Warhammer 40K 8th edition battle report – 2000pts Tyranids vs T’au

The air was still, broken only by the gentle lapping of the waves at the shore and the screech of the Dhhji-birds as they wheeled overhead. Aun’ui Au’taal Draira sat cross-legged on the sand of the beach, meditating in the evening light. He closed his eyes, letting the sound of the waves roll over him.

The tranquility was broken by the sound of a Devilfish, coming in fast and low over the water. Opening his eyes, Au’taal saw the ship painted in green livery scream overhead, the pilot pulling a sharp turn to bring the ship around, landing it expertly on the beach a few hundred feet downwind from him. The ramp hit the beach and a lone Fire Warrior hurried out, dashing down the beach towards the Ethereal. As he reached the venerable T’au, he slowed and bowed his head in a gesture of respect. His training is commendable, Au’taal thought, that he remains silent until spoken to despite the urgency of his message. With a wave of his hand, the Ethereal motioned for the Shas’ui to speak.

‘Your grace, our Pathfinders have reports of hostiles approaching from the west, and fast. Your eminence, we believe-‘, he inhaled deeply, ‘-we lost communication with our teams, but we have reason to believe that the Tyranids have found this world.’

Au’taal pushed himself to his feet, brushing sand from his robes. ‘What are the odds of this information being incorrect? I was not advised that our long-range scanners had detected any Tyranid presence.’

The Shas’ui swallowed. ‘Your grace, we haven’t been able to determine how the Tyranids approached us without our systems recognizing them, but recon drones report a 98.7% bio-match between the approaching creatures and the Tyranids known as Hive Fleet Leviathan.’

Au’taal nodded. ‘Give the order to evacuate the colony, Shas’ui, and gather your squad. We must ensure that there is time for our research to be removed before those creatures arrive.’

The still evening air was pierced by the shrill wail of klaxons and sirens from the human bastion, as the T’au and their Gue’la auxiliaries hurried to the transports and defensive positions. On the horizon, Au’taal could already see the shadows of alien shapes moving towards them.

* * *

Warhammer 40,000:8th edition has been released! A friend and I were keen to try it out as soon as possible, so once our orders arrived in the post we set up the terrain and arranged our forces. His stalwart T’au would be facing off against my Hive Fleet Leviathan Tyranids. The T’au force consisted of:

Commander with Burst Cannon and Missile Pod (148pts)
Fireblade (42pts)
11 Fire Warriors (91pts)
11 Fire Warriors (91pts)
Riptide with Ion Accelerator and two Fusion Blasters (418pts)
6 Stealth Suits including one Fusion Blaster (200pts)
3 Crisis Suits with two Plasma Rifles each (192pts)
3 Broadsides with Missile Pods and Smart Missile Systems (612pts)
Hammerhead with Railgun and Smart Missile System (195pts)

Total: 1989pts

The Tyranid army consisted of:

The Swarmlord (300pts)
Broodlord (162pts)
3 Tyranid Warriors including one Barbed Strangler (83pts)
3 Tyranid Warriors including one Venom Cannon (77pts)
20 Genestealers (240pts)
30 Hormagaunts (150pts)
30 Termagants including ten Devourers (160pts)
3 Tyrant Guard (111pts)
Lictor (45pts)
3 Zoanthropes (120pts)
20 Gargoyles (120pts)
5 Spore Mines (50pts)
Trygon (175pts)
2 Carnifexes each with Monstrous Scything Talons, Devourers and a Thresher Scythe (204pts)

Total: 1997pts

The Tyranid army all ready to be deployed! I’m pretty pleased with myself that it’s almost all painted, too :)

We chose the basic ‘Only War’ mission to keep things simple, rolling the ‘Slay and Secure’ primary objective that meant that each objective marker would be worth 2vp at the end of the game to whoever controlled it – and that, if we managed to slay the other person’s warlord, we’d earn an extra D3 victory points. I chose the Swarmlord as my warlord, while Tom went for his Commander.

Deployment on the left flank…

…and on the right.

Deploying Termagants that close together?? But what about blast templa-oooohhh :)

T’au turn 1

Perhaps unsurprisingly, very little of the T’au army moved! The mighty Riptide advanced forward, bringing its heavy weapons into short range. With a fizzle of dissipating energy, a team of Stealth Suits appeared on the right flank near the Tyranid Warriors, accompanied by a roar of jets as a team of Crisis Suits boldly landed in front of the Swarmlord. Jet-pack engines blazing, the T’au commander joined his forces, landing alongside the Stealth suits.

With a crackle of energy the Riptide opened fire on the Swarmlord, dealing a total of six wounds. The nearby Tyrant Guard were ready, though, two of them leaping in the way to sacrifice themselves for the swarm leader. The Crisis Suits added their weapons to the barrage, most of the shots bouncing off the Swarmlord’s chitinous carapace and the remaining Tyrant Guard. Pulse rifles barked as the Fire Warriors and Fireblade shot too, though all of their shots bounced off the Swarmlord. On the far right flank, the Stealth Suits burst cannons whirred into life, obliterating one of the Tyranid Warriors in a hail of fire. The Commander fired into the warriors, wounding one, but unable to finish it.

Planting their feet firmly in the ground, the Broadsides loosed a barrage of missiles into the Swarmlord. When the smoke cleared, the final Tyrant Guard was dead and the mighty Tyrant was reduced to two wounds. The second squad of Fire Warriors wounded a Carnifex, while the Hammerhead Gunship brought its weapons to bear on the Zoanthropes. The psychic will of the creatures were strong, though, deflecting the railgun rounds.

