Wednesday, March 5, 2008

Battle Report: Eldar vs. Tyranid Cityfight: Meeting Engagement

Scenario: Cityfight: Meeting Engagement
Eldar Forces: Darkwing
Tyranid Forces: Tyrant
This was our fourth Cityfight battle, at 1200 points. To keep things simple we stuck to the Meeting Engagement scenario.

Eldar Briefing
Darkwing: Going into this battle I expect Tyrant to load up his army with every Genestealer he can lay his hands on. He’s a Genestealer freak as it is, and with the special rules for Genestealers being able to Deep Strike in Cityfight, I think he’ll find them too tempting to resist. He’ll probably get a pair of Lictors as well, seeing as they did well in his last battle, and subsequently he could stop talking about how great they did. For the rest of his troops he’ll likely get a pair of Hormagaunt broods. He’ll also probably get a brood of Tyranid Warriors to keep everyone within Synapse range. For his HQ he’ll take a Hive Tyrant, undoubtedly armored with Extended Carapace for that all important 2+ save. With this force he’ll run across the table, using cover as much as he can and claiming buildings along the way, and attempt to tear me apart in close combat.

For my part, I need to stop him, and take buildings on my own. For an HQ unit I decided to do something I’ve never tried before and get a Seer Council. That is, a Farseer with several Warlock Bodyguards. For the Farseer I gave him Mind War to go after any Hive Tyrants that get too close, Fortune, and Guide. I also gave him Spirit Stones and Runes of Witnessing to let him get the most out of his powers. I gave one of the Warlocks Enhance to assist the council in their close combat abilities—I had no illusions of them defeating Genestealers or any of the big bugs in close combat, but against Hormagaunts it might give me the edge I need to keep them off me. To the other three Warlocks I gave Destructor. Knowing how deadly that flamers can be in Cityfight, I figured that three Destructors could really unleash hell on whoever was foolish enough to get too close.

Assuming that Tyrant would have a lot of little bugs with mediocre saves running around, I loaded up on the scatter lasers. I got a Vyper with one, I gave one to a Guardian Squad, and another to my Falcon. The Falcon was also armed with the usual Pulse Laser, which would go after any big bugs. I got a squad of Striking Scorpions to guard the Seer Council and try to delay the Tyranid advance. They should do fine against Hormagaunts or Termagants, but are likely to be easily killed by Genestealers. The key is to use them at the right time against the right foe. I also got a squad of Swooping Hawks. They could land behind the Tyranids at an opportune moment and claim some buildings in the Tyranid rear, and also shoot down some of the little bugs along the way.

Finally I got a Wraithlord. My Eldar army has been too long without one, and now that I have one, I’m eager to try it. His job will be anti-Hive Tyrant, so I armed him with a Starcannon to punch through even the heaviest chitin the Tyranids can get. He also had a pair of flamers to deter the smaller bugs. I would also have to keep him away from the Genestealers, as their rending claws could make short work of him.

Now for the plan. My Falcon, Wraithlord, Vyper, and Guardian Scatter Laser would try to thin out the Tyranids at range, with my Wraithlord and Falcon focusing mainly on Tyrant’s larger bugs. When the Tyranids get close enough to prepare their close assault, I will use my close ranged firepower to rip the guts out of his army. Hopefully by that point I will have killed enough bugs that the rest of the mission becomes mop up. At the speed the Tyranids move, this could all happen by Turn 4, allowing me to then break out of cover and claim enough buildings to win the game.

Tyranid Briefing
Tyrant: Hmm . . . 'nids in a CityFight, eh? A 4' x 4' board, and me with a plethora of units that can move very fast, possibly ½ the length of the board in 1 turn. This was the first CityFight I fought, as well as the smallest fight with the 'nids I can remember. As I sat down, I was totally entranced with the idea of having a TON of microbugs (gaunts, 'stealers, etc). However, when I started to make my list, I realized that 1) I can't make an unbalanced 'nid army list, 2) Genestealers are too damn expensive, too damn slow and too damn fragile to buy in bulk and finally, 3) Big bugs are fun. Before I knew it, I had what I believe was a balanced army list.

