Friday, January 15, 2010

Tyranids, the other white meat...

Okay, the preview ‘dex is in…and there have been myriad and sundry other people who have put in their two cents online about it, but I have a take too. Having been with bugs since 2nd ed, with those horrible old ant-warriors (whose boneswords I now miss greatly) and the original screamer-killers all the way up to, well now, I can say a few things right off the bat. OUCH, and WOOT!
We’ll see where the two words are most apropos.

First, this army is a gestalt/multiplier/de-buffer army. If you lose sight of this, you are going to only win with luck (in pairing, ill-prepared opponents, or dice). In this regard, they are more Eldar than Eldar, relying on complimentary units/force multipliers to really stay in the game. Fortunately, all those gestalt combinations are good.
There are so many ‘neat’ things in the ‘dex, that it is easy to want all of it, try to fit it in and falter. Like the Space Wolves, if you want to win, calmly walk through the book and find what units compliment one another.
If it’s just for fun, if you still build a solid core and THEN add oddball units you still have a decent game ahead of you.

This is NOT the answer to IG. A calmly played IG army will still have a better chance to put-paid to you than you to him (or her). This is NOT the answer to SW armies built with mobile fire-bases/thunderwolf cavalry. This army WILL die HORRIBLY to well played/built Dark Eldar. Tyranids WILL change all armies play styles, and WILL mech-up armies that are still trying to foot it out.

Army rules have changed significantly. Synapse is pretty much just ‘fearless’ within 12”. The loss of eternal warrior is painful, VERY.
Shadow in the Warp basically makes all psykers within 12” of a toting model roll 3d6 for their test, utilizing all three, and perils on ANY double 1/6.
Instinctive behavior became more manageable. Shooters (lurk) still get to shoot (freezing in place) and Choppers (feed) rage. It’s bad, but not as bad as being out of synapse used to be.
Living ammo, Str+ and Assault ‘X’ went out the window (barring ONE weapon with Ass X) which kind of disappointed me. I thought it was a defining flavor, but meh.

I will break this down per entry in the army list section, and then look at overall biomorph impact. I will not be pointing out list combos, or builds, as others with greater acumen have found most of the combos I did already (making a sad panda-face Mikey every time I thought I’d come up with something new).

So, on with the show….

Hive Tyrant:
This unit broke even. Stronger at the outset, with 2 Psychic powers PLUS Shadow in the Warp, he can fill debuffing roles AND aggressor roles. Solid CC monster, as he should be, his force-multipliers are very nice. With abilities such as Outflanking other units and +1 reserve rolls, to Preferred enemy lending, he can really boost your core…at a HIGH cost. Give him solid shooting, or unique CC capabilities, and he starts to rack the points even faster.
But, with regen and Guard, it’s a hard Death Star to crack.
No Invuln hurts, but if you want that AND CC hate, meet…..

The Swarmlord: (Woot)
A unique Tyrant? That PWNs THSS termies, Nob Bikers and…well…pretty much everything else? JEEBUS! Did I mention the ability to cause wounds and GAIN the ones caused with ‘Lifeleech’?
Re-roll all your successful Invulns? Yes Please. 4 psychic powers? Yes Please. 4+ invuln in CC? Yes please. Grants 1of3 different USR’s to any unit within 18”, and the optional Tyrant reserve/outflank bumps? SWEET!
Price tag=OUCH…more than a tooled land raider. But built around ability lending, and stomping other Death Stars? Yeah, he’s pain…a lot of it. Coupled with our next offender and things get wrong…

(note: Tyrant Guard serve the same role they did before, but can function independently and can have boneswords. They frenzy if joined by a Tyrant and it dies, though I don’t see that happening often).

