Saturday, 22 December 2012

Caledonia Uprising 2013

Tim King's Caledonia Uprising was the first tournament I attended after getting back into tournaments in 2011. It's a really cool event and got me hooked into tournament playing. Caledonia 2012 was the venue for my first award (Best Tyranid General) and so I've got high hopes for Caledonia 2013. It is also the venue for an on-going wager with Gill from Ramblings of a Dieting Wargamer. See that banner at the top of the blog, see me at position 53 (my final placing at Caledonia 2011), see Gill's name at position 54? He does, every time he looks at the blog. So I made a bet at Cale 2012 that if he finished higher than me I'd replace the banner, well its still there! So the same wager has been made for Cale 2013 too. So I'd better bring my 'A' game!

At Caledonia this year there are two tournaments in one, there's the main event on Sat / Sun, but there's also a little 1000pts tournament on Friday night. I'm planning to enter them both. I’ll look at the 1000pts tournament in another post because you don’t need to pre-register your army list for it, where as the main event requires army lists to be submitted by the 29th December.

Now Caledonia will also mark the start of my 40 games in 40K. I’m also looking to get some good practise in with the Tyranids prior to Adepticon so I can give my best performance in the US. I’ve learnt a few lessons from taking the swarm to the GT heat and Blog wars as well as listening to a few podcasts. It seems, in the UK at least, people are quoting the Tyranids as one of the top flight armies at the moment, along with Wraith-wing and Screamer / Flamer spam. So I’ve a lot to live up to.

There have been a few changes I’m marking to the army list I used at the previous tournaments. There are still a couple of musts, two flying Tyrants and two Tervigons. I had considered swapping out one of the Tyrants for the Swarmlord and I may still do so for another tournament but for the moment I’ll keep the utility of the Tyrants. I have given them both an upgrade. One has got Old Adversary, giving preferred enemy to units within 6” of him is useful to boast the devour armed Gaunts. As long as I plan a little ahead I should be able to make sure the Tyrant can fly to where ever the spore pod lands. Plus it makes the Tyrant more effective too.

The Warlord Tyrant has picked up Hive Commander. For most games this will increase the chance of the Doom and the Devourer Gaunts from coming in on turn two. Also, given that he doesn’t have to be on the board to gain the benefit (unlike Lictors for example) so against Daemons I can put both my Tyrants in reserve to avoid them dying to their alpha strike. It would also allow me to put a troop choice into outflank, but not being able to assault from reserves has rendered this a little pointless.

The Gargoyles also picked up toxin sacs to allow them to bring down monstrous creatures. In a lot of the tournament games I’ve played they’ve ended up charging Daemon Princes, Dread Knights or for that matter toughness 4 Space Marines. Giving them poisonous attacks means they can do some damage to the unit while they tar pit it.

I’m also trying a unit of Biovores. Their barrage weapons mean they can snipe out special weapons, icons and possibly characters too. They can’t reliably take out an IC due to their 2+ ‘look out sir’ roll but a none independent character has to get lucky to pass off all the wounds. Plus with a fairly strong large blast template it’s another tool to whittle down Imperial Guard blob squads.

All this costs points and so there have been some deductions from the army. First off is I’ve dropped a Zoanathrope. I’m hoping a unit of two will still give me some of the utility powers I need. I’ve also dropped the onslaughts from the Tervigons. The plan here is to roll the psychic powers for the Tyrants and Zoanathropes first, if they pick up some decent powers I’d be tempted to swap the Tervigons too, if I don’t get at least 1 Endurance on the Zoanthropes I’ll leave at least one of the Tervigons on their codex powers for the feel no pain.

I’ve also had to drop a few Gaunts and Gargoyles from the various units. I’m a little concerned that I’ve reduced the number of starting models in the army which will limit my ability to bubble wrap during deployment. It was a tactic that proved very useful vs. first turn drops such as Daemons and Drop Pods. If I get first turn or against normal reserves I get at least one turn of spawning from the Tervigons before they land. Fingers cross I’ve not reduced my model count too much.

