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Battle Report 6 - Tyranids vs. Space Marines

Composed by Michael J. Casavant (Hive Fleet Phage)


  • Date - 26AUG2001
  • Points - 1700
  • Scenario - Patrol
  • Tyranid Army List - Hive Fleet Phage
  • Red Talons Space Marines [played by Lars Ericson]
  • Result - Minor Victory for Space Marines
    • Tyranid losses (919) - Spinegaunts x 2 (total) 340, Lysogaunts (total) 298, Carnifex (total) 137, Genestealers x 2 (both half) 144
    • Space Marines (574) - Commander Stillgrave [Killed] = 133, Dreadnought w/ Heavy Bolters [Destroyed] = 115, Dreadnought w/ Plasma Cannon [Damaged] = 62.5, Tactical Squad Alpha w/ Heavy Bolter [Damaged]= 85.5, Tactical Squad Alpha Rhino [Damaged] = 25, Land Speeder [Damaged] = 25, Predator Annihilator [Damaged] = 128.
    • Scenario points - None.
    • Total points - 919-574 = 345 points in the Space Marines' favor.
  • Grand Tournament Scale (Victory Points Difference)
    • 0-299 Victory Points = Draw - neither side holds the upper hand.
    • 300-599 Victory Points = Minor Victory - You have won the battle, but only just!
    • 600-1,199 Victory Points = Solid Victory - You have decisively defeated your foe!
    • 1,200+ Victory Points = Massacre - You have ruthlessly crushed your foes!


My Opponent's (Lars) Summary

My Red Talon Marines (codex: marines) faced off against Michael's Tyranid swarm in a 1700 pt Patrol mission. The marines were victorious after 7 turns with a VP margin of around 400. The scenario ended up being notably slanted in the marine's favor since I won the die roll off and was able to choose starting corners that forced the tyranids to move across large portions of open ground in the center or along the opposing long side or maneuver through denser forests along the opposite short side. Basically, the marines were able to place enough firepower to cut down assaulting broods before their assault could be very damaging. The larger monsters didn't make it into assault until the 5th turn for 1 hive tyrant and the 7th turn for the other hive tyrant. Plus, Michael had below average luck on vehicle effect rolls and shooting. In the end, there was about 2/3 of the marine army, but most of the tyranids broods had been cut down and the carnifex had been felled by lascannon and sniper fire. I enjoyed the game and I think Michael did. I know we both learned a lot from the game, which is a definite plus.

Credit where credit is due

First and foremost, my opponent, Lars, gets a lot of credit for not piling his Marines into Rhinos and running away when he had a chance. Granted, it worked out for him in the end, but he did not know that it would and he risked a draw to give me an enjoyable game. Yay Lars! :)

The Patrol scenario horribly sucks for my army and I think the karmic wheel finally came around and smacked my Hive Tyrant's backside.


The food that have faced Hive Fleet Phage have named the Hive Tyrants that continue to plague them. The one that trudges forward implacably with an escort of Tyrant Guard they call "Thunder." The swift winged beast that races across the battlefield and shatters bodies and vehicles with its mind they have dubbed "Lightning." They have also named the Carnifex engine of destruction, "Mjolnir."

Oh man, Patrol is a Tyranids' nightmare! The terrain setup was tough on me, but I have to point out a third party set up the terrain.

See Turn 1 Picture

Turn 1

Battle report of Lieutenant Folsom, Rhino Transport Squadron, Red Talons Chapter. This report details their attempts to salvage the Emperor's resources after the fall of the Ultramarines stationed at planet Shannek.

Primary Mission: Intercept and delay enemy until call to withdraw sounded by escaping convoy commander.

Emperor be praised! We located and prevented those damn bugs from intercepting the convoy! Only the vehicles and crews survived. <Sigh> Yes Commander Stillgrave fell in the battle, but he died valiantly facing down that thirce-damned creature that the men have come to call Lightning.

Well, we started the game with one measly Troops choice on the board. Lars chose Tactical Squad Delta (ML, Flamer) and I chose a brood of Spinegaunts. My rationale was that they were expendable, so what the heck. It was a calculated risk since Instinctive Behavior might take them off the table. I should think about it some more before I am faced with a similar choice.

I thought it might be clever of me to try going second for some reason, so I did. I crawled down the board edge.

No Turn 1 end Picture

Turn 2

The hordes arrived piecemeal and it was then that we knew the Emperor was blessing our battle. If they arrived in small numbers we had a very real chance of weakening them before they could bring their claws to bear on us. One of the Hive Tyrants, the one the men call Thunder, smashed through the trees with his vile bodyguard.

