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April 15, 2012

Descent of the Tendril - Tyranids vs. Grey Knights (1850)

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I played an interesting 1850 point game yesterday. Here are the two abbreviated army lists:

- Tyranids -
Hive Tyrant - wings, twin linked devourer w. brainleech ammo, bone sword + lash whip, Hive Commander; paroxsym & life leech
Alpha Warrior - bone sword + lash whip, scything talons, adrenal glands

3x Zoanthrope - spore
3x Hive Guard
8x Ymgarl Genestealer

13x Genestealer incl. Broodlord - toxin sacs & scything talons
15x Devilgant - spore
3x Warrior - bone swords + lash whips, 2x deathspitter & barbed strangler, toxin sacs

Tyrannofex - rupture cannon

- Grey Knights -
Librarian (attached to GKT)
Inquisitor - grenades (attached to GKT)

10x Strike - psycannon - psybolt ammo - razorback (twin linked heavy bolter turret)
8x GKT - psycannon, halberds & daemonhammer - psybolt ammo

10x Purifier - 2x incinerator, halberds & daemonhammer - psybolt ammo  (embarked in Stormraven)
Techmarine - grenades & stave (attached to Purifiers)

Dreadnaught - heavy flamer & multi-melta (embarked in Stormraven)

Stormraven - extra armor, twin linked lascannon & twin linked multi-melta

We decided to play the BeakyCon mission with the new deployment rules for Seize Ground and Capture & Control:

— There are four objective markers for Seize Ground - one is placed in the center of each table quarter
— You can place your Capture and Control objective marker anytime during your initial deployment
— Capture & Control objective markers must be placed at least 12" from the Seize Ground Objective markers
— All objective markers must be placed on ground level and count as impassible terrain

The BeakyCon mission features all three objectives from the rulebook - Seize Ground, Capture & Control plus Annihilation. Whoever wins the most objectives wins the game. If there is a draw on objectives then victory points are the tie breaker. This format was invented by my friend Mike Walsh and has been copied by other TOs such as myself (obviously) and the recent Bay Area Open GT held in California.

There was lots of terrain on the table - probably more than 25 percent.

Deployment was Pitched Battle and I won the initiative opting to go second. My opponent elected to spread his forces across his deployment zone (DZ) with the psyfleman set in one table corner and the Stormraven centrally placed. He held nothing in reserve. The Strike squad was broken into two combat squads - one on either side for Warp Quake coverage.

Here was my deployment:

— Hive Tyrant in reserve - walk onto my long table edge
— Warriors in reserve - outflanking
— Genestealers infiltrated beside a large open building to my right
— Ymgarl Genestealers started dormant inside a piece of terrain close to the psyfleman
— Devilgaunts deep striking via spore
— Zoanthropes deep strking via spore
— Alpha Warrior, Hive Guard and Tyrannofex placed centrally in my DZ with a piece of terrain for cover

The picture above shows the initial deployment for both armies and where the majority of the battle took place.

I'm making no claim that my opponent is a great player or that he had an unbeatable GK army list. I've played against him several times in tournaments and friendly games in our locale - I have won the majority of those games. That said he is by no means a pushover and obviously has some advantages playing his Grey Knights versus my Tyranids. He is an older gentleman and has been playing for a long time, doing quite well overall with the new Grey Knights. He won a local tournament with his GK right at the same time I first seriously started to play Tyranids.

Most of friends whom I consider to be good players have moved on from Grey Knights... Any army that is easy to win with can become boring to play repetitively over time. I think GK fill a niche for players with less experience that want to be competitive and there's nothing wrong with that in my opinion. Maybe they can take what they learn in terms of tactics and strategy and eventually apply this to other armies... Most of us eventually move on in time. I rarely ever break out my Draigowing anymore - I know the army and all it's tricks inside out. For me it's more fun to play an army that is challenging... When I first started playing Tyranids I had a bit of a chip on my shoulder and wanted to prove they can be a competitive army. Slowly my army has evolved over time and I have accepted advice from others for improvement. It's more fun for me to play now that I feel like I have less to prove. I don't mean to say I have proved Tyranids can be competitive - I mean to simply say they are very enjoyable for me to play and I hope this carries over into sixth edition.

