The Fate of Konor – Mission 1 – Invasion! Tyranids vs Deathwatch

The Imperial lines were quiet. A soft dawn mist rolled over the empty fields, shrouding the scattered trees and rocky outcrops in a swirling fog.

Along the rockrete fortifications, black-armoured marines of the Holy Inquisition’s Deathwatch stood, weapons ready. Watch-Captain Artemis stood in the centre of the lines, his superhuman eyes scanning the mist-enshrouded field for any sign of movement. His team had received a report from a Red Scorpions garrison of a Tyranid attack earlier in the week – an attack the Astartes had repulsed, but Artemis had fought the Tyranid menace before and was well aware that this would hardly be an isolated attack. Evolve, adapt, survive – that was the Tyranid way. Cradling his Boltgun in his armoured hands, the Watch-Captain continued to scour the fields.

Out in the mist, amongst the trees and the rocks, six-limbed creatures silently crept forward towards the Imperial lines.

* * *

I had a second chance to play the Invasion! scenario for the Fate of Konor campaign, hoping to do what Tyranids do best – learn from their losses, evolve, and win! This time, my swarm would be taking on Mark’s Deathwatch for our Tale of Gamers battle this month. So, could my bugs overrun the Imperial lines this time?Mark didn’t manage to seize the initiative, leaving the Tyranids to go first again. The Genestealers bounded forward, along with the Broodlord, positioning themselves for a first-turn charge against the Assault Marines, Librarian and Venerable Dreadnought. Unleashing the psychic might of the Hive Mind, the Broodlord cast Smite on the Librarian – clearly unprepared for such a psychic assault, the Librarian failed to deny the power and took three mortal wounds! I decided to go heavy on the left flank, using the Swarmlord’s Hive Commander ability on one of my Carnifexes to allow it to move even closer to the Deathwatch lines. The Carnifex charged into a Rhino, wrecking the vehicle, while the Broodlord charged into the Dreadnought and the Genestealers charged the Librarian, the Assault Marines and the Dreadnought. Fearing the retaliation of the Counter-Attack stratagem I elected to attack with the Broodlord first, her Monstrous Rending Claws dealing a total of eight damage to the Venerable Dreadnought after its armour saves! However, the veteran Space Marine inside clearly had other ideas as he passed one of his 6+ saves, leaving him with one wound left. Mark elected to use the Counter-Attack stratagem, his Assault Marines ploughing into the Genestealers and crushing some of the xenos beneath their Thunder Hammers. In retaliation, the charging Genestealers took out the Librarian, the Assault Marines and the Dreadnought in a flurry of claws! Not a promising start for the Deathwatch, with four units down and three Tyranid units already on their side of the board.

Undeterred, Watch-Captain Artemis joined the fight personally. His Stasis Grenade hit the Carnifex dead on, dealing an impressive five mortal wounds! His fellow battle-brothers were quick to capitalise, the potent Hellfire rounds in their Boltguns bringing the Carnifex down. Other squads blazed away into the Genestealers, taking down more of the four-armed creatures, while the remaining Rhino drove straight forward towards the Hormagaunts. Guns blazing, the driver ploughed the vehicle straight into the advancing Hormagaunts, crushing one of the gaunts under the tracks! The bounding creatures leapt around the vehicle to retaliate, but their Scything Talons struggled to find any weak spots and they only caused a single wound. Behind the Tyranid lines, a Drop-Pod thundered into the ground, and the Deathwatch Veterans strode forth, their heavy weapons blazing. The Zoanthropes threw up their Warp Field against the blizzard of fire, but the elite Adeptus Astartes were used to such xenos trickery, their accurate fire killing one of the psychic creatures. Seeking to hold up parts of the Tyranid advance, the Razorback charged into the Genestealers while the remaining Rhino continued to hold the Hormagaunts in place, doing a stellar job as it crushed another one and only took one wound in return! The Tyranids ignored the Deathwatch Veterans behind them, the driving will of the Hive Mind pressing them forward into the Imperial lines. The Termagants scuttled forward into a ruined bunker, now able to bring both their Devourers and some of the Fleshborers into range. A hail of living ammunition rained upon the Deathwatch and, while their 2+ save from being in cover held firm, one Marine was still killed by the volley of fire. Hissing a challenge against the valiant Watch-Captain Artemis, the Swarmlord prepared herself to charge him… only for me to roll one inch less than I needed to engage him. Not to worry, I only need a seven on two dice and I want this epic commander showdown to happen, I’ll just spend a command point to re-roll that two… and roll a one. As fate had decreed that this epic warlord duel was not to be, I charged Artemis with the Broodlord, while the Genestealers piled in to the Razorback. Their Rending Claws tore through the armour, but the tank held firm with two wounds left. Meanwhile, the Broodlord’s Rending Claws flickered out, met by Artemis’s glowing Power Sword. Blade met claw as the two duelled, but the inhuman speed of the Broodlord won out as she cut Artemis down.

