Traitors Clash with the Hive Mind

The traitor Imperial Guard took up forward positions within the ruins of the city. They had taken the time through the night to take up positions near the Tyranid positions under the cover of dark. Ezarine smiled as she made her way to one of the forward positions, climbing to the top of one of the ruins to meet one of the infantry squads. She peered over the edge to see soldiers of the Iron Warriors legion lined up behind a defensive barricade. She had already seen the majority of the Iron Warriors warband alongside the Crimson Conquerors on the other side of the battlefield, though they had deployed a small section near her position. She shivered, either due to cold or fear of the encroaching creatures.

“Sorceress, mortar and autocannon squads report Chaos Space Marines on their position. With their help, we should be able to hold our position,” the vox-operator relayed to Ezarine.

“Excellent. Our exalted allies have said that they will head down the other flank. We are to hold our position he-” she replied, though she was quickly cut off by the sound of skittering and the explusion of bio-weapons.

“Incoming!” she heard a scream from the Chaos lines. Heightened senses were an incredibly useful asset.

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So, we did all of our rolling. My Warlord got the warlord trait on the strategic table that enabled me to choose if night fighting would be in effect. Considering the Tyranids all had shrouded anyway from the Venomthropes, we chose to have night fighting in effect, an odd choice for Imperial Guard and shooty Chaos Space Marines against Tyranids. We won the roll off for first turn, but decided to go second. They deployed their entire army behind an Aegis Defence Line with a Tyranid Prime manning the quad gun. All of their monstrous creatures deployed on one side, so we answered by placing the Obliterators and a lot of Chaos units on the same flank. The Guardsmen deployed at the front of our deployment zone, every single squad taking cover in ruins, with the heavy weapons and Havocs setting up in the bunker (we had a firestorm redoubt to counter air units) and the Company Command Squad deployed with one infantry squad in a forest behind the ruin where the Iron Warriors set up behind their Aegis. Four of the Tarantula Sentry Guns set up near the bunker with the other two setting up next to the Iron Warriors on the Guardsmen’s flank. The Heldrake, a single Chaos Space Marine unit and the three Scout Sentinels stayed in reserve. The Iron Warrior Chaos Lord rolled a gift of mutation and gained +1 Strength, and the Raptor Aspiring Champion rolled one and gained Shrouded. So a Raptor unit with a Chaos Lord at Strength 7 and with a 2+ cover save in ruins. A great combination as we found out in the game.

The game was Crusade and the deployment type was Vanguard Strike. We dumped one objective by the Firestorm Redoubt and one by the forward position. The Tyranids placed one of their objectives way out of the way in the opposite corner and placed one in a more central location. Our game plan was to camp our objectives, score first blood, gain linebreaker with outflankers and the Iron Warrior Heldrake and perhaps get slay the warlord with huge amounts of heavy weapons fire or the Iron Warriors Chaos Lord in close combat.

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The Guardsmen dived behind broken walls and trees, seeking refuge from the Tyranid bombardment. Bio-acid splattered against walls, small projectile creatures impacted with trees and ricocheted off. When the volley had ended, a handful of Guardsmen had died across the battlefield, though for the most part, they were untouched.

“Men, return fire. Focus on thinning the faster ones!” came the orders over the vox from the command squad. Ezarine smiled, shrouding her position even further with psychic illusions. The Chaos Space Marines seemed to go about their own business, Iron Warriors moving up the flank under cover of their Obliterators. The Crimson Conquerors followed them up cautiously as lascannons tore into the night, impacting with walls and monstrous creatures alike, a tirade of bullets accompanying the lasers and felling one Carnifex beast through the night. The traitorous humans opened fire, missiles and grenades launching into the night, heavy bolters chattering into the encroaching horde and massed las fire impacting with the wave that advanced. The death throes of Tyranid beasts was music to Ezarine’s ears.

“Sir, there’s an odd cloud emanating in the darkness,” the sergeant of the far infantry squad, situated near to the Iron Warriors position, relayed down to the junior officer on the floor below. He paused for a moment, looking down at his laspistol.

“Fire a krak missile at the source. We need to bring the creature down,” he replied, gesturing out into the night.

“Yes, sir,” the sergeant responded, turning to the missile team. “You two, krak missile into the cloud of gas over there. I want you to punch one right down the centre,” he ordered, pointing at the cloud. The team loaded one into the missile launcher, aimed towards the cloud and fired. There was a loud whoosh as the missile flew through the air and a muffled explosion as it impacted with something. The Guardsmen looked on in anticipation. As the echo of the explosion died out, the cloud started to dissipate and the Guardsmen caught sight of the creatures coming towards them. There was still a lot of work to do, but fortunately, they had plenty of ammo.

