I haven't played a lot of games lately, but when my new army project reached a fully painted 500 points, it seemed like the perfect time to get them on the field. Handily, my brother Ed from BERZERKERBLADE is always up for a game, and Tyranids vs Guard had always been a favourite of ours. He picked out a suitable 500 points of the gribbly xenos filth and we set the scene; an all out mashup in the shadows of an abandoned manufactorum. With that intro out of the way, as Craig Charles used to say "Let the Wars Begin!"
|The 13th Armageddon Reserve Company Arrayed for Battle
The Armageddon 13th Reserves:
Commander Kastoph Greede, Power Fist, Plasma Pistol (Company Commander, Laurels of Command, Ex-Gang Leader Warlord Trait).
Sub-Commander Consuela Bananarocha, Bolt Pistol (Company Commander)
Infantry Squad, Missile Launcher, Grenade Launcher, Sergeant with Bolter
Infantry Squad, Sergeant with Chainsword
Infantry Squad, Sergeant with Chainsword
Basilisk, Heavy Flamer
Deathstrike, Heavy Bolter
Thoughts on the army, well it's everything I want and more. Well, except for the Deathstrike which I fully expect to be completely useless. In fact, I'd be surprised if it actually goes off. It's rather expensive in points too, at about 150, so a massive chunk of the army. I'm fielding what I have painted though, so I'll have to make do. The other thing that concerns me is a bit of a lack of anti-tank (or maybe anti-monster). I basically have the basilisk and the one missile launcher to get that done, unless Greede reckons he can punch the enemy to death. Basically the plan is to fire a lot of lasguns and hope that the strobe lighting causes his monsters to have an epileptic seizure or something. If that doesn't work, maybe they'll try to tar pit everything. As they once said in Dynasty Warriors once "Men, fight and die with honour!"
Alien Menace from Beyond the Stars:
Winged Hive Tyrant 2x scything talons, pincer tail, adrenal glands (ymgarl factor, monstrous hunger, Catalyst, The Horror)
3 Tyranid Warriors, adrenal glands, one rending claws
Carnifex, Scything Talons, Bone Mace Tail, adrenal glands
Well, I have to admit that I'm not sure how well I'll do. The flying Tyrant is a serious piece of monster, and I'm not packing enough to stop it before it can do some serious damage. There's also the Carnifex to contend with and plenty of troops. I guess my strategy will be to pound on them with everything I've got and hope that the Deathstrike goes off and takes out at leas one of the monsters. It would be nice if the Missile scored a few hits too to back up the basilisk which is definitely going to be doing some heavy lifting. This is one of those fights that could turn into a real meat grinder. He also had that Lictor too, which could be a real fly in the ointment later on; especially with the artillery out the back.
On the upside, as Ed was struggling to fit a second HQ in, he only had 3 command points to spend.
We decided to play Malestrom, so 6 objectives were placed on the field. As usual, we placed them roughly evenly on the 4x4 board; with an emphasis on putting them in and around the terrain. You can see some of them below (the light green plastic counters). We then took turns deploying. I went with a fairly standard layout for guard (the old gun-line). I put my missile launcher in the top of the tower and then deployed my men to get the best lines of fire that I could. Handily, the Basilisk and Deathstrike both have indirect fire, so I put them at the back of the field out of the way.
Ed deployed in a similar line with his units bunched behind terrain. The hive Tyrant can be seen opposite the Deathstrike with the carnifex at the other end of the line and the gaunts in the middle. He finished deploying first. We rolled for first turn, which I won, but then he seized the initiative. I was really hoping to flatten some stuff with the Basilisk too!
|The hideous alien menace can be seen on the left! Seen on the top right are the shorts that Ed wore throughout the battle.
|The imperial lines. Commander Greede is just off the bottom left of the photo. Consuela's flag can be seen in the mid field.
|The Tyranid lines. Pretty much a monster on each end and a big wad of troops in the middle.
True to form, he moved everything forward and advanced at full speed. The Hive Tyrant can fly, so it sailed across the field and advanced to land mere inches from my first infantry squad. It was also in spitting distance of both Greede and the Deathstrike.
With no real shooting to speak of, he skipped to the psychic phase and used catalyst on the Hive Tyrant to get Feel no Pain, and then used Smite; which killed 3 guardsmen. Talk about too close for comfort! It was right up in my grill, and like I said in the intro, I wasn't packing the right guns to put it down before it would be able to trash a good portion of the army.
Steel Legion Turn 1:
Time to blast some aliens off the field! Well, it was always going to go this way, but it didn't help that all 3 objectives I pulled out were basically impossible as they related to objectives in Ed's deployment zone.
In my movement phase, I walked my squad forward from where they were defending the Oil Derricks so that they could get into rapid fire range. As I was using the Steel Legion doctrine, I could rapid fire at 18", but I wanted to make sure they were well in there.
I then went on to the shooting phase, I used my commanders to spread about a full set of "First Rank Fire, Second Rank Fire"; increasing my lasguns to raid fire 2. I was at short range too, so it resulted in a lot of shots per unit.
|Anyone getting this classic Metal Gear reference?
