Hello and welcome to another of my playtesting Battle Reports, the first to be logged in the brand-new Other Armies Discussion section of the Fantasy part of the forum! There has been a hiatus since I logged my previous batrep here (though I actually played this one quite a long time ago) due to issues with my family that have minimised the amount of time I've had on my laptop (my iPad now can't upload multiple pictures to the forum from its image storage so I have to plug it into my laptop, transfer the pictures there and upload them to the forum that way), but I'm back in business! The final faction I played a 750 point game against with the Swarms of the Hive Mind was a High Elf army: Heroes General: High Elf Noble with Great Weapon, Armour of Destiny and Longbow - 126 points Core 17 Lothern Sea Guard with Shields, Musician, Standard Bearer and Sea Master - 234 points 8 Silver Helms with Shields, Musician, Standard Bearer and High Helm - 214 points 5 Ellyrian Reavers with Bows and Harbinger - 105 points Special Tiranoc Chariot - 70 points Total: 749 points First Impressions: This army is nothing like any of the previous armies faced, in that it is extremely mobile, got a good number of dangerous missile units and is pretty well-armoured, but lacking in Toughness, meaning if the Hive Mind can get its stronger units into combat quickly and lure the High Elves into traps, it will do well, but if it can’t its forces will just be sitting ducks for the nimble High Elf cavalry. Deployment Meeting Engagement was rolled once again for this battle, and the High Elves won the roll-off, choosing to use the opposite diagonal to that which the Dwarfs chose in the first battle and deploying all of their forces in the south-west corner, to deny the Hive Mind access to the ruins and allow their own cavalry the most room to manoeuvre. The Ellyrian Reavers deployed on the right flank, the Tiranoc Chariot galloped onto the scene in the middle of the ruins, the Silver Helms emerged on the other side of them and the Lothern Sea Guard deployed behind the hill ready to advance up it and rain arrows down upon the Swarms of the Hive Mind. When the Tyranids came to deploy, the Termagants, Zoanthrope and Soldiers were all forced into reserve, so the Hormagaunts and Soldier-Prime deployed to face the Silver Helms and the Gargoyles deployed further back so that they could still benefit from being within Synapse Range even if they marched. Even though the Zoanthrope was not yet on the table, he still rolled for his single spell and got ‘Energy Blast’, arguably the most destructive power in the Hive Mind lore. After deployment was completed, the Ellyrian Reavers made a Vanguard move to travel closer to the Tyranids. The Hive Mind failed to seize the initiative, so the High Elves decided to go first. Turn 1 The High Elves spurred their steeds into a full gallop, the Silver Helms expert,y wheeling around to threaten the flank of the Hormagaunts and the Tiranoc Chariot swerved around to face them on their other flank. The Ellyrian Reavers trotted toward the Gargoyles and the Lothern Sea Guard ascended the hill, both units beginning to string their bows. In the Shooting Phase, the Ellyrian Reavers missed the Gargoyles with all of their shots, and though the Lothern Sea Guard did manage to hit five Hormagaunts, all of these failed to wound, the High Elves’ poor luck marring the advantage they seized earlier on in the turn. There was no combat to speak of yet, so their turn ended. The Hive Mind responded by bringing on all the delayed units from its long table edge, the Soldiers advancing scarily close to the flank of the Silver Helms, the Termagants scuttling onto the battlefield next to the Gargoyles and the Zoanthrope hovering between them. The other Hive Mind units then , the Gargoyles flying round towards the Lothern Sea Guard, the Soldier-Prime retreating to join the Soldiers (it wasn’t going to risk suffering a repeat of the Boar Chariot debacle) and the Hormagaunts swinging around to face the Silver Helms, seeing the Ellyrian Reavers and Tiranoc Chariot as the weaker threat. In the Magic Phase the Zoanthrope scored 8 for the Winds of Magic and managed to channel an extra power dice, while the High Elves got five dispel dice. The Zoanthrope used six dice to cast its spell and did so with Irresistible Force, targeting the Silver Helms with its Energy Blast, though the beam scattered 4” and missed. To make matters worse, the subsequent