Of all of the guys in our crew, I think it’s pretty easy to say that Brandon is the one that knows the rules best. He spends a lot of time reading the rules and watching online games, etc. and even judges tournaments now and again. The thing is, his free time has been pretty well eaten up as of late, so he doesn’t show up as regularly as he once did. As a result, while he may really know the rules, he doesn’t play much. In fact, I think he’s only gotten about three games in so far.
Well, despite a great turnout at our regular game night, he and I peeled off and played a game of 40k to get him his fix. He was working on a reduced timeline, so we opted to play a 50 power game instead of our normal 80 power level, in the hopes that it would speed things up…
- Captain w/ Thunder Hammer, Plasma Pistol, & Armor Indomitable
- Lieutenant w/ Lightning Claw & Master Crafted Boltgun
- 5x Sterngard w/ various combi-weapons
- Dreadnought w/ Twin-Linked Lascannon
- 10x Tactical Marines w/ Meltagun, Combimelta, & Multi-melta
- 5x Tactical Marines w/ Flamer & Combi-melta
- 5x Scouts w/ combi-melta
- Rhino w/ Stormbolter
Brandon plays Salamanders, which means that he’s a cheating power gamer. Well, in the previous edition, he played salamanders, but now that they get to re-roll failed hits and wounds for each squad, I’m going to just label him a cheater.
His list was cobbled together to see what benefits he could make out of bubble units. His captain and lieutenant would grant nearby units bonuses, and if he could stack them together, it may make for a formidable force. The rest seems pretty much par for the course for him. Lots of melta, with a bit of flame weapons thrown in. Those are historically iconic for Salamanders, though given the new changes to their rules, I suspect we’ll see less and less flame weapons in his armies, and even start seeing more guns like Lascannons start appearing.
But that’s just the nature of the evolution throughout editions.
Hive Fleet Proteus:
- Flyrant w/ Monstrous Rending Claws, & Deathspitters (Catalyst & Onslaught)
- Flyrant w/ Bone Sword & Laswhip, & Stranglethorn Cannon (Catalyst & Onslaught)
- 1x Lictor
- Red Terror
- 10x Termagants w/ Devourers
- 10x Termagants w/ Devourers
- 10x Termagants w/ Spinefists
- Fast Attack:
- 10x Gargoyles
- 3x Raveners w/ Rending Claws & Spinefists
- Hive Crone
My list was a continuation of the “try everything” variety. I have not used the Red Terror, Gargoyles, or Hive Crone before–nor have I fielded Termagants w/ Devourers. So I figured I’d test them out.
Honestly, when I noticed I hadn’t taken the various flyers, I had started to build a list to use the Outrider detachment, and started going heavy on the flyers. I was considering using them exclusively, but after I had thrown in the raveners (for the Red-Terror), I felt that I had to include more.
The list was light on synapse, but it was a smaller list and the synapse I did have is relatively durable. No, it’s not hyper competitive, but two Flyrants should be reasonably effective too. In fact, of my 50 points, I basically tied up 60% of it in the three monstrous creatures.
Mission & Deployment:
We deployed along the long board edges for a pretty standard mission (I never remember what they’re called–this was one where we each drew three objectives per turn and could score them for our opponents–spoiler alert: that never happened).
I had to deploy first, and just spread my forces out. I figured it was worth having units spread out in order to give myself a variety of ways to grab objectives. I wound up putting both synapse units relatively close to the center of the board–that way they could command the majority of the army if one of them had to fly elsewhere or–heaven forbid, be killed entirely.
Brandon’s deployment shaped out in about the same way. He plopped small squads in each of the craters on his side of the table, spreading out and grabbing the initial objectives that he could. He wound up combat squadding everything (a natural tendency when your army-wide special rule rewards you for having more units), and he left nothing in reserve (I, however, left a single Lictor waiting in the weeds…)
Turn 1: Salamanders
Brandon hemmed and hawed about whether he’d take the first turn or not, but opted to do so because his scouts were in a position that they were going to take a pretty-much inevitable charge from the Raveners. I didn’t love the raveners on that side of the board, but I figured I could use the Scouts’ initial hiding space as a jumping off point to get to the other side of the board and charge a stray multi-melta.
Instead, I had the scouts pepper me with fire and then charge my raveners. Despite being able to re-roll a single failed hit/wound for each squad, he whiffed pretty bad with them through the first two turns. In this case, the scouts only managed to kill only one ravener. Between them and the nearby Red Terror, I managed to score first blood before I’d even gotten a turn.
Otherwise, he peeled a couple of wounds off of my non-warlord Flyrant and passed the turn by scoring a point with his Dreadnought and then promptly discarded the only objective I might have been able to score.
