by Anonymous Foodie
Some recent discussions on balance and "what makes a good Nid List" have inspired me to utterly destro... erm... add my counterpoints to the arguments presented, focusing on my own typical 2000 point list.
I had never, until this discussion, seen Stelek's "balanced shooty nids", consisting of a cheap Tyranid Prime, 3 units of Hive Guard, 2 Harpies, 2 Tervigons (with the minimum gants needed to field them as troops), and 3 Tyrannofexes.
My face looked something like this;
I must have missed the point where "balanced" started to mean "I can shoot down tanks".
Now, I like Hive Guard. I like Harpies. I wouldn't field a Tyfex in probably under 2.5k, but I don't think they're bad in and of themselves. But when you think a bunch of anti-transport shots are going to wreck every army you face (what about armies on foot? You know, the ones where killing 10 things a turn means nothing?), that just seems silly to me.
Lists like this seem, to me, to just ignore a simple fact of the Tyranid Army; they are weak against armor. In a sense, this is true of both AV and heavy infantry.
That's not to say putting down a few tanks means GG against Tyranids - I've fought IG and come on top... I've also fought IG and fallen pretty hard. It's a quirk of the army, though, which means that while you can put up a list like the one above to "get around it", you're generally paying a premium for doing so (in points, slot allocation, or both), and limiting yourself otherwise.
So, let me throw down my own version of balance, and a little explanation of tactics/how it functions.
Lashwhip/Bonesword, Heavy Venom Cannon
Armored Shell (2+)
2 powers - Paroxysm and Psychic Scream have been fun lately
2 Zoanthropes, Spore Pod
3 Hive Guard
Scything Talons, Deathspitter
Adrenal Glands, Toxin Sacs
Boneswords, Adrenal Glands
2k on the nose (convenient how that works out), and if I may say so can pose a threat to just about anything you'll throw at me, without being built for 'Ard Boyz level tournament play.
The army functions as three independent Nodes, with a few independent broods thrown in for good measure.
First off, the Hormagaunts form a screen for the Prime/Warriors and Hive Guard. This is the forward wave of the army, acting as an aggressive frontal assault. The warriors are pretty solid support between shooting and assault, Hormagaunts are cheap cover/decent in assault, and Hive Guard (obviously) open up light armor on the way in.
Then my baby momma - the Tervigon with her spawn typically go for either my home objective, or one rather out of the way if there are multiple. More defensive in nature, Mrs T will pop out swarms (in non-KP missions) to flood the chosen objective with a big field of "Feelin' lucky, punk?". I've had this blob survive (and win) a charge by Wazdakka and his nobs - it's surprisingly nasty, and cheap enough (under 300 points) to happily sit back and contest all game. The Biovores usually will set up camp here, using gaunts for cover, and lobbing their doom spores at infantry.
Shrikes and Gargoyles are my hunters. They're fast, and exceedingly deadly. Most people want to go for the sword/whip combo on warriors, and it's pretty solid - but I just don't have the spare 25 points, and honestly for what I want this unit to do the twin Swords are better. Have a big nasty character? A power unit like Nob Bikers, Thunderwolf Cav, or some other random deathstar? Meet my Shrikes. WS5 with re-rolled 1's means usually hitting on 3's (though 4's isn't terrible, with 4A each charging). With Adrenals, they're often going first, and S5 is enough to put the hurt on most things. The best part? Against most uber-characters that sport ridiculous toughness values, I only need one 6 to get the job done, because even with Ld 10 you're failing that test half of the time, and then it's "Good job, sir, thank you for playing". They're fragile as can be... 50 points for a guy with a 5+ isn't something I'd normally suggest (hence the flapping swarms in front of them to grant cover), but when used carefully these guys will wreak havoc on your nastiest units (or just wipe a squad of marines on the charge, which is always nice).
And speaking of Gargoyles, these guys, more than other gaunts, are more than just mobile cover, for one simple reason; Blinding Poison. Without fail this one rule easily doubles my wound output in every combat. Usually it does better than that. I can throw them at Wraithlords and expect a wound or two to come out of it - that's saying something for a 6 point guy. And while I don't do it myself, you can cheaply add adrenals or toxin to these guys for an extra-nasty punch.
Beyond that, we have a few independent broods flitting about.
The Hive Tyrant will sometimes go off alone, or follow along with the forward wave of gaunts and warriors. Pot shots at light armor, enhancing the swarm in assault with either Paroxysm or Scream (fun to get in close and pop that off, and shoot at some far-off enemy). And can tackle some enemy characters thanks to his tricksy little sword and whip. If I had the points, I'd throw Acid Blood on him - every time you wound him in combat, pass an I1 init test or take a wound without a save. That's just mean.
Far more of a support beast now than the cheap dome-wrecker that the 150 point Flyrant used to be, he's really taken the role of Swarm Commander.
Trygon - the new black. All I have to say is Beatstick. It's what he does, and does well. He has 6 attacks base. Ws5, re-rolling all misses. 6 wounds and T6 (and a solid 3+) to shrug off the hurt. And he's Fleet. And has a decent gun, if you like. And can DS in safely to pop up and say hello.
Maybe the Carnifex wouldn't suck so bad (at least as a close-combat option) if this guy wasn't in the codex. But I'm not complaining.
I've had him act as a simple distraction, soaking up an entire army's fire for a turn while the rest of my force advanced freely for a turn. I've also had him eat things. Lots of things. I'm pretty happy either way, to be honest.
Zoanthropes in the Pod. They drop down, they blow up a big tank. Usually they get shot up afterward, or assaulted, or some other gruesome fate. But they're dead useful, crack armor like none other, and with two of them, even hoods and runic weapons usually let at least one through. It will also get some Shadow action up in their face, and some forward Synapse. Always a plus.
Lictors. These guys are tricksy to the max. Their targets are limited, but usually very bad for you. Heavy Weapons Teams, sniper teams, backfield artillery in the form of mortars or basalisk-esque tanks... Lictors pop up and pose an immediate threat.
In any case, that's my version of a balanced Nid list. I have an answer for most things, use the synergy that the codex now requires, and capitalize on the Nids ever-present use of messing with your target priority. It's definitely not a mirror-list (I didn't mean to make every unit different, but hey, it works), but it also contains some level of redundancy... there are multiple units that can deal with armor at range, some up close, and plenty of anti-infantry.
So let's have it then - how does your own list, Nids or otherwise, compare? What wrench would you throw at me, or how would this mess with your normal tactics? Do you appreciate varied lists, or think that mirror lists with redundant units are the way to go (covering your bases is always good)?