|Spot the croc...|
It has taken me a while to get play a game with the new Tyranid Codex, but I finally managed it. Having played 40K for 7 editions, I have collections that are aging in one way or another, particularly when it comes to competing in the current meta. My Dark Angels army, for example, is very much a 3rd Edition gun line, which has trouble competing with modern collections. The answer to this is to either throw money at the problem and/or get creative. I had a good idea that my Tyranids would be in a similar position, having collected the bulk of my army for competitive play around 4th and 5th Edition, just before flyers were released. The best way to find out is to play games, so I took on Sgt Waz's Primaris with a Jormungandr list pieced together with the stuff that I have. Instead of writing a turn-by-turn battle report, I have put a few thoughts together based on the game and implications for my hobby plans this year.
During the course of the game, there were several points where The Trooper and I just looked at each other in despair. Sgt Waz did a great job of showcasing the interplay between new units, fire power and stratagems, giving us a lot to think about. His list was infantry based; the closest he got to a vehicle was two Thunderfire cannons. He left Guilliman at home in favour of Marneus Calgar and a suite of HQ characters; a Primaris Lieutenant, Librarian, Ancient and Apothecary, a marine Captain and two honour Guard for Marneus. The list included several combat squads of Intercessors, 5 Hellblasters, 6 Aggressors and a Devastator squad armed with Grav Cannons. Two scouts squads were included to teach me a lesson about area denial. Compared to the current meta, the list was not exactly what you would call optimized, but it had synergy, buckets of wounds and fire power. A dedicated gun line facing a tunneling close combat force; I smelled trouble already.
My list included the Swarmlord with three Tyrant Guard, a Neurothrope, 3 Zoanthropes, three Hive Guard, three Tyranid warriors with devourers and Boneswords, a Broodlord and 8 Genestealers, 20 Termagants with devourers, a Trygon Prime, Mawloc and Scythed Heirodule.
Lesson 1: Just putting together the list, I was wishing that I had more Zoanthropes for the buff to Mortal Wounds, more Hive Guard to give them some extra resilience and more Genestealers, again for the buffs. I have 40 old school genestealers in a box somewhere...
Sgt Waz set up his army in a blob of precisely spaced out ranks to the right side of his deployment zone, with the Thunderfire cannons right at the back, Marneus and the Ancient in the middle and the rest of the HQ units on the flank. The scouts were deployed 9" the front and left of the blob, to push any deep striking units out 9" beyond that.
Lesson 2: here was my first lesson in area denial. A Jormungandr list is mostly about tunneling units into the teeth of the enemy, but this deployment would make that suicide. I could absolutely wreck the scout squads, but that would still put me too far away from the blob to make an impact before the serious shooting starts. In hindsight, I need small throw-away units or some backfield shooters to eliminate the area denial units, before I start tunneling the good units in. The only unit capable of doing this in my army for this game was the Hive Guard; Sgt Waz knew that too.
I deployed my Swarmlord, Tyrant Guard, Hive Guard and Tyranid Warriors in cover. The Neurothrope, Zoanthropes and Devourers would be tunneling in with the Mawloc, whilst the Broodlord and Genestealers would be tunneling in with the Trygon Prime.
Lesson 2: this would cost me 4 CP at the outset, leaving me with 3. This is a good investment as long as it pays dividends! Ideally, I need to see if I can increase my starting number of CP. That will mean some Ripper bases, I think. In contrast, Waz started with 9 CP and the ability to regenerate spent points. Which he did. Consistently.
We played a Retrieval Mission using the Dawn of War deployment. We set up four objective markers, two on each side of the board. Players in control of an objective marker at the end of the game would earn 3 victory points. Victory points would also be earned for Slaying the Warlord, Line Breaker and First Blood.
Lesson 3: Play the mission. If I had played to the mission more actively during the game I could have offset some of my lists weaknesses by drawing the Primaris marines out and capturing objectives with powerful units at the end of the game. The main reason I didn't do this is because of the two Thunderfire cannons.
Sgt Waz didn't move all that much during the first turn, only advancing his right flank (Captain, Primaris Librarian and Apothecary, Devastator Squad) to move onto an objective and open up a firing lane for his grav cannons. The Thunderfire cannons destroyed my Hive Guard unit; there goes first blood.
Lesson 4: The Hive Guard were targeted because they threatened his scouts, which were providing area denial.
I ran the Heirodule up the middle of the board as a distraction and advanced the Swarmlord and Tyrant Guard, so that he could spur on the Heirodule next turn. The Trygon (left flank) and Mawloc appeared (right flank), bringing their squads with them. It was about now that I realised that I should have removed the scouts first. Sgt Waz used a strategem (Auspex I think), to fire his Grav Cannons at the Mawloc, which took me by surprise and caused a lot of wounds. During the psychic phase I used the Neurothrope and Zoanthropes to kill the Devastators, but as they were within range of the Ancient and his standard, the majority of them got a second round of shooting before being removed from the board. So I was getting shot in my own movement phase AND my own psychic phase. During the shooting phase I killed the first squad with my scout squad and then used Single Minded Annihilation to put 4 wounds on the Captain (one short of killing him outright.... grrrr).
