1) Doesn't the easy availability, through allies, of Farseers with Runes and Rune Priests with the frost-thingy pretty much negate the psychic power advantages that Nids now have? At least on a competitive basis? If Psychic-Nids become a powerful army on the tournament scene, then the hard counters will start appearing, I think. So do Nids have enough other advantages to pull though if the powers are taken away?
At first glance the use of allies to incorporate the better psykic defense options seems like a no-brainer. However, a second glance will show some fallacies in this idea (not that it's completely bunk).
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First, Farseers. Hands down Runes of Warding are the ultimate psykic defense. If that's all you want out of your Seer, you can throw him into your list for a fairly minimal cost. He can either hide behind a building all game long, or maybe join to a static backfield unit. Easy to find points for, and pretty easy to protect to boot.
Granted, you also have to buy a unit of Troops to make this possible. Many internet personalities laud the bad-ness of Eldar troops (and most things not in power armor, it seems). I personally see Pathfinders as a wonderful addition to my Dark Eldar force (and you could even toss in the Farseer there and hide behind some serious cover saves), but that is an entirely different discussion. What it boils down to, is that the Troops you *must* take may or may not work well with your playstyle. If they do, great. If not, though, you're often stuck with a lemon unit that will often be minimalized to allow for more points spent on things that do work for you. This means an easy-to-kill unit is sitting on your board somewhere. On the other hand, VP missions are far less common now, so all that really means is that you're having to pay an extra 60-odd points for those Runes. That's a pretty hefty increase. Still worth it? That's up to you.
Here's the real kicker though. Unless you're Battle Brothers with Eldar, *the Runes work against you*. Allies of Convenience are, for all intents and purposes, enemy units that you can't choose to target. Eldar are only Bro-fisting Dark Eldar and Tau, neither of which sport their own psykic abilities. Ironic no? Actually I'm pretty sure that's just coincidence instead of technical irony. Still funny though.
While many armies will have the option to splash some Wolf Grey (let's face it, it's actually blue - at least the Magic players will feel more at home now) it's likely to be a far more expensive and redundant option than adding Eldar would have been. Considering though that a couple of Pups running around will feel far more at home, most people will be more than willing to spend the points, and probably even throw in some upgrades, or some other units from the book.
What *this* boils down to is that *most* of the armies that had about a 50/50 to cancel your powers within 24", *still* have access to a 50/50. It didn't get better odds or more common.
In short, Psykic Defense across the board is weaker/harder to come by, and Tyranid Psykic Powers are better/more diverse. Shadows has jumped from 'pseudo on par' to top tier defense. Tyranids will never have to deal with anything new, anything worse than before. Their opponents will.
2) Nids did get better, obviously, in a lot of ways. But did they get more advantages out of 6th Edition than other armies did? And if they did... was it enough of a relative boost to make up for their relative weakness in 5th?
I'll address the last part of the previous question here as well, as it seems to fit along better with the answer.
Firstly, do Nids have enough boosts other than new powers? I don't want to sound like a broken record from the post in question, so I'll be succinct - What really made Nids *not* competitive in 5th was a combination of the relative (to other armies) inability to deal with Mech-en-masse, and No Retreat wounds doubling causualties on swarms, while dragging down larger bugs who were supporting the combat (ie; Fearless hampered the army as much as helping it).
These things, are, in a word; Gone. Fearless is only good. Simple and effective. Likewise, the Hull Point system allows for Mass Glance tactics to be entirely effective, something Nids have in spades. Can I say that these two changes would have put the bugs on the top tier? Not definitely. No one can, really, without going back and playing for a few months to see how it would have panned out. But competitive, at least, I feel I can say with authority. This comes from only thought and theory, but it does have over a decade of the game and playing Bugs behind it, so take it for what you will.
So, the "relative weakness in 5th" has been addressed. What does stand, though, is whether or not they gained enough relative to other armies in 6th - ie; do all of our new toys shine just like everyone elses?
I think so, yes. Again, I'm not going to jump up and down and say that Nids are Teh Bestzorz for Competitivenesses!! But I do fully believe that they will be competitive. There are a number of reasons for this, aside from some cool new powers that we get to play with.
|Can you spot the Lictors?|
This is mainly to counter the "your armor is negligible and you don't get cover anymore HA!" arguments that, simply, are wrong.
What we have are bodies. Lots of them. Swarm lists used to suck because No Retreat gimped them. Now it doesn't, making them viable. Said swarms are now multi-purpose anti-infantry and anti-tank (with the correct, and often dirty cheap upgrades).
What does this leave us with? Swarms of bodies that can wreck your tanks and eat your mans. Ask Orks if that tactic works well.
