Wednesday, 24 February 2010

Choosing the best Shadowsword Variant - Poll.

A brief £48 and a short chat with Mark, my Guard 'partner in crime' at GiftsforGeeks and I'm the proud owner of a ShadowSword. After a quick search online, I've bottomed out the technique (which appear blindingly obvious really: Have a look at Weemen for the formula) for deploying any of the 6 Shadowsword Variants...

A read through the GW article (not that I set much strength to that) also had me thinking ... which variant do you think I should field in my first game. So I've decided to air my views on superheavies and most importantly asking on the poll opposite ... which one's best?

The Shadowsword comes in two main flavours ... out and out Gun Decks, or the seemingly weaker Fighting Deck. The Gun Deck variants are: Shadowsword, Banesword, Stormsword (get the theme here?), whereas the Fighting Deck Vehicles are the Banehammer, Doomhammer and the Stormlord (no relation...) and unlike the Gun Deck these guys sacrifice a little fire power for carrying some troops. This would appear a little odd ... but is incredibly tempting to me!


Unlike the Baneblade variants, these guys generally have an upgraded main gun and sacrifice some of the secondary goodies (like the forward mounted demolisher cannon). In all cases they can have pintle mounted lascannons and dual heavy bolters/flamers. This is titan weapon territory, with little to no sacrifices ...

Banesword - A great big Basilisk

One game with this and I can tell you I hate it. This is basically a big-ass Basilisk, and just like the Bassie it suffers from an excess of 'meh' when it comes to killing tanks or troops. In Apoc you will be consistently hitting superheavies and tanks with AV13 and AV14 frequently. S9, even ordnance S9 isn't there. The other problem is that this tank requires significant 'defence' as it is very vulnerable to close assault. Anyone inside it 24" minimum range is only facing lascannons and heavy bolters ... that means that 'cleaning terminators' off the bonnet requires significant assistance.

Alternatively, the indirect does offer a side armour chance against certain vehicles (Ork Battlewagons for example) AND it doesn't lack reach at 180". But for 450pts, you could field nearly 4 Basilisks, And I don't see this adding much.

Stormsword - King of City Fighting

Now, I know this is a big favourite with old school EPIC players, and I can see why. Ok, so it lacks in range - 36" ain't great. But that 10" Blast that ignores cover is pure delight. Definitely a support 'SHT' (Super-Heavy-Tank), but a cracker. The AP1 also means that it can hit any vehicles it can see in range, ignore the 4+ cover save and put +1 on the damage roll. Plus Killing swathes of troops as AP1 and S10 drops the instant-kill all round.

In a 12k+ points battle, I'd guess you'd barely notice this fella. Plus, with a 10" template he could comfortably drop a point blank shot at 5" ... fairly secure in missing his own bonnet - but still slaughtering the Terminators on the front porch!

Unlike the Shadowsword and the Banesword, this fella only comes with heavy flamers and twin-linked heavy bolters/flamers ... but the 20pt upgrade to lascannons is worth it!

Shadowsword - Titanic Terror

This is the 'badboy' of the group and offers some 'nasty' options. The Volcano Cannon is pure Titan killer weapon. It's a Destroyer weapon, which means that it can deploy a slightly smaller 5" template that autowounds/autopenetrates anything under it.

Vehicles under the central hole of the template get hit hard with an auto-penetrate with a +1 on the damage chart. Any other vehicle it touches pushes an auto-glancing hit. This means this weapon can seriously hold up the line, stun vehicles and blow the opposition to bits.

Just to make it worse, a Destroyer weapon ignore armour AND cover saves, with only invulnerable saves helping at all.

Slightly worse at infantry killing, the Shadowsword is the ultimate anti-titan or Superheavy weapon... that said, it a lot of points on a single shot. a 5" template is good ... but I remain unconvinced by this one. My motto is always quantity over quality ... and this looks like ALL the eggs in one big combustible basket.

I've fielded these once, and am yet to be 'overawed' by the D. In my opinion, any superheavy is pretty dead if the whole opponent's army levels their guns at it. The D stat might as well be a big X.

Gun Deck Round-up

The Stormsword wins a close victory over the Shadowsword, with the Banesword running a poor (and yet overpriced basilisk) third. I like the anti-personnel and antitank options involved with the Stormsword. Plus a D might as well be an X in Apocalypse, as the Shadowsword is a real fire-magnet.


PART TWO: Fighting Decks - "Prepare to Repel Boarders!"

The first advantage of these Tanks is that they can house troops. My understanding is that Superheavies can house multiple squads. In addition these squads can fire any weapon they like from the Superheavy and potentially EVEN if its moving!

The upshot is that the potential of these vehicles can be considerably increased by adding multiple Lascannon, Autocannon or Missile Launcher teams to the 'Fighting Platform' (This is actually suggested in a GW online article!) and let the fireworks begin.

