Monday, 18 January 2010

Tyranids - First thoughts of an old school Nid player

***Just a quick note before we get started... I'm a player of Nids, Guard and Tau, so my perspective is fairly balanced between what good for the Nid player ... and good for their opponents.***

I got hold of the nid codex last Friday and my grubby little hands have been itching for it all weekend. The Codex has put some serious twists on the army, and paints some significant changes for Nid gamers...

End of the Genestealer?? So says the Parasite of Mortrex!

End of the Genestealer...

The new codex has all but done away with a key ingredient of the old codex - flesh hooks. These are now the province of Lictors and the Death leaper alone. For the non-Nid player, flesh hooks 'count as' frag grenades. They were a staple of the old codexand available to everyone (even the Carnifex). They were an absolute must for Hormagaunts, Genestealers and Assaulty Warriors as they guaranteed that that precious I5 or I6 was safe in close combat.

Reading through the other blogs... and talking to people at the stores - everyone seems to have missed this. Everyone's talking about the new broodlord (but more on him next) ... but everyone's missing that a bunch of Assault Marines in cover with EAT genestealers for breakfast. Space Wolves, especially, have nothing to fear as those genestealers will be attacking at initiative 1.

So while the new genestealer price is nice (14 compared to 16 pts) and the broodlord is cool. It's taken (to use the Yank term) 'a serious Nerf' over the instantdeath monster it was. More on 'assaulting into cover' later though...

Don't fear the Broodlord

Ok, so he's 46 points instead of 70, and he keeps all his stats, and you can take 6 of him, AND he's now fleet - but is he that great? No, not really.

Stealers are all fleet AND infiltrators (which should give some players the nightmares), this means they can deployed at 12" in cover and have a really good chance of making your lines on turn 1. However, any opponent who gets jumped like this is stupid or hasn't followed Fritz (IE: Reserve the lot!)

The real nerf comes in several forms. Firstly he used to count as having power weapons (thanks to his 'monstrous strength'), that's gone so its back to the pants 'rending' for him. He is faster, but he loses his 'Synapse' ability ... this means that the Tyranid Prime (proof that all GW staff play 'Hordes' innit?) steps up as the 'Synapse in the horde'. The Broodlord does get some nifty new psychic powers ... one of which could stop everyone in base contact from attacking in assault. See this as 'flesh hooks lite', it could however give the Broodlord (and some good rolling) a nice anti Space Marine commander option. Remember the broodlord cannot be targetted in Assault now (as he effectively a unit upgrade) and so his unit can slaughter an IC with the comeback all on the genestealers...

So how does the Tyranid player make Genestealers 'stick'....?

Assaulting into Cover

The first thing to consider is the 'big book' answer. If your opponent is already in assault from the previous turn OR gone to ground ... then Assaulting into Cover holds no fear. Therefore, it's clear that pinning weapons are a must for the codex.

That means that the StrangleWeb Cannon (S6 large blast) and the Barbed Strangler (S4 large blast) will have a key role in pinning troops in cover. Anyone in the open's easy meat - but a pinning roll (against Ld8) ... unfortunately it cannot be used in combo with the Broodlords 'Aura of Despair' as that last from the Nid Assault phase through to the end of the other players turn (IE it specifically excludes the Nid Movement and Shooting phase) ... so you cannot multi-ping an uberunit of Guardsmen in cover with Ld -3 and THEN pin them - nasty!

I haven't included the strangleweb in this... but it's really only useful against guardsmen and Tau (and even then its 5+ to wound) ... at only S2 - its pants against Marines or Kroot as the Tyranid player will need a 6+ to wound...

So the options are to pin or pre-assault. Against non-power weaponed adversaries (like Tau) this is a job for the Ravenors, Lictors or my favourite ... tunneling Ripper Swarms. Rippers are the same price, but are great at tying up non S6 adversaries ... just in time for the Hormagaunts to strike...

There's also one more option - the Devourer has lost it's 'living ammo' reroll to wound - but has gained an interesting feature. If a Devourer causes a casualty on a unit and that unit has to take a Ld test (for 25%) casualties, losing a combat - then it does so at -1... this could be a nasty combo if combined with the broodlord 'Aura of Despair'?!?

Other options ... Wargear (or Biomorphs)

Apart from the Lictor (with flesh hooks ... now a S6 rending assault shooter too ... watch out!) the other unit to get pretty standard assault grenades option is the Carnifex. The Trygon and Mawloc don't, but the Carni gets Frag spines (spent all night thinking that one up eh?) ... but since Carni's are now overpriced and seriously weakened ... don't expect to see a lot of them.

