Wednesday, 27 February 2013

Thoughts for future tournaments

Is it one of the 40k quirks that Tyranids are the only army which can’t evolve? In the fluff you always hear about how the Hive Mind adapts its tactic and even its troops to overcome the resistance it’s facing. So it is a little ironic that in the tabletop game the Tyranids are one of the least flexible armies. They can’t easily adapt to a shift in the meta. With most other armies when a new codex is released it can shift the make up of all other armies due to the ally rules. There’s been two 6th edition codex released now and each time the meta shifted. The Chaos codex saw the arrival of the Helldrake and moved the meta even more into flyers because everyone knows “Helldrake does as Helldrake wants”. People are already talking about teaming Helldrakes and Doom Scythes together to really rule the skys. The Dark Angels are still relatively new but they have obvious benefits to other codex, spreading their +1 cover saves from their new Landspeeders sits well with lots of other armies. Meanwhile the poor Tyranids are stuck with the same circa 15 choices they always had.

Don’t get me wrong, 6th edition gave Tyranids a HUGE boost. Removal of the fearless wounds, the book based psychic powers and the weakening of vehicles all played well into the Hivemind’s grubby little claws, but since then they’ve remain static and I think it’s beginning to show. It’s the same units all the time which can struggle, we’ve only one reliable anti air and that’s our flying tyrants, and they’re fairly easy to take out if people really want to. Giant guard or cultists blobs only really have the Biovores to worry about from a template weapon point of view. Also with the release of the Dark Angel codex I fear a slow return to more mech based armies. Cover saves are certainly going to become a bigger thing.

All of this rambling is leading somewhere (I hope). In three weeks I’ve got what should be one of the most competitive tournaments in the UK, the final of the UK GT. I’ve not been to a tournament since Dark Angels were released so I don’t know how prevalent they are going to be but from podcasts I’ve listened to they do seem popular. Also the GT will represent the last tournament where the old Daemon codex is still allowed prior to its update this weekend, so the Screamer / Flamer spam will still be in effect. I’m obviously taking the Tyranids so I need to think how I can overcome some of the current tricks of armies ;- cover saves, invulnerable saves, flyers & higher toughness (bikes, nurgle). The rambling at the start of this post was pretty much there to explain that the core of any Tyranid army is probably going to be the same until they get a new codex. For the GT my current thinking is ;-

HQ1 – Swarmlord (280) [280pts]
HQ2 – Hive Tyrant (155), Wings (60), 2x Twin Linked Devourers (30), Old Adversary (25) [280pts]
Troop1- Tervigon (160), Catalyst (15), Onslaught (15), Toxin Sacs (10), Adrenal Glands (10) [210pts]
Troop2 - Tervigon (160), Catalyst (15), Onslaught (15), Toxin Sacs (10), Adrenal Glands (10) [210pts]
Troop3 – 15 Gaunts (75) [75pts]
Troop4 – 15 Gaunts (75) [75pts]
Troop5 – 15 Gaunts (75), Devourers(75), Transport1 [150pts]
Elite1 – 2 Hive Guard (100) [100pts]
Elite2 – 2 Hive Guard (100) [100pts]
Elite3 – Doom of (90),Transport2 [90pts
Fast1 – 15 Gargoyles (90), Toxin Sacs (15) [105pts]
Heavy1 – Biovore (45) [45pts]
Heavy2 – Biovore (45) [45pts]
Transport1 – Mycetic Spore (40) [40pts]
Transport2 – Mycetic Spore (40) [40pts]

The Swarmlord rips up Wraiths. Drop an enfeeble on them first, or get a good result on Iron Arm and he’s double tapping them out. Combine this with the fact he forces them to reroll their successful saves and he should be able to tear up 3 – 4 of them a turn. The enhanced toughness or their reduced strength should also mean he take less damage from their attacks. He’ll also cause issues for Fateweaver and other daemons. I am worried that losing a flying Tyrant will reduce me speed and ability to project force onto enemy objectives in their deployment zone. In at least one game at Yorkshire open it did, when I didn’t manage to get to Patrick’s objective in a hammer and anvil deployment.

I also think that Dark Angels will see a good showing, with either the bikes and Landspeeders or Terminators. The enhanced cover saves which the Darkshroud can generate will mean nothing against Hive Guard, so I want to run two units of them, this did mean dropping the Zoanthropes, but hopefully putting the Tervigons back to 3 powers each and the Swarmlord’s four powers means I shouldn’t need these support characters as the mainline psykers will pick up the powers I require.
The Biovores are potentially getting their final outing, if they don’t make a good showing of themselves in this tournament they may get dropped. I’ve split them down into two individual units to maximise their output.

