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Posts Tagged ‘so that’s why they call him the Lord of Death’

Well, neither the K game against Nids nor the 1.5K game against Chaos Marines came to pass this week for various reasons. Upon turning up I found myself urged to play a Tyranid army: I’d played this force once before, with the Consecrators. Despite being outnumbered 5 to 1 I managed to grind out an enjoyable draw so I was perfectly happy to play again with the new army (not least because the anti-Tyranid units I’d painted for the cancelled game were still of necessity in the list). The dice did their little dance and by a strange quirk indicated we should play the Blood of Martyrs mission.

 

 

In this mission the Blood Angels start surrounded in the board centre. They score points by getting units to a position where they can leave the board on turn 4 – except for Death Company and Red Thirst-afflicted units, which score points by getting themselves killed. It looked like a fun, quirky mission, and neither of us realised this would really turn out to be just the tale of a hammer and a sword.

The hammer belonged to one of the frothing Death Company, eager to get themselves killed. The sword belonged to Mephiston. This was the first time I’d brought the Lord of Death to the table and I was curious to see how he performed (against my Consecrators he’d taken out a squad before dying in a big bloody splat).

Anyway, I deployed Mephiston, a Whirlwind, a combat squad afflicted with Red Thirst, and the Death Company south of the central ruins, another combat squad and an assault-combat squad with a Captain and a Priest just north of them. In the ruins went a small devastator squad and on top of them went the Sanguinary Guard.

The Tyranids came on from the south and west: hormagaunts and a zoanthrope from the west, a second zoanthrope and more hormagaunts from due south, and a tervigon and some termagants from the south-east corner. The Tyranids had deployed very aggressively which suited me fine as the Blood Angels automatically got first turn.

Things didn’t start very auspiciously. Mephiston floated up onto a rooftop next to the western zoanthrope easily enough, but one of the Guard brained himself launching from the ruins and landing next to the western gaunts. Eager to get themselve slaughtered the Red Thirst squad headed due south while the Death Company yomped towards the Tervigon. The tactical half-squad started running for the board edge while the Captain’s unit stayed put to see where the Tyranid reserves would appear from…

In the shooting phase the Red Thirst squad took a wound off the southern zoanthrope, the devastator plasma cannons killed a hormagaunt, and the Whirlwind scattered disastrously and only killed three Termagants. The Guard killed three Hormagaunts and charged in cheerfully as assaults got underway.

Mephiston charged the western zoanthrope and hacked it to pieces fairly nonchalantly after casting Spear of Sanguinius. He consolidated down to the street to back up the Guard in future turns… but the super-elite of the Blood Angels got themselves dragged down and torn to pieces by the tide of Hormagaunts without even striking a blow. Another poor show from a 265-point unit. The Death Company bounded forward and attacked the Tervigon, and to the astonishment of everyone stuck five wounds on it, for no losses in return. This was bad news if I wanted to get the Death Company killed and start scoring points in this game.

The Hive Mind resented the loss of the zoanthrope and the Lord of Death vanished under a pile of 26 hormagaunts. Elsewhere, another big hormagaunt swarm mobbed the Red Thirst squad. With a loud splattering sound 12 new Termagants appeared from inside the Tervigon and assaulted the Death Company. The remaining zoanthrope shot at the Whirlwind and missed.

The Red Thirst squad was torn to pieces by the massed gaunts: hurrah! I had scored a point. We had both realised by now that the Blood Angels would not win solely by inflicting damage, but by carefully picking the right fights. I was really expecting to score another when the termagants unloaded 36 attacks against the Death Company, but they only killed three. Two surviving power swords and the thunder hammer ripped into the Tervigon and killed it. The death spasms of the creature caused heavy casualties amongst the termagants, which we decided counted towards combat resolution (don’t write in and complain, we couldn’t find a rule about it either way). The termagants fled off the board. Hmm! It was proving harder to get the Death Company killed than expected.

Even more surprising, Mephiston emerged, a little ragged, from under the hormagaunts, having killed four for two wounds in return. Out of synapse range, the gaunts fled but were hacked down by the chief librarian. He was living up to his reputation as a hard man to kill.

It was still only the start of turn two. The Death Company charged towards the southern gaunts as Mephiston advanced thoughtfully on the surviving zoanthrope. The Whirlwind zoomed towards the southern board edge. Everything else headed for the nearest edge except the Captain and his squad, who were still biding their time.

