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Battle Report 20 - Blood Makes the Grass Grow

Tyranids vs. Emperor's Wrath Space Marines

Composed by Michael J. Casavant (Hive Fleet Phage)


  • Date - 15AUG2002
  • Points - 1500
  • Scenario - Recon (rolled from Advanced Mission Selection, Chapter Approved)
  • Hive Fleet Phage, Tyranid Army List played by Michael J. Casavant]
  • Emperor's Wrath Space Marines [played by Robert Appelt]
  • Result - Tyranid Victory
    • VPs, Hive Fleet Phage - 1500 kills (+1300ish for mission bonus, not counted in campaign)
    • VPs, Emperor's Wrath - 240 kills
    • Campaign points
      • Hive Fleet Phage 10 (3 win, 3 kills, 3 survive, 1 sub plot)
      • Emperor's Wrath 1 (1 lose)



This was my third game in the Midnight Comics & Games GW League. In this battle, I will face a veteran of 40k, Robert Malladus, winner of multiple RTT prizes and veteran of about ten times as many games as me. Wish me luck...

Pre-battle fluff, part 1: "Arrival"

For the record, the wicked imperial guys in this fluff are not representative of any of the other armies in the league.

The young boy tugged at the woman's coveralls. "Look mummy, it's an airplane, up in the sky."

The woman turned off the agri-skimmer. Here inside the small walled city they had begun to plant the seeds of a self-sustaining colony. She thought, "The sooner, the better. The damned marines that had been sent to 'protect' them, Toggenhaller's Black Wings, were a cure that was worse than the disease. Curfews, confiscations, and unexplained religious counseling sessions from which many did not return. As for the rumors of darker deeds, I just can't think about that now. If they are true. Oh God, don't let them be true. I have to push it out of my mind. Crops and sturdy walls mean independence, I have to finish. Have to finish. Oh, Jacob."

She looked up to see what Jacob had been talking about. It was a strange looking airship. It almost looked like a flying creature. A standard Marine skimmer, she had learned to recognize by sight, was in pursuit. The creature's form came to a dead stop in mid-air and reversed it's course, slicing back with a massive blade-like arm. The skimmer was ripped in two and the smoking remains fell to the thick wooded hill south of the town.

She looked back down, lost in thought, "Where have I seen that before?"

The boy tugged at her coveralls again, "Mummy! Look, it's jus' like the birdy on the paper!"

She scowled at the distraction. This seemed really important. Dammit! What was it?

"Mommy! The birdy on the paper!"

Sounds came from outside the walls. The crackling of the perimeter fence which heralded another barbecued critter on this hostile world, was cut suddenly short. That did not make sense. Nothing was tough enough to short that thing out. Had Smitty ripped her off? She waited for the traps to be triggered, but no sounds came. Everything was dead quiet. She thought, "They always go for the bait in the traps. Always."

"The birdy on the paper!"

"Quiet Jacob!" she whispered harshly. The silence continued. She couldn't remember the last time there was so little noise from the beasts that thrived just outside. Then a new sound came, a chittering, like a hundred small mulchers. And then clicking, like crabs toppling over one another in that nature show she had watched about Holy Terra.

"The birdy!"

Exasperated and tense, she grabbed up her hunting rifle from the agri-skimmer and looked down to give her son the attention he craved. "What!"

The yell cowed and frightened him. Tears welled up and fell down his cheeks, creating little mudslides on his grimy face. She felt a pang of guilt and whipped her best maternal smile as she knelt down to look at the paper he proffered.

It was a leaflet from the Marine lackey that has stopped by, something about alien menaces. "Right, alien menaces, anything to take our minds off them raping our colony."

Jacob looked confused as she spoke her thoughts.

"Nothing honey. Let's see what you have here." Her eyes darted over the page and were drawn to the silhouette described as "Hive Fleet, Tyrant Genus, Type B".

"Look mommy, armored puppies!"