Calamitous Detonation wounded the Zoanthrope and killed two of the Termagants nearby. In the Shooting Phase, the Gargoyles fired upon the Lothern Sea Guard but failed to wound any and the Soldiers with Devourers fired at the Silver Helms but the Elves knights passed all their armour saves. The Soldier-Prime fired at the same target with its Spinefists but failed to wound, but the Soldier with Venom Cannon managed to fell one of the barded cavalry. The Termagants also had two models in long range and contributed to the fusillade but to no effect. Both sides had some extremely poor luck in the first turn, so surely it could only get better from here? Turn 2 Affronted by the idea of such foul creatures actually having the tactical intellect to outflank them, the Silver Helms quickly galloped around in a circle to face the Soldiers and use the dolmen to obscure the Hormagaunts’ charge, though they failed their Leadership test to march. The Ellyrian Reavers obstructed the Tiranoc Chariot’s charge so they moved round to chase after the Gargoyles, and the Lothern Sea Guard stayed where they were and took aim at the Gargoyles. The Tiranoc Chariot could have charged, but knew they couldn’t take on such a large unit as the Hormagaunts unsupported, so waited until some of their comrades could help out too. In the Shooting Phase, the Lothern Sea Guard shot down 8 Gargoyles, and the Ellyrian Reavers skew one more, though the Shrieking Terror remained. The crew of the Tiranoc Chariot attempted to whittle down the Hormagaunts but missed. In the Hive Mind turn, the Soldiers charged the Silver Helms, who retreated as they couldn’t get the benefit of their lances and escaped their pursuers, the Hormagaunts failed their Leadership test to march and wheeled round to avoid the Tiranoc Chariot charging into their rear, the Shrieking Terror flew round behind the Lothern Sea Guard, the Zoanthrope hovered towards the same foe and the Termagants trotted towards the Tiranoc Chariot to try and distract it from charging the Hormagaunts in the flank. In the Magic Phase the Zoanthrope rolled poorly for the Winds of Magic and got only 5 power dice, the High Elves getting 4 dispel dice, but just managed to cast ‘Energy Blast’ which the High Elves failed to dispel. However, the psychic missile the creature generated flew up and over the heads of the Lothern Sea Guard it targeted, only narrowly missing the lone Gargoyle. In the shooting phase this creature was the only Tyranid bio-form that could fire this turn, and missed its target. Turn 3 The next High Elf turn began with the Silver Helms uncharacteristically failing to rally and galloping towards the edge of the board, the Tiranoc Chariot charging around the bog and into the Termagants, running over four of the creatures underneath its master-crafted wheels and the Ellyrian Reavers remaining stationary to fire upon the Soldiers alongside the Lothern Sea Guard, who had turned around upon the crest of the hill to do so, the combined fire of the two units felling one of the large Tyranids but poor luck on the Sea Guard’s hit rolls meant it could have gone a lot better. The Noble also fired his longbow into the creature’s and wounded another. In the newly-joined combat, the Tiranoc Chariot largely fluffed its combat rolls after the initial charge, the crew failing to wound and the horses managing to trample only a single Termagant, but the Tyranids’ performance was equally poor, managing to score only a single wound which was then saved. Due to the casualties inflicted by the Chariot’s lucky Impact Hits, however, the High Elves won the combat by 5, forcing the Termagants to flee automatically as their Leadership was of the same number. The Tyranids could only manage to run a mere 6” while the Chariot leisurely ran them down, moving 11” and galloping off the board to return in the High Elves’ next Movement Phase. The Hive Mind continued to advance the rest of its troops relentlessly forward, the Hormagaunts once again failing the test to march but still managing to traipse around the dolmen with the Sea Guard in their sights, while the Soldiers advanced after the fleeing Silver Helms in case this was all an elaborate ruse the Elves were planning on rallying as soon as they got safely out of harm’s way. In the Magic Phase the Zoanthrope received 8 power dice, and the High Elves received only four dispel dice, allowing the creature to easily summon another Energy Blast with the High Elves