Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Kill Your Bugs

I’ve played a couple of 5th edition games with my tyranids over the last few weeks. Unfortunately both games have been played against extremely mobile armies using the annihilation mission, which I’ve come to realize is probably worst-case scenario for my nids (especially gaunts). I lost both games but learned a bit about what works and what doesn’t in the new paradigm.

The first game was against Jay’s Blood Angels with pitched battle deployment. Jay had a death company squad led by Lemartes, an inquisitor with retinue and land raider, several jump marine squads, and three vindicators. I was using my flying dakkarant, four stealer squads with scuttlers, flesh hooks, and carapace, two squads of 20 termagants without number, three zoanthropes with synapse and blast, and two beefy gunfexes. In this game I flanked my four stealer squads and split the rest of my forces into a pincer to try and keep the assault marines nervous about moving out and getting charged. All four stealer squads arrived on the second turn, which seemed quite fortuitous for a moment, but in Jay’s next turn he moved his whole army to attack just one side and I realized I had made a big tactical error. The stealers on the right side would never reach any opponents, and without much in the way of help the stealers on the left would be annihilated. I actually managed to get a decent sized squad on the left into combat with one jump squad but the bugs totally whiffed (I had been thinking flesh hooks would serve them better than tendrils – another mistake – thanks Kingsley). The lictor arrived and blew out one of the vindicators, which was nice, but he was quickly gunned down in the next turn. The hive tyrant shot and assaulted the death company, inflicting only a few casualties before he was easily brought down by their rending attacks. Another mistake – I always succumb to the temptation to charge him into combat, when he’s probably better off just jumping and shooting every turn. After he finished off the stealers on the left side, he jumped up and wiped the two zoanthropes and gaunt squad camping out in the woods a short distance away. The gaunts came back the next turn from my table edge, but who really gives a crap in killpoints? I believe he ended up winning by two or three points.

For my second game I ditched “without number” and took two squads of 28 gaunts instead of the smaller squads. I also wanted to try out a close combat fex at least once, so I tooled one of my gunfexes up with talons, tusks, and a mace tail. Instead of flesh hooks I gave the stealers feeding tendrils. The rest of the army was the same. Robert’s back in town and he brought over his dark eldar army. I wasn’t ecstatic to see the dice roll for mission pick kill points again, but then again, I hadn’t played against S&Mdar in quite a long time so maybe it wouldn’t be so bad this time. It was. Robert played a fairly mixed force of two squads of wyches in raiders, three warrior squads with two dark lances each, two ravagers with three destructors each, a squad of 7 bikes led by an archon, a beastmaster with four warp beasts, a squad of 7 or 8 incubi led by a dracon, and a talos. When he reminded me what all the particular units were capable of, I knew I was in a lot of trouble. Their mobility, combat drugs, and wych weapons were going to negate the stealers better than possibly any other army. We rolled for table quarters deployment zones, and I went first. I decided to outflank with only two of the stealer squads, keeping the other two in the mix of gaunts and fexes in the middle. After a single blast from my gunfex’s barbed strangler wiped out nine warriors, the ravagers and warriors laid into him with destructor blasts and dark lances, destroying him in a single turn. He charged into the front-most gaunt squad with one team of wyches and did plenty of damage there. The fearless rule really works against you when you only have a 6+ save. Not such a good idea to let gaunts get assaulted. A squad of stealers and the combat fex quickly ate them in return, but the stealers were killed by the charging talos (though it died as well) and the combat fex was dropped by lances and destructors before he could regenerate any wounds. The hive tyrant also did very little damage to anything before he was shot down. The lictor arrived, deep-striking right into one of the warrior squads, and I rolled a 2 on the mishap table, meaning he was DOA. The first squad of outflanking stealers came in on my left but were intercepted by robert’s second wych squad (which had conveniently rolled for “always strike first” drugs). Brought down to just three stealers, they actually managed to push the wyches back and wipe them out with a sweeping advance. By this time, however, they were my last models on the table. The second squad of flanking stealers had tried to bring down the ravagers (which Robert had forgotten to move the previous turn) but could only destroy one, and it had exploded and killed three stealers in the blast. Yeesh. I will say that feeding tendrils still paid off in this game, doing much to alleviate my apparently abominable luck when it comes to rolling hits in close combat.

