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"Terror in the Jungle! An Epic 40k 3e Battle Report" Topic


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Action Log

10 Apr 2019 11:45 a.m. PST
by Editor in Chief Bill

  • Removed from SF Battle Reports boardCrossposted to Warhammer 40K Battle Reports board

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Science Fiction

677 hits since 9 Feb 2019
©1994-2019 Bill Armintrout
Comments or corrections?

Achtung Minen09 Feb 2019 9:49 a.m. PST

+++ Lamassu Sector, Segmentum Obscurus: 200 years after the destruction of the Genestealer city, the Dark Angels return to Cloud Runner's planet, only to find that the insidious cult has returned and summoned the children of Kraken to the sacred world. The Dark Angels race against time to reach the heart of the former cult in the abandoned ruins of the Genestealer city and root out the source that is drawing the xenomorphs to the planet. +++

After our last game of Epic 40k 3rd Edition, Andre suggested we play another game to give the rules a proper stress test. Andre would bring his Tyranid this time and I would give another outing to my Dark Angels Chapter of the Space Marines. The scenario we came up with was sort of a redux of the 1990 short story "Deathwing" by Bryan Ansell and William King. The long-since demolished city of the Genestealer cult has been stalked by their machinations once more, as the cult emerges out of centuries of hiding to begin what they have started. Can the Dark Angels silence their beacons and prevent a Tyranid foothold in the sector? Or will the vanguard forces of the invasion be able to repulse the Imperial forces and buy time for the greater forces of the Hive fleet to arrive?

I was greatly looking forward to this battle as it gave me a chance to use some of the bits and bobs that had been left out of my previous game. I managed to locate some good, thematic Deathwing and Tyranid dice to use as initiative tokens, I found my old custom made detachment HQ tokens and finally put together my horde of plastic trees. The game also gave me an opportunity to finally finish painting up my Epic 40k ruins, which have been begging for a coat of paint for ages.

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We decided that the mission that best fit this scenario was a Blitzkrieg. Dark Angel Space Marines would be rushing towards the haunted ruins, hoping to Take & Hold the remains of the old Genestealer Palace and destroy three beacon towers the cult remnant had erected (we treated these as Bunkers in the rules). Two beacon towers were placed inside the city. A bunker at a intersection just west of the town represented a last objective that had to be destroyed—the hideout of the cult remnant. Andre also scattered some Cleanse objectives around the outskirts of the ruins. There was some disagreement in this, as I have always understood the Tyranid special rule (which says they never use objectives) to mean that they do not even place objectives. Andre felt that while they do not benefit from objectives, they still place them, thus allowing their opponent a chance to capture them. Well, I don't recall playing a lot of Tyranid players back in the day and this interpretation actually worked in my favor, so I went along with it! That said, those objectives were never captured, so it didn't end up making any difference on the game.

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Here is the board at the start of the battle. Only one Tyranid began the game in the open—the Dominatrix, stalking behind a jungle just north of the city. Andre also placed several hidden markers, which could be hidden forces, booby traps or nothing at all! I placed the terrain, so Andre wisely chose for me to enter on the eastern table edge where the jungles were thickest. In retrospect, I should have scattered the jungles about more evenly to make it less of an easy decision for him, but I thought it looked good! One more relevant (even "fateful") comment about the terrain should be made—in the Blitzkrieg scenario, the attacker may deploy as much defensive terrain as he desires. This includes razor wire, trenches and so on. Now my Epic-scale razorwire was still on the painting table and was not actually ready for the game. Since this rule is a HUGE advantage for the defender (literally, the book says you can use "any amount" you want!) and I simply didn't have the terrain to allow it, we decided to treat the jungles as Dangerous Terrain for all Space Marines but not for Tyranid. To explain this, we agreed that the jungles had been infested with Tyranid xenomorphs and carnivorous plants.

