Tuesday, July 15, 2014

NOVA Bound: VASSAL Bat Rep and List Building

As I prepare for NOVA and waffle on what Tyranids to bring, I realized I won't really have any likely opportunities to play test any list I come up with. If you recall my original list, I was going a little out of the ordinary with Troops and trying out a Tyrannofex for the first time, as well as a combat flyrant and possibly a Haruspex. Considering the lack of play test time I decided to be more conservative with my list builds, as well as download VASSAL again and playtesting lists virtually.

So instead, I am now leaning to a list fairly similar to the list I used back in April at the Battle for Blacksburg, using the Living Artillery Node. I am however, a bit on the fence when it comes to Tervigons. For my first list and VASSAL test, I went without, with the following list:

  • CAD Primary:
    • Hive Tyrant: Electroshock Grubs, 2 TL Devourers, Wings
    • Hive Tyrant: Electroshock Grubs, 2 TL Devourers, Wings, Hive Commander
    • Venomthrope
    • Zoanthrope
    • Zoanthrope
    • 3 Rippers: Deep Strike
    • 25 Termagants: 20 Devourers
    • 4 Warriors: Barbed Strangler, 2 with Scything Talons and Rending Claws
    • Hive Crone
    • Hive Crone
    • Mawloc
  • Living Artillery Node:
    • 3 Warriors: Barbed Strangler
    • 3 Biovores
    • Exocrine
For my first VASSAL Playtest, I decided to go up against a Tau list, which probably wasn't the greatest. In hindsight, I would say the results were as much a display of my inexperience with Tau as the success of my Nid list. That said, the list:
  • Single CAD:
    • Commander: Drone Controller, 2 Missile Pods, Target Lock, Iridium Armor, 2 Marker Drones
    • Riptide: Velocity Tracker, Early Warning Override
    • Riptide: Velociry Tracker, Early Warning Override
    • Riptide: Ion Accelerator, Stim Injector
    • 10 Kroot: Kroot Hound, Sniper Rounds
    • 10 Kroot: Kroot Hound
    • 5 Marker Drones
    • 2 Piranhas: Fusion Blasters
    • Drone Snipers: 2 Spotters, 6 Drones
    • 3 Broadsides: HYMP, 6 Missile Drones, Target Locks
    • 3 Broadsides: Heavy Rail Rifle, Target Locks, 6 Missile Drones
I set up the board using what I believe will be NOVA's terrain format more or less, with two large center LOS blockers, 4 partial LOS blockers in the corners, and some old area terrain in the middle of each long edge. I was running Mission 1 from the draft NOVA Mission Pack, which has 6 objectives using alternate scoring as an option, and choices for the three secondaries. 

For the Tau, I chose traditional end of game scoring, and the three secondaries were First Blood, Slay the Warlord, and Marked for Death, which went on the second flyrant. The warlord trait (which I forgot to use) would allow all units to get up from going to ground for 1 turn. 

For the Tyranids, they opted for progressive scoring. The three secondaries I chose were Strike the Rank and File (remove all troops), Linebreaker, and Marked for Death on the Piranhas. The flyrant got the warlord trait of +1 to Seize rolls, and considering the Tau were deploying first, opted to keep it. For powers, both flyrants got psychic scream, with the warlord getting Catalyst and the other getting Warp Lance. The two Zoanthropes got Onslaught. 

For deployment, the Tau won the role and I split them up on the two flanks. In hindsight maybe not a good deployment, but the idea was that the two fire bases could use the relatively open fire lanes on the flanks to pinch the nids into the middle and cover 2-3 objectives fairly easily. I then counterdeployed the Tyranids on the right flank, facing down the single Riptide and Rail Rifle Broadsides, planning to stay out of range of the HYMP and marker lights as much as possible. The Rippers were deep striking, along with the Mawloc, and the Termagants would outflank.

The tyranids then promptly seized the initiative.

Turn 1: Top

All four FMCs tore up the right side while the Exocrine advanced at full steam as well. In the Psychic phase, the warlord flyrant cast Catalyst on himself and the other flyrant, but took a wound from Perils. The other flyrant cast Psychic Scream and also took a perils, but passed the leadership check, and then put a wound on the riptide and killed a drone or two. Finally, one of the zoanthropes cast Onslaught on the Exocrine. In the shooting phase, the middle warriors landed a direct hit on the sniper drones, killing both spotters and three of the drones and pinning the unit. The warlord flyrant wiped out both Piranhas despite jink with a whopping 10 Penetrating hits. The remainder of the shooting was directed at the broadsides, which killed off all but one drone, with the Broadside tanking quite a few wounds.

Turn 1: Bottom

In the bottom of the first turn, the Tau response was less than impressive. The Broadsides and drones managed 3 wounds on the Exocrine. Otherwise, the left Riptide failed its Overcharge to thrust move, and the one in more danger wiffed its shots on the lead flyrant. Finally, the IonTide got two hits on the center warriors, who made their two cover saves from the intervening wall. Thrust moves were similarly unimpressive, with most of the suits jumping 4" or less.  

Turn 2: Top

On the top of turn 2, the Mawloc remained in reserve, but the Termagants and Rippers arrived. The rippers scattered wildly off the objective they were aiming for, while the termagants came in on the left flank. The Exocrine captured 1 point for the Tyranids by being close to the center right objective. The two crones vector struck the broadsides as they flew off, while the Tyrants did the same, but stayed on the board. The vector strikes ended up killing the drone and a Broadside, and wounding another. 

