based upon familiarity. I wasn’t sure there was a real distinct reason to go one way or the other, so I took the side I was already on. The only real terrain feature I cared about was denying him access to the really tall building, as I would never be able to get to his long fangs up there–the rest was fairly insubstantial.
He had far fewer units, and he set up first, so naturally he got first turn. I failed to seize the initiative and he rolled on…
Turn 1: Space Wolves
This game consisted of an awful lot of table talk. As it was his second game of the edition, and I haven’t played all that many either, we decided it would make for a better learning environment if we talked about the various moves and why we were doing them. I think we both played better games because of it, but it did take significantly longer.
During his first movement phase, he inched out of terrain with the bloodclaws, while the wulfen took hold of the center forest. Arjac weighed heavily his decision about whether to come down or not, and ultimately opted to plop down behind the wulfen (doing so otherwise would’ve meant being charged by multiple monstrous creatures on his first turn).
On the other side of the table, the wolfguard terminators dropped down to hold an objective, but that would effectively put them out of position for the rest of the game. I’m not so sure that was a worthwhile tactic, and expressed it to him at the time.
As for other questionable moves, I’d put “overcharging a squad of plasma cannons on turn one” in that bucket as well. Each firing D3 shots and re-rolling 1’s (but melting themselves on 2’s, due to the mission), made for 3 dead guys on his own turn. On the plus side for him, it also made for 10 wounds off of my Hauraspex as well, so it wasn’t all bad.
He scored points for holding objective marker 1 and two more for defending #5. We actually credited him with three points for defending another objective as well, but those technically wouldn’t be scored until my turn. I’ve corrected it in the overall score progression, but it’s something to look out for in the future.
Score – Space Wolves: 1 vs. Tyranids 0
Turn 1: Tyranids
I managed to draw two objective cards in my backfield, which I was going to be able to hold with just my hormgaunts. So, with that in mind, everything else surged forward to take the fight to the Wulfen.
Throughout the game, I kept keeping Sean informed of my “Hive Commander” ability and warning him of potential threat ranges of various units; however, when it came down to using it, I just never got around to doing so. I think I conflated it with “Onslaught” (which I’d also given to the Swarmlord) and that wound up ruining it for me. I didn’t forget to Onslaught at least, and that allowed my Hauraspex to make the charge. Along with the Swarmlord, Broodlord, & a squad of Genestealers, that should be enough to take out five Wulfen, right?
Well, I sort of underestimated those guys. Before I charged, I did try to soften them up with my shooting, but only managed to take out one model before my charge. They definitely proved to be harder than I thought they’d be, butt a squad of guys with 3++ invulnerable saves and 5++ FNP can make for a rather tough fight–especially when your opponent makes his dice rolls.
Before the game, he’d explained to me that they get to strike even if they die. I’d equated this to be similar to the Tyranid lashwhips, but it was far better, as their rule explicitly states that they get to strike back, even if they’ve already struck that turn. So that meant that each guy I killed thumped me three more times with a thunderhammer. It was brutal for my Hive Guard.
Not so much for my Swarmlord, who had managed to shirk off the vast majority of the wounds on his pets. I won the combat, but only barely, and had newfound respect for Wulfen.
My hormagaunts scored with two objectives, including one that I “took away” from my opponent (apparently two hormagaunts hold an objective better than one terminator). The latter earned me a whopping three victory points! Meanwhile, he earned two more points for holding an objective in his backfield…
Score – Space Wolves: 3 vs. Tyranids 4
Turn 2: Space Wolves
Turn two for the space puppies was all about setting up his units to kill three of mine during the assault phase. With my Hauraspex hemorrhaging immediately in front of Arjac and the Knight, he was going to go down easy. The broodlord wasn’t wounded, but was in a similar position. The third point would have to come from the Terminators vs. Horamgaunts (who didn’t really have the damage output and would need some help in the shooting phase) or the bloodclaws charging a wounded unit of genestealers.
