Friday, March 21, 2008

Battle Report: Space Wolves vs. Tyranids Secure & Control

Scenario: Secure and Control
Tyranid Forces: Meliadus
Space Wolves Forces: The D
The Scenario
To keep things interesting, we decided to roll a D6 just before the battle to determine who would be the attacker and who the defender. After that, we also rolled a D6 to determine which board edge would become the attacker's. This would force us to think on the fly, and more importantly, force us to choose more balanced armies before the game, rather than focusing all of our efforts into optimizing the army for the role that it was going to play.

Space Wolves Briefing
The D: This is my first time playing against Tyranids. Having been warned not to get into combat with them, I chose to bring my most long-range units to this battle. The Predator Annihilator, equipped with heavy bolters and pintle storm bolter, seems ideal for dealing with swarms of insects, while my landspeeders and bike pack allow for me to swoop in wherever needed to support my troops.

I also fielded two minimum-sized units of Blood Claws, basically to serve as a speedbump/meatshield for units with longer range firepower. I did not intend to get my Gray Hunters into combat if I could help it, so I only gave them bolters.

Tyranid Briefing
Meliadus: I've never played Tyranids before, and as of this writing, the Tyranid codex will be changing drastically in another month or two. With these facts in mind, I've decided to create a mutation-free "early stage" infestation force. This will allow me to test the limits of synapse control, and give me a feel for how the many rumors I've heard about the new Tyranid codex might alter the core infantry units of the army list.

I toyed with adding Zoanthropes, Ripper Swarms, or a Hive Tyrant to my force. In the end, I decided to go for numbers: nothing but Genestealers, Gaunts, and Warriors (and one Lictor for flavor). This list would have a distinct lack of antitank capability; a little worrying, given that I know my opponent has a Predator. I'd just have to hope that, with as many units as I'm fielding, I'll be able to flank any vehicles with some Genestealers or Venom Cannon-toting Warriors.

If escalation rules get used, my Hormugaunts are the only units that will start in reserve, interestingly enough. This isn't necessarily a bad thing, given that they can fleet-of-claw into position fairly rapidly (though it will be tactically interesting having my core asasult troops as the BACK of my lines, rather than the front).

The Forces
Tyranid ForcesPoints
Warrior Brood (Rending Claws) (Left) (3) 99
Warrior Brood (Mixed, 1 with Venom Cannon, 2 with Deathspitters) (3) 121
Warrior Brood (Mixed, 1 with Venom Cannon, 2 with Deathspitters) (3)121
Lictor (1) 80
Genestealers (Left) (10) 160
Genestealers (Right) (10) 160
Hormagaunt Brood (15) 150
Hormagaunt Brood (15) 150
Termagant Brood (15) 105
Termagant Brood (15) 105
Total Points: 1251
Space Wolves ForcesPoints
Wolf Lord (1) 113
Wolf Guard Battle Leader (1)80
Dreadnought 115
Predator Annihilator 140
Blood Claws Bike Pack (6) 180
Grey Hunters (Blue Squad) (7) 126
Grey Hunters (Green Squad) (6) 108
Blood Claws (Red Squad) (8) 112
Blood Claws (Yellow Squad) (8) 124
Landspeeder Tornado 80
Landspeeder Typhoon 70
Total Points:1248

Turn 1
The Tyranids were massed in the woods, while the Space Wolves lay opposite them, taking cover behind the rocky ridgeline. At some alien signal, the Tyranids advanced forwards, streaming through gaps in the trees towards the Space Wolves. The Space Wolves responded by redeploying their forces.

Turn 2
The Termagants advanced through the woods, while the Hormagaunts arrived on the battlefield, leaping forward. None of the Tyranids bothered shooting, as they all focused on advancing at the fastest possible speed. The Genestealers in particular were getting close to the Space Wolf lines.

Genestealers infiltrate close to the ridge
On the Space Wolf side, the Predator and Landspeeder Tornado arrived on the extreme left flank, while the Dreadnought arrived in the center, near the Grey Hunters of Green Squad, while the Blood Claws Bike Pack arrived on the right flank, on the other side of the large rock formation near an objective.