Banehammer - Tremors from below

This is one tank that makes no sense, but I have a sneaking suspicion I'd love to try it. In the world of mech, this gun can offer you serious 'irritation' factor by offering a difficult terrain test on any vehicle or person within 14" (average) of its target (destroyed or whole). The fluff on the Fact sheet lists the Banehammer's usefulness against the Nids... but I think they forgot to read their own rules that day.

For nids, the Banehammer is a slight distraction. S8 7" template is slightly worse than S10 AP1 10" ... slightly. Additionally, most nids that are charging your lines get move through cover ... so a drop to 'normal' doesn't really bother them much (it reduces 3D6 to 2D6) ... and most really nasty nids can pop up behind these bothersome objects.

But, this cannon is pure hell against Space Marines. S8 AP3 is instant kill territory for all but the terminators, and the difficult/dangerous terrain tests are genius.

Imagine dropping a 7" pie plate on the advancing rhinos/vindicators/land speeders/chaos bikers or troops of a chaotic horde. Imagine the amount of 1's that could be generated in a 14" space around, or the number of Death Guard stumbling forward an inch.

Plus the Banehammer can compliment its firepower with up to 10 additional firing heavy weapon teams. That's some serious dakka. Imagine autocannons, Lascannon, missile launchers and other ordnance pouring out of this tank. Nice.

Doomhammer - "Shadowsword Lite"

As you may have guessed from my previous post, I really like the Doomhammer. 60" S10 AP1 5" is solid enough, let alone adding in the other heavy bolters and lascannons. However the Doomhammer drops the 'no cover save' of the Stormsword in exchange for better range. This is another 'below the radar' purchase. With a S10 AP1 Ordnance blast, it'll have a field day on exposed vehicles and is perfectly capable of anti-titan duties.

Add in the 10 guys shooting in the back, and this 'fighting deck' will be pumping out the rounds. Of the three, I prefer the design of this one (even over the stormlord) as it's fairly unprepossessing ... and therefore potentially lethal.

Stormlord - "Dakka Dakka Dakka Dakka"

The Stormlord is probably the coolest build of all. The Vulcan Mega Bolter beats the Guards Annihilator in both Power and AP. Of all the weapons on show here, this ones got nothing to do with scatter. As such you're only going to hit with half your S6 hits, by the time your cover saves can impacted - you're looking at a bare 3-4 kills. Pretty rubbish. Oh, and you can fire it twice if you don't move... Great.

But all is not lost. Despite the Stormlords lack-luster gunnery skills it does boast the largest fighting platform of all. At double the size of the other 'Fighting Deck' SHTs, the Stormlord can have 20 models shooting from the top.

So it could pump out 22 Lascannon shots or 46 Heavy bolter shots. Or 20 mortar shells a turn. Using the mortar as a discussion, you could field 6 mortar teams (thats 18 shots a turn) plus two platoon with flamers at 460pts.

18 mortar rounds landing throughout the Nid horde could then be followed up by 9 Heavy bolter shots and 30 Vulcan Mega Bolter shots ... anyone left?

Fighting Deck Round-up

Depending on your opponent and your allies, either one of these makes sense. Against the hordes of Orks or Nids, the Storm Lord offers superb options. It's main weapon can slaughter MC's, while the fighting platform allows a perfect light artillery deck for lining up the enemy. The Lascannons can then pick off heavier vehicles etc, while a group of flamers play standby to 'repel boarders'.

The Banehammer offer sincere anti MeQ options, killing indirectly more than it kills directly. Backed by considerable Leman Russ, Basilisk and other anti MeQ weaponry, this tank can cripple the speed of the marines.

The Doomhammer is probably the 'best' standalone of these three, as the others are pretty specialised. The Doomhammer offers a serious antitank weaponry, albeit not quite super-heavy territory. The Doomhammer compensates for this lack with its crew area and low (potentially) threshold.

Overall, I think the Doomhammer tips the edge, offering standalone durability and versatility.

Final Conclusion

With so many options to choose from, its a joy and a curse. The Gun Deck variants all offer devastating 'APOC level' firepower, but are vehicles that require escorts and backup to keep the enemy off. The 'Fighting Decks' have the awesome ability to give real standalone firepower, but their armoured platforms allow troops to disembark and counter attack.

But what do you think? Banesword or Shadowsword, Doomhammer or Stormlord? Have I missed a trick here ... vote on the right ... and let me know!

Saturday, 20 February 2010

Loving ImagineFX - Now I can start really painting.

Unbeknownst to some of you ... I've quite a background in oil painting (for the UK resident amongst you ... I got a A at A'level Art back in 1996...) and enjoy painting. The new bamboo pad I bought has rekindled the painting bug (especially useful when surrounded by small ankle biters ... after all, oil paints take weeks to dry ... sticky toddlersRus!)

So I've been playing at Art and artistry and doing some online work... an example of which is below...