During shooting, he spread his shots around tactically so that he could weaken the various squads but not actually kill them. Sadly, everything went wrong. The one area he was effective in was that his rapid-fire battle cannon vaporized the last of the hive guard (which, of course, didn’t help towards his current objective). He put some heavy stubbers and even a heavy plasma into the hormagaunts, but only managed to do one wound. Still, that made things a little easier for his terminators.
But the assault phase was not good to him either. He missed a 6″ charge with his bloodclaws, and even when using his Wulfen’s ability to re-roll, failed that as well. Everyone else made their desired charges, but some of them were sub-ideal. The knight had charged the Hauraspex and drastically overkilled him, but could not put any attacks into other surrounding units because he’d failed to declare charges against them as well. In hindsight, a multi-charge against all of the stealers and broodlord would’ve been smart, because I couldn’t have overwatched anyway.
Arjac eviscerated my Broodlord though. Ouch… I never stood a chance there.
So, he’d earned a point for killing my units and another point for first blood, stealing the lead again…
Score – Space Wolves: 4+1 vs. Tyranids 4
Turn 2: Tyranids
With one wulfen holding me in combat, my choices were limited. But that’s when Sean looked them up and volunteered that we’d been misplaying them all game. When originally asked, each had three wounds (and their leader, four). In truth, each only had two wounds though. With one wounded model left, he plucked him off the table and awarded me first blood. In retrospect though, I wouldn’t have gotten that award though unless I’d killed them all in the first turn (which I suppose might have been possible–but it’s too hard to tell). More likely though, I would’ve finished them off in turn 2, and that would’ve been after the ‘spex died, so I’m giving him that point in the batrep.
But, with that Wulfen model gone, that allowed me to move my units around a little, and pick my battles. That left me wondering if I was better off charging Arjac or the Knight. Granted, I wanted both dead, but wasn’t sure I could muster enough damage to take out both in a single round. I had opted to focus on the knight, and managed to charge in with my Swarmlord, Maleceptor, and Toxicrene. I did enough damage to effectively neuter the knight, dropping him to four wounds before he’d gotten a chance to swing. He spent his CP and interrupted my attacks and managed to whiff completely (or at least I’d saved what little damage he’d done), after which I proceeded to strip off three more wounds with my other MC’s.
But that left him with a single wound left and meant he would get to attack again. Until I saw that the Toxicrene has a miasma ability that causes mortal wounds to enemy units within 6″ on a 6. And yup, I rolled the six and killed that monstrosity with my stank…
The bad news is that I had charged into the knight poorly, which meant that I was within 3″ of Arjac and he could’ve heroically intervened (I was so close because I wanted to do my Smite based mortal wounds in the psychic phase to him instead of the knight). We didn’t notice this until the end of the combat, but I let him wade in and punk my Swarmlord anyway. I don’t think I would’ve attacked him, as the Knight seemed the bigger threat. The good news is that I managed to save most of the damage caused by Arjac, dropping Swarmy to just six wounds.
I did score two points for holding objective six with the tail end of my Toxicrene, but he scored more points for defending another objective during my turn. How insulting!
Score – Space Wolves: 6+1 vs. Tyranids 6
Turn 3: Space Wolves
The good news about being in combat with the Swarmlord last turn was that I was at least going to get to strike first on Arjac. The bad news was that he rolled fantastically on his saves and I did nothing. Even worse? I wasn’t nearly so lucky, and he earned “Slay the Warlord” on the same turn that he pulled “Kingslayer” and “Assassinate” as objectives. At least he rolled poorly on the D3 roll for victory points!
While it sucks to lose your warlord, I was still feeling pretty good as his units were getting relatively thinned out as well. I failed to mention in the previous turn, I had poured fire and attacks into his bloodclaws and whittled them down really well–so much so that he was forced to fail a morale test, and that took him out of combat by killing off everything near my models (doing so allowed him to remain on the objective for defending purposes).
He was down to five terminators, who were still out of position, plus Arjac, a Wolf Lord, one Long Fang, and two Blood Claws.
But he was ahead on points…
Score – Space Wolves: 8+2 vs. Tyranids 6
Turn 3: Tyranids
I managed to position my Maleceptor to get off a smite on Arjac and a charge on the long fang. The former worked well, and took Arjac down to one remaining wound. The latter didn’t go so well. I wanted to charge him so I could hold that objective and score a point, but I whiffed on all of my attacks.