Fear gripped her as she looked up. The sounds had ebbed again and she raised her head, gripping her rifle as if the action pumped the very blood in her veins. She could hear her pulse in her ears, feel every drop of sweat on her skin, and she looked up. Scores of armored fiends from her childhood nightmares stood there in a horrific wall of chitin and teeth. One cocked its head sideways at her like a person trying to recall an old friend's face. She just stood there, dumbfounded. Then they came.

Like a wave of terrible grace, they slid smoothly down the walls and galloped at her. She cocked the rifle with the speed of a veteran hunter and drew a bead on a beast. She fired and hit dead on. It's eye exploded, but it kept coming. She cocked again, and fired once more, one dropped and two others rent it to shreds as they passed. Still the wall came. She cocked the gun and aimed at another. One more shot before they were on her. She aimed at the fuel cells of the agri-skimmer and fired. The tank exploded as if in slow motion. She felt the odd full body punch of concussion slam into her and crush her bones. At least it would be a quick death.

Pre-Battle Fluff, Part 2: "Straw Marines"

Inquisitor Follon's grim facade broke into tight-lipped speech as his gravely bass voice rolled across the tactical operation center, "What am I looking at Captain?"

"Inquisitor, we have reports of complaints from the civilians of gross misconduct from our personnel in Grid Zeta Tau. There has also been anomalous communications traffic." The captain had begun to perspire visibly.

Follon's voice rose slightly in volume, trading gravel for power, "Anomalous? Vague words are the herald of heresy. Speak clearly lest you obstruct the inquisition."

The Captain snapped to attention, looking straight ahead. He had not felt such intimidation since his days in the academy. "Sir!"


"Y-yes, Inquisitor! We have had communications blackouts and also intercepted indecipherable signals directed to unoccupied regions of the sector."



"Video! Now!"

The captain saluted and nodded anxiously towards his comm officer. The young lieutenant looked harried. He had been trying to glean more information from the electronic surveillance nets in Zeta Tau for the last 36 hours. It had to work and it had to work now.

The lieutenant spoke the tech prayers of his training and spliced the wires together. There was a spark. He prayed for the God-Emperor's mercy...and his prayers were answered. The bank of twenty video screens shifted from snow to various locations of the firebase at Zeta Tau.

"Look!" The Lieutenant pointed to a man in a marine's uniform sans power armor. His head was overly large and misshapen, strangely hairless. His eyes were too big and his teeth...they weren't human. "Chaos cultists!"

The inquisitor spoke steadily and calmly, his voice demanded obeisance. "Cultists yes, but of a different taint. Those are the wretched souls touched by the Genestealer taint. This explains the shadow in the warp. This explains the reports of a hive ship. Launch the missiles. The taint threatens the entire world. Quickly!"

The fire control officers did not wait for confirmation from the captain. They slotted their golden weapons keys, hastily said the prayers of holy technological purification and launched the missiles to deliver their cleansing fire to Zeta Tau.

The few minutes of flight time seemed to take hours. The marines watched the screens in tense horror as they saw the depredation of their fallen comrades. Their decadence rivaled that of the Slaaneshi, but it was too brutal. The creatures that mockingly wore their uniforms committed their atrocities in a violent and mindless fashion. They were sowing terror and chaos at the behest of another.

The Captain spoke up, "Why missiles sir, er Inquisitor? Why not cleanse them with our sinew and steel?"

"Your illumination will come soon. Suffice to say, your righteous fury will be needed elsewhere, now be silent."

As the soft red blips traced the course of the missiles, one of the strange half-human creatures walked closer to the camera. A long forked tongue flickered in the wind as he paused, cocked his head, and then ran off camera again.

The radar operator blurted out, "Togenhaller's Black Wings. There was always something off about them. Faithless dogs."

The Inquisitor added, "Yes, one of the units I was sent to investigate. Most of their number had been killed in combat with The Fallen. The tactic priests could not explain the magnitude of the loss until they considered betrayal."