So, in closing, I learned the following lessons about bugs in 5th edition:

  • feeding tendrils are good as they sound

  • extended carapace on stealers is deader than dead – total waste and I'm ditching them as of today

  • bigger squads of stealers are better as you really don’t want them to lose combat and have to take armor saves

  • lictors, meh

  • zoanthropes were decent – the 24” blast attack is especially nice

  • close combat fex... I dunno about this guy yet. I mostly took him to keep opponents antsy about charging into gaunts holding an objective, but obviously in kill points that’s pretty moot. He's great when he can get stuck in and a tendrils unit is nearby. I still like the idea but he may go back to being gunfex #2.

  • monstrous creatures in general do not last as long without cover saves available to them like in 4th edition. Unfortunately I may have to switch to the tyrant guard approach instead of the wings. With run he could still be in firing range by the second turn at the latest.

  • gaunts are pretty meh, especially in annihilation games, but I still think their large numbers and synapse-range implacability would be useful in objective-type missions.

Tournament: Dragon's Lair 8/23/08

I made a mixed guard-sisters army for Saturday’s Dragon’s Lair 2000 point tournament, consisting of:

Command HQ squad - veteran with standard, lascannon team
Junior officer - iron discipline, bolter

4 Hardened veterans - plasma gun, 2 meltaguns
Veteran sergeant - plasma pistol

4 Hardened veterans - plasma gun, 2 meltaguns
Veteran sergeant - plasma pistol

Infantry platoon
Command squad - 2 meltaguns, lascannon team
Junior officer - iron discipline, bolter
Infantry squad – plasma gun, lascannon team
Infantry squad – plasma gun, lascannon team
Infantry squad – plasma gun, lascannon team
Infantry squad – plasma gun, lascannon team

10 Sisters of battle – meltagun, flamer
Veteran sister superior – book of st. lucius
Rhino – smoke launchers, extra armor

10 Sisters of battle – meltagun, flamer
Veteran sister superior – book of st. lucius
Rhino – smoke launchers, extra armor

Hellhound – extra armor, pintle heavy stubber

Hellhound – extra armor, pintle heavy stubber

Leman Russ Demolisher – extra armor, hull lascannon

Leman Russ Demolisher – extra armor, hull lascannon

Leman Russ – extra armor, hull heavy bolter, sponson heavy bolters, pintle heavy stubber

I won the first match but lost the second and third. Somehow I ended up with the third place best painted prize, but I traded the winnings to Nick for a couple of broadsides he apparently doesn’t use. My plan is to make a tau army combining a ton of battlesuits with a ton of kroot. I’m sure there’ll be a hammerhead or two in there, too. It’s all quite a long ways off though.

Here are a few more pictures from nearby games:

Chaos vs. Demons

Eldar vs. Guard

Eldar vs. Pre-Heresy Alpha Legion

Game 1 - Blood Angels - Seize Ground - Pitched Battle

David had a jump death company squad led by lemartes, 5 terminators with 2 assault cannons, a death company dreadnought, a veteran assault squad, a couple squads of 10 marines in rhinos, and two baal predators. The blood angels had a lot of ground to cover in order to bring their strenghts to bear on my guard and ladies, and I dealt with the death company and terminators pretty quickly. Then my ordnance really got going in the late turns and it went from bad to worse. I ended up controlling more objectives, imperial guard wins.

Game 2 - Space Marines - Capture and Control - Dawn of War

Chris was playing his pre-heresy alpha legion army, which included a commander with a tank hunter command squad, a demonhunter inquisitor with a psycannon and some kind of cheap retinue, a veteran assault squad, a vindicare assassin, two large tactical marine squads, and two predator destructors. He outflanked with his veterans and they arrived on my right side, quickly wiping out the infantry squads grouped there. They eventually segued into a couple of my tanks and destroyed them. I wiped out one of the big tac squads with tanks and deep-striking veterans, but couldn’t finish off the second squad. A rhino picked up the one survivor, and though I destroyed the tank, the lone marine still got out in time to contest my home objective. Alpha legion wins.