failing miserably to dispel it. This time the blast hit the Elves right on target, blowing ten of the Lothern Sea Guard to smithereens. Even with this spectacular amount of destruction, however, the surviving Elves picked themselves up, dusted themselves down and remained stoically in the fight. The Hive Mind Shooting Phase was much less effective, the Shrieking Terror and the Soldiers failing to hit their targets. Turn 4 In the High Elf turn, the Silver Helms rallied as expected, and turned to line up a charge against the Soldiers in the following turn, and the Tiranoc Chariot returned after running down the last of the Termagants. The Lothern Sea Guard remained stationary and aimed a volley of arrows at the Hormagaunts, while the Ellyrian Reavers trotted behind the Tyranid feeder-beasts to bring their own arms to bear upon the troublesome Zoanthrope alongside the Chariot. However, all the shots they could fire were either deflected by the creature’s carapace or absorbed by its Energy Field, and though the Sea Guard hit the Hormagaunts with all their shots, they only managed to wound and kill one. The Noble added another to his tally with his longbow, but there were still 26 of the fanged monstrosities to kill. The Hive Mind continued to press the offensive, with the Hormagaunts charging up the hill into the remaining Sea Guard and losing two to their Stand and Shoot reaction, the lone Gargoyle flying over to the ruins to see if it could do any better at firing pot-shots into the Silver Helms and the Zoanthrope turning to face the Tiranoc Chariot. The Soldiers attempted to charge the Silver Helms but fell just short, moving 4” towards them. The Zoanthrope summoned another Energy Blast with Irresistible Force, triggering a Dimensional Cascade that sucked the Tyranid bioform into the Realm of Chaos, but not before the bolt of psychic energy hit the Tiranoc Chariot, damaging it but only inflicting a single wound. In the shooting phase the Shrieking Terror finally hit something with its Fleshborer and slew a Silver Helm, the beetle fired by the weapon eating through Ithilmar Barding and flesh alike. In the one melee the Lothern Sea Guard failed to kill a single Hormagaunt and the Noble beheaded only one, in return for three High Elves being pulled down by the swarm. This meant the Tyranids won the combat by 1 despite the High Elves having a standard and the high ground, but the Sea Guards’ proximity to their general meant they still held their ground. Turn 5 The High Elves began their fifth turn by charging the Silver Helms into the Soldiers and moving the Ellyrian Reavers and the Tiranoc Chariot around to line up a combined charge against the Hormagaunts in the final turn. Because the target of these two units was currently engaged, they couldn’t shoot this turn, so once again the combat phase began. In the newly-joined melee, the Silver Helms impaled the wounded Soldier upon their lances and the Alpha Soldier was also badly damaged, for only a single casualty in return that was torn asunder by the Soldier-Prime. In the other combat the remaining Sea Guard fought bravely and impaled two Hormagaunts upon their spears, and the Noble cut down another, but the aliens ripped the remaining Sea Guard to shreds so that only the High Elf General remained to confront the swarm, rolling a double-1 for his Leadership test and continuing to fight. In the Tyranid turn the only move that could be made was to swoop the Shrieking Terror towards the Tiranoc Chariot, hoping it could damage the vehicle further, which it couldn’t. In the combat between the Soldiers and the Silver Helms, the Elven knights slew the Alpha Soldier, but the horses could do nothing against the Tyranid General, who cut down two of the cavalry in return to force the combat to a draw. In the other melee the High Elf Noble beheaded two Hormagaunts for no wounds in return, but the creatures stayed put due to their proximity to the Soldier-Prime. Turn 6 The final High Elf turn saw the Ellyrian Reavers and Tiranoc Chariot double-team the Hormagaunts in the rear and flank respectively, the Chariot running over three of the creatures as it entered the melee. The Ellyrian Reavers skewered another three upon their spears, the Tiranoc Chariot crew killed another, and two more were chopped down by the Noble. In return the Tyranids only managed to kill one of the Ellyrian Reavers but also critically managed to tear apart the Noble, his Armour of Destiny failing to