Pre-Game Analysis:
My main concerns this game were the psyfleman and Stormraven. The psyfleman can quickly rack up wounds and insta-gib my Warriors. I planned to use the Ymgarl Genestealers to tie up the psyfleman and focus fire power on the Stormraven. I intentionally infiltrated my Genestealers to bait out the Purifiers from the Stormraven then use the devilgants to shoot them up. There was lots of No Man's Land between the two sets of Seize Ground objective markers - I figured we would both play it mostly conservative trying to hold the closest objective markers with little in the way of any attempts at contesting the other sides so most likely it would come down to either killpoints or possibly victory points.

I attempted to seize the initiative and failed.

1st Turn - GK
My opponent mostly held his ground except for the Stormraven moving over 12" in a position to tackle my Genestealer brood the next turn. GKT and one Strike combat squad moves to hold objectives. Shooting saw one Hive Guard taken down and a couple of wounds stripped off of the Tyrannofex.

1st Turn - Tyranids
I moved back the Genestealer brood a bit to make sure their majority was in cover. The Tfex targeted the Stormraven but failed due to cover saves. Hive Guard shuffled back behind LOS blocking terrain with the Alpha Warrior and were out of range to shoot.

— Killpoints: 0 GK - 0 Nidz
— Capture & Control: 1 GK - 0 Nidz
— Seize Ground: 2 GK - 0 Nidz

2nd Turn - GK
The Stormraven flew up 12" to disembark the Purifiers, Techmarine and dreadnaught in front of my Genestealer brood... Everything else holds its ground. Shooting is brutal versus my Genestealer brood (lots of templates ignoring cover). Only the Broodlord is left after all the smoke most clears and it passes it's morale check.

2nd Turn - Tyranids
In comes all my reserves except for the Tyrant and Ymgarl Genestealers. Devilgants land in the big open building beside the Purifiers. Zoies drop in beside my Hive Guard-Alpha Warrior-Tyrannofex cluster... Plenty of synapse there. Warriors outflank onto the far side of the table and jump into a building for some cover versus the psyfleman across the table... I'm counting on the Warriors to eventually hold one of the Seize Ground objective markers over on that side late in the game. The Broodlord legs it back inside a building beside one of Seize Ground objective markers and is safely tucked out of sight from any enemy shooting. Again my shooting is mostly ineffective due to the plethora of abundant cover but the Hive Guard do manage to destroy the dreadnaught DCCW... w00t !! The devilgants blast away at the Purifiers but only manage to kill three... Slowly chipping away at that stone now. Their spore targets the Dreadnought but can only manage to scratch some paint. The Zoies opt to drop blast on the Purfiers - I pass two Ld6 psychic tests (due to the presence of the close by dreadnaught's reinforced Aegis). One Zoie I roll snake eyes and it takes it's first wound. Another Purifier is brought down.

— Killpoints: 0 GK - 0 Nidz
— Capture & Control: 1 GK - 0 Nidz
— Seize Ground: 2 GK - 1 Nidz

3rd Turn - GK
The Stormraven pulls back 12" taking it safely out of range from my Hive Guard while one combat squad disembarks from their Razorback to line up shots on my poor devilgants. The psyfleman targets the Warriors who go to ground and insta-gibs one. Combined firepower from the Purifiers, Dreadnought and combat squad kill all but one devilgant which then passes its leadership test.... That was very lucky for me !!

3rd Turn - Tyranids
In comes my final reserves... The Hive Tyrant flies into the building holding the lone Broodlord and passes its difficult terrain test. The Ymgarls pop up and head over to assault the nearby psyfleman. The remaining Hive Guard and Tfex break out from cover pushing forward now that I know the Yrmgarls have come out to play with the psyfleman. Zoies also push forward as well. The lone devilgant drops back (intentionally) and joins the Alpha Warrior, both diving behind some cover beside my Capture & Control objective marker. The Tfex targets the Stormraven but is yet again blunted by the plethora of abundant cover (drat !!). The Hive Guard target the Purifiers and drop one more... Like I said - gotta keep chipping away at that stone. The spore inside the big open building targets the Dreadnought but fails to inflict any damage. Again the Zoies target the Purifiers but the blasts all scatter off target. The Tyrant fires it's devourer at the Purifiers killing yet another one. The Tyrant also successfully passes its Ld6 psychic test and casts Paroxsym on the Purifiers. Finally in assault the Yrmgarls charge into cover and destroy the psyfleman while losing two in return- the consolidate deeper into the cover.