Tervigon: (WOOT)
Okay, medium weight monstrous creature…but we now hit our first 6 wound MC…wait, SIX you say? Yup…and only the first.
This is NOT a unit for CC, this is NOT a unit for a shieldwall…this is a force multiplier.
Grant FNP to any unit within 6”? In an army that can pretty much guarantee cover saves for everybody?(not talking Venomthrope, the units themselves). Spit arseloads of free termagaunts? Oh, give all those ‘gaunts close by it’s own poison/fur charge upgrades? Yeah, gimme another one…(oh, did I mention they count as troops if you buy them paired with termagaunts? Did I? Well, NIIIIICE!). Oh, and Synapse???
Seriously, they’re damn near as good as my blathering intimates.
Weaknesses? MC without the real strength to back it up, few attacks and low init. Don’t be tempted to use them as battering rams or blocks, but protect them.
Use them to buff other bugs/units and lend FNP all over the place. It’s that and the free ‘gaunts…
These guys are worth their weight in GOLD (around 200-ish gold, if tooled up), but like other shineys they can be overdone. I’m using 1 or 2, depending on my army. No more, or it will cease to support itself. You have to have threat units to take advantage of the buffs.

Tyranid Prime:
Or Warrior Prime (as some rumours called it). It’s the HQ warrior.
I like them. If they were a unit upgrade, or could benefit from the symbiosis of Guant/Tervigon= troops, then I would be all over them.
What they do for you is lend a model that is immune to ID that can be allocated wounds in a unit of warriors. Yes it buffs them, and YES if you are building heavy warrior units/armies, they are beneficial.
They are independent characters, which helps them move about where needed, but their buffs are really only warrior buffs.
Shadow in the Warp(SITW) helps.
Weapon options are great with their stats, and will help out a CC warrior squad moreso than a shooty squad (IMHO).

Parasite of Mortrex:
An ‘on the fence’ unit for me. Wings combined with Synapse and SITW make him a psyker-threat/buff unit due to mobility.
It is a unit buff/producer for Ripper Swarms, which are not really a unit worth building around to support. In addition, producing the progeny of this model requires CC, thus putting it in danger…vs just die rolling for the Tervigon. Meh.
IC status lets him join Gargoyles and have ablative wounds. Messes with Outflankers, possibly replacing a model in a unit (as it outflanks) with d6 ripper swarms. Over 150 pts makes him a contender for a Tervigon’s points in the army, and I can’t bring myself to dump a Tervi’s points into him.


Hive Guard:
A paper tiger. It looks great on the surface, ranged weapon with multiple shots AND ignores LOS (and cover under certain circumstances, that aren’t even 100% clear) on a T-6 multi-wound platform.
The math doesn’t work. Max 3 per unit, max 3 units competing with other (better) choices AND the lurk instinctive behavior? In order to make this work, you have to build specifically for their style of play, and I don't think they're a 'take all comers' unit for this reason and this reason alone.
Their weapon is beauty…midfield shooting that ignores LOS and cover the unit is not in (or touching) is wonderful. If it were on a more solid platform, or shared more in common with Tyrant Guard (viable close combat/protective rules) it would be an awesome unit.
I’m getting some because I don’t have them and I love bugs. I’ll use them for fun, but I’m not going to count on them. Competing slots are just much better.

Lictor Brood: OUCH……just OUCH.
WTF! Why does GW hate these guys? Last ed codex nerfed em, but gave them abilities that at least gave them some survivability and buffing. Going to only +1 to cover, NOT being able to assault after popping in AND losing feeder tendrils is not compensated for by giving them an extra wound.
Finally, losing reserve re-rolls (controlling whether or not something comes in EITHER direction) is a lateral shift off the +1 to reserves…excepting that now you have to be alive and on the table for this effect.
They do count as ‘teleport homers’ for deep striking bugs, but only if they started that turn already on the table.
They get to place anywhere they want when they become available from reserves, which is a sight better than deepstriking only in area terrain, so there’s a plus.
I really do think GW hates lictors…I don’t get it, I just don’t.

Deathleaper: WOOT…just WOOT
Okay, so he’s pricey…well over 100. But, what he brings to the table. It’s just frikkin necessary. Want to talk about psyker defense? I don’t need a p-hood, runic weapon or what have you…I’ve got Deathleaper. –d3 leadership to any single model in your opponent’s army? True, it’s only as long as Deathleaper’s still alive, but you can’t kill him. Night fight to shoot (oh, and halved after the roll), can go back into reserves if not engaged to pop up later, and all the other abilities of Lictors? Just keep bouncing him to keep him alive, and shut down Njal. Other abilities are icing on the cake, but shutting down psykers is what he does.
This really is a necessity defense/de-buffer unit.

