Monday, 26 July 2010

Tyranid Project - Part 10 - Unit Analysis

So I've had a few games. A few units have performed well...others...well not so much.

Time for a brief overview of how each unit has done. These assessments will be how they and their abilities compliment my army so I'll be ignoring certain abilities which are of no benefit to me currently (like the Swarmlords 'Alien Cunning' rule for example).

Starting at the top,

The Swarmlord.
A bit of a points sink weighing in at 280 points. He does however do his job very well. Being able to give a friendly unit within 18" either Furious Charge or Preferred Enemy* is brilliant but he will for the most part be giving it to his own unit, It's also worth remembering that these abilities only last to the end of your turn so you don't get the benefit of preferred enemy in your opponents assault phase.
Though he has all 4 of the Hive Tyrant's abilities the 2 you'll get most use out of are Leech Essence and Paroxysm to the point that should I ever replace him with a standard Hive Tyrant those will be the 2 powers I pick.
Pretty much anything you end up in assault with (with the possible exception of TH/SS Terminators) will be dead in at worse 3 or 4 rounds of combat (and that includes attached characters) .
As with all such things there is a downside and this is his...without Tyrant Guard to absorb wounds and grant the unit cover saves he will NEVER reach assault. In the world of Mech that we currently live in, any even semi-optimised army will have enough ranged anti-tank to carve 6 wounds off a MC with no inv. save against shooting with ease. This seems like as good a time as any to move onto...

* Well he can also dish out Acute Senses as well, but as that's only of any real use in turn 1 of Dawn of war so I haven't used it yet.

Tyrant Guard.
Essential to anyone who wants their Hive Tyrant/Swarmlord to actually have a chance to rip something in half. As they are infantry they can get cover saves if 50% of the unit is in cover, this means that as long as the Tyrant Guard get a cover save or are in cover the Tyrant will get one as well if he is joined to the unit. They're pretty good in a fight themselves being WS 5, S 5 and having 3 attacks basic and if you happen to get a rending roll as well then all the better. Mine have Lash Whips which are useful as my Swarmlord doesn't get the option for them himself.

Hive Guard.
The no-brainer Elite choice. 2 S8 shots each at BS4 do a great job of carving through light Mech, Transports and denying Blood Angels their Feel no Pain save. I take 3 units of 2 and am yet to regret the decision.
There are people who champion the Zoanthrope as an Elites choice but imo they're wrong, my reasoning behind this is here. If you must use an Elite slot for something else (Deathleaper, maybe) then combine the 3 lots of 2 into 2 lots of 3. In most scenarios you'll need to advance at least 2 units of them forward due to their 24" range, luckily Termagants make a nice cheap piece of moving cover.

A 6W , T6, Monstrous Creature that can hold an objective and make more Termagants...Fucking ace I'll have 2...
In objective missions one sits back and holds my home objective while the other moves forward giving the Termagants the benefit of both her Adrenal Glands (Furious Charge) and Toxin Sacs (4+ poison).
Though there have been rare occasions when Onslaught (gives the ability to run and shoot to a single unit) would have been useful, Catalyst (Gives Feel no Pain to a unit) has been priceless. If I had the spare points I'd have both but being as I had to choose I picked Catalyst which has been consistently useful. For the most part I've used it to increase Termagant survivability, but it has also been used to help out both The Swarmlord and Hive Guard units when necessary.
'Spawn Termagants' though useful, is so random that it can't be relied upon. Best to consider each unit produced as a bonus rather than rely on them to win you games. Also resist the temptation to get trigger happy and start producing Termagants from turn 1, much better to wait till you know where they'll be needed.
The default ability 'Dominion' which extends synapse range to 18" is always worth remembering if you happen to have a unit out on it's own that you really need to go where you want it to. Not used often but you get it for free so it's worth remembering you have it.**
Though it's possible to upgrade the Stinger Salvo to Cluster Spines I don't on the Tervigon for the simple reason that I'll probably be pretty damn close behind the Termagants that I'm enhancing and I don't wan't to risk dropping a Large Blast Marker on them...