Lars and I rolled a little below average on getting our Reserves in. Lars got Tactical Squad Alpha (HB, Flamer) w/ Rhino, Land Speeder Squadron, and Predator Annihilator. I got one unit of Genestealers and Thunder, my walking Hive Tyrant with Tyrant Guard bodyguard.

The Marines blazed away at my Spinegaunts, whittling the horde by five little ones.

Turn 3

More appeared in the trees, but again, Emperor be praised, they were far enough away for us to use our fields of fire to weaken them for the kill. The battle looked as though it might be a massacre for them as their units lacked the speed to engage us. We saw a Mjolnir-classs Carnifex in the tree line, but we were ready to deal with that threat.

Lars and I rolled a little better on Reserves and he got Commander Stillgrave, Dreadnought I (TL HB, HF), Dreadnought II (PC, HF), Tactical Squad Beta (ML, PR) W/ Rhino & Vet. Sgt., Tactical Squad Gamma (LC, PR), and Scout Squad (Sniper Rifle x8, HB). I got my other unit of Genestealers, my other unit of Spinegaunts, my Carnifex (Mjolnir), and my flying Hive Tyrant (Lightning).

Now in range of a lot of weapons, my leading Spinegaunts took a lot more fire and where chopped down to 15 from their original 32. Good thing I had them in Synapse range by then.

By some miracle, they happened to get into range for an assault and I took the chance.


Turn 4

Then we saw the new mutaant leaping Gaunts, the ones the the Magos Biologis call Lysogaunts, crest a hill. Weapons fire rained down on them, but not much, as many of the men and Commander Stillgrave were now locked in melee with the fragile Spinegaunts. They finished off the Spinegaunts quickly as the next wave skittered over the hill.

Final Reserves arrive. Lars got his Whirlwind. I finally got my Lysogaunts and Ripper Swarms.

This was where I made a big mistake, IMO. I split the army to take advantage of cover and I should not have. It prolonged the life of my Carnifex, but it probably hurt my chances overall as the forces were too fragmented to overwhelm the Red Talons in time. Add to this the slightly longer distance to cover before getting into Assault range and it becomes a big mistake. Lesson learned (I hope).

Turn 5

The world blurred as the swarm descended, but the gratifying shrieks of the beasts filled our souls wiht grim joy. The monsters among them advanced implacably, but the men roared in triumph as the huge beast we call Mjolnir finally fell to a sniper's round that punched through a hole previously made by volleys of lascannon fire. It was a beautiful shot. Those boys might have made it out alive. They haven't reported in yet, but Scouts keep their own schedule, eh?

So the rat fink known as Lars killed off my poor little Carnifex. What a bully! :)

My Lysogaunts finally got into the darn fight, and I got to kill some guys off! My Biovores and Venom Cannons continued to be nigh useless, although one of the speeder was damaged.

Yeah, it's blurry. Deal with it!

Turn 6

The radio call came in to continue the delaying tactic and we stood and delivered in the name of his most holy and righteous Emperor.

Woo-hoo, another turn! I get to kill more stuff now that I finally have some dangerous guys in close combat!

You call that a Dreanought? BOOM!

My VC Hive Tyrant strides forth implacably...

Mmm, Marine Commanders are so well seasoned. :-)

At the far end of the field, Lars is unpleasantly surprised as some Genestealers eke out an Assault.

Turn 7

Again, the call came to delay the horde and our men stood valiantly. Commander Stillgrave was dead, having been torn asunder by the fiendish beast called Lightning. But our sergeants took up command without missing a beat and we stood our ground proudly. The sergeants called for the vehicles to pull back and we obeyed although we wanted to stay in the thick of the battle. Finally, teh call came to withdraw, but by then only the vehicles and the Scouts were able to pull back. The defiant roars of our brethren filled our comms as we rejoined the column.

Finally, a dangerous amount of tough guys are in the fight and all of his Tactical Marines are engaged in close combat. There is a glimmer of hope for a draw! But that died when the game ended on Turn 8. Oh well, I was lucky to have that much time to kill stuff.


You want some punk? Genestealer's gonna smack you down! [Not really, but it sounds tough.]

Ah yeah, Thunder is finally in the fight!

Oh man, Lightning is just super cool in hand to hand combat. Yeah, I lost, but this part was fun. :-)


Frankenstein says: Patrol bad! Arghh!