The Imperial lines were starting to crumble, but these Astartes were the inscrutable members of the Ordo Xenos Deathwatch – the best of the best, long used to the horrors of the xenos. Mark’s Veterans in my back field continued to punish the Zoanthropes, their heavy weapons firepower taking down another of the psychic Tyranids. The surviving Deathwatch Marines manning the barricades focused their fire on the remaining Carnifex, their Hellfire rounds punching through its carapace and taking some wounds. The Razorback was finally destroyed by the Genestealers, though the Rhino continued to hold the Hormagaunt brood in place as it lost a single wound yet again!

The Termagants scuttled into the Imperial deployment zone, their weight of fire killing most of a Deathwatch squad and leaving one Plasma Gunner alive. Determined to engage the enemy this time, my Swarmlord moved up close to a Deathwatch combat squad before charging into them. The xenos-hunters Boltguns dealt a wound, but one of the nearby Tyrant Guard leapt in the path of the shot. Bone Sabres flickered out, and the Swarmlord stood victorious over the corpses of the squad. Enraged by the wounds it had taken, the surviving Carnifex charged into the last Deathwatch squad, killing a Marine but taking more wounds in return from their Power Sword and Xenophase Blade. Faced with the horde of Termagants and having just seen the nearby Swarmlord butcher his battle-brothers, the lone Plasma Gunner failed his morale check and fled.

With precious few models left, the Deathwatch bravely resolved to take as many bugs as they could with them. The Veterans fired their weapons at the lone surviving Zoanthrope, but it had floated out of the range of some of their weapons and those that could reach it weren’t able to penetrate the psychic barrier around it. The Astartes in combat with the Carnifex fared better, dealing more wounds to the creature but sadly unable to finish it off.

And with that, we had run out of time for the evening and the game came to a close in an 11-1 victory for the Tyranids. The Deathwatch had fought bravely, but the sheer number of Tyranid units who had managed to cross the centreline tipped the vp rather alarmingly.

From my side of the table, I think it went wrong for the Deathwatch when the Genestealers were able to charge three units at once due to their close proximity to one another. I usually try to deploy my Genestealers last so I can place them opposite whatever I want them to kill, and they’re just so darn fast that they can be on an opponent before you know what’s happened. Having three units next to one another like that made for a very disruptive charge as opposed to, say, if the Genestealers had only been able to charge the Assault Marines and not the Dreadnought. We’re still in the early days of 8th edition, too, so it’s always a bit confusing facing a new army for the first time – and I don’t think most people expect Tyranids to be quite as fast as they are! I still get surprised by armies in 8th – I didn’t expect T’au to be as mobile as they are with all those battlesuits!

* * *

My Tale of Gamers force, as of the end of July, stands at:

Swarmlord
Broodlord
3 Tyrant Guard with Scything Talons & Rending Claws
3 Zoanthropes
3 Venomthropes
30 Hormagaunts
30 Termagants including 10 Devourers
17 Genestealers
2 Carnifexes with Devourers, Scything Talons and Thresher Scythes.

I’ll try and do some group shots sometime soon! In the meantime, my Hive Fleet has managed to acquire enough bio-mass to keep growing, and is now headed towards Konor itself

Take care,

Ben

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The Fate of Konor – Mission 1 – Invasion! Tyranids vs Red Scorpions

The forces of Chaos have been pushing hard on Astaramis, keeping the Imperial forces on the defensive and constantly under attack from cultists, daemons and the dreaded traitor legions. However, the Ruinous Powers are not the only forces present in the Konor system…

After the devastation at Baal, a splinter of Hive Fleet Leviathan has drifted into the Konor system. Seeking to replenish itself and regrow, the Hive Mind has sensed the vulnerable worlds already in turmoil, and sees only biomass and opportunity. Falling on the hive world of Astaramis, the first wave of myetic spores starts to land on the surface, and Tyranids swarm towards the nearby hive city of Cruthenhive. Initial PDF defence forces were crushed by the xenos advance but, lucklily for the Imperium, the nearest reinforcements are a detachment of the Red Scorpions Adeptus Astartes – famed for their hatred of xenos and experience against the Tyranids. Ordering the PDF to fall back from the front lines, Commander Culln personally prepares to lead his Space Marines against their hated foe in an attempt to halt the Tyranid advance…