** I have a terrible habit of forgetting abilities that I haven't had to pay extra points for...

Obviously I need 2 units of 10 to make my Tervigons troops so that's what I've got.
A unit of un-enhanced Termagants is basically useless against pretty much anything due to the string of 3's on their Statline (Initiative is 4), 1 base attack and their 6+ armour save.
However, once you start piling on the potential upgrades they become a lot more useful. It's fairly easy to end up with Furious Charging, Poisoned guys with Feel no Pain. Furious Charge makes them Initiative 5 so they're hitting before those annoying Marines that seem to be everywhere these days and their Strength obviously goes to 4 for that turn. This is doubly useful, Firstly because your now wounding Marines on 4's and Secondly that means that if your also getting poisoned attacks your rerolling that 4 to Wound (just for that turn mind you, but anything that ups the number of saving throws your opponent has to make is a bonus when you need as much dead before it can hit you back as possible) due to the Poison rule. Mine have Stranglewebs which I am yet to have the opportunity to use, they therefore may be going in exchange for another 2 Termagants per unit when I next tweak my list.
Their default ranged weapon is for all intents and purposes a Bolt Pistol. The points cost of ranged weapon upgrades is not worth it in my opinion, best to keep them cheap as they're going to die anyway.

The much maligned by so-called (and for the most part) self titled experts, Tyrannofex. I happen to think they're awesome.
T6, 6W, 2+ Save makes anti-tank weapons the only reliable way of killing them.
The Rupture Cannon is the obvious weapon upgrade : S10, Assault 2 (making up for the BS3) and a 48" Range. With a secondary ranged weapon and a built in Flamer they're pretty good up close as well.
In my first game I made the mistake of using the Tyrannofex like a 'Rifleman' Dreadnought which it isn't, Unlike most long range gun platforms there is no need to tuck it away in a corner somewhere. First couple of turns use the Rupture Cannon to pop Transports, then when you get a bit closer you can start dropping Large Blast templates on the former occupants then finally you can unload that lot and your Flamer on something before Charging it and finishing off what's left.
Unlike with the Tervigons, I upgrade the Stinger Salvo to Cluster Spines as I'd rather have a S5, AP-, Large Blast at BS3 than 4 S5, AP4 shots at BS3. A hit with the Cluster will generate a lot more wounds than the 2 hits I'll get on average with the Salvo.
The Thorax Swarm (which can be fired in addition to any other weapons the model has) is upgraded to 'Larvae' as my experience with Sternguard (both with and against) has led me to believe that anything wounds on 2's is pretty fucking useful to have.

So that's it then, my experiences after a grand total of 4 games using my Tyranids.

The floor is now open for opposing viewpoints...


  1. This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

  2. Personally I think there is a big problem with lists like these, bar the obvious JOWW hate which is really unavoidable and an autoloss if you play it. Yes its crap vs mech but there is a reason people can take 2 powers, and you don't lose much having 1 or 2 jaws if you take 2 RPs.

    There is just no field control at all, nothing to disrupt people's plans bar a few str 10 shots (which are good, don't get me wrong) especially for the first few turns of the game. The list also is just not aggresive enough IMO to put the pressure on and finish someone off.

    As an example...say you are playing against a well designed IG list-2 CCS full of plasma/melta, psykers, vets in chimeras, 3 vendettas 4-6 hydras and perhaps a manticore. Someone who knows what they are doing will bend this list over the table and ream it 9 times out of 10. Why? Because target priority is so easy and you don't give the guard player any choices to make.

    So say you are unlucky, guard player goes first. Hydras/multilasers/heavy bolters go into whatever hive guard you set up, if they are put behind tyrannofexes to keep them alive, then the vendettas + everything else will take them out very quickly. Once your shooting is crippled then the guard can deal with the tervigons + swarmlord at their leisure.

