Saturday, 1 March 2014

Battle Report: Flesh & Steel

Seeing as it was a hit last time, I decided to carry on the trend of writing a short story preempting today's battle report. I hope you enjoyed it, I certainly had some fun writing it.

Now to the actual battle! My good friend James (whom I featured in Another Army last month) has been itching to try his new Tyranid Codex out, and what would be better than starting his 6th edition codex experience than with a decent 2,000 point battle to be immortalised on this blog? Well, that's if people still read what I post in a few years time...

The Imhotep Dynasty



HQ
  • Necron Overlord with Gauntlet of Fire, Resurrection Orb, Mindshackle Scarabs & Phase Shifter (185pts)
  • Necron Overlord with Staff of Light, Tachyon Arrow & Resurrection Orb (150pts)
  • Royal Court: Harbinger of the Storm with Lightning Field, Harbinger of Despair & Harbinger of Destruction with Gaze of Flame (110pts)
Troops
  • Necron Warriors: 14 man unit (182pts)
  • Necron Warriors: 14 man unit (182pts)
  • Necron Warriors: 14 man unit (182pts)
  • Necron Immortals: 5 man unit with Gauss Blasters (85pts)
  • Necron Immortals: 5 man unit with Gauss Blasters (85pts)
Elites
  • Deathmarks: 5 man unit (95pts)
  • Triarch Stalker with Heat Ray (150pts)
Fast Attack
  • Canoptek Wraiths: Unit of 5, 3 x Whip Coils & 2 x Particle Casters (215pts)
Heavy Support
  • Annihilation Barge (90pts)
  • Monolith (200pts)
  • Canoptek Spyder with Gloom Prism & Fabricator Claws (75pts)
Total: 1,986 points

Hive Fleet Jenova



HQ
  • Winged Hive Tyrant with 2 x Twin-Linked Devourers with Brain Leech Worms & Hive Commander (250pts)
  • Deathleaper (130pts)
Troops
  • Termagaunts: 30-strong brood with 10 x Spine Fists & 20 x Devourers (200pts)
  • Tervigon with Cluster Spines & Miasma Cannon (225pts)
  • Hormagaunts: 20-strong brood (100pts)
  • Tyranid Warriors: 3-strong brood with Lashwhips & Boneswords, Scything Talons, Toxin Sacs & Adrenal Glands (174pts)
Elites
  • Zoanthrope  (50pts)
  • Zoanthrope  (50pts)
  • Hive Guard: 3-strong brood with Impaler Cannons (165pts)
  • Venomthrope (45pts) 
Fast Attack
  • Hive Crone (155pts)
  • Gargoyles: 10-strong brood (60pts)
  • 5 Spore Mines (25pts)
  • 5 Spore Mines (25pts)
Heavy Support
  • Exocrine (170pts)
  • Exocrine (170pts)
Total: 1,999 points

Deployment

This battle is different from most battles any of you may have read about as the short table edges were rounded as opposed to straight, but this was something we easily worked around. We began by rolling for our table set up and mission, which turned out to be the Dawn of War deployment set up and Emperor's Will mission. Afterwards we randomly set up terrain, rolling for terrain density in each quarter and taking it in turns to place terrain. Once all that was done, we rolled for Warlord Traits with my Overlord scoring Conqueror of Cities, allowing my army to gain +1 cover saves in ruins and the Move Through Cover special rule when moving through ruins. Interestingly my opponent forwent his own Warlord Trait chart and got Divide to Conquer instead, reducing my reserve rolls by -1 and making me seriously rethink deploying anything in reserve. With everything set, the Tyranids won the roll to set up first and with it got to elect where he deployed.

The Tyranids set up their objective right next to a lake that was agreed beforehand to be mysterious terrain, with both Zoanthropes, Hive Crone and Hive Guard occupying the city building and the rest of his force set up to his right flank, taking advantage of the various terrain scattered in the vicinity. The Termagaunts, Spore Mines and Deathleaper were kept in reserve.

Taking the same idea as my opponent, I set my objective in the temple ruins (hoping to take advantage of my Warlord Trait) and surrounded it with my Warlord and Harbinger of Despair joined to a unit of Warriors and my Monolith hiding a Spyder and an Annihilation Barge behind it.  Flanking to their left was a unit of Warriors with joined Harbinger of the Storms and Immortals, and to their right more Immortals, Deathmarks with joined Harbinger of Destruction and Triarch Stalker. I set my second Overlord with Warrior unit and my Wraiths to the far right, hoping to outflank the Tyranid's synaptic support and remove them systematically.