On the center right, the Grey Hunters of Blue Squad advanced past the ridgeline, heading towards an objective, essentially unopposed.

The Landspeeder tornado fired on its assault cannon on the right brood of Genestealers, killing two, while its Heavy Bolter failed to add any more casualties. The Predator opened up on the same brood, killing three Genestealers with its Heavy Bolters, while the Lascannon shot bounced off of rocks and failed to kill any more. The Genestealers had enough casualties to force them to fall back. The Space Wolf Dreadnought fired its missile launcher on left unit of Warriors, killing one of them with a Krak Missile.

Turn 3
The Genestealers regrouped and consolidated their position. The rest of the Tyranids advanced, crossing the center of the battlefield. The center brood of Tyranid Warriors fired a Venom Cannon shot at the Blood Claws of Yellow Squad, but the only wounded marine made his armor save.

The Blood Claw bikes advanced through the stone arch, on their way to one of the objectives. The Grey Hunters of Blue Squad advanced in the same direction. Both Red Squad and Yellow Squad advanced as well.
Gaunts swarm through the woods
On the Space Wolf left flank, the Predator fired its Lascannon on the Warriors in the center, killing one. The Landspeeder Tornado fired its assault cannon on the Warriors on the right, wounding one, and then managing to finish that one off with its heavy bolter. Yellow Squad fired on the left brood of Genestealers, killing two of them, not nearly enough to blunt the charge that was surely coming. The Dreadnought fired on the left brood of Termagants, killing three with its assault cannon. Its frag missile, while on target, failed to wound any of the Tyranid beasts.

Turn 4
One brood of Genestealers and the two broods of Termagants were getting awfully close to the Space Wolves. The Tyranid Warriors on the right fired their venom cannon on the Landspeeder Tornado, delivering one glancing hit that managed to destroy it. One Termagant brood fired their fleshborers on Red Squad, while the other fired on Yellow Squad, but despite the weight of their fire, not a single Blood Claw went down. Until the Genestealers attacked. In a flurry of Rending Claws, the Genestealers charged the Blood Claws of Yellow Squad, auto-killing three of them and tearing apart two more. In retaliation, the Blood Claw Sergeant managed to kill a single Genestealer with his power fist.
 The Genestealers assault Yellow Squad
Red Squad advanced to give support to Yellow Squad. The Blood Claw Bike Pack and Blue Squad advanced closer to an objective.

The Predator opened fire on the right brood of Genestealers, killing four with its heavy bolters, and killing the last survivor with its storm bolter. The Dreadnought fired its weapons at the left brood of Termagants, killing four of them. The Blood Claw Bike Pack, now in range of the Hormagaunts, fired and killed four of them with their twin-linked bolters.

Red Squad’s Blood Claws charged into the combat between Yellow Squad and the Genestealers. Even so, the Genestealers struck first. They killed one from Yellow Squad and auto-killed a pair from Red Squad. The Blood Claws struck back, however, killing four of the Genestealers. Apparently Red Squad’s charge was fierce enough to cause the Genestealers to lose heart, as they broke and ran, only to be chased down and slaughtered by the vengeful Space Wolves.

Turn 5

The Termagants moved away from the Dreadnought and Green Squad and more towards Red and Yellow Squads, moving behind the cover of the rocks. The Hormagaunts continued their advance. Both of the Venom Cannons in two separate Warrior Broods opened fire on the Predator, but both failed to damage it.
 Lurking Termagants
The Landspeeder Typhoon finally arrived, far on the Space Wolf right flank. The majority of the Space Wolves advanced. Red Squad, emboldened by their victory over the Genestealers, moved up to face whatever the Tyranids could throw at them. Green Squad, the Dreadnought, and the Predator did the same.

