Batrep: Imperial Fists vs. Hive Fleet Jormungandr (80 power)

This week’s battle report comes to you courtesy of Sam.  After having many Friday Night Games co-opted by folks that don’t play 40k, I put my foot down last week and insisted that I get a game of 40k in.  We had a decent turnout, including Sam–who was itching for a rematch after our game in January.  He had come up with some sort of strategy that he wanted to try out, and I was his chosen victim.

Sam’s Imperial Fists:

  • HQ:
    • Chapter Master w/ Storm Shield & Flame Blade
    • Librarian w/ Jump Pack & Force Sword
  • Troops:
    • 5x Tactical Marines w/ Lascannon, Powerfist, & Combi-Melta
    • 5x Tactical Marines w/ Lascannon, Powerfist, & Combi-Flamer
    • 5x Tactical Marines w/ Lascannon, Power Sword & Plasma Pistol
  • Fast Attack:
    • 10x Assault Marines w/ 2x Plasma & Powerfist
  • Heavy Support:
    • 8x Devastators w/ 3x Multi-Melta, 1x Plasma Cannon, Combi-Plasma, & Cherub
  • Transport:
    • Drop Pod w/ Storm Bolter
  • Superheavy:
    • Knight Paladin w/ Rapid Fire Battle Cannon, 2x Heavy Stubbers, & Rocket Pod

Prior to the game, Sam I talked a fair bit of trash to each other, which is the norm around these parts.  I have been on a bit of a winning streak against him though, and didn’t want to make a list that was too hard–nor did I want to make something entirely too soft that he’d just roll over.  So, I asked a neutral party (Brandon) to review Sam’s list and give me an idea of general power level.  His response was that it was just a bunch of marines.  After watching it in action, I’m not sure his assessment was entirely fair, as he lead me to believe it was relatively soft.

What’s interesting here is that Sam, famous for using Knights and drop pods, is branching out.  Though both of those are included in the list, neither of them is really prevalent.  At face value, the list looks like something I’d play (except I’ve still yet to use a Knight outside of Apocalypse).  I’d say the list is pretty well rounded though.

Hive Fleet Proteus (Jormungandr):

  • HQ:
    • Tervigon w/ Scything Talons & Cluster Spines (Paroxysm)
    • Broodlord (Psychic Scream)
  • Elites:
    • 3x Hive Guard
  • Troops:
    • 10x Genestealers
    • 10x Genestealers
    • 10x Genestealers
    • 20x Termagants w/ Devourers
  • Fast Attack:
    • 3x Raveners w/ Rending Claws & Deathspitters
    • 3x Raveners w/ Rending Claws & Deathspitters
  • Heavy Support:
    • Carnifex w/ Devourers & Brainleech Worms
  • Fortifications:
    • Sporocyst w/ H. Venom Cannons

I hadn’t played all of the hive fleets, and I’m trying them all out, so I tried out Jormungandr for the “always have cover” special rule.  Murphy’s law, of course, dictates that Sam’s space marines (generic chapter) would wind up using the rules that ignore cover.  He didn’t game that against me–apparently that’s the rule he uses most of the time (which makes sense, because his models are yellow, I suppose).  I honestly don’t recall what he plays, but that might be because he always uses the chapter that really doesn’t seem to do much during the game.

I started out with a Broodlord, which meant that, in order to get value out of his ability to buff nearby units of Genestealers, I was going to need to take some units of them.  I frankly think the ideal squad is 5 man strong (though 20 coming up with a Trygon is pretty solid).  So as not to min/max things, I took them in squads of 10.

The Jorm. strategem means I can pop up infantry units around raveners and Trygons.  The thing is, I can already do that around Trygons, so I figured I might as well use the rule near the raveners, so that meant they had to be included.  I also put in a unit of Termagants to pop out of the tunnel.  The Hive guard and sporocyst would give me some covering fire, and my last points were spent on a carnifex.  Truth be told, I was a little leery at only having 2.5 units of synapse in the army, but I figured I’d roll the bones…

Mission & Deployment:

For mission, we rolled up Cleanse and Capture with long table edges.  I’m pretty sure that I won the roll for deployment, but I didn’t get to pick my side.  Sam just started deploying on the far side (which was fine because my side had all of the high terrain that I would’ve wanted anyway–to deny his Devastators from setting up where I couldn’t get to them).  We played null-deployment games, putting units into reserve, but I just had more units than he did (especially when his first drop is a pod with devs and a chapter master–which was technically a captain, but used the stratagem to upgrade to a chapter master).