    What you are better off doing IMO is to run stealers, big units of them. Yes they aren't great vs lots of tanks and they die to heavy flamers etc, but that is what catalyst + hive guard are for. Big units with FNP are a real big problem from turn 1 onwards and have all sorts of options which you can exploit especially if you do use the swarmlord. They are great troop choices that are so often overlooked for packing in more firepower or whatever that IMO a good well rounded nid list simply does not have the tools to win a tournament for example without them

  3. @ Cobbles - Everyone knows the Tyranid codex is underpowered (with the exception of Games Workshop it seems) and the Imperial Guard Codex is exactly the opposite. This is imo the best you can do with the tools you've got.
    I've seen Genestealer heavy lists with all the benefits you mention used dozens of times since the new Tyranid book came out and all the people I'm playing against (and me for that matter) have been routinely slaughtering them since day one. You can't hurt vehicles if they move and target priority becomes simple as the Stealers do nothing till turn 3 at best. So all the support they need is dead long before the Genestealers ever get the benefit of it.
    You make some very good points about both JOTWW and Imperial Guard being easy to make effective lists with, but I'm afraid 'Stealer Shock' died with 4th Ed. 40K and to be honest it wasn't even that good back then.

  4. I'm not suggesting stealer shock army made up of 100s of stealers of course it doesn't work, you lack anti tank.

    As an example, at 1750-2k you can easily fit in 2 units of 16-20 stealers. Say 40. That gives you 2 units to mess around with in dawn of war, 2 units which can be a pain from turn 2 and will take the heat of your shooting units

    I'm not saying its the best way to play nids, but after playing literally 50-60 games with a list nearly identical to your own (a cheap tyrant with 2 guard +2 more hive guard, rather swarmlord) I have had more success with the stealer units than without.

    This is my 1750 list as a reference, it's not perfect and there are things I would possibly change but it has played well so far.
    Tyrant, old adversary, 2xdevourers
    2 guard, boneswords
    HQ tervigon, catalyst, adrenal/toxin
    9 hive guard
    tervigon, catalyst, adrenal/toxin
    10 termagants
    18 stealers
    18 stealers

    Tyrannofexes for me at 2k, though its rare I play games at that size.

  5. @ Cobbles - I have about 25 or so Genestealers that I have been given for free (remnants of the old 'Battle for Macragge' box sets I believe) so I'll give them a go in the list at some point.

    Thanks for the Input :-)

  6. NOOOOOOO!!!!

    Stealers were last edition!!!

    Old news!!

    Though i accept your viewpoint Cobbles, i don't agree what so ever.

    Stealers were good when you could charge through cover and go first, when u spent points on them giving them frag grenades, now u can charge a guard squad in cover and they can beat you up before you get a chance to do anything (this of course depends on squad sizes).

    Anybody want 60-70 stealers and a couple of broodlords?? Anyone??

    The problem with nids at the moment is finding the balance of shooting at mech. Meaning hive guard, zoanthropes, and tyrannofex. We will ignore harpies with venom cannons being 'the best thing since sliced bread' as some interwebs are spouting.

    Hive guard light tanks dealt with sweet.

    Zoanthropes are easily psyker nobbled, and have to enter an enemies optimal range to be good, but there are options.

    Tyrannofex w rupture cannon, the only reliable way to kill heavy tanks (AV13-14) without having to be shot by said tanks for 3-4turns before reaching them to find ur monsterous creatures all down to one wound and be finished of by bolt pistols.

    Sorry for the rant and i don't mean to be aggressive with it, but unless anyone can show me a decent argument or list that doesn't require Tyrannofex to deal with mech than my opinion is stuck.

    Take the list posted by Cobbles, great against infantry, rhino rush, but up against a guard hydra + russ mech army, it would be torn up before it made it half way across the table.

    Just my long 2cents :)

  7. @cobbles - first off, thankyou for actually backing up what you said, i'm sick of internet ppl saying "you're wrong" without offering up an alternative and/or reason.

    what did you mean, exactly, when you said "lists like these"?