Finally the tide is slowly starting to swing back in favor of the Tendril that came from outer space... Hive Fleet Colossus.

— Killpoints: 0 GK - 1 Nidz
— Capture & Control: 1 GK - 1 Nidz
— Seize Ground: 2 GK - 1 Nidz

4th Turn - GK
The GKT and combat squad beside them move towards the Ymgarls to focus fire on the Genestealers. The Purifiers decide to drop back into a defensive position. The Dreadnought pops a shot with its multi-melta and insta-gibs the spore in the building while the other combat squad holds its ground. More shooting sees the Ymgarls (went to ground) dropped to only two left and they hold. The Stormraven targets my Tyrant with mindstrike missiles but three scatter off and the beast only takes one wound.

4th Turn - Tyranids
The two Warriors move through the far building and pop out close to the other Seize Ground objective marker on that side while maintaining a healthy distance from the GKT. Again the Hive Guard, Tfex and Zoies move forward along with the Tyrant who uses the Zoies for cover. Shooting sees the Tfex finally get through the cover and immobilizes the Stormraven. Hive Guard, Zoies and Tyrant all focus fire on the Purifiers and drop them down to the last two along with the Techmarine.

— Killpoints: 1 GK - 1 Nidz
— Capture & Control: 1 GK - 1 Nidz
— Seize Ground: 2 GK - 1 Nidz

5th Turn - GK
GKT split off to gain some range on the Warriors while the combat squad beside them stay still to blast the last two Ymgarl. Dreadnought hops inside the immobilized Stormraven while the Purifiers continue to drop back again. Combat squad finishes off the Ymgarls while the GKT only have two Terminators in range to shoot the Warriors - they inflict one wound on each Warrior (complex now due to one with deathspitter and one with barbed strangler). Stormraven pops a shot at the Tfex but is stopped by cover. The other combat squad and Razorback focus fire on the Hive Guard but fail to inflict any wounds.

5th Turn - Nidz
The Warriors hop into a piece of cover beside the other Seize Ground Marker. Again Hive Guard, Tfex Zoies and Tyrant move forward in a clump. Shooting sees the Tfex finally destroy the Stormraven and the Hive Guard destroy the razorback. Zoies fire blast on the combat squad in front of the destroyed razorback and kill two - they pass their morale check. I'm now holding two Seize Ground objective markers, my C&C objective marker plus I'm ahead on killpoints.

— Killpoints: 2 GK - 3 Nidz
— Capture & Control: 1 GK - 1 Nidz
— Seize Ground: 2 GK - 2 Nidz

The sixth turn my opponent focus fire on the two Warriors with his GKT who go to ground and pass all their cover saves. I focus fire on the remnant combat squad and wipe them. We roll for a final seventh turn and the game ends. I win the mission on killpoints.

Post Game Analysis
Well what a change in how my army plays now... Back when I first started playing Tyranids this past October I was running four mycetic spores and it was a foregone conclusion I couldn't ever win killpoints. I'm not a big fan of 1850 point games but as it turned out with some luck all three of my scoring units came through and each held an objective marker by the end of the game. I think I would have won on victory points if it had gone to a tie breaker.

The first half of the game was very frustrating for me as my opponent made every single cover save. At one point my Hive Guard inflicted two pens and a glance on the Dreadnought but due to poor rolling I was only able to rip off its DCCW. As the game progressed though the dice began to average out and I then gained the upper hand. A lot of things had to go right for me - they did and I had some luck of my own as well.

I'm really liking the addition of the Hive Guard and Tfex as they are both quite capable of dealing with most mech. The Zoies did their job as well providing synapse and mobile cover for the Tyrant plus the blasts took their toll on the Grey Knights as well.

My two biggest concerns were the psyfleman and Stormraven as they both can cover a lot of ground. The Ymgarls did their job though bringing down the psyfleman and eventually the Tfex did a number on the Stormraven. I think my opponent's biggest mistake was his early focus on my Genestealer brood as the Broodlord easily survived the alpha strike and then held a SG ground objective marker... That was all I needed from them to be honest. My opponent was very confident up through the middle of the game and as a result waited too long to move forward his GKT - which cost him.

The game was mostly trading shots back and forth across the table - the Nidz came out on top believe it or not versus one of the better shooting armies in the game. What a surprise.

So have you had any games with Tyranids lately? How did it play out?
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