I needed only 3 synapse on such a small battlefield. Default is my VC Hive Tyrant w/Guards, one unit of HtH Warriors and another unit of Warriors, probably with Deathspitters. However, since there are no templates in CityFight, I dropped the Deathspitter squad in lieu of . . . a souped up, solo Winged Hive Tyrant. Not much else puts the fear of Nid into an opponent than having him within charge distance. ½ the point of a 'nid list is psychological. Every unit can be a threat, so which one first!

I originally took Gargoyles, but realized they wouldn't be too good in difficult terrain, so I dropped them for the Ripper Swarms and a Hive Node for the prerequisite gaunt units. I took my 3 Raveners, risky as they are expensive and fragile, but they can be also very effective, both in scaring and actually damage dealt. 2 Lictors. I have a love-hate relationship with them, so taking two is a risk, but hopefully worth it in Cityfight. No Carni, no Biovores, no Zoanthropes, a difficult army list for me to make.

As for strategy, I had a fear that I'd face a skimmer and aspect warrior heavy Eldar force, but I decided on a two pronged "pincer" approach. Underground movement for my 'stealers and both Lictors would be a good fear factor (although not being able to enter HtH with them makes this move slightly suicidal if not done correctly). I definately would NOT charge across with HtH units directly at the Eldar firepower. There are still rules about CityFight I'm sure I don't know, so it'll be interesting to see . . .

The Forces
Eldar ForcePoints

Farseer with Warlock Bodyguard (5) 340

Striking Scorpions with Exarch (6)108

Guardian Defender Squad with Grav-Platform (11)112

Guardian Defender Squad (10)80

Swooping Hawks with Exarch (9) 241

Vyper Jetbike55


Falcon Grav-Tank145

Total Points:1202
Tyranid ForcesPoints

Mutable Hive Tyrant with Wings161

Mutable Hive Tyrant with Tyrant Guard (3)251

Warrior Brood (Rending Claws) (3) 90

Lictors (2)160

Genestealers (8) 128

Hormagaunt Brood with Hive Node (12) 130

Termagant Brood with Hive Node (12)94

Ripper Swarm (6)60

Raveners (3)147

Total Points: 1221

Turn 1
The Tyranids began with lots of moving, as the Tyranids advanced, while doing their best to stay behind or within cover. The Venom-cannon Hive Tyrant fired on the Wraithlord, but was unable to penetrate its armor.

The Eldar had a defense in depth, both vertically and horizontally. The Wraithlord held the left flank while the Falcon held the right. A unit of Guardians supported the Falcon, and the Vyper held the center between the two buildings. In the far building, the Striking Scorpions anchored it on the 2nd floor, while a Guardian Defender Squad held the 3rd floor, directly above them. And on the roof, right above the Guardians, waited the Seer Council.

The Eldar hold their position in the building
The Farseer began the round by casting Guide on the Guardian Defenders on the floor below, hoping to help out the Scatter Laser.

The largest visible target was the Venom Cannon Hive Tyrant and his pair of Tyrant Guard. Every heavy weapon in the Eldar Army fired on them. The Falcon proceeded to miss with both its Scatter Laser and Pulse Laser. The Vyper also completely missed with its Scatter Laser. The Guided Scatter Laser in the Guardian Defender Squad actually connected with the Tyrant Guard, hitting with all its six shots, proceeded to wound three times, but the Tyrant Guard’s chitin armor protected it. Finally the Wraithlord fired its Starcannon on the Tyrant Guard, and actually connected. One of the Tyrant Guard fell to the ground, dead.
Turn 2
The brood of Genestealers and the 1st Lictor both arrived from under the streets, the Genestealers digging up in the church grounds, while the Lictor arrived on the other side of the battlefield. The rest of the Tyranids continued their advance. The Termagants moved to completely surround the Wraithlord.

The Hive Tyrant and its Tyrant Guard fired with their Venom Cannon and Spinefist respectively at the Wraithlord, but failed to injure it. One of the Raveners fired on the nearest Guardian Squad, but failed to kill any.

Then the Hormagaunts charged the Guardian Squad in the ruins, and proceeded to tear them apart. The Guardians managed to kill three of the Hormagaunts, but the gaunts killed eight guardians in return, and the three survivors cut and fled off the battlefield.
The Tyranids advance on the Wraithlord
The Termagants assaulted the Wraithlord, hoping to tie it up in close combat and thereby sacrifice themselves, seeing as they had no means of injuring it. The Wraithlord responded by squashing one of the little bugs.