He wound up deploying his Knight in the center, and strung his lascannons across his backfield, thereby limiting my deep strikers (his deployment, I have to admit, was rather solid).  I put my Hive Guard in the tall building to my right (the only building where they could somewhat hide in cover without being seen by the enemy), and all of my genstealers towards my left, with my two HQ’s and Carnifex hiding inside the building in the center of my deployment zone.

It’s worth noting that I did that in the hopes that I’d get cover from being partially obscured by the terrain.  Of course, as Jormungandr, I was going to get cover anyway–which would be promptly ignored by the Imperial Fists trait), so none of that mattered at all.

He won the die-roll for first turn, and I failed to seize.

Turn 1: Imperial Fists

His first turn was when I got to see the magic of his army.  Clearly he built this around an alpha strike and had done a good job of thinking out how it was supposed to work.  He dropped his pod down and piled out 9″ away (3″ disembark plus a 9″ move) in such a way that he created a front line of Assault Marines (designed as a counter assault/shield unit), with the unit of Devs standing in base-to-base behind them, all sandwiched around the chapter master.  The Knight also moved up to ensure he was within the bubble range.

I wasn’t keen on the notion because it meant that he had to move his Devs, so they’d be hitting on a 4+.  Of course, with the re-roll from the HQ, that was hitting more like 75% of the time.  He took aim at my Tervigon, and despite her high toughness, managed to vaporize her with his shooting.  Granted, she withstood everything that the Dev squad threw at her, plus several plasma pistols and even some more stray shots, but she did go down first turn (thereby earning him first blood, slay the warlord, and points for kingslayer).  His other shots went into my Carnifex, who did not get cover (against anything except for the Drop Pod & Knight), and I also forgot to include the bonus for his spore cysts.  Doh!

By the end of his first turn, he had smoked both of those characters, and also killed off a few stray genestealers in nearby units (enough to hopefully soften the counter-assault).  He earned the points mentioned above, plus another point for holding a “mission critical objective” that he started on.

Score: Space Marines: 2+2 vs. Tyranids 0

Turn 2: Tyranids

I’ll admit that I didn’t think his combo was going to be as potent as it seemed to be.  I’m not used to losing my Tervigons at all, given their high toughness and tons of wounds, so losing her before I even got a turn was a bit of a shocker.  I also was down to a single model with Synapse at this point, so this could be pretty devastating.

I knew that I was bringing all of my reserves in, but I wasn’t sure what to deal with.  The knight was clearly a big threat, but the bulk of the damage in the previous turn came from the space marines (and seemingly, the devastators).   Granted, I knew that most of the damage came through because they were from rolling 5’s and 6’s for damage, and I had very few models on the table that had more than one wound left.  Still, I figured I could more easily reduce the damage output of his army by taking out the marines than throwing myself against the knight.

All of my small arms wound up firing at the devastators and assault marines, reducing the devs to a single man (who eventually broke and ran), and whittling down the assault marines before they were charged by two squads of ‘stealers and a brood lord, who made short work of the remaining models.  They also assaulted the chapter master, but his Storm Shield proved to be formidable.

My other shooting, including my Hive Guard (who had to move to get out of my deployment zone in order to score an objective) and my Sporocyst fired upon the titan.  I was pleased that I managed to roll 14 shots with the immobile pod, three of which proved to wound.  Between the two units, I did manage to strip off 10 wounds and earned one point for advancing (my other two objectives were to kill off characters, which I was hopeful would happen during Sam’s turn).

Score: Space Marines: 2+2 vs. Tyranids 1

Turn 2: Imperial Fists

As it was with Sam’s first turn, he was taken aback by the success of my counter.  While I didn’t score as many points, he was just not prepared for the mobility of my genestealer units, or the sheer firepower of a unit of lowly termagants.  Still, I was able to kill off two of his squads, and tie up his warlord in such a way that he was not going to escape combat this turn and was almost certain to die.

