Saturday, April 3, 2010

1 April 2010, at the Warmonger Club in NYC

Opponent: Lee (Tyranids).  One of the competitive New York City Warmonger club’s young turks, Lee had just returned from Adepticon where he had placed third overall*.  He was testing out a new twist to his Tyranid list, a beautifully painted army that is still in the process of being fully updated to the new Codex.  The last time we had faced each other, my Slann (Tau Empire proxy list) had virtually wiped out his tyranid horde, only to lose the game due to Lee having cannily destroyed my Troops choices… albeit only my Troops choices… and ending the game with more objectives than I.

(*in Fantasy, Lee pointed out)

My List: (1850 pts)
  • Palatine with Book & Executioner, with x5 Celestians (2 Meltas) in Immolator with Smoke
  • 3x5 Celestians (2 Meltas) in Immolator with Smoke
  • 3x5 Adeptus Arbites (2 Meltas) with Shotguns, in Immolator with Smoke
  • 3x5 Dominions (2 Flamers) in Immolator with Smoke
  • Inducted Guard Platoon Command with 4 Flamers
  • 3x Inducted Guard Squads with Autocannon
Lee’s Army: (1850 pts)
  • Tyranid Prime
  • 3x3 Hive Guard
  • 2x Tyrannofexes, kitted out
  • 2x Tervigons, kitted out
  • 2x10 Termagants
  • 1x30 Hormagaunts
Mission: Spearhead (corner deployment) and Capture and Control (2 objectives, one in each deployment zone)

Terrain: Cityfight.  A large ruined building very nicely provided cover (and blocked some LOS) in the center of the table, and smaller ruins clustered in each of our corners also provided more (if sparse) cover for units in each deployment zone.  We each placed our objective far back in our corners, behind the furthest-most ruined building.

What happened?
Lee chose to set up first, and chose the corner that gave his units the most cover from my corner; he also made sure to give me the corner that would be hardest for vehicles to claim cover from directly (thus giving his Hive Guard the biggest benefit in the initial shooting phase), and yet with the most terrain blocking up movement (to make my initial “Rhino Rush” more difficult).  He placed one unit of Termagaunts on his objective, hidden behind a ruined building, and used the other unit of gaunts to screen all his other units, placed as far forward as possible.  The Bugs were going to rush me.

I set up my Immolators in two blocks, planning to go around each side of the center ruin, and deployed all my infantry Guardswomen on top of the objective, Autocannons at the ready.  Then I caused Lee some consternation by seizing the Initiative – which meant that I would not only have the chance to use Smoke Launchers (making his Hive Guard shooting less effective), but that the big “crunch” would occur in the middle of the table, rather than in my corner, and closer to my objective.  I even sniped one Hive Guard model with long-range Autocannon fire.

Lee then took a look at my advance: I had overweighted my Immolator rush on the left, with seven vehicles on that side.  He very sensibly shifted his entire army to his left (toward my right flank), which had ‘just’ three Immolators, and opened fire.  Despite all the smoke, with a little good fortune Lee managed to immobilize two Immolators and shake three more (so no flamer goodness for them!).

I responded by thinking that we were playing a casual game.  Silly me!  Lee (being the competitive full-contact gamer he was) was suddenly very, VERY precise with flamer template placement, with LOS, and with cover saves.  It turned out that he was mistaken with the last two of the three (hey, these things happen), but it was a bit of surprise for me to have to switch suddenly to “killer debate mode”.  Too, my units were not **quite** in an optimal position to do as well as they could.  As a result, I was able to kill only half a unit of Hormagaunts (rather than nearly all of them), wasn’t able to “herd” gaunts into a cluster as well as I had wished (as Lee was, shall we say, rather “competitive” about where he placed tank-shocked models), and had left a ‘hole’ in my vehicle wall that was almost an eighth of an inch too wide to actually protect the disembarked units behind the vehicle wall.

Welcome back to New York City, mate.

