Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Death Watch

We recently played a game to test the strengthened Space Marines against a horde of Tyranids. The aim was twofold: to test the marines and to give some of the mid-sized ‘nids a go.

The forces were:

A 5 man death watch team, comprising a Librarian, 2 marines with heavy bolters (suspensor variant) and 2 marines with boltguns and special ammunition. Each man was treated as a ‘squad’ for the purpose of activation and the Librarian acted as a leader and could transfer actions.

Facing them were 2 broods of genestealers, 4 tyrant guards and 6 lictors.

On the face of it, a very uneven battle.

The marines set up in a building in one corner of the table and the tyranids set up along the opposite long table edge.

I did not record the events in detail, but thought I would at least post a brief summary in case anyone is interested to see how it went.

I have made two versions of Space Marines in my conversion to SG. The first is simply human troops in power armour, just like normal power armoured troops in SG. The second takes into account some special rules associated with the marines and has rules for their genetic enhancements. This option is aimed at giving them capabilities similar to those found in the 40K novels. We used the latter option.

After the first turn, all of the tyranids had advanced, some to within assault range, but the nearby ones had all been suppressed by the fire from the marines. The game then consisted of attempts by the nids to assault whenever one of them was in a position to do so.

The marines consistently used their special rule ‘combat tactics’ to withdraw from the intended assault and thus continue to apply their firepower against the nids. A few of the tyranids did manage to close, but they were held off by the marine.

At the end of the game, the marine squad had dispatched all of the mid sized tyranids and was cleaning up the genestealers for the loss of only the Librarian in hand to hand combat with one of the lictors.

It should be noted that the tyranids had no ranged weapons with which to suppress the marines. This was an intentional decision to see if a small squad of marines could hold off a horde of bugs.

The Stats:

The boltguns were able to fire special ammunition. Each time they fired, the player could decide which was being used.

Dragon fire: FP d6, I d8, rapid fire, ignore cover and concealment

Kraken: FP d8, Id8, rapid fire

The heavy bolter had the following stats: FP 3d6 if moving or 3d8 if stationary, I d8.

The librarian also had the 'blood lance' psychic ability. This was treated like a ranged weapon, but with a variable range - 1d10 x 6". It fires along a single straight trajectory and any unit it hits is suppressed and takes a single impact d12 hit (against normal armour save) with no cover shift. Vehicles take a d12x2 hit against armour. Confidence tests are requied for casualties.

The rapid fire rule allows a squad that spends BOTH actions shooting a +1 die shift to their firepower.

The Marines also had the ‘combat tactics’ special rule. This allowed them to voluntarily withdraw from close combat without loss of confidence as long as they passed their initial test to stand. This allowed them to keep withdrawing from the tyranids and continue firing on them.

The marine genetic enhancements helped the marines to survive when they did get caught in hand to hand with the tyranids. As per the medical rules in SG, when a marine in power armour is wounded, a medical dice is rolled immediately to see the effect. 1 = dead, 2-4 = down and wounded. The Space marines roll a d10, instead of the normal d6 making them quite hard to kill.

The rules for the marines were based mainly on the standard stern guard rules and such a squad could be used for this scenario. The suspensor model heavy bolter is a variant published in white dwarf (and on GW's web page) specific to the deathwatch. It allows them to move and shoot. In SG terms, I allow standard heavy weapons to be fired by power armoured troops, but they must spend 2 actions to do so. The suspensor turns the heavy bolter from a heavy weapon to a support weapon and allows it to be fired using a single action, but with reduced firepower (3d6 instead of 3d8).


The Marines worked more or less as expected. However, I will tone down the combat tactics ability a little. In this game, we had the marines withdraw and their original position automatically occupied by the attacking bug. Instead, I will allow the bugs to roll their movement die and see if they can still contact the withdrawing marines. Additionally, the withdrawal will be treated as the activation of that marine (squad) so that they can not just keep evading indefinitely – numbers should count. And finally, they will not be allowed to withdraw in this manner if suppressed. In this game, the nids had no means to do this, but normally, an assault would be preceded by suppressive fire and that should count.

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