Friday, July 21, 2017

New Edition, New Army - Hive Fleet Bakunawa

It's been quite a while since I indulged in a new army. My Imperial Knights were my last foray into a new faction but I decided that the release of 8th edition was a good excuse to start another. I've always wanted a Tyranid army from the first game of 40K I ever witnessed where they clashed with Space Wolves. Our friend Scott started a Tyranid army though and therefore I felt there was no need to start one of my own. Scott hasn't played 40K in several years and they've been missing from our games. Of the factions that Matt and I don't own, Tyranids are the one that stands out to me.

They're totally different to any of the other factions. If nothing else the absence of anything even resembling a vehicle is appealing. All of the other races are anthropomorphic be they robot people, fish people or pointy eared people. I suppose Daemons aren't very human but I've said before that I'm really not a fan. Tyranids offer me a chance to try something completely different. What's put me off in the past is, to be honest, their mediocre rules. When they have been competitive it's been through mono-builds where certain units must be taken to succeed. Most recently it was a pile of FMCs and that just didn't appeal to me.

The new edition has opened up some possibilities though. I'm not naive enough to think I won't gravitate towards the stronger units but I do think there's a wider range of viable builds than there has been before.

Anyway, long story short, when I picked up my 8th edition rulebook I also bought a Tyranid Swarm and Start Collecting box. I'd toyed with the idea of just buying Scott's army from him but, whilst he's done an excellent job of the Leviathan scheme, I just don't feel any sense of ownership. I'd much rather paint up my own army whilst using his to get used to how they play.

This brought me to a decision: what colour scheme should I go with? Of the established Hive Fleets I think Leviathan probably is my favourite and I've already ruled that out. None of the others really appeal. That means something new. Part of the reason I don't want to paint Leviathan is I'm going to be painting up more Drukhari/Dark Eldar soon and they'll be purple. That made me look at my collection:

  • Wolves - blue/grey
  • T'au - blue/grey (what was I thinking? - suppose at the time white would've been difficult without an airbrush)
  • Orks - red (bits of yellow)
  • Dark Angels - green/light stone
  • Imperial Knights - orange (and would paint Ryza Ad Mech if it came to it)
So what's left? I don't have any yellow armies but I've recently started painting my BB Orcs yellow. Can't imagine doing a full 40K army. Don't have any totally black armies but then there's Ravenwing to consider in my DA. That basically leaves pink! 

I've long been a believer that Tyranids look best with carapace in a darker colour than flesh but in the spirit of trying something new I decided to do the opposite. I built up a hormagaunt from the swam box to try some ideas out on: 

This was my first attempt. What you see here is Mechanicus Standard Grey, Nuln Oil and a Dawnstone Drybrush. The carapace gets Screamer Pink, Pink Horror, Emperor's Children and then a thick outline of Fulgrim Pink (Edge paint). The claws are then painted back in with Abaddon Black and an 'Ardcoat finish. 

I wasn't quite happy though so I built up a second gaunt. This time I tried out drybrushing before the wash to avoid it looking as powdery. I also went for a line highlight of Fulgrim Pink:


I still felt it needed more though so I added a blue highlight to the claws before applying the 'Ardcoat. I also took the opportunity to paint in the teeth and tongue. I went with blue for the tongue too.



I like the blue on the claws but I'm considering changing the tongue to bright green. The reason being it'll look better on some of the larger monsters when it comes to doing tentacles and gaping maws. I finished off the second model with basing to see how the scheme looks:


Apologies for the poor picture but I think you get the idea. I'm pretty happy with how this turned out. There's still a couple of issues though. My aim was to come up with a scheme that didn't take much effort so I could get through all the gaunts pretty quickly. The Mechanicus Standard Grey can be applied with an airbrush (or possibly a can of the stuff) and then it's just drybrush and wash for the skin. The panels are a bit of a pain because they take three different pinks to build up from the black. The line highlights definitely look neater but they're time consuming and I'll get sick of them pretty quickly when I'm painting the 80 gaunts you get in the swarm box. Maybe feathering the colour will work better. Paint the panels up to Pink Horror then do feathered highlights of Emperor's Children and Fulgrim Pink.

Finally, I need to decide how the weapons will be painted on both the termagants and the bigger monsters. Therefore I've built and sprayed a couple of termagants (1 devourer, 1 fleshborer). That'll give me a good opportunity to test more ideas out.

It may seem pretty excessive to spend so much time testing things out but I want to get this scheme right from the start so I'm not halfway through painting my army when I decide I don't like it. Once the termagants are complete I'll try out the Carnifex from the swarm box to test the scheme on a bigger monster. The key is to find a scheme I like the look of but is also quick and easy to paint. 