So the army I am proposing to take to Caledonia 2013 is;-

HQ1 - Hive Tyrant: Wings, Twin Linked Devourers, Hive Commander [285]
HQ2 - Hive Tyrant: Wings, Twin Linked Devourers, Old Aversary        [285]
Troop1 – Tervigon: Catalyst, Adrenal Glands, Toxin Sacs [195]
Troop2 – Tervigon: Catalyst, Adrenal Glands, Toxin Sacs [195]
Troop3 – Gaunts: 11 Gaunts [55]
Troop4 – Gaunts: 10 Gaunts [50]
Troop5 – Gaunts: 15 Gaunts with Devourers in Spore [190]
Elite1 - Hive Guard: 3 Hive Guard [150]
Elite2 - DOOM!: Doom in Spore [130]
Elite3 – Zoanthropes: 2 Zoanthropes [120]
Fast1 – Gargoyles: 15 Gargoyles with Toxin Sacs [105]
Heavy1 – Biovores: 2 Biovores [90]

The other thing I hoping to do is remember all the little tricks and rules I've been forgetting in previous games. Some of theses are
  • Rolling for my zoanthropes powers before the Tervigons as mentioned above.
  • Challenging with my Tyrants if I charge a smaller unit to ensure I don't break it in 1 round of combat.
  • The precise shots from my Tyrants.  
 Well I'll post again with my thoughts on the 1000pts army lists, but until then Merry Christmas, Happy New Year and Yaay I survived the Mayan apocalypse!

Thursday, 13 December 2012

Tyranids vs..... Daemons

Ok I thought I'd have a go at writing up some theory hammer tactics against Daemons, currently one of the bad boys on the block. No I'm no expert on Daemons (or Tyranids for that matter) but I've been doing a little reading and listening to some podcasts and I'm using this post to gather my thoughts and hopefully some tactics. Feedback is always welcome and hopefully I'll report back once I've tried some of these.

Flying Circus
There are two Daemon lists doing the round at the moment. One is Daemon flying circus which is typically 5 flying monstorous creatures (Fateweaver, Bloodthirster and three Daemon Princes).  I've faced this type of army twice at Blog Wars and once at the GT heat alone in the last 3 months. The tactic for this one is fairly straight forward. After buying 5 monstorous creatures and 4 troop choices the Daemon player won't have that many points left over for other stuff, so all their punch in in these 5 big guys. The trick is to get them on the ground and then keep them locked in combat with Gaunt tar pits, who slowly pull them down with poison, whilst the Flying Tyrants hunt the troop choices. Getting them to land is where the problem arises.

Against this army going second is probably best. It doesn't have such a large alpha strike at other builds and you don't want to loose any turns to kill those big guys. The Bloodthirster will almost always be the first to land. It has little damage output at range and relies heavily on its close combat powers. If it arrives in the Daemons preferred wave on turn one chances are it will stop swooping turn 2 to charge something. If all your juicy creatures are well bubble wrapped (and with at least one additional spawn of Gaunts they should be) he will either try to open a gap in the Gaunts using the firepower of the other or simply charge the Gaunts. Once he's down it's a fixed point on the battlefield.

 Now either Fateweaver needs to stay near the Bloodthrister or he'll loose the reroll on armour saves. If Fateweaver and the rest of the circus continue to swoop they will be forced to move off, we'll have to look to bring them down another way, but the Bloodthrister is a lot easier to kill. If Fateweaver land in order to stay near the Warlord (remember Fateweaver is NEVER the army's warlord if there's another HQ choice), chances are the rest of the circus will land too. At which point tar pit them down and use poison gaunts and Doom! to bring them down. Remember to keep the Doom away from anyone with the boon of mutation power (like Fateweaver) as its a fairly simple way for them to kill him.

If the circus continues to fly around you'll probably have to ground them. In theory four units of six or more Gaunts will cause a flying creature to down more often then not. Remeber the guns don't have to be big to cause the downing test. Once again, once you've down a creature pin it to the floor in combat. Eventually you'll have enough of the creatures pinned down the other will land to help out.
 Mean while his troop choices are being hunted by the Tyrants. Sound simple doesn't it. So far I've won once and narrowly lost twice using this process.

