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Battle Report 13 - True Heroes

Tyranids vs. Space Marines (Iron Hands)

Composed by Michael J. Casavant (Hive Fleet Phage)


  • Date - 01JAN2002
  • Points - 1500
  • Scenario - Rearguard
  • Hive Fleet Phage, Tyranid Army List played by Michael J. Casavant]
  • Red Talons Chapter - Iron Hands Space Marines [played by Lars Ericson]
  • Result - Victory for Space Marines
    • Losses - Phage: One Spinegaunt brood, one Gargoyle brood.
    • Losses - Red Talons: 3 Land Speeder Units, Razorback, Rhino, 1/2 Tac Marine squad x 3 (?), Predator Annihilator lost its turret.
  • Grand Tournament Scale (Victory Points Difference) - N/A.
    • 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!

Report (also see Lars' Battle Report)


For the first time in my experience, I am finally getting to try out the way the book suggests battles are selected - Pick the scenario type, pick Attacker/Defender, show up and roll randomly for the mission.


Naming convention: 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 alike has been dubbed "Lightning." They have also named the Carnifex engine of destruction, "Mjolnir."

We chose the buildings to work like woods normally do. Using Cityfight rules instead may sound reasonable, but Cityfight rules were designed to make a game playable in, well, a city fight, and they don't translate well outside of that milieu.

The terrain was challenging. There were only two useful pieces that blocked LOS, the large buildings/woods and they were large enough to be problematic for flying (or jump pack) units to fly over.

There was some uncertainty on how to play with the Hidden Setup in terms of rolling for mines and booby traps. Rearguard requires the Defender to split his army into two forces and he randomly gets one of these forces. Since Rearguard only allows the Defender to take half of his list, the question is - does he get to place Hidden Setup markers for the whole list? I said no because of the wording in the scneario - "The units in the other force are not used in this battle." However, it's never that easy. Hidden Setup reads "When using Hidden Set-up you will need a hidden set-up marker for every unit in your force (including those in reserve or not starting on the tabletop for some other reason)." My rationale was that the scenario wording takes precedence. We are effectively playing a game in which the other half of the Defender's force does not exist, whereas the Hidden Set-up refers to starting on the board or not. I feel the parenthetical statement is to cover unusual cases, like Lictors, for example, which neither start on the board nor in Reserves. I wanted to be a good sport so I decided to be generous and let Lars have all of the markers. It had a dramatic effect. Instead of zero extra markers, we had a half dozen. Lars called GW and hashed it out over the phone later and, yes, the Defender only gets markers for the force used in the battle. Good to know for next time.

OK, so no good deed goes unpunished, right? Well, as luck would have it. Lars proceeded to roll and all of the markers that were uselessly off to the side and rear were not used, but there were three CONTINUOUS strips of minefields in front of the Defender's position. Oh my goodness...that pretty much defined the game for me.

Minefields (refresher) - any unit that moves over the mine field rolls and on a 4+ is hit with a Strength 6 hit that allows a normal save. Statistically, that means most of my broods would lose half their numbers just moving over them. So I did not. I probably just should have cried havoc and rampaged over the mines anyway, but oh well, hindsight is 20/20 and all that. How many dead 'nids does it take to deplete a section of minefield? We may never know. :)

Lars did a good job setting up. I realized in hindsight that I should have questioned something on Hidden Set-up. There was a Rhino at the edge of some cover that did not block LOS, lichen that represented some sort of low lying cover, like bushes. The Hidden Set-up rule requires that the vehicle be positioned in such a way that it is hidden, as in LOS is blocked in some way, not simply behind any cover or counting as hull down. Ah well, live and learn. On to the carnage!

The Battle

I went around the minefield and charged right at him. Did you get that the first time? I know, it's pretty complex.

Sorry, no pictures, I forgot my camera and Lars did not have one. :b

Lars has a diagram in his Battle Report.


The game ended somewhat prematurely at the end of turn 5. With the large swath of bonus minefields, I would have had to be lucky to inflict enough casualties to win by Turn 6. I would have needed at least Turn 7 to have a good chance of winning.

Basically, the minefields kicked my army's chitinous tush. I gambled on more turns and cirumvented the huge valley o' mines, and rolled snake eyes. Also, the list I took was not well set up to deal with the number of vehicles and dreads he ended up having. Oh, to just have had one less minefield. Well I was being such a good sport, no sense ruining it now by whining. Viva la Red Talons! :)

Important note: Although this game was not very tactically challenging games I have played, it was one of the most enjoyable. There was very little bickering about stuff and the game went smoothly and quickly, in spite of Hidden Set-up. Most of that is attributed to Lars and I trying to proactively identify rules we found confusing or potentially contentious before the game started.

Lars did a great job of setting his men up. His mines were placed well, and he used cover extremely well. Curse him! :)

Lessons Learned (and relearned)

  • The standard formula for arranging battles is pretty nice. You get a chance to try more specialized forces
  • I changed too much of my list. I ended up with little vehicle/Dreadnought killing capability and I should have expected at least two or three vehicles even with half of a Space Marines army fielded by Lars. I was actually feverish at the time I composed my list, so I blame an altered reality. :)
  • Hidden Set-up
    • The Defender only gets markers for units involved in the battle
    • Vehicles must be hidden not just in cover or hull down
  • Yes, my suspicions were correct - Lictors pretty much suck unless you have a special mission that greatly benefits from their special abilities. There are two scenarios that I could see them being useful in:
    1. The enemy is forced (or strongly encouraged) by victory conditions to move through/near cover outside of their deployment zone.
    2. You are trying to bypass Sentries without raising an alarm. Of course, Litcors can't infiltrate, so they have to trudge across the field and engage the Sentry while the rest of the army hangs back. Not necessarily a good thing. In Sabotage, for example, you really don't have the time, as the game turns start as soon as the Attacker begins advancing onto the board.

Tactics Developed

  • None. There was nothing really clever to do here. I ran at a bunch of stationary Space Marines hiding in cover.

Rules Questions & Clarifications

  • You only get Hidden Setup markers for units used in the battle that do not start on the board. So for Rearguard, only for the force portion that is used.
  • Hidden Vehicles - I contend that the vehicle cannot simply be hulldown.