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First turn went well for us. The Tyranids shot a lot of shots into Guardsmen squads, but the 2+ cover save denied any real kills, taking out a handful of Guardsmen. The traitors returned fire with their guns, scoring a hail mary krak missile kill on one of the two Venomthropes, denying the monstrous creature flank of Shrouded for following turns as well as scoring first blood. We managed to drop a Carnifex with sniper rifles from the traitor Guardsmen and the lascannons and assault cannons from the Obliterators. Not much else happened as a lot was still out of 36 inches.

As the traitors continued their advance, Tyranid monsters burst out of the ground, a Mawloc appearing just in front of the Iron Warrior Raptor unit and the Chaos Lord that flew with them, and a Trygon Prime appearing right in front of the bunker, firing into one of the forward Guardsmen squads and killing the crew on the missile launcher, reducing the gun to a ruined pile of metal. The Tyranids opened up again, a brood of Carnifexes firing a ridiculous a tirade of fire into one of the forward Guard positions.

“Hit the dirt!” yelled the squad sergeant, though only him and two other members dived behind the rubble, the rest of the squad caught by projectile Tyranid organisms that ate away at their nervous systems. More guns slammed into the traitorous lines, felling one of the Iron Warriors below Ezarine’s position, though again, the traitors largely hid behind the walls of the ruins where they had taken up position. There were Tyranid organisms everywhere and they were enclosing on the traitors’ positions.

“They die just as easily as any others who oppose the will of the Dark Gods. I want disciplined volleys of las fire to bring them down!” the commander yelled over the vox-caster, spurring the traitorous humans into action. The traitors took up positions in the front of the ruins, taking up firing positions at the encroaching horde. The Iron Warriors reinforcements turned up, the Heldrake flying into the fray and killing another Carnifex by flying through it, blades cutting it cleanly in half. The Chaos Space Marines and the gun turrets both on and near to the bunker complex opened fire upon the newly arrived Trygon, felling it in a hail of lascannon and bolter fire. The Iron Warriors moved up again, the Iron Warriors Chaos Lord grinning beneath his helmet as his unit dropped next to the Mawloc. He was ready to cleave at it with his daemon axe. Sorceror Tyllanius smirked, calling upon the powers of the Warp to strike out at the Mawloc, dulling its senses in a barrage of sensory assaults. He also stimulated the Raptor unit, driving them and their leader into a frenzy as they landed.

Then the weapons opened up. Sentinels flanked from both sides, firing autocannon shots into the synapse creatures; mortars rained down alongside the explosions of grenades and missiles; ranks of lasgun fire opened up alongside gouts of flame from the Heldrake and traitor Guard squads; sniper rifle shots found their marks beneath the carapaces of monstrous creatures and lascannons punched into the final Carnifex from one brood, bringing it down and leaving only two left standing. Sorceress Ezarine arced a band of lightning towards a nearby squad of Termagants, though they seemed largely unaffected by the onslaught of psychic lightning. When the smoke cleared, large amounts of Tyranid creatures had been brought down, the horde of gaunts a shadow of their former presence.

The Iron Warrior Chaos Lord grinned as he and his unit threw grenades and barrelled into close combat with the Mawloc. The giant creature still reeled from the overload on its senses caused by Sorceror Tyllanius, though the Chaos Lord did not need the assistance, gunning his jump pack into life and diving onto the Mawloc’s head. He raised his daemon weapon in two hands, the axe writhing and calling out for blood. With one powerful sweep, he brought it down upon the creature’s head, carving it cleanly in two and causing the creature to slump down into the ruins lifelessly, the rest of the Iron Warrior Raptors unable to do anything except watch their leader in action.

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Turn two was full of action. Firstly, a daring attempt to deep strike the Trygon ended with a mishap that allowed us to place it. We placed it directly in front of our bunker and planned to destroy it in our turn. The Mawloc scattered off the Raptor squad and landed on the other side of a ruin to them. The Carnifexes shot at a squad of traitor Guardsmen and killed most of the unit, but otherwise there was very little shooting that caused casualties. Another Chaos Marine was felled from the squad by the Aegis as well as a handful of Guardsmen from the various squads that were littered across the table.

In our turn two we managed to flatten most of the Gaunt squads with las fire and blast templates from mortars, grenade launchers and missile launchers. The Iron Warriors brought down about five monstrous creatures with the inclusion of four wounds from a vector strike on the Carnifexes along side the bolters, lascannons, various Obliterator weapons and Chaos Lord in close combat. All of our reserves came on and the Tyranid force started to look very thin. They considered conceding, though they decided to try for turn three.

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The Tyranids pressed on with their remaining forces trying to bear down on the traitors’ positions with the organisms that remained. They opened fire again, felling a couple of traitor Guardsmen and one of the Iron Warriors Obliterators, though their firepower was diminishing fast. The remaining Hormagaunts leapt into the flamer equipped traitor Guard squad, though five of the remaining seven were caught in the panicked outburst of las fire and ignited promethium. One of the remaining two was caught by the squad sergeant’s chainsword as it tried to clear the wall and the other was caught on the end of three bayonets. The Tyranids turned and withdrew from the ruins of the city.

