A Science Fiction Miniatures Wargame

Home Page - Gaming - Warhammer 40,000 - Battle Reports - Battle Report #34

Battle Report 34 - What Hit Me?

Tyranids vs. Chaos Space Marines

Composed by Michael J. Casavant (Hive Fleet Phage)




All right, so Lars wanted to try out the new Chaos Space Marines Codex and I was burning out on the campaign games, so I took him up on the offer.

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".

The Battle

We rolled for the mission using the advanced mission selection thing in Chapter Approved. We got Bunker Assault. Lars chose Defender...no wait, make that Attacker (he realized that his ungodly amount of heavy weapons firepower would have to come in on reserve if he was Defender).

OK, so I am facing a list with a stupid amount of firepower, including two minimum size marine squads with max heavy weapons, Rhinos with Havoc missile launchers, a Predator, Obliterators, Havocs, and so on.

How about my list? Well, I have to bring my HS in on reserve and the whacky CA mission selection forces me to throw one of my HQ in reserve too since the standard org chart for the mission only allows the Defender one HQ. Yeah, right. It's not looking good for the mighty bugs!

It's Bunker Assault, so we line up. However, Bunker Assault does not provide any real incentive for the Attacker to actually assault the bunker. You might be able to guess what happened, but to help you out, here's a picture of the setup, in the middle of the furst turn (I forgot to take a picture).

All of the bugs on the board will be dead soon, along with some that have yet to arrive.

The great karmic wheel was grinding my army this time around. Lars's Preliminary Bombardment resulted in seven dead models and a pinned unit of Hormagaunts.

A single turn of weapons fire then proceeded to kill over a quarter of my army, which had yet to actually threaten a single model of Lars's army. After seeing one turn of firing and looking at the large number of models I had to kill, I predicted that I would lose.

Second turn repeat.

Third turn repeat.

By the fourth turn, it was pure comedy, so I just moved everything out of cover and raced towards him as fast as possible. This allowed him to whack all of my exposed monsters by the end of the game, which made him happy. Yes, I even threw Lightning right out in the middle so he could get gunned down; you see, Lars has this fetish about killing Lightning... :)

I managed to kill some things, but there really was never a chance.


Thanks to Lars for an amusing game. It did underscore the silliness of the Chapter Approved scenario setup, though. In all fairness, this was probably the height of silly. Most of the missions would have probably resulted in a more pitched battle and, oh yes, I will face his sissy chaos space marines again.

Thanks to my wife for bringing me great food and some iced tea so I could relax while I pushed bugs into the firestorm of Lars's army. It made it easier to laugh my butt off while my guys were slaughtered left and right.

Why did I lose?

  • Not enough terrain - I usually put down a reasonable amount of terrain, erring on the side of light and providing large open areas in the middle somewhere because that puts me at a disadvantage and most folks will be happy with that. We used the same terrain from my previous battle with a marine player. The funny thing is that Lars complained there was too much terrain and had said he was prepared to "blame the terrain when I [Lars] lose". Myself and the spectators thought he was nuts and he was ridiculed greatly when it was shown how useless the terrain ended up being. I think Lars will be reminded of his complaints for a while... :)
  • Missing key elements of my army - Lars had his entire army while I was missing all my HS and one HQ, which made up at least 3/4 of my effective Shooting. That setup might make for a balanced game, if the "Attacker", Lars, was actually rushing at me, since I am in Fortifications. However, if the "Attacker" sits in a corner and fires long range weaponry, then that breaks down in a bad way. I blame the mission setup for not giving the Attacker any real incentive to assault the bunker (there is a small VP bonus for destroying the bunker, but it is negligible and if you can get a clear line of sight, you can just shoot it from far away).
  • Goofing off - I fully admit that I was not really being very serious. This was my first game in a while where there was no signficance attached to winning as there is in the campaign I was playing. So I was just sort of recklessly rushing at Lars's guys. I could probably have played smarter, but I think it would most likely haver resulted in a slower loss. I was missing 3/4 of my relatively pathetic Shooting capabilities at the start of the game and with the wide open chunk of empty space I had to run across, it was just too easy for Lars to gun my guys down.
  • Almost ideal situation for the opponent - Lars chose a ton of heavy weapons specifically selected to kill Tyranids. The terrain supported it. The scenario supported it. The CA scenario selection further enabled it by putting an additional key unit in Reserve.

One lesson is that Chapter Approved is a double whammy. You not only get the restrictions on org chart inherent in the missions (other than Standard missions), you get the additional handicaps for the type of mission because the CA method puts the disallowed choices into Reserve. I greatly prefer one of two approaches:

  1. By the book - Pick a scenario type (e.g,. Standard vs. Battle), determine Attacker and Defender, make lists, set up the terrain, roll the specific mission randomly, and play!
  2. CA with the standard force org chart - Use CA selection as normal, but use the standard org chart regardless of mission.

Lars did play his army well, and he says it was fun just sitting there gunning everyone down. That is some consolation as I like it when my opponent enjoys the game. I should have pushed for more terrain and I think I will avoid the standard CA mission selection in the future.

The mission setups for Defender also work badly when the Defender is Tyranids and the Attacker is a shooting army (pretty much everyone but Tyranids and standard Orks). If I had been able to face him with my entire army from the start I would have been able to:

  • keep the entire army in Synapse and avoid that unfortunate pinning from the Preliminary Bombardment.
  • immediately endanger his heavily gunned vehicles
  • possibly overwhelm him with simultaneous numbers

Fundamentally, I think Tyranids should always be Attacker with the current missions. They just aren't written well for them as Defender.

Still, Lars had a good time shooting my army and now that my army has been solidly beaten, maybe folks will whine about my army a little less. I still had fun too, since it went from bad to comically bad within minutes. Even the dice were against me. Poor little old me...