    As for the pro's of tyranofices, i think their biggest strength comes from their armour save of 2+. simply by halving the chance of taking a wound from the likes of sternguard it means that suddenly lascannons and dedicated anti-terminator weapons have to be aimed at it and unlike the zoanthropes, they will still be standing after a few shots from them so i cant see a reason in the world to drop them.

    as for genestealers, they will only work, imo, as a home objective guarding unit. simply due to not having frag grenades, in a world full of cover, they will only work when the opponent is charging and they get the opportunity to go first. and when sat on cover it'll, at the very leqast, make your opponent think twice. even death company will have second thoughts at charging them through cover

  8. in hindsight, that looks like a rant at you Cobbles, the last two paragraphs are meant as input for the floor, sorry

  9. Its no problem, I'm always happy to discuss nid things :)

    By lists like 'these' I meant ones full of TMCs+ hive guard and nothing to control the board.
    E.g my old 1750 list was:
    Tyrant lashwhip/sword/devourers/old adversary
    2 guard
    9 hg
    2 tervigons with all the buffs + catalyst
    20 termagants
    2 tyrannofexes.

    It worked okay to begin with, few losses to space wolves but that was to be expected. I must have played 50 games, maybe more with it and the thing that struck me was it was just too inflexible and not aggressive enough. When you play something like spearhead capture and control, or heaven forbid, dawn of war, the army is just too slow and a good player can nearly always control the flow of the game with the nid player reacting by desperatly trying to keep the tyrannofexes alive and keep the hive guard in range while not letting terminators for example bitchslap either tyrannofexes or tervigons. And it's why I use my 2 large units of stealers...because they give me something which not much else can in the nid book and thats role flexibilty. Either sitting on a far flung objective, infiltrating 18 inches from a gunline and putting pressure on from turn 1, threat of outflankings (which to be honest I don't advise without swarmlord) etc. They hit hard and with FNP can be a right pain to get rid of.

    I do love tyrannofexes and I'm not the sort of nid player who blindly bashes them...they are definately worth the points but IMO at 1500-1750 they are too much of a point sink and leave the rest of the list too inflexible, where as at 2k they fit fine.

    Just to answer a few things;
    @GMort: I'd just give using a big unit a try, say 20 you can skip poison but its always nice. Stick FNP on them and use them as an early sponge from all the autocannons/missiles/multilasers etc that otherwise will be hitting your hive guard.
    @Adam: Personally any list using Russes worries me alot less than pure hydras or hydras+manticores. The Russes don't put out enough damage to really concern me. This list has actually worked really well vs guard so far, going 1st of course helps and I'm not saying it's a good match at all but instead of running across 24-30 inches while maybe knocking a vendetta or 2 down and in the process getting to the guard player with 1/4 of my army left what I find is that the stealers do eventually die but not without soaking 1-2 rounds of shooting and letting the rest of my army get there intact.

    Mike@ Not having grenades is annoying indeed, but 20 stealers with or without poison + FNP don't really care if they are assaulting into cover.

    Yeah tyrannofexes are really tough and I love them to bits but they can also go down easier than you think if terrain is not great or jaws is present.

  10. I see your point Cobbles..

    ...and well done, its a good one. I just wouldn't like to run nids without tyrannofex support, but each to there own. And i'm sure your list runs well, imo a good player can make a list work for them beyond the general belief system (just ask GMort about my awesome sauce sm scouts).

    And i must say not really thought about FNP stealers, but i think i just lost love for them when it was decided they were too awesome to be able to charge through cover and fight when they got there. They would make a nice blanket to cushion an army, but id always have tyrannofex in any list i built.

    As for jaws, that piece of wolf magic can piss off any army *shakes fist*

  11. Just throught i would throw my opinion in as i seem to have one of "those" armies at the top of the rant section. facing this does make target priority easy throw shots at tyranofex and swarmlord and tyrant guard adhoc until somthing dies seems to have worked for me. I do like the list but I do not play nids as my army but i do know anything that takes a minimum of 6 anti tank (AP2) weapons to hit and wound at 1500pts is a land raider with roid rage and lets face it rock paper sicssors with dice win


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