On the other hand, his Knight had to make a choice: did he deal with the gaunts that seemed to put out so much firepower?  The Sporcyst that had stripped all of his wounds?  The nearby genestealers (who were largely protected by being in locked in assault)?  He opted for the stealers, allowing his backfield lascannons to take out the drop pod (which he managed to do with two lascannon shots and a couple of stray bolters).  His psychic phase blurted out a lucky smite as well, which killed five genestealers on it’s own.  Between these events, the tide appeared to be turning again, and his Knight and Warlord killed all but three of the genestealers.

He earned points for Blood & Guts (killing a unit in assault) and another for killing my sporocyst with Big Game Hunter.  Meanwhile, I earned three points myself for Kingslayer and Decapitate, plus another for slaying his warlord.

Score: Space Marines: 4+2 vs. Tyranids 4+1

Turn 3: Tyranids

With a new hand of three objectives, I had to Devour an opponent (destroy it in assault), hold Supremacy (three objectives) and Domination (hold all six objectives).  He had spent the last turn moving away from all of the objectives, so it might be possible for me to actually score Domination.  By my calculation, I could do so with some fanciful moves, and it would involve two run rolls of a 4+.  There was some risk in doing this, and it would put some of my units out of position, but for 2d3+3 victory points, it seemed like it was certainly worth trying.

I started with my Broodlord, who had to scamper 12″ to hold an objective in my opponent’s backfield, and he made it with room to spare.  My second roll involved my farthest (and only untouched) unit of genestealers.  They failed their first roll, so I spent a CP to re-roll.  That one also failed, but was cocked.  The actual re-roll?  Also failed.

But I figured it was still worth it to keep applying the pressure.  He was down to three 5x man tactical squads, a drop pod, a librarian, and a knight.  The knight was clearly the biggest threat on the board, but I didn’t feel like I would be able to kill it–even if I unloaded everything into it.  Instead, I chose to whittle down the various marine units, which turned out fairly well.

I did manage to kill off three marine units (including a single powerfist marine in an assault) so earned points for Devour and two more points for Supremacy.

Score: Space Marines: 4+2 vs. Tyranids 7+1

Turn 3: Imperial Fists

Sam likewise had a decision to make.  He had three models on the table, and two possible objectives he could score.  The thing was that of of them involved pushing my Hive Guard off an objective, and another involved killing the genestealers and ‘gaunts from the center of the board–both of which the Knight essentially had to accomplish on his own.    The Librarian would be able to hop around, but not accomplish much, and the drop pod was pretty well… stationary.

We talked about the pros and cons, and he opted to charge the hive guard while shooting the raveners.  A successful round of that would result in me being killed off the objective and have no way to come back and hold it again (which scores him points because he didn’t just have to hold the objective, but also to defend it).

The thing is, he had far from a successful round.  Of all of the shots at the raveners, he managed to wound one of them (it didn’t help that eight of his nine shots missed completely).  The ensuing hand-to-hand combat wasn’t much better.  He hit more and even wounded three times, but rolled 1 wound for each, systematically killing off one hive guard in the process.

That lead to him passing the turn without scoring a point.

Score: Space Marines: 4+2 vs. Tyranids 7+1

Turn 4: Tyranids

With Domination still on the table, I could pull it off this turn as well, but it also revolved around some lucky run rolls.  Either the genestealers would need to roll a 6 for their run, or my gaunts would need to forgo their shooting to do so and still roll a 4+.

Yes, I know that you can still shoot assault weapons when advancing, but they would’ve also been out of range of the Knight to do so.  As luck would have it though, I started with the ‘stealers (who had nothing else to do that turn) and they rolled the required 6 and earned me a bunch of points (5, to be exact).

My Broodlord and raveners double-teamed the drop pod (who proved to be less durable than other space marine vehicles), while the gaunts fired at the knight, taking a few more hull points off.  By the second turn, he was already below half, but it was slow going to take him much lower without my venom cannons (or the ability to fire the Hive Guard).

Score: Space Marines: 4+2 vs. Tyranids 12+1

Turn 4: Imperial Fists

With the Hive Guard largely out of reach, he refocused his energy towards the center of the table.  Without surprise, the dozen or so remaining termagants collapsed beneath the oppressive firepower of the knight and his tiny librarian co-star.  Killing the squad proved to be enough to earn Area Denial, which scored him D3 victory points.  He also scored a point for Mastering the Warp (something he proved to be quite adept at throughout the game).

