Tuesday 21 March 2023

Tyranids, Sir...fahsands of 'em!

 2000 to be precise.

Well, 2000 points of Matt's Tyranids, once again bearing down on my thin red line of Blood Angels in my latest adventure in 2nd Edition 40k.

Set Up & Deployment - Blood Angels

Having tried to learn some lessons from the last couple of games I've played, I tried to pick a suitable all-comers army. Although I suspected I'd be facing the wrath of a hive fleet, it was not outside the realms of possibility that Matt would dig out his Imperial Guard, or even turn up with a totally surprise army (he's done that before).

The key lessons I needed to absorb were:

  1. Psychic defence from a Librarian was a must,
  2. Death Company are more of a liability than and asset,
  3. Herohammer is the way forward,
  4. Moar Dreadnoughts!
Therefore my list was as follows:

  • Chief Librarian - Force Sword, Boltgun, Psychic Hood
  • Chaplain Mighty Hero - Jump Pack, Bionic Arm
  • Techmarine - Power Axe, Servo-Arm (I was actually using my Tech-Priest model)
  • 10 Tactical Marines - Plasma Gun, Missile Launcher, Power Sword (on Sergeant)
  • 10 Tactical Marines - Flamer, Heavy Bolter
  • 5 Assault Marines - Power Fist (on Sergeant)
  • 5 Terminators - Lightning Claws (one model), Power Sword (on Sergeant)
  • Dreadnought - Power Fist, Multi-Melta
  • Dreadnought - Power Fist, Assault Cannon

I deployed second in a castle formation to the left of my deployment zone, refusing the right flank (you'll see why shortly). I had the High Ground mission, but before venturing out to try to capture territory, I would have to thin the swarm a little. On piece of high terrain was in my set up area and I figured that I might stand a chance of snatching a second with the Assault Squad if things went well.

Things started well as the only damage the Tyranid special rules dealt to my army were that both of my Dreadnoughts were low on fuel. Given that I didn't plan to move them very much, this wasn't much of a problem. Luckily, no squads or characters were negatively impacted, although the amount of 1s I rolled was a touch ominous.

Set Up & Deployment - Tyranids

Matt unleashed even more of his old Tyranid army and to be honest, I'm not entirely sure what he had exactly, but it went something like this:

  • Hive Tyrant - Venom Cannon, Lash Whip, Bonesword, Level 4 Psyker
  • Lictor
  • 8 Termagants
  • 8 Termagants
  • 8 Hormagaunts
  • 8 Hormagaunts
  • 12 Genestealers
  • 12 Genestealers
  • 3 Tyranid Warriors - 2 Deathspitters, 1 Venom Cannon
  • 3 Tyranid Warriors - 2 Deathspitters, 1 Venom Cannon
  • Support

Matt deployed in the traditional fashion, ready to surge forwards across the board, using the smaller bugs as meat-shields for the heavy hitters. After last time, I was somewhat concerned about the prospect of Genestealers making it to my lines again, something which was made much more likely by the fact that Matt got the Trap mission, allowing him to deploy on my flanks (hence the refused flank), and so this was bearing down on my lines from my right...

Fortunately, I had drawn the Surprise Assault strategy card, which, although it didn't do anything about the Tyranids being hidden or on overwatch, did mean that they couldn't run or charge in their first turn, buying me more time to shoot them.

Blood Angels Turn 1

Given that I was out of range with most weapons and had no desire to get closer to the swarm, my first turn consisted of my putting lots of units on overwatch for the inevitable surge. The psychic phase saw us neutralising each other's powers and me learning that I needed to be closer to my Dreadnoughts if I was going to cast Quickening on one of them.

Tyranid Turn 1

With no option but to run (or walk, thanks to Surprise Assault) forwards as fast as possible, the Tyranids ate a face full of overwatch. On my right the Hormagaunts were reduced to a single model and the Genestealers and Warriors took casualties from the Dreadnought's multi-melta.

