Thursday, 6 March 2014

Hive Mined: Part One

Well, I had my first game with the Tyranids yesterday and it was a very interesting one to get to grips with.  Unfortunately it was quite a one-sided event, mainly due to an army construction issue, I think.  My mate was trying a heavy bolter centred list and it was not doing the business.  However, aside from the ego boost, it was still a useful learning experience for me, as I will explain.

Synapse is a bit of a bugger.  It’s core to how this entire army works but as a new player, it was very easy for me to forget about when the fighting started.  I weighed up the options and deliberated when I was constructing the list on paper; picking out the Synapse creatures, making sure I had contingency plans and fall backs and that I was well placed to support.  However, when the game actually began, I made many stupid mistakes on that score that only blind luck helped me avoid the consequences.  I realise I may be overstating things here (I only had to make two Instinctive Behaviour tests the entire game), but I was very close to messing things up and having my advance falter.  The Warlord trait I rolled was the super-useful 18” Synapse, and that saved my bacon by keeping my Carnifexes to heel.  If it hadn’t been for that, I would have had to test for them on turn 1.  Sub-par placement there.  Before I go any further, I suppose I should take you through my list.  We were going for 1,750 points, which allowed me to play with a few toys.

HQ: Prime with Flesh Hooks, Bonesword & Lash Whips
HQ: Deathleaper
Elites: Lictor x 1
Elites: Lictor x 1
Elites: Venomthrope
Troops: Termagants x 28 (20 Devourers, 8 Fleshborers)
Troops: Tyranid Warriors x 5 (4 Deathspitters, 1 Venom Cannon, all with Scything Talons)
Troops: Hormagaunts x 15
Troops: Ripper Swarms x 5 (Deep Strike, Toxin Sacs, Spinefists)
Fast Attack: Raveners x 4 (3 Deathspitters, all with Rending Claws)
Fast Attack: Gargoyles x 10
Heavy Support: Carnifex x 1 (2 Twin-linked Devourers)
Heavy Support: Carnifex x 1 (2 Twin-linked Devourers)
Heavy Support: Trygon Prime

On his side there were (with occasional inaccuracies due to me doing this from memory):

HQ: Lvl 2 Librarian with Mace of Absolution
HQ: Company Master with Jump Pack, Plasma Pistol, Power Maul and Storm Shield
HQ: Techmarine with Servo Harness and Power Field Generator
HQ: Command Squad with Banner of Devastation, all with Power Mauls and Storm Shields
Elites: Venerable Dreadnought with Twin-linked Heavy Bolter, Heavy Flamer and Extra Armour
Troops: Scouts x 6 with Camo Cloaks, Sniper Rifles and Heavy Bolter
Troops: Tactical Marines x 10 with Heavy Bolter and Flamer
Troops: Tactical Marines x 10 with Heavy Bolter and Flamer
Fast Attack: Assault Marines x 10: Plasma Pistol and Power Maul on the Sergeant
Heavy: Devastator Marines x 10 with 4 Heavy Bolters

As you can see, he was going for a very bolter-heavy motif there.  Also a lot of Power Mauls.  Unfortunately for my opponent, the random number generator for this game gave me a lot of cover in midfield and my Venomthrope really helped the list shrug off a lot of the lead the was coming downfield.  The deployment type was Hammer and Anvil, which kind of restricted my Lictor placement, as the 18” deployment restriction on infiltrator is quite tricky to deal with when the opponent has decent unit spread on the board and my Lictors were only about 6” ahead of my main forces.  Deathleaper managed to get a bit further.  My first turn was pretty much just legging it to the far end of the board, trying to stick in cover where possible and also being precise with my unit placements to maintain Synapse and to get the most out of the Venomthrope.  I won’t do a full play by play of the whole thing, just tell you key events.  Poor placement to start with put my Carnifexes right on the cusp of being out of Synapse.  Due to my Warlord roll, they were in, but if I didn’t have that I’d have had to start taking tests turn one.  However, as I was running them as individuals rather than a brood of two, the worst of the Instinctive Behaviour wouldn’t affect them (individual models do not Feed on themselves thankfully) and they would have at least moved on forward to the enemy.

The Librarian got Perfect Timing as his power, which is potentially very bad news for my army, as cover saves are very important to me.  However, this is where I feel my opponent’s biggest tactical mistake kicked in.  Obviously with Deathleaper on the board, I was going to terrorise somebody and a Psyker is the ideal target for that kind of victimisation.  The Librarian got 3 points knocked off his Leadership, making it much less likely that he’d get that power off.  However, he didn’t capitalise on the power at all.  The Librarian stayed with the Command Squad, failed a couple of tests and I guess my opponent was too worried about Perils to keep trying.  Personally, I would have put him with the Devastators, packed them front and centre and just gone for it.  Cover denying rerolling (he also got Prescience) heavy bolters en masse would have been just the ticket for shredding al lot of my list.  The lictors have pretty much no defence beyond cover saves, the Warriors are ideal HB fodder and the Venomthrope could have toasted early.  It was a major misstep, and that inability to capitalise on the Librarian abilities allowed too much of my army to reach him unmolested.
Turn 2 had all my reserve units turn up at once, which was pretty ideal, and all my lictors were still around, so I had a great deal of positional opportunity with non-scattering deep striking Raveners, Rippers, Gargoyles and a Trygon Prime.  I deployed the Trygon near the Dreadnought to get rid of that armour, whilst the rest of the reserves arrived on the other side of the board near the devastators, poised to roll up a flank.  This was my second mistake from a Synapse perspective.  Gargoyles, Raveners and Rippers do not have good Ld, and their arrival put them outside of Synapse range.  I had to run with my Prime (even with his boosted Synapse Range)  in order to get them all in range by the beginning of the next turn.

His turn 2 brought the Assault Marines and Company Commander down behind my lines, near the Warriors and Termagants.  They picked off a few of the Prime’s unit of Gaunts with bolt pistols as in running to get my Reserves in Synpase had caused the Gaunts to leave the Shroud effect of the Thrope.  When I turned to deal with them next turn, I almost turned to Gaunts back, before realising that it would leave my feeder up front to their own devices again.  I cancelled my plans and the warriors had to face the assault squad with only a solitary Venomthrope for backup.

As it happens, once you get into combat with toxin rippers and Raveners, things can get messy.  However, due to me being an idiot (again) and a little over eager with the charge, both units were out of Synapse range for the next turn.  This puts them in a very brittle position because, although the Instinctive Behaviour only kicks in if you are out of Synapse at the beginning of the turn, you’re not Fearless whenever you’re out.  This mean that I had to win those assaults, or the Raveners were going to get demolished.  The rippers were less tenuous due to their inherent Fearless rule, which was a relief.  As it happened, the Raveners did a sterling job, able to pack a heft rending punch on the charge and they kept blow back to a minimum, even finishing off the Librarian for me. That’s pretty much where the game ended and my opponent conceded.

Yeah, it was pretty one-sided and showed the Nids doing all manner of cool shit, but there were too many moments (mainly Synpase moments) that only didn’t cause me a problem due to luck and the Warlord table.  Overall though, I really enjoyed the Synapse aspect.  It was an extra layer of stuff to consider every turn and the dodginess of that game really hammered home that although I know what I’m doing on paper, when it comes to actually playing, I’ve got to keep a clearer head.

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