Game 3 - Imperial Guard - Annihilation - Table Quarters

My last game was against Kings' bug hunting guard. He set up half of his force way back in his corner with some armor and light troops up front (the sentinels and nearby men seen in the bottom left are actually waiting to outflank). It quickly became a tank battle supreme in the middle of the table with devastating ordnance flying in both directions. I tried to mass my sisters toward his demolisher and hellhound but their meltaguns failed to bring the big tank down. Fortunately my deep-striking elements landed bang on target and brought two or three tanks down in one turn (with explosions IIRC). Two of his sentinels outflanked behind my russ, destroying it immediately, so I sent the conscripts over to get a little battle experience fighting them in hand-to-hand, tying them up for the rest of the game so I could concentrate my fire on better targets. Eventually Kings racked up enough kill points to put him ahead when the end of the game was called. Imperial guard wins.

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Tournament: Battleforge Games 8-09-08

Last Saturday BFG put on another 2000 point hobby tournament, only this time with much less free bbq (sad face). I hurried to paint up one last thousand son marine so I could field the appropriate chosen number of the four cult squads (and the terminators) in my "cult car" army.

Demon Prince - mark of slaanesh, lash of submission, wings
9 Terminators - 6 combiplasmas, 1 combiflamer, 2 chainfists, 1 reaper autocannon, 1 pair lightning claws, mark of tzeentch
9 Thousand Sons - sorceror with bolt of change, rhino with extra armor
8 Berzerkers - skull champion with power weapon and meltabomb, rhino with extra armor
7 Plaguemarines - plague champion with power fist, rhino with extra armor
6 Noise Marines - noise champion with power weapon and doom siren, rhino with extra armor
6 Lesser Demons
3 x 1 Obliterators

Overall the army worked well, and did best when the obliterators and terminators were doing their jobs. The lesser demons are good even though I miss having 10 of them; as any modest application of firepower can RTS them back to the warp PDQ (no COD). Lash is always great but I still need more practice. I'm considering bringing a defiler on board for ordnance (and just to have the bad ass model), maybe I could cram that in and ditch the weensy squad of demons. Also the "chosen number" gimmick is neat in theory, but I miss having similar sized squads of each cult. Six noise marines don't last long, so I sometimes had to get the doom siren in while I could, before they were vaporized into purple pink roadstains. Here's some more pictures of various armies:

Jay's Eldar vs. Monty's Witch Hunters

John's Tallarn Guard vs. a horde of living molded plastic orks

Kingsley's Guard vs. Mike's Chaos

Game 1 - Chaos (Pre-Heresy World Eaters)

Deployment: 12" long edges
Primary Objective: Victory points
Secondary Objective: Command and control
Tertiary Objective: Table quarters
Bonus Point: Have one unit in your own deployment zone at the end of the game

Adam's got a great pre-heresy world eater army, complete with pre-betrayal Kharn (pre "^" even?). It included a chaos lord with a bloodfeeder, 9 or 10 berzerkers, 4 squads of 10 chaos marines with two meltaguns, icon of khorne, and a powerfist champion, each in rhinos, and a land raider. I believe Adam chose to go second, so I deployed my gang in a long line with the prince, tzeentchers, and an oblit initially camping out the home objective. He responded by crunching up in his right corner, on the opposite side of his objective, and bursting forward from there. I slowed down a couple of the rhinos early on, brought in the terminators on my right side to back up the noise marines, and sent the demons running towards his objective. I brought the plaguemarines back to hold my objective and paired the thousand sons with the berzerkers and met him in the middle. There was an epic battle on my left side when his land raider pulled around and disgorged the chaos lord and berzerkers right into the tzeentch terminators. The lord's bloodfeeder whiffed two turns in a row as the terminators slowly wiped out his bloodthirsty brothers. When he did get in one good round of attacks, the tzeentch invulnerable saved only one of my guys and the chainfist terminator cut him in half. Nearby, he brought in two obliterators right in front of two of my own, they exchanged fire, and one of my big guys fell. The other sprinted off in pursuit of the dratted land raider, missing or glancing it with his multimelta until he too was brought down under heavy fire from Adam's obliterators. However, the last terminator saved the day once again and exploded the land raider with his chainfist, helping me lock down the primary mission. My demons eventually made it to Adam's objective, but they were intercepted by one of his marine squads. My berzerkers and demon prince (1 wound left!), having wiped out a couple squads in the middle, made a last turn effort to stop them and grab his objective for their own. The marines had actually been pinned by lash when I stupidly decided to attack them with the prince (must be the chaos bloodthirst). I think Toggog killed one or two before the marine champion dragon-punched him the fuck out *blau*. But the berzerkers had grabbed the objective and blocked the approach with their rhino, so I accomplished the second objective as well. I also controlled more quarters and earned the bonus point. The vintage world eaters were sent packing back in time in their mega-armored deloreans!