In the Blitzkrieg scenario, the attacker deploys only "token" units on his table edge to show where those detachments enter from on the first turn. I deployed my forces on the Western table edge. "Bubbles" the Reaver titan was flanking from the northwest corner of the map—armed with a death ray, close combat weapon and carapace-mounted multiple rocket launchers, his main task would be neutralizing any Tyranid Bio-Titans present. Just north of the road was my heavy weapons detachment (4 stands of devastators, 2 dreadnoughts and 6 support weapons—a mix of rapiers and tarantulas). They were also joined by two scouts, which were an inexpensive way to include additional support units and would also be useful in clearing the hidden markers ahead of the main force. Along the main road would be my main Deathwing detachment. By far my largest group, this detachment consisted of 12 land raiders carrying 10 teams of terminators, a captain and a librarian. Jogging alongside the land raiders would be two dreadnoughts. South of the road, beyond the jungle, was my mobile artillery detachment—3 predator tanks and 6 whirlwinds (two of which were the AA variant from Firepower 1). Flanking in the far southwest corner, just off screen, was a large Ravenwing detachment of 8 landspeeders and 8 bike squadrons. Finally, flying overhead was a flight of two thunderhawk gunships in an air support role.

Along with his Dominatrix, Andre had brought seven ground detachments that fell into two types—four identical assault detachments (consisting of 9 termagants, 5 hormagaunts, 2 genestealers, 2 warriors and a hive tyrant) and three identical artillery detachments (consisting of 4 biovores, 3 termagants and 3 warriors). Both types were mycetic swarms, meaning they could deploy anywhere on the table as drop pods. Andre also brought three flying swarms—two with a single harridan each (to perform ground attack) and one with a garridan and 6 gargoyles (to intercept and cover the ground attack fliers).

Andre had cleverly designed his detachments to give him a boost in morale (you get 1 army morale point for every 50 points in a detachment or part thereof, and the bulk of Andre's army was made up by detachments that were 202 pts or 152 pts, each netting 5 and 4 morale points each). As a result, the Tyranids began with a slight morale advantage: 42 for the Dark Angels and 47 for the Tyranid. The battle would be won when one side dropped to zero morale at the end of any turn.

TURN 1

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The first turn began with the scouts revealing two hidden markers—one scout on the central road revealed a booby trap and was destroyed. Since the heavy weapons detachment took a hit (when one of the scouts was destroyed by a booby trap), we placed a blast marker, although I think we may have done this wrong! Technically, hits do not cause blast markers in Epic 40k 3rd Edition—only firepower and heavy weapon attacks do that (which inflict blast markers and then cause hits). In any case, the heavy weapons detachment managed to rally and remove the blast marker by the end of the turn, so it didn't end up having any effect. Another scout flanked along a hill and spotted a second hidden marker at the edge of a smaller jungle just to the left of the road. This marker turned out to be nothing at all.

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After the advanced scouting action, the rest of the Dark Angels arrived on the board. The Ravenwing streamed down the southern table edge on the Space Marines' left flank, while the land raiders rolled down the central road which had just been cleared by the scouts. To either side of the Deathwing detachment were support units—predators and whirlwinds on the left and heavy weapons on the right, supported by the Reaver Titan.

A view from the north:

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No enemies were sighted in the first turn—the bio-titan was the only visible Tyranid detachment and chose to hang back behind a jungle, out of sight. In the assault phase, the Dominatrix stalked forward, just keeping out of sight of the Reaver Titan. With nothing to shoot at or attack, the first turn passed without incident.

End of Turn 1 Morale: Tyranid (47) vs Dark Angels (42)

TURN 2

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At the beginning of the round, a pair of Harridans dropped from the overcast sky and roared down upon the Ravenwing detachment. The Dark Angel Thunderhawks then attempted to intercept the creatures, only to be intercepted themselves by the third Harridan and its supporting gargoyles (not pictured). When the gouts of bio-plasma and bolter shells cleared, one Harridan and one Thunderhawk were damaged and another Thunderhawk shot down. This represented the first hit to Dark Angel army morale, as they dropped to 40 morale. The harridans on ground attack finished their attack run and dealt a devastating blow to the Ravenwing, destroying 3 bike squadrons and 2 land speeders and inflicting a blast marker.

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Next, a mycetic swarm of artillery biovores rained down from the sky and landed on the far side of the ruined city. The termagants quickly moved forward to take up defensive positions in the buildings, while the biovores hung back and readied their barrage. The Dominatrix bio-titan, which had been hanging back out of view behind a jungle, shifted to the ruins, careful to remain out of sight of the Dark Angels forces and the Reaver Titan in particular.

