Saturday, 11 January 2014

Fear of a blank planet: Askepios’ first impressions on the new Tyranids

So the new codex has dropped like a spore mine cluster and I’ve spent a good chunk of today poring over the electronic version (pricey but so easy to navigate!), talking to fellow players and considering how to adapt… time to reabsorb the vanguard organisms and process all that bio-data…

Part 1 Recessive genes:  
One of the first things I look for in a new codex is how my favourite units have been affected.  As these tend to be the most hard-hitting, resilient or points-efficient units from the previous codex, it’s quite common for them to be taken down a peg or two in their new incarnation, but let’s go through them and find out!

Hive Tyrant:  Same stats but a slight points reduction, especially for the winged variant (which is a pleasant surprise!).  By way of his specialist upgrades, Old Adversary is cheaper but only affects him, so no more Preferred Enemy for nearby bugs :(  Hive Commander is however unchanged, except for another slight points reduction.  Have always been a fan of this one, having a shooty troops unit arrive by outflank is definitely useful.  As far as I can see he’s still as good at everything he did well before, but now for cheap!  The twin-devourer flyrant is still an attractive option.  Likewise, keeping him on foot with some Tyrant Guard will be strong, stronger even, as the Venom Cannon has finally lost that infuriating -1 to AP rolls.  

Tervigon:  No pleasant surprises here, all changes are for the worse and he is more expensive to boot.  You have to take 30 gaunts to get him as Troops.  You only have a 1 in 6 chance of getting the Catalyst Psychic Power.  He no longer confers the benefits of his Toxin Sacs and Adrenal Glands to nearby gaunts.  If he dies, he now explodes the heads of gaunt units within 12”, rather than 6”… That’ll do pig, that’ll do.

Termegants:  1 point cheaper!  Sounds like nothing but this is actually pretty great.  You can now take 30 bugs for the same points you pay for 20 Ork boyz.  This is somewhat mitigated by the fact that there is nowhere near the capacity for super-charging them as you could before (having Preferred Enemy, Furious Charge, Poisoned Attacks and Feel No Pain on a 5 point model did have a “too good to last” feel to it!).  But if you want, you can fill your deployment zone with bodies for under 400 points!

Genestealers:  I love genestealers.  As they are portrayed in the background they should strike hard, fast and without warning.  Your opponent should be afraid of them.  I was so looking forward to the possibility that they might be a viable option again (they certainly weren’t in the previous codex, they were hopeless!) but they’re pretty much unchanged.  I don’t know if I’ll ever understand why a creature that is typified by it’s stealthy shock attacks goes from to Initiative 6 to Initiative 1 when charging through cover.  A real disappointment.

Hive guard:  5 points more expensive, and they have the option to take a shorter-ranged, haywire blast gun for a further 5 points per guy.  It’s not a terminal points-hike in the grand scheme of things and they still have the ability to shoot at tanks round corners with their Impaler cannons.  I think this is more valuable than having the reliability of the haywire gun.  That extra 6” range makes a big difference, especially when you consider that if you use the haywire gun, next turn you are definitely going to be staring down the gun-barrels of the guys who’s transport you’ve just blown up.  

Doom of Malantai:  GONE!  I guess he finally failed his last 3++.

Gargoyles:  Considering the improvement Jump Infantry got moving from 5th to 6th ed, I’m surprised these guys didn’t go way up in points.  The upgrades are more expensive, but the changes to their ‘Blinding Venom’ has me considering using them in different way.  This now causes the same effect as the ‘Paroxysm’ psychic power used to.  So rather than relying on them to inflict damage on their own, you might be more cavalier with them, and wing them against a perceived threat and gimpify them for next turn.

Trygon/Trygon Prime:   Same as he ever was, again with a slight points reduction.  He suffers a little from the changes to Scything Talons but that’s army-wide and not disastrous.  He’s still arriving right in your opponent’s face if you want him to and is enough of a threat to demand a reaction.  With the loss of Mycetic Spores his subterranean assault rule might actually become useful, though annoyingly there is nothing in the book that lets you voluntarily delay reserve rolls.  The reason you would want to do this is that the Trygon has to arrive from reserve to make his burrow-hole, in order that guys can arrive from reserve via the burrow next turn.  As with the last Codex, there is nothing to help ensure that you get the guys you want coming up through the burrow when you want them.  So the chances are they will arrive the same turn as the Trygon, and they’ll have to walk on from your board edge, which is a bit rubbish.

Biovores:  I spoke to a fellow ‘Nid player for an hour about these guys today, and most of that conversation was spent trying to decipher how the Hell spore mines work.  So the biovores are a little cheaper, huzzah for that.  However the rules for spore mine explosions are all over the shop.  