* * *

The Tyranids surged forward towards the Imperial lines, a living tide of chitin and claw. Hormagaunts bounded forward down the unguarded left flank, curving in towards the bastion, while the Genestealers dashed towards the barricades. They were on the Imperial defenders before they could react, the enhanced reflexes of the Adeptus Astartes outmatched by the alien speed and ferocity of the Tyranids. Bolter fire rang out, downing some of the four-limbed creatures before the rest smashed into the Tactical marines, tearing them to bloody shreds in a maelstrom of claws.

On the other side of the bastion, the ground thundered and shook as a mighty Trygon burst forth, Termagants spewing from the gaping hole it left behind. Their Devourers showered the Tactical squad in the bastion with a hail of living ammunition, the sheer number of flesh-worms overwhelming the Marines despite their cover and downing two of their number. With a deafening roar, the Trygon slithered up the side of the bastion, its masssive Scything Talons lashing around and shredding the remanining Astartes. Coiling its massive body around the bastion, the Trygon let out a bestial roar of triumph.

The air filled with static electricity as reality itself distorted for a moment, the famed Commander Culln and his personal bodyguard of Terminators teleporting in on the right flank. Their Storm Bolters chattered, the explosive-tipped ammunition cutting through the Genestealers. Lending its mighty firepower to the fusilade, the nearby Land Raider Crusader swung its massive bulk around to bring all of its weapons to bear on the Tyranid shock troops. On the hill, the Red Scorpions Tactical Marines opened fire on the Swarmlord with their weapons. The Tyrant Guard leapt to her defence, but when the smoke cleared all three Guard lay dead. Revving its engine, the Land Raider drove straight into the Genestealers, accompanied by the Red Scorpions Dreadnaught and surviving Lieutenant. Together, their assault pushed the Genestealers back, punishing the creatures and leaving few standing.

Scuttling along the field, the Hormagaunts continued to dash down the field towards the surviving Astartes, while the Termagants swarmed along the side of the bastion. Energy crackled around the bulbous heads of the Zoanthropes as they unleashed the psychic might of the Hive Mind, their powers tearing great holes in the Land Raider. With an alien roar, the Swarmlord barrelled into the side of the tank, her Bone Sabres slicing through the thick armour with ease. Metal shrieked as the blades sheared through the mighty tank, tearing it apart and leaving little more than a tangled wreck.

Meanwhile, accompanied by the surviving Genestealers, the Broodlord leapt at the Dreadnaught. She scuttled around it, her alien agility far faster than the Dreadnaught could match. It swung its power fist clumsily, but the alien easily evaded the attack, her Rending Claws tearing through the machine’s armour and gutting the corpse-pilot inside.

Co-ordinating and directing the firepower of his remaining Red Scorpions, Commander Culln exacted a punishing toll on the Tyranids. The remaining Genestealers were torn apart in a hail of bullets, and both the Broodlord and the Swarmlord were badly wounded by the barrage of firepower. The Tactical squad focused their firepower on the advancing Trygon, a krak missile streaking towards it and detonating with horrific force.

Attempting to overrun the Astartes, the Swarmlord, Trygon and Broodlord all charged into Culln and his Terminators. The Marines stood fast, their overwatch fire taking a vicious toll on the assaulting Tyranids thanks to Commander Culln’s orders. Claws and Bone Sabres scythed through the Marines, but Culln led the surviving Terminators forward, their Power Fists crackling and Culln’s sword glowing. Their attacks cut through the three Tyranids, cutting down both the Trygon and the Swarmlord.

Holding fast against the counter-attack, the Broodlord found herself face-to-face with Culln. Her alien reflexes kicked in, and her Rending Claws lashed out at the Astartes commander. All six attacks hit, and four wounded – but, after his armour saves and warlord trait, Culln still stood. In retalliation, his sword lashed out and finally cut the Broodlord down. Appropriately enough, this cinematic duel was the point of no return – with the death of my Broodlord, Tom had now scored more victory points than I could, and so ensured a Space Marine victory! All that was left was for the remaining Tyranids to try and exact vengeance on the seemingly invulnerable Commander Culln. Bounding forward, my thirty-strong Hormagaunt brood prepared to charge… only for me to roll a double one, and with no command points left to re-roll either! Stuck in the open, the gaunts were quickly torn apart by the disciplined firepower of the remaining Terminators and the Tactical squad, their firepower also shredding the Zoanthropes and leaving the surviving Hormagaunts out of synaptic range. Having just lost over half their number in a single round of shooting, the remaining Hormagaunts fled, leaving me with just my Termagants and Warriors in the Space Marine deployment zone. A 8-2 victory to the Red Scorpions!