All eyes looked away from the screens and towards the Inquisitor. They were like deer in headlights. They wanted to stop what was about to happen, the words that were about to hit them, but they could only stand there in shock.

"The bulk of the survivors were in league with The Fallen. They were hoping to set up a fifth column among the righteous. The Emperor is not fooled so easily. They were placed here as a garrison unit until an Inquisitor could be called. I only regret I did not arrive sooner, but there is so much corruption and taint and so few up to the task." With that, he flicked a look toward the Lieutenant that had spoken up earlier.

The eyes of those assembled returned to the screens. They somberly and reluctantly accepted the Inquisitor's words. Too little solace was derived from knowing that these fiends were corrupted from the start. Witnessing their cleansing was necessary now.

More minutes passed. It was agony. The fiends on their screens were befouling their uniforms and their honor. Anxiety turned to outrage. All of the men in the room were fidgeting and cursing, eager for the release of battle.

The Lieutenant let his thoughts accidentally take voice. "It's too calculated, something's wrong."

The Inquisitor smiled, "Really? Go on marine."

"Well, they're staging it. It's not voracious beasts run amok. It's like terror troops trying to draw attention...like a straw man...a distraction!"

The Inquisitor's grim facade returned. "Exactly, notify all stations to prepare for attack! Mobilize the faithful! The Emperor will guide our hand as we repel the alien taint! We are the sword of God! We are his vengeance! Move move move!"

The men smiled grimly as they snatched up their bolters, the familiar weight of their instruments of holy might reassuring them as they raced out of the doors with superhuman grace and speed. As the last men exited the command center, the Inquisitor called out one last encouragement, "Go with the Emperor!" as he laid a hand on the shoulder of the Lieutenant to stop him.

The Lieutenant pulled off his helmet and looked up at the Inquisitor quizzically.

"You will walk a different path in the service of the Emperor now. Your intuition will serve the Inquisition."

The Lieutenant began to protest, but his discipline stifled the response and he simply came to attention and saluted. "Service is my honor."

The pair walked in the opposite direction of the marines. The Lieutenant could hear his battle brothers mobilizing and preparing for the combat to come and it tore at him that he would be absent when they cleansed this planet of the alien taint.

"Fear not, young apprentice, we have a greater glory to attain. We must identify the threat of the Black Crusade."

Some cool fluff from my opponent (some at the bottom too):

As he watched the Librarian, Brother Icuras saw him pause and look up at the night sky. Looking to see what interested the Codicifier he caught a glimpse of a falling star.

"They have arrived", the Codicifier spoke, his voice harsh from the heat of combat.

"I sensed their presence, it is like a dulling of the Astronomicon that causes its crystal tones to become distorted and dull. I felt them when we first came into the sector and now they have come to this world."

"Who?" asked Icuras.

"Tyranids, like a plague they come seeking to devour all in their path."

"It is truly the Emperor's Will then that we came to this world."

"Yes Bother Icuras, it is truly His Will that guided us here. Go and notify the veteran brothers that I wish to speak with them."

As the assault marine moved off searching for the veterans in the surrounding jungle, Theod continued to look up into the sky.

"I know you are here now, the harvest is at hand, but the crop may not be what you think."


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".

I contacted the league coordinator and set in motion a sub plot to create a Hiveworld on one of the planets, Rynn's World. I chose it because it's the most hostile and full of things to eat. The special rules for Rynn's World are twofold:

  1. Army may only take 0-1 vehicle choices
  2. Any difficult terrain movement rolls that result in a '1' cause D6 hits at D6 Strength, as native predators attack. (Note: this means if you roll 2d6 for DT and get 1 and 1, not just rolling a single '1' on either die)

So I need to fight battles against Imperial foes (Marines, Sisters of Battle, Imperial Guard) to secure the planet. If they get a certain number of points, they can secure the planet against infestation.

Setup (sort of, I remembered to snap this after Robert moved a few units).