With deployment done, I chose to forgo my Seize The Initiative! roll and allowed my opponent the first turn...

Turn 1: Target Identified

Hive Fleet Jenova started the battle aggressively, immediately surging it's flying gribblies directly at my front line, with the Hive Tyrant leading the charge, pumped on psychic powers whilst the foot slogging broods lurched forward behind them. Both Exocrines set up artillery positions around the Tyranid objective and the Hive Guard set up sniper spots in the Imperial Building. The Zoanthropes and Tervigon buffed the Exocrines with 'Catalyst' and 'Onslaught' respectively while the Venomthrope's spore cloud enhanced their protection with a thick cloud of alien spores and Tyranid Warriors secured the objective. The shooting came thick and fast after that, the Flying Hive Tyrant blew the Deathmarks away in a single round of shooting, leaving the Harbinger of Destruction on his own. The Crone and Hive Guard combined and were able to destroy 10 of the 14 Warriors attached to the secondary Overlord with it's fearsome array of bio weaponry with only a single member reanimating much to my annoyance, but at leasr their nerve held and they did not fall back. The Exocrines attempted to destroy my Warlord's unit, blasting them with white-hot bio-plasma, but only succeeded in killing a couple of Warriors thanks to Night Fighting and my Warlord Trait (gotta love 3+ cover saves!).

Hive Guard take position
Hormagaunts swarm
The Crone wreaks havoc against the NERCO's

In a calculated maneuver, the Monolith lurched forward, unveiling the Annihilation Barge and granting it full view of the battle unfolding. The Triarch Stalker fired at the Flying Hive Tyrant, scoring a hit, a wound and grounding the creature all in a single devastating flurry of attacks. With the enemy Warlord grounded, the majority of the Necron forces (now all counting as having twin-linked weapons) unleashed fury against the winged beast, robbing it of all but a single wound. Acquiring the taste of a different target, the Monolith fired it's Particle Whip at the nearest Exocrine, taking a wound off it but nothing else. Meanwhile, on the other end of the battlefield, the Warriors and their Overlord opened fire at the Crone but only managed to tickle the monstrous creature with their weapons. The Wraiths, lacking the range to fire their Particle Casters raced towards the opposing Zoanthrope, but fell outside of charging range. So far, the battle seemed pretty even.

Turn 2: "It's After Me!" 

Regardless of the brutal round of fire my Necrons put out, the Tyranid advance was relentless. My opponent rolled 3 successful reserve rolls: 1 for Deathleaper, 1 for the Termagants and 1 for a Spore Mine unit. Using Hive Commander, the Termagants deployed from my right flank, allowing them to fire the full force of 20 devourers and 10 spine fists at my Wraiths, killing 3 of them in the process. Deathleaper showed itself in the forests my Harbinger of Destruction occupied and killed the Cryptek with it's flesh hooks, safely securing Hive Fleet Jenova First Blood. The Spore Mines deep striked in front of my advancing warriors to my left. The Crone (who had overstepped it's movement outside of Synapse range) failed it's Instinctive Behaviour test and chose to fly off the board to avoid giving me the upper hand by charging the remaining Warriors, meanwhile the Exocrines stripped 2 Hull points off the Annihilation Barge. The Flying Hive Tyrant also bit the dust when he attempted to cast Paroxysm on one of my units and killed by perils of the warp, securing me a victory point with Slay the Warlord.

The swarm cometh...
Deathleaper shows itself
The Flying Monsters before exiting the battlefield



The Imhotep Dynasty stood fast in the face of the oncoming threat. With the death of the Flying Hive Tyrant so early in the battle, I had renewed vigour in my efforts and concentrated on securing my battle lines before setting my sights on the prize in the enemy deployment. The enemy gargoyles charged my Overlord and his unit, but thanks to 2 flamer template weapons and 24 Gauss Flayer shots, all re-rolling 1s thanks to my objective turning out to be a Targeting Relay, only one made it into combat and was wiped out in the ensuing melee. I quickly identified the newly deployed Spore Mines as a threat and, with the help of the Monolith's Exile Portal was able to quickly put an end to their threat, all the while using it's Particle Whip to clear oncoming Hormagaunts. Nothing else in the enemy forces remotely took damage this turn, and with the Zoanthrope my Wraiths originally targetted now retreating out of charge range, they were forced to switch their target to the second Zoanthrope, but just fell short of that as well. The Canoptek Spyder managed to repair the damaged Annihilation Barge restoring a hull point.


