Saturday, March 19, 2011

A time to Gripe - Tyranid edition

by Anonymous Foodie

Now let me say this first - I love Tyranids.  They were my first (of only two) army.  I got my first box of 40k (the 3rd edition Starter) for Christmas when I was 13, with the hatchings of a very buggy future in my mind.  Though I've been more focused on the Dark Eldar lately, I tend to play in stretches rather than switching back and forth in a given month.

That said, lately when I look at the bugs on my desk (I am still working on getting a full 2k list painted up after all this time... and 3 color schemes >.<) a few things about the book (here's looking at you, Cruddace) keep jumping out at me.

For example, one of the Tyranids' greatest fears...

I've lived and breathed through 3 codexes (codices, if you prefer), and watched as the army has shifted from the "I'ma eat yo' face, boy!!!" feel of a heavy close combat army, to the current setting of a fairly good mix of powerful mid-ranged shooting and potent assault elements.  The Nids are, in the end, about getting up close and personal.  It's just that they've become more reliant (and far better) at softening up the enemy before they arrive.

As such, you'd think they'd love to see a board full of cover, particularly with the upgrade to 4+ being the standard (oh the days of 5+ being half the board...).  Being particularly eager to get to grips with you, everything that's actually assault oriented has the Move Through Cover USR.

Awesome, right?  Let's run forth tally ho and let them have what such old boy!

Oh, wait... that's right.  We're the assault army with no assault grenades.  Good job, kids.  Guess that answers the age-old question of how to stop a Tyranid invasion - stand behind a leaf.

Next in line, we have a continued proliferation of Mechanized forces against an army that is traditionally weaker against breaking armor.

I rather should say that Tyranids have to find the Tyranid-way to do things, rather than the standard imperial creed of "shoot melta at it.  For example...

A Carnifex enjoys a nice lunch of Land Raider.  Pretty iconic, as it even made it onto the Codex cover.  But let's take a closer look at that 'fex...

I get that GW is a company that *needs* to sell models and make money if this game is to continue, but I would have bought that Trygon kit regardless of the new state of the Carnifex.  It's just so pretty... but I digress.

I'm not about to say that we should go back to 114 point Screamer Killers that can be taken as Elites (or the Dakkafex of ages past), but I honestly feel that the Carnifex is over-costed by 30 points base.  Upgrades and weapons?  They're fine.  Though I wouldn't say no to the ability to take a 2+ save, or get that 5th wound again (for an appropriate cost).

And, of course, there is the debauchery that is the Tyranid FAQ.  Luckily, this is not official material (truth, check the website if you don't believe me - FAQ's are only GW's House Rules, unlike Errata and the like).

So in order to be productive (a word hear used to mean 'stop complaining like a ninny'), I have a few suggestions to the 40k world at large.

1.  Stop letting Cruddace touch the Xenos.
2.  Shadow has no reason to be stopped by Mech.  No other Psychic Defense is.
3.  Primes should be able to join units in Spores, just like any other IC can join any other unit in a transport pre-game.
4.  Stop making Carnifexes overly-expensive to the point of uselessness.
5.  Give the Venom Cannon back it's anti-armor capabilities.  Pretty easy to do here, just make it a 2-3 shot gun instead of a Blast weapon.
6.  A note on grenades - see below.

1 keeps me up at night with goosebumps.  2 and 3 are needless slaps to the face that seem to stem from not playing an Imperial army.  4 and 5 combined would make Carnifexes (155 for a VC toting fex) hit the board again.  Think of the firepower that most armies get for 150 points (in terms of tanks).  All I'm asking is a few BS3 S9 shots.  It's still -1 to the damage table, so don't go calling it a lascannon.

And finally, a note on #6.  Within the Tyranid community one of the ideas that rears its head fairly often is to say units with Move Through Cover don't have a penalty in assault when assaulting through difficult terrain.  While this would be a quick fix for the Nids, I think the repercussions of changing a game-wide USR should be looked at thoroughly first.  I don't know how many units have the rule in other armies, and I know even less which of those do and don't have Grenades already.  But this would change how any future unit is designed, and as such I don't think it should be taken lightly.

So my suggestion?  Something along the lines of a Tyranid Special Rule.  Something to the effect of 'When a Tyranid unit with the Move Through Cover USR moves through difficult terrain in the assault phase, it takes an Initiative test.  If the test is passed, it does not suffer a penalty to it's Initiative in the following combat.  Monstrous Creatures may subtract 1 from their roll, to a minimum of 1.'

This does a number of things.  Without actually passing out Grenades, you're also not actually passing out S4 attacks against rear AV10.  Things like Hormagaunts will still need to take upgrades in order to be a threat to armor (as much as a threat as that would be).  So it focuses on the problem of assaulting into cover, and *only* the problem of assaulting into cover.