If you hit with your spores, assuming you have 3 ‘vores in the unit you’ll get 3 barrage large blasts at the same (very average) strength and AP they were before.  But if you miss, you deploy the spore mines as a cluster as you did before (except that you now place D3 mines per blast template you would have placed had they hit, so potentially 3 units of 3 mines).  And here is where it all gets fuzzy - whereas previously the mines blew up when anyone came near them or shot them, the rules for their exploding are now referring to the assault phase.  As written the rules state that spore mines don’t make any attacks in close combat, but at the initiative 10 step they explode.  It’s implied that in order to blow up the mines have to charge or be charged.  Or is it?  It could mean that in the assault phase, at the initiative 10 step, whether the mines are in combat or not, they blow up.  The writing of this rule isn't very specific and is further confused by the increased strength gained from spore mines purchased as a cluster in the Fast Attack section, but boiling it down I think that if interpreted as intended it all just means that the spores are woefully ineffective.  

If they land via biovores launching them, they can try and charge into combat to self-detonate, subject to overwatch and actually very unlikely to even make it into combat (since they halve their charge roll).  If they land via Deep Strike as a Spore Mine Cluster purchased in the Fast Attack section, they inherently can’t charge as they have come in by Deep Strike.  So they have to weather an enemy shooting phase before they can do anything at all.  And the enemy need have no qualms about shooting them as they don’t blow up till the assault phase… let’s just imagine that for a moment… you shoot at what is essentially a floating jellyfish-come-landmine and rather than exploding in a spectacular fashion it - what?  Sort of damply deflates like a burst whoopee cushion?  I guess so… I know this is all very daft sci-fi but come on!  

There are a couple of practical applications of this I suppose, or perhaps I’m grasping at straws.  A spore mine cluster that has deployed due to a failed biovore salvo could be used to draw overwatch fire away from the unit you really wanted to charge with.   But then your opponent could call your bluff, not shoot it, and let the spores blow up at Init 10 and cause as much damage to your other bugs involved in the combat as the enemy.  Or by taking the (potentially) higher strength cluster from the Fast Attack section, you could threaten the enemy and draw fire away from your more valuable units.  But again with the amount of damage the mines are actually likely to cause, a canny player might well take it on the chin and shoot a more valuable unit.  I have a feeling though that there are better choices to be had from both the Fast Attack and Heavy Support slots!

And so…

That’s my run-down of how the old favourites match up against their new counter-parts.  Next up I’ll  be checking out the new stuff!

Monday, 29 October 2012

Genestealer Cult

Thought it was about time I got some pics of the Cult of Askepios on the interwebs, so without further ado:

Genestealer Magus

Cult Icon Bearers

Wouldn't be a cult without... Genestealer Hybrids
So it hasn't taken me all this time to paint these 8 guys; the cult is over 50 strong and also includes brood brothers with support weapons, as well as my own take on a squad leader type character, and an unlikely number of AV12 tanks.

I used the army from early this year as a mech-guard leaf-blower type list with an embarrassing lack of success, though felt I was getting the hang of it by the end of 5th ed.  Having been used to close-ranged armies such as Tyranids and Orks it was a whole different animal on the tabletop - with deployment usually playing the key factor in securing the win.

When 6th ed now having put the old Tyranids, I think, back in the game as a competitive option (what with their flying psychic machine-gun platforms) I've been focussing more on the Nids.  Some of the changes made it clear that my 'Stealer Cult' army was not going to be as effective as it was (namely the changes to vehicle damage making 'AV12-spam' a less appealing tactic, and the Hydra Flak Tanks becoming less effective at dealing with ground-based transports), with allies throwing some interesting options both for making the army more competitive, or more themed towards a more characterful style of play.

For now though I'm thinking that the basis for the army of a Company Command Squad (CCS) with 2 Infantry Platoons is solid and theme-appropriate.

The CCS holds the Magus model as Commander, with his psychic abilities being represented by the 'Orders' system of the Imperial Guard.  Likewise with the Icon Cult Bearers leading the Platoon Command Squads, channeling the Magus' psychic abilities through their icons and insane preaching!

The Infantry squads I will be expanding and grouping together, probably behind an Aegis Defence Line, still armed with Autocannons and for the time being flamers (for the overwatch bbq!).

The air-support contingent (of 3 Vendettas) has, luckily, emerged as a still very effective formation.  They are hard to take down, can deal with enemy flyers or (if there are no flyers) tanks pretty happily.  The difficulty in downing them could also, I think, be exploited by putting some bare infantry or special weapons teams in there for objective grabbing.

Heavy Support wise I will be dropping the Collosus tank, and also the Hydras in favour of probably Manticores.  S10 and the range is hard to argue with, and they can cause multiple wounds or hits by being D3 large blast.

The other option I'm considering for heavies is Leman Russes, which I always find a pain when playing against.  What is putting me off them for now though is that the gun I most like the look of (the Demolisher cannon) is too short ranged.  Perhaps if later on I can come up with a more mobile list to give them some support as they trundle into range of the stuff that can take them out.

AND what I'd love to fit into the list is a Primaris Psyker with Psyker Battle Squad - mainly for the Psychic Shriek / Weaken Resolve combo.

Something I'm certain would be effective, though I'm struggling to see how I could thematically link them to a GS cult, is Space Wolves allies.  2 Rune Priests and 5 Grey Hunters would give me (at the minimum) Prescience and improved Ld on both my combined infantry platoons.