Jonas hunched down in his tree step. He was camouflaged and waiting to bag a few local predators for supper when he heard a rustling. He looked in the direction of the sound, but saw nothing. No, wait. There was something...something wrong. The backdrop of trees and undergrowth shuddered slightly like waves of hot air distorting light above a desert road.

The snapping of branches sounded like it was done by something heavy. An invisible tree? Jonas's eyes went wide. That small tree was no tree at all. It was some sort of creature. He had not seen its like before, but the planet was still newly discovered. The thing was carefully moving forward in the general direction of his position. The government had finally sent their bioengineered assassins to kill him. He knew it! He knew too much, the conspiracy was real!

Jonas's paranoid hopes were dashed as the alien beast ignored him and continued. He looked north and saw groups of tactical marines moving in a bounding overwatch patrol formation. They were using battle language and moving quietly, but the creature had obviously pegged their position. Jonas glanced south and was forced to do a double take as close to a hundred huge alien creatures came through the trees.

"Tyranids" he whispered in awe to himself. He bundled the shadowbark poncho around his body and held still, hoping he would be a spectator and not a victim.

The Battle

Turn 1

Setup (sort of, I remembered to snap this after Robert moved a few units).

I thought I'd be clever and give the Marines the first turn.

After letting the Marines decimate a score of Gaunts, I got a chance to move up.

I revealed my Lictor (green guy in bottom right trees)

The weapon systems of the Marines barked to life, unleashing a firestorm on the advancing horde. Jonas refrained from cheering as nearly a score of the Gaunts were cut down by the might of the Marines guns.

Turn 2

Getting shot some more.

Getting shot some more.

The Hive Tyrant and Tyrant Guard join the fray with the Lictor. They kill off all but two Marines, who flee and some bad rolls stopped both units from pursuing.

Hot death continued to rain down on the bugs as dozens of the creatures' bodies littered the field. The rest just kept coming, oblivious to the fates of their fellows. The beasts slid smoothly along the ground, their pairs of legs pulling them through the dense undergrowth. Their torsos bobbed smoothly from side-to-side as carnage rained down from the Marines. But they just kept coming. Jonas hadn't seen anything like them in all of his years of hunting.

The beast beneath him had shifted enough to become visible and a brave unit of Marines charged the creature. They did not manage to down the beast, which lay mostly out of reach of the initial charge. A trio of explosions caught Jonas's attention and he looked back only to see the last of the bike squad dying under the mighty talons of a Hive Tyrant and the numerous claws of some assault Gaunts. A unit of the small shooting Gaunts had actually made it far enough to charge the Marines behind Jonas's copse of woods.

Turn 3

Marines weapon fire picks off a Tyrant Guard. The Genestealers manage to avoid taking wounds from a few shots. The far squads of Marines start heading for the other side of the board to secure Victory Points.

Lightning and Mjolnir take off to intercept the units heading for the Tyranid deployment zone. The Lysogaunts race into the back of the squads at the bottom right.

The Lictor engages and finishes off the last two men from the squad that fled from him (probably should have just let them fall off the board).

The Hive Tyrant and Tyrant Guard charge into a squad as well

Things went from iffy to ugly real fast. Suddenly marines were dying left and right. Their screams as their bodies were dismembered were overshadowed only by bellowing battle cries of defiance from those that still stood. Man those guys were hard chargers, but it looked like soon it was just going to be Jonas and the bugs. Jonas hunkered down and tried to do his best impression of a tree.

Turn 4


The far marines turn and shoot everything at Lightning and Mjolnir to no effect. The Whirlwind and Dreadnought are stunned and immobilized, respectively, at this point.

The near squads take a lot of losses and some start to fall back, some right off the board.


Lightning catches the Devastator Squad and starts tearing them up fast.

The Lictor jumps into the assaults as well as the Genestealers (just a couple make it).

The Librarian goes down and all but two marines fall back.

The Biovores finally get their act together and kill the Whirlwind.

