Thursday, June 17, 2010

Swarmlord & Friends: Abbreviated After Action

I apologize, as there would've been pictures had I had any brainpower left after dealing with a day of epic-level stupidity at work. I just have no words to describe it adequately; someone talking about training suggested a mentorship for letting the new guys learn 'the why behind the what.' I have to say that knowing the 'why' is kind of like being the protagonist in one of Lovecraft's shorts: the knowledge brings only pain and insanity.

So. That aside, here was the situation:

Swarmlord + 3 Whip-packing Guard
3 Hive Guard
3 Hive Guard
10 Termagants
11 Termagants
Tervigon w/ Onslaught, Catalyst
Tervigon w/ Onslaught, Catalyst
8 Genestealers w/ Poison
Trygon w/ Furious Charge
Trygon w/ Furious Charge


Imperial Guard
Co. Command w/ Meltas, Vox, Chimera (laser/flamer)
Co. Command w/ Vox
Chimera Melta Vets
Infantry Platoon
'toon command, vox
20 guys w/ 2 Lascannons, Commissar, couple power weapons, vox
30 guys w/ commissar, 3 autocannons, some power weapons, vox
Special Weapons Squad w/ flamers
Heavy Weapons Team w/ missile launchers
Hellhound w/ hull MM
Hellhound w/ hull MM
Leman Russ w/ Sponson bolters, pintle stubber, lascannon
Leman Russ w/ Sponson bolters, pintle stubber, lascannon
Leman Russ Demolisher w/ hull flamer

Capture and Control, Pitched Battle Deployment

The Battle in Brief
IG won the first go. He deployed an objective in a corner, screened by his footbound infantry. Russes in central deployment, with melta-vets and a hellhound on either flank. I put my objective across from his, and hung on the side across from him. Hive Guard on one side and in the middle; and a fairly even split of assets past that. I failed to seize.

Turns 1 and 2
I have to admit that off the bat, he had some awesome shooting and I couldn't roll a save worth a crap. I lost two hive guard, a couple wounds off the Swarmlord, and took some damage here and there. Notably, the Hive Guard had to Onslaught into position in the middle, flub their shooting horribly, and lose two of them to counter-fire from a hellhound, the demolisher, and melta. I only really suppress ONE of the bloody hellhounds...ouch.

But, come my turn two, Swarmlord's still around...and I get everything. The Genestealers appear on the correct flank (the one with assault targets as opposed to the flank waaaay out there with nothing to hit) and promptly grab themselves a 20-man + commissar squad (Deathleaper had penalized the Commissar's leadership and at least tried to work that angle...). Punchline: due to a Trygon scattering to an inch of that squad, he couldn't pile in for crap. Ouch.

Insult to injury: he gets a hellhound and a chimera hull flamer into termagants; kills a whopping 4 out of 10, between rolling a heap of 1's with the hellhound and the other squad makes some awesome feel no pain rolls.

Turns 3 and 4
Sadly, he'd committed his melta assets too early to harming the Swarmlord and one flank's hive guard. I managed to take those out in the previous turns, so he had about a turn before the Trygons went to town on me. He managed to shoot the crap out of them, but kill neither. His commissar takes out another genestealer, and they hold on turn 3. Punchline: he holds out as the last man on HIS turn, staring at four genestealers (...yes, he killed the other four in the squad) and a Trygon that are Not Amused.

The other Trygon ate itself a russ, and grabbed a position for the assault on his objective.

My turn 3 gets gruesome; his stuff starts dying. Deathleaper popped out behind the Vendetta, hit a shot, and wrecked it. Thank you, flesh hooks. The special weapons team managed to flub their morale check, and my original 11 termagants had more or less made it across the field.

By his turn four, he's got a stunned hellhound looking at a hungry Tervigon, a pinned squad of flamers looking at an advancing group of Termagants, a lone missile launcher looking at 8 angry termagants, my objective firmly in hand, and the four genestealers, two tervigons, and Swarmlord looking at his objective hungrily. I have two hive guard left; one of them survived a heap of shots only to go down to an exploding hellhound.

As the store was planning to close, we called it at the end of my turn four. I had two Trygons into a 30-man squad suffering from Paroxysm, and four genestealers had cleaned his other command squad off his objective and were contesting it (might have had it after pile-in moves). Deathleaper had pegged his other Russ and tear off the cannon.

Thoughts on the New (to me) Units
Swarmlord and Buddies
Frankly, 3 tyrant guard are pretty much essential; against gun-heavy lists if they want him dead, you'll need all the protection you can get (and Catalyst). He made it to turn two by the skin of his teeth, and then they had more immediate threats. My opponent DID target him explicitly to try to screw up my reserves plan.

Against Guard, honestly, a bunch of S6 preferred-enemy insta-gib attacks that force re-rolls on invulnerable saves is just a little bit of overkill in assault.

