We decided to roll randomly to determine which of the three lists Chandler would bring and wound up with List 1: Bug Zapper Armored List.
Ulrik the Slayer
Rune Priest: Chooser of the Slain
Rune Pries: Terminator Armor
10 Grey Hunters: 2 Plasma Guns, Power Sword
9 Grey Hunters: Flamer, Plasma Pistol, Power Sword
8 Grey Hunters: Melta Gun
Dreadnought: Assault Cannon
Dreadnought: Assault Cannon
5 Wolf Guard: Terminator Armor, Land Raider Redeemer.
6 Long Fangs: 5 Missile Launchers.
Meanwhile, I was running my most recently planned NOVA List:
Swarmlord: 1 Tyrant Guard
Hive Tyrant: Wings, 2 TL Devourers, Old Adversary
20 Termagants: Devourers, Mycetic Spore
Tervigon: Crushing Claws, Adrenal Glands, Toxin Sacs, 2 Extra Powers
15 Hormagaunts: Toxin Sacs
We randomly determined the mission from the NOVA Mission Pack and got Mission 5: The Emperor's Will. This is definitely not the BRB version: there are four corner objectives, plus a central objective. The winner is determined by Mission Points, with the following breakdown:
- 0/2/4 Corner Objectives: 2 points for controlling more than your opponent, 4 points for controlling all four.
- Center Objective: 1 pt
- Linebreaker: 1 pt
- Slay the Warlord: 1pt
Deployment is Hammer and Anvil, which is always interesting.
Once we set up the terrain generally using NOVA's terrain map and marked the deployment zones, we rolled off for deployment. I won and would deploy first. We determined Warlord Traits and Swarmy got Outflank with his unit. I then rolled for my psychic powers and got the following:
- Swarmlord: Iron Arm, Invisibility, Psychic Shriek, Objurum Mechanicum
- Flyrant: Enfeeble, Haemmorhage
- Tervigon: Endurance, Life Leech, Smite
- Zoanthropes: Codex Powers
I opted to keep the codex powers on the Zoans since they were my only ranged option for taking out the Land Raider.
Deploying first, I decided not to outflank the Swarmlord, though I was tempted. I ran a screen of Hormagaunts on the right of the central ruin, with the Swarmlord behind them. The Tervigon lined up right behind the ruin in the middle, flanked by the Zoans on one side. The biovores stayed right behind the main force, with the Trygon anchoring the right of the line. The small unit of termagants prepared to camp the rear-right objective, while the Flyrant deployed on my left in ruins just in case I lost initiative. The Mawloc (represented by a base in this game since the real one is still on the painting table) was behind him and nearly forgotten.
Chandler deployed a bit back in his zone, with the Long Fangs at the front of one ruin and one grey hunter squad facing down the flyrant. The rest of the army was deployed fairly centrally, lead by the two dreads and Land Raider.
Roll for night fighting was a 6, stealing the initiative was not.
Things started out fantastically with the Swarmlord taking a perils wound on a 12 while trying to cast Iron Arm. The Tervigon was luckier and cast Endurance on the Trygon. She then spawned and the roll came out a 3, pooping out with the lowest possible roll. Good thing I was looking for the worst case scenario for my playtest, because this was looking to be it. My lowly three man termagant brood spawned 6" forward into the ruins, then sprinted forward to claim the center objective, revealed to be nothing of note. The rear objective was shown to be a scatterfield, so good news for those camping termagants.
The entire army walked forward but otherwise didn't do anything. The biovores scattered their spore mines onto the Land Raider ineffectively.
In Chandler's turn, things shuffled around a little, with the Land Raider and Dreads moving up. The army then opened up with pretty disappointing results, though his grey hunters on the right managed to ground the flyrant, who took a wound from crashing into the swamp, then another from one of the dreadnoughts. The Trygon benefitted from night fighting and shrugged off three Krak missiles with no ill effects, while a Frag missile killed a couple hormagaunts. Finally, the whirlwind scattered way off the mark, missing the rear objective camping termagants.