* * *

Where did it all go wrong? Well, I can tell you that – one reason was my deployment of the Hormagaunts out on the left flank, and another was bringing in the Trygon on the left flank. This meant that, while I was at first able to have several victorious rounds of combat, once Culln and his Terminators turned up I wasn’t able to muster enough manpower (bugpower?) in one place to deal with them. Turns out that, between Culln’s re-rolls, saves and the number of Apothecaries the Red Scorpions tend to have, they can create quite the firebase that’s hard to shift! Ideally I would have liked to throw my Genestealers and Broodlord at Culln and his Terminators – generally my solution to any problem in 8th edition is to throw Genestealers at it until it goes away – but their ability to Deep Strike meant that wasn’t an option. In hindsight, I should have left the Hormagaunts and Warriors alone to deal with the Tactical squad in the bastion by themselves – this would possibly have taken longer than the Trygon did (and almost certainly involved more casualties on my part), but it would have meant that the Hormagaunts were actually doing something and left the Trygon and her Termagants to help out on the right flank. Looking back, I almost should have held them back until Culln turned up, so that I could then deploy them to deal with him. Ah well, lessons learnt! It was a really fun game, particularly the way it swung from the Tyranids crushing the Red Scorpions to Culln and his elite group of veterans turning the game around to a Space Marine victory :)

It’s alright though because, in true Tyranid fashion, my Hive Fleet Leviathan is attacking multiple points along the Imperial line to find the weakest one to break through :) I’ll be playing the Invasion! scenario again this week, this time with my Tale of Gamers Tyranid force (so no Trygon, but more Carnifexes) against Mark’s Deathwatch. A second chance to break through the Imperial lines!

Until then, take care,

Ben

40K objectives: or, how to add a story to your games

I’ve always liked creating objective markers for games. Having something tangible to fight over just evokes that much more of a story than plain bases or dice, and really helps to create a cinematic engagement. In the (far!) past I’ve written about the Epic Armageddon objective markers I’ve made, so when Games Workshop released their new Sector Imperialis objectives I just had to buy a box. I’ve been painting them up in-between squads of Tyranids, and – while they’re not all finished yet – I thought I’d show some here along with the scenarios they inspire in my head.

Unsurprisingly my favourite objective of the bunch, the Xenos Stasis-Crypt is a perfect one for my Tyranids to fight over. Perhaps the remains of the Genestealer Prime in the crypt contains vital biomass that must be absorbed by the hive fleets, or the psychic shockwave from its death still resonates, drawing the Tyranids to it like moths to a flame. The opposing forces may have to fight off waves of Tyranids, or try to carry the stasis-crypt across the board while trying to hold off the rapidly-approaching Tyranids.

This is such a fantastic little model – the countdown timer is a superb little touch! I imagine that the Tyranid attacks are pushing hard, as Imperial forces struggle to hold them back while evacuating the world. Military intelligence reports that they’ve located ‘ground zero’, the original drop-site of the Tyranid invasion – once a lush garden-park for the wealthy, it has now been overrun with spore chimneys, sporocysts and birthing chambers. If the Imperial forces can deliver an Inquisition Exterminatus device into the heart of the area and prime it, the resulting detonation would slow down the Tyranid waves and give the Imperium time to evacuate the planet – or even for reinforcements to arrive.

An Imperial ship carrying vital intelligence about the encroaching Tyranid hive fleet has been attacked and destroyed. The lead agent managed to escape along with the data, but her escape pod has crashed. Bio-readouts show that she is dead, but the intelligence data is still stored within the escape pod for retrieval. The only catch? The area is now swarming with Tyranids…

Imperial forces have been ambushed by a substantial Tyranid force. Outnumbered and outgunned by the Xenos, the commander has deployed an orbital vox relay to send a distress call to the Imperial cruisers in orbit around the planet. Drop-ships are inbound for extraction, but can the Imperial forces hold out and defend the relay long enough for their pilots to arrive and save them?