In the Psychic phase, the Flyrants both cast Psychic Scream, with the Warlord's getting denied. The other flyrant suffered a perils, but then rolled a 6, giving him a 3++ until next turn once he passed his leadership. His scream then wiped out the remaining broadsides and dealt a wound or two to the Riptide. Shooting from the Exocrine and both flyrants took the Riptide down to a single wound. Other shooting killed two marker drones, with the commander tanking the rest. The termagants killed two missile drones, but failed to get any wounds past the Broadside 2+ armor. Finally, the warriors and rippers ran to just within 3" of their objectives, while a Zoanthrope ran onto another. 

Turn 2: Bottom

In the bottom of turn two, neither Kroot squad came on. Both BurstTides and the IonTide Nova charged, though one burst tide wounded itself. The IonTide also failed but passed its Feel No Pain. In shooting, the missile drones and Commander teamed up to wipe out the rippers. Both BurstTides fired on the Warlord flyrant, but dealt only a single wound in a miraculous show of inaccuracy and saves. The MissileSides finished the turn by killing about half the termagants, causing them to break. 

Turn 3: Top

In the top of 3, the mawloc arrived and landed smack dab on the three broadsides, killing two, wounding the third, and clearing his way to deploy. With two objectives claimed at the beginning of the turn, the Tyranid total rose to 3. The two Crones arrived, one opting to glide onto an objective. The two burstTides and Marker drones were deployed in such a way that neither flyrant could perform a vector strike. The warlord flyrant simply flew off while the other landed between the two Riptides.

In the Psychic Phase, the flyrant tried to Psychic Scream, but was denied. A zoanthrope then cast onslaught on the exocrine again, who had moved around the corner to draw in range of the wounded BurstTide. In shooting, the Exocrine downed the BurstTide. The Flyrant shot at the marker drones and caused two wound on the commander, and then wiped out the drones. The one crone then flamed the missile drones and killed all three remaining. Finally, the Warriors made a charge on the IonTide, taking a wound from overwatch. In combat, both sides mostly wiffed.

Turn 3: Bottom

One group of Kroot arrived on the right side of the board and moved in Rapid Fire range of the warriors. The remaining BurstTide attempted to Nova charge, but true to form in this game, failed and took a wound. Shooting resulted in all of one wound to the flyrant and one to the Mawloc, while in combat, the warriors and Riptide continued their futility. 

Turn 4: Top

In the top of turn 4, the Warlord flyrant arrived behind the Kroot, while the other flyrant vector struck the Riptide. The army scored 5 objectives to begin the turn, taking the total to 8 of a possible 9. The lead crone vector struck the riptide, but failed to wound. The commander was similarly unharmed by the flyrant overhead. In the psychic phase, the flyrant had its Scream denied, then warp lanced the commander and killed him. Shooting started off with the Warlord single handedly wiping out the Kroot. Other shooting killed the last missile drone and bounced off the riptide. The Mawloc charged into the stalemate and did a wound with hammer of wrath, while both sides wiffed with regluar attacks.

Turn 4: Bottom

In the bottom of turn 4, the Riptide failed another Nova charge check and took a wound. Shooting between him and the surviving broadside managed two wounds against the flyrant, but didn't take him down. On the other side of the board, the second unit of Kroot rapid fired into the Warlord flyrant and did a wound, but he also passed his grounding check. Finally, the Riptide in combat took an additional wound.

Turn 5: Top

In tyranid turn five, they scored their 9th Objective point and prepared for the end of the game. The crones both dropped into glide, one in the enemy zone for Linebreaker. The Warlord flyrant swooped on and then combined with the biovores to kill the remaining kroot, notching a secondary objective. The exocrine dealt a wound to the remaining riptide, but couldn't kill him, while the last Broadside was taken down. The combat dragged on with no wounds dealt either way.

Turn 5: Bottom

Tau turn five saw the remaining BurstTide heroically pass his Nova charge and gun down the flyrant, gaining 2 points for the Tau. In combat, the Riptide, on his final wound, suddenly became effective in combat and dealt three wounds to the warriors, killing one. 

Turn 6: Top

The game would go on to six turns, though it was brief. The exocrine moved into the Tau deplopyment zone, was onslaughted, and killed the remaining BurstTide. A crone charged into the combat and between the three tyranids, managed to bring down the final Tau Riptide. 

The final score was a 15-2 Tyranid victory. Again, I am sure this is in large part to me not being good at playing Tau. The split deployment really did them in as it let the Tyranids take them apart half by half, and avoid charging into massed firepower. The issue I have with playing against myself is also that if I make a bad move, I probably won't catch it as the "opposing" player, since I didn't see it in the first place. 

So, taking the results themselves with a grain of salt, I did like the feel of the army. I was able to deploy compactly and hide the majority of my units from harm while my flyers did work. I think the Mawloc worked out alright, though a second exocrine would have likely done more against this many 2+ saves. That said, I also had a fourth warrior in one squad, which upped their durability a little. 

In the end, I liked the list and will consider it as my NOVA list. If I did, it would cut a lot of my painting list from the Tyranid side, leaving me with:
  • 3 Ripper Bases
  • 3 Warriors
  • Touch up on Biovores
Of course, I still have a ways to go with the Necrons, and I could still shake the list up a little. That said, I love the idea of bringing my Mawloc to the party again this year, if just to show him off.

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