The Tervigon overlooks the battle

The Wraiths head for their new target

Mid-Point Overview


Turn 3: The Turning Point

With the Imhotep Dynasty using their Monolith to clear smaller creatures, it overlooked the oncoming Tervigon trampling over the hill, resulting in the towering vehicle exploding when charged in the assault phase, ending the biggest threat to Hive Fleet Jenova and spawning 12 additional Termagants in the process. Likewise one of the Exocrines focused their shots at the Annihilation Barge, wrecking the vehicle and leaving the Canoptek Spyder without a job to fulfill, whilst the Hive Guard shattered the Triarch Stalker. More Spore Mines descended from the heavens, landing perfectly just outside the ruins where the Overlord resided thanks to Deathleaper's pheromone trail, but some well aimed Gauss Blaster fire dealt with the threat quickly. Meanwhile, on the other side of the battlefield the giant Termagant brood only managed to put a single wound on the Wraiths, however, the other Exocrine made short work of them before they could threaten their beloved Zoanthropes, leaving the Overlord and his Warriors alone to face the threat. Many casualties were suffered in the Necron forces, and they would prove difficult to recover from...

The Crone returns whilst the Tervigon enjoys it's latest kill

With such havoc wreaked amongst the Necrons, desperate but carefully planned gambits had to be employed. Knowing that my secondary Overlord and his unit would not survive past turn 4, I used the Tachyon Arrow I had saved to try and eliminate the Zoanthrope nearest the Termagants, hoping to shatter their Synaptic web and prehaps buy me some time. Unfortunately, although I rolled well the psychic fields it generated proved too strong for even this potent weapon. The only redeeming point by the remainder of my army ripping 2 wounds from the Crone that had reappeared. It seemed the Tyranids had finally gained the upperhand...

Turn 4: Kharimekh Falls!

With his plan of utilising the Tachyon Arrow failing, the secondary Overlord Kharimekh had been resigned to his fate as the remaining Termagants, although too far to do anything else for the rest of the game managed to wipe him and his unit out in a flurry of devourer worms. Confident building from the sight of rapidly diminishing Necron units, Hive Fleet Jenova finally realised their plans to totally surround the remaining forces, the Tervigon began to spawn in an effort to overrun their enemies, whilst it's Miasma Cannon and Cluster Spines reduced the nearby Warrior unit to 3 Necrons after reanimation. A squad of Immortals also fell to the combined firepower of the Exocrines and Crone and the Necrons found themselves surviving by the necrodermis of their teeth. A few Warriors in the ruins also fell to the Hive Guard's shooting, but most recovered thanks to their Warlord's Resurrection Orb. All the Imhotep Dynasty had now was their objective holding unit, a Canoptek Spyder and 5 more Immortals.

The final few...

In a heroic last ditch effort however, the last survivors of the Imhotep Dynasty were able to almost kill the Crone thanks to some lucky shooting, reducing it down to a single wound. The Canoptek Spyder, now finding itself without any set role went on a suicide mission to assault the Hormagaunts that now reached the small valley that stood between them and their prey. Some how the Spyder killed a couple of the Gaunts and, being outside Synapse range now they fell back, automatically regrouping when they finally got close enough to their leaders.

The Spyder's last stand

Turn 5: Overrun

There's really not much else to say at this point. At this point the Necrons were not going to win, so it was merely a case of playing for a draw. In order to hang on to as many victory points as possible, my remaining units were forced to focus their attention on the newly spawned Termagants (...of which there were yet another brood thanks to the Tervigon). I decided to ignore the Tervigon as it could not reach my objective holding units this turn thanks to the 3 surviving Warriors in front of it. My mission in preventing the Tyranids from overrunning my objective was more successful, although more Warriors fell to the constant shooting, particularly from the Hive Guard, who's Impaler Cannon barbs weaved through the ruins with frightening accuracy to bypassed my cover saves. The Spyder charged the Hormagaunts once more, only to be leapt upon by Deathleaper. Despite it's mechanical bulk, the alien Assassin tore it to pieces with ruthless efficiency. The 3 remaining Warriors that faced the Tervigon finally fell, but prevented it from reaching my most vital units, who themselves came under a barrage of fire from newly-spawned Termagants, Hive Guard and both the Exocrines. Most of the Warriors fell, but fortunately reanimated thanks to the presence of my Overlord.

