Welcome to my first fully-documented Warhammer Fantasy batrep! I thought I would treat you to some playtest reports for an unofficial set of Warhammer Fantasy rules I developed myself for the Tyranids, called Warhammer: Swarms of the Hive Mind (the PDF of which can be seen here - I have realised only recently that this version lacks a signature spell for the Lore of the Hive Mind, so I will amend that as soon as I get the chance, but in the meantime I can test the main 6 spells of the Lore). While I had great fun writing the original draft, in order for the list to be properly balanced it is obvious I need to do some practical playtesting for it (hooray!), which is what I will be showing you here as something I'm doing to entertain myself during lockdown. Each of these battles will pit the Swarms of the Hive Mind against an official GW-endorsed faction in a game that I played out myself on my dining room table (I only want to try playtesting with an opponent once I have got the feel of the army and have made sure any unbalanced areas are sorted out - if @Imrahil can play against himself, why can't I? ) and after each one I will discuss the overall effectiveness of the army at fighting that particular enemy force. At the end I will tot up the wins and losses for the army and will decide what to do with it next based on the following criteria: All wins and no losses: The army is almost definitely overpowered and I need to weaken it significantly in order to achieve balance Significantly more wins than losses: The army is significantly stronger than the official GW factions and I may need to tinker with the rules to weaken the army a bit Slightly more wins than losses/slightly fewer wins than losses: The army is probably pretty well-balanced and I can leave it as it is unless feedback from other players demands I change anything Significantly fewer wins than losses: The army is significantly weaker than the official GW factions and I may need to tinker with the rules to strengthen the army a bit All losses and no wins: The army is almost definitely underpowered and I need to strengthen it significantly in order to achieve balance The first battles will be 750-point bashes that will mostly feature the main Core units and a few Specials of the Hive Mind list going up against official GW armies. Here’s the army list they will be using for all the bouts: Heroes General: Soldier Prime with Spinefists, Adrenal Glands and Crown of the Apex - 171 points Core 28 Hormagaunts with Firstspawn - 206 points 14 Termagants with Spinefists and Firstspawn - 80 points Special 3 Soldiers with Adrenal Glands, Venom Cannon and Alpha Soldier - 171 points 1 Zoanthrope - 40 points 10 Gargoyles with Toxin Sacs and Shrieking Terror - 80 points Total: 748 points Throughout all my playtesting games, I used some of my own Tyranid 40K miniatures, but tried to keep their unit footprints as close as possible to those of Fantasy units in equivalent numbers, so I had to squeeze them quite close together on Fantasy movement trays to get that effect (the Gargoyles were an especial pain in this regard because they’re mounted on round clear flying bases, and they are often not on a movement tray at all because terrain would have caused this to be impossible to achieve, but I tried as hard as possible to keep them within the footprint size of equivalent Fantasy units). First up to oppose them is a Dwarf list (the reason why I didn't put this one in the Fantasy battle reports section as that's mainly for Lizardmen batreps): Heroes General: Thane with shield, Rune of Cleaving and Rune of Striking - 88 points Runesmith with Great Weapon and Rune of Spellbreaking - 91 points Core 18 Dwarf Warriors with Shields, Musician, Standard Bearer and Veteran - 192 points 16 Quarrellers with Musician, Standard Bearer and Veteran - 222 points Special 12 Miners with Musician, Standard Bearer and Prospector - 150 points Total: 743 points First impressions: The Dwarfs do look outnumbered, but most of the Hive Mind troops are chaff that the Dwarfs can beat through sheer resilience (the big unit of Hormagaunts and the Soldiers are the only things that look especially worrying), so we’ll see how it goes. If the Dwarfs can weather the Tyranid magic (which they should with a Runesmith in the list), whittle down their hordes with crossbow fire and get the Miners in undamaged they stand a good chance of winning. If, however, the Hive Mind troops can swarm the Dwarfs with numbers and get the