The other option is given to the Tyrant, Tyrant Guard, Warriors and Warrior Primes - Lash Whips. While expensive (at 15 points for Warriors), the lash whip and bonesword combo gives the Nids a power weapon at I4 (5 with furious charge) and automatically reduces all opponents in base to base combat with the Warriors to I1. This is likely to become the Tyranids defacto cover storming weapon of choice. It means that the Nids can 'cherry pick' the assault to marginalise IC's or relic weapon adversaries to maximise that first turn killing spree. It's also a must for the Warrior Prime (I still prefer Alpha Warrior...) as it give him the chance to swarm the B2B Heroes before they kill him (he IS an IC, unlike the broodlord) ... overall it's a better option than the broodlord.

Finally, the Tyrant has another trick up his scaly sleeve - Paroxysm. This is a shooting attack that allows the Tyrant/Swarmlord to reduce one unit to WS or BS 1. Since linked IC's would be 'part' of the unit as a shooting attack - this will prove devastating. When combined with lash whips on a Tyrant and 3 Tyrant Guard it means your decent close combat unit now hit last and need 5+ to hit, while being hit on 3+.

Special Characters

The new 'special characters' have caused a real stir. Just like with the Guard codex, they also open up some lovely conversion opportunities, with the Doom of Malan'tai and the Parasite of Mortrex heading up the other conversions...

Similar to the Guard codex, the 'special characters' are a lot of fun - provide real colour to the codex and aren't too overpowered.

Deathleaper gives you a Marbo equivilent with a special trick ... it can make one enemy character paranoid and reduce their leadership by D3... this is especially useful against uber commanders who buff units AND Psykers. A Rune Priest operating at Ld7 ain't that hot!

Doom of Malan'tai, well everyone will run their Zoanthrope as a doom at least once. It's a total bullet magnet for turn one - but once in the thick of it - it'll bloat to 10 wounds and start killing lots and lots of things... that said it's also only T4 and can be instant killed ... hint, hint!

Parasite of Mortrex, it's a flying IC that can latch to Gargoyle swarms. It has shadow in the Warp (goodbye psyker), is a synapse creature, instantkills on a to wound score of 6 and can turn anyone it kills into D6 Ripper Swarms - what's not to love... and as a 160pt HQ choice ... it's real fun! Powerfist assault fodder ... deffo!

My 'Parasite' - build last night out of a converted Flying Warrior

Swarmlord, At 100pts more than a Tyrant the Swarmlord needs to be special - and he is! 4+ invulnerable in Hand to Hand, 3+ normal... the bonesabres give the Swarmlord a reroll to wound against invulnerables... This turn TH/SS Termies into Fire Warriors... eeek! He's totally worth it as a threat and fire magnet - but is pricey as he'll require FULL Tyrant Guard support.

Old One Eye, Pointless and silly. A uber-price Carnifex (which are already overpriced) who can take a lot of punishment, has no frag spines (doh!) and no shooting?? Oh and he needs to walk, everywhere ... anyone for a Trygon?

Ymgarl Stealers, Another waste of points... 23pts for an uber buff stealer that still is undermined by cover ... wait for them in cover and then jump up and down on the overpriced clown. Even with their 'buff' of T4 and a 4+ save - just not worth it.

New Monsters...

The Trygon/Mawloc is a great addition to the Nid horde. Both strategically and model wise - this MC fits the bill. I've personally traded in my (still boxed and cellophaned) Carnifex for another Trygon. But which to run with...

Mawloc: As a huge fan of the film 'Tremors', I love the Mawloc. It's a superb model build and it's options are fluffy and fun. A S6, AP2 big blast at it's arrival is targetted at terminators. However, I don't think I'll be taking one... here's why:

Poor Fighter: After it's arrived and destroyed some terminators (and thunder hammer one's will still be kicking) - it only has 3 attacks and WS3. This means (like the Pyrovore, Tyrannofex and Venomthrope) that its a close combat monster that doesn't really want to be in close combat. Also it only has feeble arms ... meaning that it cannot get important rerolls in assault. This means the Mawloc could be easily caught and tied up by 10 guardsmen, it'll kill a whole 1.25 a turn! Remember that the Mawloc is also a 'feed' synapse creature with Ld8. This means you have a third chance of being stuck in close combat whether you like it or not!

Deep striker: I have a problem with both the Death leaper and the Mawloc in this. They arrive Turn 2, they then have to wait until turn 3 movement phase to redeepstrike and reappear on turn 4. Anyone else see a problem with this. S6 assaulty blast template aside - this unit is designed to target basilisks and other indirect fire systems.

Another shot of the Parasite of Mortrex conversion ...

Yes the Mawloc will cause trouble - but a five man combat squad with a powerfist OR five roughriders will effectively cancel it out. Remember that Tyranids are now subject to the leadership tests in close combat. This means that 10 roughriders will cause 3.5 wounds on your Mawloc (to it's 1 dead horsey-man) and that Mawloc would take a leadership test on Ld 6 ... with I4 versus I5. Thats 105pts of Horses killing 170pts of Mawloc. Hint: Take 10 roughriders.

Trygon/Trygon Prime (sounds like a ISA?)