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The Dark Angels managed to move forward, with the Deathwing dismounting from their land raiders and entering the outskirts of the city, planning to assault the artillery detachment in the assault phase. The Ravenwing also moved forward to attempt to capture the palace ruins.

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Hiding in the ruins, it turned out, was one of the assault swarms, which was revealed automatically as the Ravenwing approached. I had expected a booby trap or a dummy marker (the odds of encountering a hidden detachments are rather unlikely, statistically speaking). Having taken a beating from the Harridans, I realized the Ravenwing were in danger from this swarm. In the shooting phase, I shot with my reduced Ravenwing, launched barrages from whirlwinds and even called in an orbital barrage on the swarm.

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The swarm took a beating, but Andre had cleverly positioned his termagants so that they would absorb the casualties. This is exactly what these cheap fodder units are for, allowing the real heavy-hitters to survive long enough to make it into combat. The swarm ended up losing 7 termagants and taking four blast markers. The Tyranid then returned the favor. The revealed assault swarm returned fired on the Ravenwing, destroying two land speeders and a bike squadron and adding two more blast markers. The Ravenwing were now at half strength, which immediately dropped Dark Angel morale by 6 points.

From behind the city ruins, the Tyranid artillery swarm hammered the approaching Deathwing detachment with the spore barrages of the biovore artillery. Just these powerful weapons alone dropped four blast markers on the terminators, breaking up Deathwing's advance on the city ruins. In the Titan shooting phase, the Reaver could still not see any targets for its death ray, but was able to launch its carapace rocket barrage at the artillery swarm (artillery does not require line of sight in Epic 40k 3rd Edition). Unfortunately, due to the heavy cover of the ruins, this only managed to destroy a single termagant and inflict a blast marker. The Dominatrix on the other hand could now see the lead elements of the Deathwing—two terminator stands which had entered the city block adjacent to the bio-titan (in Epic 40k 3rd Edition, you can see "into" terrain templates but not through them, and the city was made up of multiple such templates). The Dominatrix unloaded its entire arsenal on the two stands. Amazingly, the terminators made their saves, but this fearsome display added two blast markers, bringing the total on the Deathwing to 6 blast markers! Even with stubborn, they now had no chance of passing a leadership test. The Deathwing assault had been stopped!

In the assault phase, I decided to firefight the swarm. I am not sure if this was a mistake or not… firefights do very little in the end, but they are easier to win (for whatever that is worth). If I assaulted, I would have had more control over what Tyranid units to target, but I would still be at a severe disadvantage—the remaining Tyranid had a psyker and much better assault units. In the end, the firefight was successful in throwing back the assault swarm and giving them a blast marker, but because Tyranid ignore blast markers and are never broken as long as their detachment HQ survives, I knew that they would spring right back that same round and assault my Ravenwing, likely cutting them down to a man.

Hoping to salvage the main attack on the city, I turned to the Deathwing. Thinking I had a good trick up my sleeve, I used the Divine Inspiration fate card to remove three blast markers from the Terminators, giving them a fighting chance of completing their vital assault this round after all. In response, Andre played a card of his own! Drifting Spore Mines descended from the city ruins and put three blast markers right back onto the Terminators, sealing their fate as the assault yet again ground to a halt. To make matters worse, Andre had cleverly positioned his Dominatrix so that she would be just out of range of my Reaver Titan's assault range (we allowed pre-measuring, just like in the first game), meaning my Reaver also couldn't do anything in the assault phase but mutely advance.

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In the Tyranid assault step, the assault swarm lurking in the ruins of the old Genestealer Palace did indeed lunge forward. We agreed here that the Tyranid special rule that prevents them from breaking and ignores blast markers gives them a powerful edge. Amazingly, the fight was still pretty close and the Tyranid squeaked by with a narrow win, adding only 1 blast marker to the Ravenwing. Unfortunately, the actual damage from melee wasn't so even—with 8 attack dice hitting on 4+, I only managed two hits (1 which killed a Tyranid Warrior and another which was then saved by the Hive Tyrant). Of the 11 attack dice for the Tyranid hitting on 4+, enough hit to kill all 8 Ravenwing units. The entire Ravenwing detachment had been annihilated in a storm of claws and pincers, taking a total of now 4 blast markers with them! Suddenly, Dark Angels morale dropped another 4 points and Tyranid (using their special rule) jumped up 6 points, but the bad news for the Space Marines was not over.