Tyranid turn 1

As one, the swarm advanced. The ground rumbled as a Trygon burst forth near the Hammerhead, six-limbed Genestealers swarming out of the tunnel it left behind. A section of wall seemed to detach itself from the ruined cathedral as a Lictor shimmered into view, appearing near the Crisis Suits. Overhead, Spore Mines drifted lazily to earth near the Broadsides, their tendrils wafting in the breeze.

Psychic energy crackled around the craniums of the Zoanthropes, their powers dealing a single mortal wound to the Hammerhead from Smite and refining the Termagant’s accuracy with Onslaught. The Swarmlord used her connection to the Hive Mind to Smite the Crisis Suits, though I had to spend my first command point to cast it. She also cast Catalyst on herself, hoping to weather the next round of T’au shooting.

The Carnifexes fired their Devourers at the Crisis Suits, the brainleech worms managing to burrow through their armour to the soft pilot inside and killing one Crisis Suit. The Tyranid Warriors fired at the Stealth Suits, but the T’au technology proved more than adequate as their weapons failed to hurt the shimmering figures. Meanwhile the Termagants and Gargoyles rounded the building to shoot at the Broadsides, but again the T’au armour proved impervious to their weapons as dead Fleshborer beetles pattered against the thick hulls and fell to the ground, their short lifespan expended trying to burrow through the armour. The Warriors fared better, their Venom Cannon taking a wound from the Hammerhead.

With a sibilant hiss the Hormagaunts bounded into the T’au Fire Warriors, their Bounding Leap ability letting them engage the Stealth Suits, Commander, Fireblade and Crisis Suits too! The Genestealers tried to charge the Hammerhead, but failed to reach it even with a re-roll from another precious command point. Incredibly the Trygon also failed to charge, as the Hammerhead’s Rail Cannon hit the creature and took off six wounds! The Gargoyles managed to charge into the Broadsides, though fully half their number was shot from the air as they did so. One Carnifex barreled into the Crisis Suits along with the Swarmlord, while the second Carnifex attacked the Riptide. Finally, my remaining Warriors on the right flank charged into the Stealth Suits.

The Hormagaunts set about them with their Scything Talons, wounding a Stealth Suit and the Fireblade before cutting down six Fire Warriors. In response the Fireblade cut down two Hormagaunts, and the Fire Warriors drew their ritual blades to kill two more. The Warriors killed a Stealth Suit, but in return were beaten down by the T’au stealth suits. More worryingly, both the Swarmlord and the Carnifex fluffed their rolls and failed to hurt the Crisis Suits, though the T’au pilots were unable to hurt them in return. With a bellowing roar the Carnifex slammed into the Riptide, its Monstrous Scything Talons cutting through the advanced technology with brute force to deal 3 damage to the battlesuit. The Gargoyles flapped ineffectively at the Broadsides, who swung their heavy fists to smash one of the creatures out of the air, killing it. Five of the Fire Warriors lost their courage and fled, abandoning their remaining comrade to the Hormagaunts. Over-extended and out of Synapse range, the remaining Gargoyles took flight and fled the battlefield.

T’au turn 2

The Fireblade and the remaining Fire Warrior fell back from combat, as did the Crisis Suits and the Riptide. As the mighty battlesuit fell back, its weapons barked again, but both the Carnifex and the Swarmlord survived the barrage. The Stealth Suits and Crisis Suits added their weapons to the fusilade, but the Swarmlord’s Catalyst power held firm and she saved all the wounds. A pinpoint volley of missiles from the Broadsides dealt two damage to a Carnifex, and dealt five damage to the other one to leave it on two wounds left! Seeing the rapidly approaching Tyranids, the Hammerhead’s crew brought its weapons around to fire again, but were only able to kill a single Genestealer. Finally, in an attempt to bring her down, the remaining Fire Warrior squad shot the Swarmlord, dealing a single wound – hoping to keep her alive, I opted to spend another command point and managed to save the wound.

Carnage erupts as the Tyranids reach the T’au lines.

Tyranids turn 2

Tasting blood and seeing the enemy falling back, the swarm continued to advance into the T’au lines. The Swarmlord summoned the psychic energies of the Hive Mind to Catalyst herself before casting Smite on the Crisis Suits for two wounds, while the Zoanthropes dealt three wounds to the Broadsides with their own Smite power. On the left flank, the Broodlord also cast Smite to take two wounds off the Hammerhead before casting Catalyst on the wounded Trygon.

Termagants swarm past the forest towards the T’au artillery battlesuits.

The Carnifexes managed to wound the Riptide with their Devourers, the frenzied beetles managing to bore through even the advanced armour of the T’au battlesuit. A hail of fire hit the tenacious Broadside battlesuits from both the Termagants and the nearby Warriors, but the combined fire only managed to deal a single wound to the T’au artillery.

Moving into combat, one of my Carnifexes charged into the Riptide, taking an astounding four wounds from overwatch fire as its twin followed it in. The Hormagaunts charged into the T’au commander, losing a couple of their number to his Burst Cannon, while on the far side of the field the Genestealers and the Trygon barreled into the Hammerhead. Meanwhile, the Lictor charged into the Crisis Suits. The Swarmlord followed her, but calamity struck as Tom’s Crisis Suits used the T’au army-wide ability For The Greater Good, opening fire on her and bringing the mighty Hive Tyrant down! Ah well, at least she’ll just be reabsorbed by the swarm to be reincarnated soon :)

The Genestealers fell upon the Hammerhead in a sea of claws, tearing open hatches and scuttling inside. Their ferocious attack tore the tank apart, rupturing one of the delicate fusion-reactors in the process and causing an explosion of plasmic energy that killed one Genestealer and took another two wounds off the Trygon. The Lictor tore apart the remaining Crisis Battlesuit, while the Carnifexes dealt another six damage to the Riptide. Battered and rent, the mighty T’au battlesuit continued to operate, though it was unable to deal any damage back to the Carnifexes.

