by Anonymous Foodie
Just about every army comes equipped with a unit or three that just don't hold the same ground as the rest. Sometimes they're just "meh", and sometimes they're downright laughable.
Sometimes, though, when we don't take the time to really look at what a unit can do, it gets thrown into this category without really belonging there. With this in mind, let's take a look at one of the oft-debated units in the Tyranid army, the Lictor.
First and foremost, say it with me...
Lictors are not close combat death monsters.
I myself would have enjoyed seeing them get a boost. Making their save Invulnerable in combat, giving them all the uber-rending that the Death Leaper enjoys... there are ways. But none of them happened.
Truth is, Tyranid players at large need to stop looking at what they wish the Lictor was, and start looking at what it is and what it can do. With the right tactics, Lictors can be a real pain for your enemy. Think of them as saboteurs, rather than front line fighters (even sneaky ones), and you're headed in the right direction.
They're a support unit through and through. If you charge them headlong into full squads, they'll do some damage, but will take plenty back themselves. So yeah, not always the best idea.
It has also been said before that one of their main support benefits, Pheremone Trail, is pretty laughable. I both agree and disagree with this statement.
I agree that this ability is pretty sad. If you have Hive Commander on a Tyrant, the reserves bonus is literally useless (unless your Tyrant dies on turn 2, in which case I think you have bigger issues to worry about). The beacon ability is... questionable. It's a nice trick if you can pull it off, but again since the Lictor has to be on the board to begin with it's circumstantial at best.
What I disagree with, though, is that this is one of its main abilities. That whole block of text could be missing, and I would still say the Lictors were worth their cost.
The question remains - what is the Lictor's most powerful ability?
Let me answer (or at least continue) the question with a series of strangely related questions...
Would Hive Guard be nearly as good if their weapons required LoS?
Would you ever think about taking Marbo if he didn't have his special deployment?
If you said anything but "No" to these, then you may want to talk to a professional about your life choices. All of these guys (Lictors included) are able to do the damage they need to do because they can get around the normal restrictions (such as needing to see you, or having to walk across the table).
What it comes down to, most of all, is placement. Target priority is roughly 93% of the game with these guys. They get 2 S6 shots the turn they come in. Moderate BS, and a short range - easy to discount. But in truth, the range is largely negligible. When you start the turn in range, does it matter what the range is? I vote not really. They won't be destroying masses of guys, but again, it's about looking at what they can do. Those 4 shots is just enough to reliably shake (or worse) a tank on its rear armor (assumed 10), or to make an enemy unit sweat a bit.
Again, target priority is key... so what targets do we need to look at?
Anything hard to get to - backfield artillery (be it tanks or heavy weapons teams), support characters otherwise surrounded by friendlies, etc. Basically, Lictors give you a unit that doesn't care if your 48" away and should take 3 turns to get to (with a fast unit), or on a 3-foot-high plateau, laughing at your inability to even look at them.
Big Shooty, Little Punchy - Heavy weapons teams, snipers, gun-tanks... just about anything that's paying a lot of points to put bullets into things, without having any oomph in assault. That's not to say that it has to be easier than ripping through a wet paper bag - Lictors aren't helpless - but if you throw them against assault termies, you're acting silly.
Inspiring Characters - Anything that pays its points to enhance things around it, rather than to buff itself. Ie; anything that will give you a ripple effect once it's dead. Example? Tau Ethereals (do you really care if they get preferred enemy against you?), IG commands (taking away orders), etc. While these individuals may not cost as much as the Lictors themselves, you're pulling away bonuses from the entire army.
Now, it's easy enough to see how two WS/S6 guys with enough attacks to drown a small rabbit can handle a lone(ish) character, but what about taking down a bigger squad, or a lumbering leman russ? Well, you have a few options.
Against a tank, you pop up and should shake it. You also should have popped up in cover (but hey, most backfield units want to be in/near it, so it's not that hard. Actually, most units *period* want to be there).
Not being able to shoot, said tank will probably drive away from you really fast to make it harder to hit. Truth is, even needing 6's you have a decent chance to at least shake it again in assault. Even if all you do is rinse and repeat this, you've stopped the tank from shooting. This is a good thing.
Against fleshies, it gets a little more interesting, and a little more fun. The first Flesh Hooks are really just a way to really get them to say "holy crap, that's something right there". You're likely to cause a couple of wounds, and depending on the armor in question, the resulting deaths will occur. Still plenty of guys (usually holding big guns) looking at you. So what happens next?
A) They ignore you, and continue pounding into the targets that deserve it. Lictors are then free to jump up and assault you, pretty easily dealing with 5-6 guys of basic infantry.
B) They shoot you, instead of pounding into the targets that deserve it. This then leaves you with two options (go figure).
Bi) If the torrent of fire is severe enough to be a legitimate threat, you go to ground (remember, you were supposed to pop up in cover). You giggle as you now need a 2+ to shrug off lascannons. The enemy is then left with the same delima next round.
Bii) You weather the fire with your standard 3+ cover, and 3-each wounds. You snarl, and then are free to jump up and assault, pretty easily dealing with 5-6 guys of basic infantry.
To stress again, Lictors rely on their deployment to win the day. Can a horde of 20 hormagaunts wipe out a unit of 5 devastators? Yeah, they can. And they do it for a little less than those Lictors would cost, and in truth probably faster... once you're in assault.
But can those 20 hormagaunts get there unhindered, unshot, unwounded? Unlikely.
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