This past weekend, Ron visited for a quick gaming weekend. First thing we did was set up the board for a NOVA-style test game, where Ron would run his Tyranids, while I ran my Tau with Eldar allies. The goal was to build a highly competitive, top tier style list to match up against the Tyranids.
We rolled on the current NOVA missions and wound up with Mission 1 - which is the first mission from the Independent Mission Catalogue, which uses asymmetrical scoring. I definitely recommend checking it out, but to break it down, the goal is to give more equal footing to a wider variety of armies by changing how scoring works. Each player chooses whether they will use traditional scoring or progressive scoring. For progressive scoring, you gain 1 point for each objective held at the beginning of your turn, starting on turn 2, through turn 5, to a maximum of 9.
Each player also chooses to elevate a secondary objective, going from 2 points to 4 points possible, with slightly varied conditions. For example, elevated Slay the Warlord awards a point for each character killed, up to a maximum of 4, but no extra points for killing the warlord.
The board was set up in the NOVA style, with a center LOS blocker, ruins in two corners, hills in the other two corners, and area terrain in the middle along each long edge. There were six objectives total - one in the center of each board quarter, and then two player placed. Ron placed his objective in the center LOS blocker, while I deployed mine in the center of my deployment zone (Dawn of War).
Ron's list featured:
Flyrant: 2 TL Devourers, Electroshock Grubs
Flyrant: LW&BS, TL Devourers, Electroshock Grubs
The cheesiest tau list I decided to run consisted of:
Commander: C&C Node, MSS, Onager Gauntlet, PEN, Vectored Retro-thrusters, Iridium Suit
Riptide: Ion Accelerator, EWO, Stim injector, SMS
Riptide: Burst Cannon, SMS, EWO, Velocity Tracker
6 Fire Warriors: Carbines
11 Fire Warriors: Rifles, Shas'ui
Sky Ray: SMS, Blacksun
3 Broadsides: HYMP, SMS, 3 Missile Drones
Farseer: Jetbike, Runes of Witnessing, Shard of Anaris
5 Dire Avengers
Wave Serpent: Holo-fields, Scatter Laser, Shuriken cannon
Ron won the roll to deploy and opted for first turn. He elected to go for progressive scoring and elevated linebreaker (each unit wholly in my deployment zone worth 1VP). I on the other hand opted for traditional scoring and elevated First Blood (difference in Kill Points essentially, up to 4). His powers were not that exciting (no Catalyst) while I had fortune, scryer's gaze, and prescience.
The FMCs generally went in the middle, with the tervigons, venomthropes, and blob of termagants anchoring each flank. Only the Mawlocs were kept in reserve. By contrast, I kept all my troops in reserve except the Dire Avengers in their Wave Serpent, which went in my far back right. The skyray went behind the ruin on my right, where the broadsides were deployed. The Burst Cannon Riptide went on the right while the Ion Riptide, commander, and farseer bunched together on the left, all in base to base for Look Out, Sir shenanigans.
I did not seize the initiative, much to Ron's relief. He flew his FMCs up the board, with two landing short of the central LOS blocker and to the left of it to line up shots on the Commander's unit. The warlord flyrant and one Crone went to the right of center, aimed for the Skyray. The rest of the army moved forward, with one gant blob getting a high run roll and making it nearly to the center of the board. In the shooting phase, Ron managed to take out the Skyray for first blood, but didn't do any other damage.
In the bottom of the turn, I Nova-charged the BC riptide. The wave serpent inched forward, keeping the target tervigon in the shrouded range from night fight (rather than closing into stealth range, which would have stacked with the Venomthrope's shrouding). The Wraithknight jumped forward and positioned itself to charge either the crone or warlord flyrant should they be grounded. In the shooting phase, the novacharged burst cannon promptly shredded the warlord flyrant. The broadsides ended up shooting at one crone and taking it down to a single wound after grounding it. The wraithknight failed to hit in shooting and ended up charging and killing the Crone. The commander Riptide meanwhile stripped some wounds from the tervigon on my left. The two riptides thrust moved away, while the wraithknight consolidated back.
In the top of two, Ron held two objectives and so, gained two points to his primary. Both Mawlocs arrived. One scattered off the command squad and landed just on the board edge, while the other was more effective and wiped out all of the broadsides, leaving a single drone. The surviving crone vector struck the Commander's unit and failed to wound. The surviving flyrant landed and went for the same unit, but failing to wound with shooting. In assault, the flyrant charged the command squad and took a wound from overwatch on the way in. He dealt a wound to the commander and riptide each (the farseer declined a challenge) to one in return. The command squad then hit&run out of the combat.
In the bottom of the turn, the farseer failed to cast Scryer's gaze and Fortune because of Shadows (and I forgot his runes). One unit of Kroot arrived on my left flank, as well as a six man squad of firewarriors, who walked on in between a crone, mawloc, and flyrant. The wraithknight leapt over the blob of termagants and made for the Tervigon on my right. Shooting from the Wave Serpent took out the venomthrope. The command squad took the flyrant down to a single wound while the Burst Cannon Riptide and lone surviving missile drone did the same to the Crone. Unfortunately neither was killed. The Kroot on my left managed a couple wounds on the tervigon. Finally, the wraithknight charged and killed the Tervigon, killing a few nearby gants with the backlash, though the Zoan was still in Synapse range.