Soldiers and the Prime into places where they can hurt, things could go badly wrong for our bearded friends. The Battlefield The battlefield I used in all these playtesting games had a mixture of terrain-covered and open ground, with a ruined town to the south-west, a hill to the north-west and an unpleasant bog and a temple to the north-east (a ‘temple of the bog-worshippers’ or something). Deployment I rolled Meeting Engagement for the first battle and the Dwarfs won the roll-off to deploy, placing the Quarrellers on the crest of the hill in the north west deployment area. The Miners, with the Thane and Runesmith, elected to deploy above ground at the bottom of the hill and the Dwarf Warriors deployed to the left of the Miners to protect their vulnerable flank. The Hive Mind then responded by placing the large unit of Hormagaunts in the centre of the battlefield, the Termagants in the middle of the ruined settlement, the Soldier Prime between these two units to make use of its enhanced Synapse Range, the Gargoyles behind their leader in preparation to swoop overhead in the first turn, and the Soldiers to the right of the Hormagaunts west of the Temple of the Bog-Worshippers. The solitary Zoanthrope was the only unit in this game to be delayed, but it still rolled to determine the one spell it would use and got ‘Mindshackle’, meaning it would have the chance to cause some serious trouble to the Dwarf missile troops if it got the chance to arrive. The Dwarfs scored ‘Rancorous Resolve’ on their Ancestral Grudge table, meaning both the Thane and the Runesmith had developed a hatred for the Soldier Prime - evidently they recognised the creature from some other incident in the past. Turn 1 The Dwarfs’ punctuality to the battle rewarded them well as they got the chance to take the first turn, the only action of which involved the Quarrellers letting fly a hail of Crossbow bolts into the big unit of Hormagaunts. Though four of the creatures were hit, the Dwarfs fluffed their wound rolls and not a single one died. The Swarms of the Hive Mind reacted with immediate force, desperate to quickly secure the quantities of biomass sent to oppose them before any other predators got there first. The Soldiers moved carefully past the bog, and the Hormagaunts wheeled round to the right to support them against the big unit of Dwarf Warriors. The rest of the Hive Mind force, meanwhile, crept along the other flank, the Gargoyles swooping ahead and the Termagants and Soldier Prime following in their wake. Lastly, the Zoanthrope floated onto the battlefield from reserve to support the advancing swarm. The only shooting for the Hive Mind forces involved one of the Soldiers blasting a razor-sharp crystal from its Venom Cannon at the Dwarf Warriors, cutting down a single Dawi. There were no combats to speak of yet, so the game immediately progressed to Turn 2. Turn 2 Despite knowing little about the alien monsters surging towards them, the Dwarfs were undeterred, the Dwarf Warriors hurling themselves towards the Hormagaunts and getting a mighty charge roll of 10, making it into combat, while the Miners with the Dwarf Heroes made their own advance around the nearby dolmen in preparation to charge the Hormagaunts in the flank in the following turn. Finally the Quarrellers, concerned about the advancing gribblies on their right flank, swung round to face the advancing swarm, although they knew well that they could not shoot this turn. With no Dwarf magic or shooting to speak of, the Hormagaunts lashed out at the Dwarfs with their scything talons, inflicting five Wounds, but the doughty Dwarfs’ heavy armour meant only a single one fell, while in retaliation the Dwarfs slew three of the Tyranids. The remaining 25 Hormagaunts then broke and ran, only to be run down by the Dwarfs! In the Hive Mind turn, the Gargoyles swooped over the heads of the Quarrellers to take up a strategic position on the hill, the Soldiers avoided the Miners by sweeping around the other flank and the Prime, Termagants and Zoanthrope all advanced toward the Quarrellers. In the shooting phase, the Termagants spat death from their Spinefists, firing 28 shots and killing 5 Quarrellers, though the Dwarfs passed their panic test with ease. Turn 3 The third turn began with the Miner unit turning around to face the Soldiers attempting to take the Dwarf left flank, and the Dwarf Warriors reformed with their backs to the ruin they almost ran into after chasing down the fleeing Hormagaunts. In the