Screamer / Flamer Spam
Now this is the real bad boy of Daemons, typically three large units of screamers and three large units of flamers. Fateweaver and The Masque as HQ.  Against once these have been bought and 3 - 4 troop units there's not a huge number of points left from 1850. The threat here is all about those six units. Deal with them and you've taken the teeth from the army, but that's not easy. Unlike other Daemons builds assaulting isn't as easy. No Gaunt unit will survive a charge into Flamers and screamers come with a lot of attacks. My tactic here, and at the moment its purely theoretical, is to reserve the "killer" units. In theory if you can trade your killer units for his and you start he'll run out first. In my army the killer units are;-
  • Two Flyrants (or poss One and Swarmlord)
  • Doom
  • Devilgaunts in Pod

I've four of these so hopefully if I can get an early lead, even if he's killing one of my killers for each of his I'll win the war (lets not forget I'm also producing more units while this is happening) and even Gaunt fleshborer fire can kill these Daemons, even more so if you've enfeebled their toughness a little. So holding these units in reserve means they're safe from his alpha strike and can hopefully come on turn two and start hitting the killer units in his army. Giving one Tyrant Hive Commander should increase the chances of all the killers coming on in turn two to maximise the affect.

Bonus tactic
One final tactic I've yet to try is Deathleaper, in theory his minus D3 to leadership applied to Fateweaver dramatically increases the chance he'll blink out from the first wound. Its a little situational but could be fun, plus Deathleaper is a good option for taking Line Breaker.

Well that's it for my first attempt at a tactics post, once I've had an oppotunity to try some of these out I'll report back, but in the mean time any comments or suggestions are always welcome.

Monday, 3 December 2012

Blog Wars IV

This weekend saw me attending Blog Wars 4, potentially my last tournament of 2012 (and definitely my last with Nids in 2012 as for the Garrison Doubles I’ll have to use Marines to pair with Bennett). Blog Wars is the first one day event I've been two outside of the 1000pts tournaments held during Vapnatak in York. It was held at the Eye of the Storm Gaming Centre in Mansfield. I had to submit my army list the day before the GT round, so I ended up using the same list, without the opportunity to apply any of the learning’s I’d got from the 6 games at the GT. However Blog Wars was down as a more friendly event and with no Forge World allowed shouldn't be quite so harsh. To recap the army list was ;-

HQ1: Flying Hive Tyrant with 2 twin linked devourers - 260pts
HQ2: Flying Hive Tyrant with 2 twin linked devourers - 260pts
TROOP: Tervigon,  cluster spine, adrenal glands, toxin sacs, catalyst, onslaught - 210pts
TROOP: Tervigon,  cluster spine, adrenal glands, toxin sacs, catalyst, onslaught - 210pts
TROOP: 16 Gaunts - 80pts
TROOP: 16 Gaunts - 80pts
TROOP: 16 Gaunts with devourers & Mycetic Spore   - 200pts
FAST: 15 Gargoyles - 90pts
ELITE: 3 Hive Guard - 150pts
ELITE: 3 Zoanthropes - 160pts
ELITE: DOOM! in Spore - 130pts

Blog Wars had one special rule. The army must include a unique character and in each mission there were special benefits to them. In the first two games he was scoring, in the last he gave up a bonus VP if killed. For the Tyranids it was the Doom!, had I thought about it I may have swapped one of the Fly-rants for the Swarmlord.

Blog Wars was using a gradient VP system where the number of tournament points you score depends on the scale of your victory. Tyranids aren’t brilliant at this as we often end up scraping wins based on missions rather than out and out tabling opponents.