Allies aside, bare bones of a list would be along the lines of:

Company Command Squad (wargear to be determined, default is melta guns)
Primaris Psyker

2 x Infantry Platoons comprising:
Platoon Command Squad (wargear to be determined)
Infantry Squad with Autocannon, flamer, Commissar
Infantry Squad with Autocannon, flamer
Infantry Squad with Autocannon, flamer

ELITES - Psyker Battle Squad

FAST - 3 Vendettas

HEAVY - 2 manticores

Aegis Defence Line

Which takes me over 1500 assuming meltas on the CCS and a couple extra bodies in the Psyker squad, building towards 1750.  Will have a think and get a proper list together along with more pics - open to suggestions and comments also!

Sunday, 12 June 2011


As we near the halfway mark for 2011, you'll have gauged from the lack of activity on the blog that it's so far been a hard year for Hive Fleet Askepios. 2010 had been a promising year for the Tyranids, but as the mechanised might of 5th edition grinds its gears against the bugs, victories have become few and far between! With the initial assault thwarted, the Hive Mind has taken a step back to consolidate its position, put out feelers, seek fresh feeding grounds. It's time to go back to basics. For Tyranids, that means finding new worlds to conquer, infecting the indiginous population with alien spores that, over generations, manifest themselves as hybrid creatures with an innate desire to overthrow the existing authorities, so that the planet is rife with internal strife by the time the Hive Fleets arive, making them easy prey for the Tyranid invaders!

So without further ado, I introduce the first initiates to my burgeoning Genestealer Cult: The cult of Askepios!

A small sample there of the disturbed creations I'm churning out just now. I've always wanted to do an army like this, obscure and heavily converted, there's an appealing sense of insanity about even taking such a project on! But, like my Brood Brothers, I'm devoted to the cause, and hope to keep the blog updated as to the progress of the rebellion. I've got plans for all the old favourites (from the 2nd edition codex) so you can look forward to seeing a purestrain Genestealer Patriarch, the psychic Magus, and the fanatical Cult Icon Bearer.

So how the Hell do I plan to field such an army, when there aren't any rules for them at present? Well it'll be 'counts as', counting as Imperial Guard. The cult, as I'll be fielding them, will already have had a fair amount of success in overturning the planetary authorities. They've captured munitions factories and 'liberated' transport vehicles, aircraft, and defence batteries from the Planetary Defence Force, and they're ready to use them! So it will be a heavily mechanised army. One of the 1750 point lists I'm looking at has 17 AV12 tanks in it. Yup. Pure cheese. I like to think of it this way - the Tyranids I'm playing are seeking to defeat their enemies by infiltration and disruption, so that's exactly what I'm doing with the Imperial Guard Codex! We'll see how it goes. In the meantime I'll be cutting, hacking, sawing, and getting out some 'Rage Against the Machine' CD's to get me in the mood for a revolution!!

Sunday, 6 March 2011


This weekend a few of us from the club went over to Steve's gaming barn for a team battle: Steve and Paul using 4000 points of Steve's Screaming Eagles vs Alan and I using 2000 points each of our Ork armies. We'd decided to allow ourselves a little leniance with the Force Organisation chart so this was more like an Apocalypse game than a normal game of 40K! It also meant Alan and I could bring all of our Deff Dreds & Killa Kans for a combined total of 17 Ork Walkers!!! With over 100 boyz and a sizeable 'Speed Freak' wing of trukks headed up by Alan's battlewagon, it was a satisfying experience to deploy such a force!

Having been mostly focussed on honing competitive lists, speed-painting beardy armies and getting in as many practice games as possible recently, it was a breath of fresh air to do some gaming purely for fun. Not that I don't enjoy the competitive side of things - quite the contrary! - but it's fun to try something different now and then. I haven't played many team games but they've always proved entertaining, and playing on a saturday makes things so much more relaxed time-wise.

Rather than rolling for a mission, we unanimously agreed that an objective-based mission with Pitched Battle Deployment would be the most fun. 5 objectives went down, and Alan and I won the roll-off to choose first or second turn. Though I tend to prefer going second in objective missions, Alan seemed keen to go first, and when I thought about I didn't reckon 'da boyz' would want to wait for second turn either! We set up our Boyz behind the sizeable Kan wall, with our fast wing under cover of one of our trusty Kustom Force Field to our left flank. Steve and Paul kept most of their force in reserve, deciding to see where the fighting was going to be thickest before committing the entire army to the fight. With battle-lines drawn, Steve thought he might as well have a go at Seizing the Initiative...
...And rolled a 6! The Marines had bagged first turn! A land raider filled with Thunderstorm Terminators and a Terminator Librarian led the advance on our right flank, while the fire support units on the left opened up on our Trukks. Thanks to the Kustom Force Field, the Marines' Turn 1 ended with all the Trukks on the left flank intact, and only one kan lost! Da Boyz were now raring to go, bellowing and whooping as they surged forward to get stuck in!!