Lars knows the game and his army. I am glad to have had any chance to do this well. He should probably have had a much more embarassing victory than he did.

Lessons Learned

  • Remember VPs! - I was beaten by my disregard for Victory Points as much as anything in this battle. I should have focused more on delivering casualties in a more concentrated fashion. Instead I killed off a couple of individual troopers here and there for no VPs.
  • Swarm! - I should have just brought everything but the Biovores in through the closest point on the board, where the initial squad was placed, rather than trying to advance through cover. And actually, there were enough rocks that the same entry point might have worked for the Biovores too. That would have improved my chance to overwhelm and take out more squads rather than inflicting scattered hits. It might have also encouraged him to rush up to take out my Biovores since they would be tantalizingly close to him.
  • Advance! - I was too cautious with my Carnifex and walking Hive Tyrant. I should have kept advancing every single turn.
  • Decide! - I need to think about what unit I should take first for the next time I get a mission like this.

Tactics Developed

  • When a Dreadnought is in assault range of a unit that cannot possibly affect it, be sure to take shooting casualties from the models nearest the Dreadnought to deprive it of the charge.
  • The Assault rules talk about engaging enemies with assault range. We played it that it did not matter which unit you declared as the assault target, you still had to engage all closest enemy units within range first. I need to confirm this...not exactly, you have a little more choice than that. See the Correction/Clarification #1.

Rules Questions & Clarifications

  • Correction/clarification #1 - The Assault rules talk about engaging enemies with assault range. We played it that it did not matter which unit you declared as the assault target, you still had to engage all closest enemy units within range first. I need to confirm this. The Tactica Assault Part 1 in the White Dwarf sheds some light on this, "Direction of assault bears some mentioning. There is no requirement to engage the nearest unit or goa particular direction in an Assault phase. If there are several possible targets that you feel are within range, you can go in any direction you like, but you cannot simply scatter willy nilly to the winds and attack in all directions of the compass. Your entire unit should travel in the same direction and in a specific line of assault toward the enemy unit or units you wish to attack. I've found that thinking of the direction of assault as being like a fallback corridor pointed at the enemy unit(s) you wish to assault is really helpful. Move your unit in a column or bery slightly widening funnel engaging models within that corridor as you reach them, and you've got it right." [Mike Major, White Dwarf 257, pg. 28] So this means you do not necessarily attacak the nearest enemy model if it is not in the general direction of your assault, but it does confirm that if you cannot go around a unit in assault (which was never really in question).
  • Correction/clarification #2 - Using the same general definition as the above, if an enemy is an enemy in Assaulting, then that was true in the Drawn Combat crush in as well, so you can crush in to an enemy model of another, as-of-yet unengaged unit during crush in. This one I have no real feel for. Normally, you can Consolidate into an enemy and sweep them up into combat, but after reading the Main Rules and Assault Tactica, I get a sense that it really is both sides crushing in and so the 6"move has to be into enemy units already involved in the fight. In the end, I would probably go with crushing into already engaged enemies without further rulings.
  • Correction/clarification #3 - When a Hive Tyrant starts the game with Tyrant Guard can he still target a different unit than his Tyrant Guard? This is not an easy one. However, with lots of reading I am convinced for now that Tyranid Monstrous Creatures are effectively Super Independent. Also, it's something of a moot point as you can simply have the Hive Tyrant leave and rejoin his Tyrant Guard immediately for those that nitpick at teh word "joined". The rationale for questioning this at all was because the Codex talks about TMCs shooting "at a different target to the unit they have joined." Marine players whose HQs lose their IC status when they take a retinue take issue with this, but it is clear that such a metric does not apply to a HT as he can leave his bodyguard unlike Marine HQ guys. Hence, the notion that you could leave and then re-join, which leads right to the notion that you should probably always have had the ability and a HT that starts the game with a Tyrant Guard is merely already joined to them.
    Since then, I have had two different answers from GW one lame one that generically refers to the Codex, and another that specifically says that the HT can always shoot something different.
    In the end, I am thoroughly convinced that the HT should always be able to shoot a different target. If someone wants to be picky, then I will just have him leave and rejoin immediately at the start of my turn.
  • Correction/clarification #4 - What happens when Instinctive Behavior results in a Fallback result but there is no Synapse Creaure on the board? This one is easy, it's in the Codex. "If none [no Synapse creatures] are on the tabletop, the brood will fall back towards the Tyranid player's closest table edge."