Game 1 – Crusade (5 objectives) / Steve Henderson Vanguard  vs.   Daemons

So, first game and its daemons! It was more flying circus rather than the screamer / flamer spam version, but there were some of those. There was Fateweaver (obviously), a Bloodthirster, 3 Daemon Prince with wings. There 4 scoring units, two 5 man horrors, two 5 man plague bearers and topped off with two 5 man flamers and a three man Screamer unit. I know from previous experience against the flying circus its all about grounding the flyers, either by shooting or my tempting them down to charge or manoeuvring  so there’s nowhere for them to fly to given their movement and turning restrictions. Once they’re on the ground they can be tar pitted down with Gaunts and slowly poisoned to death.  With only four small scoring units the other tactic is to hunt them down, and this job was assigned to the Hive Tyrants. 

I lost the roll for first turn and was forced to go first, this meant there were no Daemons on the board for my first turn. I took the opportunity to spread out and spawn more Gaunts to increase the footprint of the army to reduce landing points. I bubble wrapped my big creatures so none of the wound on 4+ flamer templates can reach them.   

Steve went for some fairly risky deep strikes with his flamers, one worked the other sent the unit back into reserve. Fateweaver, Bloodthirster and one of the Daemon Princes landed near the line. The Gaunts faced the worst of the firing from the flamers and flying creatures. The rest of the game was pretty much down to what I’d planned. The Flying Tyrants and Gargoyles picked on the Daemon troops as they landed. Twelve twin linked Str6 devourer shot were pretty much picking off a unit per turn with firing, sometimes needing the Gargoyles to finish off a unit. Meanwhile the flying Daemons were causing some pain in my own line, but one by one they landed to either assault or charge. After which they never took off again as Gaunt tar pits locked them up. The doom did his usual trick of landing, taking a wound or two off the Ld10 Daemons before a bolt of change tapped him out. By the end of turn 4 Steve only had a single pink horror left from his troop choices (due to a lucky save roll against a Tyrant torrent, many of his monstrous creatures were stuck in combat with fearless Gaunts and his flamers had all been killed, unfortunately we ran out of time and that one pink horror was stood next to an objective. In the end I lost the game by 1 point as Steve had picked up first blood (we both held one objective). The game of “what if” is an endless question of possibilities but I do feel that with the extra turn five I would have been able to kill the last horror to deny him all objectives whilst holding most of the rest of his army in place for the win. So it was a little bitter result but it was a really enjoyable game and that’s what matters.

Game 2 – Relic / Hammer and Anvil vs. Nathaniel Gibbs (Grey Knights)


Nathaniel had a really nice painted army, it was based around a custodes theme and running under the Grey Knights codex. It featured a Dread Knight, a couple of units of Strikes, one interceptors and a large unit of Terminators, an inquisitor lord and Corteaz. There’s a couple of worries there, Warp Quake from the Strikes and Interceptors can really spoil my Spore drops. The Dread Knight has a nasty flamer attack which could also cause a lot of issues for me, however it’s the relic mission and I’ve got first turn which mean Tervigon spawn and move Gaunts means I can be controlling the Relic by the end of my turn. It forces one Tervigon to set up aggressively on the front line, but since one of them had rolled Iron Arm I wasn’t that worried. Nathaniel sets up and actually sets up everything a few inches back off the front line, which I think was a mistake based on the single objective of the mission.

Turn one goes pretty much as planned. Eleven Gaunts capture the objective and even manage to have Endurance cast on them. (Both spawning and casting take place at the start of the movement phase so I get to choose the order they happen.) . The rest of the army advances up trying to get in front of the holding unit to give them some protection.  Sure enough, in Nathaniel’s first turn a lot of the firepower was directed at the unit holding the relic and shot it off the table. However one big aspect of this game was that one of the three Warp Quake units on his left flank fail their leadership test, this leaves a large section of the board not covered by this nasty power. However here I made a MASSIVE mistake and firstly landed the Doom in range of his Terminator unit, however I didn’t remember Corteaz despite having spent a lot of the lunch hour talking with a friend after he got caught in the same way. So the Doom take 8 storm bolters and 2 psy-cannons in the face and dies. Quickly learning from this the Devilgaunts drop a little further away and survived. At the same time the psychic choir reduced the unit down to T2 before all the devourers from gaunts and Tyrants opened up. Six terminators fell to the mass fire of the Tyranids and in the following turn they retreated back. This gave me the opening I needed as a Tervigon moved onto the relic, picked it up and started to head off back into my deployment zone. His Dread Knight did teleport onto my flank but was quickly locked in combat by a gaunt squad and slowly dragged down. The rest of the game was basically Gaunts being thrown forward to slow down the advancing Grey Knights whilst the Tervigon slinked off to the back of my deployment zone with the Relic. My warlord hive tyrant pretty much legs it to the back of the board to ensure he can’t score Slay the Warlord, as he’s scored first blood. However in the end it didn’t matter as I held the objective as well as picking up Line Breaker.