WAAAGH!!! It was Turn 2 before we hit the Marine lines, with a decisive assault from Alan's Kommandoes who used their Outflank move to get in amongst one of the Predators on the left flank, and some not-quite-so-decisive assaults from my Trukk-boyz. One hit a Devastator squad, who survived and stood firm for another turn; while another managed a nifty double-assault on another Predator tank and a Dreadnought. We managed to pop the Predator, but the combat with the Dread would rage on for the rest of the game, much to everyone's amusement as the combatants swung ineffectually at each other round after round!! Alan's Battlewagon with its deff-rolla was proved a rather more effective weapon, pulling off a multiple Ram and Tank shock move that chewed through Tactical Marines, tanks and a Dreadnought!

On the left flank we knew things were going to get messy once the Terminators got out of their Land Raider - and they didn't dissappoint. By this time a full squad of Assault Marines with their Chaplain had also arrived to support their brethren. Confident we had enough boyz to repel such an attack we flung unit after unit into what became a meat grinder in the middle of the table! As the turns went on the Orks ground down the elite assault units, and were left free to move onto the objectives. But there always seemed to be more coming in from reserve, and they saved the best for last!

In a final twist, 15 Terminators teleported in behind the Ork lines and opened fire with their Assault cannons and storm bolters on Turn 4. Steve and Paul had a good chuckle as they watched Alan and I do an 'about face' with pretty much every model on the table to meet this new threat - Get 'em boyz!! Intimidating as the Terminators were, they weren't quite enough to turn the green tide and victory went to the Orks - good job ladz! What better way to spend a saturday than having a proper scrap with the Imperium's finest?!

So a good game was had by all. What's great about big games is that there are always memorable moments, like the dramatic arrival of the Terminators towards the end, or the seemingly unstoppable Deff Rolla Battlewagon attack! Most of all though it's always a great experience to play a good game in good company, without scrutinising every move as much as I normally might, or referring to the rulebook every 5 minutes! I find the Orks a particularly good army for playing 'fun' games with - it's easy to get into their character and the Codex is written in such a way that a straight out full frontal assault is seldom a bad tactic! Anyway that's all for now, hopefully we'll be able to set up another team battle some time soon.

Monday, 21 February 2011

X-Legion Tournament February 2011

Having been lucky enough to secure a ticket for the first of this year's renowned X-Legion tournaments held in Southampton, I've been really looking forward to the event for weeks! Though practise games had shown a little weakness in my army list (see report from Rapid-Fire last year for the list), I was confident it was strong enough to contend with the big-hitters that would surely be attending. A few extra gaunts painted in the days before the event and the Nids were ready to rock, and embarked on the long journey South to battle!

Game One - Seize Ground, Dawn of War - Result: Victory!

versus Marcus Rose's Chaos Space Marines:

Tzeentch Daemon Prince with Warptime & Wind of Chaos
3 Terminators (2 with combi-weapons, 1 Reaper Autocannon)
2 x 9 Thousand Sons (including Sorceror with Doombolt) in Rhinos
1 x 8 Khorne Berzerkers (including Skull Champion with Power Fist) in a Rhino
7 Summoned Lesser Daemons
2 x Defilers
3 Obliterators

Using LOS-blocking cover to shield the Tervigons while they spawned away, the Tyranids had the numbers to lock the elite Traitor Legions in combat with gaunts, allowing the Monstrous Creatures to advance and deal with the Daemon Price & Defilers. With the road cleared, the gaunts raced forward to grab 2 out of the 3 objectives and secure a solid win to start things off!

Game 2 - Spearhead, Capture & Control - Result: Loss!

Versus James Taylor's Chaos Space Marines:

2 x Slaanesh Daemon Princes with Wings & Lash of Submission
2 x 5 Plague Marines with 2 Plasma guns, in Rhinos
5 Plague Marines with 2 Meltaguns in a Rhino
5 Chosen of Chaos with 3 Meltguns in a Rhino
3 Terminators with Combi-weapons
2 x 3 Obliterators
Vindicator with Daemonic Possession

Fearing the amount of firepower combined with the lash daemon princes, I went into reserve for this one, relaying on Hive Commander to get a large portion of my army in on Turn 2. This went largely to plan, with the outflanking Tervigon arriving on the left flank to advance on the enemy objective with spawned gaunts while the Hive Tyrant bolstered the defence of my own objective on the right. I lost both Trygons the turn they arrived to plasma gun fire and a combined charge from the lash princes, which was a bit of a blow, but a self-inlflicted one as I should have seen it coming and factored it into my placement of them for Deep Strike! The Doom made his presence felt prominently, killing 4 Obliterators and 3 Terminators the turn he arrived! Around turn 4 James saw that he had a bit of an infestation problem threatening his objective and mobilised his rhinos to form a wall of tanks and plague marines. It was enough to stem the tide of gaunts, killing the Tervigon to quash the attack once and for all. Meanwhile a protracted combat against Plague Marines saw the game end with my home objective contested. A very close game with only 10 VP's in it, but a loss for the Tyranids nonetheless!

