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Posts Tagged ‘Tyranids’

Well, to be perfectly honest, while the game against the Deathwing on Monday wasn’t a complete thumping, it did leave me rather pondering where to take the army next. It occurs to me that my usual operating procedure in this kind of situation would be to promise myself I’d go back to the army and fix it at a later date, and promptly switch to working in earnest on Daemons or Chaos Marines or one of the other armies on my to-do list. Lack of space in the garret sort of precludes that, and in any case I think actually going to the trouble of figuring out what’s wrong with the Blood Angels and fixing the list will do me all sorts of good as a gamer and a person.

So, ahead of a proper review and appraisal of the army and its record, I thought I’d get one more game in, with a slightly altered list. The main change was dropping Astorath and using a Captain as my HQ: now he’s basically I1, I think Astorath is a questionable warlord choice. It occurs to me that the change to Crozius Arcani to make them I1 is partly to make Captains a more attractive choice of leader. Mine is enjoying a newly blinged-up paint-job which I rather like; so much so I’m considering adding an Honour Guard squad to accompany him (the gun and run possibilities of a jump pack squad carrying plasma guns are also attractive).

Apart from the Captain, the new list includes two tactical squads, III/3 and III/5 (III/5 is mechanised), ten mechanised Death Company and a DC Dreadnought, plasma-cannon toting devastator demi-squad III/10/a, assault demi-squad III/8/a, an attack bike, a Furioso Dreadnought, a firestorm Dreadnought, and some Sanguinary Guard – I really wasn’t keen on still keeping the Guard in the army, but to get to 2000 points it was them or Mephiston.

Arriving in the shop I was interested to see, following my close encounter with the Contemptor Dreadnought last game, that these damn things have become all the rage – the AA possibilities if nothing else make them very attractive. Also, apparently a ruling has been handed down from on high: 30K units and armies are verboten in GW shops, so no danger of Scimitar jetbikes or Primarchs turning up (apparently a 20-man Space Marine Legion squad is only 80 points so this is just as well).

All of this was a bit academic as I found myself once again playing Bugs and his endless swarm of Tyranids. The match score between Bugs and myself currently stands at one apiece plus a draw (these games have included a spectacular reign of terror from Mephiston and the Nids eating my entire force). Bugs looked at the Furioso, the firestorm Dreadnought, and the Death Company walker and frowned. ‘I’m a bit worried I never have enough anti-Dreadnought weapons,’ he said.

I looked at the five monstrous creatures in his list and thought he probably wouldn’t have to worry too much, but as it turned out he may have been having a psychic flash. Nevertheless, as we unpacked, I looked at the three Tervigons, two Carnifexes, Venomthrope, Zoanthrope, and 140 gaunts in the Tyranid set-up zone and couldn’t help feeling that my 46 infantry, one bike, two APCs and three walkers appeared a bit wanting.

But on we went anyway, playing Big Guns Never Tire down the length of the table, with one objective in each end zone and two in no man’s land. I got the initiative and decided to play more aggressively than I have done recently, setting up III/5 and the Death Company for a mechanised push along the left flank, backed up by the DC Dreadnought. The jump pack units held back as a mobile reserve, along with the heavy firepower. III/3 was positioned to run forward and grab the right flank objective with the Furioso prepared to hold the centre.

And it went according to plan, initially, III/5’s rhino positioning to block line of fire to the Death Company rhino and the DC Dreadnought, and III/3 running forward to grab the other objective. The firestorm Dreadnought and Attack Bike both fired at the closest Tervigon and took three wounds off it. This was a good-ish start but there were still vast numbers of gaunts very close at hand, to say nothing of all the big monsters.

The Tyranids duly commenced their charge, moving forward as a wall of flesh. Their shooting was completely ineffectual, the wounded Tervigon losing another wound to a failed psychic test. In the assault phase thirty gaunts swarmed III/5’s rhino and destroyed it, the squad bailing out safely, while another thirty were out of range of the Death Company Dreadnought (possibly the game’s first really decisive moment).