Starting with Psychic powers, the Swarmlord tried to cast Objurum Mechanicum on the Land Raider, which was promptly shot down by the Rune Priest. He then tried Iron Arm again and suffered another Perils wound. The Tervigon decided to cast Endurance on him since he seemed to be losing wounds quickly, and that was also shot down by a Rune Priest. Finally, the Flyrant tried enfeebling the Grey Hunters, which the denied.
Reserves then deployed, beginning with the Mawloc hitting exactly where I wanted, hitting the Rhino and both dreads. It managed a glance on one dread while blowing the other one up for First Blood (only counted in the tie-breaker). The Spore then dropped in between the Long Fangs and Rhino, with the devilgants pouring out all around. The main army moved up full ahead and the Flyrant went to the wide side of the hill beside one grey hunter squad.
In the shooting phase, I started with the Flyrant, who managed 6 precision shots and four other hits. The four hits on the squad killed the closest while I dished out the precision shots equally to the two plasma guns, killing both. The pod's lash tentacles went next and blew up the Rhino, killing three devilgants in the blast, as well as an occupant. The devilgants then poured fire into the disembarked squad, knocking them down to four, including the rune priest. The biovores then landed their mines on the Grey Hunters and Long fangs in the ruin, killing a single missile launcher as well as three grey hunters, including the meltagun. One Zoanthrope was in range of Lancing the Land Raider and cast his power on double ones, wounding himself and then promptly missing the land raider on the seemingly first power to make it through the rune priests.
In the Space Wolf turn, the remaining dreadnought turned to face the Mawloc while the Land Raider moved forward, unloading the Terminators just outside the ruin facing the Swarmlord and Tervigon. The forcefully disembarked Grey Hunters and Rune priest moved to support their brethren on the right flank by the hill, and the Whirlwind scooted away from the devilgants. The shooting phase began with the Terminator Rune priest getting Jaws off, me failing to deny with the Swarmlord, and then the Tervigon getting sucked into the great beyond. The Land Raider's Flamestorm cannons toasted about half of the hormagaunts. Long Fangs split fire, killing the Spore and dealing a few wounds to the Trygon. The Whirlwind hit the rear termagants and killed three, forcing a morale check that they miraculously passed on a 6. The grey hunters behind the long fangs rapid fired into the devilgants, killing several and getting them to run away, right into synapse range.Finally, the dreadnought shot the Mawloc and caused three wounds. The assault phase saw the dreadnought crash into the Mawloc and pummel the beast, which shook him in return before dying.
Having been so unsuccessful with psychic powers, I completely forgot them this turn, which given his track record, probably saved the Swarmlord from taking a third Perils wound. The Flyrant hopped over the hill and prepared to rid himself of one pesky rune priest while the Swarmlord and guard moved out of the ruins, ready to charge the Terminators. Shooting saw the Zoans, who had moved back slightly to get within synapse of the rear termagants, take another Perils wound but fail to do anything else. The flyrant cut down all but one Grey Hunter and the Rune Priest, while the Biovores and devilgants combined to whittle the rear Grey Hunter squad down to two members.
In the assault phase, the flyrant crashed into the Grey Hunter and Rune priest, issuing a challenge, which the rune priest declined, leaving the lone Grey Hunter to get smashed. The Hormagaunts and Swarmlord hit the Terminators, with the Swarmlord killing one and the Hormagaunts killing two more to both our surprise, leaving the rune priest and remaining terminators to cause a wound on the guard and smash a few hormagaunts. Finally, the Trygon hit the Land Raider and blew it up, killing two hormagaunts caught in the blast.
Shooting from the Long Fangs took the Trygon down to a single wound and wounded a biovore. Other shooting was minimal as most remaining units lined up assaults. The Grey Hunters from the hill charged into the flyrant to support. I once again declared a challenge and then, once declined, removed the power weapon grey hunter and a couple others, leaving three in the squad. Both they and the Rune Priest ran, staying just on the board while the flyrant rolled a 1 on his sweeping advance, letting them escape. The dreadnought crashed into the Swarmlord, who ignored him in favor of hacking apart another wolf guard. The hormagaunts did nothing besides die, and that ended the turn.