The Trygon is the way to go for me. 6 attacks ... 7 on the charge. Two sets of scything talons (that's reroll to hit on anything (tank of person)) on a S6 MC ... yum yum. Plus the Trygon comes with an awesome shooty option! 6 S5 shots... or the Prime (real estate anyone?) comes with 12 S5 shots. More than enough to backlash a squad or rear armour a squadron of Leman russ.

I'll be rolling with two Trygons Primes, thankyou. The benefit of the Synpase and Shadow Abilities are also very useful. Plus you make two holes in your opponents backfield which those genestealers can come through (if they are not flanking).

Suneokun's Tyranid Thoughts...

As a Tyranid Player, the GW giveth and the GW taketh away... the new codex hasn't buffed the army like the new Guard or Ork codex did. The loss of flesh hooks and feeder tendrils means there's fewer options for the smaller beasts. Also the Tyranid Warriors look less appealing thanks to their loss of Eternal Warrior...

But... (and here's the controversial bit) ... I really like the new format. The Tyranids are less 'killy' but actually more interesting.

GW have really embraced two things that make the Tyranid Codex more 'fluffy' than ever before:
  • Filling the Skies: Out of 32 choices, you can count on one hand the number that can't deep strike. Only genestealers, the Tyrant and some 'specials' cannot be stuffed into a Myotic Spore and thrown at the planet. For me, this was always what was lacking in the old codex ... Tyranids would swarm across the board - but lacked the 'randomness' of a planetfall. This makes Tyranids a lethal force in Planetstrike BTW.
  • 'Hold your ground, men...' Playing against Tyranids was nearly always about wiping them out before they reached your lines. Now, Tyranids can really struggle against simple troops in cover. Tyranids have few saving throws and high initiative is their defence... the loss of this will mean that stationary shooting armies (like Guard and Tau) will have a good chance of getting the drop on them before they murder everyone.
What I'll be running...

So subject to a few conversions, I'll have the following available to choose from:
  • 26 Termagaunts
  • 24 Hormagaunts
  • 23 Genestealers
  • 2 Zoanthropes
  • 1 Lictor
  • 1 Broodlord
  • 9 Tyranid Warriors (6 with boneswords/lash whips and Devourers, 3 with Rending Claws and Deathspitters)
  • 7 Ripper Swarms
  • 21 Gargoyles
  • 2 Trygons (can either be deployed as Prime or not)
  • 1 Carnifex (Magnetised, so any loadup)
  • 1 Converted 'Parasite of Mortrex' - completed
  • 1 Converted Tyranid Prime Warrior with Bonesword and Lashwhips and Deathspitter

As such I'll probably start out playing the following combo's:
Parasite of Mortrex and 20 Gargoyles (with adrenal glands) - 300 pts. The Parasite offers both a ripper swarm breeding option AND S6 rending against vehicles. He's basically a faster Lictor with wings... I opted for adrenal glands for the Gargoyles as the I5 will come in useful. Against enemy MC's (I'm thinking Wraithlords here), the blinding venom gives them a good chance of causing 6.66 wounds on the charge from the 'to hit' rolls alone, followed up by a further 8 normal wounds (against MeQ's) ... that's not bad! The Parasite then piles in with his 5 rending attacks which can cause 2.78 wounds - with a 50% chance of D6 rippers against Guard or Tau or a 33% chance against Marines... tasty! Attack a flank and then 'amass' your own army of rippers to swarm across the board!

2 x Trygon Primes ... hugely expensive (at 480pts), but so much fun! The Trygons drop 24 S5 shots between them during the deepstrike. These guys make Lictors a must, as the +1 per lictor on the board and auto arrival within 6", means many lictors will be deepstriking into cover and then going prone for a 2+ cover save ... next turn - two Trygon's arrive.

Going to Ground

Remember that Lictors and genestealers are always effective when 'gone to ground', their high initiative means that a group of genestealers holding an objective will get a 3+ cover save, a lictor gains a 2+ cover save - due to his stealth. The only options ... well flamers are going to be the option of choice for attacking these monsters in combat - otherwise they are going to eat you for breakfast...


All in all, Tyranids aren't what they were a few days ago - and that's all for the good in my books. Other armies may actually find the Tyranids easier to work against, and the strategies have changed dramatically. In fact, this codex is more of a step backwards to the Screamer-Killer days...

For me, I'm pleased that the wargear (or biomorph) is no longer the key ingredient it once was in a Tyranid army. Hormagaunts (I know i've ignored them - but they sort of make sense now...) and termagaunts (especially with a few Tervigons knocking about) will become standard fare ... with the Gargoyles, Trygons and Mawloc causing problems.

What excites me at the moment is that I'm actually struggling to think of a 'good' list with the Tyranids - beyond the Mortrex option ... the army is actually balanced. I'm not looking at HiveGuards, Pyrovores or Venomthropes here (all of which are a waste of money in my book), but the core troops, fast attack, Heavy and HQ options have gained a lot.

Well done GW.