So what worries me? Flyers are a concern, I’ve lost one of my two anti-flyer Tyrants, but if the Hive Guard rolls a 6 on their hit the flyer can’t jink to defend itself. Dark Eldar poison spam will ruin my hobby as will any high strength shooting army.
There also a number of things I need to remember. I keep forgetting these in games and it could make all the difference.
  • A unit taking a wound from a devourer has a -1 to any leadership test that turn
  • Precision shots from my flying Tyrant
  • The Swarmlord gives a unit preferred enemy at the start of the firing phase, meaning I can grant it to the Hive Guard before they fire and they’ll benefit from rerolling 1s
I’d welcome any feedback from people.

Saturday, 23 February 2013

York Heat of the Yorkshire Open

The next tournament to feature in the 40 games of 40k is the York heat for the Yorkshire open. It was a fairly local event with 14 people attending, mostly from the Garrison club. It was a 1800pts three game tournament. I decided on a little change to my usual army list in the form of dropping one of the flying Tyrants in favour of the Swarmlord. Now the Swarmlord is a beat stick, no more hitty than that, he is a veritable jackhammer of a beat stick. If he makes is into close combat there is very little that can stand up to him. I last used him in 5th edition at the UK GT in 2012, in that tournament it went one of two ways, either he made it into combat and deleted squads (including one where he took out 5 thunder hammer terminators, a marshal and the Emperor’s champion), or got shot down like a chump mid table. In 6th edition he’s added another string to his bow, Biomancy!. As a level two psyker with four rolls on the biomancy table he’s very likely to get some nasty powers. He’s a lot harder to kill coming across the table when he’s toughness nine with feel no pain! I obviously had to do a little cutting from my Caledonia list as I also want to take a guard for him as well as losing the 50pts I needed to get down to 1800pts. In the end I opted for ;-

HQ1 - Swarmlord
HQ1a - Tyrant Guard, Lash Whip
HQ2 - Hive Tyrant, Wings, Twin Linked Devourers, Old Adversary
Troop1 - Tervigon, Catalyst, Adrenal Glands, Toxin Sacs
Troop2 - Tervigon, Catalyst, Adrenal Glands, Toxin Sacs
Troop3 - 10 Gaunts
Troop4 - 10 Gaunts
Troop5 - 14 Gaunts with Devourers in Spore
Elite1 - 2 Hive Guard
Elite2 - DOOM! in Spore
Elite3 - 2 Zoanthropes
Fast1 - 15 Gargoyles with Toxin Sacs
Heavy1 - 1 Biovore

There is still a high level of threat from the flying Tyrant, Doom and Devilgaunts with the resilience of my troop scoring Tervigons. I’m not planning on doing huge turn by turn write ups for these three games as I hope to cover the tournament in a single post.

Game 1 - Emperor’s Will / Hammer and Anvil vs. Patrick

Patrick is one of the younger Garrison players and a couple of years ago this would have been an easy first game for me. However young Patrick has been getting some coaching from some of the more experienced players (and unusually for a teenager actually listening too). His list has been evolving into a nasty threat as he slowly works towards the classic flying circus. At the moment it comprises of

2 units of Flamers
2 units of plague bearers
2 units of Horrors, one with The Changeling
Daemon Prince
Unit of screamer
Soul Grinder

He’s also been listening to comments on how to use it, so he is rapidly become a nasty Daemon player and one you can’t underestimate. Patrick went first and dropped his preferred wave of flying creatures plus a unit of horrors, screamers and plague bearers. Patrick has a reputation for balls to the wall deepstriking and this game was no difference, he also had a reputation for not misshaping when he does it and sadly that also held true. The first couple of turns were pretty violent. Patrick’s Bloodthirster landed first and wipe out a unit of Gaunts for first blood, but then found himself surrounded by Gaunts and slowly dragged down. A similar fate happened to the Daemon Prince and Fateweaver, but not before Fateweaver had turned my flying Tyrant into a spawn, Damn him! I made one major mistake in the game, Hammer and Anvil is a long board to cross and I made the mistake of dropping my Devilgaunts on my side of the table. As a result I struggled to get down the board to tackle Patrick’s objective. The Swarmlord also spent the first couple of turns locked in combat with the screamers, rolling poorly to only slowly kill them off. He did make up for it by killing the Soul Grinder in turn five, but the loss of my Flying Tyrant and dropping the Gaunts in the wrong place I couldn’t take Patrick’s objective. There was one comedy moment where after having dropped two spore mines near his objective, Patrick decided to move the Plague bearers to detonate the mines, only to loose three of them to the resulting explosions.

