Monday, October 19, 2015

Campaign Battle Report: Blood Angels vs Tyranids

I kicked off our campaign with a 1,000 point game against Tyranids. I took the following list, organized as an Allied Detachment.

Captain w/ artificer armor, inferno pistol, power weapon, jump pack

10 Death Company w/ jump packs, 2 power fists

10 Tactical marines w/ combi-flamer, flamer, heavy flamer, Rhino

10 Assault Marines w/ veteran sergeant, power fist, 2 meltaguns

5 Devastators w/ 4 missile launchers

I was trying to a fluffy, well-rounded list, and the Allied Detachment kind of forces you to. My opponent had a more open list, as we agreed it was more fluffy for Tyranids.





Children of Liani (Cryptus)

8 Genestealers w/ Broodlord, toxin sacs

8 Genestealers

Sporefield: 3 Mucolid Spores, 3 units of 3 Spore Mines

Brother-Captain Michele Castigon was beginning to regret his decision to lead this patrol himself. He had been chafing in the Blood Angels' defensive role preparing for the incoming invasion. Reports of creatures moving in the underhive had given him an excuse to take the offensive. He had taken his strike force's Death Company as well, as the unbalanced Marines were becoming a liability with no battle to vent their rage. 

However, the tight constraints and darkness of the underhive weren't optimal for the force that he'd brought, and Squad Razak's Rhino floundered in the rough terrain. He was about to order the force to return to their base when a scuttling shape in the darkness caught his eye. Moments later, reports rang out on the vox, as multi-limbed shapes began moving into view all around the patrol.

Brother-Captain Castigon keyed his vox to the command frequency, relaying his message to the rest of his Company on the surface.

"There are Tyranids in the underhive. Send reinforcements immediately."

We set up the table to be a battle in the underhive, with the Blood Angels investigating suspicious activity that could interfere with the defense of the planet. Because it was the underhive, we left Night Fight in effect for the whole game. The mission was Crusade, with Dawn of War deployment.

The Tyranids got to deploy first, but they were all Infiltrating or Deep Striking, so I went first. I deployed centrally, with my jump squads on either flank, and the Devastators and Tacticals in the center. My Captain rolled Hero of the Imperium for his Warlord trait, which would be handy for preventing pinning from the Broodlords' psychic powers.

Then Tyranids, infiltrated in, with most of their forces to my right, and a single Mucolid spore on my right, fairly close to the Death Company because it was out of line of sight. Deathleaper chose to stalk my Devastator Sergeant, lowering his leadership by 2.

The Mucolid sneaking up on the Death Company

The Genestealers and Mines dominate my right flank.

Turn 1
I failed to seize the initiative, and the Tyranids rushed forward. The Broodlord in the center of the table pinned my Devastators with his psychic power. This really limited my options.

I moved to counter the closing noose of Tyranids. My Death Company jumped forward, but fired on the Mucolid Spore, doing 2 wounds but not killing it. The Rhino drove forward and killed 2 of the spore mines advancing in the center, while my combat squadded Assault squad and Captain converged on the central squad of Genestealers. I lost one Assault Marine to dangerous terrain, then gunned a couple Genestealers down with bolt pistols and charged in. Unfortunately, one of the combat squads failed a 2" charge into difficult terrain, leaving the Captain, Sergeant, and 3 marines to take on the whole squad. The Broodlord challenged the Captain and wounded him twice, but the Captain killed him in reply. The other Genestealers killed all of the standard Marines, leaving the Sergeant to crush 2 Genestealers. I won the combat but the Genestealers handily passed their leadership test.

The Captain leads his squad in, while the other combat squad thinks better of assaulting Genestealers.
Only the heavily wounded Captain and Sergeant survived, but the Broodlord is dead.
Turn 2
The Tyranids continue their advance, and Deathleaper and two Lictors deep striking near my Devastators. The Mucolid Spore assaulted my Death Company. I was really hoping to kill it with overwatch, but I didn't score any hits and it proceeded to explode and kill 4 Death Company. Another squad of Genestealers assaulted my Captain and Sergeant. They tore apart my Assault Sergeant, but the Captain survived their attacks and killed 3. One of the Genestealer squads fell back, but my Captain was locked with the other squad and couldn't pursue.

That gap between the Death Company used to have 4 more marines in it.
The Captain stands alone against a sea of claws, and manages to drive some of them off.
I tried to set up a counter assault during my turn, with the tardy Assault squad charging in to help their Captain, the Death Company moving to charge a Lictor, and the Tactical squads disembarking to flame the Lictors.  The Assault squad killed a Genestealer with their hammer of wrath hits, but then were all torn apart before they could attack. Once again, the Captain stood alone.

The Assault Marines charge in...
...but don't do much.

