Canute’s Folly – Tyranid Special Mission

Generally, the 40k games amongst the Warbasterds are some flavour of clang-off, two Marine armies thrusting armour-clad wangs at each other in a frenzy of 3+/4+ rolls. We’ve got good Marines, bad Marines, morally disreputable Marines and Marines a little concerned about their secrets. Sometimes the games get a little Guard involvement, sometimes a little Tau or Eldar action, but we do seem to roll clang a lot of the time.

So, when Steve ‘Flex’ Flexington and Robin ‘Beard’ Scotsman had a look through their various bits and worked out they could field 3000pts of Tyranids between them, we damn well jumped at the chance to throw some rark-pop-swoosh-thud-crump at them. It had been so long since we had played ‘Nids, that most of us couldn’t actually remember the last time. Such an auspicious occasion demanded something a little more than the rather weak scenarios and victory conditions presented in the Rulebook, so I took some time and knocked up the following special rules for the game:

Canute’s Folly: Game Special Rules

*Nominate one warlord per army*

Victory Conditions


  • Consume, Absorb, Repeat – the collection of biomass is everything to the swarm.
  • Earn 1vp for every Imperial unit wiped out
  • Infophage – the information held in the neuro-mass of the enemy commander will be invaluable to the Hive Mind.
  • Earn 1vp for killing the Imperial Warlord


  • Buying Life With Death – with every hour you hold out, more Imperial ships escape orbit and the Hive Mind.
  • Earn d3vps each turn
  • Hive Node Strike – disrupting the Hive Mind is your greatest chance of victory.
  • Earn 2vps for killing the Tyranid Warlord
Games Rules

The Endless Tide
Any non-Warlord Tyranid unit destroyed can be placed into ongoing reserves and rolled for at the start of the next Tyranid turn and can enter from their chosen board edge. If a 6 is rolled for the reserve roll, the unit may enter via Deep Strike

Band of Brothers
Any Imperial unit under 25% strength can join another Imperial unit by ending the movement phase within squad coherency. The units then operate as a single for the rest of the game.

Desperate Measures
Once per game, at the start of their turn, each Warlord can roll on the appropriate table below.

  • 1-2 : No effect – the insidious psychic presence of the Hive Mind haunts your thoughts, preventing you from forming a coherent strategy
  • 3-4 : In the name of the Throne, shoot it! – one unit occupying cover can re-roll all shooting misses and to-wound rolls of 1
  • 5-6 : Nuke the site from orbit… – the Warlord can call in an Orbital Bombardment as per the Chapter Master rules.


  • 1-2 : No effect – the death of a Hive Node ship in orbit disrupts the presence of the Hive Mind
  • 3-4 : Adrenaline surge – one unit can move, run and assault in the same turn and gets the Furious Charge bonus for that turn.
  • 5-6 : Jones is acting strangely – once model in the Imperial army (not a character) is infected by Hive Mind parasites and can be controlled by the Tyranid Warlord for one turn. After this turn is complete, the model in question is killed by his comrades. For vehicles, this means the vehicle can be left immobilized or counts as having a weapon destroyed as a crew member is killed – this is the Imperial players choice and does not remove a Hull Point

No planning or play-testing went into those rules, just a gut feel for what was not too biased or game-breaking. The 8 by 4 table was set, the scenery in place – we just needed the armies.

On the Tyranid side, we had:
Steve, with his newly acquired Wall of Carnifex’s and about three space hulks worth of Genestealers.
Robin, with some classic 3rd and 4th edition Tyranids, including the cutest little metal Carnifex and a Hive Tyrant with so much gloss varnish hanging off its chin it immediately earned the nickname ‘Ripley’
While us Imperial boys rolled thusly:
Dave commanding some Iron Talons that were wondering where the hell their transports were.
Martin, with Iron Hands being all ‘the Flesh is weak, yo’ while their Master of the Forge waved more arms than a Carnifex around.
James, dropping pie plates like some demented artillery Father Christmas with his 314th Artillery Regiment.

There’s a maths joke in there, which might be the most highbrow joke we’ve ever made on this website.

Anyway, sadly we only managed 3 turns in all, but it was a fine fine game. Check these highlights damn you:

  • During the Imperial first turn, artillery fire kills upwards of 40 Genestealers, while the Talons Sternguard and the Iron Hands kill 2 Hive Tyrants and a Carnifex in one turn of shooting, earning us the Hive Node Strike Victory Condition straight away. High-fives ensue.
  • During the first Tyranid turn, everything we killed comes back from reserve. Fuck. Steve also shows Martin that the flesh is sure as hell not weak, as a round of fleshy grub shooting from a 4-Devourer toting Carnifex tears the shit out of a Razorback in seconds.
  • In the second Imperial turn, we kill more Carnifexes and more Genestealers and more Tyrants, only to wince as they come on again, the majority deepstriking like pro’s into our deployment zone.
  • The ‘Nids takeover a Leman Russ briefly, killing a few Iron Talons and exposing its pert rear armour to the not-at-all phallic venom cannon of Ripley. They also earn the Infophage Victory Condition as the Red Terror yummies down on the Iron Talons Praetor.
  • The Red Terror barely gets seconds to enjoy its meal before the Talons Sternguard gun it down in return. I like to think they got my Captain out before he was too injured and he was emergency teleported back to the Strike Cruiser.
  • The Iron Hands Master of the Forge kicks the ever-living shit out of a bunch of Genestealers before a Screamer-Killer Carnifex gives him a big ole’ hug.
  • At the end of the 3rd turn, the Imperial side is reduced to about 25 combined Talons and Hands, and a largely robust Artillery Company. The Tyranids…well, they just kept coming. I’m pretty sure Steve and Robin somehow broke the laws of physics and ended up with more models on the table than they started with….

At the end of the evening, the result was a well-fought draw, 9 victory points all round. It was probably one of the best games we had played for a while. We laughed, we cried, we made inappropriate comments on a variety of topics, and performed synchronised crotch-thrusts.

Good times.

It also sparked something a bit bigger, a realisation that we didn’t really like the scenarios and victory points and objective rules presented in the 40k rulebook and that we missed the old 2nd Edition strategy cards. So, with that in mind, pretty much every 40k game we play from now on will be something along the lines of a custom scenario and have its own victory conditions. I’m also working on some strategic tricks tables for each army – keep an eye out for a future article expanding on our thought process behind this and the tables themselves.

In the meantime, we would heartily recommend trying this sort of game out for yourselves – even you lot, win-at-all-costs Tourney players. Your narrative-fun gaming heart might be withered and dead, but for fucks sake try and have fun with a game at least once eh?

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