Mephiston added to an already-impressive bodycount by chopping the second zoanthrope to pieces, much like the first. This was particularly bad news for the Hive Mind as there was now no synaptic control left on the table. Nevertheless the Hormagaunts unleashed 51 attacks at the Death Company… and only managed to kill the two guys with power weapons, and not before they’d killed six gaunts. The hammer-wielder turned another two into paste and the gaunts were suddenly running for cover.

After losing the Guard and the Red Thirst squad very quickly I’d been worried but the game seemed to have turned a corner… A Tyranid pod splatted down near the half-squad and disgorged 20 more termagants, while the ground split open between Mephiston and the Death Company hammerer and a Trygon Prime appeared. As a synapse creature, the Trygon arrested the flight of the hormagaunts, who slunk into some ruins. The new termagants opened up on the combat squad and wiped it out, but not before the bioweapons of their own squad had indulged in a little blue-on-blue and killed three of them. The Trygon shot at Mephiston, who treated the barrage of incoming fire with the contempt it deserved.

My turn three, and with the Nid swarm fully committed the Captain’s squad, worth 3 points if I could get it off the table, finally moved, going full pace away from the termagants and towards the board edge. The Whirlwind continued its evasive driving too. The Death Company hammerer still wasn’t dead, which was beginning to annoy me, so I ran him towards the ruin full of gaunts.

Mephiston had done spectacularly well in taking down two zoanthropes and 27 gaunts single-handed. The chance of a truly legendary performance beckoned, however, so I walked him up to the Trygon (keeping his powder dry against the dangers of the Warp-Shadow). (I was so keen to get to the assault phase I forgot to shoot the devastators at the newly-arrived termagants, but never mind.)

Things took a slightly lunatic tinge in the assault phase. Mephiston stuck five wounds on the Trygon, grievously wounding it as he carved a way into its brain stem. With a delicate flick of the force sword from the Lord of Death (and a fairly lucky roll of the dice from me) the life was sucked from the giant creature, which crashed to the ground before it was able to attack.

Things got worse for the Hive Mind as the sole surviving Death Company trooper charged into the ruins and was set upon by 17 hormagaunts… none of whom were able to get through his armour and feel-no-pain save. The hammer crushed two gaunts and the rest of the swarm, again deprived of synapse control, fled off the table.

The Nid army had effectively been decapitated now Mephiston had killed all the brain bugs, but the two surviving termagant broods both passed their behaviour tests. The squad from the pod blew away the devastators while the others retreated into the ruins, not wanting to finish off the Death Company.

Turn four dawned and the Whirlwind, the Captain, the Priest, the assault squad and Mephiston all departed the board cheerily. My army now consisted of the Death Company hammerer who I really wanted to get killed. He beetled off towards the small termagant squad the Tervigon had produced. The game was moving very fast now, especially as the Tyranids were effectively paralysed. On turn five the Death Trooper charged the termagants, received no wounds, and caused none in return. On turn six the termagants again failed to do any damage… but this time the hammer found a target.

Once again the Tyranids fled the table. We decided to skip turn seven as nothing substantial would happen, and it was time to see if I’d won: I’d scored a point for getting the Red Thirst squad killed, and another five for getting Mephiston, the Captain, the Priest, the Assault squad and the Whirlwind off the table alive. I just needed to roll a 5 or less to win the game…

… and I rolled a 5. A quick check of the rules confirmed the Blood Angels had won.

Well, not really: my victory in this game was mainly down to Mephiston and the Death Company both defying ridiculous odds and slaughtering anything they came into contact with. The Guard embarrassed themselves badly. The Red Thirst squad, devastators and Whirlwind got a single round of shooting each; all the rest of the army did was run for the board edge.

This was a fairly unique scenario which favoured fast-moving, hard-hitting assault units, so it hardly suited the heavy support elements of this army. In a game requiring a more conventional battle-line I think they’d do better. But once again the Guard didn’t come close to paying for themselves. They’ll be in the next couple of games, I think, simply because they’re a points sink for what’s still a new army, but unless they shape up they may go on the bench for a while. I am also tempted to retire Mephiston with his glory intact: I can’t imagine him performing quite so astonishingly in every game.

Anyway, we will see: I have arranged to play the Dark Eldar of a very experienced player with as many points as I can scrape together this time next week. Onwards and upwards…

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