Although I bought the new HOTT a month ago, I hadn't managed to play a game with it so far. So I put aside some time this Sunday to play a solo campaign I had been working on. Set in the WH40K universe (or my interpretation of it), this involves the player taking the role of a Tyranid hive-fleet attempting to consume worlds, add to its biomass and become an unstoppable force.
I won't detail the exact mechanisms here, as I still want to write them up properly, but basically it follows the basic plan of my other mini campaigns. Each turn (a year in this case) you roll a dice, which determines the event for that year. This could be crossing open space, finding an undefended planet to consume or encountering an enemy force. In the latter case a battle would be fought.
The Hive-Fleet has a Reproductive Factor (RF). This starts at 2, increases if the fleet wins a battle and decreases if the fleet loses a battle. It determines how easily the fleet can recover losses from battles as well. The aim of the campaign was to defeat a Space Marine force in battle such that you ended with a RF of 6. The fleet would encounter other armies on its journey, but the Marines were the final foe - the Boss, if you will - and a final battle with them represented the fate of the Imperium itself being at stake.
The fleet started with 36AP of troops. When called upon to fight I chose a 24AP army, then randomly determined the makeup of their foe. Attacker and defender were determined by the events table. If the fleet was called upon to fight a battle and had less than 24AP then it was assumed that it was too weak to continue and was considered dispersed., losing the campaign.
So here is Hive-Fleet Thatcher as it enters Known Space:
There's a Dominatrix (Magician General), Harridan (Airboat), Trygon (Behemoth), four Exocrines/Haruspex/Malefactors (Knights), two ersatz Tyranids (Warband), twelve Bugs (Hordes) and one lot of lesser Bugs (Lurker).
The campaign began.
Year One, and an encounter with an enemy force was rolled. There's a one in three chance of this; bear that in mind ...
The Tyranids had landed on planet and were attacked by a force of Orks.
It was a hard fight, but the Orks soon had the upper hand, and the Tyranids lost heavily. Not good for their first year. Their RF went down by one (to 1), and they lost two Warband, a Knight and a Horde, dropping their available force to 29AP
Year Two, and they rolled another battle as they descended on a desert planet and found it defended by a fore of Sisters of Battle, backed up by Imperial Guard.
The Tyranid's Trygon made it to the Imperial Temple, but the defenders destroyed it. However this was just as the rest of the Imperial force collapsed from accumulated losses, giving the Tyranids a victory.
The Tyranid RF went up to 2, but they still lost the Behemoth and a Horde. Their army was now at 24AP.
A number of the events involve the Hive-Fleet drifting through space, possibly regaining lost troops or adding to their RF. Unfortunately they didn't seem to be able to get those - in Year Three they fought another battle ...
Still processing the desert planet the Hive Fleet found itself under attack from an Imperial Guard relief force.
The Harridan helped destroy the Imperial commander to win the battle for the Hive Fleet.
The Tyranids now had a RF of 3, but had lost another Knight, leaving them on 22AP. They were now in a critical state; another battle would see them dispersed.
Year Four saw the fleet drifting through space, but they gained nothing.
Year Five saw Hive-Fleet Thatcher brought to battle by a force of Space Marines. With less than 24AP available they were immediately dispersed, and the campaign was over.
I was really unlucky to roll four battles in five years. The losses from the first battle with the Orks were critical, as at that stage the Hive Fleet was too weak to recover them. This meant that it was on the back foot from the start, so despite two victories it couldn't recover its strength fast enough and was eventually easy meat for its opponents. Still, I got to fight three battles, and the whole campaign took just over two hours to play.
Hive Fleet Thatcher will return ...