shooting phase, the Quarrellers retaliated and shot four Termagants dead, though the Tyranids did not panic due to the presence of the Soldier Prime nearby. The Hive Mind then responded by turning the Soldiers so that they were now in good firing range of the Miners, the Gargoyles swooped down to the ruined settlement to line up a shot at the Dwarf Warriors and the Zoanthrope hovered past the Soldier Prime to unleash its Psychic might. This it did with gusto when it rolled all 9 Power Dice to cast ‘Mindshackle’ on the Quarrellers, getting a total casting roll of 27 without rolling Irresistible Force, resulting in a total of 28 including the Zoanthrope’s Wizard Level of 1. The Runesmith could only muster a total of 18 including the Dwarfs’ natural resistance, so while the Quarrellers were thankfully unable to turn their crossbows on their own allies due to both other Dwarf units being outside their front arc, they still couldn’t shoot in the next Dwarf turn. This essentially gave the Termagants a free round of shooting without enemy response, but despite once again firing a hail of spines, only a single Quarreller was pincushioned. The Soldiers met with similarly poor luck, only killing a single Miner with their Devourers (the Venom Cannon missed), and the Gargoyles couldn’t shoot as they once again performed a Flying March. Turn 4 After the Warriors’ amazing charge against the Hormagaunts, the Miners were stoked for a fight too, but they rolled a measly 6 for their charge against the Soldiers, shuffling 4” towards them. This left them inside the short range of the Soldiers’ Devourers, but the Tyranids’ shooting was too inaccurate to take advantage of this. Disorientated by the Zoanthrope’s attempt to control their minds, the Quarrellers shuffled backwards to better defend themselves against the alien monstrosity and the Swarms that were bound to its will, and the Dwarf Warriors turned to face the Gargoyles. Under the command of the Soldier Prime, the Swarms of the Hive Mind launched a renewed attack, the Soldiers barrelling into combat with the Miners and the Termagants surging up the hill toward the retiring Quarrellers. The Zoanthrope followed at its slower pace, and the Soldier Prime emerged from the ruins also, its intent as of yet unclear to mortal minds. In the Magic Phase the Zoanthrope once again sought to Mindshackle the Quarrellers, this time casting it with Irresistible Force. Fortunately for the Hive Mind, the Zoanthrope was only hit by a minor detonation, which failed to wound the hovering brain. Unfortunately for the Dwarfs, the Quarrellers could now see the Dwarf Warriors, and the Zoanthrope compelled them to levy their crossbows and fire upon their own kin. Though some of them could not see the Warriors, three of them were still shot with Dwarf-made quarrels, prompting an outburst damning the missile troops into exile if they survived the fight. The Warriors’ pain did not end there, because the Gargoyles then fired their Fleshborers straight into them, though some unlucky wound rolls saw only a single extra Dwarf slain. The Termagants then fired into the Quarrellers once more, killing another three and finally breaking the Dwarfs’ morale. Finally, in the combat to the north, the Soldiers killed four Miners with their cruel talons, but in retaliation one of the monstrous Tyranids had its head staved in by the Dwarfs’ pickaxes (even though the Thane missed with his attacks), and another was wounded, resulting in a draw. Turn 5 Bellowing their anger toward the Swarms of the Hive Mind, the Dwarf Warriors began the next turn by trying to charge the Gargoyles, but like the Miners their luck failed them and they tripped forwards a mere 1”, the winged Tyranids felling another of their number at range for their trouble. The only other action this turn for the Dwarfs was to continue with the combat against the Soldiers, where another two Miners were sliced to ribbons and a second Soldier was brought down. The Dwarfs actually won this combat due to the presence of their Standard Bearer, but the remaining Soldier was Unbreakable due to being driven onwards by the gestalt will of the Hive Mind, and stayed put. In the Hive Mind turn, the Soldier Prime attempted to charge the Miners in the rear, but stumbled 2” forward for its trouble, while the Termagants trotted to the crest of the hill to launch a salvo at any Dwarfs who survived the combat, and the Zoanthrope hovered over to a suitable position behind the swarmlings to