Game 2 - Imperial Guard (Tallarn)

Deployment: 12" long edges
Primary objective: Seize Ground
Secondary objective: Headhunter (destroy enemy HQ)
Tertiary objective: Annihilation (kill points)
Bonus point: Have one unit in your own deployment zone at the end of the game

My opponent for my second game was John. He had an hq with a plasma pistol and standard, a chimera, an autocannon fire support team, a missile launcher anti-tank squadsome veterans with meltaguns, several different infantry squads, four autocannon sentinels, a hellhound, a demolisher, and a basilisk. He went first and deployed his armor, infiltrating most if not all of his infantry. I probably should have deployed in a long line to keep from getting encircled but I wanted to own the left side strongly since there were more objectives and hard cover over there. Consequently he built a ring of fire around me and poured it on for six turns until I had only a few models left. The dice luck swung strongly back and forth pretty much every turn. He had plenty of great shots in the second turn but actually inflicted very little damage thanks to a lot of scatters and good smoke launcher saves on my part. My demon prince got in place to lash his HQ into assault but rolled a 2 or 3 and was left standing out in the open. All three of my obliterators deep struck into great positions but could not manage to bring down any of the heavy tanks. I managed to get the berzerkers to the far left objective but after the obliterator assigned to kill the demolisher totally failed, the heavy ordnance reduced them to the champion. The skullmeister tried to assault one of the Russes himself, did zippo, and was brought down by Commander El Amin whoever-the-fuck's power weapon charge in the next turn. The plaguemarines cut right towards the fire support corral and managed to send one of the nearby squads running with a burst of bolter and melta fire. Then they were wiped out by a basilisk barrage. His veterans outflanked low on my left and shot up my demons. The surviving two charged in and wiped them out. In the end, he controlled two or three objectives to my one, had fragged my demon prince, and had 9 kill points to my 6 for a full sweep.

Game 3 - Eldar

Deployment: 12" long edges
Primary objective: Seize ground
Secondary objective: Destroy your opponent's most expensive unit
Tertiary objective: Victory points

Third round I drew Jay. I might have the objectives switched around in priority for this one. Anyway, he was fielding an avatar, a 6-man squad of jetbikes, three squads of pathfinders, a big unit of howling banshees in a wave serpent, a unit of wraithguard with a warlock in a wave serpent, a vyper with a rocket launcher, three war walkers with scatter lasers, and two fire prisms. The pathfinders and fire prisms took my obliterators out early on, as the demon prince and thousand sons advanced and tried to deal with the avatar. I rolled a shitty lash distance against some pathfinders and the demon prince was left out of assault. He was finished off in the next turn and never could get over to help the thousand sons. The squad lasted three turns in assault against the avatar, but the sorceror's force weapon never managed to roll a 6 to wound and they were wiped out. The terminators teleported in behind the brawl though, wiped out the wraithguard, and finally finished off the avatar with chainfists after a couple of turns of fighting. The berzerkers fought off the howling banshees but were cleared out by the outflanking war walkers. The nurgle marines were holding an objective until the jetbikes pulled a last turn turboboost to contest. He didn't wipe out my pricey terminators but won the primary mission by holding one objective to my zero. He also came out ahead in victory points.

Monday, August 4, 2008

Drop it

Even though there are supposedly plastic drop pod kits on the way, I seriously doubt I will buy them to switch in for my DIY pods. Hopefully most people will not have a problem with this, given that they are pretty much the same height and girth as the old forge world pods (and with luck, the new GWs will be the same size). I already play-tested this 1750 list against a couple of people and it was fun even when things weren't going all that well.


