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

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. 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 overwatch 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, psychic power tearing chunks of metal from the elegant T’au vehicle.

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!

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

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

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

Tale of Gamers: Part 1.5

After my disastrous performance last week and, as one of our group wasn’t able to make it down, we arranged another Tale Of Gamers game this week. There was conflict in the Ordos this week, as Ariada and her force went up against a Deathwatch kill-team! Who had sent this rival Deathwatch force, and what was their agenda?

* * *

The first turn saw Ariada and her retinue advancing into cover, and Ariada had clearly been practising her psychic powers as she managed to cast Forewarning on her unit. Safe behind the psychic barrier, I ran them out of cover and forwards to close the distance to the nearby Deathwatch squad. Meanwhile, my own Deathwatch kill-team ‘Andromeda’ advanced in the open, moving up towards Artemis. The Jokaero, deployed separately from my Inquisitorial retinue this time, aimed his digi-weapons at the Venerable Dreadnaught, but missed the hulking machine.

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Inquisitor Ariada du Bois and her retinue move forward.

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The opposing Deathwatch forces.

In response, Mark’s Deathwatch squad moved forward, the Infernus-pattern Heavy Bolter chattering as they advanced and cutting down a couple of Acolytes. Meanwhile, Artemis and the Venerable Dreadnaught opened fire on kill-team Andromeda, the Plasma Cannon vaporising the watch sergeant and Artemis’ Boltgun taking another one down. Despite being hard-bitten veteran Space Marines and the presence of a Commissar amongst them, kill-team Andromeda promptly rolled a double six for their morale check, falling back from the overwhelming firepower directed at them.

Turn two started with a roar of engines and rotor-blades as Inquisitorial drop-ships swung in low, hatches thrown open as both squads of my Stormtroopers disembarked. Team Alpha landed behind the Venerable Dreadnaught, opening fire with both Plasma Guns at short range. Despite inflicting two penetrating hits, I managed to roll two one’s on the damage table, leaving the Dreadnaught standing. Squad Beta opted for a safer deployment, landing within 6″ of Ariada’s mystic to avoid scattering. This did put them at long range, however, and they were only able to land a couple of wounds on Mark’s Deathwatch. Once again, the Jokaero missed the Dreadnaught with his Digi-Weapons. Ariada and her retinue charged into the remaining Deathwatch marines, the Death-Cult Assassins striking first thanks to their I6… and wiping out the whole unit in a flurry of Power Sword attacks. Maybe this is where I was going wrong in previous games, as I never managed to get these two into combat before!

With just Artemis and the Venerable Dreadnaught left, Mark’s Deathwatch went for an all-out offensive. Artemis opened up with his flamer, finishing off the remaining Acolytes before charging into my Inquisitor and her retinue. The Death-Cult Assassins managed to land a wound on Artemis before he struck back, cutting them both down to avenge his fallen brothers. Ariada du Bois’ Power Sword flashed, though, taking Captain Artemis down to his last wound. The Venerable Dreadnaught, unable to fire its Plasma Cannon, charged into Stormtrooper squad Alpha – however, the veteran Inquisition troops had some rather spectacular rolling, as the overwatch fire from their Plasma Guns finished off the Dreadnaught before it could reach them.

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Bursts of plasma fire bring down the mighty Venerable Dreadnaught.

Onto turn three! Seeing Ariada’s retinue engaging Artemis, the Commissar and kill-team ‘Andromeda’ moved forward, rolling high enough to charge into the opposing Deathwatch captain. Artemis and Inquisitor du Bois were engaged in a cinematic duel, power weapons flashing as they blocked and parried one another. Artemis landed a wound on Ariada, while her attacks in return were blocked by his Iron Halo. The showdown was brought to an abrupt ending as – in a rather anti-climactic ending – the charging Deathwatch kill-team ganged up on Artemis, clubbing him down with their shotgun butts. As the Stormtroopers moved onto the objectives, the Inquisition claimed a victory at last!

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Captain Artemis and Inquisitor Ariada prepare for a climatic showdown…

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…only for my Deathwatch kill-team to steal the glory and club Artemis down with their shotgun butts.

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Inquisitorial Stormtroopers move through the tangle of tank-traps and razorwire.

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Stormtrooper squad beta moves onto the objective.

* * *

This seemed to go a lot better than my last couple of games – while I’m sure that part of it was down to the AP3 Power weapons and Hellguns in my army, I think that having the Jokaero separate from the rest of Ariada’s retinue was a big help as it allowed her to move around freely without having to worry about the Jokaero firing (though, to be fair, the little creature couldn’t hit the broad side of a barn this game!). Similarly, deep-striking the Stormtroopers was a massive help in taking out priority targets such as the Dreadnaught, and made them much more effective than before when they were foot-slogging it across the field. I’m learning, slowly! :P

I’ve made a start on painting the next 250pts – just base coats so far, but it’s progress at least. Also picked up Michele McLaughlin’s latest album to listen to while painting, which – if you like piano music – I would highly recommend :)

20170221_180244Take care,

Ben