Game 3 – Purge the Alien / Dawn of War vs. Dave Halfpenny (Daemons)

 Final game and it was another Daemon player. Again more flying circus than flamer / screamer spam.  However this one’s had only two Daemon Princes along some Bloodletters, Seekers and a Soul Grinder. The deployment was pretty much the same, large foot print expanding quickly. Wait for the  flyers to land and then pounce. Once again the plan was flawlessly executed. All his flyer eventually landed either because they want to get into combat in the case of the BloodThirster or because they’d run out of places to fly with only a 90 degree turn. Once down they were jumped on by gaunt tar pits. However this game was lost on a single dice roll, but before we get to that other moments.

The Doom was turned into a Spawn by Fateweaver and the Gargoyles failed to charge the Soul Grinder to lock it in combat earlier in the game (eventually a unit of Gaunts managed to do this to keep him out of firing all game. The Bloodthirster and a Daemon Prince were killed and Fateweaver was reduced to one wound. However once more we were running late and declare turn 5 to be the last turn without rolling. Then with almost the last action of the game Fateweaver attempted to spawn a Tervigon. I needed anything but a 6 to avoid this and guess what….. I failed. With the Tervigon dying two on the nearby units of Gaunts also died to the special damage they take and also got wiped out. This caused a 3 point swing to the Daemons in VPs. If the game had continued I’m fairly certain I’d have been able to grab the win back. Fateweaver was locked in combat with over 20 poison Gaunts and on a single wound and there were two lone spawn who would be easy to take out with my Tyrants, plus my Devilgaunts were almost in range of another small troop choice, but it wasn’t to be and I lost by one point.

Overall I finished in the middle of the table with 1 good win, and two marginal losses. Mid table obscurity achieved.

Stuff to remember / Improve

  • I need to try to speed up. Tyranids need the full 5 turns to make back ground in some missions where their attrition advantage of spawning more Gaunts starts to take advantage. In two of my three games we had to call the game early. 
  • The Hive Tyrants are characters and can therefore allocate their targets on 6s to hit. Don’t think it would have made a huge different against the Daemons, but could have picked psy-cannons  out of other squads in game two.
  • Remember that if you drop a squad to T2 you will instant kill characters if they take a wound.
  • Watch out moving monstrous creatures within 6” of Fateweaver, there’s no reason my Tervigon should have been in range (OK, so the Doom has to)
  • At least one Tyrant with Old Adversary.
  • I’m thinking of dropping down to 2 Zoanthropes to free up a few points.
  • The Gargoyles definitely need poison.
  • Playing against 2 Fateweavers I’m thinking I may give Deathleaper a try, to lower his Ld for those test.  It also don’t hurt to lower Psykers and Generals down from other armies to get them running off the board.
  • I need to paint more Gaunts, twice I had to stop spawning Gaunts because I simply ran out of models. I take 60 to the tournament, 32 of which are on the board to start. 28 more for spawning isn’t enough, I need to paint another 20. 
Oh and a shameless plug for my first ever appearance on a podcasts. If you don’t listen to the 40K UK podcasts, why not? But episode 54 of the podcast (released on the 2nd December ) features my game versus Dave Symcox at the GT heat, even if the team get my surname wrong … twice, and refer to this blog as above average (which if I ever start performing better I may have to rename it to), and you even get to hear my dull tones in a post-match interview. So I’d pop along to , I’d recommend the podcast for anyone into 40K as it’s very informative on the UK meta as well as tactics for dealing with and used by many of the top players in the UK.