Arjac was still alive though, well, until I managed to plop a spore mine on his head, earning me Slay the Warlord as well.
My Toxicrene and Warriors dispatched with the remaining blood claws and wolf lord quite handily. I focus fired the lord down in the shooting phase and the Toxicrene killed off the bloodclaws without need for the warriors to intervene.
I earned two points for holding an objective and another for Warlord. He was still ahead though…
Score – Space Wolves: 8+2 vs. Tyranids 8+1
Turn 4: Space Wolves
That Maleceptor failed me. Not only did I fail to kill the Long Fang and earn my own point, he luckily drew the same objective and moved onto it to earn a point for himself, then fired a missed shot somewhere on the table.
The Terminators finally got back into the action. Well, not into combat, but at least started having an effect on the game, as they ran to the center of the table and earned another victory point for him, thereby extending his lead.
Score – Space Wolves: 10+2 vs. Tyranids 8+1
Turn 4: Tyranids
The maleceptor smote the last remaining long fang, but had to hold in place in order to earn a victory point of his own. Everything else in my armor collapsed towards the center of the board. In part, this was because that was where the last remaining unit was, and in part because I had just drawn the card where I earned points for holding the center of the table.
My spore mines missed their targets, and those that were already on the board failed their charges. Likewise, my Toxicrene and Warriors also failed their charges. On the plus side, I had killed off three of the five terminators in shooting due to a large volume of fire (thanks in no small part to the Sporocyst, who I haven’t mentioned yet, but who did quite well).
That left me earning one point, but passing the dice to him. He had two models left (one wounded), surrounded by my whole army, some spore mines, smite attacks, and a biovore. With no way to shoot–or escape from–the spore mines, he was certain to die to mortal wounds during my next turn, thereby tabling him and forcing an automatic victory for me (despite being behind on points).
Score – Space Wolves: 10+2 vs. Tyranids 9+2
What I Learned
There’s always something to learn from any game. These early games probably have more to learn than most.
- “Defend” objectives are quite easy. Previously I had thought they had to be held for two consecutive rounds, but it’s pretty clear that it only means during your turn and the successive opponent’s turn (or vice versa). This makes them far easier to score and highly desirable.
- Charge everything. When declaring a charge, you’re limited to units within 12″, but you should probably declare your charge against all units that do not have shooting attacks within that range. That gives you more options. By doing this, if you kill yourself out of combat with the first unit, you can still use the 3″ pile-in to get into combat with another unit.
- Watch for nearby characters on a charge. Heroic Intervention is pretty obvious and seemingly easy to remember. Perhaps it’s more important to say that you have to keep it in mind even when assaulting a Knight titan.
- Watch those CP rolls. I think I’m getting a little better about this now that I’ve half a dozen games under my belt, but it’s always something to improve on. Sean also felt the pinch this time as he could’ve rolled for failed overheats on plasma weapons or D3 rolls for victory points. I offered to let him go back and change it, but he seemed to believe that “the burned hand teaches best.”
- Don’t forget “Hive Commander.” I talked about it a lot, but I’m not sure I ever really used it. Maybe once with the Maleceptor… This warrants further investigation.
- Maleceptors are underwhelming. It has a mediocre psychic attack (Requiring close range) and reasonable durability. It can do damage in assault, but it’s not great at it, and it has no shooting attack. This really seems like a unit without a purpose. Hard pass…
- Toxicrenes are fair. They were surprisingly good in the previous edition, but they seemed to have been toned down in this one. They’re cheap, reasonable in combat, and durable. I could see myself using them again.
- Sporocysts are good. Cheap, hold objectives, lots of shooting. I like these guys.
- The Swarmlord is good. He’s a bit on the pricey side, but seems pretty solid for what you get.
- More info needed on the Hauraspex. I didn’t get enough use out of him to see how well he’d do. Clearly he’s best against units of models, particularly those that have a low wound count/armor save.