The Genestealers and the Trygon tear apart the Hammerhead…

…while the Carnifexes continue to attack the tough-as-nails Riptide.

In a sea of claws and ferocity, the Hormagaunts fell upon the unfortunate T’au commander, tearing his suit apart in a frenzy of attacks and taking Tom’s warlord from full wounds to 0 in a single round of combat! Two Fire Warriors also fell to their wicked Scything Talons, though the T’au gave as good as they got with their ritual blades and killed two Hormagaunts in retaliation. Far from Synapse and out of control after killing the T’au commander, two Hormagaunts fell to Battleshock.

T’au turn 3

Red lights blinking and alarms sounding inside the cockpit, the pilot of the Riptide drew his mighty battlesuit back again from the Carnifexes, readying its weapons for another barrage. Nearby the Fire Warriors also fell back from the Hormagaunts, while the Stealth Suits moved towards the Carnifexes to support their brethren. The Riptide opened fire again, this time killing one of the Carnifexes. The Stealth Suits opened fire on the Lictor, reducing it to one wound, while the Broadside battle suits re-targeted their weapons on the Zoanthropes this time, their barrage of high-impact rockets proving too much for even the psychic might of the creatures and killing one.

Tyranid turn 3

In retaliation, the Zoanthropes unleashed another blast of psychic energy with Smite that wounded a Broadside. The Trygon’s Bio-Electric Pulse overloaded the Broadsides’ systems, causing another wound. The Termagants opened fire on the Riptide this time, the sheer volume of fire from their Devourers finding some of the cracks in its armour caused by the Carnifexes and dealing another wound. Readying itself for a charge, the Lictor’s flesh hooks whipped out to wound one of the Stealth Suits.

Bursting from the woods, the Genestealers attempted to charge the Broadsides. Three of them died to overwatch, and my charge roll wasn’t quite enough to reach them. In an attempt to finally deal with the tenacious T’au, I used my last command point to re-roll one dice and managed to make the charge. The Broodlord also failed to reach the Broadsides, while the Lictor died to the Stealth Suit’s overwatch fire. Both the Termagants and the remaining Carnifex tried to charge the Riptide, but failed to reach it. Finally, in a moment of stupidity, I tried to charge the Hormagaunts into the Riptide, only to roll a double one. In hindsight, I should have charged the Fire Warriors – not only were they within 2″, but the Hormagaunt’s Bounding Leap ability would have then let them reach the Riptide as they piled in. Ah well, lesson learnt….

The T’au left flank begins to collapse as the Genestealers sweep onwards into the Broadsides.

The Genestealers attacked the Broadsides, their Rending Claws cutting through the armour to deal eight wounds and drag down two Broadsides.

T’au turn 4

Things were beginning to look a little bleak for the T’au, as the Tyranid left flank of Genestealers finally reached the main battle line and began to cut a swathe through them. The Riptide moved back from combat, as did the remaining Broadside, while the Stealth Suits moved further forward to reinforce the T’au lines. Their Burst Cannons whirred again, failing to wound the Carnifex but killing two Termagants and a Genestealer. The Riptide’s weapons fired again, though fate favoured the Carnifex as it only took one wound, surviving with a single wound left. Under the command of the nearby Fireblade, the remaining Fire Warrior squad – who I had discounted compared to the threat of the Riptide and Broadsides – suddenly let loose a volley of accurate fire, killing ten Genestealers and reducing the unit to two models! At least the Synapse Broodlord was still nearby to keep them in check.

My remaining Carnifex lives on, but how long can it survive…

Tyranid turn 4

Still moving as one under the guiding influence of the Hive Mind, the swarm of Hive Fleet Leviathan continued its advance on the remaining Tyranid forces. The Broodlord cast Smite on the final Broadside, though the tenacious battlesuit still stood. However, the Zoanthropes floated up to the abandoned bunker, their craniums cracking with nebulous energy as they finally dealt the killing blow and blew the Riptide apart in a storm of psychic power! In an attempt to keep the last Carnifex alive, I also cast Catalyst on it.

Finally the Broadsides are defeated by the Hive Mind.

The Termagants fired a hail of beetles into the Stealth Suits, the voracious little creatures managing to burrow through the armour of one unfortunate T’au and kill him. In an attempt to capitalize on this success the Termagants tried to charge the Stealth Suits, but failed to reach them. The Carnifex also prepared to charge, but the Shas’ui stood firm and a searing beam from his Fusion Blaster finally killed the titanic Tyranid. The Hormagaunts, however, charged into the Fire Warriors before using their Bounding Leap ability to also engage the Stealth Suits, their Scything Talons cutting down five Fire Warriors and one Stealth Suit. Ritual blades drawn, the Fire Warriors cut down one Genestealer to leave me with one left.

T’au turn 5

The T’au forces disengaged again, but the Fire Warriors were still surrounded by Tyranids. Nearby, the Stealth Suits fired their Burst Cannons in an attempt to thin the horde, but to no avail as they failed to land any wounds.

Tyranid turn 5

The Zoanthropes and Broodlord both cast Smite, killing a couple of Stealth Suits. Another fusilade of shots from the Termagants killed another, and the Warriors finally brought their Venom cannon to bear to wound another.

In a moment of over-confidence, I declared that my Broodlord would lead the charge into the Stealth Suits. Again, the Shas’ui stood his ground, his Fusion Blaster hitting my Broodlord and dealing five wounds to take her down to her last wound! The Fire Warriors joined in with their For The Greater Good, and in a hail of Pulse Rifle fire my Broodlord fell. In an attempt to make up for my over-confidence and finish off the remaining T’au forces, my Hormagaunts and remaining Genestealer charged back into the fray. The Hormagaunts managed to kill a Fire Warrior and wound the Fireblade, but the few survivours of the T’au force still stood defiently.