However, on the left, my heavy bolter double-jammed and the missile launcher missed, leaving only a smattering of bolter fire to stop the encroaching swarm. It wasn't enough.

With the right going well, but the left going badly, the centre was more of a miked bag. Aware that they were about to eat a face full of assault cannon, Matt opted to have his Tyranid Warriors fire at the plasma gun squad, killing all but one of them.

When the assault cannon overwatch came, it obliterated the Warriors.

The psychic phase then saw not a lot happen. I nullified Matt's attempt to cast and the Salamander failed to reach it's intended target.

Blood Angels Turn 2

More standing still and shooting, thinned the Tyranids out some more. However the turn began with templates. A spore mine dropped by the Biovore drifted into one of the Dreadnoughts and the 6" explosion caught a chunk of the army. Fortunately, it only damaged a Dreadnought arm and killed a single Marine.

Despite a failed Bombardment from my second strategy card (it caught a single Genestealer), the multi-melta Dreadnought finished off the Tyranid Warriors on my right, removing synapse creatures from that flank and leaving the smaller creatures vulnerable to psychology.

In the Psychic phase I managed to get Quickening cast on the assault cannon Dreadnought, but Matt put paid to that idea by using an energy drain.

Tyranid Turn 2

Whilst the right flank had seen me significantly weaken the enemy assault (although I forgot to take a picture of the Lictor flesh-hooking a Marine out of position), the left wasn't looking so hot, and the mob of Genestealers moved up into charge range behind their Termagant screen.

The following turn would see the Tyranid wave crash against the Blood Angel defences.

Blood Angel Turn 3

As I had included an Assault Squad and Chaplin, I decided to find out what they could do, and try to take out the Lictor, whilst the rest of the line kept up the barrage on the enemy. Annoyingly, Matt had positioned his Termagants and remaining Hormagaunts in away to prevent me being able to target the Genestealers with much, although the smaller bugs were thinned out.

Once again my left flank opened up, but despite being more accurate, they only succeeded in removing the Termagant screen. The Genestealers would be on them in moments.

In the close combat phase we learned that Assault Marines can't really deal with a Lictor, even when outnumbering, although one of them did survive and inflict a wound. However, they excelled as a Chaplain delivery system.

The Chaplain and the Lictor are a fairly even match in a fight, but with the added attacks from outnumbering, he was able to crush the foul beast in the Emperor's name.

Just like on the other flank, despite thinning out the enemy significantly, there were still Genestealers inbound. However, the remains of the Assault Squad might prove to be a distraction or a speed bump, and the Terminators and Dreadnought were there to stiffen the line. Things looked to be on a knife edge...

...and then the Hive Tyrant got pulled into the warp by a daemonic attack and the Tyranids were denied psychic protection, synapse immunity to psychology and a heavy hitter all at once.

I think this could be called a tipping point.

Tyranid Turn 3

A tide of ripping claws washed over the Marines. the Tactical Squads died wherever they met with Genestealers.

On both flanks, there was nothing the Marines could do. Additionally, the missile launcher squad was hit by a blast from the Carnifex and three of them were killed, robbing me of the chance of scoring high ground points.

Even the Techmarine, who had failed to fix the Dreadnought's arm, was pulled apart by the last two Hormagaunts, and pretty much everything followed up into the beleaguered multi-melta Dreadnought.

However, pschic dominance now meant that the assault cannon Dreadnought was given the Quickening, allowing it to shoot twice in the following turn, and there were still a squad of Terminators and couple of heavy duty characters knocking about.

This wasn't over.

Blood Angel Turn 4

Whilst the remaining Marines ran for cover, although even the highest point of the tower wouldn't protect them from the Genestealer's talons, the Quickened Dreadnought ambled round the corner and unleashed two volleys of devastating assault cannon fire, decimating the Genestealers.

The surviving creature then did me the massive favour of breaking and running, leaving the remains of two squads behind them and denying Matt at least two victory points (more assuming that the Genestealers would have survived).