Venomthrope: OUCH
Cheap, mobile permanent cover…only, you’ve got that. It’s called termagants. Carpets of them. All units in 6” get this, as well as when non-vehicles assault they do it as though into dangerous terrain (and units protected also get defensive grenades). In an aggressive army, they are too passive. They are also competing with too much goodness in the Elites category.
Poison, nasty poison. Lash whips, lots of them. But other than that, they just don’t cut it.

Zoanthropes: WOOT
Okay, they have a 3+ invulnerable save. They are synapse. They have SITW. But Warp lance is their deali-o. Str-10 lance. Vehicle doom.
Glass hammer though. 2 wounds, T-3=ID bait. Psycannon are going to play hob with them as well. So why are they WOOT? Mycetic Spore (ie:drop pod) into the face of your opponent’s Land Raider (or what have you) and watch it poof. With Deathleaper, your opposing psychic hoods will have difficulty dealing with them.
Throw em away in a pod and a quick strike, and gobble what got cracked out of the can.

Doom of Malan’tai:
4 wound Zoie, but no warp lance. Template shot up to strength 10 (= to his wounds, with an ability to suck wounds from units…and did I mention can get up to 10 wounds, huh?…NICE), massive carnage if he goes off. He’ll go off ONCE. T-4 makes him ID bait as well. I am going to fiddle with this one, to see if it will pan out. I think it’s a unit that will work well in some instances and fall flat on it’s face in others. We shall see!

Pyrovore: OUCH
WTF? Great model, and that’s about it. Flame template, that has to walk or pod. He’s really just not worth it unfortunately. I am not pleased. He might blow up, if he gets abused. Might be close when it happens, if he pods. If he does blow up (when killed) he gets a d6” range Str-3 explosion, on a 4+. That’s just about as good as he gets.
If it was plastic, I’d love it (for the model)…but I’m biased for converting plastics.

Ymgarl Genestealers:
Again, competing for better tools in the elites slots. At a cost of almost twice that of a regular genestealer without broodlord option, they just aren’t effecient choices.
Stat bumps of T, S, or A each turn is good.
Save of 4+ is good.
Stats of a genestealer is good.
The ability to be ‘dormant’ at the beginning of the game, pop up in a piece of predetermined terrain then move/fleet and assault is really nice. I’m going to play with them a bit, see if I can utilize them to good effect, but points hurt.


3 wounds, but reduction of unit flexibility. Shadow in the warp, but loss of Eternal Warrior. Points drop(with the default weaponry and improved save) but fewer options.
Looks like a lateral shif….wait, they’re TROOPS???
If you’re running them in large numbers, Tyranid Primes become more viable and worthwhile. I see them as solid, if a little vulnerable, SITW/Synapse projectors that CAN mess people up in combat with the right combos. They’re solid, and I am fond of them. I don’t think they’re game dominant which means unless you are really tooling your army as a beat face warrior delivery system, they operate well as I said…cheap Synapse delivery that can embed in your army for cover. Use Tervigons to grant them FNP and they get annoying, but they WILL get swamped by small arms/medium gun fire.
Beat face units being delivered quickly and properly supported (with boneswords and such) will make them a threat.

Um…I don’t know what to say. They dropped slightly in points, but are lackluster. Broodlords as unit upgrades, with interesting powers, are okay…but he’s expensive.
Nothing wows me about them. They will do what they did before, only without Feeder tendrils and the like they won’t do it as well. Medium unit with middle-ground performance. Again, I like em…I’ll play em…but I won’t look to them for serious rescue/threat value.

Mycetic Spore: WOOT
(under troops as that’s where the entry is, but can be taken by many units)
Points like a drop pod, LIKE a drop pod only alive and capable of taking weapons ranging all the way up to Venom Cannon (expense of shooting probably not worth it, but nice options).
Really operates like a drop pod, shorting if coming too close to enemies (etc). Can carry 20 troops or an MC.
Can we say podding Zoanthropes? I know I am. Buy them, use them (love them pet them and call them George). They’re your best friend! This WILL alter how YOU play, not just your opponent(s).