Turn Two set up the way the game would go, though this wasn’t immediately apparent. The Death Company squad engaged the gaunts on the left who’d just destroyed the rhino, while the Death Company Dreadnought charged one of the other big swarms. On the right things were a bit more tentative, but the Furioso’s frag cannon ripped into yet another gaunt swarm and the firestorm Dreadnought continued to knock wounds off the wounded Tervigon. In the assault phase the Death Company Dreadnought killed 13 gaunts on the charge, and Bugs turned a bit pale.

The Tyranid turn really was decisive in hindsight: a mycetic spore plopped down near the devastators, and unleashed yet another twenty gaunts whose massed firepower wiped out the squad. The Tervigons all squeezed out reinforcements too, two of them exhausting themselves in the process. But the important stuff was elsewhere: the DC Dreadnought was charged by a Carnifex, but the Hive Mind had clearly underestimated how psychotic the walker was and the Tyranid beast was eviscerated before it could strike a blow. Bugs was now practically pallid, and things weren’t helped when Hormagaunts on the far right flank failed their charge on III/3  by a miniscule amount.

The mid-game was characterised by a real meatgrinder developing  on my left between the Death Company and three Termagant broods, the vampire-marines’ better skill, armour, and general unbalancedness allowing them to take on dozens of the little bugs on a fairly even basis. In the centre the Death Company Dreadnought continued to rip through Termagants, while the surviving Carnifex charged the Furioso and destroyed it, being heavily wounded in the process: enough for it to be put down by a rapid-firing III/5 the following turn. III/3 ended up fighting yet more gaunts, and the firestorm Dreadnought finished off the wounded Tervigon, frying the brains of numerous nearby gaunts.

At this point we paused and considered how it was going. To my surprise I was quietly confident about the left flank melee and not very worried by the presence of gaunts and a mycetic spore in my deployment zone, still having plenty of solid units to commit. The right flank was looking a bit iffy, though.

As it turned out, it worked out okay: the Death Company Dreadnought finished off the last gaunt and charged into another Tervigon, killing it on the charge. The Captain and his unit assaulted the Termagants in my zone and broke them on the charge, instant-killing the spore with an infernus pistol the following turn. The Guard charged the Zoanthrope and killed it before hopping over the central terrain to join the last Death Company survivor in the meat grinder combat. III/3 were wiped out by Hormagaunts, but the firestorm Dreadnought was in range to tie them up – and with synapse suddenly thin on the ground they were looking fragile, especially as they couldn’t hurt the walker.

And suddenly it was just a case of mopping up – the last few gaunts were duly polished off, the Death Company Dreadnought killed the Venomthrope on the charge, and the last surviving Tervigon was hosed down with fire by the firestorm Dreadnought and Attack Bike while III/5 trotted across the table to claim the right-side objective. The Tyranids were tabled on Turn Six, with the Blood Angel army still in respectable condition – three squads and a character in decent shape, the bike and two walkers both essentially operational.

Man of the Match surely goes to the Death Company Dreadnought, which directly accounted for thirty Termagants, a Carnifex, a Tervigon and a Venomthrope. That said, the firestorm Dreadnought also made a major contribution, doing the lion’s share of work in killing the two other Tervigons. But on the other hand, everything in the army pulled its weight, for once, with the exception of the Devastators who once again just acted as bait for a Deep Striking unit. I was honestly expecting both tactical squads to get munched after deploying them so far forward, but the aggressive style of play paid off. It also occurs me that every game I’ve won with the Blood Angels has featured a Captain somewhere in the list. Hmmm.

That said, this was a game decided by tiny chances – if the Carnifex had survived to attack the Death Company Dreadnought, if the Hormagants had made their initial charge against III/3 – and I’m aware this was a lucky win. But it’s nice to see how spectacularly well the Blood Angels can perform when the dice and conditions favour them, and it’s good to go into the review of the army with some positives to consider.