Turn five complete – in the immortal words of Private Hudson, ‘Game over, man! Game over!’. Neither of us had managed to completely wipe out the other (despite some pretty heavy casualties on both sides of the board!), so it came down to objectives. Tom had killed my Warlord and rolled 2vp, while I rolled 3vp for killing his. Combined with my Trygon and Termagants holding two objectives, the game ended in a 7-2 victory for the Tyranids!

The surviving (and victorious) Tyranid models.

* * *

That was a really enjoyable game. From what I can tell after the first experience, 8th edition plays more neatly than 7th edition – it’s great having most of the rules included in the unit’s profile, and changes like the new WS and the removal of initiative help to speed the game up. On the latter one there, I was worried that was something I wouldn’t like, but with the reintroduction of the movement stat and ‘charging units go first’ it’s not such a big deal. Generally, fast units you’d expect to strike first (such as Genestealers and Hormagaunts, for example) have a high enough movement stat that they can basically dictate when and where they’ll get in melee, allowing them to strike first by virtue of charging. The psychic phase was another part of the game that stood out to me as a fantastic change – it’s far simpler to cast powers now, and (at least the Tyranid ones and Smite) feel more like you’re supporting and buffing your army rather than having your psykers run riot doing all the work!

So, what stood out in this game? The Fly ability being on so many battlesuits is incredible, allowing large parts of the T’au army to fall back from combat and still fire at full effectiveness – just as I’ve always envisioned them to do! It makes them a very mobile and hard-hitting army, since you can’t just tie them up in combat to avoid the damage they can (and will!) put out with those ranged weapons. The Broadsides and the Riptide in particular pack an awful lot of firepower, which is made even more potent by the ability to fire weapons at different targets nowadays. On the subject of my Tyranid army, I learnt that 12 wounds and toughness 6 are not enough by themselves to keep my beloved Swarmlord alive, and I still need to be more careful where I deploy her! The Hormagaunts and Genestealers are incredible combat units, and the Bounding Leap of the former is just amazing – perfect to charge one unit and then leap over them to engage two or three others without risking their overwatch! I can imagine that gunline armies without Fly will have to be very careful with their positioning, and Hormagaunts will be a priority unit for them to target. On the other side of the coin, I didn’t feel like I got much use out of the Spore Mines thanks to their slow movement, and the Gargoyles were a bit of a let-down (though I think I sent them at the wrong target, so that one may be on me – I was hoping to tie down the Broadsides, not expecting the Gargoyles to completely disappear within one turn!).

Well, that’s a quick write-up of my thoughts after the first game. Looking forward to Wednesday now, when my Tyranids get to hit the table again!

Take care,

Ben

Magic: The Gathering & Charity part 2

A while ago, I wrote about starting a charity project for WWF’s tiger preservation & protection. Despite purchasing the cards and donating the money, I’ve only just gotten around to writing about the progress of this little pet project.

Artwork for Stalking Tiger (C) by Terese Nielsen.

So far, the deck’s clocked in at £30.94, and features at least one of (almost) every tiger I could find in MTG:

1 x Zodiac Tiger
1 x Jedit Ojanen of Efrava
2 x Springing Tiger
2 x Zarichi Tiger
2 x Riparian Tiger
3 x Seht’s Tiger
4 x Stalking Tiger
4 x Phantom Tiger
1 x Cave Tiger
1 x Scythe Tiger
2 x Primal Bellow
4 x Vines of Vastwood
4 x Tiger Claws
2 x Ethereal Armour
2 x Chosen By Heliod
1 x Divine Favour
1 x Spear of Heliod
2 x Rancor
13 x Forest
7 x Plains
1 x Selesnya Guildgate

I’ve tried to include all the tigers I could find (except for Sabretooth Tiger, just because I didn’t want to splash in red as well for just one creature. I’ve still bought four of them, though, and the amount spent is included in the amount donated!), with multiples of my favourites (Stalking Tiger in particular – just look at Terese Nielsen’s artwork above in its full resolution glory!). There’s even the elusive Zodiac tiger in there, because it’s a nice-looking card and (at £5 a pop) it was a good way to easily increase the amount donated to WWF.

I’ve played the deck against a few friends, and it’s actually working surprisingly well – thanks in no small part to the combo of the Phantom Tiger (a card which still makes me sad when you look at the artwork) and Spear of Heliod / Tiger Claws / Chosen by Heliod / anything that gives it +x/+1, since that makes it effectively immortal!

I’m enjoying this – it’s great to combine a (casual) hobby of mine with such an important cause, and one that’s very close to my heart. I think that I’ll be adding in some more cards like Spear Of Heliod soon, to increase the donated amount and to focus the deck more on buffing up the tigers. I’d also like to pick up some more interesting lands like Oran-Rief the Vastwood and Llanowar Reborn. Don’t worry, the focus will still be very firmly on only using tiger creatures and as many thematic cards as possible! I’ll definitely be working on this deck over the coming months and, as before, will be donating an equal amount to whatever I spend to WWF’s tiger preservation.

Kind regards,

Ben

Kill-Team battle reports

In preparation for an event I’m attending in the near future, some friends and I met up one evening last week for a couple of kill-team games. I’d already decided what kill-team I want to use at this event, going for a Tyranid force comprised of:

Broodlord – kill-team Leader with the Been there, Seen it, Done it trait and (subsequently) the Feel No Pain Indomitable Specialist skill.
3 Genestealers
1 Genestealer with Scything Talons.
1 Genestealer – Dirty Fighter Specialist with the Murderous Blows skill.
1 Genestealer – Guerilla Specialist with the Preferred Enemy skill.
1 Zoanthrope – Weapon Specialist with the Expert Shot skill.