Game 3 - Pitched Battle, Annihilation - Result: Loss!

versus Steve Harrid-Jones' Space Wolves

Rune Priest with Living Lightning & Murderous Hurricane
Wolf Lord On Thunderwolf with Wolf Claws
4 x Thunderwolf Cavalry with Storm Shields
5 Wolf Scouts with Sniper Rifles
2 x 6 Grey Hunters (Wolf Guard with Power-fist & Combi Weapon, Meltagun, Mark of the Wulfen) in Las/Plas Razorbacks
Grey Hunters as above with Wolf Standard in Drop-pod
2 x 6 Long Fangs (5 Missile Launchers)

Though I struggle the most in Kill Points missions (just can't seem to grasp the concept of not getting my own guys killed!) I was quite optimistic about my chances against this compact Wolf list. Being left with second turn, I didn't much fancy getting shot up by long fangs for a turn without the chance to cast catalyst, so again went for the old Nil-Deployment... which proved to be my undoing. Poor reserve rolls saw only a few units arrive in Turn 2, which were soft targets for the Thunderwolf Cavalry. I never recovered from the early losses, as Steve was able to focus his fire on the isolated contingents, precisely what I'd tried to avoid happening! A fun game but rather embarrassing in retrospect! A far more sound strategy for this one would have been to deploy everything in a solid blob and roll straight towards his gun line from one side, hopefully limitting a bit of fire. I've only really just woken up to the idea of 'blobbing up' with all that T6 and going for gold with them, and it's certianly a tactic I'll bear in mind against lists with no big blast weapons. Every game is a lesson though, and this was an important one: Nil deployment is not always your friend!

Game 4 - Dawn of War, Capture & Control - Result: Victory!!
Versus Phill Wallbridge's Blood Angels:
9 Death Company in Rhino
5 Assault Marines (Power fist/combi-weapon Sergeant, Meltagun) in Razorback
5 Assault Marines (Power fist/combi-weapon Sergeant, Meltagun) in twin-las Razorback
5 Sternguard with Meltaguns in Razorback
10 Assault Marines (Power fist Serge, 2 Meltaguns)
3 Sanguinary Priests (all with Power Weapons, 1 with Jump pack)
Baal Pred with Flamestorm Cannon & Heavy Flamer sponsons

Though unnerved to be facing Blood Angels after getting gubbed by Space Wolves, I was rather relieved to see this army list. The Blood Angels have access to more AV13 than any other marine army and Phill hadn't taken advantage of this... however he had been presented the prize for most combined points from all of last year's X-Legion events so the Sons of Sanguinius were obviously in good hands!
I was fortunate in that the board we drew was festooned with LOS blocking terrain, in fact it was nothing but. Phill had first turn and deployed his death company + reclusiarch as far forward as possible in their rhino. I plonked down 2 tervigons in cover, with a plan in mind. Phill zoomed his rhino up in turn 1, bringing on everything but the Baal Pred & Assault Marines from his board edge. Spawning gaunts and advancing on the Death Company Rhino, as the Monstrous Creatures arrived from my board edge, I readied the Hive Guard to bust the Rhino and unleash a devastating pre-emptive strike. However after 12 S8 shots the rhino remained unharmed and the Death Company got that charge off against a vulnerably placed Tervigon. They were wiped out in a counter charge from the Hive Tyrant's unit, but with the other Terv having run dry that was all the spawning for the game. Luckily the Hive Guard were able to take out the vindy, whilst some unfortunate reserve rolls saw the Assault Marines delayed and the Baal Pred outflanking on the wrong side. Meanwhile the Trygons were able to take on the Sternguard & Razorback marines, with the remaining Tervigon guarding the home objective. A solid win for the Nids and a good start to day 2!

It was time then to have a look around and put in the votes for best army! I was quite taken with Ashley Hayewood's Night Lords, which he was playing rather innovatively as Space Wolves!! I was so impressed I voted this as my second choice for best army. First choice went to Andy Pattison's Imperial Guard, with some sweet converted Vendetta's (the rotor blades and cockpits were scratch built - awesome stuff!).

Game 5 - Annihilation, Spearhead - Result: Loss!
Versus Richard Grint's Imperial Guard
I have no idea about the Guard Codex but the list was something like...
3 Chimera's with normal guys inc autocannon weapon teams
3 Chimera's with Special weapon Vets
Chimera with Psyker Battle Squad
3 Vendetta's
3 x2 Hydra Flak Tanks
My heart sank when I saw I'd be facing the guard, I'd seen the Vendettas and Hydras dominating battlefields all weekend - now it was Askepios' turn! Though I have to say my spirits were dampened again when I realised that I was facing the infamous 16-tank list everyone had been talking about! Then again when I saw the barren desert-style board, then again when Richard won first turn....
I still can't see what else I could have done to prevent my swiftest defeat ever! I went all reserve, but with only a small portion coming in on T2 they were annihilated and once again I never made the difference back. The outflanking Tervigon arrived on the wrong side and spent the entire game running for all she was worth, only to be melta-gunned in the face by vets! Nid of the match went to the Doom & his spore, who each managed to wreck a Hydra! But with 4 more where they came from , it just wasn't enough!
There's no denying it was a massacre of comical proportions, and would have been a miserable experience had it not been for Richard being such a good-natured opponent - we had a good laugh about it all and I'd gladly face his guard again if our paths cross in the future!!
Caught a snap of his guard as he was tidying them up afterwards, loads of armour!:

Game 6 - Seize Ground, Pitched Battle - Result: Loss!!
versus Rupert Penwarden's Imperial Guard
Again guard players please forgive my unfamiliarity with yer book!
4 Chimera's with special weapon Vets
Chimera with Psyker Battle Squad
Large squad of normal guys
3 Vendettas
2 Manticores
2 Hydra Flak Tank

With 5 objectives on the board I was certainly on firm ground with the mission, if not with my opponent's army! Anyway in a stroke of luck I won first turn, so elected to deploy everything and try and get as far across the board as possible before getting shot to bits this time! The downside to this was that through trying to cling to terrain I ended up with a slightly skewed deployment, allowing Rupert to weight his own deployment in such a way that, realistically, I was only ever going to reach one wing of his line, whilst receiving fire from the whole lot. Some LOS blocking terrain allowed me to actually hit home with assaults on one side of the board, however it wasn't nearly enough to stop Rupert going for the T5 objective-grabbing tank shock, blowing me off the objectives I held to win the game 3-1! The Nids were not enjoying the tanks, bit again we never mind loosing to a worthy and affable foe, which Rupert certainly was. Another great and memorable game to conclude the tourney!

Hive Fleet Askepios Win Best Army!

In a pleasant and unexpected twist, some people voted us for best army! There I am on the left, a bit blurry bit obviously well chuffed! Thanks to all who voted and to tournament organisers Rob (on the right) and Rob (not pictured). An amazing event, I'll definitely be attending X-Legion in the future. All right, it's off to the spawning vat for a word with the Norn Queen about some anti-tank!!!

Sunday, 13 February 2011

War on Octarius!

Blaktoof, the self-proclaimed Overfiend of Octarius, takes advantage of an opportunity to reduce the Tyranid population on the war-blasted world of Octarius Prime. On hearing field reports from his Blood-Axe advisers of a high concentration of 'Big Bugs' right on his doorstep he could hardly hold back: Even the slowest of his boyz knew by now that taking down the big, brainy synapse creatures is the first step to victory against the Tyranids; and by happy co-incidence they tend to fight the best, so promise to give a bit of sport into the bargain!

It's been a bit of a rocky week for Hive Fleet Askepios. With the first of this year's X-Legion tournaments next weekend I've been trying to cram in as many practise games as possible. Tuesday versus Kenny's shooty Space Marines saw the Nids loose in Kill Points. Then at the gaming club on Wednesday they were defeated again, this time by Alan's Ork Horde in a battle for objectives. I'm still confident about the list (see the report from Rapid Fire! last year) but against both armies it was showing it's weakness to high strength, long range AP3 weaponry, and against superior numbers (especially when there are Power Klaws in the midst of them). Against the Orks I think that concentration of forces is the best way to go and so decided to set Hive Fleet Askepios perhaps it's greatest challenge yet: My own army, The Orks of Waaagh! Blaktoof:

Warboss (Blaktoof) with Mega Armour, Cybork Body & Attack Squig
Big Mek with Kustom Force Field
7 Cybork Nobz with Eavy Armour & Stikkbombs (1 with Power Klaw & Bosspole, 1 with Power Klaw, 1 Painboy, 1 Waaagh! Banner, 1 Big Choppa, 1 Kombi-skorcha) in a Red Trukk

12 Boyz including Nob with Power Klaw & Bosspole in a Red Trukk
12 Boyz including Nob with Power Klaw & Bosspole in a Red Trukk
2o Boyz (2 with Rokkits) including Nob with Power Klaw & Bosspole
2o Boyz (2 with Rokkits) including Nob with Power Klaw & Bosspole
16 Gretchin with Runtherd
3 Killa Kanz with Rokkits
3 Killa Kanz with Rokkits
3 Killa Kanz with Rokkits

Rolling for Mission & Deployment came up with Annihilation, Dawn of War. Eager to get stuck in the Orks went for first turn, spreading both the large boyz mobs across the middle of the table, forcing the Nids back. The Nids began the game with both Tervigons, deployed centrally, 18'' from the boyz. First Turn saw the majority of both armies arrive from their board edges, and the boyz scoring a lucky shot with a Rokkit to wound a Tervigon.