Lesson 5: it is not good enough to know a unit's capabilities anymore, you also need to know how they interact with strategems and buffs.
Sgt Waz advanced the first two ranks of his blob (Intercessors and Aggressors) to attack the Termagants, killing most of them. The Captain and Librarian advanced on his right flank to charge the Zoanthropes with the support of the Apothecary. The rest of the army fired on the Heirodule, causing a couple of wounds, and the Genestealers, killing 5. The Mawloc also died during the shooting phase, having provided the distraction I wanted. The Captain failed his charge and would have to weather another round of Smite, but gained some wounds with the help of the Apothecary.
I unleashed psychic hell on the Captain and... removed a wound. I then charged him, as it was going to happen anyway and I would rather hit first. The Heirodule advanced and, after failing to buff it with onslaught, fired an acid attack at the Intercessors, killing two. Again, they took a final shot at the Termagants, wiping them out. Infuriated, the Heirodule charged them and the Aggressors, and started wrecking face, but for every model taken down I was taking powerfist hits thanks to the Ancient. Sgt Waz was getting those rolls when he needed them. My Zoanthropes didn't make any in-roads against the Captain, but they didn't die either.
The Ultramarines withdrew from combat with the Heirodule and shot it, taking it down to three wounds. On his right flank, Sgt Waz maneuvered his HQ units to support the Captain, whilst the right flank prepared for the arrival of the Swarmlord, Trygon Prime and Broodlord, shooting down the rest of the Genestealers and taking the Broodlord down a couple of wounds.
I moved the Heirodule so that it could charge the remaining Intercessors and Aggressors comfortable, I also advanced the Swarmlord into position to move the Trygon twice and buff it with Onslaught. The Broodlord also bolted forwards as far as it could in preparation for charging. During the shooting phase I shot the Aggressors with the Heirodule's acid attack, using my final CP to re-roll one of my snake eyes. Again, any marines I killed turned fired off some shots before they fell, putting wounds on the Nids preparing to charge. The Nids all made their charge but the Broodlord and last Tyrant Guard died to overwatch fire. The Swarmlord and Trygon cut a bloody swathe through the first three ranks, whilst the Heirodule had taken too many wounds by this stage to be truly effective. Now only a lone Zoanthrope was alive on the right flank, but he was still holding it up!
Lesson 6: I had to give myself a few options when I charged, announcing that I was attempting to charge multiple units on the chance that one would get wiped out by the Swarmlord before the Trygon got a chance to attack. By announcing charges against multiple units I drew extra overwatch fire, but was able to pile in after one squad completely collapsed early under the blades of the Swarmlord.
Sgt Waz didn't have much moving to do at this stage, simply positioning Marneus to charge the Swarmlord and his guard to charge the Trygon. I weathered a blistering turn of fire, passing a whole bunch of invulnerable saves. The Captain finally killed the last Zoanthrope in close combat. Marneus, however, didn't do so great. His honour guard marines were close enough to absorb most of the wounds, but they both died miserably. Marneus also took some wounds. The Heirodule also fell to some lucky Bolt rifle stock hits.
My turn consisted of the Psychic and assault phases, which ended with the death of Marneus and every other unit in contact with my Swarmlord and Trygon
Sgt Waz's final two ranks consisted of Hellblasters and two Thunderfire cannons. They remained stationary and shot both the Swarmlord and the Trygon to pieces. It was a complete wipe!
Final lessons: With some careful list choices, and a bit more strategic thought, I can see how my list would be fun to play. The buff to armour save from being Jormungandr did make an impact, but I can maximise it by having some backfield units protected by a Malanthrope. A Tyrannofex and an Exocrine, instead of the Scythed Heirodule, would have caused Sgt Waz a whole world of trouble. You can't just sit back and do nothing when they are pounding you. Also, if I am going to come in from reserve with a bunch of costly units, I really do need to dictate where they arrive better. Some cheap units of Ravenors will be a welcome addition. To tap into area denial myself, a few cheap units of spore mines will work wonders. Additionally, a Unit of Biovores will help with those annoying characters in the middle of the blob, such as the Ancient (allowing dead things to shoot me!) and the Lieutenant (who did nothing but allow other models re-roll failed to-wound rolls all game). I already have plans to add some Space Marine Lieutenants to my Dark Angels list. With a jump pack, one should even be able to keep up with my faster units for a while.
That's a wrap! The game left me with lots of things to think about and I have already started working on improving the list. Let's see how I go next time :-)
See you across the table,