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After their turn three the Tyranids conceded. They opened fire, though they did not manage to do anything apart from strip a hull point from the Heldrake and gain a crew stunned result, though the Iron Warrior player managed to roll a 1 on the 2+ to ignore it. They felled another handful of Guardsmen, a Chaos Space Marine from behind the Aegis again and one of the Obliterators. In the assault phase the Hormagaunts charged into one of the Guardsmen squads, though the overwatch killed all apart from two of them with rapid fire lasguns and a flamer. The Tyranid player just removed them because the Guardsmen were striking first and it was ten versus two.

The deployment of the Tyranids was questionable. They placed all of their monstrous creatures apart from one walking Tyrant on one flank, which meant that we could just counter deploy our heavy guns on the same flank. We deployed our forces very far forward, prioritising getting the Guardsmen into cover over keeping the Tyranids at long range. As a result we could get a lot of lasgun shots into the horde from turn one, whilst having over 100 models with a 4+ cover save. They also took no flyers, which I questioned as they usually take flyers and this was the first game where I took my Firestorm Redoubt (or any dedicated anti-air for that matter). Call me paranoid, but I can’t help but think that there was an element of list tailoring there.

Our deployment paid off as it meant that the Guardsmen were the only viable squads for the Tyranids to direct their attacks towards. When it’s a unit with a 4+ save for 5 points per model, it turns into a very tough amount to chew through. They killed a decent number of Guardsmen, killing about twenty models or so, though when there are about 90 left on the table, it doesn’t seem like much. Without the 2+ cover in the first turn and 4+ in subsequent turns, I would have lost a hell of a lot more men to incoming fire.

This meant that the Iron Warriors could largely operate however they wished, unloading heavy weapons and advancing all the Chaos Space Marines along the monstrous creature flank pretty much unmolested. If they had concentrated down the flank with the Aegis Defence Line and Primaris Psyker, they would have perhaps made more ground as we were relatively thin on that side.

The Mawloc deep struck in a bad position. If it had appeared in the forest with the Company Command Squad, they could have gotten slay the warlord as a Mawloc’s large blast template is more than enough to kill off an entire command squad. Their advance could have been faster in my opinion, and of course we got some lucky rolls (such as the krak missile killing the Venomthrope in the first turn on a failed 2+ cover save). However, equally there were times when our luck turned sour, such as 4 hits from 16 rapid fire lasguns or about 5 successful 3+ cover saves out of 12. However, that’s just how the game went. We’ll see how it goes if they come back for a rematch!

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Sorceress Ezarine descended from her position in the ruins, frying a remaining Termagant in psychic lightning with a sadistic grin as it screamed its death throes. It was not a pleasant sound, though she seemed to revel in the cacophony of it. She shot a grin to the command squad that was taking in casualty numbers and organising a scouring of the area, ensuring that no Tyranid spores remained this close to the Chaos fortification. She made her way back to the bunker to see the Iron Warriors Chaos Lord and Sorcerer Tyllanius conversing, the Chaos Lord was covered from head to toe in Tyranid ichor and his axe seemed to whisper into her mind. She shut it out as she clambered onto the battlements, the Chaos Lord gunning his jump pack into life and taking off, moving to join up with his own warband. Sorcerer Tyllanius turned to face the woman, his eyes still alive with Warp energies.

“The battle has ended, my Lord. We are organising a sweep of the area to make sure that no Tyranid spores or creatures remain at this location,” Sorceress Ezarine reported, kneeling before the armoured Sorcerer.

“Excellent. We will not pursue the surviving Tyranid organisms beyond our own borders here,” the Sorcerer replied, turning to face off the battlements.

“But, my Lord,” Ezarine started, a mild amount of frustration in her voice, “we have the manpower to pursue and crush them beneath our boots.”

“We do, Sorceress,” the Sorcerer responded dryly, “though the Hive Mind will think twice about sending its organisms here again. Any survivors will continue to undermine our enemies on this planet and even if we did crush every last organism, the Hive Mind will just spawn more to take their place.” He paused, turning to face the sorceress who was still kneeling before him. “We are not here to expand, only to undermine and sabotage. We do not wish to draw the attention of the Inquisition or remaining Eldar forces on the planet,” he continued, walking past the Sorceress. “Rise, Sorceress. You have done well. Continue to serve me and the Dark Gods and you will be rewarded in kind.” He dropped from the top of the bunker, regrouping with his squad of Chaos Space Marines and starting to move off.

“Thank you, my Lord. I shall not fail you,” she replied, turning to look out on the battlefield once more. The battle had gone well indeed.

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