Playing around with the oil paints in painter...

Then, TODAY... I discovered a magazine at the local newsagents, and I'm totally fixed. I struggle to justify the expense of magazines in the age of the internet, however ImagineFX is well worth a look. Something that you can read at length, be inspired and astounded by ... and thats even before you open the videos and blow by blow painter and photoshop masterclasses on their 'every issue' DVDs.

Truly brilliant, I've learnt more in one night than I'd ever thought of before. They get you thinking about brush types, layers, colours, lighting layers, character layers, superlayering layers and the ultimate layers and layers within layers....

It's pretty cool. If you love DeviantArt or Loveminiornot... Check out the scifi and fantasy dedicated art magazine: ImagineFX ... loveliness.

As a dedication to the what I've learnt, I've produced the above duplicity ... to be refined but definitely inspired... it's a moment that The Ciaphas Cain novel nail, Necrons discovered...

This picture's got about 10 layers, depth light and everything... think this picture, but ten times the work ... and you're about there.

My Insane Painting Buddy

Big shout out to Anton for some ridiculous painting antics ... its like 24 ... Jack Bauer ... gotta paint a Cryx warmachine force before the Warmachine Tourney at the weekend and he's got too little time, too many social events and the Sepia Ink's running low!

Check out Ant's hilarious exploits and stellar speed painting at The Anarchy of Anton

Friday, 19 February 2010

Falling in love with a Super Heavy

Snaffled from GW's datasheet... The lush Doomhammer.

Up until this point, I've steared clear of deploying or buying a superheavy battle tank... despite having access to plenty of Imperial Guard, Tau and Nids ... I've avoided the additional expense of investing in a 'superheavy' for Apocalypse games.

After giving the Baneblade a couple of plays and also fielding a Shadowsword, I wan't actually that enamoured. Yes, Its a killer uber chunk of cheese, And yes its quite a nice model (when anyone can actually be bothered to paint it) ... But I don't love it.

The problem is that the really interesting Superheavies that grab my attention are either Titans ... or Heirophants. Any medium sized nid or Tau superflyer is eclipsed in 'value for money' terms by the new baneblades/Trygons/Vendettas. Nothing sucks so bad as spending a huge amount of time in deploying your beauty - only for it to be shot off the board in Turn 1 by a bunch of lascannon toting guardsmen (Sorry Anton ... but the Chaos Warhound was the obvious (beautiful) target!)

Then there's the 'baneblade' variants ... lots of exquisitely molded plastic boxes of boominess. But I'm not THAT interested... except, except...


Yes, one day (over the rainbow) I will have to buy myself one of the spindly monstrosities and then stomp round the field felling huge numbers of opponents with my lashwhips and stompiness. But at ten times the price of an 'equally fun and not nearly as breakable' Trygon ... ho hum.

Gorgon Troop Transport

Now this is more like it! An AV14 troop transport of epic proportions... although the new Apoc sheet randomly drops it 'assault transport rule', who cares. You can carry 50 guys in there. Ok they can't shoot out and the vehicles quite slow and you can only fire your one shot mortars once and its actually open topped and its just like a big ignorable, boring slab of open topped delivery truck. I LOVE IT! Would I buy one? Errr ... no.


For the first time ever, I've found my perfect transport/antitank option. It carries 25 men (somewhere), it has a 60" S10 Ordnance weapon which is AP1... It can mount 4 lascannons and (wait for it) either 5 heavy bolters or up to 4 heavy flamers ... not so convinced about this choice.

So I can load up 4 lascannons at 550pts. I can fire my AP1 antitank gun. I can also field up to 25 men in the back with ... MORE LASCANNONS!

At 450pts it offers you antipersonnel and antitank options by the bucket load. I'm in love with a Doomhammer.

Just one question. With superheavies, do the 25 men on board have to be 'one squad'? Or can I take 3 lascannon squads? I don't want to you understand ... it's just to consider the interesting consequences of firing 13 Lascannon plus a Meltacannon from a single superheavy.


Tuesday, 16 February 2010

What's the magic unit number?

What's the single biggest consideration you should make before considering upgrades, war-gear and other bonuses... unit size.

I'm not promoting this as a game breaker, genius cunning plan or anything ... but unit size is far more important than we frequently think. The formula is very straightforward. Always deploy the unit at the following size (if possible):

4t +1 (where T is the multiple of the unit).

The thinking behind this is simple ... and yet ignored by many, many players. Lots of units come with variable unit sizes, Space Marines can usually have 5-10, Tyranids or Orks 10-30 or Guard with up to 66 models in a single squad. So what numbers best?

The simple answer can be found in looking at the leadership test. A break test is taken when you take 25% casualties. Therefore 4 men will have to test when they get 1 casualty. Whereas 5 men require 2 - that's 4t + 1 in effect.

