In theory we both set up 72AP armies which could then be split into three commands of whatever AP we fancied. But in fact I chose to run each of my factions as separate commands, so had a 24AP armies for each, and Caesar ran the Hive Fleet as three self-contained 24AP armies as well.
The Tyranids defended, and Caesar set up a very open terrain - he chose pieces and then we used a variant of my random placement system, which left most of the bad going far out on one of the wings, and only a couple of small hills in the main part of the battlefield.
Here are the armies set out at the start. Hive Fleet Thatcher was deployed in a single massive block, bulked out by the 24 horde elements that make up its core.
I deployed the Khorne contingent on my right, but extending into the centre. Slaanesh was running the alliance, and had the CinC, and I placed them out on the left, with the Dark Eldar on the far left. The Dark Eldar are made up of warband and riders, and my plan was to move them rapidly around the Tyranid flank, whilst pinning with the Slaanesh troops. meanwhile Khorne would hold and allow the Tyranids to come to them, aiming not to collapse before the other commands rolled up the Tyranid line.
Each Tyranid command was made up of a core of hordes, a primary 'control' creature and other stuff. Facing Slaanesh were warband, led by a hero Hive Tyrant. On the right was the overall commander, a fearsome Dominatrix magician, leading a force of knights and behemoths. And in the centre an airboat Harridan commanded a small aerial force, backed up by beasts.
The Dark Eldar flanking force.
Khorne - isolated, but defiant. This command was a mix of Chaos Marine blades, supported by knights, a Chaos Hero, and a behemoth Titan.
Slaanesh was commanded by a Chaos Magician, supported by a mighty War-Altar (behemoth), plus hordes and rider. A terrible Demon (god) waited to be summoned.
Hive-Fleet Thatcher advanced on Khorne. This was where I made my first mistake. I left the Khorne force in place. Caesar used the Dominatrix to bespell my behemoth, which immediately fled off the table. I should have advanced one move in order to prevent this. Not a good start.
On the other wing the Dark Eldar were rapidly moving into position. We use march moves in big games like this - an element of a group can move more than once, so long as none of the moves after the first start, end or go withing 600p of an enemy element. On a wider table it allows troops to get into battle more easily, or to redeploy if they have defeated what's in front of them.
Caesar checking distances. Behind him you can see a big Flames of War game being played out, set in Sicily in 1943.
Caesar's hordes were looking very exposed, but behind them the Hive Tyrant was organising his larger creatures for a counter-attack.
However PIP rolls like this didn't help. Not that mine were any better.
The Hive Tyrant found itself isolated, but went on the offensive, cutting through some of the fast-moving Dark Eldar craft.
The main Slaanesh line attacked the hordes ...
... and were repulsed with losses. Caesar's hordes were on fire in this game, constantly fighting the Chaos troops to a draw or destroying them. It was very frustrating.
The central Tyranid command, under the Harridan, swooped in on the left of the Khorne line.
Caught in a drawn combat with the Khorne Marine commander, the Harridan was flanked. This developed into a ridiculous run of drawn combats, with more elements being sucked in, and neither element able to finish the other.
On the Tyranid right the Dark Eldar continued to press their attack, exploiting the speed and mobility of their riders. The Hive Tyrant came under potentially fatal attacks a couple of times, but the fast Eldar craft weren't up to the task of finishing it off.
An overview of the battle.
The Dark Eldar commander threw in the Witches to try and finish off the Tyranid leader. Hero vs hero always ends badly for at least one party in HOTT, and sadly in this case it was the Dark Eldar. Still, it was worth a try. My main thrust on this wing was trying to take out the Hive Tyrant, hoping to break the command by its loss, or starve it of PIPs if it continued fighting.
Slaanesh kept up the pressure on the front of the Tyranid army.
On the other flank the Tyranids had finally got into action, and Chaos tanks battled massive monsters. There was lots of shoving back and forth.
Khorne's commander was now under pressure, with his retreat blocked by flying monsters, whilst the Harridan was also in danger from Khorne Juggernauts.
Marines attacked the aerial monsters, taking the pressure off their commander. And this allowed him to bring down the mighty Harridan. With its loss, the entire command broke, and mostly fled the field.
On the left the entire Dark Eldar command was now fighting hard, despite lots of casualties. They kept up attacks on the Hive Tyrant, and now the Chaos Magician was also adding their own psychic attacks as well.
The Slaanesh War-Altar came close to being swamped by hordes, but fended them off. Bloody hordes!
A view down the line from the Chaos right.
The main Slaanesh command was looking a bit thin and exposed now, and their cultists and other hordes were now fighting their Tyranid counterparts.
Hive-Fleet Thatcher was also putting pressure on the Khorne contingent, and gaps were opening in their line.
When the end came it was quick. The Dark Eldar command broke, but with their commander still on the field they were able to hold position. But the Slaanesh sorceror finally ensorcelled the Hive Tyrant, whose loss caused its command to break as well. Tyranids on the right and centre fled the field in confusion, even as the Dominatrix on their left led an attack which broke the Khorne contingent.
The End. The Tyranids had lost over 40AP of their troops; an army breaks on 36AP of losses. Two of their commands were demoralised and one had fled or been destroyed in its entirety. But it was a pyrrhic victory; the Dark Eldar and Khorne commands had also broken, but since neither lost their commander they were able to keep a lot of their troops from fleeing. The Slaanesh command was 4AP from breaking; the Alliance had taken 32AP of losses.
So a superb, close game with plenty of dramatic moments, and some wild swings of fortune. 'Man Of The Match' went to the Tyranid hordes, who swept all before them, causing a lot of the Slaanesh losses and preventing a breakthrough on that part of the field.