The rest of the game was rather predictable.  Although I was able to tie up a few units here and there for most of the rest of the game, I had overweighted my Immolator rush in the wrong direction (straight at all the Monstrous Creatures = bad idea), I had not really appreciated just how tough THREE units of Hive Guard could be, particularly when being buffed by nearby Tervigon models, and I most particularly wasn’t expecting to be playing quite so (shall we say) cut-throat a game.

However, Sisters of Battle are still extremely resilient, even when being mauled by a mass of Tyranids, and one thing Lee’s army was really lacking was a massive assault punch (rather, he had several punchy units that couldn’t easily take down lots of Faithful Sisters with 3+ Invulnerable saves).  I was ultimately able to chew up two units of Gaunts, the Tyranid Prime, and nearly all the Hive Guard (about 700 points of stuff), but in exchange lost pretty much everything except my Inducted Guardswomen (meaning over 1500 points of stuff).

Fortunately for me, eating the rest of my army meant that the Tyranids didn’t have the time (or speed) to get to my back lines, and the game ended in a draw, with my last four units (of Guard!) still sitting on one of the two objectives.

Turning the Tables
As noted above, I overweighted my Immolator rush in the wrong direction, and very badly underestimated how tough T6 critters with Feel No Pain can be.  I think my best bet in this game (even had I not stolen Initiative) would have been to deploy every vehicle unit just outside of 30” away from the Hive Guard on the right flank (as they only move 6”, and they have only a 24” range with their vehicle-killing, cover-(mostly)-ignoring gun), then rush every mobile vehicle in a single mass rather than splitting into two groups (popping smoke along the way).  This would have had the effect of basically fighting the same fight I did in this game 6 inches closer to my objective, but not only would my support fire have had better LOS, but I could have focused on killing:

(a) as many fast-moving things as possible, to prevent an easy Tyranid victory
(b) concentrating on killing Tervigons next
(c) going after the Tyranid objective third.

And given the terrain, fighting the “Big Mess” in “my” corner would have had the benefit of providing cover for most of my vehicles against the Tyrannofexes on Lee’s far flank.

I also should have been trying to go for Faithful Rending attacks in close combat, rather than Faithful Hammerhand (+2 Str) attacks, as statistically that’s a slightly better bet against T6 critters that have decent armor saves, but ultimately that’s something that wouldn’t have done anything except on the margins.

Obviously, being a bit more careful about ‘herding’ gaunts and more precise Vehicle walls would also have been more optimal.  But even in a more casual game, I still would have been badly bruised by Lee’s army, given how poorly I initially set up against the Hive Guard, and how poorly I rushed forward as well.

I’m hoping that Lee and I managed to patch up our differences over the rest of the game – particularly once I patiently pointed out to him exactly WHY he was coming off as such a (ahem) quintessential hyper-competitive New Yorker, and why that wasn’t actually such a good thing to be, **especially** in a competitive setting that has soft-scores.  Like nearly all of the tournaments he goes to play in, for example.  Like how it was real weird that he had (very clearly) chosen to wait until the shooting and assault phases to make his concern about my application of the rules known.  Like how that really was going to rub most people every possible kind of wrong way.

I tried to gently point out how (in particular!) it was going to look really shady if he was going to be (shall we say) hyper-precise about MY application of the rules, and then move/shoot/roll/assault/etc at very high speeds, use ‘shortcuts’ when shooting/assaulting without explaining or asking permission, and in several other ways act very “casually” about his own application of the self-same rules.  Like, you know, starting in the set-up phase before the game even began.

That arguing as hard and as rough as he did could easily make things much worse.  And that no, it didn’t matter if he was technically or effectively right or not (I had to explain that last thing several times).

Strange as it is for many New Yorkers to believe, not everyone in the rest of the country really appreciates that particular Big Apple flavor of social behavior.  Weird, I know.

Ah, well, in the future, I’ll just be sure to clarify just *how* hard-core someone at the Warmonger Club wants to play a game, before the game starts.  I really don’t blame Lee for this – it’s been a few years since I was a regular on club nights, and I definitely forgot how full-contact the competitive players in the Club can get.  Shoot, I used to be one of them.  No biggie, just something to remember for future reference.

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