played my first game against the Tyranids last week, and although we only got three turns in, I thought I'd put a brief report together with a few thoughts as to what i did right and what wrong, and how i'd improve things next time.
We rolled up the scouring for our mission type, with diagonal deployment. On the up side, this meant that both my Hellions and Reaver jetbikes were scoring units (which with 6 objectives on the table was definitely a good thing), but on the downside they would be worth a victory point each to my opponent should he destroy them. This was made slightly worse by the fact that my opponent didn't have any fast attack choices, but did have 7 troops choices, so i wouldn't be getting any free victory points in that regard.
I'd taken a semi-tailored list (ok, so i left out one of my ravagers) including an archon, 4 Incubi, a full unit of Mandrakes (i was curious to see how they'd operate), 2 full raider squads of warriors and one of wyches, a monster killing blob of 20 warriors, 15 hellions, a disintegrator ravager and my razorwing. The intention was that my archon and the incubi retinue would blast forward in their venom, and drop the webway portal so that my large warrior unit could emerge in the middle of the table and might a right royal mess of any monstrous creatures. I don't think the diagonal deployment really helped me here, as the terrain meant that much of my deployment was cramped into a relatively small space. Knowing more about Tyranids now than I did before I may have deployed differently, safe in the knowledge that my opponent didn't have much weaponry that could harm me at range.
I lost the first turn roll off, and things went downhill from there in the first turn. My wych raider was immobilised by the one long range anti tank gun the tyranids carried (credit to my opponent here, he definitely targeted the right unit), and my reavers had to go to ground to survive some nasty fire from biovores. Consequently i had to adjust slightly and where I had originally planned to advance and charge with the wyches, archon and incubi, i had to use the mandrakes to support the archon in combat instead. It started well, with me killing all but two of the spinegaunts they'd charged, but I quickly realised that in my eagerness to get into combat, I'd forgotten to drop off the webway portal - that was going to cost me i was sure! This combat went on for a while as in my opponent's turn, in piled a carnifex and a large unit of hormagaunts. My warlord survived a slightly scary moment when passing some look out sir rolls (onto the incubi sadly, but better than losing my warlord!), but the mandrakes polished off the termagants, and the archon eventually made the carnifex pay by filling it full of toxins from his venom blade. I should note at this point that i was being hideously lucky with my dice rolling for my shadowfield, and over five rounds of combat the only '1' I rolled was for a look out sir'd wound.
Elsewhere things started slightly better, as my warrior squads took down 7 genestealers, and my hellions took out a couple of others after they passed plenty of saves for going to ground. That'd keep them off my back i thought, letting my hellions do some damage elsewhere. That was when my bad luck hit. I don't like to blame dice for things going wrong, and I'm sure there are plenty of things i could have done tactically to change the way the game went, but at this point, my wyches disembarked their raider to run into the mid-table area before they and the hellions got bombarded by a biovore barrage. Casualties were manageable, but both units went on to fail their pinning tests (on a 10 and a 12!). To my mind, this result probably affected the outcome of the game more than anything else.
Three Lictors popped up in my deployment zone to have a pop at my reavers, who fortunately managed to survive the shooting and promptly shot off across the board to get into position to claim an objective for me, before they got annihilated by a 4-strong squad of tyranid warriors.
My razorwing arrived on turn 2 and as I'd hoped, made a right royal mess of the genestealer and termagant units threatening my right flank, and on turn three my large warrior unit arrived to 'save the day'. If we'd played much longer, they might very well have done that, as it was they poured all of their fire into the carnifex who'd just wiped out the last of my mandrakes, turning it into a rathing fetching crystalline ornament for my archon's throne room (actually, they were using knockout venom, the carnifex will be making an appearance in a wych arena near you very soon).
My razorwing decided it's had enough of the tyranid warriors who'd just wiped out my reavers, and poured fire into them in an attempt to stop them claiming an objective at the rear of the table, killing all but one (damnit).
When we totalled up the points, it was clear my opponent had won fairly convincingly, though I would have like to have seen the game continue for another couple of turns, as I felt things were beginning to go my way and having got rid of the swarms, was well placed to make use of the massed poison shooting that remained available to me.
The biggest thorn in my side in the game were the biovores, running the 4-strong warrior unit into a close second place (if I'd not lost the reavers and had claimed that victory point a win could have been on the cards). Ultimately though, pinning the wyches and hellions proved a game changer, as neither unit made it into combat where they could have really turned the tables. That being said however, my opponent's big hitters were equally hampered by my performance, with the genestealer's lack of impact on the game being my biggest achievement.
Things to remember.
1. If you've got a webway portal, use it. My archon's failure to do so meant the carnifexes got into combat, whereas judicious use of the portal may have delayed this by a turn.
2. If you win the infiltrators roll, go first. My opponent had two large units of infiltrators to deploy, and in making him place them first, my mandrakes weren't left with any area of the table to sneak into that could affect the game significantly.
3. If you roll 're-roll failed wound rolls in combat' for your combat drugs, it's a crime not to get into combat with any of the units that can use it. The Hellions could have charged the genestealers in turn one, but declined and got punished for it by being pinned in the next turn. Similarly the wyches never got the chance to make use of the re-rolls.
Improvements for next time:
I'm still suffering slightly from overcautiousness, particularly in deployment, and in this instance my opponent really didn't have the shooting to threaten me much.
Don't be afraid to charge with combat units. My Hellions would have put out around 45 S4 attacks on the charge, which would have dealt with the genestealers (though I'd certainly have taken plenty of casualties in return) a turn earlier, and given the hellions a pain token to make them a bit more resilient.
Overall, we had an enjoyable game played in the right spirit that would have been very interesting had it been played to a conclusion. I'm certainly not disheartened by the performance of my kabal, who will be raiding again in the near future.