The Predator fired on the Warriors, killing one of them with its heavy bolters. The Blood Claw bikes fired on the left brood of Hormagaunts, killing three of them. The Landspeeder Typhoon fired its Typhoon Missiles on the other Hormagaunt Brood, killing three. The Dreadnought fired its assault cannon on the left brood of Warriors, killing both of them. Yellow Squad, now consisting of solely the Blood Claw Sergeant, boldly charged a squad of Termagants. The Termagants struck first, however, and tore the Sergeant to the ground before he could strike, and then consolidated.

Turn 6

Out of synapse range, the left brood of Hormagaunts fell back towards the nearest synapse creature, essentially collapsing the Tyranid left flank. As if in response to this new danger to the Tyranid plan, the Lictor appeared out of hiding in the woods and charged the Blood Claw Bike Pack. Surprised, the bikes could do nothing but watch as the Lictor ripped one of the bikers to shreds.

The Landspeeder Typhoon moved onto the objective on the far side of the large rock formation and set its engine to idle, as it planned to just sit there and keep it occupied. On the other flank, the Predator also moved to claim an objective. In the center the Dreadnought advanced. The Predator opened fire on the right Termagant brood, massing in front of it. The Lascannon missed, while the heavy bolters and storm bolter killed four of them. Red Squad then fired their bolt pistols at the same brood, killing two of them. The Dreadnought fired its missile launcher on the center Warriors, killing one of them. The Wolf Lord fired on the right Hormagaunt brood, killing two of them.
 The Lictor bursts from the trees and attacks the Blood Claw Bike Pack
In the assault, the Lictor rent another bike apart mercilessly. While two of the bikers hit, only one wounded, and that was saved by the Lictor’s chitin armor. In a frenzy now and getting desperate, the bikers held their ground and prepared to face the Lictor to the end.

Turn 7

The Hormagaunts advanced, desperate to get into contact with the Space Wolves, while the Warriors converged on their center, trying both to protect themselves as well as provide synapse coverage for the Tyranid army. The left brood of Termagants advanced on Red Squad. Both Venom Cannons fired at the Dreadnought, but neither one was able to penetrate its armor. The Termagants fired on Red Squad, but were not able to hit with many shots, and those shots failed to wound.

One brood of Hormagaunts, now finally within range, assaulted Red Squad, while the other assaulted Green Squad. The Hormagaunts attacking Red Squad delivered 30 attacks, 13 hits, 5 wounds, and caused one casualty, while Red Squad retaliated, killing no less than four Hormagaunts, and proceeded to pile in. The Hormagaunts attacking Green Squad delivered 24 attacks, 16 hits, 6 wounds, and caused three casualties. Green Squad retaliated and killed four Hormagaunts. This brood was now out of synapse range, and proceeded to fall back out of range of the Space Wolves.

The Hormagaunts assault Green Squad and Red Squad
The Lictor continued to make minced meat out of the Blood Claw Bike Pack, killing no less than three of them in the close combat while sustaining no wounds itself.

The Dreadnought and Green Squad advanced, while the Landspeeder Typhoon sideslipped and fired missiles on a Hormagaunt brood, killing three of them, leaving only a single Hormagaunt in the brood alive. The Wolf Lord fired on it, only to miss, as did all of Green Squad, also ineffectively. The Predator fired on the right Tyranid Warrior, killing it with the Lascannon. The Dreadnought aimed at the last synapse creature, the warrior in the center, and killed it with its missile launcher.

In the Assault, the Wolf Guard Battle Leader charged the Lictor, delivering one wound to the creature, while the Lictor responded and delivered one wound back. The last bike didn’t manage to do anything worthwhile.
 The Lictor makes its final charge towards Blue Squad
The second Hormagaunt brood continued their attack on Red Squad, but failed to kill any of the marines, while Red Squad killed three of the Hormagaunts. With no synapse creatures left, the Hormagaunts moved to flee, only to be wiped out by the Blood Claws. Red Squad, following their momentum, consolidated into a Termagant brood.

Turn 8
With no synapse creatures left to the Tyranids, the horde was in serious trouble. One brood of termagants was locked in assault, but the right Hormagaunt brood fell back, while the other Termagant brood lurked towards the nearest woods.