Going along with Cover, while it "got worse", MC's love it (so do tanks, actually). Only requiring 25% coverage means even Trygons will be finding regular cover saves. Gargoyles will easily block flying Tyrants (if only a 5+). Forests (and other terrain following forest rules) don't care how tall you are - you get the save.
|I'll take one from column A, and two from column B...|
In conjunction with this, the meta is going to change. Vehicles are still a viable option, but will not own everything in sight. Mans will be walking. Eating mans (instead of metal boxes) has always been easier for Nids, so this is a boon.
Further, weapon loadouts that were awesome and universally seen in 5th are no longer the best of the best. Missile launchers are good, yes. But they are no longer the trump to transports. They offer variety, but not supremacy. Auto-cannons, with their multiple shots, will glance a tank dead faster than a Missile will. Plasma guns, at short range, are an auto-cannon with a bonus to the damage from good AP.
Short version - what is best at dropping vehicles has changed.
Tyranid version - what is better at dropping vehicles is worse at dropping MC's.
Auto-cannons will put more glances on a transport than a missile launcher, but the performance vs MC's is exponentially worse. Plasma will still ignore our armor like Melta, but has a lower strength for wounding. Neither will Insta-kill our T4 bugs, many of which sport 3 wounds.
This is *not at all* to say that the old standards will disappear completely. Missiles still offer utility (especially if the Flakk missile becomes a standard option) and Meltas slag things. Lots of things. But things *will* shift. Weapons we haven't seen in a while will become more common.
Add to this that multi-shot AP 1-2 weapons (read; Plasma) suddenly looks a lot nicer when most power weapons don't chew through 2+ saves. What would you rather have against terminators? A missile that wounds on a 2 with a save, or an autocannon with two shots that wound on 2's with saves?
The utility of weapons has shifted dramatically, and it favors Nids. The only downside of taking more lower strength, multi-shot weapons is vs gaunts... and if you're shooting auto-cannons at gaunts, I still consider that a good thing (or I've lost everything else, and it really doesn't matter at that point).
|Look who's back in black|
On the note of bypassing 2+ saves, which is a new requirement unto itself - Tyranids don't have to change tactics *at all*. Everything that was an answer before, is an answer now. So we don't have to trade in our missile launchers for a new gun to accommodate this need.
Boneswords ignore armor completely. MC's are AP2 in combat (hello, bonus to smashing tanks). Rending ignores armor. And, of course, mass attacks from gaunt swarms has always worked. Pretty much every other army will have to make concessions to face this new dilemma. It will not change entire armies, it could be as simple as a few weapon swaps, or re-tasking a unit here or there. But Tyranids maintain everything. We have no need for new tactics, no sacrifices need to be made whatsoever. Most, if not all other armies will be making concessions, weighing options, and trying to re-balance weapon options to accommodate an entire new plane of threat. Tyranids will not.
Overwatch can be a pain, but will typically have only minor effect. Kill off a gaunt or two, and I still have 20. Wounds caused to mid-sized broods will be unlikely to drop whole bugs, and MC's likewise will be shrugging off most damage. Genestealers, admittedly, are in that awkward place where you're paying more for a single-wound model that still has a low save. Single casualties hurt more, but a full unit of marines is still only knocking one or two down, which can be seen as acceptable losses (when you can take units of up to 20, maybe we should just pad the squad a bit).
It's a double-edged blade though; Tyranids have access to quite a bit of mass fire - gaunts with Devourers get 3 shots each. Not to mention, with Tervigon backup, counter attack (at Ld 10) with poison attacks. Warriors tote the same shots per model, and can get S5 from Deathspitters. Devilfexes (or Tyrants) are rocking 12 twin-linked S6 shots. And of course, an MC once you get through it.
These are all specific examples, but they are *very common* examples, that simply benefit from the current rules. My 'tanks' can overwatch. My basic gun (fleshborer = bolt pistol) is solid, and some fairly common upgrades are moreso. I'm not "wasting" a high BS (Orks love Overwatch... they almost shoot better).
Tyranids have, since 3rd ed, relied on some short-to-mid range shooting support (with limited long range options). It has tended to be fairly potent, relying on high strength and volume of fire rather than low AP, or just sheer volume in the case of gaunts. Overwatch doesn't care if you have a 48" range. Rate of fire is the single most important factor (barring, perhaps, flame templates). Tyranids will make better use of this rule than many people, I think, realize.
Charge or be charged, the Tyranids have adapted, and the time of the Great Devourer is here.