In the end it was a 10 / 10 draw, with my scoring of Slay the Warlord balancing out Patrick’s first blood.

Game 2 – Crusade / Vangaurd vs. John

John was using a Grey Knight force. A small unit of Paladins, two units of Terminators, a couple of ten man Grey Knights which combat squaded and a Stormraven. I don’t like Stormraven in the hands of the Grey Knights, those mind strike missiles can really mess with my synapse creatures. Luckily it can only fire two missile per turn under 6th edition, I still have nightmares of Dan Sackett’s 5th edition triple Stormraven list arriving on turn two and killing all three of my synapse creatures in a flurry of missiles. Luckily for me John’s Stormraven was clearly pilots by the special Grey Knight recruit who’d forgotten to put his contact lenses in because every missile he fired managed to scatter and explode harmlessly on walls and terrain (and one poor unfortunate Gaunt). The Swarmlord was on fire, having got the Living Legend commander trait he moved from five man unit to five man unit challenging out their characters and beating them down, despite at least two of them having a 2+ invulnerable save. The Stormraven still proved annoying as it flew around, however for some reason on turn 4 John switched it into skimmer mode despite not having troops inside to drop off. I think he wanted to keep it on the spot to fire at a Tervigon rather than move it to somewhere it wouldn’t have LOS to my units, however the Hive Guard seized the opportunity and blew it out of the sky. In the end the game went to six turns and it’s all the Tyranids needed to get to the final squad which had been hiding behind a large hill on an objective all game.

Final result a massacre at 20 / 0

Game 3 – Purge the Alien / Dawn of War vs Dodge

On paper this was a nasty match up. Dodge’s Guard army feature two Leman Russ Punishers, a massive guard blob, Chem-dog and a couple of Chimeras with Plasma vets in. Combined with a Space marine contingent for access to a Librarian with Divination powers.

Deploying second helped me as Dodge deployed his guard blob in a ruin on my extreme left flank, so I set up the majority of my force on my right flank. There was also the fact that three of my four monstrous creatures rolled Iron Arm, which at toughness seven makes them immune to Las fire. The Doom performed his usual tactic against Guard, landing, absorbing enough wounds to take him to his maximum of 10 to then eat a Lascannon shot the following turn. However the MVPs were the Swarmlord and one Tervigon. The Tervigon, on a single wound, managed to charge his command squad, challenge and kill the Primus psyker and then chase down and kill the fleeing squad for two kill points in one combat. The Swarmlord also generated a healthy number of point by destroying two vehicles and seeing off the remains of the Space Marines after the Doom and Devilgaunts has thinned them out. I also hit on a neat tactic of moving units forward in such a way that one or two models we out of sight from the Guard, so although it slightly reduced my firing, it save me a couple of kill points when a lone Gargoyle couldn’t be killed due to not being seen. I pulled a similar stunt with a lone Gaunt too.

In the end it was a 17 / 3 win to me, but to be fair I had 3 kill point on the edge in the form of a single Gargoyle, single Gaunt and a Hive Guard on a single wound., all hiding behind LOS blocking terrain.

Overall I placed 2nd in the tournament. It was a nice finish and a good first run out for the Swarmlord in 6th edition. He is slower than a flying Tyrant, but he commands such fear as he approaches the enemy that they have been known to swap tactics at the last minute to deal with him. Plus in a more competitive tournament I think he could give the Wraiths and Fateweavers a run for their money due to his re-rolling successful saves ability. The biovore again under performed so I suspect that the GT final in three weeks is there last chance if they want to book their airplane ticket to America.

Sunday, 3 February 2013

Caledonia Uprising 2013 - Wrap up

So five games, three opponents tabled, one draw and a pretty nasty loss. Overall I actually finished 4th at Caledonia Uprising (joint 4th with 2 other people). Given that Cale is probably the second biggest independent tournament in the UK I am really pleased with this result. I also managed to defend my Best Tyranid General from last year to pick up this little trophy. I think there was a lot of luck and circumstance to my result. I managed to avoid a lot of the really tough player and ETC members. The soft scores help a lot too, even the event coordinator has admitted that when he scaled the game down from six games to five he didn't adjust the ratio for the soft scores, so there was 100pts available for gaming and 70pts for score scores. Still it was a solid result with me tabling three of my five opponents.

From the army list the stand out stars are the flying Tyrants. They were the real work horses for many of the games, furiously gunning down units with a torrent of fire. The devourer armed Gaunts also made quite an impact. Some people underestimate the fire power Tyranids can put out, yes it may not have a high AP, but if you're called upon to make 25 saves even if they are 3+ you're gonna lose some. Ensuring the first salvo of the Gaunts was in range of the preferred enemy bubble made it even better. 