Score: Salamanders – 1 vs. Tyranids – 0+1
Turn 1: Tyranids
Without any specific objectives to hold on my first turn, I simply moved forward with what I had and took shots at what I could. The raveners had a potential charge on the remnants of a tactical squad, but that would’ve been a 12″ charge, so they instead choose to hang back in the cover of the nearby cave.
Most everything else in my army moved up behind the building in the center of the table and took potshots where they could. Between the Hive Crone & Flyrants’ guns, with a little help from a dash of smites, we managed to thin out 11-12 power armored marines. Of course, due to the way that casualties work in the 8th edition, virtually all of those were just standard guys with bolters, but it did make for a reasonably good first turn of shooting. I should also mention that the “Devil gaunts” (which is apparently an internet slang term for termagants with devourers) did reasonably well. For four power, I was able to pump out 30 shots at S4. I’m not sure if those numbers get anywhere near close to that level of effectiveness in a points game, but they did quite well for me in this one. Nothing amazing, mind you, but well worth the 4 power I invested in them. Enough so that it made me think that Genestealers are not automatically the best troops choice in the list.
When it came to charges, I failed the one that was feasible (the Harpy at 7″, who rolled a 6 and failed again with a CP re-roll). I earned points for destroying a unit and another for manifesting a psychic power and passed the turn.
Score: Salamanders – 1 vs. Tyranids – 2+1
Turn 2: Salamanders
On the first turn, he had sucked the units out on the fringe in to the middle to consolidate forces and support each other. The result then was that he was unable to reach out and score objectives. All of his units were now in thick in the center of the table, and had one of the outer units stayed, he would’ve been able to score additional points.
Though, it wasn’t all bad, because he also drew objectives he could complete by staying relatively put. The sternguard, aided by the dreadnought managed to slaughter my Hive Tyrant thanks to a few of his brand new strategems (I can’t wait until my codex gets some as well), and then the sternguard charged in and slaughtered a squad of gaunts that might have strayed a little too close.
He scored a couple of points for an objective (though since he doesn’t have the cards, I didn’t make a photo of what specific mission he’d accomplished), and passed the turn back to me with the score all knotted up at 3.
Score: Salamanders – 3 vs. Tyranids – 2+1
Turn 2: Tyranids
I had a choice to make here. I had a few scorable objectives, that could’ve pulled in a few points, but holding them would force me to spread out and I couldn’t do that an collapse on the center of his army. I believed that, with sufficient pressure, I could kill off the sternguard plus his captain and apothecary this turn, and that would effectively neuter his army.
Doing so would require that I get some reasonable shooting in with the Hive Crone, Devil Gaunts and the Flyrant. Surely I’d be able to cause enough wounds on one or two of those units to kill off the sternguard and maybe even the Apothecary, and that way I could pile attacks into his Warlord. Well, shooting wasn’t nearly as successful as I’d have hoped. The sternguard fell relatively easily, but the apothecary just refused to fail his armor saves–which is how it goes with games of dice I suppose. I wound up charging in with everything so that I could pull off multi-charges as necessary.
The hive crone killed the apothecary, but the gaunts did nothing to the captain. When I mathed out what it would take to hurt him, I overestimated the damage required because of the number of wounds that were reported. I really only had to sneak in two unsaved wounds to kill him off–which was doable, but he told me that it needed to be three. He also had a one-turn 3++ save due to some relic in his codex, so I chickened out and opted not to move her into combat with him (she had originally multi-charged the apothecary and the captain, staying close to the former–so when he died, she had the option to activate and pile in closer.
This was an all-or-nothing kind of turn that I hedged my bets on. In hindsight, that was a mistake. I also realize now that I had a lictor waiting in reserves that never made the table, so he could’ve popped on and snagged an objective scoring me likely 3-4 victory points for the turn. Alas, I passed the turn without scoring any…
Score: Salamanders – 4 vs. Tyranids – 2+1
Turn 3: Salamanders
Another issue I had with my flyrant was that not pushing her into combat left her exposed. She then sucked up a couple of lascannon hits and then an ensuing charge from the dreadnought. He might have had other options, but he’d drawn “Kingslayer” that turn and wasn’t passing up a chance to earn another d3+1 victory points (spoiler alert: he got the full 4). Had I pushed her into combat, she would’ve almost certainly have lived, plus I would’ve been immune to the lascannons. That was clearly the better option.
Additionally, had I wrapped my gaunts better, I would’ve been able to stop the dreadnought from being able to charge me (or at least I could’ve possibly done so). But alas, I did that wrong as well.
Elsewhere, his units were pretty thin, so there wasn’t much else going on. He had a Lieutenant stuck into combat with two raveners and the Red Terror, who was also making saves like a boss–but not doing all that much damage either.
Score: Salamanders – 7+1 vs. Tyranids – 2+1
Turn 3: Tyranids
I had an option to score D3+1 victory points in response, but required me to spread out. I no longer had the units required to face my opponent head-on, and he had better long range shooting than I, so it didn’t look promising. Then again, it’s a game of dice and I did have maneuverability on my side.