Total: 196pts

I’ve been having great fun playing my Tyranids since restarting them recently, and the idea of an alien kill-team is really enjoyable. Plus, it means that I get to make loads of Aliens / Starship Troopers / Jurassic Park references during each game (‘How could they cut the power, man!? They’re animals!‘ ‘You kill anything that has more than two legs, you get me?‘ ‘Shoot her!‘). Unfortunately I haven’t finished painting my Broodlord yet and, more importantly, the Zoanthropes I’ve ordered hadn’t arrived. Luckily, my friends graciously let me use a Ripper Swarm as a stand-in, since they’re both on the same size base. Psychic Rippers, now there’s a terrifying thought – something for the Hive Mind to start evolving for 8th edition!

* * *

The night was still, the quiet broken only by the chirruping of the local wildlife amongst the ruins. Estoria’s three moons hung low in the sky, bathing the world in a feeble light and casting a monochrome shade over the crumbling buildings. Their pale moonlight illuminated the PDF trenchline as it snaked its way through the city, but the encampment was abandoned. No men manned the vantage points, no soldiers sat at the guns. It was as if the whole company had simply vanished without a trace.

The Space Marines moved almost silently despite their size, panning their boltguns around in slow, sweeping motions. Each Astartes moved in unison, covering each other as the squad advanced. Ahead, Battle-Brother Kurt held up one gauntleted hand for the squad to stop, the other gripping his auspex. His voice crackled over the comm-links in their helmets. ‘Brothers, I read movement ahead. Multiple signals in the ruins, and closing.’

‘Brother Nova, join him to investigate. Brothers Nate and Shiflett, form a secondary team and follow my lead’ Brother-Sergeant Grohl ordered. Fanning out, the Space Marines moved cautiously forward.

All around, in the darkness of the ruins, alien eyes watched them.

* * *

Game one pitted my bugs against Mark’s Space Marines in a game of Head Hunt. His forces consisted of four Space Marines led by their leader, Brother-Sergeant Grohl, and accompanied by heavy armour in the form of a a lascannon-armed Razorback tank. The Space Marines deployed close together, with the Razorback and three marines kept in reserve thanks to Brother-Sergeant Grohl’s A Cunning Ruse ability. I deployed most of my Genestealers hidden away in the ruins, with the Broodlord on a separate flank and the Zoanthrope – as the only model without Infiltrate – a bit further back in my deployment zone.

The Space Marines fan out as the Genestealers creep through the ruins.

Getting closer and closer…

The game started slowly as the Genestealers clung to the shadows of the ruins, avoiding the incoming fire from the Space Marines. At the start of the second turn the Razorback roared onto the board, its twin-linked lascannon turret traversing and blasting a shot at my Broodlord. She was clearly a tough specimen, however, as she shrugged off the potent shot. In response, my Genestealers moved out of cover and prepared to assault. The Broodlord thundered into the newly-arrived Astartes tank, her razor-sharp rending claws cutting through the armour and immobilizing the vehicle with a shriek of tortured gears. Meanwhile, one of the Genestealers scrambled up the side of the nearby abandoned PDF trenchline, launching itself at Brother-Sergeant Grohl in a diving charge. Sensing the creature, the Brother-Sergeant swung around, his arcane plasma pistol already in his armoured hand… only for calamity to strike as the fusion coils of the weapon overheated, detonating in a spectacular white-hot explosion and vaporizing the unfortunate marine.

Brother-Sergeant Grohl about to meet his end.

The Broodlord engages the Razorback.

Undeterred by this loss, his fellow marines pumped bolter rounds and meltagun shots into the Broodlord, but she continued to be tenacious and shrugged off all but one of the wounds thanks to Feel No Pain. The Genestealers, meanwhile, quickly closed the gap and started attacking the Astartes in close quarters as the Broodlord continued to attack the Razorback, her claws tearing off the turret and leaving the vehicle helpless. As turn five drew to a close, we rolled to see if the game would continue. Rolling a one, the game ended with every Tyranid model still alive (somehow!) and a 7-0 victory to the Tyranids.

A wave of chitin and claw falls upon the surviving Space Marines.

* * *

Colonel Jenson sipped the mug of hot recaff as much to warm his hands as to wake him up. Nights were bitter and cold on this Emperor-forsaken rock, and long too. Due to some quirk of the planet’s rotation, nights stretched to twenty Terran hours, leaving little of each day in the pale light of the sun.

He didn’t even know why they were here, to be honest. Command had briefed him about some insurgent rebellion, but by the time the regiment had arrived it seemed to be all but dealt with. Yet they were still stuck here, garrisoned out in the edges of the city.

All around him, giant floodlights were mounted on poles, cables trailing to and from generators which buzzed with a constant low hum. Despite their power, the lights barely penetrated the night, the darkness seeming to almost swallow up the light. Jenson didn’t care. Just a couple more hours of tedious sentry duty before his platoon was relieved, and he could retire to the officer’s quarters for some proper rest.

His reverie was broken by a shout from one of the sentries. ‘Look sir, movement!’ Straining his eyes into the darkness, Jenson glimpsed what the sentry had seen – inhuman multi-limbed shapes moving towards their position – and fast. Dropping his mug and drawing his plasma pistol, he shouted orders to his men. ‘Forward positions, two ranks! Targets at six o’clock, light them up!’ Around him Guardsmen scrambled forward to the sandbags, the distinctive snap-crack of lasguns piercing the night as the shadowy alien creatures abandoned stealth and dashed forward towards the line.