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As my Reaver stomped ahead to support the Deathwing that had stalled at the city limits, the massive Dominatrix carefully flanked into the city center to engage the two Terminators that had entered the city in a firefight. Here again I think we made a mistake—in the assault phase, you must move towards the any enemy detachment (not necessarily the closest), although that movement cannot take you away from the closest enemy. If the bio-titan had moved taken its assault movement first, it could have moved toward the Ravenwing at the other side of the city (in order to get into the city center) and then moved towards the Deathwing (in order to perform an actual firefight). My memory, however, is that the assault swarm went first, destroying the Ravenwing and thus giving no option for the Dominatrix to move into the city center (which was necessary to avoid the Reaver). Moreover, the Dominatrix's movement also took it away from the Reaver, which was actually the closest enemy unit! Both of us missed this during the game, however, such is the way of things!

In any case, a funny situation emerged from the firefight with the Dominatrix and the Deathwing detachment. Since only those units within 15cm of an enemy are allowed to participate in a firefight, the Dominatrix could simply choose how many enemy units it engaged. As such, it was able to easily overpower just two terminator stands (although the entire Deathwing detachment was itself much more powerful than the bio-titan), effectively defeating the entire detachment in a firefight involving only a couple models. Here, Andre mentioned that Epic Armageddon has a rule that allows units to shift around slightly before an assault is resolved, allowing (for example) more Deathwing to come to the aid of the forward most units. Perhaps this could be a good house rule, as the outcome of this fight was both a critical and ultimately decisive moment in the battle and also somewhat unsatisfying (which is probably a bad combo, in my mind).

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A terminator stand finally fell casualty as the Deathwing retreated from the city limits, broken with a total of 7 blast markers. In the rally phase, Tyranid rallied most of its blast markers, leaving only three on the assault swarm near the ruins of the Genestealer Palace. The Dark Angels managed to remove only a two blast markers, dropping another 5 morale for the remaining blast markers on the Deathwing detachment. Between the crippled Thunderhawk squadron, the annihilated Ravenwing and the suppressed Deathwing, the Dark Angels had lost almost half of their entire army morale in a single turn, while the Tyranids had actually increased theirs by 3 points and now had more than twice the army morale. At the end of the 2nd turn, the Tyranids were swarming through the ruins and the Dark Angels were looking to be in serious trouble, even though only a fraction of the Tyranid detachments had actually been deployed!

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End of Turn 2 Morale: Tyranid (50) vs Dark Angels (23)

TURN 3
At the beginning of the 3rd turn, the harridans returned, strafing the heavy weapons detachment that had been brought forward, slaying 3 teams of devastators and adding 2 blast markers. In the movement step, the original assault swarm began to swing around the city ruins, eager to get into the fray of the main battle. Behind the Dark Angels position, a second assault swarm dropped down from the skies, leaving the broken Space Marines trapped between two enemy formations. The Dominatrix stalked through the city, unwilling to leave the ruins but now eager to get into a firing position on the Dark Angels while they were staggered.

In response, the Dark Angels bunkered up. The Deathwing retreated to get out of assault range of the first assault swarm and the whirlwinds fell back to have a good firing solution on the newly arrived swarm. The heavy weapons detachment, reeling from the aerial assault, crept up with overwatch orders to get a clear shot on the Dominatrix. The Reaver advanced as far as it could towards the Dominatrix, but unfortunately Andre had carefully maneuvered outside of my charge range yet again, seemingly denying me a chance to get to grips with the hulking monstrosity.

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In the shooting phase, the Tyranids took the initiative. The biovore artillery split their fire and hammered both the heavy weapons and the Reaver titan with a barrage of spores. Each took 3 blast markers in the process (the biovore's disrupt ability cleverly allowed Andre to ignore both the Reaver Titan's shields and its 6+ armour). The heavy weapons now had 5 blast markers, all gained in a single turn.