I struck out to accomplish the only thing I really could do: hold a few objectives and hope to survive another turn. I managed to grab those objectives, which involved killing off the rest of a tactical squad to do so) but rolled poorly on my objective dice. Sadly, I had blown all of my CP’s by this point so I couldn’t even re-roll the dice. That earned me 2 points and watched the lead slip away from me…
Score: Salamanders – 7+1 vs. Tyranids – 4+1
Turn 4: Salamanders
I was down to the Red Terror, a unit of gaunts, and a hive crone at this point. With no synapse, the other smaller units crumbled quickly after taking a few wounds in assaults (and each seemed to roll a 6 for their leadership test). Brandon’s army wasn’t much stronger, down to a Rhino, his warlord, and a dreadnought. The thing was that he had both long range shooting, survivability, and a bit of speed in the shape of a rhino. More importantly, he had the lead.
Somehow though, he managed not to score any victory points for a turn. What he did do was reduce my only surviving Monstrous creature to a single wound though. Again, in hind sight, maybe I was better off charging into his dreadnought and hoping to polish it off before he had a chance to attack me back?
Score: Salamanders – 7+1 vs. Tyranids – 4+1
Turn 4: Tyranids
I swooped back to grab a rear objective and plink some shots into the dreadnought–which did almost no damage. The Red Terror repositioned himself in the hopes that I could get some sort of objective scored in a future turn, but having drawn bad objectives again, there wasn’t much hope in that.
My only other surviving squad plinked spinefists hopelessly into the back of a rhino in a futile attempt to kill it’s lone passenger in an explosion. I’m not sure I even did damage to the vehicle though.
Have I mentioned that Rhinos are entirely too tough for what they are? Unreasonably so.
I scored one more point before passing the turn.
Score: Salamanders – 7+1 vs. Tyranids – 5+1
Turn 5: Salamanders
My Hive Crone died to lascannon shots and the rhino disembarked it’s only passenger to mop up my ‘gaunts before the rhino surged back to grab an objective of it’s own. Somehow, my gaunts stayed in combat, but with them losing four models a turn and being out of synapse, their doom was inevitable. That left me with only the Red Terror on the table, and a significant points deficit.
I would’ve normally been fine with playing out the game, but Brandon was already running late, so we called it at this point. Had we pushed on, he was going to score at least three points plus linebreaker on me, assuming he didn’t figure out how to table me completely.
Score: Salamanders – 8+1 vs. Tyranids – 5+1
What I Learned:
My dice were pretty cold throughout this game, and his dice turned out to be reasonably good (except for his bad re-rolls for the first two turns). Still, I don’t want to blame cold dice or bad luck, so let’s try to focus on the areas where I made mistakes…
- We didn’t dice off for first turn. The new rules allow us to dice off to see who gets first turn. I don’t think we actually did that though.
- Remember your reserves! I didn’t bring in my Lictor during this game. Normally that’s not a huge deal, but there’s a potential that this one mistake might have actually won me the game. It would’ve allowed me to score more points sooner, and to leverage more options for my models–potentially keeping them out of harm’s way.
- Focus on the threat. In this game, I had the mobility–and the only thing that was a threat at range was his dreadnought–but I never bothered to attack that unit. Had I killed it off, I could’ve easily run away from him for the rest of the game with little real threat.
- Don’t forget lashwhips. I don’t use them much, and I frankly think they’re a sub-par choice, but had I recalled it, maybe my Warlord might have killed off the dreadnought earlier as well. I paid for the weapon–might as well use it!
- Once you commit–commit. I made a decision to crush his units in the center of the table, rather than to play the mobility game; however, when I did so, I then second-guessed myself and kept my flyrant out of combat. I then lost her the following combat to a charge. She would’ve arguably been better in assault (Though it didn’t help that my opponent–unintentionally–misrepresented how many wounds I would’ve had to do to kill off his commander).
- Hive crones are just bad harpies. Sure, the harpy is one power level more, but it’s well worth the difference. I wasn’t at all impressed with this beast–other than his mobility.
- Red Terror is still pretty bad. The lack of rending claws and the forced use of a tail doesn’t help.
- Termagants w/ Devourers aren’t bad. They’re not amazing, but they seem to be a reasonable alternative to genestealers in the troops slot. Especially when building a list with power level.
- The Salamander’s chapter tactic is good. Oh soooo good. Each of his units basically has one gun/model that really wants to hit/wound, so being able to re-roll that is great. I could see them easily being one of the best in the game as far as chapters go.
- I didn’t have enough synapse. It was a fear going into it, but I’ve done well without worrying about synapse in other games. The real kicker there is–in those games I had more monstrous creatures–large units of gaunts really need synapse to stay alive.