A Science Fiction Miniatures Wargame

Home Page - Gaming - Warhammer 40,000 - Battle Reports - Battle Report #37

Battle Report 37 - A Moment's Hesitation

Tyranids vs. Black Templars (Space Marines)

Composed by Michael J. Casavant (Hive Fleet Phage)


  • Date - 27MAR2003
  • Points - 1830
  • Scenario - Lightning Strike (Custom Scenario)
  • Hive Fleet Phage, Tyranid Army List [played by Michael J. Casavant]
  • Black Templars [played by Greg Coffman]
  • Results - Victory for Hive Fleet Phage
    • VPs for Hive Fleet Phage 2070
      • Kills 1820 - Everything.
      • Mission 250 - Killed more than 1/2 of enemy but did not prevent targeted unit (Carnifex) from dying.
    • VPs for Malta Planetary Defense Force 670
      • Kills - Carnifex (153, doubled because of mission objective), 1/2 Tyrant Guard (45), 1/2 Lysogaunts (298x1/2), 1/2 Spinegaunts (170x1/2) * 2.
    • Quarters Tyranids - Tyranids 3, BT 0.



This is my second battle in the Midnight Comics GW League's Spring 2003 40k League.

Scenario: this was a custom mission called Lightning Strike. It was meant to represent a desperate suicide strike by the Attacker in an attempt to turn the tide of war (the faction I was in had been winning a lot). Because of other campaign dynamics, I would definitely be the Defender.

  • FOC Attacker (Black Templar) - 0 HQ, 1-3 Elite, 1-3 Fast Attack, 2-6 Troops, 1-3 Heavy Support
  • FOC Defender (Tyranids) - 1-2 HQ, 2-3 Elite, 0-2 Fast Attack, 2-6 Troops, 0-3 Heavy Support

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

Turn 0

The heavily muscled man that strolled confidently into the room looked oddly typical among the small throng of men. They were casually dressed for physical training, clothed only in sweat pants and sleeveless undershirts. Their clothing had the uniformity typical of the military. The were also uniformly radiant and healthy, all apparently in an almost ideal state of health and fitness. Thin matte-black plastic torso coatings peeked out from under their shirts, and occasional scars, bits of bionics, and ports for wetware electronics broke the surface of their skin, testing the illusion of health and vigor.

The new arrival barked to the men, "Fall in!"

They quickly responded and fell into an evenly spaced square of bodies.

"Prepare for instruction...move!"

The group raised their left arm and spread out until only their fingertips reached the shoulder of the next man. They dropped their arms, then every other row stepped sideways. The movements were carried out with almost inhuman synchronicity and grace, leaving a staggered formation of towering soldiers.


The soldiers relaxed somewhat from their stance and clasped their hands loosely behind their backs.

The man in front spoke loudly in a commanding voice, although it was swallowed hungrily by the large gothic training room. Huge sweeping arches, a vaulted, ceiling, and doorless entries all conspired to swallow his words before they could be heard.

He pointed a small device at one of the stained glass windows. It flickered slightly and shifted to a frozen image of a horde of Tyranids.

(Defender setup)
Here are my bugs crammed into a "huge" deployment zone (inside joke) with their obstacles (sometimes I wish they were optional).

The men gave little response except for a few adopting squinting expressions of attention or grim determination. Most of the men in this room had killed dozens of the creatures on the screen in hand-to-hand combat.

"Tyranids...bugs...whatever you call them, they are a blight on this universe and a unique opponent. I'm Captain Lenos and I am here to educate on this menace. It is your duty to learn everything you can about how to beat them and uphold the honor of the Black Templars."

From the back of the formation someone mumbles, "Kill 'em, clean off the goo, and move on."

Lenos barks a retort, "With that attitude you'll go from being a DAN, Dumb Ass Neophyte, to being another DANDY - Dumb Ass Neophyte, Dead Yesterday."

The formation stirs a bit but settles back into silence.

