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Battle Report 17 - Broken Spear

Tyranids vs. Red Talons

Composed by Michael J. Casavant (Hive Fleet Phage)


  • Date - 31JUL2002
  • Points - 1500
  • Scenario - Ambush! (rolled from Advanced Mission Selection, Chapter Approved)
  • Hive Fleet Phage, Tyranid Army List played by Michael J. Casavant]
  • Red Talons (Iron Hands Chapter Space Marines) [played by Lars Ericson]
  • Result - Minor Victory for Tyranids
    • VPs, Phage - 1152
    • VPs, Red Talons - 802.5 (One squad and damaged Rhino escaped, remnants of another squad survived)
  • Grand Tournament Scale (Victory Points Difference) - 349.5 = Minor Victory
    • 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!



Lars is gearing up for an RTT, so I broke my gaming hiatus to give his list a workout.

The dawn mists were just clearing as we pulled into the valley. Our mission was simple - drive hard and fast to flank the vile creatures of Hive Fleet Phage and disable one of their birthing vats to diminish their ability to replenish their numbers. But that was miles away still and Iron Father Damocles had come to a halt as he scanned the horizon. Everyone was on edge because he felt something coming and he was seldom mistaken.


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 tried to mimic an RTT setup and used a handful of terrain organized in a simplistic anti-symmetric fashion. We rolled for scenario and got Ambush. The Force Organization Charts had no effect on Lars, but they forced me to choose only one Heavy Support choice. I went with the Carnifex because he is generally more useful than the Biovores on average.

I rolled the 3+ for my units to start on the board (Ambush rules) and got 4 of my units. Sadly, neither of my long range multi-shot shooters, Thunder and Mjolnir, started on the board. Thankfully, Lightning did.

I did my Hidden Setup.

Lars set up a short convoy at the frontmost edge of his deployment zone, ready to speed to the escape route.

The Battle

Middle of Turn 1. The semi-swarm closes in. The only potentially effective shooting attack at this point is Lightning's Warp Blast, which missed (all but once this battle).


We detected a mine field ahead, a relic of a past IG operation. As we slowed to divert around it, we saw a mass of chitin from both sides of our position. The beasts had come to foil our spearhead.

Top of turn 2, Tyranid Assault phase. After being decimated by overlapping Flamers, the 4 Lysogaunts remaining from the brood of 21 assault and destroy a Rhino. Considering they only have Strength 4 and thus killed it on a Glancing hit, that's pretty amazingly lucky. Don't count on seeing that again any time soon...

We focused fire on the deadly Lysogaunts while they were still trapped outside our vehicles. One of the Rhino crews discovered the hard way that one cannot dismiss the threat of Lysogaunts even when protected by the steel skin of a Rhino.

Still in the Turn 2 Tyranid Assault phase. Lightning has engaged and killed the Venerable Dreadnought, Iron Father Damocles, and moved on to the normal Dreadnought. Lightning had some decent luck with that fight. He had three penetrating hits and two kills, but the Venerable Dreadnought can force rerolls. Luckily for me, one of the rerolls was still a kill. Of course, it was an explosion that killed some Spinegaunts at the same time, but what's new? :) Lightning killed off the normal Dreadnought this round and did a Sweeping Advance into the Rhino near the minefield.

The unholy terror that is Lightning sprang over a hill at least 4 meters high and 15 meters long as if it were simply an obstacle in a child's playground. With a blur of speed he tore into our honorable Iron Father, shattering his beautiful bionics and ending his glorious life. Undeterred, the creature glided forward to the other Dreadnought, but if Damocles could not stand up to the beast, then a lesser man certainly could not.

Top of Turn 3? Spinegaunts arrive from Reserve on turn 2 and scamper blissfully over my the almost finished temple I built from scratch.

Top of Turn 3, Tyranid Movement. The marines wisely fell back to cover. The Lysogaunts prepare to charge, as do the Spinegaunts that scamper over smoking wreckage.

Everywhere we looked, the beasts were sweeping over building and wreckage alike. They were a wave of foul chitinous death washing over the land.

Top of Turn 3, post Tyranid Assault phase.

The marines have roasted almost all of the Thymid Stealers, but Lightning is fighting beside them and he motivates them enough that they manage to destroy another Rhino.

Tyranids scamper over the wrecked remains of the Rhino and Dreadnoughts. The Marines have fallen back. The Spinegaunts decide to find new food while the Lysogaunts stay and fight. (I was not thinking about VP, and this was a mistake. Finishing off the squad would have been a much better idea.)

Three of our Rhinos raced toward a break in their lines, hoping to still complete the original mission.

Lars wisely makes for the border, shooting for the bonus VPs Ambush grants for units that make it off the board. One Rhino (not shown) has just made it off the board and his compatriots hope to do the same...

No such luck...

Top of Turn 5, Tyranid assault phase. The red Rhino finally gets popped after shrugging off two rounds of Venom Cannon volleys. This was pivotal as this Rhino's escape would have left Lars with more VPs and a solid Draw.

The Marines hop out and lay down an amazing blanket of firepower, though, and kill 17 of the 32 Spinegaunts nearby in one round of Shooting.

As we pulled away from the carnage, we saw the smoky plumes that spoke of the death of the other two Rhinos. Our comm sets told the tale of vivisection of our noble brothers.

Top of Turn 6, Tyranid Assault.

The swarms coalesce on the two leaders near them.

NOW the Bionics work!

Bottom of Turn 6? This poor fellow's bionics kicked in and he stood back up into a whirlwind of massive scything talons and fangs only to drop once more.

A-ha, now my Biovores have come in from reserve and will be able to fire soon...huh? It's over?


I fear all of our mightiest warriors fell. We made it to our objective, but we lacked the firepower to accomplish our mission. We lost our sergeant in the fight and I lost an arm. I look forward to the embrace of steel.


Good, close, and fun game. Thanks Lars!

If one more Bionics roll had succeeded (he got two, so don't feel too sorry :) ), one more Rhino had made it off the board, or Lightning taken one more wound, it would have been a Draw.

Actually, at one point I thought it was very much a losing proposition for me. Lars had a good army list for the fight, very mobile and very resistant to my list's anti-vehicle weapons (extra armor is the bane of a Venom Cannon). We talked about it and we concluded that he should have sped to the escape route quicker. Even the VPs for killing off the Lysogaunts would have been less than the bonus points for getting a full squad off the board.

Lessons Learned (and relearned)

  • Pay attention to VPs - it's easy to forget. Finish off units if you can. If not, then get them down to half strength. I was careless. It worked out fine this time, but it could easily cost you a victory. For example, If I had been a hair more careful

Tactics Developed

  • Ummm...in an Ambush against a fast list, deploy towards the forward end of the defenders.

Rules Questions & Clarifications

  • My monsters managed to get multiple "Crew Shaken" results on the red Rhino during Shooting, then during Assault they destroyed the vehicle. The unit hopped out of the wreckage and blazed away with their weapons. I think we might have done that wrong. If a unit in a transport gets a "Crew Shaken" they normally may not fire. What if they get a "Crew Shaken" and their transport vehicle is then immediately destroyed? I think they would still have to forego shooting because they are Shaken. However, I would feel better if I had a ruling on it.