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The Dark Angels responded with a devastating barrage on the tightly packed mycetic swarm that had just arrived behind their lines (they were trying their best to hide behind the hill but still remain within charging distance of the Dark Angel heavy weapons on the other side of the hill). When the dust cleared, fully two-thirds of the new assault swarm (12 units) were gone and three blast markers were added to the detachment. Tyranid morale dropped for the first time in the game, falling 5 points. As my heavy weapons detachment began to take aim on the distant Dominatrix, Andre played the Terrorize fate card to break them. This was a brilliant move on Andre's part—even with 5 blast markers, a Space Marine detachment has a decent chance of passing a leadership and ignoring the effects of Terrorize thanks to their stubborn special rule. The heavy weapons detachment, however, featured support weapons—the only unit in the Space Marines' army list that does not count as stubborn. By the book, this means the entire detachment no longer benefits from the stubborn rule. Consequently, I failed the leadership test and the heavy weapons lost their nerve just as they were lining up a deadly barrage of rapier and tarantula fire.

In the titan shooting phase, the Dominatrix fired its energy pulse at the closing Reaver, inflicting a 4th blast marker. Then it was the Reaver's turn to fire. First it fired its carapace rockets, but these were largely negated by the blast markers. In fact, we actually did this incorrectly, which Andre to his credit pointed out at the time. A single blast marker should have entirely negated the carapace rockets, since it is a super heavy weapon! That said, I had also completely forgotten about the fact that the Reaver's close combat weapon has an integral 4 firepower (Why? Who know… perhaps the power fist is bristling with turrets as well!), which would have "soaked" the blast markers for me. Then it came down to the Reaver's powerful death ray… he lined up his shot, needing only a 2+ to hit and cause critical damage, and… a "1"! The one chance the Titan got to attack with this weapon during the game and he missed!

The Dark Angels went first in the assault phase, but with their only two infantry detachments broken and their Reaver out of range, what could they do? At this point, I dropped the "Forced March" fate card and launched the Reaver into the Dominatrix lurking in the city ruins! Andre was quite surprised at this as he was less familiar with all of the fate cards in the game.

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In the ensuing fight, the two Titans were nearly evenly matched. The Dominatrix had a +2 modifier (+1 for fewer blast markers, +1 for being a psyker) and the ability to reroll (for being a supreme commander). The Reaver, on the other hand, had a +2 modifier as well (for having double the assault value, thanks in large part to its close combat weapon). We rolled off and got a tie—each side took a blast marker and we rolled again. Now the Dominatrix was gaining the upper hand, as she got an additional +1 modifier (for +3 total) thanks to the Reaver now having at least 5 (in this case, exactly 5) blast markers. The Dominatrix now came out slightly on top thanks to this boost, as we each rolled a 3 before modifiers. At this point, I played my last fate card—Counterattack—which let me reroll my die and turn it into a 5 (for a total of 7). The Dominatrix then used her supreme commander special ability to do the same, rolling a 6 (for a total of 9). The Reaver had lost its chance to use its close combat weapon, which would have instantly destroyed the Dominatrix if I had won the roll! We rolled our damage (mistakenly only rolling one hit each—the Dominatrix should have rolled 5 hits and I should have rolled 4). The Reaver and Dominatrix each took a point of damage and the Reaver added another 2 blast markers, for a total of 6.

In the Tyranid assault step, the newly arrived mycetic swarm assaulted over the jungle hill and right into the broken heavy weapons detachment. Even with the dreadnoughts, which had been positioned as a buffer to intercept the inevitable Tyranid charge, the Space Marines were easily beaten (broken detachments fight with half assault value in close combat). They lost by two, gaining two more blast markers (for a total of 7) and 2 rapiers and both dreadnoughts fell in the fighting (with no casualties to the assault swarm). The battered heavy weapons detachment, now below half strength, fell back to the road as the Dark Angel's army morale dropped another 6 points. Back in the ruined city, the Dominatrix skulked away from the threatening powerfist of the Reaver (again, we did this incorrectly—by the book, you can never use an assault move to move away from the closest enemy and you must fight a close combat if you are in base contact). The final move came when the original assault swarm hurled itself forward and surrounded the Reaver Titan, clawing the massive construct to the ground. The Reaver's reactor went into meltdown, wiping out 8 stands of Tyranid and leaving only 2 units of hormagaunts in the irradiated ash. In a moment, the Tyranids morale dropped by 5 but then went up by 12 (for a net gain of 7) while the Dark Angels morale plummeted 16 (as the Reaver went down with a veritable pile of blast markers).