Solid. Cheap. Fleshborer functions the way it used to for the most part. You can spam these in abundance.
Can’t get without number anymore, but wait….
If you take a unit, you can then make a Tervigon a troop choice?
The Tervigon can lend them his poison/furious charge if within 6”, and spawn more buddies?
This is your big force multiplier, AND biggest potential trap. 1-3 of these pairings is good…anything more and you’re chasing good points after bad.
But ohhhhh…it’s tempting. Take them, pair them with the Tervi they make Troops…lather rinse repeat. You’ll love it!

They dropped in points, and lost beasts.
They can go up to init 6 on the charge, with str 4 and re-roll of 1’s in CC (if you buy them Adrenal=furious charge)…but then you start investing into them enough to start buying them back into old point values.
Same with Poison (Toxin Sacs).
They get nasty, but don’t grant you the same thing Termies do, a troop MC.
I think they are complimentary to a CC army, but too fragile for overall reliance.

Well, what can I say…they’re rippers.
They are pretty much the same as before, little swarms of annoyance.
They lose wounds when out of synapse now, that hurts.
They compete with better choices…Termies and Tervies…thank goodness you get them for free (money wise).


Tyranid Shrike Brood:
Flying Warriors. See my entry for warriors. Then take away a save for the ability to fly (jump infantry).
Now wait for it…..
Wait for it….
Riiiight, they can’t really stay embedded in units for cover and utilize flying…sooooo…move along, nothing to see here.
Seriously, flying warriors are neat. They have mobility value, and are threatening under the right circumstances, but honestly are even more vulnerable than their bretheren (5+ vs 4+ is only the beginning).

Ravener Brood:
Finally, plastic Raveners. Deep strike and Beasts (though if you DS, you probably won’t survive long enough to really take advantage of the speed).
Full weapon spread as before (Deathspitter, Devourer or Spinefist).
5+ save is painful, but you should (hopefully) only have to suffer 1 round of fire (with cover) if smart.
The fact you cannot mix Scything Pairs on some and Rending Claws on others kinda bites, but define your role and go for it. Vehicle killing is possible on any scale with their attack numbers+rending, and Troop annihilation is solid with double Scything.
Enjoy the plastic models, they’re awesome.

Sky-Slasher Swarm Brood:
See the entry for Rippers?
Now look at the comparison between flying and regular warriors.
Apply it to an inferior unit.
Make them cost you money (unlike regular rippers).
Move along.

Gargoyle Brood:
Okay, now THIS is a model that has needed to be plastic longer than I care to think.
They’re cheap, fast and upgradeable.
What’s not to like?
Oh, Fantasy Poison rules? (roll of 6 to hit wounds automatically)…too bad it’s not for their shooting. But still,
I wish they really supported the army better. They are good interference/response units…for one use. They will die, and unlike Termagants they don’t have a recycle button(tervigon). Ah well, I still love them for the points and fluff/models.

Harpy: WOOT
Flying MC?
Flying Twin-linked Hvy Venom Cannon(or Stranglethorn)?
Bombing with Spore Mines?
It’s MC stats are mediocre, str 5 and few attacks being the notable shortfall, but the ability to move and flank with tank busting weaponry and drop spore mines makes this a worthwhile proposition. In fact, I think it’s the best FA slot available. Convert, convert convert…this and the Tervigon are definitely high priorities for conversion.

Spore Mine Clusters:
They will disrupt your opponent’s deployment.
They are dropped as a unit deep striking AFTER deployment zones are chosen, but prior to deployment. They go boom. They go big bada-boom. They can be avoided, obviously, but will NEED to be avoided for the most part.
At 10 points a model, they’re a little pricey. Playing with them will determine for you if you want to sacrifice other FA choices/points for deployment niggling.
They can be worth it.


Carnifex Brood: OUCH
Pretty much double their old base cost, without the ability to bump their stats.
Sure, you can take broods up to 3, but with all being identical there’s no wound allocation going on.
Sure you can get Hvy Venom cannon (etc), but you can elsewhere too.
You can get close to their old weapon spreads, but it gets exhorbitant.
The model’s saving grace, it’s the core for a great number of the newer bug conversions (Tervigon/Tyrannofex)…but that’s it.
Such a beautiful kit, Such a pity.