I remembered powers this time, and the Swarmlord tried Invisibility for a change, but failed on an 11. The flyrant enfeebled the long fangs, but was stopped by the rune priests. Movement saw the Trygon approach the Long Fangs The Devilgants wiped out the remaining Grey Hunters who had run from the flyrant and fire from the Biovores (who had failed Instinctive Behavior but could see longfangs) killed the Fang Leader. The Flyrant shot the Whirlwind, wrecking it about five times over. The Trygon attempted to charge in and was shot down by overwatch. In combat, the Swarmlord opted to smash, obliterating the dreadnought and killing the second to last hormagaunt. The final hormagaunt and the tryant guard were cut down, drawing the combat even again.
From here, the game was more or less over (though I may have transposed a few parts). Missiles from the longfangs failed to kill the Hive Tyrant thanks to intervening ruins. The sole remaining Wolf Guard and Rune Priest lost combat to the Swarmlord and hoofed it 11 inches away in an impressive show of speed. The game went through the bottom of the 5th, with only the Rune Priests and Long Fangs (and Warlord Ulric) left on the board and no objectives held.
The Tyranids secured a 4-0 victory (more corner objectives (2), center objective (1), and Linebreaker(1)), which would be worth a 17-3 split in the standings.
Considering the terrible start, I have to say I was quite pleased. Talking with Chandler after the game, I really couldn't pinpoint anything he did wrong, which leads me to believe that I won't see armies with similar makeup at NOVA if that makes sense. I expect tougher tests, but this was still a nice prep game to shake off some rust and build confidence that, even with things going horribly wrong, I can still pull something out.
Things I did right:
- Focused on Troops to deny objectives. It was hard, but several times I turned down shooting at the Long Fangs, despite their damage potential, in favor of whittling down the Grey Hunter squads.
- Caused Target Priority Issues: The Mawloc and Spore dropping in the middle of the lines did both a good bit of damage, but also attracted a lot of return fire, sparing my Flyrant and Trygon for basically another turn to run amok.
- Didn't split my forces: Two big decisions I think helped. The first was to deploy the Trygon rather than deep strike him. He still didn't see any action until Turn 3, but he also attracted a good bit of attention which otherwise would have hit more strategically valuable targets. The other was opting to go more or less up the middle, but stick to one side of the ruin. This allowed me to support my units and not let anyone get isolated (except the Flyrant, who I wanted isolated).
Things I messed up:
- Running the Tervigon up the gut. After spawning out turn one so poorly, I was determined to get her in combat to make back some points. This ended up back firing with her getting Jawsed out of the game. The smarter move would have been to drop her back onto my other backfield objective. While it ended up being moot, this would have prevented a fast mover unit from jumping my army and taking that objective uncontested.
- Forgetting psychic powers: The turn I forgot them is the one turn I could have used them the most. Namely Iron Arm, which when I finally got it off turn 5, bumped him to S&T 9.
- Zoanthropes: I used these guys terribly, and really ended up not doing anything. I kept codex powers in fear of the Land Raider, but it ended up being an MC in combat taking it out. I would have been better served running them both as a buffing role, rolling on Biomancy, and handing out more enfeebles and endurances (hopefully). This also would have made me more comfortable letting them hang back to make sure the rear termagants stayed put and the biovores were kept on task.
- Keeping the Flyrant on the Periphery: Namely on turn 2, keeping him to the outside rather than flying him to the middle to boost the Devilgants with Old Adversary. I think the 25 points were well worth it in this game, but that would have pushed it over the top, allowing the full strength brood of devilgants to reroll 1s on their first volley.
Changes and Plan of Attack:
Reflecting on the game last night, I'm thinking about dropping the Crushing Claws on the Tervigon in favor of more hormagaunts. They outdid themselves, and more would have been helpful. Also, the CCs were part of the reason I was a little reckless with the Tervigon once she stopped spawning. I would have been less inclined to get her into combat without these relatively pricey upgrades. That said, it does add to her deterrence.
My next steps are to finish my Mawloc, who I think performed fairly well, despite being represented by a base, and then work on a display board. I'm bumping the priority for this up a little since I managed to break three of my MCs and a few littly guys (minorly) while putting them away. I don't want to do that over and over, and would rather transport them from game to game without putting them away. To be fair, remembering how they go in the foam will also help.