His dice were hot earlier when rolling multiple wounds, but this die roll was not in his favor–pulling in a measly single point.

On the plus side, he put a slew of wounds into my Hive Guard with an insane roll, erasing them from the table.

Score: Space Marines: 6+2 vs. Tyranids 12+1

Turn 5: Tyranids

With them on the run, I started to push after him.  The safe play was to hang back and hold near objectives, but by this point in the night, the other game had already ended and we had started to draw a crowd.  Folks were jeering me for not charging his knight with everything I had.

So, I pulled out of cover to setup such an attack.  At the very least, my Broodlord would be able to get off a smite and strip a couple of wounds, right?  Well, psychic powers weren’t my thing this game.  Over the course of the entire game, I managed to cast most of my powers, but he also denied every one that was cast.

We took pot shots where we could and tried to taunt him on some specific objectives, but the turn was largely uneventful.  I earned a single point for “Behind Enemy Lines” (something I should’ve gotten D3 for, if I didn’t give in to the taunts of the observers).

Score: Space Marines: 6+2 vs. Tyranids 13+1

Turn 5: Imperial Fists

He tried to spur the knight onward to kill off my genestealers, but after a poor round of shooting and a failed charge, he limped meaninglessly around the center of the table.  The Librarian shot off towards an objective to defend for next turn, but accomplished little else.

Score: Space Marines: 6+2 vs. Tyranids 13+1

Turn 5: Tyranids

The game culminated in the sort of finale that made our observers rejoice.  After an ineffectual round of shooting (and yet another denied psychic test), I multi-charged the knight and librarian with a squad of genestealers who took some casualties coming in.  They swung first, taking down the librarian to a single wound before whiffing on the titan.

The Broodlord struck next, and ripped the leg off the war machine entirely, causing a series of horrific explosion to trigger within the engine.  It blew up in an 11″ ring, damaging every surviving model on the board.  Though the damage was high, none of my units was outright destroyed by the explosion, but the Librarian with only a single wound did not fair so well (earning me “Scour the Skies!”)

Score: Space Marines: 6+2 vs. Tyranids 14+1

The Aftermath:

 

I’m honestly not sure how many times I table my opponents, but it doesn’t seem to happen all that much.  When I look back through my battle reports, it appears that the last three games I played against him I wound up tabling him though (though, in fairness, the previous two games he had five or fewer models).  In retrospect, I also only seem to play Sam about once per year.  Since he’s a fairly regular member of the gaming group, that comes as a surprise to me.

Space Marines Tabled!

What I Learned:

  1. Synapse wasn’t all that critical.  I only had two models with synapse in the army, and after the second turn, I basically had no units inside synapse range.  Even then, I was largely unaffected by it.  I suppose that has something to do with most of my units being small enough that it wasn’t a big deal by that point?  Still, two synapse points in a game this large seems woefully small.  I would like to have at least four typically.
  2. Jormungandr is inconclusive.  The army wide ability seems decent, but I never got to use it since my opponent’s army trait completely negated mine.  I’ll have to try that again in the future.  I did try their stratagem though and was underwhelmed.  I probably would’ve been better off by using a Trygon instead–but at least it gave me some flexibility in list creation.
  3. My Carnifex was -1 to hit!  That first turn, my carnifex was actually harder to hit, which might have made a difference.  It’s doubtful, but it’s still something I forgot.
  4. Storm Bolters are rapid fire.  Did you know that?  I’ve only played my marines once, so I didn’t know.  We looked it up though, so four shots at 12″ is a bit of an upgrade on a frumpy weapon.
  5. Devilgaunts aren’t all that.  Sure, they throw a ton of dice and they seem really intimidating.  I was even rolling a ton of hits and wounds–but even then, after pouring out 60 shots, I was pretty consistently killing 4-5 marines per volley.  Granted, four the power cost I paid, that was great, and they do seem truly intimidating.  In sheer damage output though, they’re not as OP as they appear.
  6. Pile-in during combat is towards the closest model.  I tried to cheat during an assault to pile out of combat with the knight and into combat with his warlord.  That’s wrong as pile-in says you have to go towards the closest model.
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