Example 1 - Tau Fire Warriors

I deploy 3 squads of 12 firewarriors. A quarter of 12 is 3. However if I field the warrior in squads of 9 (where T = 2, 4t + 1), their breakpoint is still 3 but I'm able to field 4 squads of 9 firewarriors.

Example 2 - Imperial Guard

A combined squad of 20 men has the breakpoint of 5. If I attach a priest, that breakpoint increases to 6. A commissar would significantly change this again, increasing the leadership AND giving you a re-roll (after he's shot the sergeant!)

So the next time you're wondering when to stop adding models, the answers simple: 4t + 1.


Obviously, 4t + 1 doesn't count in every (or even most) cases. There is an advantage to having 10 tactical marines over 9 (you get free special weapons), there's an advantage of having 12 firewarriors in a devilfish (or even 6 - depending on your tactics), and the advantage of having 30 ork boys is fearlessness and close combat impact.

For some species (Tyranids for example), size of unit is irrelevant as they are mostly fearless.

But in those small cases (like with Tau or Guard or Orks or Elsewhere) t4 + 1 will give you the maximum durability at the minimum points cost. Imagine deploying this across multiple Kroot, tau and crisis and stealth suit teams (which can easily be 5 man or nine man, thanks to gun-drones) ... suddenly you fire power's going to trigger a lot fewer leadership tests...

(ED: Which is why I use mortars.)

Monday, 15 February 2010

Tyranid Listing ... the sort of horde I want to run

After a couple of 40k games with Nids, the first thing to get to contention with is the number of new rules the nids have. Luckily, many of them reflect USR or are 'just about' USRs. The difficulty is, between running Catalyst, the Parasite, The Doom of Malantai and Tox/Adrenal Gargoyles with blinding venom ... thing get a little fraught and it's easy to miss things out.

Here's my current list however ... I'm not entirely happy with it - but for 1500pts it holds up well.
  • HQ: Parasite
  • HQ: Prime with BoneSword/Lash Whip and Devourer, Regen and Tox.
  • Elite: Doom of Malantai
  • Troops: 10 Termagaunts
  • Troops: Tervigon with Regen and Cluster Spines
  • Troops: 5 Genestealers
  • Troops: 5 Genestealers
  • Troops: 12 Hormagaunts
  • Troops: 12 Hormagaunts
  • Fast Attack: 4 Spore Mines
  • Fast Attack: 12 Gargoyles with Adrenal Glands and Tox
  • Heavy Support: Trygon, Regenerate and Adrenal Glands
  • Heavy Support: Trygon, Regenerate and Adrenal Glands
The new codex has been very kind to me. I wasn't a fan of either Tyrants (seeing them as a overpriced pewter target) or Carnifexes, so only had one carnifex completed. Instead I'd relied on the Broodlord and Warrior bands for Synapse.

Under the new codex I've really benefitted with my 'gribbly' approach. The addition of a couple of Trygons and a quick 'snip snip' for the carnifex has resulted in a fairly fluffy army. The only inclusion I'm not too keen on is the Doom - who's far too overpowered in my opinion ... and that's even without the 'killing inside transports' debacle.

This army isn't designed to be 'uber tough' but to give fun strong battles with lots of tactical options ... oh and spread the love ... yeah, spread the love.

I wanted something that included plenty of tactical options. As follows:
  • Spore Mines that can deepstrike into the enemy deployment zone, potentially disrupting enemy deployment.
  • Fleet Genestealers that can deploy from flanking, infiltrate for first turn ambushes or deepstrike via the Trygons
  • Trygons which can deepstrike AND cause mayhem with their deployment options ... the combination of a 6 wound MC and regenerate is particularly nasty.
  • Hormagaunts cause distraction, while...
  • Gargoyles with Tox and Adrenal Glands causing lots of wounds, and the Parasite makes babies or attacks tanks with his S6 rending...
  • Tervigon Breeds bigger and bigger units, forcing the enemy to engage or pray for a double (in the last game she produced 32 termagaunts ... eeek!) and holding objectives securely.
  • Doom of Malantai as a reserved 'ace in the hole', either reserving into the attackers of my objectives or deep striking via the Trygon. I play the parasite as a standard Zoanthrope at the moment ... it's 3D6 is deadly against the leadership of orks and terminators alike and a loss of LoS really gives this guy survivability. (He's also a small target for indirect blast templates ... so that works too).
At 2000pts (the other standard army list for this end) ... I'd deploy:
  • 4 warrior brood with tox, deathspitters and rending claws (180)
  • 4 warrior brood with tox, lashwhips, boneswords and devourers (200)
  • Drop the Doom and adopt two Zoanthropes (+30pts)
  • 9 more gargoyles with Adrenal Glands and Tox. (72)
  • 1 Biovore (in replacement of the 4 spore mines) (+5pts)
This would further strengthen the Synapse web and give me much needed firepower (both AP and AT).