I opened up into the Hormagaunts with all 3 squads; battering them with a storm of lasers. I split fire with the missile launcher and grenade launcher as I went too; aiming those at the Hive Tyrant. The Hormagaunts took massive casualties, and one unit was wiped clean off the field. The second unit of 11 was reduced down to only 5 models. Not too shabby. Unfortunately, the MISSile launcher lived up to it's name and hit nothing but air. The grenade launcher followed suit. I had also split fire by throwing a frag grenade at the hive tyrant from Sergeant Kurn, but I rolled 1 shot and then it missed.
I switched over to the Basilisk and the Deathstrike. As the Deathstrike couldn't even attempt to fire it's actual missile yet, I shot the heavy bolter at the Tyrant to no effect. I then fired the basilisk at the Tyrant too. I rolled a 1 and 3 for the number of shots. I decided to use a command point to re-roll the one hoping for more shots, but I got a 4. So it fired 4 shots. Between a 4+ invulnerable save and Feel No Pain, it was almost impossible to get anything through, and after all was said and done, I only managed to put one wound on the thing! I'd also fired Greede's plasma pistol at it to no effect.
I ended my turn. All in all, it was pretty decent, and I cleared a lot of troops off the field, but those monsters were bearing down on me fast!
Tyranid Turn 2:
The Tyranid swarm moved forward at a pace. Ed pulled the objective of killing my Warlord, so he jumped the Tyrant over my squad and prepared to charge Greede (I was hoping to use heroic intervention to put his power fist to good use, so I was a bit disappointed!). The remaining Hormagaunts moved up onto the bridge with the Warriors in tow.
His Carnifex moved up right in front of my squad down near the derricks and then he declared his charges. The Tyrant charged Greede and the squad next to him, the Hormagaunts charged the squad on the bridge and inevitably the Carnifex charged the squad at the Derrick.
Overwatch was mostly ineffective, although I did manage to bag a pair of Hormagaunts on the bridge. Ed made all of his charges, and there was nothing left to do but fix bayonets and prepare for the worst.
Ed decided to fight with the Carnifex first. I was quite lucky, as it actually fluffed most of its rolls and only killed 2 or 3 guardsmen. Not a bad result, and a few more turns like that would see it out of the fight for a while. I burned 2 command points to interrupt Ed's combat attacks. I then went to the combat where the Hive Tyrant was fighting Greede, and Kurn's squad. I attacked with Greede; trying to put the power fist home. With his ex-gang leader trait, Greede had an additional attack and +1 to his wound rolls. He managed to get 2 attacks through; resulting in a respectable 4 wounds. Not bad. Unfortunately for the big man, he was then squished like a puny yellow bug by the massive monster.
In the mid-field, Consuela used Heroic Intervention to jump into the combat. Ed's Hormagaunts had somehow failed to cause any casualties, and the suffered 2 in return; reducing them to a single model. All in all, things seemed to be going OK, but I'd lost my general and Ed was running away with the objectives.
Ed had also dropped his Lictor onto the field this turn down by the Oil Derricks and had claimed another objective with it.
Steel Legion Turn 2:
One thing was sure, I needed to get out of combat and start shooting again if I wanted to stand a chance. The Tyrant was still bearing down on me hard, and still on its top profile. The carnifex had only lost one wound.
I pulled out of combat with the Tyrant and the remaining Hormagaunt. I then used Consuela to use the order "get Back in the Fight" to turn my men around and open fire again.
Kurn throws another grenade and his men lay into the Tyrant. This time, he rolls up 6 shots, but even then, the Tyrant avoids damage once again. Nothing unexpected there, but for a 40 point unit, they're slugging like they mean business. Next comes the Deathstrike, which needs a 6 to fire the missile; which it fails. Not too worried about that as there really isn't a good target for it and the Tyrant is too close to my units to fire it safely anyway. I fire the Heavy Bolter at it anyway, but again nothing happens.
Then, I have a moment that changes the game. I fire the Basilisk at the Tyrant. I roll up the number of shots and get 6. Then, I get 4 hits. After all the saves are done, it takes 6 wounds straight through! Reducing it down to one. With the Carnifex tied up on the other side of the field, things start to look up. I fire the remaining unit of guardsmen with the missile launcher. Again, they manage nothing, but thanks to the split fire, they kill off the last remaining Hormagaunt; clearing the bridge. They're still at full strength too.
The fight with the Carnifex continues, and it kills a few of my men, but they stand fast. I have 6 left of them going into Ed's turn, so I doubt they'll be able to hold much longer. He still has the Tyrant though, and I'm really hoping it'll die to some lucky overwatch or something.
I have an objective that I'll score if I can kill a model with over 10 wounds too, and I haven't got a single point yet, so I'm really hoping to bag that Tyrant.