On the right, the Librarian and Chaplain charged and destroyed the remains of the last Termagant and Hormagaunt broods, whilst the Terminators shot at whichever Genestealers weren't currently engaged with ripping the legs out from under the multi-melta Dreadnought.

The psychic phase saw the Librarian grant Iron Skin to himself to protect him from the inevitable counter attack.

Tyranid Turn 4

Which the hive mind banished, instinct took over and the Genestealers swarmed the Librarian with the intent of taking down the enemy leader. I'm not sure whether this was a better move than trying to finish off the Terminators, but it was certainly more cinematic...

...especially as the Librarian went full-on action hero and kicked their asses whilst surviving a couple of near death experiences with an obscene amount of sixes on his saving throws.

The Result

Although I had units in two areas of high ground, they were not above half strength and so I scored no points for the mission objective. However, I had destroyed pretty much all of Matt's army, whilst he crucially had left several squads still just about alive (the Terminators were even above half strength), but also hadn't managed to kill my expensive characters.

We decided that a spore mine does not count for the Tyranid mission objective, and so Matt scored no points there either.

Blood Angels 20 - Tyranids 9

Despite the score line, this felt close. Much closer than last week at any rate. Without the daemonic attack I'm not sure how it would have ended, and I can't ignore the fact that I got lucky in a number of ways early on (Surprise Assault, not rolling negative effects for my units, getting all the good warp cards, etc.). However, I also feel that I got this one tactically right to the extent that even without the same level of luck, this would have been a close game that I could very well have won.

I did win though.

This is important because it's the first time my Blood Angels have ever won, whether it be in 4th edition with the free White Dwarf codex (can you guess why I did Blood Angels?), 5th edition, 9th edition or Horus Heresy. Admittedly, in that time I've probably only played about a dozen games (although I played more with my not-Necrons).

It appears that all those years of building a haphazard second-hand army (which causes major issues against anything that has been remotely tailored - I never have the good stuff) has actually created something that can effective in a game from 20 years ago.

It will be interesting to see if I can improve on my performance against the Eldar at some point, although Pete is currently adding units at a rate which implies he's about to invade Holy Terra, so who knows what I'll end up facing.

Thursday 16 March 2023

The Colour Out of Space

This post is nothing to do with H.P. Lovecraft.

Instead, the title is more of a reference to the fact that due to the recent weather, after finishing off the last of the Scourge models I own for Dropzone Commander, I was forced to take photos inside. 

Despite taking all of the following photos within a few minutes of each other, and taking them in exactly the same place, the lighting and colours have behaved really strangely, and so there is a complete lack of consistency.

I can assure you, that all of these models are the same dark red done with Fleshtearer's Red contrast paint.

I'm not sure why there is so much variation in the colours and lighting. I didn't even move while taking them.

Maybe it's because they are aliens.

Anyway, at least it gave me something to talk about here, because these were a quick and dirty job to get something else off the Lead Mountain and it gives me a workable Scourge force to use as I've now painted the whole starter army box.

Will I add to them? I'm not so sure. I prefer my Resistance army, which has more variety and character in the models, and I still have a few things to paint for that too.

Anyway. They're done. Here are the numbers:

Acquired: 26*
Lead Mountain:525*

*Yes, I've spent some money. More on that soon.

Friday 10 March 2023

Opposites Attract

Did I mention I was running out of 40k things to paint?

Well these aren't even mine...technically.

Over the years I have made a number of overture towards Mrs Cheaphammer to try to engage her in this hobby of mine. She has played the occasional game or two but ultimately wargaming just doesn't really float her boat.

The most recent of my failed initiatives was Christmas 2021 when I bought her Getting Started With Warhammer 40,000 as a joke present. Needless to say, she didn't get started with 40k, but the booklet came with two miniatures that she'd built and I'd undercoated for her which I asked recently if I could paint, seeing as she clearly didn't want to.

