Vanilla Combat Astronauts


  Last Thursday evening my bugs played a very satisfying fully painted 40k game against Garin's "vanilla combat astronauts" - a gorgeous Space Marine army, with lots of subtle conversions scattered through the squads.

Garin brought a solid 1850pts shooting army:

  • 1 Captain, with grenade launcher
  • 3 ten man tac squads, w/ Las, plasma and combi-plasma sarge
  • ten sternguard, with fancy ammo bolters.
  • 2 whirlwinds
  • 1 ten man devastator squad, with 4 lascannons
  • 3 landspeeder typhoons

I was running:

  • The swarmlord with 2 lashwhip guard
  • 2 squads of two hiveguard
  • 2 squads of ten termagants
  • 2 tervigons, with sacks, glands, catalyst (and crushing claws on one)
  • 2 trygons
  • 3 zoanthropes in a pod
  • 2 biovores

As Garin didn't have any flyers and I wasn't in the mood to run any, this was a flyer free game of 6th edition. Here's a little pro tip for anyone worried about flyers ruining 6th - you can simply choose to play without them.

We randomly placed terrain and rolled up The Scouring and diagonal deployment, which left a large granite slab blocking fire lanes next to a disturbing expanse of no-mans land. Garin deployed his tac squads and sternguard behind a set of sandbags and craters with his devastators deploying on split levels into a ruined strongpoint on his table edge. I deployed as much as possible behind the central rock formation, but as soon as they broke cover my nids would be staring down the guns of fifty white marines supported by a backline of whirlwinds and speeders.

For psychic powers, my Swarmlord picked up iron arm and endurance and the zoanthropes went with psychic shriek across the board, with one rolling up gate of infinity as a second power. The tervigons held onto catalyst. My warlord power let me re-roll reserves rolls, already at a 2+ with the swarmlord, so I could guarantee all my deep strikers would come on together.

Turns 1

The objectives turned out to be in my favour, with a 2, 3 and 4 on my side of the table and a 1, 2 and 3 closer to Garin's marines. He took first turn and with nightfighting in place and most of my forces hidden all he was able to do was knock one squad of gaunts down to three and put one wound on a tervigon. In response I spawned two squads of gaunts with my tervigons, rolling doubles and spawning out on my left flank. I moved the gaunts into no mans land a little and shuffled my tervigons forward so they were still half obscured by the granite. The swarmlord and one tervigon picked up catalyst and the wounded tervigon regenerated the one wound it had taken so far. Deadly accurate biovore shooting nailed a lascannon marine and a couple of devastators died to hive guard fire.

Turn 2

The marine's second turn was brutal though... two landspeeders re-positioned and assassinated my remaining spawning tervigon. Four missiles and 3 heavy bolter shots managed to wound it, and it wasn't able to make a single armour, cover or FNP save, leaving me somewhat shocked that one of my core, tough, scoring units was destroyed taking a score of gaunts with it before even a third of the marines had shot at it. The remainder of the marine shooting put three wounds on the second tervigon and killed a bunch of gaunts, so I needed a new plan - instead of relying on my tervigons and gaunts to threaten and tie up the marine line I would have to pull what was left of them back behind the rock wall to keep some scoring units alive and in synapse.

On my second turn (pictured below) my two trygons and zoanthropes deep struck in on the marines right flank and the swarmlord moved out into no mans land with his bodyguard. The zoanthropes failed one psychic check, but were able to kill five sternguard with a semi-successful psychic shriek. The trygons were both safely in area terrain and managed to shoot down one landspeeder and put one hull point on another.


Turns 3

My trygons need to survive one turn after arriving before they can do any damage, if one  can survive to charge, if two make it then it's a blood bath. A lot of armies don't have enough high strength and high AP shots to put down two trygons at once if they're rolling good cover saves... Today though, the huge numbers of combi plasma shots, plasma shots and lascannon shots just wiped out both of them. To add insult to injury, the scouts shot and then charged the zoanthropes, killing one and tying them up.

Chuckling slightly at the start of my turn, I planned to Gate of Infinity my zoanthropes to safety and let them get off another psychic shriek in the shooting phase. Brilliantly though, I failed another psychic check with them and remained locked in combat. The swarmlord ran forward into charge range, but didn't roll the seven he needed to get through the cover - fortunately he did get a good iron arm roll off and had his guards hiding behind sand bags. Hoping that most enemy shooting would be focused on my general the two squads of hive guard broke cover, as there wasn't anything useful for them to shoot within range of the table center and they needed to get rid of the land speeders.

 Turn 4

All Garin's shooting went into the swarmlord and his guard, and with a little luck, and also because all the combi plasma ammo was out, the front guard behind the sandbag was able tank most of the shots before dying. At that point, the swarmlord's iron arm toughness of eight stopped most of the remaining shots wounding.

In my turn, the swarmlord moved up and charged a tac squad, which he proceeded to chew through over three combat phases, as I took a disordered charge to try and tag in the general's squad with my tyrant guard, but didn't roll high enough. Either way, I had finally made it into assault with one nasty unit. My hive guard shot down both remaining land speeders, always a fun event, but doubly so when they have magnetised battle damage and the missile pods are left next to the wreckage. My biovores killed a couple of sternguard. IMG_0412


Turn 5

So... into the final phases of the game. Garin tried to kill my hive guard to stop them from shooting his whirlwinds and getting forward into objective contesting range, but finally his dice were running a little cooler and while he was able to wipe out one squad he left one guard from the second squad standing. This also meant that his whirlwinds weren't whittling down my scoring units, something I was very happy to see.

On my turn I made sure I had two scoring units covering the 3 and 4 point objectives on my side, and the swarmlord won his combat and consolidated onto one of Garin's objectives, again picking up toughess 8 and sitting in sandbagged terrain. The hive guard was able to stun one whirlwind, meaning if we did go to turn 6, there wound only be one pie falling on my gaunts. At this point we called the game, with my 3 VPs from the speeders, 9 from objectives and one from linebreaker versus Garin's 3 from objectives and 1 from first blood. With the swarmlord in his lines taking names and gunning for his general and limited options for getting to and contesting my objectives, it was impossible for him to win it in turn 6, and unlikely in turn 7.

Final thoughts

This was a really fun game. A marine gunline with fast contesting land speeders is actually a fairly hard match up for my nids - it has high strength, low AP shooting with great accuracy that can put down my deep strikers hard before they do too much damage and doesn't waste any points in assault units or anything that has to come to me to be effective. On top of that, Garin's dice were really hot in turn two and my saving throws and FNP rolls were terrible, leaving me in real danger of losing all my scoring units if I didn't spot the trend and pull them back while keeping him occupied with other threats. Fortunately... I was able to do just that, but it was a tight spot and a few unlucky rolls shooting at his speeders could have seen things come unstuck in turn 4.

On top of the challenge of the game Garin's had years of commission painting experience and his army looks incredible... my favorite battles are always the ones where both armies are fully painted and look great on the table.