Wednesday, 6 May 2015

Perils Of The Hive Mind - A 1000 Point Battle Versus Tyranids

Set-up in my man-cave.
I came in after work on Wednesday , wolfed my dinner down quickly, and awaited an arrival.  For the first time in a while I had a Warhammer 40,000 game scheduled, and with a different opponent than my usual Dave/Stuart/Charles trifecta.

Graeme is a chap I’ve known for a while and have met for a few coffee meets or taken part in group Warhammer games with, but never played one-on-one.  I mainly know him for Orks and Noise Marines, but apparently he also has a Tyranid army and hadn’t had the chance to play it in ages.  I also hadn’t played in a while and hadn’t tried out my new terrain, so I was keen for a chance to give it a spin.!

My table was set up in the nerd room and, after a wee cup of tea and a chat with each other and Sister Superior, a cheeky 1000 pointer took place.

My only Blastmaster of the game
I held back my usual urge to play ALL THE SONIC WEAPONS, which is fun and all but horrendously point expensive.  Instead I took two comparatively cheap Noise Marine units – a 10 man unit with Sonic Blasters (but no blastmasters) and an 8 man unit kitted out for melee.  A twelve man Cultist unit was thrown in for cannon fodder, and a Sonic Dreadnough with Blastmaster for fire support.  Finally, the army was given two HQ – a Chaos Lord to command and a Dark Apostle to inspire.

My opponent chose to specialize on Close Combat and infiltration above all else.  Two swarms of Genestealers, three stealthy Lictors, a sea of Spore Mines and a giant Mawlock formed the heart of his army, all with minimal or no ranged capacity – and much of it deploying either as Infiltrators or hovering off the board as Deep Strikers.  A little bit of firepower was included in the form of some hardy Hive Guard and some organic artillery was present in the shape of three Biovores.

Lots of Tyranids, not on the table at the main deployment phase.

The Tyranids are not an army I have much experience fighting.  One of my first games when I restarted 40K was with Aaron’s Tyranids, but I don’t think I’ve played them since.  I’ve fought Sisters of Battle, Space Marines, Imperial Guard, Tau, Eldar, Blood Angels, Necrons and Orks… but I’ve not had the delight of fighting a Hivefleet.   I therefore went into this battle with little idea of what to expect, save that in close combat I’d get pumped but at range I’d have the advantage.

One thing I hadn't factored in, however, was Synapse.  Almost all Tyranid creatures are just simple animals, controlled psychically by a group hive mind.  The Snynapse Creatures are the brains of the outfit who direct the others.  When on the table and out of range of a Synapse Creature it's time to roll for Leadership and see if the creautres do what you want or if base animal instincts kick in - charging, retreating or going to ground irrespective of your needs.

This would have been amazing.... if the Biovores hadn't failed their Leadership test
Graeme's list was seriously lacking in synapse creatures, and while he could rely on the Genestealers and Lictors the same could not be said for the other units in his army.  The Biovores and Hive Guard failed several leadership tests and spent the first half of the game doing sod all.  The Biovores in particular were in a great position to rain death down on my units.... but couldn't be convinced to do so.
The Biovores are routed by the Cultist/Dark Apostle combo.

Therefore the first turn or two were a Chaos Space Marine cakewalk.  His Warlord - a mega-Lictor - and his Biovores were wiped out in close combat by my Dark Apostle reinforced by a squad of Chaos Cultists.  I like pairing them up when I can - the Apostle makes the culstists Fearless so removes the weakness of their low Leadership, the cultists act as great bullet-magnets for the Apostle.  Here they proved particularly barnstorming .  By the end of turn 2 I was sitting on  a good chunk of victory points, and Graeme seemed to fret that he couldn't pull it back.

No-one wants to be the first to move.  Kinda like picking partners in country dancing at school.

Another problem on the first couple of turns was Graeme's nervousness about closing to melee.  A Nopise Marine player as well, he knows how nasty they can be on overwatch and that he couldn't run in the open without getting gunned down.  He therefore spent a lot of time slowly moving his units between cover, trying to get them in a place they could charge me safely... but all the while it gave me time to pick at him with fire.

The trap is sprung.

When he finally got into melee in turn 3, though, things looks up for him.  He set up two units to charge one, forcing me to pick and choose who to fire on as I can only overwatch one.  Genestealers and Lictors both heading to my Dreadnought destroyed it, partly because I had to split my fire and attacks to deal with them.

The cultists don't look so hardy as the Hive Guard and Spore Mines move up.

As good as the Apostles/Cultists are in melee, in ranged they don't have so impressive a survival rating and when the Hive Guard finally started moving I found my Apostle wiped out.  When only the Cultists were left, they were easilly picked off when a few Spore Mines detonated.

Things-a-looking not so goo-oood!

After that, my early successes faded away.  His monstrous Mawloc popped out the ground sandworm-style and ate everything which took his fancy - in the above picture, my Chaos Lord finds himself forced to try to take the thing on in melee, a situation which went poorly for him.  If I could have survived the first round of combat my Power Fist would have probably taken a major chunk out of him but it was not to be.

All over bar the guitar solos
 In the end, the Tyranids mopped up what resistance I had and on turn 6 I was sent homeward tae think again.

So, what did I make of the game?  I would have benefited from more heavy weapons as the lack of multiple Blastmasters to chomp through larger units was notable.  I did do well early on, partly because Graeme was nervous about my Noise Marines than I was being skilled with them, but once he got control of his creatures through the Hive Mind he was back in the game with a bang.

we perhaps scuppered ourselves by putting all three objectives in the central third of the board.  The wings became a rather dull area to be left as quickly as possible, which meant all the big game action happened in a 2ft foot square area.  Next time I'll need to consciously spread my objective placements out a bit more.

The new terrain worked very well.  Without it Graeme would have been getting shot at constantly, which would have been no fun at all.  Instead he had lots of places to sneak, hide and infiltrate which made for a much more interesting game.  The multiple levels of the buildings saw little use, something I might change next time by deploying them more centrally.  (Or perhaps put an objective on the top of one building?)

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