She agreed, and I asked what colour she'd like the Primaris Marine to be...

It's not like she even particularly likes pink. I suspect the decision was more a comment about how keen she is on the grim darkness of the 41st millennium.

Anyway, I had my mission parameters and I set about accomplishing the task with gusto. A base coat of Emperor's Children was hit with a wash of Baal Red (I still have some left) and dry brushed back up. Most of the rest of the details were done with various contrast painst over Grey Seer, with the shoulder pads being done with Caledor Sky after the Talassar Blue contrast I'd used on the chest plate ending up patchy on a flat surface.

I've not done any transfers as I want to discuss this with Mrs Cheaphammer, as this model is ultimately for her. I'm not planning an army of pink marines...although it is rather striking.

This is actually the first Primaris Marine I've painted and the scale shift (along with the open pose) does make painting it feel easier than the firstborn I've been doing recently.

When it came to the Necron, Mrs Cheaphammer couldn;t care less what I did with it. As I've mentioned, grim darkness is not her thing, so reanimated metallic corpses was never going to work, however, throw in the fact that she has severe arachnophobia and the multi-legged scarab theme was not met with much enthusiasm, as you can probably imagine. 

I used the same approach to painting as the robot spiders (which are officially the least popular miniatures in the house...at leas until I get round to Shelob for LotR) from the last post and it worked well. Whether I could stomach painting an army all exactly the same is a question I need to ponder. However, it was simple to do.

This is probably the first time I've painted miniatures 'just because', with no real intent to use either for anything. They just fitted my mood and were simple enough to do, which made it enjoyable.

It's all progress.

Acquired: -7
Painted: 72
Lead Mountain: 502

Monday 6 March 2023

Spiders From...Mars?

As you may have noticed, I'm in a little of a 40k phase, but I'm running out of models to paint. Therefore, as I'd just painted up a Tech-Priest and some Mechanicus terrain I figured I could satisfy my cravings by painting up some robots I've had knocking around for a long time and somehow argue them into themed games with the Tech-Priest.

However, something happened...

Basically, as I started painting the larger spider bots, I noticed the shaped of the plates on their legs sort of resembled coffins, and this stirred my imagination towards another 40k race where spidery robots and coffin (or sarcophagus) themed iconography were perhaps more appropriate.

The spider bots were painted really simply with a Leadbelcher base and an Agrax Earthshade wash. I then picked out the trim in Brass Scorpion (is it still called that?), did some glowy bits with Hexwraith Flame over White Scar, threw Black Templar contrast paint over the pipes and then finished off with a bit of highlighting of the spiky bits with Chainmail (that's definitely not its name these days).

These are chunky metal models with more than a bit of heft to them. As such I expect to be constantly sticking the legs back on, and so I might end up putting them on bases.

In terms of how I'll use them, the could still work as Mechanicus constructs, or as generic sci-fi/pulp villains. However, although Tomb Spiders (sorry, 'Canoptek Spyders' tm) don't appear in second edition 40k, these guys match the more chunky aesthetic of the original Necrons, so should I acquire some I might play with the vehicle design rules to make something that seems appropriate (possibly using a dreadnought as a base).

I'm less keen on the sentry turrets, but they were painted the same way and fit a similar aesthetic. In theory there's nothing stopping me using them with the Necron Warrior stat line (scarabs don't have ranged weapons) apart from the fun police. I'll have to see whether this concept develops into anything as the old Necrons are more than a little expensive.

So, I've sort of dipped my toes into Necrons, at least aesthetically. However, even if nothing comes of that idea, I really like the spiders and might need to find an alternate use for them.

Acquired: -7
Painted: 70
Lead Mountain: 504

Sunday 5 March 2023

A Learning Experience

This weekend saw me taking another trip back in time to the early nineties and playing 2nd Edition 40k again. Pete's been building a 2nd Edition Eldar army and wanted to give it a run out, so with Matt operating as umpire (a very nineties concept) and rules lawyer, we put together 1250 point armies to try out new things and learn some valuable, if painful, lessons.