protect him. Despite this, and even with their proximity to their general, the remaining aliens could not cope with being charged so spectacularly and ran, only for them to roll a 3 for their rout distance and be run down easily by the Ellyrian Reavers, the Chariot galloping beside them. In the other combat, the Silver Helms failed to pierce the tough, chitinous hide of the Soldier-Prime, and two of them were torn asunder in return, leaving just the High Helm alive, but the Elf stayed to fight on. Once again the only thing the Tyranids could move was the lone Gargoyle, who swooped over to the crest of the hill to take a pot-shot at the Ellyrian Reavers, but missed. In the one remaining combat the High Helm fought bravely, but still couldn’t do a thing to harm the Soldier-Prime, which tore him and his horse apart in a flurry of scything talons and roared in triumph over the corpses of the Elven cavalrymen, signalling the end of the last game for this list. High Elf Victory Points: 497 (for killing everything except the Soldier-Prime and the Gargoyles, the last of whom was able to keep his head down for the rest of the game) Hive Mind Victory Points: 674 (for killing the Sea Guard, the Silver Helms and the High Elf General) A third Hive Mind Victory! But I think it was only possible due to two particular occurrences: Firstly, the lucky Energy Blast from the Zoanthrope that hit the Sea-Guard dead-on and killed ten of them, because this hit the unit’s shooting capability really hard and set them up for... ...The Hormagaunts’ charge up the hill that wiped out the rest of them and killed the Noble in the final turn of the game, just as the Ellyrian Reavers and Tiranoc Chariot rode to their General’s aid. If the Noble hadn’t failed both his armour and his Ward saves it would have been a narrow High Elf Victory due to the Hive Mind losing all their units except the Gargoyles who were themselves down to a single model. You could easily feel sorry for the Tiranoc Chariot and Ellyrian Reavers - perform that devastating charge only to witness their General dying is really cinematic, especially as in the previous fight he suffered no wounds from the Hormagaunts at all, and you can imagine those units channelling a bit of their inner-Dark-Elf as they ran down and slaughtered the rest of the Hormagaunts in revenge, returning to their cool composure only when the last of the Hive Mind feeder-beasts had an Elven spear rammed through its chitinous body. This was a really tense final battle, with fate swinging wildly to favour one side, then the other. The High Elves got the better-end of the deal during Deployment when so many of the Tyranid units were delayed, only for Fate to favour the Tyranids by causing none of the High Elf-Shooting to have any effect- if this hadn’t happened the battle would certainly have remained in the High Elves’ favour for longer. Then the Tyranid reserves were able to come onto the board almost on-top of the Silver Helms, only for their own shooting to be similarly poor, allowing the knights to gallop away, and the High Elves to be given the chance to slaughter the Gargoyles at range. The battle then continued to swing back and forth, and it was only at the very last set of combats that Fate chose the Tyranids to win by getting the Hormagaunts to slay the Noble and the Soldier-Prime to kill all of the Silver-Helms. Once again the battle was a whitewash for neither side really, which is what Warhammer Fantasy battles should be. I’m pretty impressed with how this small Hive Mind build has fared, and am largely happy to keep the rules as they are, the only exception being some alterations to the way the Synapse Creature special rule affects the weaker Swarmling creatures, as I feel this is a tad underpowered. In any case, let’s analyse the performance of the various Hive Mind units once more: Soldier-Prime: The Hive Mind general was fantastic in this battle, indeed I believe he saved his best performance for last by not only holding against the Silver Helms, but hacking them down in return over a few turns, without any magic items to speak of except the Crown of the Apex (which itself proved vital for the army’s function throughout these playtesting games). Of course he had some minions in the form of the Soldiers to take the hits for him, but using heroes to empower units and units to protect heroes is a tried-and-tested tactic for all the armies in Warhammer Fantasy, as well as other games like