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.

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