This is the first time I've fielded him, and I can see the merit. Admittedly, all he really did was make one guard squad Ld8 stubborn instead of Ld9. I think I might have played him conservatively, but the thing is that assaulting the 20-30 man squads is not gonna work, and the missile team can insta-gib him. Threatening rear shots on vehicles is reasonably nasty, but I think it's just a matter of target selection this time around.

Onslaught on Tervigons
Catalyst will still be my go-to power. I went with catalyst for two reasons:
1) get Swarmlord into position while still being able to use his powers
2) extra range on Hive Guard

I feel justified on number two as I've got all of two shooty units, and I need to get as much use as possible out of them. If I can get another turn of shooting out of them because of extra movement (or making up for a craptastic Difficult Terrain roll) then it's worth it. In this army, the Swarmlord is probably gonna get Catalyst, so that leaves an Onslaught to hand out.

Getting them in early helps, and getting them in with as many threats as possible helps. Coming in on a 3+ helps, and the genestealers are also a credible threat, especially if the enemy's close to the flanks. Still, if I get them in early, they'll do damage. The enemy drop them.

Frankly, the Swarmlord makes them work a little better. I get the reserves bonus (well, it's mandatory under Alien Cunning) but I also get a re-roll on the side they arrive. Since there's normally a 66% chance of making it in on the desired side, Swarmlord bumps that up to 88%.

Poison is useful for boosting lethality, pure and simple. 'Stealers have S4 and I6; S4 is really the place to be for poison outside of S6 (as S4 + poison on 4+ translates to 75% chance to wound per hit against most infantry) and you don't really NEED I7. You do get a slight perk as it gives you another chance to see a rend on toughness-based targets. It translates to about a 25% chance to score a rend per hit if you get the re-roll.

Bottom line, though, with the Swarmlord the outflank becomes a serious consideration, because your enemy has to assume that you WILL get them on the correct side more often than not. The 'stealers force your enemy to avoid keeping stationary vehicles close to the edge (...not necessarily an issue unless it's a gun platform) and make sure everyone's got terrain in the way. It doesn't make them an auto-include in the army, but I think a unit CAN be a performer.

Honestly, both me and my opponent were a little out of practice, so there's that to factor in. The play was not top form, and the dice were a bit wonky (average on the long run, but some wild swings on the individual rolls, like my early 3+ save fails and inability to fail later on).

I think the Swarmlord works okish with this setup. I do miss having three groups of hive guard for the ability to split fire (both incoming and outgoing). I think Deathleaper is much nastier when I'm screwing over psykers. I think the Swarmlord IS a bit hit-or-miss, as sometimes that kind of melee killing power is overkill.

Certainly, Trygons + Genestealers can throw someone on the back foot, and if the enemy commits assets too early, well, they get hurt.

Other experiences with the Swarmlord?

Special thanks to Chumbalaya for recommending genestealers on that count...


Chumbalaya said...

Cool stuff dude, glad to see I wasn't totally off with that :D

I'm special :D

suneokun said...

Good roundup. Sounds like the combinations had him on the back foot. I've faced a 2 hellhound and Pask in Punisher list and it was hellish.

Pask get 29 shots at S5 with BS4 and a reroll to wound against MC's... nastiness all round!

Raptor1313 said...

Would you like a helmet with that? >D Seriosuly though, I think 'stealers + swarmlord = credible outflanking threat.

...I got nothing but a shudder-twitch for the thought of a Pask Punisher going into a monstrous creature.

Hellhounds with multi-meltas are just that disgusting against 'nids. I mean, honestly, it's the MM/HF speeder for IG, but with durability in exchange for a BS3 multi-melta.

Anonymous said...

Raptor, it's Boc!

I'm on vacation from Iraq (been driving around all over the place) and picked up a BA dex as well as some units, as going over and over the Eldar codex was just... well, depressing.

You should take a break from 'nids and do a quickie (1850-2kish) on the Blood Angels :P

I'm lazy, I know!

Raptor1313 said...

Boc lives!

I might just do that, since I did stockpile soem stuff to start a BA army...

Garth said...

I've got a list I'd like you to try out. My list if built for 1650 points, which is what we play locally, but sure you can adapt it to 1500, 1750 or 2000 points.

The idea of the list is to run 3 tervi's and swarm your opponent with tough decisions as to what to shoot at, while you big hitters come up from behind.

HQ: Tervigon, AG, TS, ST, OS, CAT

Troop: Tervigon, AG, TS, ST, OS, CAT
Troop: Tervigon, AG, TS, ST, OS, CAT
Troop: 10x Gant
Troop: 10x Gant
Troop: 12 Stealers, TS + Broodlord, TS, ST

Elite: 3x Zoans
Elite: 3x Hive Guard
Elite: 1x Venom

Heavy: 1x Trygon Prime, AG

The venom provides everyone at the back a nice over save, while gants run forward as quick as they can and bog down the heavy hitters. I've played against this list and on turn 2 there were over 60 gants on the table, 40 odd of them were gonna hit my lines on turn 3.

If you like it, could you play test it some and let me know what you think of it and how it runs.