The Doom had his usual mixed bag of results. He was awesome in the third and fifth games, and was probably responsible for the death of most of Dan's troop choices in the my fourth game. The move away from mech'ed armies is really benefiting him, as well as the more common Str7 shooting rather than strength eight or nine. 

I think the worse performance was from the Biovores. I still need to get to grips with them and I'm not sure if I won't drop one of them (I'll definitely split them down into solo units if I keep them). There were times when I didn't want to fire them because the rest of my army was in close with the enemy and I didn't want to risk scattering. That said I didn't face any form of blob army really (the cultists were some what but they got dealt with by the Doom. So I think I'll hold off on dropping them for a couple of games.

Now onto the more important part of the Caledonia Uprising, banner wars. I've mentioned before the on going wager between myself and Sean Gill about my banner and as in previous years the banner bet held that if he placed higher than me I'd remove my banner with his name on it, remind me Gill where did you finish? was it 1st, 2nd or 3rd?  However I think a change is due so you'll have already seen that my banner has been updated, but I'll always have this to wind him up as needed.

So my next large tournament is a local affair, the York round of the Yorkshire Open in February, then its on to the GT final in March. I think my army list will remain largely the same for these games, although I may try a little change to try stuff in preparation for Adepticon.

I'm also interested in feedback, the write ups for these games were fairly long, too long? did people loose interest, am I at risk of turning it into a Red Dwarf esk "and then I rolled a 4, 4 and 6. But he rolled a 6, a 5 and a 4" ? Let me know if you've any suggestions on how this blog could be improved or stuff you think is working well and I should keep doing. I want to have a blog people enjoy reading so anything I can do to improve is an advantage.

Friday, 1 February 2013

Caledonia Uprising 2013 - Game 5

Big Guns never tire \ Hammer and Anvil vs. Steven Henderson [Daemons]

Game six and I was still in the higher tables, which I was fairly pleased about. I hadn’t faced a Necron army yet, which given the 17 at the tournament and the fact they were mostly at the top tables I was a little surprised about. However it was not to be and my final opponent for Caledonia was Steven who I’d actually play a couple of months ago at Blog Wars IV. That time he had narrowly beat me by a single VP and so this time I was out for blood. He was using a Daemon army, but it was a mix of flying circus and the flamer spam.

HQ1 - Fateweaver, Oracle of Tzeentch
Elite1 – 6 xFlamers of Tzeentch
Elite2 – 6 xFlamers of Tzeentch
Elite3 – 6 xFlamers of Tzeentch
Troop1 5 x Pink Horrors of Tzeentch
Troop2 5 x Pink Horrors of Tzeentch
Troop3 5 x Pink Horrors of Tzeentch
Troop4 5 x Plaguebearers of Nurgle
Troop5 5 x Plaguebearers of Nurgle
Fast1 5 x Screamers of Tzeentch
Heavy1 Daemon Prince, Daemon Breath of Chaos, Daemonic Flight, Iron Hide
Heavy2 Daemon Prince, Daemon Breath of Chaos, Daemonic Flight, Iron Hide
Heavy3 Daemon Prince, Daemonic Flight, Iron Hide

Not so many screamer units and the flamer units were a little smaller than my second round opponent, it was also missing the Bloodthirster HQ which normally characterises the flying circus, still Fateweaver and three flamer units could cause me issues.

Steven won the roll for first turn and in typical daemon style gave me first turn. I deployed in the usual large footprint and in my turn spread out and spawned more Gaunts. I left my Tyrants in reserve this time as I had got the reroll reserves for my Warlord trait so was fairly happy that a 2+ with reroll should mean all my reserves would arrive on turn two. I had forgotten how agreesive Steven is with his deepstrikes in Blog Wars and he was again, two of the flamer units attempted to land behind my army close to the board edge and although both scattered neither misshaped. Fate weaver also landed in the back corner behind my lines, however neither flamer units were inside his 6” bubble. At this point the space that Steven had been using to land his units in was filling up, so he  chose to land his remaining Flamer unit and two Daemon Princes  in front of the army on one flank. Personally I think this landing pattern was a mistake as it meant Fateweaver could only get to the two Flamer units with his bubble, this was actually made worse when Fateweaver didn’t move up, meaning that none of the Daemons were in his reroll bubble.  During the firing phase one unit of Flamers burnt out the Biovores unit at the back of my deployment, not only scoring first blood, but also a bonus point for killing a heavy support unit. The other Flamer units opened up on Gaunt units causing several wounds but not destroying whole units.