The big winged guy leapt across the field and slammed into the heavy weapon guys. Poor fellas weren't rigged for the close-in fighting and that big beastie really tore them up. It reminded him of Luke. Poor fella walked right into a nest of spinerunners. He was dead before he hit the ground and we buried an empty coffin cause we couldn't even find pieces of him.

Man, that Librarian was a holy terror. Easily a score of Gaunts were tearing at him. His armor must have deflected almost a dozen attacks, but finally one of them tore off a shoulder pad and severed his arm. A second followed up, striking down and into the Librarian's torso through the bloody shoulder socket. So many bugs...

BOOM. A plume of smoke arose from over the hill, telling Jonas that the Whirlwind was down. It was looking bad. A couple of Marines pulled out, but Emperor help them trying to get back to base alive on this hellish planet.

Turn 5


With only a handful of shooty marines left facing off against Lightning and Mjolnir, the Whirlwind destroyed, the Dreadnought immobilized and out of reach of the assaults in progress, and four more assault phase to go, Robert declared the remaining few models dead and a Tyranid win.

And in the blink of an eye it was all over. The field was quiet except for the rustling and clicking of the bugs forming up a few dozen meters away. Some of the Marines had made it off the field, so the information about this action would get passed along. Jonas watched to make sure the chameleon creature was somewhere other than where he was, then he rubbed more natural scent on him and stealthily climbed down to the ground. A few quick knife strokes and his kin would be eating fried gaunt tonight. Well, at least fear of the future would not have the companion of hunger.

Cool closing fluff from Robert (the Marine player):

Codicifier Theod stood on the bridge of the Destroyer Cloacina as it pulled out of orbit from the spinning green orb that was Rynn's World. The bile rising in his throat at the thought of abandoning the world to the Tyranids, but orders were orders. The anger was even more so at the thought that almost half a company of marines had been lost as well with no chance of avenging their loss. The Emperor's Will was to be obeyed though, they had come to this sector seeking kroot and that mission was to be followed first and for most. He did have the pleasure though of launching the Exterminatus beacons as the Cloacina began to make for the edge of the system. Soon the fleet would return to this accursed world and it would be cleansed in the searing heat of its own molten core as its surface was burned away by the planet killers of the Chapter's fleet.

Theod steeled himself for the upcoming jump to Tarn Vedra, he always dreaded the travel trough the Warp and the horrors that he experienced because of his attunement to its energies. There was always a reward though, a promise of more aliens to destroy at the end of each voyage. The scout ships had reported making contact with the Kroot warsphere whose forces they had been hunting on Rynn's World. They were sited in the system of Tarn Vedra along with a fleet of Tau cruisers and transport. The prey was gathering in one spot, as if willed there by the Emperor so that they could be dealt a mighty blow.

As the crew made final preparations for the jump and began their hushed prayers and incantations a monotone metallic voice repeated itself over the communications channels,








It was a tough planet and a tough mission for Robert. The combination of Rynn's World and Recon was hard for his army. I contend that the dice had a lot to do with the result as well. A few more good Shooting attacks against my bugs would have made a significant difference.

Lessons Learned (and relearned)

  • The new assault rules really help speed things up. I am still concerned about the effect of special weapons that can no longer be targeted, but I'll have to wait and see how that plays out.

Tactics Developed

  • With the new assault rules, the Marines have invisible Powerfists, meaning that you cannot specifically kill those units. This is true even with models that are described as having the ability to target a specific model in close combat as those rules are now apparently overridden. However, all is not lost. The special weapons still need to be in base-to-base. On the initial charge, you can assault the normal guy with your expensive unit and the really tough special weapon guys with your fodder, assuming you want to protect him...

Rules Questions & Clarifications

  • Blast Template placement - I had always thought you had to reposition the template before any rolls for partial hits or such were resolved, but Robert understands it to be that you can wait for that roll then you are only constrained by the actual hits scored and can reposition the template. I need to check on that.