With battle lines drawn, the Ork boyz held their ground, waiting for their reinforcements to get in position before attempting a charge. The Doom arrived behind the Ork lines, behind the building to the right in the picture above. There were few tempting targets for him, though he caused a few wounds to the nearest boyz mob. On the other side of the board however the Tervigon launched some of its freshly-spawned progeny into the breach:
Bolstered by their Brood Progenitor with Furious Charge, Poisoned Attacks and Feel No Pain, the Gaunts killed 6 Orks, suffering 6 casualties themselves to draw combat.
Turn 3 saw the first Kill Point of the game being scored as the Killa Kanz nearest the Doom turned round and blasted the floating brain into mush. The combined fire from the other 2 units of Kanz and some Trukk-mounted Big Shootas took one Trygon down to 2 Wounds. The drawn combat from last turn was finished off by the Orks, who butchered the remaining Gaunts and took a few steps back to consolidate. Not allowing them any respite however, the Tervigon spawned a fresh batch of Gaunts in the Nid turn, and moved up to lend its monstrous might to the assault. However once again the Orks stood firm despite taking casualties, causing a few themselves in return! The Hive Guard damaged the unit of Killa Kans furthest from where the Doom had landed, which the wounded Trygon finished off in the ensuing assault. Nearer the 'Nid side of the board the other Trygon charged Blaktoof and his Nob bodyguard, their Trukk having been smashed by fire from the Hive Guard. The Overfiend was struck down, his retinue figthing back with gusto to fell the Trygon. Perhaps the Painboy was able to use his Dok's Tools as the Nobz consolidated past the mangled form of Blaktoof....
The remaining Trygon was taken down by the Rokkit-Kanz in Turn 4, while the Gretchin who had just entered play from reserve pointed their crude blastas at the Doom's Mycetic spore and took careful, nervous aim, wounding the strange and immobile creature. Near the Tyranid board edge, the Nobs and a unit of Trukk Boyz launch an assault each on a unit of Termegants, wiping one of them out. The protracted combat on the Ork side of the table wore on as the boyz again held out despite the odds. In the Tyranid turn the Hive Tyrant decided to take the Nobs, who were feeling pretty smug by this point, down a peg or two by using Paroxysm on them. Blaktoof's finest fell to their knees, twitching in agony as the nearby Gaunts opened fire on them too. Meanwhile the Hive Guard continued their shooting against the Killa Kans, whittling down the centre-most unit. On the Ork side of the table, the large embattled boyz mob had been reduced to just the Nob, who swung his power klaw defiantly, standing against the Tervigon and its spawn. Over on the Nids' side, the other Tervigon had spawned a healthy brood and a combined charge broke the Trukk boyz who fled to take cover in the wreckage of the Nobz' Trukk.

Turn 5 saw every Ork on the table give a great bellow of "Waaagh!!!" as they invoked the powers of their deities Mork & Gork. The fleeing Trukk boyz rallied and turned about to face the Gaunts, ready for more fightin! The large boyz mob near where the Doom landed charged forward towards the Hive Tyrant, confident they would have enough attacks to damage the brute, or at least hold him up and prevent him using Paroxysm again! Despite their best effforts however they failed to damage the Tryant or his Guard and took heavy losses themselves. Never ashamed to run from a fight if it means they live to fight another day they tried to escape but were caught and cut to ribbons by the Hive Commander, who turned his attention back to the Nobz... Things went a little better for the Orks over on their side of the table as the lone Nob not only survived another round of combat but earned his team a second Kill Point by wiping out the Gaunts! The Tervigon remained to crush him the following turn but I was nonetheless amazed that he'd held out that long - Ork of the match! In the Tryanid turn the Hive Guard failed to cause any more damage to the Killa Kans, but the Nobz mob and the remnants of the rallied Trukk boyz were taken care of by the Tyrant, backed up by a Tervigon and more Gaunts.

A roll of the dice decreed there was to be a Turn 6, which allowed the Gretchin to finish off the Mycetic Spore (go grotz!). The remaining unit of Trukk boyz raced forward to scrape a kill point by clobbering a unit of Hive Guard. However things did not continue in such a fortuitous way for those boyz, as the picture below shows, when in the Tyranid turn their Trukk was destroyed by the remaining Hive Guard before they themselves were swamped by Fleshborer fire.
The last Turn saw the Orks assaaulting a Tervigon with some Killa Kans, wounding but not killing the beast. Seeing the Synapse creature wounded, the Termegants nearby scuttled away, anticpating the psychic backlash from the Tervigon's impending demise! The Hive Guard claimed a Kill Point by finishing off the other unit of Killa Kans, while the Tyrant moved up to support the woudned Tervigon. Despite the Tyrant's might, one "shaken" Kan was left standing. The Gretchin pilot inside scrabbled frantically to flick switches and grasped desperately at levers and managed, with his only attack, to take the last wound off the Tervigon!
Result: Orks 10; Tyranids 10!

A fun and eventful game, even if I was playing myself! I'm of the belief that you can't have too much practise and in the absence of an opponent this weekend I thought I'd kill a few birds with one stone by having this rather schizophrenic battle with myself. Hey - it gave me an excuse to take pictures and do another blog post! Seriously though I was glad of the experience and surprised at the result. To be honest I thought by about Turn 4 that the Orks had it in the bag. Loosing both Trygons quite early on greatly reduced the killing potential of the Nids, and I was reluctant to spawn too many Gaunts as they are such easy KP's. That said I didn't really stick to that doctrine as there was really quite a lot of spawning going on - with quite good luck on not rolling doubles and getting too many small broods. Neither did I really stick to my plan of concentrating my attack. The Nids started out in close formation but quickly spread out to pre-empt any charges. I'm still not sure if that was the right thing to do and i think the Orks do definitely pose a challenge to the Nid army I'm running just now. I'm hoping though that now having had a couple of goes against them that it's fresh in my mind what they can do and so I'll prioritise my targets better than I otherwise would... I suppose we'll see next weekend, roll on X-Legion!!