The Warriors last stand

The Crone approaches

Enemies loom but it's too late!

With turn 5 over, the dice was rolled and the game ended. All there was to do was to tally up the totals. James held one uncontested objective plus Line Breaker and First Blood. I also held one uncontested objective plus Slay the Warlord. Even though the casualties were much heavier on my side, the victory points were a lot more even...


Final Victory Points Tally
Necrons: 4
Tyranids: 5

Minor Victory to the Tyranids!

Epilogue

     Hive Fleet Jenova's assault had been far less forgiving than the Phaeron had first expected. He surveyed the battle field with a strategist's eye and, despite being able to integrate the defensive capabilities he and Kharimekh had learned of from the "Imperial Fists" files within the Imperial Data Archives they had recovered he could see that it would not be long before the ruins he had guarded so jealously would eventually be overrun and he would have no choice but to retreat.
     Amidst the chaos Nemekh spied the crumpled form of Kharimekh slowly re-knitting itself to his right flank as a purple sea of verminous creatures threatened to wash over his corpse. Such brutality would be difficult for even the Grand Vizier of the Dynasty to recover from.
     Although against any other force this could be considered a crushing defeat, Nemekh saw this battle as a minor victory. The main monster that seemed to lead the swarm had been exterminated, and with it's death came a difficulty in maintaining military (or at least whatever counted as military to these things) order within their ranks, and that should buy the Dynasty enough time to fall back and recover their strength before yet another assault on the Hive Fleet.
      Shadows loomed over the unit, bio-plasmic rounds and parasitic creatures that did little to harm to their Necrodermis bodies came at them at screeching velocity as gauss fire bellowed out in reply. Nemekh turned to the Technomandrite leader that accompanied him and gave him a nod of his jawless skull to signify that the Veil of Darkness beacon should be activated.
     As the alien creatures descended upon their metallic foes they were bathed in a green light before the Necrons disappeared from sight. The ruins that had acted as a battlefield headquarters only minutes before had been reduced to leftovers in a matter of seconds...

Post-Mortem

Well that was exciting wasn't it? It was an interesting experience with this being my first 6th edition 2,000 point battle, and it was interesting to see how differently Tyranids play now. I don't think my tactics were poorly chosen, but with such a hard army to break and drive back it was hard to play for a win and I knew that playing for a draw was most likely my best option from the start.

Not that I am taking anything away from my opponent, James played incredibly well and his choice in units and how he used them was devastating, but losing his Hive Tyrant to something as random as a Peril of the Warp must have sucked on his end. But suddenly facing 30 Termagaunts that just appeared in an Outflanking maneuver was utterly terrifying for me I can tell you that now!

Regardless of the loss I thoroughly enjoyed the game and I actually came away from the game not regretting many of my decisions, even James admitted that, for the most part I made the best tactical decisions available to me given the respective circumstances, there was little I could do to stay the Tyranid swarm.

So this is where I highlight what I have learnt, so here goes:

  • Spore Mines are very, very annoying. They're very easy to kill, but when they drop right next to your troops you're faced with a decision: shoot them and ignore the more valuable troops behind them, leaving the vital stuff untouched or ignore the Spore Mines and, either be blown to pieces or be rendered combat ineffective. Spore Mines are a nasty terror weapon now.
  • Synapse just became 100 times more important to Tyranids as well. James had to make a lot more Instinctive Behaviour tests this time than with the previous codex. Useful to keep in mind for future reference.
  • Exocrines are really nasty, especially in pairs.
  • Aside from the above, although most other things in the Tyranid codex have got "weaker" I still had problems with facing the army. Monstrous Creatures are a little easier to kill but they still take a lot to put down. The Tervigon in particular did massive damage to my army and still churned out lots of critters that caused me problems. In my opinion the codex is a lot more balanced now, but Exocrines and Crones are absolute beasts and well worth taking.
  • As for my Necrons, bog standard Harbinger of Despair when used purely as a flame wall in overwatch works surprisingly well. Wraiths in larger units I can imagine would work really well too (they certainly took longer to kill this game!) but just remember they do get costly, it was my most expensive unit but unfortunately didn't get enough time to really shine.

Well that is all for this battle report. Congratulations to James on his victory and be sure to check out his Saturday Showcase that this report is part of over on Games and Theory. Until next time...

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