The Swooping Hawks aimed for one building, but landed on another, and in the dangerous terrain one of the hawks was killed. Their grenade packs did some damage, however, killing a pair of the Genestealers.

The Farseer cast Guide and Fortune on the Guardian Defenders on the floor below, then proceeded down to the 2nd floor. The Vyper fired its scatter laser on the ripper swarms, but only hit once, and despite needing a 2+ to wound, failed. Its twin-linked shuriken catapult then delivered two wounds to one of the ripper swarms. The Falcon fired at the Winged Hive Tyrant, and managed to deliver a single hit and wound to it with its Pulse Laser. The Guardian Squad opened fire with its scatter laser and a multitude of shuriken catapults at the Hormagaunts, now in the ruins. The scatter laser did nothing, but the shuriken catapults killed four of them. A Destructor cast by a Warlock killed one more.

The Striking Scorpions advanced out of the building and assaulted the Termagants who were attacking the Wraithlord. The Aspect Warriors killed a pair with their mandiblasters, the Exarch killed another pair, and the rest of the Scorpions proceeded to wipe them out. Both the Wraithlord and the Scorpions consolidated by backing up.
Turn 3
The 2nd Lictor arrived, this time in the middle of battlefield. The Raveners slithered forward and fired on the Striking Scorpions, and failed to kill any of them.

The Tyrant Guard’s Spinefist succeeded in delivering a wound to the Wraithlord, while the Venom Cannon did not. Then the Tyrant Guard and Venom Cannon Hive Tyrant moved in. The Wraithlord didn’t even get a chance to strike, as the Tyrant Guard ripped a chunk out of it with its Rending Claws, and the Tyrant finished it off.

The Hormagaunts assaulted the Striking Scorpions. The Mandiblasters killed two, the Exarch one more, and due to their being outnumbered, the fourth and last gaunt was killed as well. The Scorpions suffered no casualties in the exchange. The Scorpions consolidated back into the building.
The Hive Tyrant kills the Wraithlord
The Farseer cast Guide on the Guardian Squad. Now most of the Eldar were holed up in the building, waiting for the monsters to arrive. The Vyper fired on the first Lictor with its Scatter Laser, and wounded it once. The Falcon missed with its Pulse Laser again, but managed to wound the Winged Hive Tyrant once with its Scatter Laser. The Farseer then cast Mind War on the Venom Cannon Hive Tyrant, but did not succeed in injuring the creature. The rest of the Seer Council unleashed their Destructors and Shuriken Pistols and thrown Singing Spears at the Hive Tyrant and his Tyrant Guard, and one Destructor succeeded in wounding the Tyrant Guard. The Striking Scorpions then fired double taps on the Hive Tyrant and his Guard with their Shuriken Pistols, and managed to bring down the Guard and wound the Hive Tyrant once. The Guardian Squad, with the benefit of Guide on them, opened fire on the Hive Tyrant and connected with 18 out of 20 shots, five which wounded, and none of which penetrated the Hive Tyrant’s carapace. Undaunted, the Hive Tyrant was peppered with hundreds of little shurikens embedded in its chitin armor.

The Swooping Hawks flew to the roof of the building they originally intended to land on, and opened fire on the Raveners below. The Exarch killed one with his Web of Skulls, and the remaining Hawks wounded another.
Turn 4
The Hive Tyrant fired its Venom Cannon on the Striking Scorpions, but failed to kill any. The Raveners did better, however, killing two of the Striking Scorpions with their Devourers as they closed in.

The two Lictors closed in and attacked the Vyper overhead, but failed to damage the skimmer.
The Hive Tyrants tear apart the building to get the Eldar within
Then the Tyranids launched their assault on the building. The Winged Hive Tyrant landed on the roof and ripped through it get at the Guardian Squad on the 3rd floor. The Venom Cannon Hive Tyrant, Raveners and Ripper Swarms all assaulted the Striking Scorpions on the ground floor. The Striking Scorpions killed the two Raveners with their Mandiblasters and chainswords. The Hive Tyrant then killed three of the Aspect Warriors, leaving just the Exarch, who was swarmed under and killed by the Ripper Swarms. The Hive Tyrant and Ripper Swarms then consolidated into the building, not quite close enough to consolidate into the Seer Council. Above, the Winged Hive Tyrant laughed off the pathetic attacks of the Guardians, and then proceeded to kill three of them. The Guardians then bravely held their ground.