Thursday, 25 November 2010

More Cheese Grommit?

He's big, he's bad, he's a floating brain!! The Doom of Malantai has drifted eerily into every tournament list I've seen this year, and for good reason. He has the potential to wreak havoc upon an unwary foe and at 90 points (plus 40 for your Mycetic Spore, of course) he's a cheap date. So why aren't I jumping up and down with glee as a Tyranid player, with this gift of a unit in my Codex? Well, that's what I hope to address in this post...

1+ The Doom of Malan'tai
So is he really that great? This is of course a matter of opinion and how you play the game but based on my experience I have to say you're damn right he is! For such a small investment the threat of him alone is almost worth it. Either your opponent underestimates the scale of the destruction the Doom's capacle of, or you force him onto the defensive (either in cover or in vehicles) and to spread out. If he does the latter he has for a start lowered the body count in his army by taking all those transports, which are for the most part easily handled by the trusty Hive Guard (and Monstrous Creatures later). Secondly, and importantly, if he spreads out to deny you multiple targets from the 6" radius of Doom, he allows you to adopt an offensive approach with fast or deep striking/outflanking units, focussing a large part of your army upon a small part of his. Merely by including the Doom in your list you are inviting your opponent to screw something up.

Toughness 4? -Pfft!
Yes, Instant Death is his one weakness, but it is his ONLY weakness. Trying to instant kill the Doom is the most reliable way to kill him, especially once he starts leaching up wounds. So you know that on the turn he arrives, the Doom will have every Missile Launcher, Lascannon, Rokkit & Railgun pointing sqarely at him. Your opponent is forced to divert all of those expensive weapons on this 100-point guy, meanwhile Hive Tyrant, Tervigons and Trygons scuttle up the field happily towards their eagerly awaited meal. There are of course a couple of things in the game that ignore invulnerable saves but they are in such a minority that they're almost not worth factoring into consideration.

WHAT? Spirit Leech still works while he's locked in assault - and in my turn too???
There are few things as demoralising to an opponent (and this is speaking from bitter experience) of being on the receiving end of your first serious Dooming! If you're not equipped for him he's very difficult to shift once he gets up and running. Even if his impact attack isn't crippling (and quite often it is, I've seen him take out whole units of Khorne Berzerkers, multiple monstrous creatures, scores of guardsmen and gaunts), if allowed to fester in your opponents backline he can begin to seem like a one man army.

A No-Brainer
The Mycetic Spore is the real power behind the Doom's punch. On the turn the Doom arrives, he still gets to use his Spirit-Leach, and use his psychic shooting attack if he likes. He gets to do this without fear of reprisal, there is nothing the enemy can do to stop you trying this. Barring a disastrous Deep-strike scatter roll, you should be able to get you opponent taking at least one of those nasty 3D6 Ld tests on the turn the Doom arrives. Buying the Doom buys you a free hit, a cheap shot, a swift kick to the shins to distract your foe whilst your other units close in. Even if you should be so unlucky that when he hits home he has little effect on the battle and is dispatched a turn later, you've only 'wasted' a small portion of your army. You're Tryanids, there's plenty more where that came from!!

The Doom of 40K?
Well I suppose he stands up to the fluff - maybe he's just about powerful enough to destroy an entire Eldar Craftworld (really, Robin Cruddace? Not one of those guardians managed to pop off a Bright Lance at him?). I say this in jest of course, he's far from invincible. He's just a very cheap trick. In the current gaming climate just about every army has one (in some cases two or three) in their arsenal. The individually-armed Nob Bikers, the Jetbike Seer Councils, Necron Monoliths, Mephiston The Lord of Auto-win, Rune Priests... the list goes on. Now I don't have a problem using powerful units - I'm partial to a bit of cheese, I can take quite a lot actually! And I have no problem facing off against these super-units. In a tournament setting anything's fair game. Whilst I admire my regular gaming opponent Kenny for his refusal to resort to running 'Twin Lash' in his Chaos Marines lists, this attitude seems to be in the minority. Of course people use and abuse the lists to get the most out of them, most people want to win! I think what these units do more than anything is expose the gap between players' expectations of how the game should be and how it is; and more importantly the gap between the Games Designers' ideas about what they've written and how it will be used and abused on the tabletop. More and more in White Dwarf articles, the re-formatting of Throne of Skulls etc., GW seem to be discouraging people from using the rules they've written to win games. They seem to have acknowledged, albeit indirectly, that there is inmbalance in their rules system and the army lists but they're kindly asking us to 'play fair'. Surely the best way to get players to play fair is to work fairness into the rules, not tie themselves in knots with ever increasingly extravagant and convoluted special rules? Anyway this has already turned into more of a rant than I'd intended - does anyone else feel as though 40K is descending into battle of the super-units? Or then again, is that what it always was, is and ever shall be?