There's a reason I've not been blogging much recently. I've done plenty of hobby. I also filled all of the gaunt bases with basing beads:

This will hopefully prevent the falling forwards that the gaunts are wont to do. I've also built up this little fella:


I'm hoping to get him basecoated with the airbrush tomorrow (well today when you read this). By working on several projects at once, I'm not as likely to get burnt out on any one of them. I'll also be returning to my scenery (yeah, yeah, I know). 

Right, that'll do for today. I'll post again once I've made more progress. 

Wednesday, July 12, 2017

More 8th Edition Battles - Tyranids Galore!

More games of 8th edition today and this time with Dan. We've played with and against each other during the big games we've had at various times but this is the first time we've met up for a gaming session between the two of us. Insane really because Dan lives closer to me than anyone else I game with!! Anyway, Dan hadn't played 8th yet so we started off with a couple of 1K kill point games before ramping it up to 2K for a grand finale. Dan was playing Tyranids in all three games but with wildly different lists to try out as much as possible.

Before I go any further I just notice that this is post number 701! Shame I didn't notice before the last post but still that's an insane number considering how many words that must be in total!! Imagine what I could've achieved if I'd put that time into painting instead of blogging! Actually, probably better not to think about that.

Game One - Wolves vs. Tyranids
I had a mostly infantry list consisting of blood claws, wulfen skyclaws, long fangs and a ven dread. Wanted to test out a few things basically. First up how missile launchers perform in 8th and secondly how viable dreadnoughts actually are without a pod. Dan had Old One Eye, a couple of fexes, a tervigon with a blob of gaunts (20 devourer, 10 fleshborer - cunning!) and two squads of 'stealers.

I got the first turn and charged forward trying to stay far enough away to avoid a charge but not so far that I wouldn't get to charge in my turn. Needless to say I completely misjudged this. The carnifexes couldn't make it into combat but Old One Eye was able to get stuck into the dread and his monstrous scything talons made short work of the dread with the 3 damage per hit. The 'stealers covered a lot of ground with their advance then charge and easily wiped out the skyclaws with a few rending hits.

The wulfen then charged into Old One Eye but couldn't quite kill him before the fexes and 'stealers joined in. The blood claws waded into combat with the termagants but couldn't kill enough to stop the tervigon simply replacing them. Meanwhile the long fangs couldn't bring down the tervigon fast enough which meant the gaunts held up the blood claws long enough for the 'stealers to join in and seal their fate. When all the combats had been resolved Dan had achieved a tabling with his first game of the new edition.

Game Two - T'au vs. Tyranids
This is my first game with T'au in this edition and I thought I'd try out a mix of things that will probably make it into my larger lists. I'd got kroot, a strike team in a 'fish, Longstrike and another hammerhead and a twin-missile/flamer crisis team. Dan had two squads of 5 warriors each accompanied by a prime, 5 zoanthropes, 2 pyrovores and more 'stealers!

The Tau first turn was pretty ineffective with just one warrior dying. It was clear it would be slow progress using the Hammerheads to take them down one at a time. I forgot to bring my suits in on turn one too! The Tyranid shooting was effective in removing the kroot (thanks to morale) and then made short work of the pathfinders. Meanwhile the fire warriors disembarked and made short work of the 'stealers on the right and then a warrior unit with help from their 'fish. The crisis team appeared and easily wiped out some 'stealers on the left. The zoanthropes weren't bad but simply couldn't do enough damage to the hammerheads quick enough.

When the crisis team also dealt with the rest of the warriors (having survived combat and fallen back to do so) we decided it wasn't worth carrying on as the T'au would eventually be victorious but it wouldn't be a lot of fun getting to that point. One game a piece then heading into the grand finale.

Game Three - Drukhari (DE) vs. Tyranids
My Drukhari had been pretty underwhelming in my game against Matt's IK and Leman Russes. I'd changed my list up a bit but tried not to go too OTT as Dan was still getting to grips with 8th. The main difference was ditching the haywire blasters on the scourges in favour of regular blasters (although I've yet to convert them) and generally increasing the amount of darklight weaponry in the list. I'd got a raider with grotesques, an archon and Urien, three venoms with warriors, three ravagers, a razorwing jetfighters, a unit of scourges and two 3-man reaver squads. Dan had Swarmy with some tyrant guard, a blob of devourer termagants, a blob of hormagaunts and a broodlord. He then had two trygons and a trygon prime in reserve who would bring up a couple of 17-strong genestealer units (the only unit Dan featured in every list and for good reason). We played Retrieval Mission to keep things simple.

Dan should've gone first but I managed to Seize. I brought down the Scourges and Dan realised too late that he'd left the broodlord exposed on his left flank. He quickly succumbed to blaster fire despite Dan attempting a command re-roll of his invulnerable save. Meanwhile the rest of the army focused in on the Swarmlord and managed to kill off the tyrant guard and lay in a couple of wounds on the big guy. The flyer also killed off a hive guard.