I lost a Death Company Marine to dangerous terrain, and they failed another 2" charge, leaving them in the open. The Tactical combat squads each inflicted one wound on a Lictor, while the Devastators blow up a Mucolid Spore.

Turn 3
The last Lictor, as well as another Mucolid Spore deep struck on my right (the Sporefield Formation means that there's a chance that any dead spores can deep strike back onto the table). The fleeing Genestealers rally and move forward a little. The surviving Broodlord pins my Tactical squad with heavy flamer. Death Leapers and two Lictors fire their flesh hooks and then charge into my Tactical squads, but don't cause much damage. Genestealers charge the Death Company, killin 3. However, the Death Company strike back and win the combat, wiping out the Genestealers in a sweeping advance. The Captain finally falls under the claws of the Spawn of Liani.

The Lictors engage the Tactical Marines with little bloodshed.

But the combat between the Death Company and Genestealers is vicious.
I was running out of options. My Rhino tried to run away, but immobilized itself. The Devastators fired frag missiles at the Children of Liani, but scattered wildly, inflicting hits on that squad, the other Genestealer squad, and some spore mines. They didn't do much, as the Genestealers made excellent use of cover. The Death Company charged in to help the Tactical Marines, killing a Lictor. Death Leaper used Hit and Run to abandon the combat and head toward his true prey, the Devastator Sergeant.

The Death Company charge in to help the Tactical Marines.
Turn 4
Another Mucolid deep struck next to the building the Devastators were in, while the Devastators were assaulted by a Lictor from the left and Death Leaper from the right. A lucky krak missile killed the Lictor as it charged, but Death Leaper challenged the Devastator Sergeant. Neither managed to do any damage. The Mucolid Spore that landed last turn charged into one of my Tactical squads, exploding and annihilating them. The Children of Liani charged my Rhino and tore it to pieces. My surviving Tactical squad finally managed to club the Lictor facing them to death, and consolidated back toward the Devastators. The Blood Angels were struggling to hold their last building against the tide of Tyranids.

My turn was limited to the Death Company charging in to help the Devastators. Death Leaper killed the Sergeant, but was in turn crushed by the power fist wielding Death Company.

Turn 5
There wasn't much left for the Tyranids to do except mop up. The Mucolid Spore that arrived last turn charged the Death Company and blew them both up, along with a Devastator, while the Children of Liani charged the Tactical squad, wiping them out.

The Death Company celebrate killing Death Leaper, unaware of the Mucolid Spore scuttling toward them.

My Devastators fired on the Children of Liani, but the missiles impacted harmlessly on the walls of the building.

Turn 6
The Children of Liani charged the Devastators and wiped them out.

The Blood Angels reinforcements arrived moments too late. Tactical and Assault marines swarmed through the ruins, bolters scanning for targets. Chaplain Ligouri led the relief force, which hadn't seen any Tyranids clearly. Scratching sounds proceeded the Astartes advance, as the Tyranids stayed out of sight of the larger force. 

The force came upon the defeated Blood Angels just after they had fallen. Tactical Marines established a perimeter while Sanguinary Priests checked for survivors and stabilized those that had fall into a sus-an coma. 

"I found the Brother-Captain," shouted Sanguinary Priest Raphael. "He still lives!"

"Thank the Angel," responded Ligouri. "Get the survivors on transports and extract the Emperor's due from the dead." He wanted to get the survivors to safety as soon as possible, but he couldn't couldn't risk splitting his force. The underhive was not a safe place now, even for Astartes.  

Lessons Learned:
1) I was playing a jump pack heavy Blood Angels army against an army that I didn't want to assault. Even so, I think it would have gone much better if I had been able to make my initial charges. Failing two out of three important charges in my first two turns (each requiring only that I roll a 4) really took the initiative from me and robbed me of a lot of attacks that I really needed.

2) I needed to be more decisive with my Tactical squad. Instead of moving the Rhino combat speed so that I could flame unimportant units, I should have moved straight for the much more important and vulnerable Genestealers. I feel like I really wasted them, and their flamers should have been the most dangerous thing in this battle.

3) Mucolid Spores are nasty! I've never seen them used before. Sure they're pretty easy to kill, but they require a whole unit to shoot at them, distracting shots from the other Tyranids. If you don't kill them (and with 3 wounds, they can easily absorb a few bolter shots), they'll destroy whatever squad they hit. The ability of the Sporefield to let them deep strike back onto the table after they die allows the Tyranids to really keep up the pressure, while the Lictors allow them to land right next to enemy units.

Overall, I feel like I'm re-learning how to play Blood Angels. I've been playing the Executioners for a long time, and I really miss the firepower and the reach that they have. The Blood Angels definitely have the advantage in speed and assault power, but I'm still remembering how to use it.  

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