supervise them. The Gargoyles spat another volley of Fleshborer beetles at the Dwarf Warriors and another two were fatally wounded, but the remaining nine stayed put. In the combat, the Alpha Soldier devoured another Dwarf Miner, but the Thane finally found his mark and wounded the creature, and a Miner’s pickaxe damaged it once more. However the beast was still alive to last into the Dwarfs’ final turn. Unfortunately I forgot to take a photo at the end of this turn, sorry about that chaps. Turn 6 The final turn of the game began with the Dwarf Warriors charging the Gargoyles, but the winged creatures flew up and over the ruins, the Dwarfs cursing as they halted in front of the ruined gateway. In the combat, yet another Miner was cut down by the Alpha Soldier, but the Thane, with a heroic cry, cut off the monstrous Tyranid’s head to end its rampage. The Hive Mind commanded the Gargoyles to rally and reform behind the ruins, and the Soldier Prime once again attempted to charge the Miners but failed. Finally the Termagants also tried to charge the same target, but also failed. This means they would be unable to shoot, and with no other missile or close combat attacks to be resolved, the game ended there. Dwarf Victory Points: 377 (By destroying both the Hormagaunts and Soldiers) Hive Mind Victory Points: 247 (By routing the Quarrellers and forcing their Standard Bearer to die via Last Stand). Despite the fact that the Hive Mind army still has the numbers to defeat the remaining Dwarf forces, Victory Points denote this to be a Dwarf Victory! I did think that the sheer numbers the Hive Mind army would work in their favour in this battle, but after the Dwarf Warriors routed and destroyed the Hormagaunts in the second turn the game became much more tense, and it was undoubtedly this that set the Dwarfs onto the course that would win them the game. Things then looked to be going the favour of the Dwarfs until a combination of the ‘Mindshackle’ spell and repeated firing from the Termagants’ Spinefists broke the Quarrellers, and with the Miners losing a lot of men from the combat with the Soldiers I thought the Swarms of the Hive Mind would pull it back. However, the dice gods smiled fondly upon the Sons of Grungni as the Tyranids kept fluffing their charge rolls and just couldn’t reach the Miners in time to finish them off and win the day. I’m actually quite pleased the Dwarfs won that bout, because it shows that certainly my rules aren’t especially overpowered - the Dwarfs won a decent victory, and even if the Miners had all died the Hive Mind forces would only have won by 20 VPs. Now to evaluate the performances of each of the Hive Mind units: Soldier Prime: Unfortunately I didn’t get the chance to charge this chap in and so didn’t get to witness his combat prowess, but on the other hand his Crown of the Apex was especially useful at keeping the Gargoyles within Synapse Range and making sure they behaved - Flying units are so fast in Warhammer Fantasy that Hive Mind players will almost definitely need this magic item or (or even and if it’s a larger game) a flying Synapse Creature to keep these things within Synapse Range. I’m pleased that I’ve made Synapse something that can be a challenge to live with but also a boon to Hive Mind players, as while you have this problem of keeping all your units within Synapse Range and avoiding instinctive behaviour (a problem that Tyranid players in 40K have always lived with), you also get sizeable benefits (Immune to Psychology is certainly a help in keeping your army together if you start losing units, and the Weapon Skill and Ballistic Skill bonuses make your swarmling troops decent units). Hormagaunts: These chaps had it very unlucky this game, because not only did their Dwarf Warrior opponents get several lucky armour saves that won the combat, but the Hormagaunts then proceeded to not only fail morale in the first combat round, but also get run down by short-legged Dwarfs. I honestly thought the big Hormagaunt unit would put up more of a fight with the bonuses from being near Synapse Creatures. However, the roll made for their Leadership test was 6, the same as their Leadership value normally, so if they had been given the Stubborn rule from being near Synapse Creatures, they would have stayed to put up more of a fight. I think that would be a good additional bonus alongside Immune to Psychology and +1 WS and BS, or even just the two former rules without the stat bonuses, because I want to