A short guide to help make the Ancient One battle in the Imperium campaign a bit less daunting.
The battle against the Ancient One serves as both the “boss” of the Tyranid invasions and a way to complete the Tyranid’s storyline. The game isn’t incredibly clear about this, but winning the battle will stop all Tyranid invasions and reduce Tyranid threat levels to 0 in every sector. Essentially they’ll be removed as an enemy, so you’ll want to complete this mission as soon as it comes up. This guide should help make the climactic battle a bit easier, and represents my winning strategy on Normal difficulty with the Imperium.
As with any fight in Battlefleet Gothic 2, bringing the right ships and knowledge of the enemy before the battle are key.
- Ancient One: A massive Tyranid Hive Ship/Titan. It has a whopping 8000 hull points, but this is compensated for by being relatively slow and unable to use the standard Tyranid rush ability. It’s surprisingly under-gunned for a Titan, with 8 hanger bays, its unique Psychic Scream ability (which does an ape-ton of damage to your ships’ morale if they’re caught in the generous blast radius but otherwise no damage), and pretty much nothing else. This lack of weaponry will come in handy for us (see Battle Plan below).
- Initial Tyranid Ships: There are a loose ring of smaller Tyranid ships (mostly Escorts and Light Cruisers) around the Ancient One at the start of the battle. Since Tyranids are cloaked by default and these ships won’t move until you get close, they’re basically a trap to bog your ships down.
- Tyranid Reinforcements: Once you aggro the Ancient One, Tyranid reinforcements will start warping in. (Nevermind that they don’t travel via Warp) These will include ships up to Battle Cruiser tonnage, and there’s no end to them until the Ancient One is dead and the mission is won, so do your best to ignore them.
This is a list of fleets/ships that I brought to the battle. Each fleet contained more ships than I showed here, but I left them out since they weren’t needed.
Imperium Fleet 1 (Spire)
- Passive Abilities: Short-Burn Torpedos, Upgraded Sensors
- Active Abilities: Augur Probe, Plasma Bomb
- Oberon (Battleship): I put Spire in this one for maximum survivability. The long-range guns combined with Lock On stance means he can stay away from the enemy while still dishing out damage. Oberons also come with a launch bay and Sensor Pulse abilities to help with scouting, which is key when fighting Tyranids.
- Armageddon (Battle Cruiser): Essentially an upgraded Lunar, which is a decent all-rounder. I kept it in the picket line (see Battle Plan) so it could bring its torpedoes to bear.
- Falchion (Escort): An extra set of eyes that I keep close to Spire’s Oberon, away from the fighting.
Imperium Fleet 2 (Voskamp)
- Passive Abilities: Short-Burn Torpedoes, Navigational Shields
- Active Abilities: Augur Probe, Supercharged Void Shields
- Lunar (Cruiser): Voskamp’s flagship. Good all-rounder, I had her lead the picket line.
- Gothic (Cruiser): Good for landing critical hits; picket line ship.
- Dominator (Cruiser): I brought this ship as a bit of an experiment, but I’d probably switch it out, to be honest. The loss of torpedoes for a Nova Cannon really wasn’t worth it, and the shorter-ranged macrobatteries are okay against Tyranids. If I had to suggest an alternate, I’d probably say another Lunar or Gothic.
- Dauntless MK2 (Light Cruiser): This one was just to fill out the ranks since I had enough points for it but not another Cruiser. It at the very least has a spread of 4 torpedoes, which is higher than other Light Cruisers. Generally keep it away from the fighting and in Running Silent stance.
Mechanicus Fleet 1 (Awl)
- Passive Abilities: Upgraded Weapon Range, Mars-Pattern Reactor Feeds
- Active Abilities: Disruption Bomb, Rad-Storm Device
- Tyrant (Cruiser): The only reason I brought any Mechanicus ships at all was to be able to use a Nova Cannon and the Rad-Storm Device. In general, using Mechanicus to fight Tyranids can be a bad plan, since Tyranids love boarding actions and the cog boys are a bit flighty when it comes to morale.
Keep in mind that these fleet lists aren’t some kind of end-all, be-all guarantee of a win. This is simply what I used, and is meant to emphasize two things: keep Spire in a big ship to keep him safe, and go for a larger amount of medium (Cruiser or Battle Cruiser) ships with torpedoes over a few big ships without.
As I mentioned above, my plan for battle hinged on a few things. Namely:
- Killing the Ancient One is all that matters. Once it dies, the mission is won no matter how many Tyranids are left on the field.
- Due to the above point, fighting other Tyranid ships should be kept to a minimum since it distracts from damaging the Ancient One. Only fight other ships if they can be killed quickly; a prolonged melee will wear your ships down and you’ll be unable to dish out enough damage to kill the Ancient One.