Tyranid Turn 3:
The Tyranid turn begins, and this time Ed's serious; and by that I mean he realises how dangerous the Basilisk is and sets out to destroy it. He moves the Hive Tyrant up right next to the Basilisk, and he also moves the Lictor towards it; sandwiching it between the two for what's sure to be a tough combat phase for me.
The Tyranid warriors move up to engage Consuela and the squad with the missile Launcher. In Ed's Psychic phase he uses smite on the basilisk; clipping a few wounds off of it. He then casts Catalyst on the Lictor in an attempt to absorb and overwatch from the heavy flamer.
He declares a charge on the Basilisk first with the Lictor. I overwatch with the heavy flamer and roll a 6 for the number of hits. The Lictor melts into a pile of slag. Damn, am I glad I spent the points on that weapon! The Tyrant then charges, and I fail to get any hits on it with overwatch.
In the combat phase, Ed's Carnifex squishes 4 men, and ultimately, the unit fails their morale and the last two are removed; freeing up the Carnifex again. The Hive Tyrant crunches down on the Basilik and knocks off every wound but one on it. It's turning into some kind of 1 wound showdown at the back of the field!
Unfortunately, we forgot to take pictures on Ed's turn, so the ones I have are from the end of my own movement phase after I tried to escape with the Basilisk.
|Even with only one would left, the Tyrant really does a number on the Basilisk!
|The Carnifex kills the last of my infantry unit, and is ready to put the hurt on the rest of my force.
Steel Legion Turn 3:
|Another cinematic turning point represented by a handful of dice
I then open fire on the Hive Tyrant with Kurn's Squad. With some really good shooting, they manage to get 3 wounds through on the beast, but it saves them all on its armour. Then I make the roll that changes the game. I need a 5 or 6 to fire the Deathstrike and I actually make it.
Ignition in 5...4...3...2...1...
The colossal rocket takes to the air; targeting the exposed Carnifex. I roll up the number of shots and get 10, which translate through to 8 mortal wounds. The Carnifex is helpless to stop the weapon, and disappears off the field in an atomic mushroom cloud!
|The scene as it plays out through the lens of a Mechanicus orbital installation.
I fire the remaining models from the missile launcher's unit at the warriors. They cause some damage, but not enough to put any of the warriors down.
From this point on the game will be a rush to the finish, as I still only have one objective. I have slay the warlord and first blood but points wise, we're at 3 to 7, so if I can't table him then I'll lose on objectives. The Basilisk and Deathstrike are mostly out of it too as the Basilisk is too damaged to be of much use and the Deathstrike has already spent its payload.
Tyranid Turn 4:
Ed's only remaining unit is his Warriors. They change direction and charge Consuela and the unit of 5 men next to her. In the combat that ensues, they take another wound off of Consuela; leaving her with 2 wounds, and they kill another two men from the infantry unit leaving it with 3 men.
In the back attack, they lose a few wounds which kills one of the warriors and leaves another one injured.
|The field at the start of the Tyranid Turn
In a desperate bid to get another objective, I limp the Basilisk onto objective 5 and score the only other card I'm going to get.
I disengage with my squads and fire the missile squad and the heavy bolter into the remaining two Tyranid Warriors; killing another one.
In Tyranid Turn 5, Ed charges the Missile squad with his warrior and kills another 3 men, but it takes 2 wounds in return; leaving it on only one wound. In my turn 5 I disengage from the combat and fire everything I've got at it, but fail to would. I then take aim with the Deathstrike and chip his last wound off with the heavy bolter, and it wins me the game. At this point, if the game had lasted one more turn, Ed would have the opportunity to win on objectives. We even rolled a dice to see if the game would've ended and it turns out that it would. All said and done, it was a victory for the Legion, but it was a damn close thing.
|The last remaining warrior stands alone at the top of the tower; until a hail of shells dislodges it!
Steel Legion Victory
Steel Legion: 4
Post Game Thoughts:
Well, that was a close game; just the way I like my games. If it had gone one more turn, I would've lost. It was a battle with a lot of pivotal moments too; in particular the Deathstrike firing when it did and taking out the Carnifex really saved me. The Basilisk doing so much damage in one volley to the Hive Tyrant was an equally a game changing moment.
In my first turn, I thought I might just get steamrollered by the monstrous creatures; especially when I fired everything I had at the Tyrant and only took one wound off of it. I guess it just proves that old adage about sticking to your guns. Neither of the forces were designed to be particularly competitive, and I still think the Deathstrike is quite poor for 150 points, but it really did its job in this battle.
As far as tactics go, Ed said that he regretted not trying for a turn 1 charge with the Hive Tyrant as well as not attacking first with it in the fight with Greede. I'm pretty sure he might have won if he had killed Greede before he could strike with the fist as I wouldn't have had enough firepower to take the rest of the wounds off of the Tyrant in the late game.
On a different note, I hope you've enjoyed this battle report. I don't write too many of them, so leave a comment below if you want to encourage me to do more! (they just take so long!).
I also hope you enjoyed the miniatures and terrain on show. I painted all of the terrain too, and most of it is from TT Combat's laser-cut MDF range.