The Lictor, which did not need direction from any synapse creatures, continued to fight against the last Blood Claw biker and the Wolf Guard Battle Leader. The Lictor struck quickly, auto-killing the Battle Leader with its rending claws, while the lone biker failed to injure the Lictor.

Red Squad continued to fight the termagants, killing three of them while suffering no casualties in return. The Termagants, without the support of any synapse creatures, fell back.

Red Squad moved towards the second Termagant brood, but fired on the first, killing one of them with their bolt pistols. The Predator fired on the second Termagant brood, killing five with its heavy bolters, and one more with its storm bolter. The Dreadnought fired a frag grenade on the same brood, killing one more. The Wolf Lord fired his storm bolter on the last Hormagaunt, killing it.

Red Squad assaulted the last three Termagants of the first brood, withstood their attacks, and wiped them out.

The Lictor, apparently tired out from killing the Wolf Guard Battle Leader, failed to kill the last biker, who by now was getting used to completely missing the Lictor.

Turn 9

It was a foregone conclusion that Red Squad was going to catch up to the remnants of the last Termagant Squad and mop them up. The Lictor, however, had some fight left in it, and killed the remaining biker. As it charged towards the Grey Hunters of Blue Squad, they opened up at close range with their bolters, finally bringing it down. The battle was over, and there was not a Tyranid left on the field…

Space Wolves Debriefing
The D: Before this battle began, my intention was to occupy a defensive position and allow Meliadus to attack me, ideally across a large killing field. When we rolled Secure and Control, I was somewhat apprehensive, because it would force me to expose myself to take objectives. I decided to stand my ground and sweep up any remaining objectives with the bike pack and landspeeders.

This was yet another battle that reaffirmed my appreciation of Blood Claws. Although the Yellow Squad got ripped to shreds by the Genestealers, the Red Squad performed admirably thereafter, taking out the remaining Genestealers as well as a brood of Hormagaunts and a brood of Termagants, and ending up taking an objective marker.

As usual, my Gray Hunters were fairly useless throughout the battle, except on the last turn when Blue Squad killed the Lictor, which was quite a threat. I was very lucky to be able to shoot him with bolters at such close range, because none of my troops had any power weapons (except one unit of Blood Claws, who had a power fist). This was a mistake, and I am lucky that a single Lictor is the worst that Meliadus brought that day.

Tyranid Debriefing
Meliadus: Yikes! I was expecting mass casualties, but this! It looks like the loudest complaints I've heard about 'nids have some merit. Fragile warriors...fragile Genestealers...fragile everything, really. I'm not terribly hung up about this, though, as rumors I've heard suggest some of this fragility will be going away in a few months. We'll see.

Having the game continue for 9 turns made a big difference in the eventual outcome; I think a standard length game would have been much closer.

Taking a Monstrous Creature or two definitely would have changed the flow of the battle, I think. I also might have been more aggressive with my Genestealers; holding them back just allowed the Predator to roll in and halve their numbers.

I've heard many opinions about the Lictor. My own first experience with the Lictor was golden -- it was easily the star of the game. There's only one thing I would have done differently with it: I completely neglected its Hit and Run ability. Once I'd whittled down the bikes and taken out that Battle Leader, I should have Hit and Run the Lictor into the nearby squad of Gray Hunters -- I MIGHT have hurt them enough to take them below being a scoring unit, and thus denied the Wolves another objective marker. (Granted, this wouldn't have really affected the overall outcome of the game, but it would have been a nice moral victory, and might have hurt the Wolves a little bit more in the overall campaign.)

I've also heard much debate on whether small squad sizes are better to take in 40K, or larger squad sizes. For Tyranids, at least, I'd have to say larger squad sizes are better -- if my Gaunt squads had been any smaller, they would have been wiped out that much sooner, giving my opponent more time to focus on killing my slower-moving synapse creatures later. If anything, I'd be tempted to make even larger Gaunt squads in the future.

For all the complaints I've heard, maintaining synapse was the smallest of my problems (at least until the very end). I actually found this army fun to maneuver -- it really does have a very swarmy/flocking feel to it. That new codex might be worth a look....

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