- The Ancient One seems like a really scary ship, but it’s actually surprisingly weak for a Titan-class ship. The launch bays are almost always used to provide a fighter screen, and the Psychic Scream is heavily telegraphed. That leaves its natural Boarding Pods which, admittedly, can take a huge chunk out of your ships. However, those Pods can only hit one ship at a time and have a decent cooldown time. The other shortcoming is that it’s big, slow and can’t use the Rush maneuver. Essentially, it’s going to have to eat every torpedo, Nova Cannon, and teleport bomb you throw at it.
Based on the above points, I divided my fleet into two groups.
Group 1: Harassers
I sent Spire’s Oberon, the Falchion, and the Tyrant separately from the rest. Their job was to aggro the Ancient One and then retreat.
Group 2: Picket Line
The rest of the ships were kept in a loose line, hidden in a gas cloud on the lower right-hand side of the map. Their job was to fire torpedoes and generally throw as much damage on the Ancient One once it came into range. Ensure they are placed in Lock-On stance and set to Burn Retros so they stay in one spot.
Phase 1: Get everyone into position. Set up the Picket Line in the gas cloud, and make sure it’s one on the right-hand side of the map (this will become important later). Have the Harassers move up the center-ish of the map until they’re in range of the Ancient One. Have them scout ahead with fighters/Augur Probes, or ping sensors to catch any Tyranids lying in wait.
Phase 2: Have Harassers fire at the Ancient One to aggro it. If you stay at the extreme end of the Oberon and Tyrant’s ranges, you’ll be far outside its weapon ranges and relatively close to the Picket Line. Doing this will cause the Ancient One to use its first Psychic Scream, but it’s so far away that it won’t be able to hit any ships. The Ancient One will chase one of your Harassers (for me it was the Tyrant because I think its Nova Cannon connected first) and you can lure it back to your Picket Line. At this point, Tyranid reinforcements will start coming in from the top of the map. The highest tonnage I saw was Cruisers, but it could have been higher since I wasn’t focusing on them. Either way, they should be too far away engage you.
Phase 3: Harassers lure the Ancient One within weapons’ and torpedo range of the Picket Line. Before the Picket Line ships fired their first salvo, I hit the Ancient One with a Disruptor Bomb. The reason being, Tyranid ships’ point defense is tied to their shield. No shield means the only thing protecting the Ancient One from torpedoes is its fighter screen, and those can only fire at one torpedo at a time. After the shield is gone, make sure you fire the torpedoes as closely together as you can, to make it harder to pick them off before they hit. Otherwise, hit it with everything else you have: plasma bombs, Rad-Tempest Device, every boarding action you can. The only thing you might forgo is bomber strikes; you could time them to fly with your torpedoes, but they’ll probably get wiped out by the enemy fighter screen, and it’s better to reserve your launch bays for fighters of your own.
Phase 4: Once the Ancient One gets close enough to your Picket Line that they’re spotted, set their stance to Reload and change from Burn Retros to normal maneuvering. At this point, it will have probably recharged its Psychic Scream, so make sure to move your ships away if you see the circle appear. As the Picket Line’s torpedoes get reloaded, bring them to bear and try to strike the Ancient One amidships. I know lots of players like the torpedoes + Brace for Impact + ramming combo, but I’d suggest against it here. The Ancient One has no morale to damage with a ram and the disparity in size with your ships will end up doing minimal damage. By now, it’ll probably be close enough to launch its board pods to one of your ships. This puts 8 boarding stacks on it, so make sure to deploy Call to Arms on that ship. Once the Ancient One gets down to ~50% health, you’ll get a message that reinforcements are increasing.
Phase 5: Tyranid reinforcements will come more often and at higher tonnage. The highest I think I saw was Battle Cruiser, but there might be some Battleships/Hive Ships in there too. They’ll now also start warping in at random points of the map, although they’re still clustered around the edges. As before, don’t engage these forces and continue to focus on the Ancient One. Continue kiting it with whatever ship it’s chasing at the moment. Since it was the Tyrant for me, I was able to keep it moving while having Spire’s Oberon engage as well. This should also be the point that you get reinforcements of your own. Space Marines (complete with a Battle Barge) will warp in on the right side of the map, about halfway down. They’re not great at killing Tyranids and more than likely won’t even get to the Ancient One, but they’re great for distracting the enemy. This is why you set up on the right-hand side: Tyranids coming down the side of the map will instead aggro onto the Marines and free you up from having to fight them.
Phase 6: Finish off the Ancient One. At this point, it should be heavily damaged so a few more torpedoes/bombs/Nova Cannon shots should be enough to kill it. You’ll be treated to a cutscene of the Ancient One biting it and then the battle will be won.
Your reward for this will be enough Renown points to probably level up, a free research point, a permanent bravery increase for all ships and, most importantly, the end of the Tyranids as a threat to you. Considering that I hate the bug hunts that fights with them become, I was glad to see them go. Celebrate your victory; the Emperor does indeed protect!