* * *

We rolled the Infiltrate the Camp scenario for my second game – this time taking on Tom and his Imperial Guard garrison. I won the roll-off to decide who was the attacker, and it seemed appropriate for the Tyranids to be trying to run through an Imperial Guard road-block. I deployed my force on one flank, hoping to maximise the cover to close the distance without too many casualties. In response, Tom’s Guardsmen deployed opposite, creating a two-man deep wall of bodies and lasguns. As the night started to fade away, my Tyranids prepared to run the gauntlet to punch through the Imperial lines!

The Imperial Guard blockade.

My Tyranids hug cover as they prepare to advance on the road block.

The Tyranids moved up the board with surprisingly few casualties, mainly due to the difference between the lasgun’s strength of 3 and the fact that all my models were at least toughness 4. Drawing upon the powers of its advanced mind, the Zoanthrope vaporized a few of the Guardsmen with its Warp Blast, scoring me a vp for First Blood and thinning down the line a little. A couple of Genestealers were gunned down by the Guardsmen, with a third killed by overwatch shots as it attempted to charge.

‘Fall back! Fall back!’ The Guardsmen panic as the Genestealers reach their lines and start to break through.

Having survived the barrage of lasgun fire, the remaining Genestealers cut their way through the Imperial Guardsmen.

The rest of the Genestealers, led by the Broodlord, made it into combat and promptly started to cut a swathe through the defenders in an attempt to break through to the table edge behind them. At the end of turn five I’d managed to get most of my remaining models behind the Guardsmen, with the Broodlord, Zoanthrope and a Genestealer running off the board at the start of turn six. The remaining two Genestealers chanced their luck, charging an unlucky Guardsman who was loitering too close to the board edge. The first Genestealer disembowelled the unfortunate man, and both managed to roll high enough to consolidate off the board. With five models escaped and three killed, the game ended in a 6-1 victory for the Tyranids!

The survivors of my kill-team who made it off the board, ready to now wreak some havoc behind Imperial lines!

Two very fun games, and I’m pretty happy with my kill-team. Just need to finish painting my Broodlord and the objective markers, and paint the Zoanthrope (which has now arrived). Hopefully I’ll get some more games in soon, and will report back!

Take care,

Ben

Malifaux spotlight: The Great Carlos Vasquez

Backstage in the Star Theater, it was busy. Girls ran to and fro with handfuls of dresses and accessories, changing in-between acts or getting ready to go back on stage. The Star Theater was packed tonight, every seat sold out as M&SU men returned from the mines, Guild guardsmen finished their patrols, and the young and wealthy of Malifaux snuck out from under the watchful gaze of their parents for a night on the town.

Cassandra pinned her long blonde hair in place, checking her makeup in the mirror – just to see a figure flit behind her, a hand tilting the mirror as it darted past. Looking up, she found Carlos Vasquez peering in the mirror, smoothing his dark hair in place.

The newest addition to the Star Theater, Carlos was a handsome young man with a toned, muscular body and jet-black hair who, as far as Cassandra could remember, had never worn a shirt. His physical attractiveness, however, was mitigated by his vain ego. Carlos was a man who was certain of his own genius and talent, and wanted everyone else to know about it too. At any opportunity he could be found flirting with the showgirls in the theatre, boasting of his exploits on and off the stage, and flexing one arm as he casually leant against the wall to show off his biceps. Cassandra couldn’t stand him. Snatching her mirror back from him, she gave him her finest haughty glare – a look that had reduced other men to quivering wrecks.

Carlos, however, grinned and winked at her. ‘Don’t worry Cassie’ – she hated it when he used that nickname – ‘I’ll try not to out-do your performance too much tonight.’

On-stage, Angelica was announcing the next act. ‘And now, presenting a pyrokinetic performance that will awe and astonish you, ladies and gentlemen…’ Cassandra noticed that Carlos was mouthing along with Angelica’s words, clearly relishing the ego boost.

‘….the great Carlos Vasquez!’ The crowd roared, the usual cheers of miners and Guild officers punctuated by the higher-pitched cries of excitement from the young women in the audience. Twirling his batons, Carlos vaulted onto the stage, leaving Cassandra rolling her eyes.

* * *

Between A Tale Of Gamers, my charity MTG tiger deck, and my rediscovery of my interest in Tyranids, it’s been a while since I touched upon my favourite game – so let’s go back to Malifaux, and one of my favourite characters. Carlos Vasquez (or, as I imagine he likes to be called, ‘The Great Carlos Vasquez’ – he strikes me as a rather vain, egotistical character!) is, for me, one of the standout models introduced to Malifaux in book four: Ripples Of Fate. So, today I thought I’d take a look at the latest addition to the Star Theater and break down why I, like many young ladies in Malifaux, am so enamoured with him!

‘The audience was told to stand back!’ (C) Wyrd Games.

Whether he’s dancing across the stage or charging across the cobbled streets of Malifaux, Carlos stands out as quite a mobile character. His Wk and Cg stats are above average, and his (0) ‘And Now, The Most Deadly Dance Of All!’ gives him a 4″ push – ideal to get him through severe terrain, out of melee, or just to give him that little extra movement. He also brings some (limited) mobility to the crew with his ‘The Flames, I Am Their Master’ ability, which is great for models who don’t like to walk themselves – such as his thematic master Colette, for example. However, do bear in mind that it is a pretty high target number – even a fast model such as the Mechanical Rider will still need a moderately high 7 to pass – and so it can be a bit risky. Alternatively, it’s worth considering this as an offensive action – TN 13 is pretty high, and if your opponent is low on cards you can drop down hazardous terrain to impede her crew.