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In the rally phase, the Tyranid rallied only a single blast marker (of the assault swarm that had been previously decimated, no less!) while the Deathwing rallied 4 of their blast markers (dropping them down to 2 and allowing them to recover from being broken). The heavy weapons detachment managed to rally none of its blast markers and remained broken. This all resulted in the Tyranid morale dropping 6 points while the Dark Angels plummeted a further 9.

End of Turn 3 Morale: Tyranid (46) vs Dark Angels (-8)

Conclusions
The game came to an end with that. The Dark Angels had received a thorough drubbing, while the Tyranid ended with nearly as much army morale as they had at the beginning. In terms of point value, the Dark Angels had suffered 47% losses, while the Tyranid had suffered only 14% casualties. If the Dominatrix had fallen (which was quite possible, whether the Reaver managed to kill it during the Dominatrix's assault phase, or if the Dominatrix had remained in base contact for the Reaver's implosion), Tyranid losses would have jumped to 38% and the Dark Angels would squeak by with one more turn to take advantage of the now rallied Deathwing and the return of the last Thunderhawk. That said, another Harridan would have also returned, as well as the likely arrival of the Tyranid's copious reserves (two more assault swarms and two more artillery swarms for a total of 700 points of fresh Tyranid!). There was no way out of the jungle terror for the Dark Angels! I imagine if we played out a final turn, I would have simply fallen back with the heavy weapons detachment and covered my retreat with terminators, fighting valiantly to the last. With the nearly untouched Deathwing and whirlwind detachments on overwatch, it could have been a punishing final turn for newly arriving mycetic swarms, as the Tyranid reserves were about en par with the surviving Dark Angels. But even if I managed to scratch through to the final turn, the deficit in morale would almost certainly never be recovered.

We made some mistakes, but generally these helped and hurt each player equally. Most importantly, Andre played incredibly well, with chess-like precision in his moves. Despite the pain of defeat, it was actually quite cinematic! We chatted about the beleaguered marines being ambushed from the shadowy depths of the jungle, bolter fire rattling off into the distance as the Dark Angels were surrounded and broken down. Here, Andre used the terrain very well—he effectively hid at very close range to my detachments, while pounding them with artillery to make sure they couldn't advance or assault effectively. Then his units would pounce through cover before I could get a shot off. On the other hand, I made many mistakes in the end. I should have used the Forced March fate card to charge with the Reaver in the second turn. This would have allowed the early destruction of the Dominatrix and even the chance to threaten and destroy the enemy artillery which proved to be the most effective unit in the Tyranid arsenal. Likewise, I should have known not to send my Ravenwing off on their own. They would have been better used as reserve cavalry, charging in when the Marines seemed surrounded. They could have also potentially done a number on the Dominatrix, supporting the Reaver to deliver the final blow. In the end, however, it was flagging morale which lost the day—at key moments, the Dark Angels were stymied from launching a crucial assault (as with the Terminators) or delivering a volley of deadly anti-tank shots (as with the rapiers and tarantulas of the heavy weapon detachment). And that credit goes entirely to my opponent, who played upon the terrors of the jungle perfectly!

emckinney09 Feb 2019 11:56 a.m. PST

Source of the trees?

emckinney09 Feb 2019 5:29 p.m. PST

Tip for best reading enjoyment:

Right-click each image, then click View Image.

You can then click to zoom in and click again to zoom out. Zoom should be centered where you click and you can pan around.

Click Back to return to your location in the Bat Rep.

Photos are really, really good and detailed.

Achtung Minen09 Feb 2019 9:06 p.m. PST

Thanks McKinney. The trees are old Citadel Scenery Warhammer 40k Jungle Trees from the late 90's.

Legion 410 Feb 2019 1:57 p.m. PST

thumbs up !!!!

emckinney10 Feb 2019 3:03 p.m. PST

This is an excellent batrep. I like that scouts actually act as scouts. The scale always felt much better to me than 40K.

Legion 410 Feb 2019 11:07 p.m. PST

6mm is a great scale for modern-future Company to Regiment sized games. For one reason the weapons ranges are a little close to "reality". And generally based on terrain, you can actually maneuver.

40k scale should have stayed at a Plt or two of Infantry with possibly a light Armor support. When I see most 40K games you are on top of each other and the tactics are line up and shoot then run to the middle and go into close combat. And then some Bleeped text want to add 40K scale titans ! huh? DOH !!!!!

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