To keep things simple in terms of knowing what I was doing, I kept my force relatively similar to what I used against Matt's Tyranids. Other than swapping in the models I'd painted this week (partly because they were new, but partly because I thought they'd be a better choice against Eldar), the only major change was adding in a squad of Death Company and a Chaplin to find out what they did.

Chaplain - Crozius, Bolt Pistol, Jump Pack (Army Commander)
Tech-Marine - Bike, Plasma Pistol
Terminator Squad - Power Fists, Storm Bolters, Heavy Flamer
Tactical Squad - Bolters, Flamer, Heavy Bolter
Death Company - Chainswords, Bolt Pistols, Jump Packs
Dreadnought - Power Fist, Assault Cannon 

In his usual frighteningly efficient way, Pete has been beavering away for the last couple of weeks painting up Aspect Warriors as he acquired them, not realising he had 30 Guardian stashed away in a box. This army is likely to grow quickly.

Exarch & 5 Striking Scorpions
Exarch & 5 Fire Dragons
Exarch & 3 Warp Spiders
Exarch & 3 Dark Reapers
5 Guardians

I knew Pete had to bring a psyker as his army commander, but I opted not to include a Librarian because I  didn't want to diminish my small force even further. This, surprising as it may seem, would turn out to be a MASSIVE error of judgement on my part.


Pete deployed first...behind stuff. I took advantage of a strategy card to make his Dark Reapoers arrive late which ultimately shut them out of the game. He had his Warp Spiders and the Dark Reaper Exarch on his left, Fire Dragons in the middle and the Guradians, Striking Scorpions and Farseer on his right.

I opted to send my Death Company towards the Farseer as I (rightly, as it happens) predicted that if I didn't shut him down, he could cause me significant problems. I put my Terminators in the centre with the Dreadnought and Tactical Combat Squads on the right.

We both drew the Engage and Destroy mission.


I got first turn and the Death Company jumped towards the enemy as they are required to do. Despite having to roll a scatter for each of them, they actually landed nicely grouped. Something which wouldn't turn out to be as positive as I hoped.

In what turned out to be a horrible case of new model syndrome, the Tactical Marines were his by a Bombing Run strategy card which killed my new heavy bolter model, the Dreadnought jammed his assault cannon killing some of the Fire Dragons and on Pete's turn the Tech-Marine was hit in the face with a web of skulls by the Dark Reaper Exarch the face and subsequently drove his bike into a wall.

On the up side, I did manage to whittle the Fire Dragons down to below half strength, breaking them and essentially taking them out of the game. Although I sniped at them throughout the game, I failed to finish off the unit.

The Farseer stepped out into the limelight and began to wreak havoc. I can't remember exactly what he cast each turn but he did manage to get Fortune cast onto the Striking Scorpions before doing this...

An Eldritch Storm cast with ultimate force hit the Death Company, knocking them flying and rendering them unable to move in the following turn. Fortunately I was able to use an energy drain card to get rid of the storm, along with the previously cast Fortune, and allow the Death Company to regroup.


In a somewhat uneventful turn for me, I advanced and fired where I could. The Dreadnought needed to clear it's jam, but the remains of one of my combat squads took aim and executed the Dark Reaper Exarch lurking in the ruins.

The Terminators were unable to hurt the Farseer who, it turns out, is Toughness 5. FIVE!

In Pete's turn, his Warp Spiders hopped up into position and used their silly string guns to turn two Marines into goop before running away like the filthy xeno cowards they are.

The Warp Spider Exarch tried to do the same to the Dreadnought, but it turns out that dead Marines hermetically sealed into a metal coffin aren't as vulnerable to being turned into goop. However, the Marine stood behind it was. 

He then proceeded to take a second move and charge the last Marine in the squad the Warp Spider squad had butchered, and finish the butchering.