The only models I'm actively looking at for my list would be to purchase (preferably on ebay) 3 biovores. As I've learnt with Imperial Guard, indirect pinning fire is an awesome fun to play with ... pinning fire that misses and turns into anti-personelle 4+ cover saves for the approaching hordes... perfect!

Otherwise, my mix of Warriors, Gargoyles, Genestealers etc will adapt around the core 'producers' of the Parasite and Tervigon (until I get bored of them!)

Wednesday, 10 February 2010

Tau: In a nutshell

I discovered the following gem when perusing the 'cinders of war' blog:

"What they do well is bend the rules of the game with Jet Packs, Smart Missiles and Markerlights...essentially; they hide and sap their opponents until either the force in ineffectual to the mission or charging into a kill zone. Each time I've tested a tactic counter to this, it ends very badly. The key will be to minimize my army's footprint and cover its tracks. "

This is one of the most succinct synopsis of the strengths of a Tau playing style. It's one that I constantly struggle with (and subsequently constantly enjoy). For me, no other army has consistently pulled victory from the jaws of defeat than the Tau.

You may think you've got them wiped and its all over ... I have many times, only to discover that that turn 3 wipe-out was actually just the start of the next challenge.

This one quote has reinspired to play Tau again ... thank you C!nder.

Wednesday, 3 February 2010

Comparing Gribblies - Stealers, Goyles and Horms...

COMPARING GRIBBLIES - what's the tactics, Suneokun?

Who's the top gribbly?

A recent post of mine solicited the following excellent response from Warhammer 39,999:

Warhammer 39,999

I disagree that hormies are superior to 'stealers in combat--especially verses marines (or anything with a decent armor save).

When I did the math, base stealers will kill more marines per turn than a comparable points total of hormagaunts--regardless of upgrades. Feel free to correct my math, I used 84 points as my baseline:

1. stealers (base) x6 = 18 attacks, 12 hits, 6 wounds (1 rends), 3.33 saves = 3.66 kills.
2. hormies (base) x14 = 42 attacks, 24.5 hits, 8.16 wounds (0 rends), 5.44 saves = 2.72 kills.
3. hormies (adren) x10.5 = 31.5 attacks, 18.375 hits, 9.1875 wounds (0 rends), 6.125 saves = 3.0625 kills.
4. hormies (toxin) x10.5 = 31.5 attacks, 18.375 hits, 9.1875 wounds (0 rends), 6.125 saves = 3.0625 kills.
5. hormies (adren + toxin ) x8.4 = 25.2 attacks, 14.7 hits, 11.025 wounds (0 rends), 7.35 saves = 3.67 kills.
6. gargs (base) x14 = 28 attacks, 14 hits, 6.22 wounds (0 rends), 4.14 saves = 2.07 kills.
7. gargs (adren) x12 = 24 attacks, 12 hits, 7 wounds (0 rends), 4.66 saves = 2.33 kills.
8. gargs (toxin) x12 = 24 attacks, 12 hits, 7 wounds (0 rends), 4.66 saves = 2.33 kills.
9. gargs (adren + toxin) x9.33 = 18.66 attacks, 9.33 hits, 7.38 wounds (0 rends), 4.92 saves = 2.46 kills.

My math could be wrong, but if not, it shows that base genestealers are superior to almost any form of hormagaunt or gargoyle in pure hand to hand vs. marines (the only exception being fully upgraded hormies). Also, keep in mind that the two best scenarios for hormagaunts rely on adrenaline, which means their performance will drop signifncantly after the first round of combat. On top of the fact that they're just better in combat, 'stealers also get the option of taking a broodlord, a general immunity to staying in synapse, infiltration, and outflanking.

Of course, retaliation and or just surviving across the board to get to the assault might make a huge difference as well, but once in the thick of it... give me 'stealers every time.

The Response

Well first, it must be said that a big thanks go to Warhammer 39,999 for inspiring the following post. And it should be noted that the majority of the above is true IF (and its a big if) you manage to catch that enemy unit out in the open (oh, and ignore shooting) ... Today, I'm going to set out my objective as follows:

"Compare and Contrast the different abilities of the minor gribblies of the New Tyranid Codex and give an appraisal of which is most effective when charging into cover."

The Three Gribblies I'll be analysing are Hormagaunts, Genestealers and Gargoyles. It's my assertion that these three smaller models should form a considerable phalanx of a Tyranid attacking force and that they've been designed to be 'interchangable' in points and effectiveness. As can be seen in 39999's analysis above, the kill ranking for each are very very close ... and I think this explains GW's thinking on this. So without further ado ...

The Genestealer

Now, I've been pretty disparaging about the old stealer in the last few weeks. In my opinion the stealers been hardest hit by the loss of flesh hooks, and the days of the stealer horde are long gone. That said, they are now significantly cheaper and come with some nice features...