At first glance, Carlos doesn’t look too offensive with his single fantastically-named attack, The Flaming Fist Of The Great Carlos Vasquez. I mean, a 2/3/4 damage track on a 9ss henchman? But then we get to the triggers, all built-in, and this is where the real fun begins. He can apply Burning to the target with the classic Stoke The Flames trigger, though this isn’t usually the one you’ll be going for. Instead, True Showmanship lets Carlos apply Burning +1 to himself – a setup for his final trigger (and one of my favourite trigger names in all of Malifaux) ‘The Audience Was Told To Stand Back!’, which deals damage to the target equal to the Burning condition on Carlos. Since it’s two separate bursts of damage Carlos can struggle a little against enemy models with Armor, but Hard To Kill, on the other hand, is not really a problem as he can bring them down to their last wound with his attack, and then use the trigger damage to finish them off. This means that Carlos’ overall damage (without outside assistance, such as other models giving him Burning) can clock in at between 7 – 11 in a single activation, giving him quite the substantial hitting power.

Defensively Carlos is, quite simply, a tank. As long as he’s not running into the enemy crew by himself, he’s usually very hard to put down. His Df is pretty good, while his Wp is a little lower, but the main two things that make him so tough are his Dance Of Flame ability and Stunt Double from the upgrade of the same name. Combined with his True Showmanship trigger to stack Burning on himself, and his henchman status, Carlos can prevent a substantial amount of damage before discarding a card at the end of the turn to heal himself.

While Carlos isn’t really a dedicated support piece, that’s not to say that he can’t help out his fellow Arcanists. I’ve already talked about how his ability ‘The Flames, I Am Their Master’ can give some extra mobility to your crew, particularly if a few models are clumped together – though, with a TN 13, it may require some high cards to pull off. His Stunt Double upgrade gives him another tactical action, allowing him to discard a scheme marker (friendly or otherwise) at range to force a decent Wp duel for nearby models or gain Burning +2. Since Carlos himself rather likes being on fire, you can always use this while engaged to simultaneously hand out Burning and increase Carlos’ quasi-Armor and damage. It’s also nice to have a way of removing scheme markers at range, giving you more ways to stop schemes like Spring The Trap, Set Up, or Dig Their Graves.

As I mentioned before, I do consider his personal upgrade to be pretty much mandatory. Of course, as a henchman Carlos has a second slot available to him, which I usually use for Recharge Soulstone. Carlos is usually in the thick of things anyway, and his melee reach is also 3″, so it all works out pretty nicely. His incredible 10″ threat range usually lets him engage whoever he wants to, so you can cherry-pick weaker models to take out if you’re desperate for soulstones. Alternatively, Imbued Energies is always good for Fast on demand, or – as a Showgirl – Carlos can always carry Practised Production.

Unsurprisingly, Carlos works well alongside his Star Theater companions. If Colette is leading the crew, he even gets his Showmanship upgrade free of charge (though it does still take up an upgrade slot). Unlike most Showgirls he doesn’t really use scheme markers much (barring the Pyrotechnic Prop action from his Stunt Double upgrade), allowing him to function independently from the rest of the crew if needed – and, with the Recharge Soulstone upgrade, he can help to replenish Ms du Bois’ supply as she burns through them. Colette also tends to like Union Miners for their False Claim ability, and – if you really want Carlos to do obscene amounts of damage – tagging him with their Modified Welder can increase his threat level substantially, especially after the January errata which increased the Welder to hand out Burning +2. Usually I don’t find it necessary to add on extra Burning as Carlos is quite self-sufficient, but if there’s a particularly beefy target that needs to go down this is an ideal way to get Carlos pumped and ready.

I’ve found Carlos also works well with Kaeris due to their synergies with the Burning condition. Due to the wording of Stunt Double, Kaeris can even heal Carlos on the fly by attacking him with Flaming Halo and declaring the Engulf trigger – Carlos can then discard a card to heal himself. This will remove the Burning condition from Carlos and leave him without Armor, but (depending on how many wounds he has) it can sometimes be safer to heal him rather than leave him with his BurningArmor. Situational, but worth bearing in mind. He also benefits from her Grab And Drop upgrade – since he’ll pretty much always be on fire, he can activate near Kaeris to benefit from the Wings Of Flame ability. This does mean that he’ll lose Burning at the end of his activation, but often thanks to ‘The Audience Was Told To Stand Back!’ he will have lowered his Burning to 0 anyway.

Carlos also brings some additional synergy to Mei Feng. Since he is happiest in melee and can hand out Burning with his built-in trigger, he can quickly apply the condition so that Mei can swing in and take advantage of it via the Superheated trigger on her Tiger’s Claw. He’s not a Construct and so can’t be used for Railwalk, but that’s what you brought Sparks along for, right? :)

Finally, as always, let’s take a look at what to do when you’re on the other side of the table and find yourself facing off against Carlos Vasquez. If you have it, condition removal such as Johan is superb against him, stripping him of both his defensive trick and the added offence of ‘The Audience Was Told To Stand Back!’. Definitely don’t attack him with Burning – one of my most memorable Carlos games recently was when I engaged Mad Dog with him! Having said that, however, if you can force your opponent down to having no cards in hand, Carlos will feel the heat (pun not intended) as he’ll then take damage from Burning. Given how much damage Carlos can take, it’s worth weighing up whether it’s easier to just impede him with attacks that apply Slow or Paralyzed rather than trying to kill him outright.

So, that’s my thoughts on our latest Showgirl. As always, please drop me a comment with your opinions, I’d love to hear them!

Take care,

Ben

Tale of Gamers: Update

My second Tale Of Gamers battle is scheduled in for next week, and I’m still on track having finished my first 250pts of reinforcements.

I’ve decided that my force is a little slow at the moment, so have added in two Taurox Primes – one with a Gatling Cannon and Volley Guns to deal with infantry, and the other with Autocannons and a Missile Launcher to deal with light vehicles (and ‘cos it looks so darn cool). This gave me 60pts left over, which coincidentally is what five Stormtroopers cost – so both squads are now bulked out a little bit. Next month’s additions are already under way, with a Command Squad assembled so I can start using those lovely, lovely orders.