Seeing two huge monsters and a multitude of tiny ones approaching, it did not take a Farseer to tell that his end was near. In an attempt to forestall the inevitable, the Farseer cast Fortune on the Seer Council. The council their threw their Singing Spears, Destructors, Shuriken Pistols, and a Mind War on the Venom Cannon Hive Tyrant, all to no effect. The Falcon moved to attempt to help, and despite firing everything it had at the Hive Tyrant, failed to do anything to it.

The Swooping Hawks took off and landed in the street, shooting at the Genestealers, killing three of them—the Web of Skulls landing only a single hit.

In close combat, the Winged Hive Tyrant proceeded to kill five of its Guardian opponents, who could do nothing but die in return. The survivors panicked and fled, running right off the battlefield.
Turn 5
The Venom Cannon Hive Tyrant fired its Venom Cannon up through the floor at the Seer Council, dowsing and killing one of the Warlocks. Then both Hive Tyrants and the Ripper Swarms tore the building to shreds to get to grips with the Seer Council. The Winged Tyrant focused on the Farseer, wounding him once. The other Hive Tyrant killed one of the Warlocks, while the Ripper Swarms were ineffective. The Farseer and Warlocks had no problem hitting and wounding the Hive Tyrants, but simply could not penetrate their chitin shells.

The Genestealers moved to attack the rear armor of the Falcon, but failed to damage it.

The two Lictors continued to chase down the Vyper. This time they succeeded in latching on and ripping the Vyper from the sky and destroying it.

The Falcon spun around and fired on the Genestealers, and shot them all down.

The Swooping Hawks moved forward and shot at the Tyranid Warriors in the building, and killed one. Then the Hawks charged into the building, suffering one casualty on the charge, but killing both of the Warriors in the bargain.

One of the Warlocks’ Witchblades made it past the Tyranid’s armor, and wounded the Winged Hive Tyrant. The Ripper Swarms killed the last two Warlocks, leaving the Farseer alone. Both Hive Tyrants attacked the Farseer and wounded him once, and he turned to run. Slipping on the rubble, his number was up, and the two Hive Tyrants ripped him to shreds.
Turn 6
Both Hive Tyrants left the building and made a beeline to the Falcon. Catching up to it, they assaulted it and destroyed the Pulse Laser and stunned the crew, leaving it unable to escape.

The Swooping Hawks moved at attack the two Lictors, but seeing as the Lictors were in a building, it was all but impossible to pick them out in cover, and their shooting was ineffective. Again the two Tyrants tried to attack the Falcon, but were unable to score any significant hits.

The battle was over, and the entire battlefield was firmly in the hands of the Tyranids. The Swooping Hawks and Falcon would limp away to fight another day.

Eldar Debriefing
Darkwing: I made some big mistakes and little mistakes in this battle. Those, coupled with my usual horrendous dice rolling, cost me the battle.

So what went wrong?

First, I completely misjudged the army selection Tyrant would take. He almost completely ignored Genestealers, and instead got more big bugs then I imagined. While Raveners are really not that big—in resilience they are just as big as two Genestealers, the Tyrant Guard and the two Hive Tyrants really beefed up their ranks when I was expecting only one of the bigger bugs. With the resilience of the Tyrant Guard, it’s almost like facing 2-3 Hive Tyrants rather than just one, and with the Winged Hive Tyrant to boot, I was effectively facing 3 Hive Tyrants in this battle. If I had guessed on the large number of bigger bugs, those three Scatter Lasers in my army would have been Starcannon instead. As it was, my Wraithlord only got to fire it once before he was surrounded and killed. In the whole battle, all he did was killed one Termagant and wound one Tyrant Guard. He definitely did not earn his points back in this battle, but some of that was my own fault in failing to move him properly.

Speaking of which, I never should have moved him closer to the Hive Tyrant in Turn 1. If I hadn’t, he still probably would have been attacked by the Termagants, but after he and the Striking Scorpions killed all of them, I could then have moved him out of charge range of the Venom Cannon Hive Tyrant, and he’d have gotten another Starcannon shot out of it, which could have been decisive.

