I know it's been a while since my last tyranid post. The reason? I've completely stopped playing tyranids. I've been busy with my Blood Angels, and they are serving me well as an assault force. Though there are times I do wish for more combat power like my Nids once had. I have been thinking about this one for a while now, and thinking about how, if ever, I want to remake my tyranid army. So today we will be looking at viable options to take over Hiveguard spam. My main goal from my series of articles is to expand past the 3 hiveguards, 2 terv, 2 tyranofex style of list. It does well, but it has no surprises and lacks in Close combat. Here are my past two articles T6 HQ, and T6 Troops.
As I've said before, I'm not going to talk a lot of Theory, I'm drawing from my own experiences. I will not make recommendations nor judgments on units till I've fully tried them out in games. In this post I'll cover options I have tried out, and that will still leave plenty of Elites for a part 2.
First lets look at Hiveguard and figure out what role they really play and what we'll need to replace them. For starters they lay down impressive suppressive fire. They are short range cyclone missile launchers. For a cheap 150 points, you get three bodies of T6, two wounds each, that fire 2 shots at S8 up to 24" away that ignores Los. They are great midfield and if you stick them in cover, it will take some effort to get rid of them. I'll often keep my tyranid prime in with the lead squad, to deter assaults and give some more ablative wounds. Now the main way's I've seen them run is three squads of two hiveguard, each squad pumping out enough shots to stun-lock an enemy vehicle. I run them as two squads of three hiveguard, which allows for a more survivable and forward positioning and lethal firepower to light armor. This frees up an elite slot and allows others in my army to deal with the occupants.
To replace this golden unit of suppression fire, we're going to have to look beyond the elite section, but that comes later. Nothing else in the elites with the exception of maybe ymgarl stealers can have the same effect on tanks. So we are going to look at other potential aides to an army that will down the line help things out.
Lets start with Death leaper;
He is really the only viable lictor option. The normal lictors are far to fragile and don't really do much to consider. Rending on a 5+ is great, WS9 is awesome, so is his high initiative. His overflowing handful of rules though, is where he shines. First off He can drop leadership of a character. Now first step is to know the rules so know the definition of a character. Keep in mind that while this is great for helping against librarians and such, it does no good against deamon princes and mephiston... wait I already said deamon princes :)
Another thing He does well is slow down movement through terrain. So don't forget this, it can keep the enemy away with bad rolls, and protect other units or objectives. Speaking of objectives, His second most useful ability is to jump back into reserves and then be placed anywhere when he comes back in. This can be great for late game table control. He can also be kept alive well, since being shot at takes a special night fight rule that is halved. I don't tell my opponents until after they have declared shots, but he can't be hit from over 18".
Now along with stealth, fleet, hit and run, move through cover, he is a block of text goodness. Drop him in at the edge of cover and make some pot shots at the enemy. Use night-fight and a possible 2+ cover to keep alive. Then jump out and assault, initiative 7, and kill one or two and tie up combat. Jump out at the end of their turn, and assault back in on yours. I've had him tie up a plague marine squad and slowly kill them off, and then start on a second squad, all before the game ended.
Now that is some decent list of pro's, but what about the cons?
Well, he's T4, 5+ and W3, so in combat you are depending on the Ws9 and I7 to protect you. For the price of three hiveguard, you are getting a single model, that can only kill a few models a turn if lucky, and doesn't have the best chance against vehicles. He can add a lot to an army, but he isn't an easy fit nor an auto include. You need to know exactly what you are doing with him when you use him, it will take some practice, but he can frustrate your opponent to no end once you get it right.
Honestly my biggest problem with them is that they are elites and not heavy, I think that would solve half of the Codex's problems right there. But they're not, so lets keep moving.
Pros of Zoanthropes, now that's easy. S10, AP1 Lance. But wait, there's more! Not only that, but people forget that they can dish out S5 AP3 blasts, and that they provided the much needed Synapse. They have a 3++ which is great, along with two wounds. They come relatively cheap, can be put in pods, and are now at Bs4.
Some cons? Well T4 for means some concentrated heavy fire will bring them down fast, and they also fall to small arms fire. They are relatively slow, either walking or by pod, they aren't hitting something by turn 2 or 3. The Lance shot is short range of 18", so you'll have to run the gauntlet to hit the heavy armor. Brainy heads, yep, these brain bugs float above the crowd, so while the 4+ cover is still easily attainable, fully hiding them can be a problem. Lets not forget the big H, psychic Hoods. Everyone and their grandma seems to be bringing psychic disruption, and I seem to be failing a good amount each time I try.
I used them a lot when the new codex first came out, because I loved them last edition. Things just seem to have changed since then. First off, the majority of Psychic hoods out there and their 24" range shuts down Zoanthropes pretty hard. Of three zoanthropes, 1 misses, 1 gets shut down, and leaving 1 to go through and hope it works. For me they drew far too much attention and fire. 3++ means there is no need for giving them cover, if anything use them for cover. They are a suicide unit in this meta and there is little getting away from it. I have tried keeping them back for a while, cause I love the S5 AP3 blast once I've popped some transports, but even playing conservatively, I have trouble keeping them stick.
In the 3/2/2 format of list building, I always felt if you didn't have zoanthropes, you needed a Tyrannofex. One or the other is needed to take on big tanks, but T-fex is so much more survivable and free's up more elite spots.
So that covers Zoanthropes and Lictors, Leaving ymgarl stealers and Venomthropes to cover next. Both I have used before, but I think requires some more play testing before I pass my Survival of the Fittest on them.