"That's better. Now, if the invincible Neophyte in the back can shut the hell up, we can examine how bugs managed to kill this entire unit of Black Templars, and maybe a few of you will live long enough to prove your worth and don the armor of an Initiate. Otherwise, we can conduct this briefing in the front leaning rest!" ["front leaning rest" is a military name for the start position for performing push-ups]

"Here's the tactical situation. In this military campaign, one of our units was losing ground fast to the Tyranid swarm known as Hive Fleet Phage. The commanders in charge decided to commit a large group to a high-risk raid on a pocket of bugs. There is no intelligence that explains why the bugs clustered so tightly and set themselves up to defend open ground like that, but our best guess is that perhaps there was a brood hive entrance or some other significant location invisible to our sensors."

(Overall setup)
The mission called for the Attacker to mark his units with overturned counters, then the Defender set up everything in his zone. Then the Attacker had a choice of taking the first turn normally, or taking a special Blitz Maneuver. The Blitz would allow him to fire all of his Heavy Support choices as stationary in the first turn, but nothing else could come on and in subsequent turns, the Heavy Support would have to make Reserve rolls to come onto the board. Greg wisely chose to forego that maneuver, given his army list.

"The BT force consisted of a Land Raider Crusader with a hybrid tactical squad composed of ten Initiates and five Neophytes, Sanglea squad. They approached from the south alongside St. Elmo squad, which was composed of nine Initiates in a Rhino.

"From the west, came a Dreadnought, Land Speeder and two reduced-size fire support squads, FS5 and FS6, with 6 marines apiece and two squad support weapons each.

"Finally, from the north, came a Whirlwind battery, Lazarus squad, five Terminators, and another fire support squad, FS4. Lazarus squad contained nine Initiates in a Rhino; they were joined by a Champion of the Emperor."

"Hoo-ah!" came a yell from one of the neophytes.

"Oh, so you wanna be a Champion, DAN? Well, that brings us to the main character in this little tragedy. I'll get to that soon enough."

"Simple enough, the separate elements arrived, perfectly coordinated, but a little close to the bugs for comfort. The Terminators' weapons were still spewing casings from taking shots at the wall of Spinegaunts in front of them when two dozen Lysogaunts raced around this rock outcropping and tore them to shreds. That's right kiddies, Terminators torn to pieces before they could strike down their foe in hand-to-hand combat. Never expect your armor to work miracles boys, that's the Emperor's domain.

"Anyway, FS4 got swept up into that mess and pretty soon it was hard to see them past the chitin. Here's a better shot from a recon drone."

(Turn 1 Tyranid Assault Phase)
The Terminator squad vanishes, along with a member of FS4, under a sea of claws (60 attacks will do that), and the Lysogaunts sweep into the remains of FS4. The Emperor's Champion and Lazarus squad watch calmly from their Rhino.

"The western detachment was still not engaged in close combat, but the southern detachment took a hit. You see, my fresh-faced young DANs, you should never underestimate the enemy or their ability at warcraft. Here we see the alien Hive Mind coordinating an attack on St. Elmo squad. The Lictor advances on the vehicle while the Hormagaunts surround it. The Lictor pops the Rhino, and most of the squad is cut down as it tries to get out of the burning wreck.

"Any of you DANs out there that end up driving your squad's vehicle, pay attention. One brief moment of indecision, and you may cost the lives of a whole squad. Control your encounters. Don't let the alien determine the location or nature of the battle."

Lenos stops and smiles. "Sounds good on paper doesn't it? Truth is, when the battle is joined, there will be more bugs than you expected and they will be faster than you expected. Either way, try not to let this happen."

Lenos zooms in on St. Elmo Squad's battle.

(Turn 1 Tyranid Assault Phase)
A gamble pays off - the Lictor pops the Rhino while the Hormagaunts block most of the exits, and 5 of the 9-man squad are killed by the explosion.
Note: the vehicle was in the big empty spot. The explosion slung it into the trees.

"All right, so let's zoom back out and continue with the lesson. Ah, yes, there at the bottom right you will see the Land Speeder has been downed. Off to the right, you can't really see it from this angle, but one of the Crusaders bolter sponsons has been destroyed by the Carnifex. I cannot emphasize this enough, the Tyranid's Venom Cannon IS A VIABLE THREAT TO ARMOR! It's no Lascannon, but it WILL ruin a tank's day, especially if it's carried by a Carnifex; and Speeders are fast, but they still can't outrun a high velocity round."