Genestealers have been upgraded with infiltrate and flanking as standard, they've also retained their 'fleet'. This also counts for the broodlord, who can now deploy as a S5 fleet squad leader. However, even with a higher armour save and T5, the option for a couple of 'meh?' psychic powers isn't really a justification of the 60 pts for the model. Genestealers don't need an initiative bonus.

(NB: It should be noted however that a five man genestealer unit is majority T5 and 4+ save after the first stealer dies - which isn't to be balked at when facing S3 opponents!)

Vanilla genestealers run at a cost effective 14pts each. They haven't gained an attack (like hormagaunts), but their 3 rending attacks on the charge are considerable. They can have indentical upgrades to the Hormagaunts and Gargoyles, but they do suffer by paying significantly more for the benefit. In each case, toxin sacs or adrenal glands will set you back 3pts a model.

Genestealers do have strategic strength, in that they are not dependent on synapse to stick around... so securing objectives and the like can be a good role for them. But a 14 pt 5+ T4 objective holder ... hmm.

This is where the crux of my argument lies ... the 'value added' for your return on investment. Added to this, the loss of 'flesh hooks' means that even with a 2 pt drop in base price and infiltrate or flanking, you will have to choose your targets carefully. The stealers strength is their high WS and high initiative. The initiative counts for nothing when you charge into close combat. but more on this later...

The Hormagaunt

Now a paltry 6pts each, hormagaunts can more than compensate for losses into cover by cashing in at nearly half the price! A basic hormagaunt has 3 attacks at WS3, S3 and I5 - more than enough to give a Guardsmen trouble or even put a space marine on the back foot (but not for long...) However against other xenos (such as Orks) or frenzied armoured foes (Space Wolves or Chaos Marines), the hormagaunt is more likely to go squish.

The key advantage the hormagaunt has is three fold. Firstly its speed. I may not be a beast anymore (and therefore capable of a 24" charge), but its replaced that total speed with a 'move through cover' like fleet movement. This means that Hormagaunts have a much higher chance of getting to the enemy faster turn on turn and making it through cover and into combat. Additionally, the hormagaunt gets scything talons as part of its price. So the new Horm is nearly half price, has the same number of attacks, higher initiative, a lower weapon skill, but this is compensated by a reroll of all 1's to hit! It's not quite WS4, but a reroll of 1's goes some way to make the hormagaunt so much better than it's predecessor.

Their low profile, combined with their low price, mean that Hormagaunts can attract less attention than say genestealers... but this should be the case. Hormagaunts can considerably 'upgrade' their effectiveness with toxin sacs and adrenal glands. Although this won't give you the turn on turn durability of the genestealer, it will give you the impact for a first turn rout!

The Massacre should be the objective of the Tyranid Player - because T3 and 6+ isn't going to survive long after turn one. You ideally want to be into combat - murdering everyone and then rushing on to the next target.

The lack of leadership means that hormagaunts can 'whig out!' and revert to their instinctive behaviour. They will charge the closest opponent and jump into close combat. So deploying a swarm of Hormagaunts and then 'losing' them isn't actually that much of a loss ... unless they charge a dreadnought! Remember however that the unit doesn't have to test if engaged in combat, already falling back OR gone to ground.

A cunning plan can therefore be hatched as follows:
  1. Tyranid Turn: Hormagaunts move, fleet and charge a useful target (say an uber squad of Imperial Guardsmen or Orks), but they purposely charge outside of Synapse range. The Hormagaunts should draw or win the first turn of combat with their 3 attacks each. Enemy unit either holds or falls.
  2. Enemy turn: Combat continues and the Hormagaunts lose badly. Outside Synapse they fail their Ld (IE: Ld6 minus x) and withdraw. Their I5 should get them away from the opponent (especially Orks), back into Synapse, rallied and ready to charge again...
This rinse and repeat charging gives you a sort of 'hit and run' light. Obviously it's only really useful against Guard or Orks ... but running out of Synapse range could also keep the Space Marines on the back foot - especially when running toxin sacs.

The Gargoyle

The Gargoyle has gained and lost in the new codex. It's price has shot down, equalling the Hormagaunts. In addition, the absense of decent competition in the Fast Attack area means that Gargoyles are very likely to feature a lot. Just like Hormagaunts, they struggle with IB - but unlike Hormagaunts, these guys won't run into the fight.

Synapse is key to running Gargoyles ... whereas Hormagaunts can effectively be 'fire and forget', Gargoyles need the strategic hive mind to deliver their payload. On first glance, the Gargoyle doesn't really impress as a close combat monster ... it's basically a termagaunt with wings ... but here's the trick, it's upgrades are cheap!

The Gargoyle can roll with both adrenal glands and toxin sacs for a meagre 8 pts. Add into this the combination of the jump infantry rules, the flesh borer (not as good, but still solid) and their blinding venom (autowound on a six to hit, otherwise known as 'rending light') ... in addition, the Gargoyle might lose fleet - but it's jump infantry - meaning it can leap over terrain, circumvent charging through cover and have a higher chance of using its I4 in combat. On top of this, it has a gun ... therefore points for points - I think the Gargoyles a real contender.

