Monday, 27 April 2009

TACTICA: Tyranid Lictor - "The Lictor Buff"

Fear my Harikari Seppuku Lictor of DOOOM!

By Suneokun.

As you may be aware, I have a bit of a 'thing' for building redundant model types that don't really jump out at you. I'm a big fan of Rough Riders, Sentinels and Ogyrns. I like Tau Sniper Teams as a heavy support choice and would choose a Skyray over a Railhead as my tank of purchase... I enjoy converting Gargoyles or FlyWar's (which are currently WIP!) because no-one will field them because they cost too much money!

I like scratch-building or converting models that would otherwise cost me a small hernia in lead alloy to build a unit of...

The purchase of a lictor involved none of the above choices... and still I appear to have bought a dud!

Work Experience

I bought the Lictor as it's a stunning model. Nothing this side of Chaos looks quite so alien, spiky and nasty as a lictor. Secondly, I liked the statline - strength 6 is awesome, rending claws - nice, feeder tendrils - doubly nice, +2 cover save, awesome ...

And so I painted him up and took him for a game!

In both scenarios, I deployed the Lictor against a priority target and succeeded in ambush! The targets happened to be Tau Shas'El. In both cases the Lictor jumped the Shas'El, wounding with 3-4 S6 hits. This is where it all goes wrong. The rending never occurs, meaning that the Shas'El is left either uninjured or uninjured enough to pound my Lictor. Suddenly, I discover while I had a tiger in attack, I had a panda in defense (and not Jack Black I assure you). A Lictor is only T4 and has only a 5+ save. This means that unless it slaughters everything that moves in it's turn - it's gonna die.

To add insult to injury, on the second ocassion, not only did the Lictor fail to wound the Shas'El, but the Shas'El secured a single wound on the Lictor. Thanks to the new "Fearless vulnerability' rule, the lictor was force to make another save for his other 40pt wound and promptly died a henious death - doh!

So what's the future for my harikari Lictor? Well, I was stumped. At his inflated points cost I can buy 10 Hormagaunts or 16 Spinegaunts. I can even get a few kitted out Leaping Warriors or even 2 Flying Warriors for much the same price. Was he just a waste of points and even more importantly, an elites slot?


The lictor does fulfill one key role, and that's as an anti-tank weapon. Nothing else in the Tyranid Army can deliver 4 S6 attacks on the charge AND catch that leman russ napping in its own deployment zone. This means that the lictor can play a really great role in anti-tank. However, at 80pts it seems a shame to throw him away on this function alone, but the deterrence factor and the ability to threaten the deployment zone of the opposition shouldn't be underestimated.

After careful consideration I have come up with the following:

Force Multiplier

Playing nid's is all about forcing choices on the enemy. The anti-tank option is a great example of this above. The lictors strength however, is not in his offensive abilities, but rather in the combination of his deep strike ability and his feeder tendrils.

The Lictor where he belongs (cowering behind a bullet shield)

Example: The Rush

In this example, the enemy are given a tough choice. Does he target the hormagaunts streaming towards his line on the right flank, the genestealers which are tougher, most likely in cover and coming up the centre, or a swarm of termagants?

Now, from experience I can tell you, it won't be the termagants! However, while he's making short work of your hormagaunts (most probable) and perhaps forcing them to go to ground ... oh well. You move up your termagants within 18". The Lictor then plays his part. By dropping the lictor into a piece of area terrain behind the termagants (a piece of area terrain you are streaming past), the lictor can 'attach' himself to the rear of the termagant line. Now, your opponent may be bemused by your tactic... After all he's familiar with Lictors going after tanks or ambushing, so what's with this 'tag along' attack.

He may however perceive a large problem. You've just converted your 'bullet shield' into a fairly effective anti-GEQ and anti-MEQ force. The rules of feeder tendrils are that it confers the 'preferred enemy' rule to itself and any unit with a model within 2" of the lictor. Your termagaunts just gone from a 50-66% to hit rate to 75%-99% to hit. Combine this with a toxin sac upgrade (S4 to wound, S5 fleshborers) and termagaunts are lethal:

- 10 termagants go from 3.33 GeQ kills to 6.66 kills per turn. (plus 4.16 fleshborer kills)
- 20 termagaunts go from 1.11 MeQ kills to 5 kills per turn. (plus 2.22 fleshborer kills)

The lictor ideally stays at the back of the horde, out of combat and outside dangers of fearless 'harikari' actions. But here's the brilliant part - he gains a 2+ cover save! I would definitely consider upgrading the Gaunts with toxin sacs and flesh hooks, and an initiative bonus of facing Space Marines.

Ripping Yarns

Another nice buff is to use this on Ripper Swarms. Swarms cannot offer cover saves to monsterous creatures or vehicles, but Lictors are fine. As such the swarm is the cheapest per wound, per points models and allows you approach the enemy in confidence. Thanks to the 3 wounds and the +1 cover save, few opponents will fire on rippers. Thanks to their 'low profile' few oppoenents can actually SEE rippers as they can usually hide behind a small wall and the like.

Equipped with both toxin sacs (S4) and leaping, these Rippers are only slightly more than basic spinegaunts (5.66 pts per wound) and can offer a really nasty surprise - moving 18" and attacking with 4 S4 attacks - reroll to hit anyone? That's 9.33 GeQ kills per turn from 119 pts (that's better stats then hormagaunts, and for a unit with less 'heat'). The only downside is that the Rippers will be hitting last except against Tau - however with three wounds each, you won't lose a single base to 10 guardsmen (2.08 kills per turn).

"Emperor be damned, I never saw that coming!" said Fritz.


The Lictor-Buff (sounds remarkably dodgy doesn't it!) tactic is invaluable. Putting another layer into your army and giving the Tyranids a Tau pathfinder, Eldar Spells or Sternguard type unit. Capable of disrupting the expected and turning the tides. The benefits are compound as if you do manage to land a lictor, you then have the choice of which unit, or UNITS to accompany, since lictors are force mulipliers par excellance. Your leaping, scything warriors become an excessively lethal force, and as for the already capable genestealers or hormagaunts plus Lictor will kill everything - game over.

The ability to make any unit in your army combat efficient is what a lictor brings ... so next time you see a lictor in your opponents army list - beware, its not just a one-shot wonder or an easy killpoint!

In addition, the lictors also allow a reroll for reserves every turn (except them of course) which can be very helpful. I would recommend always rolling for the 'littleuns' first, like gargoyles or flanking termagaunts - thereby you can save your reroll for the Flying Warriors or Broodlord supporting them.

If you do have a particularly intrasigent foe, or are facing a dreadnought with Termagants remember the lictor can jump in to assist, but he will need to be in base to base contact and is therefore vulnerable to counter attack - beware Lictor Harikari!

Let me know what you think!