Turn two and I rolled for reserves, despite needing 2+ with a reroll my Warlord still didn’t turn up, but the rest of the reserves rolled on. The Doom, Devourers and Tyrant all headed for the Daemon Princes and Flamers on my Flank. Meanwhile the various Gaunt and Gargoyles turned their attention to the Flamer which had landed behind my lines. Given they fire when they landed they we still tightly packed together which played well into the large blast templates from the Tervigons. The combined fire on these two units reduced them to a single model in one unit and 3 Flamers in another. It was the Daemon Princes which suffered worse. The Doom’s leech essence took wounds of all three units due to some horrific leaderships tests by Steven, then the Spore Pods fired and not only took off another wound from one Prince but downed him, killing him with the Str9 crash test. The other Daemon Prince was fired on by the Flying Tyrant and again was badly wounded, failed his grounding test and face planted into the board killing him. This left the Devourer armed Gaunts free to finish off the remaining Flamers with their 45 Str4 shots.  In my assault phase 3 packs of Gaunts charge the three flamers (one taking a number of hits from overwatch), whilst the Gargoyles charged the solo flamer. In the combat the solo Flamer was killed by the Gargoyles, and the other combat ground on. Steven’s turn two must have been an odd position for a Daemon player, almost his entire first wave had been wiped out and he only started with Fateweaver and thee flamers locked in combat. From his reserves Steven got his last Daemon Prince, a unit of horrors and both Plague bearers.  The Plague bearers dropped at the other end of the board well away from my battle lines, however the Daemon Prince tried to land closer, scattered and was place next to the Doom. The Horrors dropped a little close to my battle lines near an objective being guarded by a Gaunts squad. Fateweaver l flew over my battle line and managed to land in a small gap, near my Tervigon. Firing phase was fairly quick with only the Horrors being in Range, they shot and killed a number of Gaunts who were hiding in area terrain. Fateweaver fired and managed to turn my Tervigon into a spawn on a 6 Grrr, a number of my Gaunt squads lost models to the Tervigon’s death.

Turn three and the warlord arrived from reserve and headed towards Fateweaver. I made on critical mistake and landed him within 6” of the daemon.  The remaining units shuffled around a bit and headed further into the board.  Firing phase and the Doom, Devourer Gaunts and Spores managed to shoot down and kill his last remaining Daemon Prince. Fateweaver was fire on by Gaunts and the Warlord and although he didn’t take any wounds, he was grounded, so was immediately pounced on by the Gaunts to lock him in combat. Steven’s turn saw the arrival of his remaining reserves. The two units of Horrors drop at the back of my deployment zone to threaten the rear objectives, whilst the last plague bearers joined their brother at the other end of the board.  Fateweaver tried to spawn my Tyrant, but because he was locked in combat on the ground couldn’t declare skyfire and hence missed. The Horrors fired at the sea of Gaunts which were around them and killed off a few more.

Turn four, the Doom and both Tyrants head as quickly as possible down the board to take on the Plague Bearers, the Gargoyles headed towards Fateweaver to reinforce the single Gaunt his was still locked in combat with. Firing and the Gaunts and Tergivon fired on the Horrors killing half a unit, they were then assaulted. FateWeaver started taking wounds from the Gargoyles but past his Leadership test, whilst the Plague Bearers came under fire from the Tyrant and the Doom manifesting psychic scream.  Steven turn was quick as he was rapidly running out of models. The Plague Bearers scrambled to get away from the Doom, whilst staying close to the objective. Fateweaver finally fell to the Gargoyles in combat, freeing them up to concentrate on the Horrors. Also the two packs of Gaunts which had been locked in combat with the Flamers since turn one finally finished them off and also headed for the Horrors.

Turn Five and I was looking to finish off the daemons. Three packs of Gaunts and the remaining Gargoyles head towards the Horrors, whilst the Tyrants and Doom picked on the Plague Bearers. Firing and the Horrors were shot up and then charged. In combat the squads were wiped out by the Gaunt swarm. The Tyrants and Doom managed to whittle the Plagues Bearers down a single models and another unit of two. For Steven’s go he just moved the Plague Bearers close to the objective and hoped the game would end. Sadly it didn’t.

Turn Six and the Tyrants swooped in a killed off the last Plague Bearers finishing off the last Daemons on the board.  I had managed my third tabling of the tournament and against Daemons to boot. I do think Steven’s decision where to land his first waves was the crucial moment, by having none of his units within Fateweavers bubble it meant the Tyranid’s torrent of fire were able to overwhelm the relatively poor saves the Daemons have.