Vital intelligence data-files are stored on a master cogitator unit – unfortunately the Administratum building housing the machine is on the wrong side of your lines. Take and hold the area against the enemy forces long enough for your tech-priest to complete the rites of sanctification and download the data!

I’ve also based up the Tyranid infestation markers that came with some of my Genestealers, which regularly get used as objective markers too – I imagine it like the red weed in H. G. Wells’ War Of The Worlds, slowly spreading over the planet as the aliens invade!

Just a few Tyranid-centric ideas for how I’ll be working these markers into my own games. Leave me a comment if you’ve been thinking up ideas for themed objectives in your games, I’d love to hear them :)

Take care,

Ben

Tale of Gamers: Part 3

It’s been a while since I wrote about it, but it was time for the next Tale of Gamers battle last week (now with eighth edition rules!). I’ve decided to change which army I’ll be doing for this, working on expanding and building my Tyranids instead of the Inquisition. Don’t get me wrong, I love Ariada du Bois and her little Inquisitorial force – but it feels right in smaller games, rather than the larger ones we’ll be progressing into. I’ve always imagined Ariada and her exploits along the lines of the Eisenhorn or Ravenor books; small groups of warriors fighting a secret war for the good of the Imperium. So, I’d like to keep my Inquisitor and her force for smaller games, and have decided instead to build up my Tyranid Hive Fleet for this Tale of Gamers.

I’ve talked before about how I started Tyranids back in third edition before selling them all off during a break from wargaming, and am really enjoying rebuilding the force. The Hive Fleet Leviathan colour scheme is very relaxing to paint (for me, at least). So far, my updated Tale of Gamers force consists of:

The Swarmlord
Broodlord
12 Genestealers
20 Hormagaunts
30 Termagants (10 with Devourers)
2 Carnifexes with Monstrous Scything Talons, Devourers and Thresher Scythe

(It’s a bit of a mess points-wise as my 7th edition 1000pts turned out not to be legal in 8th edition due to little changes like the minimum unit size for Zoanthropes, so it got re-jigged for 8th. Everyone else’s has also been a bit messy regarding points with the edition change, so we’re going to be matching points as closely as possible this time and then simply increasing our forces to 1500pts for next time.)

This week’s game ended up being a three-player match due to an odd number of people, with my Tyranids facing off against the nefarious Drukhari and a green tide of Orks that threatened to outnumber even my bugs! The armies clashed together quickly, with a 30-strong mob of Ork boyz charging into and obliterating my Hormagaunts in a single round of combat. In retaliation, the Swarmlord, Broolord and Genestealers charged into the unit, scything their way through the greenskins and obliterating the unit in return. One of the Carnifexes was struck dead-on by a beam from the Drukhari’s Dark Lance, while the other found itself having to double back to deal with a unit of Mandrakes who appeared behind my lines. The Termagants advanced through an abandoned PDF trenchline, the beetles from their Devourers making short work of a squad of Hellions before the Reaver Jetbikes and a Raider full of Warriors sped over (man those things are fast!), killing the ‘gaunts with a hail of splinter fire and a combined charge. Due to time constraints the game had to end there, with a victory going to the Orks for first blood and objectives.

Tyranids swarm across the abandoned PDF trenchline towards the Orks and Drukhari.

A Hormagaunt brood leaps forward.

Drukhari Mandrakes appear behind the Tyranid lines.

Hordes clash with hordes as the Ork and Tyranid lines meet.

Accompanied by the Swarmlord and the Broodlord, the Genestealers break the Ork lines by destroying the large Ork mob.

A combined Drukhari assault breaks the Tyranids on the right flank.

I’ve actually been very industrious and have managed to paint far more than just that lot, though there’s still quite a bit to go! Currently on the painting table are some more Hormagaunts, backed up by three Warriors, a Lictor and a few more Genestealers. Hopefully they’ll be finished soon, and I can move on to painting up those all-important units – Venomthropes and Tyrant Guard (I know, I really should prioritise those two units – but the others are already half-painted, and I’m loath to stop when they’re already partially done!).

I’m not sure what I want to add in to the force for next month’s game – I’d certainly like to bump up the Hormagaunts and Genestealers to their maximum unit sizes, and get some Tyrant Guard in to help protect the Swarmlord. After that, I’m not sure – I’ve already painted a Trygon so it’d be a shame not to include her, but then again I have also got those Venomthropes and a Tervigon on the painting table…

Take care,

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

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