Wolf Guard Battle Leader – frost blade, bolt pistol, wolf pelt, belt of russ, frag grenades

Rune Priest – frost blade, runic staff, wolf pelt, chooser of the slain, frag grenades

Wolf Guard Battle Leader – terminator armor, twin lightning claws, wolf pelt, runic charm
4 Wolf Guard Bodyguards - terminator armor, 2 bolter-flamers, 2 heavy flamers, 2 power weapons, 1 chain fist, 1 thunder hammer, 4 wolf pelts, 4 runic charms
Drop Pod


Venerable Dreadnought – plasma cannon, heavy flamer, extra armor
Drop Pod

5 Wolf Scouts – 2 plasma pistols, 2 power weapons, 1 meltagun, frag grenades
Wolf Guard Leader – bolt pistol, power fist, wolf pelt, wolf tooth necklace


9 Grey Hunters – 2 plasma pistols, 1 meltagun, 2 power fists
Drop Pod

9 Grey Hunters – 2 plasma pistols, 1 meltagun, 2 power fists
Drop Pod

9 Blood Claws – flamer, 2 power fists
Wolf Guard Leader – bolt pistol, power fist, wolf pelt, wolf tooth necklace
Drop Pod

I would have played this kind of list a lot sooner, except in 4th edition I couldn’t join up characters with squads in drop pods, only with their retinues. Now I can hook them up with the grey hunters and add even more assault teeth to those already hardy fellows. I’d love to try out the deathwind missile launchers given the new blast rules; I could use the fire support, but they’re pretty damn expensive. For a 2000 point list I might try adding them as well as a couple of melta/flamer land speeders. Like any theme list, it definitely has its competitiveness issues. Obviously everyone comes in reserve, all in pods except for the scouts, so I may not get everything when I need it. When they all come in at once, like they did in one of my two games, it's pretty spectacular. It definitely lacks substantial long range anti-vehicle, but hopefully the pods will always get me close enough to hurt things (if my guys can manage to shoot straight!). I think this list should always go second if I have a choice (the ven dread should help with that) for three reasons: a) choice of deployment zone doesn’t matter much to a drop pod army, b) since I’m trading off numbers for mobility and surprise, the less turns my guys are standing out there getting shot, the better, and c) I would get that final turn to pry off any pesky fast things that try to contest objectives at the last second. If there was only some way to help them reroll reserves...

The terminators have always been very hit and miss (usually miss). I changed them up a bit for this list, ditching the usual plasma and assault cannon bath for a bunch of flamey goodness and giving them all runic charms and wolf pelts. With drop pods stopping short if they scatter into the enemy, I should usually be able to set up the terms in perfect position to really pour on the templates. This should ensure more total hits and wounds than their old gun configuration. The new template rules (calculate total number of hits before rolling to wound) make concentrated flamer fire extra deadly. And with the wolf pelts, if you charge into them without killing any, you’ll have to deal with 7 lightning claw attacks at I5, 8 power weapon attacks at I4, and 8 power fist attacks coming back at you. Plus the 5th edition retinue rule change means you can’t single out the battle leader until all his buddies are dead, and he can attack even when out of base contact. I might eventually double up on chain fists instead of including a thunder hammer, but I wanted to try it out once or twice. My wolves’ nemesis has always been the eldar Avatar; its high weapon skill, high... well, high everything, really, makes it a huge pain to deal with. In my game against Jake last week, the thunder hammer dropped him down to I1 twice, which meant more wolves left standing when the big lug finally hit the dirt.

In their second game (against Jay's necrons), the stalling strategy helped quite a bit, considering the goddamn Nightbringer was eating everyone he came into contact with. Given a couple more turns he would have probably wiped me out completely. 5 T8 wounds is a real bitch when you don't get any shots in first. I don't remember if I ever slapped him with the hammer or not. I believe the game came out to a draw in the end.

Sunday, August 3, 2008

Tournament: Dragon's Lair 8-02-08

Dragon’s Lair hosted a big Gaming for the Troops 40k tournament on Saturday, where everyone’s admission was donated to the cause of buying gaming supplies for the real life army dudes overseas. I decided to take guard just because I was in a tanky sort of mood at the end of last week. My list consisted of:

Command HQ – veteran with company standard, veteran medic, heavy bolter team
Junior Officer – carapace armor, bolter, honorifica imperialis, iron discipline

4 Veterans – 2 meltaguns, 1 plasma gun
Veteran sergeant – plasma pistol

2 Infantry Platoons
Command squad – Junior officer with bolter and iron discipline, 2 flamers, 2 meltaguns
2 Infantry squads – plasma gun, lascannon

