Thursday, January 6, 2011

Thinking outside of T6; Elites

By TheGraveMind

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.


  1. Kirby's been talking 'nids too. I've not read his article about No Hive Guard, but you might want to take a look:

  2. Yes, that's actually what got be back to writing my article. While the 3++ and I haven't really agree much on Tyranids, He does have some good points. I'm not saying don't run any, but one squad of three is good and opens up other possibilities.

  3. I have to disagree on the idea of Lictors being useless. They are one of the more difficult units to use (unless you're playing Combat Patrol, in which case they eat Grey Knights for breakfast), but they have some serious perks.

    Please note that this is not to say that the Death Leaper isn't good - if I had my choice, I'd rather standard lictors be 80 to even 100 points, with some of his rules built in, I think. Alas, GW did not ask my opinion.

    I've been considering doing a post up on Lictors, since they've for so long been a love-or-hate unit... so I'll save the details for that, I think.

  4. Well, GraveMind - I know Kirby better than I know you, and gravitate more towards his playstyle, as we gel fairly well (ewww!) - but I always make a point of reading your Nid opinion too. It will be a good while before my TyranOrks are table-worthy, but I enjoy the reads, and want to go into testing with as much knowledge as possible.

  5. Foodie- When posts like Graves or kirby's are written rarely do they or anyone else take into account combat patrol, kill team, or which ever wonky donk scenario you want to throw out there.

    Lictors on their own haven't been scary for a very long time, since their CC appeal is gone they were support units in 4th edition. With the recent loss of feeder tendrils and the loss of the ability to seperate them when deployed the unit has lost that support ability. O but wait! they have one use their pheromone trail.

    How useless is the pheromone trail, very useless indeed. Having to have the lictor on the table already before the ability takes effect is what hurts. So for example the lictors comes in turn 2, turn 3 you benefit from a 2+ reserve at this point (instead of a 3) and those reserves wont scatter it they are within 6 inchs. is that worth the goldn elite slot in the tyranid codex?

    The lictors come in turn 2 and do what? sit there, scared to death they are going to get missiled, power fisted, or catch something like a lascannon to the face. If they are in cover they may go to ground and with stealth get a 2+ cover I understand. However that doesn't help in an assault.

    Shouldn't lictors do something more? Give preferred enemy, drop leadership, be able to assault the turn they come in, something? I've tried lictors in a monster heavy list and they fall on their face. I've tried them in a swarm list they fall just as hard. The only time I've had lictors work is with a list of mostly winged creatures and then I ran two squads of two and by the start of my next turn I only had one wounded lictor left out of the four.

    Grave- you were right in saying lictors are bad, I just thought that if anyone else shared foodies opinion I'd give reason as to why I believe they are terrible.

  6. Thanks TKE, I would love to hear about what you are trying when you start play testing and how it goes for you.
    I like and agree with most of what Kirby puts out there, he has a good play style. Most of my disagreements were with VT2. I think mostly Kirby and I just have different reasons for the same things. I am more open to accepting the faults of the codex and the limitations it puts on the populous trying to play nids.
    I think the 3/2/2 list is very strong and one of The best nids can put out, but it can easily feel stale and lacks any real surprise and so can be dealt with easily if your opponent knows what they are doing.

  7. Oh Rionnay, thank you for giving me reasons to post tacticas.

    Like I said, I'm saving the brunt for an actual write-up, but I will give it to you that they're more of a finesse unit than many others in the book. For years people have wanted them to be simply better in combat.

    Short truth - they're not. You send them up against a full tactical squad, and they're gonna go down before the marines do. You have to stop looking at what you wish they were doing, and start seeing what they can do for you.

    As for the Combat Patrol tidbit, I only threw that in because my Lictors have a super secret special rule called "sabotage all enemy dice rolls". And it's apparently in effect even if the Lictors aren't on the board.

  8. Foodie and I threw down 3 Kill team games. I drew from my ancient tomes (codex DH, and codex WH), and he drew from Tyranids.

    The games were moderately close, considering my GKT's were shooting like orks.

    I got PWNED.

    The Seraphim almost won their game though. go go S8 Pistols to the face!

  9. hmm. some other interesting 'Nid thoughts over in the Big Blue Shark tank...

    good thoughts.

  10. i am pro zoes... i really like deathleaper in the meta right now also.

    My maxed out elites section usually contains 2x full zoeies squads and a leaper.

  11. Foodie- What place does a finesse unit honestly have in a tyranid army? Tyranids can be sneaky and sly, outflank, deepstrike, infiltrate and pop out and assault. However, I ask how do lictors help any of these things?

    It use to be they gave preferred enemy, where'd the feeder tendrils go?

    Pheromone Trail not working until turn 3 is a giant gimp to the army, a waste of an elite slot and valuable points.

    Can their fleshhooks open up the rear armor of transports YES! Wait, why would you want to do that? A rhino is only 35 points on average it takes 2 lictors to pen and remember with AP- on the flesh hooks you are already at a -1 on the chart. all the armies that take tanks take more than 1 and normally pack enough STR8+ shots to now down those 2 lictors.

    I am aware that with the new-ish FAQ of the rulebook they got a tad bit better. With hit and run they can now help in combat and leave before they can even be attacked. I also understand they can contest objectives since there isn't a scatter when they come in.

    What I fail to see lictors accomplish is synergy in a NORMAL 2,000 point 40k game. Tervigons help gants and give FnP. Gargoyles are a fast assault unit and a screen for cover saves. Tyrants give a CC punch with psychic support along with preferred enemy. Zoanthropes help destroy large targets along with groups of marines. Hive Guard can destroy armored transports along with laying down suppressive fire.

    I've been playing tyranids for 2 1/2 years. They are my babies, the army I play constantly 3+ games a week. Do I own a marine army, yes shouldn't everyone? However were the marines may get a game a week the tyranids are never in the box long enough to make indents in the foam. I feel like many players try to justify why their favorite units are good instead of excepting they have seen better days.

  12. I am curious how they're able to Hit and Run before taking any hits... where exactly is this?

  13. The new FAQ if they assault into a combat that was already in progress the enemy must attack the units they were already in assault with.

    Read the FAQ know the rules you'd figure it out ^_^

  14. Ah, that's right, they clarified that whole multi-assault thing. Though I've read over it once or twice and I've never found that in there. Could be I'm looking at an older PDF, but it has differences marked out.. who knows.

  15. Actually you guys are wrong. Hit and run will not save them. The new FAQ sticks with what they had said about it, but just made it more clear. But it seems not clear enough.

    They say that when you go to the combat, before attacks are made, check each model for what options it has for making attacks based on either it is in base to base or within 2".

    Lets say I'm assaulting Squad C with my A and B. and we have this. ACCB
    If A gets killed before C's initiative, the side facing C cannot attack B, even though they are within 2" of Cs that are attacking, because before attacks were made, they were in base to base with A and thus must make their attacks against them.

    This is continuously being miss interpreted as models not being able to be hit the turn they assault in. You can use this to mitigate how many attacks you'll receive when you assault into a combat if you can minimize base to base contact. But the fact remains that not being able to be hit is wishful thinking and misinterpretation of the rules.

  16. And open mouth insert foot.
    I guess I should check the brb and not just the FAQ. lol
    just ignore what I said. sigh


Recent Favorites

All-Time Favorites