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Dear friends, I am seriously considering knocking this wargaming commentary segment of NCJG on the head. I’m completely indifferent to this news, I hear you cry (well, mutter), and that’s putting it charitably. But go ahead and explain further anyway.

Well, you know, I’ve just kicked off a Diploma course, which friends and colleagues assure me will soon come to devour my life to the very uttermost degree (much shaking of heads and clucking generally ensue as they consider the prospect, rather as if I’d announced I was planning to unicycle across the Kalahari). So it may be that I simply won’t have time to play any games.

Nevertheless I am hoping to carry on gaming, not least because the night of the Life Devouring Diploma (henceforth the LDD) falls conveniently with regard to Thursday down at GW Oxford. Whether I’m able to do any painting the rest of the time is another matter – and to be perfectly honest I have finally, seriously, and irrevocably (ha, ha) decided to concentrate on getting a WFB army into table shape.

So it looks like I’m stuck with the 40K armies I’ve got until further notice, which raises the dismal prospect of an endless succession of bulletins along the lines of ‘Went to GW Oxford this week, got eaten by a horde army again’. (My most recent list has included 31 infantry models at 1750: so unless I meet some other eternal optimist who turns up packing Deathwing, pretty much every other army I meet is going to feel like a horde.)

That’s how it went this week anyway: ended up playing Bugs, our local Tyranid specialist (see what I’ve done there?), who’d turned up with a small fraction of his 13,000 point collection. We ended up fighting over objectives and with a slightly eccentric mission where my jump infantry and vehicles (so most of the army) started in reserve, with my footsloggers and walkers dominating the centre of the table. The entire Nid swarm hugged their table edge.

Well, I managed to kill a Zoanthrope on my first turn, which was nice, but then some sort of unreasonable shoot-round-corners Tyranid weapon immobilised my Death Company Dreadnought (parked out of sight as an anger management measure), while a lance shot from the other Zoanthrope immobilised my Furioso Dreadnought in front of all the Nid monsters. Massed shooting from tooled-up Termagants killed a big chunk of my footsloggers… and so on.

I suppose I made a bit of a gaffe quite early on in opting to shoot at an encroaching Hormagaunt swarm with everything I had – quite sensibly Bugs removed the models in assault range of my Dreadnought. Had I managed to lock the unit in place with the Dread I could potentially have followed up with additional charges from the Death Company the following turn and wreaked utter havoc amongst them. As it was the Tyranids had their choice of targets the following turn and took full advantage.

The Dreadnought eventually splattered two Tyranid Primes and a unit of Warriors but by that point I had nothing else left on that side of the table but the (late-arriving) Whirlwind, which actually managed to get its points back (possibly a first) despite only firing two shots.

There was some cause for cheeriness on the other flank due to the startling carnage caused by Astorath and the Sanguinary Guard, who effectively wiped out a 30-strong Termagant brood on the charge, took out another ten when they counter-assaulted, and then gutted a Tervigon on their next turn (sadly the other Termagants on the table were just too far away to get their little brains fried by feedback). Then the Zoanthrope zapped one of the Guard, a Carnifex puked over three others, and suddenly the wind was no longer beneath their wings.

Astorath clearly sensed the game was up and made a proper hash of killing the Zoanthrope even with his special advantages against invulnerable opponents. As Astorath vanished beneath the Carnifex, the Zoanthrope, and twenty Termagants, and the Dreadnought was toasted by the shoot-round-corners guns, I decided to call it a night. All I had left was the Whirlwind and an Attack Bike which I had cunningly preserved by deploying in the midst of my sizable Dead Pile and then never doing anything with or referring to it.

Oh well. Looking back I suppose I had an outside chance in this game but blew it simply due to not sticking to my plan. I will (toy) soldier on for the time being and see if there are any glimmers of improvement in weeks to come.

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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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