My Falcon and Vyper couldn’t hit the broadside of a barn, and part of that was my fault since I screwed up the rule for Scatter Lasers and Pulse Lasers in Turn 1. Rather than firing a Scatter Laser as Heavy D6, I stupidly thought the rule was that it fired once, and if it hit, it hit D6 times. Same for the Pulse Laser. So when I missed with all three “to hit” rolls, that was that. Yet even I remembered the proper rule in Turn 2, they fared little better as I continually rolled 1’s for my “number of shots” rolls, and in the end both vehicles could only account for killing three Genestealers. They did, in fact, wound the Hive Tyrants and a Lictor, but wounding doesn’t count for anything—only killing does.

My brooding over the poor performance of my army caused me to make more mistakes, such as my foolishly shooting my shuriken pistol twice at the Venom Cannon Hive Tyrant in Turn 4. I got one extra shuriken pistol shot at it, when instead I should have charged the Tyrant. Getting to attack it alone for a turn, and with those vital extra attacks on the charge, who knows, I might have killed it. Instead, I sat there and shot, and then both Tyrants and the Ripper Swarms gleefully charged in, getting all their extra attacks, and making minced meat out of me.

In the end, I blew it, and Tyrant took advantage of my mistakes and made my army pay for it. In the end, the Tyranids deservedly won the battle.

Tyranid Debriefing
Tyrant: Wow, that went . . . . well. The Tyranids prove to be quite a powerful opponent when we're talking CityFights. First, a few observations. I flubbed my army list, and should have had 1 less Ripper Swarm. Also, once or twice during the battle, I accidentally counted an extra attack or gave a rending claw attack for my Tyrants. That being said, I don't think either really threw the battle in my favor.

The big mistake Darkwing made in his army would be assuming I would take a ton of Genestealers and other small buggers. While this was prompted by my email (somewhat jokingly) asking how many I owned, I don't think any opponent should assume anything about the army they face (unless they've seen the army list beforehand, which would be cheesy). Truth is, I DID want a lot of little guys in my army, but the Genestealers just weren't worth it for me (they're much more of a psychological threat and firesink than anything), and I can't make an unbalanced list. I just can't do it.

Enemy observations. No Rangers. Rangers can take big bugs down FAST, especially when supported by the Farseer. THAT was a sigh of relief. However . . .the Wraithlord scared the hell out of me at first, until it was brought close to one of my gaunt throwaway units, which tied it up long enough for my big guys to get to it without suffering a hail or Starcannon fire.

Skimmers are a nightmare for Tyranids. It's like swatting flies covered in non-friction polymer.

I made a few mistakes, mostly due to the CityFight scenario (i.e. not having guys "claim" buildings when the should, not noticing the Swooping Hawks because of where they were placed in the building(they were well camouflaged)). All in all though, the whole "pincer" thing seemed to work like a charm.

Which units worked and which didn't? Well, the Lictors did okay, but I'm not sure if they did 160 points of okay. They did draw a bunch of fire, and are nigh impossible to hit in cover now. The Raveners as well were prime targets, but perhaps that is there lot in life.

The gaunts fulfilled their roles. Dying, but taking a few of the enemy with them and tying up the others. Rippers are great, when they're on your team. I hate Scarab Swarms, but love Rippers. Go figure.

The Tyrants, well, they carried the day for me. Sure, they're kind of uber, but then again, if Darkwing had more Starcannons, they would have been a wee bit less effective (that is, if Darkwing would stop rolling horrendously for his "to hit" dice). The two Hive Tyrants were a must, and will probably remain a must in the future (or will they?). A Hive Tyrant is just better in all respects to a squad of Warriors. Not to mention the psych factor of one having an 18" charge range.

Overall, while being a bit one sided in the end, I had a fun time with Cityfight. The 'nids are deadly normally, and to have a scenario in which they receive a ton of benefits with little to no drawbacks is great, I must say. Two very important thing I've learned is to keep your opponent guessing about your army, and NEVER assume anything about what you're going to face (except maybe the race and controlling player, that is).

Rend on, my little bugs . . .

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