SPQR. What’s more, he didn’t massacre all those Silver Helms in one turn, he gradually cut them down over several turns, which is proof he isn’t OP. Hormagaunts: Once again these chaps didn’t have the best of times, getting bogged down in melee before being annihilated in a double-team charge, but they did have some success in finishing off the Lothern Sea Guard and cutting down the Noble in the nick of time. I suppose this is good really, given they are basic troops and quite cheap in points - they are supposed to work better in larger units and rely on numbers to overpower their foes. I still think they should have the Stubborn rule when in Synapse range so they don’t need to be babysat by the Tyranid General, but I can’t give them too much of a Leadership buff or else they will be too strong I reckon. Termagants: Where the Soldier-Prime had the best performance across the five games this time, I think these things had the absolute worst, failing to kill a single Elf and then getting run over by a Tiranoc Chariot for their trouble. However that is an inherent disadvantage in any unit with a short-ranged missile weapon in this game (Skink Cohorts and Night Runners are other examples) - against slower units you can afford to get within range and have a chance to escape being charged, but against an army build like this one, with a plethora of fast-moving cavalry and Chariot units, these just didn’t stand any chance of getting within range before being attacked. Luckily they were cheap as chips so could afford to be lost anyway. Soldiers: These chaps had it quite badly this time round, failing to kill anything with their shooting attacks, gradually getting whittled down by the High Elves and ultimately being impaled upon the Silver Helms’ lances. However, they shielded the Soldier-Prime from this fate and kept him alive so he could take the Silver Helms apart himself, so they did something useful this battle. Zoanthrope: Our Hive Mind Wizard literally had an explosive performance this game, being allowed to wield the most dangerous power of all in the Lore of the Hive Mind. At first he struggled to take control of his Energy Blasts as he kept rolling 6s for his scatter roll and sending bolts of Warp-infused energy flying all over the place (sometimes damaging his allies in the process) but finally he found his aim and eradicated ten Lothern Sea Guard from existence. If this hadn’t happened I would have been sceptical as to whether the Hormagaunts could have beaten them in melee with all those spear attacks, and they were decimating Hive Mind units in shooting, so that really knocked them down a peg or two and ultimately helped the Tyranids to win the day. Sadly karma caught up with our floating brain, and not long after blowing those High Elves up he managed to get himself killed with a Dimensional Cascade, all to inflict a single measly wound on the Tiranoc Chariot, but then that’s the gamble you have to take when using Wizards (as a Dwarf player I say you’re better off without them ). Gargoyles: These also had one of their worst performances this time round, losing most of their number very early on thanks to the peerless accuracy of the High Elves, and the only thing they were able to do afterwards was kill a single Silver Helm, but then these had some pretty good times of it in the other games, and this shows they are definitely beatable if you know when to shoot them (before they can get behind you!). Without further ado I will update the scores for the last time: Swarms of the Hive Mind: 3 Official GW Factions: 2 This has been a very satisfying session of playtesting, as most of the victories the Hive Mind have had were often due to luck of the dice rather than by how the army was built, which is exactly what we want. Now, those of you who have been very good and followed this saga might think that this is the last you’ll see of the Swarms of the Hive Mind, but don’t fret - just because these chaps seem to be pretty balanced at low points costs, that doesn’t mean that they’re balanced in bigger games yet. We haven’t seen any of the real monsters of the Tyranid army in action, like the hyper-intelligent Hive Tyrant or the fearsome Carnifex, and neither have we seen how some of the other specialist units perform, like Lictors, Raveners or Forerunners (Genestealers to those who play 40K). Therefore, I will be back soon with more batreps at larger scales, and I look forward to hearing what you all think!