Dan brought in all three of his tunnelling trygons. This was made difficult by how spread out my army was which severely limited his options for deployment. Only one Trygon out of three (and neither genestealer unit) managed the 9" charge and Dan needed a command re-roll to get that! It made short work of a ravager though. The scourges glory was shortlived as the devourer termagants cut them to ribbons. The hormagaunts ripped through the grotesques' raider but Swarmy was left impotent as a result. He piled into the grotesques but couldn't strike. The grotesques then cut through plenty of hormagaunts. The trygons and genestealers were left in a vulnerable position and the ravagers simply backed off to finish off a trygon whilst the reavers, venoms and kabalites worked on the stealers. With no synapse they took further losses to morale too. The reavers charged in and finished them off.

The trygon prime headed forward now and killed a raider and consolidated into the occupants. It wasn't looking great for the Tyranids at this point with just Swarmy, two depleted units of gaunts, the trygon prime and two hive guard left. It got even worse when I decided my best option was to fall back out of the combat with Swarmy and with the Prime. This proved fatal for Swarmy who was cut down by the vemons and ravagers. The gaunts took heavy casualties and found themselves out of synapse meaning they quickly vanished thanks to the razorwing. One of the ravagers also managed to line up for shots on the hive guard who were then charged by the remaining arena champion from the reavers who finished the last one off.

That left the trygon prime all on his own against the vast majority of the Drukhari army. When he failed to down a ravager it was clear the beast wouldn't get long to regret it and we finished the evening as we started, a tabling!

Conclusion
There's no doubt the first game would've been totally different if I'd held back. The long fangs would've got a couple of turns worth of shooting into the tervigon before the gaunts got into range. Equally the speed of the genestealers would've meant that they'd hit first and be dealt with before the carnifexes would get involved. Still, it isn't very wolfy to stand back and shoot and it made for a dramatic game that was over quickly and gave us enough time to get three in.

I think Dan was expecting Orks in the second game so he'd intentionally not brought big monsters to the party. That proved frustrating for Longstrike who was forced into taking out a single warrior per turn rather than inflicting more dramatic damage on a big monster. Still, the single shot from the railguns doesn't feel particularly effective and I think you'd need to use Longstrike to make it even close to viable. Not writing them off after just one game but still, not blown away.

Pathfinders are interesting. Markerlights are quite different now but a single hit is a nice bonus. With everything being able to split fire, a unit of Pathfinders can get you a marker hit on several different enemy units. The markers aren't spent anymore either and nothing says a unit can't benefit from its own markers now (unless I've missed something). It isn't really worth getting 2-3 hits either and cover isn't what it was so 4 hits are barely worth it. Getting 5 hits would be nice but you'd need 10 pathfinders (on average) to get this. Basically think of them as the equivalent of some characters in other armies. Light up as many units as you can with just a single hit.

Having plenty of darklight weaponry is definitely the way to go with Drukhari. Ravagers are pretty much a must-have and I really liked the flyer too. I thought it'd be pretty tricky to use as you can't fly it off the board and have to start it on the table now. However, with no more fire arcs (and therefore the opportunity to fire backwards) it was really easy to both keep it on the board and keep it firing. Flyers are going to be excellent even if they're now easier to hit.

Speaking of things that can fly. In both the Drukhari game and the T'au game it was abundantly clear that being able to fall back and still shoot with the FLY keyword is huge. Falling back at the right moment is generally pretty brutal if you've got enough other units in firing range but when your ravager can simply fall back from combat and open up at full power it becomes a pretty terrifying prospect.

The trygons were a bit of a mixed bag really. I hadn't particularly thought about it but the way I advanced my army made it really difficult for Dan to even find space to bring them in. Makes me wonder about drop pods too. Having to stay 9" away is a pretty big footprint and a savvier player than me would make it really difficult for you to bring them down anywhere useful. Shooting units probably fare better coming in this way though.

I still think Tyranids can be great in 8th edition though. Drukhari will always be a tough matchup as the amount of poisoned and darklight weaponry they can pump out is disgustingly good against monsters. Hordes would be a tricky prospect mind you and they'd do reasonably well against the Drukhari vehicles. Ultimately I think a balanced list is the way to go. You need some big guys to bring some hurt in combat but hordes, genestealers and big shooty beasts have a role to play. I'm looking forward to getting my Tyranids painted (more on that soon).

Finally, I promised review posts for every faction in the indexes but since GW announced this week that there'll be "10 new codexes by Christmas" it seems daft to spend time reviewing when a lot of it will be obsolete pretty quickly. Instead I'll just review each book as it comes out and stick to posts like this based on actual gaming.

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