make Swarmling units difficult to budge while in Synapse Range, but not Unbreakable because an entirely Unbreakable but not Unstable army would just be too strong. Perhaps I should swap the WS and BS bonuses for a +2 bonus to Leadership alongside Stubborn and Immune to Psychology for Synapse bonus, because even with Stubborn it’s still reasonably easy to fail a leadership test with Leadership 6. Termagants: Because I gave them Spinefists, these chaps have to get really close to their enemy in order to shoot them, and easily risk being charged (which is arguably what the Quarrellers should have done rather than fall back), but when they did get there, they actually did reasonably well, killing over half of the Quarreller unit thanks to Multiple Shots and some lucky sixes on both the hit and wound rolls. I’d be interested in trying out some Devourers Termagants who have the same points value as well at some point to see if they are more or less effective. Soldiers: These chaps did pretty well for only 3 of them. I’m pleased I only gave then Strength 4 like they are in 40K, because if they had Strength 5 they would have probably killed the Miners off a couple of turns earlier, whereas in this instance 3 of them did kill a substantial number of Miners without it being a whitewash. Being Unbreakable is a real plus-point for these as they will without a doubt fight to the death (which they certainly did) and their high Initiative means they will be especially troublesome in larger numbers, while their relatively low armour save and Strength for Monstrous Infantry keeps them balanced. The Venom Cannon didn’t do that much this game, but I designed it as an anti-monster weapon and it could only be used against Infantry in this game, so we haven’t seen it at peak effectiveness yet. The Devourers were also not overly strong, but were able to do something with their 3 shots each. If there were a few more Soldiers in the unit, these weapons would have been an especially fearsome prospect. Zoanthrope: This chap was unfortunate to have been delayed and forced to move onto the board later on, and even more unfortunate to get one of the less offensively-powered spells in his lore that was of only real use against one out of the three units in the enemy force, but against that one unit he was especially troublesome, first forcing the Quarrellers to not shoot then getting them to target their own comrades. He was lucky with his Winds of Magic rolls in that he got loads of power dice to ensure Mindshackle was cast, and was also lucky that he avoided dying from the one miscast he suffered. He was also useful as an extra Synapse Creature to supervise the Termagants while the Soldier Prime tried (and failed) to engage the Miners. Gargoyles: While these didn’t do much at the beginning of the game, they still proved themselves a real nuisance by being extremely difficult to catch (fortunately for the Dwarfs they were able to concentrate on more immediate threats, but I can see an inexperienced player constantly trying to chase them and shoot them down). Indeed I reckon they’d make Skink Skirmishers turn green with envy (even if they were already green). Their Fleshborers weren’t as effective as I thought, killing a few Dwarf Warriors but not that many, but that was mainly due to poor dice rolls. The fact they can flee with 3 dice makes it especially easy for them to escape charges too, and as long as they are within 12” of the Tyranid general they should easily rally, but if they fly too far, their primal instincts may tell them to continue flying off the board. What’s more, because they can fly so far in a single turn you need to plan where they’re going to deploy and move all the time so as to avoid moving out of Synapse Range, or else they will be goners. I like this weakness actually, because, as Duncan Rhodes once said when talking about his Bretonnians, armies are often as much defined by their weaknesses as they are their strengths (if not even more so), and I wanted Synapse to give similar strengths and weaknesses to those it gives in 40K to properly translate the feel of being a Tyranid player to Warhammer Fantasy. Well then, after this first battle the scores are Swarms of the Hive Mind: 0 Official GW factions: 1 However, there are four more games to go at this points size, so anything could happen. I hope you enjoyed this battle report, and I'm playing the next playtest game now, so I'll be sure to post up a report of it in the next few days!