This wasn't going well and Pete had only actually been using half of his army.


After much deliberation, the Death Company opted to drop in front of of the Farseer and try to kill him with Bolt Pistol fire. It didn't work because of invulnerable saves and TOUGHNESS FIVE!

It's an Elf for crying out loud!

Also, this was an error as the Death Company should have tried to charge. However, it's unclear what happens if they charge something that's techically in range, but scatter out of range, do they get to charge and then shoot, or do they just have to risk it. Also, at what point do you work out whether Death Company with jump packs are in the 'must charge if able' zone, given that it would essentially mean pre-measuring? Answers on a postcard please.

Suddenly presented with a target in the open, the Dreadnought pointed out that the Imperium also had weapons that could turn people into goop and unloaded its assault cannon into the Warp Spider Exarch, turning it into a red smear.

In Pete's turn, the Farseer and the Striking Scorpions came charging out and I learned all about the filth that are mandiblasters. Admittedly, Pete rolled well and I rolled poorly, but half the Death Company had lost a wound and the Chaplain was dead before any blows had been struck.

I turns out that I probably should have brought more than the lowest level Chaplain...

The Death Company actually held their own against the regular Striking Scorpions and had it just been the units fighting, would probably have won out. However, even though the Exarch was having a bad day, the Farseer was more than enough to tip the balance, as its terrifying Singing Spear and a successfully cast Executioner started to whittle the Death Company down.

To add insult to injury, another Eldritch Storm was dropped on the Terminators, effectively taking them out of the game and the Guardians finally popped their heads out of cover and actually managed to kill a Terminator with concentrated Shuriken Catapult fire.


It was all over bar the shouting, and the Death Company fell to the blades of the Striking Scorpions and Farseer.

The Eldar swarmed the Terminators, largely ignoring the apparently impervious Dreadnought, apart from the Fire Dragon Exarch who melted the last Tactical Marine. The Warp Spiders unleashed a burst at the Terminators and in a frankly predictable display of saving throw rolling, killed two of them.

Final Score: Blood Angels 6 - Eldar 17


On of my issues with all iterations of 40k over the years has been the fact that if there is a mismatch between armies, it very quickly becomes so one-sided that it ultimately stops being a game and just becomes a series of long explanations why one players troops are dying. Often this can lead to games not being very fun for one player as they just don't get to do anything.

This was one of those occasions.

However, rather than wallowing, let's have a think about how things could have gone better for me.

1. Take a Librarian. Seriously, having no comeback in the psychic phase hurt. They seem to not always be essential (or even beneficial), such as against Tyranids, but I think they are a must take against Eldar.

2. Know Your Enemy. I deployed badly due to ignorance. The Death Company should have gone after the Warp Spiders and Dark Reapers and I should have left the blob in the corner alone. This would have forced the Striking Scorpions to come out if they wanted a fight, and I could have shot them then.

3. Herohammer. This was apparently the case in 40k as well as Fantasy at the time. I need to beef up the Chaplain so he can do damage and stands a chance when going up against enemies like the Farseer.

4. Speed. The Terminators were too slow to get involved in this game. When going up against an opponent who won't come to me, they will need a Rhino or to teleportation.

5. Points Sinks. The Death Company (with the Chaplain) and the Terminators were both heavy investments of points, meaning that I didn't have much else to play with. At this points level, I probably can't include both as it leaves me without flexibility if one (or both) of them are neutralised.

6. Dreadnoughts. Despite not being amazing in close combat, the Dreadnoughts I've taken in both games have been a real threat and hard to deal with. This might be different as enemy guns get bigger, but as it stands, they seem to be an auto include.

So another game down, and I have to admit, it's blunted my enthusiasm a little. I probably need to spend a little more time planning and tailoring for opponents to get the most out of this iteration of the game. Fortunately, I have quite a wide spread of options available in my Blood Angels, so I can switch things round next time and maybe...just whisper it...eventually win a game of 40k.