Old One Eye:
Carnifex, but a boosted close combat monstrosity.
Sure he’s more survivable, but over the cost of a Land Raider.
He’ll eat a unit alive, then die to plasma fire. 4 wounds isn’t enough for Fexes anymore, and though his Regen is better (5 or a 6), it’s just not enough.

Biovore Brood:
Got a little better, but lost the specialty ammo.
Spit, boom, die.
Competing with too many better Hvy Support choices.
As before, a biovore brood can be up to 3. They launch spore mines (which no longer count as KPs, thank Gawd) long range at str-4, and they are barrage.
Again, a unit I like but not enough to push aside better Force Org choices.

Trygon(and Alpha): WOOT
Expensive, and worth every point. MC stats, real initiative and solid in CC. Deep striking with Drop Pod like safety, and with a Trygon Prime SITW and Synapse.
Creatures coming in from it’s burrow hole (yes, the Subterranean assault allows other DS’ing ‘Nids to come from the entry point) don’t get to do anything but run or shoot, so building around that tactic will require an army built around turn 2 pod/DS striking or don’t bother.
Give it regen (6 wounds+regen=pain) and toxin sacs, or go to town and load it up with Prime status and furious charge. It’ll cost you, but it’ll scare everyone else!
Use for disruption, and for a monster fire magnet. It will die, but it will usually die with you smiling!

Mawloc: WOOT
Ok, so not as CC nasty as the Trygon but talk about a REAL disruption unit.
When a Mawloc comes in, it explodes outward and hits everything under a large blast template with STR-6 AP-2 hits. Yes, with an AP it’s treated as shooting, so cover applies, but it’ll hit vehicles on the rear armour and paste exposed units.
Add in the ability to go back into reserve (burrow) and repeat (automatically) the Sub-Assault next turn? Yeah, that’s a model that your opponent HAS to kill…
Give it regen and piss him off (with 6 wounds it’s survivable if it can burrow).

Tyrannofex: WOOT
Okay…6 wounds, check.
Ability to buy Regen, check.
2+ save, check.
Ability to buy a str-10 48” across the table 2 shot assault weapon that doesn’t suffer Venom Cannon-itis? CHECK!
This is a walking gun battery. It can be a punisher cannon (20 shot anti-troop), it can be a railgun (aforementioned long range str-10) and it has a template weapon.
Load this puppy up. He may be around 300(+) after that, but it’s a threat unit that delivers and can be left in the rear.
When I first heard of this model, I thought it was over-pointed. I was wrong. Put it near a Tervigon, behind something big, and nuke things while keeping it bubble-wrapped (tervigon produced termagants) and FNP’d (tervigon catalyst). This is a F-U unit.


I will focus on the general Bio-Morph entries, as the unique ones are mostly covered under the creature abilities/entries previously discussed

Acid Blood:
You wound me, I wound you with a failed initiative test. Great against necrons and orks, mediocre against most others.
Glancing all walkers on a 4+? Assuming you survive the combat with a dread that’s nice!
Adrenal Glands:
Furious Charge USR? Init-6 Hormagaunts?!? Yespleasethankyou!
Implant Attack:
Rending that produces Instant Death instead of wounds with no save. This is BAD for Nob Bikerz, Thunderwolves…well, a lot of things. Lots of eternal warrior units right now make it hit or miss, but it’s a good counter to annoying multi-wound squads.
With 4 wound models, it’s not as great. With 6 wound models it’s big! Roll every turn for each wound currently on a living model, and gain a wound back for every 6. Nothing to really hate when you can combine it with FNP leant from a Tervi and cover.
Toxic Miasma:
Touching me at the end of each player turn and you take a toughness test. If you fail, you take a wound. Meh against T-4, but don’t let me lock you up if you’re eldar (or sisters, or guard)!
Toxin Sacs:
Poison USR. Don’t forget, if your Strength is high, you get to re-roll failed to wound rolls! Yespleasethankyou! (another good way to make Hormogaunts fun too.)
Jump Infantry. Pretty simple. Weigh cost to benefit ratios heavily, sometimes that Flyrant really isn’t worth it, sorry. (I know, I bought a FW Flyrant too.)