2 Hellhounds – extra armor, hull heavy bolter, pintle stubber

2 Demolishers – extra armor, plasma cannon sponsons, hull lascannon

Leman Russ – extra armor, heavy bolter sponsons, hull heavy bolter, pintle stubber

There was at least 16 people playing with a decent mix of armies, including eldar, necrons, imperial guard, daemons, chaos space marines, space marines, and orks. Here’s a few of the armies:

Kings' Bug Hunters

Colby's Orks

Thomas' Nurgle Daemons

Jay's Necrons

Chris' Eldar

Game 1 - Imperial Guard - Seize Ground

I usually draw Kingsley later in the tournament, but this time we were paired up in the first round for a guard grudge match. Other than our heavy tanks, our lists were fairly different. He had a command HQ, anti-tank squad, several storm trooper squads, an infantry platoon with 3 or 4 squads, a hellhound, 2 squadrons of 2 sentinels, 2 demolishers, and a leman russ. We had 5 objectives scattered around the board, with three closer to his side, one closer to me on the right side, and one right in the middle. The deployment was dawn of war, so with nightfighting in effect on the first turn, neither of us got very much done. On his second turn he killed a few guardsmen and destroyed one hellhound and one demolisher before they could do anything at all. I returned fire with little effect for a turn or two, but at some point my rolls got much better and I began to take apart his heavy armor with ordnance and deep-striking meltaguns. In the end, he used the new go-to-ground rules to good effect to forego leadership tests and contest or score objectives with units that were just slaughtered down to 1 or 2 survivors. I was going to charge forward and contest one of his home objectives but he immobilized my leman russ on the very last turn. We both held two objectives and contested the one in the middle. It is still taking some adjusting to get used to the chintzy way the 5th edition standard missions can sometimes play out in tournaments. Draws seem to be much more common, mainly because you pretty much have to kill absolutely everything, as one or two stubborn little douches can ignore leadership tests, “go to ground,” and turn the whole game around. It seems just a little retarded that pinned troops count as scoring or contesting. Draw, 10-10.

Game 2 - Orks - Command and Control

This game proved to me more than any before how even a bare minimum squad of ork biker nobz can totally break the game. Their base stats, movement speed, number of S10 attacks on the charge, endless layers of armor and invulnerable saves, multiple wounds, feel no pain, and practical immunity to leadership tests thanks to the boss pole are really just the beginning; all anyone has to do is equip them all slightly differently and they can get out of removing whole models, taking one wound at a time on this or that nob, while they grind through just about every other unit the game has to offer. And silly me, I thought they had actually fixed the wording to avoid people doing that kind of thing. Of course not. Colby had just one squad of 5 of these guys, and even though I shot my ENTIRE IMPERIAL GUARD ARMY at them on the first turn, I only killed two. They proceeded to wipe out at least one squad and one tank every turn thereafter. It didn’t help that deployment was yet again dawn of war, with nightfighting in effect on the first turn (even though he was only 12” away from my line), or that I had totally screwed myself while placing my objective and initial units. His two or three trukks arrived a turn later and I didn’t really have a chance. One of my command squads flamed an entire squad of stormboyz after deepstriking on the second turn, but that was about as good as it got. I tried to contest his home objective with my second command squad on the fifth and last turn, but I scattered 3 inches and rolled a 1 for their run, and so ended up an inch short. It would have been a shitty way to deny him the win anyway, as Colby did pretty much everything he needed to do. Orks win, 15-5.

Game 3 - Tyranids - Annihilation

Ian was my third opponent. He had a flying hive tyrant, a broodlord and retinue, 4 or 5 carnifexes, 3 squads of scuttling genestealers, and a lictor. Deployment was table quarters, which is definitely not my favorite for guard after the game against Mike at the last BFG hobby tournament. It squeezes all my tanks together and usually there’s a bunch of cover in the middle that allows assault troops to get really close. I think he was somewhat new to tyranids, as he never really used any of the units to their full abilities. After I found out he was outflanking all the stealers, I shifted my army away from the closest short table edge and into a big hill in my quarter. For a couple of turns I gave them sacrificial squads and then shot the well-fed stealers to pieces right afterwards. Thanks to some big pieces of cover where he managed to hide his MCs from my lascannons, we drew for kill points (4-4) and the game. Draw, 10-10.