Contesting Objectives has changed dramatically in the game, mainly because vehicles can't. Nor can a unit that is embarked in a vehicle. Who doesn't care about this? Tyranids. Who else? No one. There are more repercussions to this than eliminating last-turn tank shocks being stupidly effective. It means that Drop Pods no longer add an AV12 contestant to an objective, but Myscetic Spores do (however easier to dispatch they may be). It means that cheap Rhinos don't become game changing units by being able to freely block objectives - I don't even have to look at them twice (so long as I don't mind a single storm bolter... and I don't). Base transports are just that - mobile boxes that move people around. Beyond that, they have little to no effect on the actual game. I have won games based on the idea that I can effectively ignore the 40 Terminators looking at me, and focus on the 20 tactical marines that, in the end, determine the game (if simply objective based). Yes, those 40 Terminators can contest, but after 20 marines die, the best you can do is draw. Obviously this is not a wonderfully balanced list, but I've played against it in a tournament setting - these things happen.
Every point an army spends on a transport is a point spent that will, 8/9 times, not effect the game. Okay, given the amount of transports that have legit firepower, and the chance of a VP mission, it's probably closer to 50-60%. But that's still a lot of points that you're dedicating to not working toward the objective of the game.
Tyranids? Everything can deny an objective. Everything, in the army. If it doesn't score, it contests. Barring Ripper Swarms (add that to the list of useless contained in one entry). This, simply put, makes Tyranids more effecient at winning the game than any army that buys a transport, at its core.
Okay, so it's not quite that simple - transports still do important things. But they're a force multiplier for the unit they transport, instead of taking an active tactical role themselves (late game objective denial, etc).
Grenades may worry some people. A melta-bomb is, afterall, a melta in combat. But it strikes last, offers only a single attack, and against most things that it's really useful against I'll be able to challenge the character. The same can be said of Krak grenades. While these may be standard issue to some units, MC's will still shrug off the vast majority of wounds caused. Warrior-type critters will be susceptible to AP4, but will have enough wounds to ward off the relatively few hits being taken... while this does add a bit of extra utility, it's not enough to fear... in fact it could just as easily give overconfidence to an opponent.
Flyers are probably the biggest problem that Nids face right now, in that they have essentially nothing with the Skyfire trait. However, they are not helpless.
First, Flyers are extremely limited by their movement, largely hull mounted weapons (tiny arc of fire, horizontal *and* vertical), and typical light armor. There are two types of flyers (ish). Gunboats, and Transports.
Gunboats tend to have lighter armor, and (you guessed it) more firepower. They can kill a lot, but the question becomes can they kill enough? With minimum movements and limited turns, they'll not always have their first pick of targets. They (while unlikely) can be forced off of the table and may end as a casualty. Flyers (and flying MC's) are an article unto themselves, so I won't go into too much detail here, other than to not give more credence than they're worth - they do have limitations.
Transports, while by no means unarmed, are there primarily to get unit A from spot X to spot Y. They do a pretty awesome job of it, I might add. But, 90% of the time, they have to land to do it. And that turn, they die. At best it's a trade, yes - you get the unit where you want it to be, I get your fancy jet. But it's better than being untouchable.
There are a few ways, yet, to reach out and touch flyers, though. They're not as good as an AA gun, but it's something.
First off - emplaced weapons are *not* entirely useless. Yes, during the normal shooting phase they're laughable - automatically targeting the nearest unit at BS2 isn't stellar. In fact it's pretty bad. So don't do that. Use the Interceptor rule. It can fire at any target that came on via Reserves, barring normal targeting restrictions. Flyers, you're still getting shot at by twin auto-cannons. It only works for that turn, but it helps.
EDIT: Emplaced Weapons, which Nids can't manually fire, are different from Weapon Emplacements, which are (most commonly) purchased alongside Fortifications, but are *stand alone structures* with their own profile and are an individual target. Weapon Emplacements do not have an auto-fire mode at all, but Nids have no restrictions against firing them manually - so build yourself a Niddy defense line and laugh at Flyers all day long.
Devil(MC) - 12 twin-linked shots are still going to hit a few times, even on 6's. S6 after the fact doesn't lead to a scrap pile of once-was flyers, but if you start rolling enough dice, you'll start plinking Hull Points.
Hive Guard are still pretty solid. Again, hitting on 6's, so a full unit will only average 1, but it's S8 and ignores any attempts at Jink. Again, not wonderful by any stretch of the imagination, but a fair chance to knock off the last Hull Point.
Objuration Mechanicum - Or something. So many latin-esque words it's crazy. Grab a squad of 'thropes, and start rolling on that table til you get it. You should, in theory. You may even get a couple. And then you have an auto-hits Haywire Blaster. Technically random, and again it's likely to be peeling single Hull Points instead of downing things outright, but it's another tool in the box, and enough of them combined will get the job done.
Sorry for the wall of text, but to fully (or at least to vaguely attempt to fully) answer "how does army X stack up" takes a bit of talking (or writing, as the case may be). Hopefully it wasn't too painful.
If anyone has any further questions, noticed something I missed or misquoted (it happens, I am in fact fallible) leave a comment. I'll address as I can.