The plain black panels were a stylistic choice on my part – Inquisitor Ariada du Bois doesn’t tend to announce her presence, so it makes sense that her vehicles would be unmarked except for the Imperial Aquilla. I am tempted to pick up Forge World’s brass Inquisition sheet sometime, however, to decorate the plain panels with the Inquisitorial =][=.

Reinforcements!

Yep, I did keep the tops removable so that I could paint the interior & crew.

I’ve also been working dilligently on my Tyranids, painting them as a splinter of Hive Fleet Leviathan. The contrast between the albino skin and the deep purple chitin is such a fantastic look, and I’ve also kept the red to a minimum by avoiding using it on the guns. This is really just a stylistic choice on my part but, as the models are beautifully sculpted to have their forearms meshed into the weapon, I wanted to keep it all one uniform colour so that the gun really looks like part of the creature – you can’t tell where the creature ends and the weapon-symbiote begins.

Unfortunately they are currently leaderless as my Hive Tyrant hasn’t got a base, but the troops and heavy support choices are coming along nicely. I’m particularly happy with the Carnifexes – aside from being stunning models they were also a joy to paint, and I can’t wait to get them on the table.

They’re not quite finished yet – there’s still a few details like teeth, eyes and the bases to finish.

And finally, I’ve been working on another model I love, Forge World’s Inquisitor Solomon Lok. I’m not sure if he’ll be appearing in my Tale Of Gamers army yet to assist Ariada, but it’s such a characteristic model I just had to paint him. I’ve chosen quite a muted colour scheme as, what with the hood and cloak, Lok looks to me like he would be able to blend in with the citizens of the Imperium if he needed to go undercover. Unfortunately, it’s quite hard to get a good shot of him when he’s painted in such a dark colour scheme!

That’s all for now, though I’ll be updating again soon with more painting progress and my charity Magic The Gathering tiger deck.

Take care,

Ben

Tyranids: An army 15 years in the making

Just in case my Tale of Gamers Inquisition and my charity tiger MTG deck weren’t enough projects by themselves, I’ve decided to resurrect an army that I started when I was 14 years old to actually get on and finish it.

Tyranids have always been a cool faction to me. Maybe I’ve just watched Aliens one too many times, but I love the aesthetic of the army with their living weapons and organic focus. They’re also arguably the only race in 40K who are completely inhuman, as at least races like the Eldar and the Tau have humanoid traits while the Tyranids are incomprehensible. I remember picking up the 3rd edition codex and loving the different creatures you could create. Sadly my army never went that far, but as I’ve rediscovered my interest in 40K thanks to the Tale of Gamers this seemed like an ideal time to pick them up again. It’ll provide a nice break from the Inquisition, being almost the polar opposite – while the Stormtroopers have been all metal and armour, the Tyranids are nothing except flesh, chitin and bone. I’ve actually completely up-to-date on the Inquisition painting (in fact, I’ve painted more than I need to this month), and my Malifaux Arcanists are all but painted as well (just the Ice Dancers and Carlos left to go), so I feel in need of a new project.

I’ve decided to be rather boring and go for Hive Fleet Leviathan – purple’s an awesome colour that I don’t use enough, and the contrast between the albino skin and the deep purple chitin looks amazing. So far, between the models I still have and a couple of cheap steals on eBay, my swarm consists of:

1 Hive Tyrant
3 Tyranid Warriors
10 Termagants
15 Genestealers
10 Gargoyles
2 Carnifexes

That should be enough to keep my brushes busy for a while. I know that Tyranids aren’t considered to be the most powerful army in 40K at the moment but, to be honest, I don’t really mind. I’ve just reached the last year of my twenties, and I’d much rather buy models that I’ll enjoy painting and find fun to use on the battlefield. So, once this lot’s underway or completed, I think that the Tyranid swarm box is next…

Oh, and apologies for the Jurassic Park pun in the title!

Take care,

Ben

Magic: The Gathering & Charity

I wouldn’t really consider myself a Magic: The Gathering player, though I do have a few decks I’ve made and really enjoy playing with / tinkering with (namely, my ‘Friends on the Other Side’ Jalira-led EDH deck (‘You’re changing, you’re changing, you’re changing alright, I hope you’re satisfied…‘) and my ‘Goblin Traders’ Legacy deck). I think that maybe it’s better to describe me as a very casual MTG gamer, one of the ‘kitchen table’ crowd. My enjoyment of MTG comes from playing cards that catch my fancy, and from the beautiful artwork on the lands – in fact, I’ve just recently finished picking up enough Islands that every land in my Jalira deck has a different artwork.

This is something I don’t think I’ve ever mentioned before on here, but I’m also very interested in environmental conservation. This is something that’s very important to me, and particularly tigers – I’ve adopted a tiger through WWF, and regularly donate towards their tiger protection in addition to this.

Artwork for Stalking Tiger (C) by Terese Nielsen. One of my favourite pieces of MTG artwork.

To get to the point here, I very recently realised that there are tiger cards in MTG. This piqued my interest substantially, of course, and so I’ve now decided to build a tiger-themed Legacy deck. Who knows how good it will be (probably not very!), but it’ll certainly be fun :) To combine the aforementioned two points, I’ll also be donating an amount to WWF’s conservation and protection of tigers equal to the amount I spend building the deck. So far I’ve found the following, but am welcome to any suggestions / deck-building tips / etc.

So thank you for bearing with me. I appreciate that this is something of a departure from my normal posts, but I’ll update when the first order arrives from TheTrollTrader & MagicMadHouse!

Take care,

Ben