Power Weapon. Oh wait, and if you wound someone with it, Leadership or ID. Oh wait, with a pair it’s Ldr on 3d6 or ID. JEEBUS! Hello Nobs, Hello T-wolves, hello my bonesword!
Crushing Claws:
Instead of ‘replace base attacks’ it’s now ‘add d3 attacks’. Unfortunately, it’s the only way for ‘Nids to get bonus attacks. They’re also expensive. Can be worth it. They definitely are improved over the last version though, and available for more than just ‘Fexes.
Lash Whip:
Not a CC per-se, but listed with the CC weapons because they are bought as weapon upgrades.
All models in contact with me are initiative 1. Yup, a good buy.
Rending Claws:
The-name-says-it-all USR.
Scything Talons:
Re-roll 1’s on the to hit rolls. Re-roll all misses if two pairs are bought. This can get nasty. A good, cheap buy for creatures with multiple attacks. Don’t waste your time with a creature you don’t WANT to get into CC.

Just varying degrees of saving throws from 6+ to 2+.

(most weapons have lost their ASS-x/Str as rules. I don’t know that I like it, as that seemed to be characterful, but it seems to help more weapons than it hurts)
Barbed Strangler:
Medium-Long range large blast with a frag missile stat line and pinning. Not bad.
Cluster Spines:
Short range large blast with above average str. If it’s a cheap upgrade for a creature, or free, think about it. Range 18’ isn’t TOO close for safe use.
Similar to the old, but assault 3 instead of small blast.
Loss of living ammo makes this Ass-3 short ranged weapon ok, but not stellar. Nothing wrong with it though. Not as nasty on Raveners anymore, pity.
Brainleech worms:
Devourer upgrade for a few big bugs. Higher Str and Ass-6 makes it scarier, but AP- hurts it.
12” bolter without rapid fire. Simple and easy.
Heavy Venom Cannon:
Str-9 long range with a small blast is grand. Losing the glance only to a –1 on the chart makes it iffy. It is NOT an AV-14 killer, only a suppressor. Lot of good that will do you against Land Raiders, but I still think it’s an improvement over its predecessor. Not tied into a shooter’s strength is an improvement for the Hive Tyrant.
They count as twin-linked Ass-x, but low str. If it’s a choice, I prefer Fleshborers.
Stinger Salvo:
Goes with some big bugs. Ass-4 is nice. Don’t pay extra for it though.
Stranglethorn Cannon:
(or Heavy Barbed Strangler, really).
Str-6 Barbed Strangler. Nothing to write home about.
Thorax Swarm:
3 versions, all are template weapons.
Varying strengths, from 5, 1 or 3. Str-1 always wounds on a 2+, and str-3 has rending. A template option for an army that doesn’t have many. Too bad it’s only for big bugs.
Venom Cannon:
Same as Heavy, only str-6.

(now, if any of this seems vague, I am trying not to get the store in trouble for posting too much info. Also, this was written from a perspective of knowing {or mostly knowing} how ‘Nids worked in the most recent codex and not giving away so much that you don’t want to come down to the store and look at the preview copy)

Overally, I don’t think the ‘OMFGtheworld’scomingtoanend’NidsareOT’ reactions are any more valid than the ‘theynerfedmywholearmy’ reactions that have been out there. What I think we have here is a true 5e-ing up of an out of date ‘dex.
As I said at the beginning Tyranids are a synergy army, and require a lot of focus to do what they need to, but they have finally been given the tools to do it.
Overall, I am quite pleased.
My Hive-Mind overfloweth, and my swarm has been dusted off…
The ‘Nids are dead, Long live the Tyranids!

1 comment:

  1. Note a re-evaluation on a unit;
    Hive Guard. I no longer think they are a paper tiger. I've been playing with them, and utilized them in Ard Boyz. They have their place for certain. I still am leery of them for Hvy Armour armies, but they'll put paid to Eldar/DE/Chimera, Rhino and Skimmer spam. An = unit choice competing for good Elites slots.
    Carnifex. They suck, UNLESS you build an army that makes them seem to be less of a threat. Requires finesse to make certain your opponent cannot choose well, or does not realize their threat value until it's too late.