In turn 3, Ron only added a single point, getting up to 3 for his primary. The Mawloc that hit the broadsides went for the Wave Serpent, as did the surviving flyrant. The Crone landed to barbecue the fire warriors and the mawloc moved to engage the burst cannon riptide. In the back, the termagants and tervigon killed a few kroot, while on my right, one group of termagants charges the wraithknight to tie him up, with two surviving the turn. In shooting, the flyrant did a hull point on the wave serpent before the mawloc charged in and finished it off. The crone roasted the 6 man fire warrior squad with no problems. In assault the second mawloc charged the Riptide contesting my right objective and what ensued was a several turn brawl with both slowly whittling away at each other.
In the bottom of 3, the Firewarriors and Kroot stayed in reserve. The farseer again failed his two spells because of shadows. With shooting from the kroot I wounded the remaining tervigon. Other shooting removed the remaining flyrant and crone (lucky shot by the surviving missile drone for the latter). The wraithknight killed off the Termagants he was fighting and stayed close to the objective. Finally the commander thrust move onto the back left objective to contest while stringing out to try to get the farseer out of Shadows.
In the top of 4, Ron added a single point to his tally (center objective, corners were all contested or unheld). One blob of termagants moved to get as many in range of the Dire Avengers as possible and promptly wiped them out. In the back left the Kroot were wiped out by shooting, preventing the Tervigon from charging them and trying to hide in combat. The mawloc and Riptide continued to trade blows while the other mawloc burrowed. The small unit of gants next to the wraithknight charged him and a single gant survived to tie him up.
In the bottom of four, the remaining units arrived. The firewarriors walked on my board edge to the left center, while the kroot outflanked and went on the sparsely occupied back right. In the shooting phase, the lone missile drone killed the wounded Zoanthrope on a lucky shot, while the commander unit Riptide killed off the Tervigon, wiping out the remaining Synapse on the board. The firewarriors fired on the blob of termagants to the left, and managed to break them. In the assault phase, the mawloc and riptide continued hitting each other to little effect while the hero drone thrust moved to contest the center objective. The Wraithknight stepped on the sole termagant tying him up and surveyed his empty corner of the battlefield.
In the top of five, Ron wasn't able to claim a single point, capping his progressive tally at 5. The burrowed Mawloc arrived amidst the Fire Warriors and killed several. The termagants on my right moved further into the ruins to get the entire brood inside my deployment zone. Surprisingly, only one of three eligible broods of termagants failed instinctive behavior (while the fleeing termagants continued to run), and the one that did simply hunkered down in their terrain piece. Shooting inflicted several hits on the command squad, and managed a wound on the farseer. In combat, the Mawloc took the Riptide down to a single wound.
In the bottom of the turn, I moved the kroot onto the objective cleared by the wraithknight, who took a potshot at the unengaged mawloc. I managed a 6 to wound, but Ron countered with an area terrain cover save. The mawloc ended up taking a few wounds from the nearby firewarriors, but they weren't able to take it down. In combat, the mawloc and riptide still couldn't kill each other. At that point Ron had 10 VPs (5 Primary, First Blood, 3 Units in my deployment) to my 11 (4 First Blood kill points [12-5], Slay the Warlord, Linebreaker, and 3 Primary points). Ron rolled and the game would continue.
In the top of 6, one of the two units on the back left failed their IB and ran off the board. The group in my zone passed and moved further into my deployment zone. The mawloc moved toward the firewarriors, who he promptly munched in combat. In my turn, I made some silly mistakes and moved the Kroot and command squad out of Ron's deployment zone to line up shots. I killed some termagantsbut couldn't thrust move back into the deployment zone with the command squad. The wraithknight jumped into combat with the other mawloc and wiffed leaving it to live and kill the riptide. At this point, Ron had 10 VPs to my 9. We rolled to see if the game ended but it would go on to turn 7.
Turn 7 was pretty quick. The termagants in my deployment zone failed instinctive behavior and ran, pulling them out of my zone. They managed to kill a few kroot on their way, but not enough to get them off the objective. The wraithknight promptly killed the mawloc in combat this time. In the bottom of the turn, the command unit killed the remaining mawloc and stayed in Ron's deployment zone for linebreaker.
The final tally was Taudar 11 (3 Primary, 4 Elevated First Blood, 2 Line Breaker, and 2 Warlord), Tyranids 7 (5 Primary, 2 First Blood). While the in-game score keeping is a little more complex, I enjoyed using the alternative scoring. I think the Primary points are balanced well. I am a little on the fence on the secondaries, but I think we both made the right choices. It adds an interesting dynamic that you can optimize the mission to your list, rather than trying to optimize the list to the mission.
In the end, with the help of the alternate mission rules, we had a hard fought, close game. Using BRB scoring, the points breakdown would have been different. Turn 5 would have been 5-5 draw, Turn 6 a 5-4 Tyranid lead, and turn 7 and 5-4 Taudar victory. Granted, the game would have played out a little differently with normal scoring. Either way, it was a close fought game.