Charging into cover - Rules analysis, statistics and conclusions

As discussed above ... all three of these choices have a movement of up to 12" a turn and an 18" charge. Of the three, the genestealer comes out quite solvenly, as the 'jump infantry' and the hormagaunts 'bounding leap' rule will leave the genestealer run dust. However the Genestealer can cheat ... and can infiltrate!

Let's assume you are forced to charge into cover ... you're speed and jumpiness aside, the rules are as follows:

"If ... any models in the assaulting unit will have to go through difficult or dangerous terrainas part of its assault move, the unit must take the relevant terrain test before moving"
W40k BRB Pg: 36

So the first thing to note is that the Genestealers and Hormagaunts will get 3D6 to move through cover (as they have the ability), whereas the Gargoyles only get 2D6. Once this has happened (and assuming you make it into combat), the enemy hits you first.

Now here's where the points versus durability raises its head.... as follows:

Versus MeQ: 1 attack = 0.17 stealers, 0.37 Hormagaunt or Gargoyle
Versus GeQ: 1 attack = 0.11 stealers, 0.21 Hormagaunt or Gargoyle

(NB: MeQ - Marine Equivilent T4 WS4 S4 3+; GeQ - Guard Equivilent T3, WS3, S3 5+)

So a squad of 10 Marines will kill 2 genestealers or 4 Hormagaunts/Gargoyles. In the same breath, a Guard squad will kill 1 stealer and 2 Gargoyles. In retaliation the units will all kill the following (assuming 140 each squad):
  • 10 Genestealers - 8 Genestealers (you already lost 2) will kill 4.66 MeQ and 9 genestealers kill 9 GeQ.
  • 23 Hormagaunts - 19 (you already lost 4) will kill 3.69 MeQ and 21 Hormagaunts will kill 12.25 GeQ.
  • 23 Gargoyles - 23 shots and 19 gargoyles (you lose 4 to defense) kill 5.44 MeQ and 21 Gargoyles will kill 12.27 GeQ.
So even without upgrades, and offering the Guardsmen a 4+ cover save ... the gargoyle still outstrip the Genestealers AND the hormagaunts points for points ...

But added to this are toxin sacs and adrenal glands. Let's make the average 170pts, and keep the stealers to just toxin sacs (as adrenal glands don't add any further benefit). The reroll to wound really benefits the stealers as adds another chance to reroll 6's for rending!
  • 10 Genestealers - 8 Genestealers get reroll to wound and kill 6.21 MeQ, 9 stealers kill 12 GeQ.
  • 17 Hormagaunts (AG&TX) - 13 Horms kill 5.69 MeQ
  • 21 Hormagaunts (TX only) - 19 Horms kill 16.63 GeQ (AG dropped as no advantage against GeQ)
  • 21 Gargoyles (AG&TX) - 21 shots plus 17 Gargs kill 6.46 MeQ
  • 24 Gargoyles (TX only) - 24 shots plus 22 Gargs kill 16.22 GeQ
As can be seen above ... the Gargoyles outperform everything else point for point. Toxin Sacs are the 'must have' for all units - but in the hands of the gargoyle they are a particularly cost effective.

The double bubble of the blinding venom and the toxin sac produces disproportionate wounds, and the shooting before combat evens out the losses into cover. That said, shooting into combat should only be advised when you are easily in charge range.

Toxin Sacs also seem a no brainer for the genestealer, giving it a reroll to wound on most infantry on the board, and vastly increasing the chance of rolling 6's to rend... It looks like enemy monstrous creatures will be a no go against nids from now on as toxin sacs will quickly become the upgrade of choice.

While genestealers do well against normal marines and guardsmen, against assault marines/sternguard/vanguard or even basic chaos or space wolves - they should really be left at home. The introduction of a relic blade also makes genestealers redundant as I4 S6 is a 2+ to kill no matter ... the only advantage is a 16% reduction in to-hit rolls.

Strategic Uses of Gribblies

To my mind the gribblies have the following strategic usage:

Against Guard: small group of Genestealers infiltrate within move-fleet-charge range of vehicle squadrons and attack. Although a genestealer brood is durable in combat, they'd get easily tied up, mortared, flamered or rapid fired to death. Main focus should be Hormagaunts and Gargoyles with Toxin Sacs.

Against Space Marines: Gargoyles with Adrenal Glands and Toxin Sacs out fight Genestealers. They're jump infantry move of 12" should keep them outside rapid fire damage and allow them to close. Otherwise, genestealers with toxin sacs are a worthy investment for maximising hits and wounds. The broodlord isn't worth it as he's 60 pts you should be spending on toxin and more stealers.