(Start of turn 2)

"All right, let's start with the south this time. St. Elmo fights valiantly, but the Lictor and Hormagaunts take the rest of them down and shift towards the rest of the battle. Sanglea squad pulls up in the Crusader and launches an assault against one of the huge Spinegaunt squads. They inflict heavy casualties, then a dozen Gargoyles hop over the southern copse of trees and a trio of Warriors slip through the western cluster of trees to join the fight and the tide turns back towards the bugs.

"No matter how blessed you THINK you are, three broods of bugs will be hard to beat with a single squad. Always keep the counter assault units in mind when you make your move."

"All right, on the west flank, FS 6 was under attack from the Lysogaunts and FS 5 was getting buried under Spinegaunts. The whirlwind was in a steady position and firing at targets of opportunity."

"Here we can see the Dreadnought firing another salvo into the Carnifex and assaulting him. This disoriented the beast making it easy to finish him off...but remember that comment I made about counter assault? Yeah, there they are, the Hive Tyrant, Thunder, and his guard sweep in, immobilize him with a Venom Cannon shot and BOOM, smoking sarcophagus. To his credit, he was carrying out his mission. HQ had specifically targeted the Carnifex for destruction, probably because he's the biggest threat to an LRC."

"Lazarus squad and the EC advance slowly. I'm not sure why they held back, but EC's are often blessed with a greater...awareness than us lowly faithful servants."

Some of the Neophytes looked nervously at each other, but none was willing to endorse or denounce Lenos's irreverence. There were rumors that Lenos did not think highly of the Champions of the Emperor, but none of the Neophytes knew why.

"The winged Hive Tyrant, Lightning, can be seen crossing back towards the LRC. See that ripple in the air passing over the LRC? That isn't heat boys, that's a Warp Blast. It'll tear a tank in half like tissue paper. I've seen it shred half a tac squad in the blink of an eye. It's not the same thing as the filthy Psykers wield, but it's just as good a reason to wipe them out."

(Start of turn 3)

"OK, pay close attention. Things move fast here on out. The Crusader stands and delivers fire to the bugs. Sanglea squad puts up a heroic fight, but is taken out of action, along with FS5. FS6 continues to exchange blows with their Spinegaunts. The EC leads Lazarus squad towards Lightning and they disembark, ready for the assault. Then he hesitates..."

[OK, what really happened is that for the first time ever, the Hive Tyrant's power "the Horror" actually had an effect. If someone tries to assault a Hive Tyrant, they have to make a Leadership test. If they fail, they can't assault the Hive Tyrant or anyone else that phase. The EC was leading the unit, so they benefited from his Leadership of 9. Greg rolled...a 9. However, Lightning also has the psychic power Psychic Scream, which subtracts 1 from the Leadership value of models within 12". So the Horror actually kicked in. However, the Black Templars are pretty gung ho suicidal religious nutsos, so I figure it would be more of a confusion effect than a fear effect, or at least that's what the BTs would say. :) ]

"That moment of pause is all the bugs needed. As you can see, the Lysogaunts pounced on them from one side and the Gargoyles pulled up on their other flank, while the Warriors rush the Rhino and try to take it out. The Rhino remained unscathed, but our fellow brothers were not so fortunate and most of them fell in the initial charge.

"The Crusader gets a lot of attention as Lightning flies over to assault it, the Lictor pulls up behind it, and Thunder unloads his Venom Cannon on it. Thunder gets lucky and the Crusader gets taken out of commission."

(Start of turn 4)

"And here we see the Black Sword fall." [The Black Sword is the weapon wielded by the Emperor's Champion]

Lenos lowers his head in silence. The Neophytes follow suit. After about ten seconds, Lenos continues.

"The Hormagaunts spread out, probably to secure the battlefield. The Rhino from Lazarus squad performs a strategic withdrawal, but Lazarus squad falls and the Gargoyles race after the Rhino. They flank it, it is immobilized by weapons fire, and then they rush in and take it out of action with bio-plasma."

"Meanwhile FS6 is still holding fast and Lightning advances on the Whirlwind battery."

(Start of turn 5)

"Lightning's Warp Blast finally makes contact and the Whirlwind shatters."

(Start of turn 6)

"And then the last man falls."

(End of turn 6 and end of game)

"And now we will meditate on this in formation for the next hour. Any who fall will renew their righteous zeal by spending the night helping the Thought Priests transcribe their holy tomes."