Against Chaos Marines and Space Wolves: the combination of cover, counter attack and two close combat weapons (including a scattering of relic blades) means that wolves are tyranids worst enemy - closely followed by Deathguard (T5 with two close combat weapons and blight grenades!) - Best thing is to not rely on 'gribblies' at all but send in the Monstrous creatures ... after they are engaged you can pile on the pain with Toxin Sack'd and Adrenal glanded Hormagaunts (coming up through the Trygon's deep strike preferably!).

Against Orks: Apply the maximum impact with lots of Adrenal Glanded and Toxin Sac'd Gargoyles. With little armour, genestealers are an expensive habit and the wings will allow you to control the charge. Remember that 30 double pimped Gargoyles will kill up to 25 Orks on the Charge.

Against Tau and Eldar: the prominence of mostly T3 with some T4 and lots of mech means that a mixture of the above is ideal. Pimped Gargoyles that deep strike, kill the skimmer with rear armour shots and then deliver close combat on the inhabitants is great. Gargoyles are probably the most vulnerable to shooting (being a big target) but the fastest and the most flexible ... deploy from reserve.


Let's not lose sight of the fact that both genestealers and hormagaunts are troops, whereas gargoyles are fast attack. This means that in objective games - those running gribblies WILL attract more firepower ... but have more strategic value.

In addition, it's worth noting the genestealers value as a highly nasty objective holder for those objectives in cover. Infiltrating those 5 genestealers on the objective will force the opponent to either concentrate a lot of firepower to clear them out, or use flamers...

Go to ground on the objective for 4 turns and then stand up in the fifth. If you get charged while gone to ground, you lose your defensive benefit ... but for an I6 model - that's not a worry!

And Finally ...

Just a quick showcase for my completed Tyranid Alpha Warrior. More to come on making Alpha Warriors and the all important Lash Whips!

Tuesday, 2 February 2010

Maundering Banner Entry

In response to a challenge set by 'Maunderings of a 40k Gamer', I had a little inspiration and put together a picture for his blog ... subject to the rules of the competition, I cannot 'promote' my drawing ... but I'm very pleased with the results.

In any case ... we had an interesting game of 40k Apocalypse at the weekend, with two Tyranid Player fielding...

Unusally for me, I played games master... This meant that I could have an overview of the game, enjoy the highlights and bring you an interesting blog battle report...

Which is to follow when I have the time! However, I did note the following performance of Tyranids in APOC:

Toxin Sacs are king.

Hormagaunts and Gargoyles flying about with toxin sacs and adrenal glands can offer real pain to the opposition. Toxin sacs grant a 4+ to wound, or a rerollable 4+ to wound if the toughness is equal or lower. This makes this an invaluable 1pt bonus for termagaunts and gargoyles. In one encounter a C'tan lord could chew his way through multiple termagaunts AND kill the Alpha Warrior in command. a meagre 30pts extra and he would have been facing 15 wounds on his 3+ invulnerable.

Alphas are no match for a combat monster

The lack of an invulnerable save and the Independent Character stat line makes Alpha far too vulnerable to a relic blade or powerfist. Rending just isn't a match ... its a shame you can't combine the bonesword and the Toxin sacs ... reroll to wound power weapon?!?

Nid MC's are tough.

The combination of 6 wounds and regenerate are a must! Forget the Trygon Alpha, just buy the regen and start eating people. Three Trygons soaked up a mountain of firepower from an entire 2500pt Space Marine army for two turns. The 3+ save ain't perfect, as bolters and flamers are in on the fight...

Parasite is great against T3, not great against bikers.

The parasite and Gargoyles went into combat against some bikers and actually did pretty well. The blinding poison and toxin sacs worked well in combination, wiping out the T5 squad ... however the 'Smurf captain on a bike with a relic blade' wasn't the best target. The Parasite got minced first, and then the gargoyles got done. However in the absense of any guardsmen or tau warriors to mate with - these guys worked well.

Zoanthropes struggle in APOC

With so many dakka dakka weapons floating about the Zoanthropes couldn't really stand up to the rapid fire weaponry. It definitely the way to kill them, as T4 3++ isn't that hot. In a similar fashion, the doom of malantai attracted far too much heat and blistered like an overcooked boil!

Genestealer are (still) meh?

A 14 pt model that really needs toxin sacs (another 3 pts) ... so that's 17 points... compared to an 'uber' hormagaunt at 10pts, who gets 'guaranteed' faster fleet, adrenal glands and toxin sacs... Oh and a reroll to hit of all 1's.

30 hormagaunts deliver 39.38 wounds on the I6 charge at T4. That's 13 Space Marines or 26 Guardsmen... however that's 300pts of hormagaunts...

30 Gargoyles give you 10.83 wounds against space marines and 23.32 against guard at a meagre 240pts. This means that Gargoyles actually give you a better 'bang for the buck' than hormagaunts... And outnumber genestealers by at least 2:1 - however you can only take 90...