It's a die roll, which means while you generally only fail on a 6, you can still fail.  And when you do, it'll hurt.  But that's life.  Grenades are a sure thing.  This is a risk, minimal as it is.

It gives new life to the Living Battering Ram rule for the Fex.  The rule gives the Fex an Initiative boost the turn it charges.  Not enough to strike with marines on its own, but enough to beat a power fist.  Now, it'd have a decent chance of not needing grenades.  That said, the Carnifex, of all things, is the *single* unit that can actually purchase a grenade-effect, so you can opt to take the cheap upgrade if you don't want to worry about the test, or you can just let the dice fall as they may (you still would have good odds).

And now, I am going to breathe a bit, and consider a second cup of tea.

In the end, I do love my bugs.  And it's not like I get slaughtered every time I put them on the table.  But everybody gets frustrated sometimes.  Well, at least if you play Xenos or Sisters ;).

All that said, I'd be interested in hearing thoughts (mainly from non-Tyranid enthusiasts, but those are welcome too) on my proposed changes.


  1. I whole heartedly agree. I read almost every Tyranid post that appears on the 3++ blog roll and am so, so tempted by them. I think if GW just wrote an errata saying all tyranid units are reduced in points costing by 10 or 15% then I'd be sold. That wouldn't make them immense, but would give them that little extra. An extra MC or two would be much appreciated.

    1) I don't care too much about authors to be honest, I'd like them all to have an influence if I'm being honest.
    2) Probably the most dumb ruling in GW's history.
    3) I agree with GW in part, but wouldn't be bothered if ICs could join units in spores.
    4&5) Hear hear.
    6) I don't think they should have grenades, but like your idea of some sort of test to avoid the initiative penalty.

  2. I like this. It's a good look at some of the shortcomings of the codex without acting like the typical whiny forumite who just wants to QQ about their army and offer insanely unbalanced ways to "fix" it. It's like you actually used logic and reason or something, but that can't really be true because this is the internet (haha sarcasm is fun).

    Great article. I like the idea of giving units with move through cover the ability to strike at initiative. Personally, I don't think the initiative test would even be needed. Another FAQ to fix the "WTF were they thinking" rulings of the last one would also be greatly appreciated.

  3. I saw a fan codex (or somesuch) on warseer that proposed a rule where a tyranid unit that charges a unit in cover would fight in normal initiative order if they had more (I think they said double) models than the unit they were charging. Basically the tyranids overwhelmed them with sheer numbers. This seemed like a nice game mechanic and seemed very apropriate for tyranids, to me.

  4. I am a Tyranid player and agree with 2,3,4 and 5.

    I do not mind the lack of grenades on the little bugs; after all what is the point of having terrain reduce initiative if everyone just gets free pass to ignore it? What I dislike is that the Fex can get frag spines, but none of the other monsters can! I do like your pseudo-grenade idea though.

    My main dislike is less with the codex and more the main rules. No Retreat Wounds are the bane of my broods; maybe 6th edition will resolve that.

  5. @lyracian

    Ah, but all imperials do get to ignore cover cause they have grenades. And our proficiency is supposed to be our initiative, and we lose that, even though we have to hug cover to live. They even dropped Ws on hormagaunts to boost I.

  6. Well, I can tell you nothing in the ork codex breaks if you globally make that initiative test modification to the move through cover USR. Commandos are the only non-characters with move through cover, and the standard orky initiative of 2 makes this roll not something to rely on, but at the same time doesn't change a great deal if they fail it.

    In the Dark Eldar dex, Mandrakes (I5, infiltrate, stealth, move through cover, but no grenades) would love this change. The Talos and Cronos engines (I4) are the only others with the move through cover USR, like all monstrous creatures. And like all monstrous creatures, the idea that a few measly sticks would slow them down in a fight seems a bit silly. Harlequins don't care at all about difficult terrain in the first place

    So I don't think anything breaks in either of those dexes, and the Mandrakes probably deserve some way to attack at initiative, given how hard they love cover.

  7. SM codex Iornclad Dreadnought has the MTC rule as well.

  8. The rulings were made the way they were because GW is located in Britain where everyone still plays mostly foot and thinks Dual Lash Chaos is broken OP cheese.

    IE, they don't know whats good and bad in their own game system.

    You should thank your lucky stars that the more retarded questions such as "do Tyranid biomorphs stack?" were not ruled poorly or else the entire army would be terrible.

    All those Hive Guard (the only unit in the codex that costs seems appropriate) and Trygons almost every Tyranid player bought will ensure that Robbin "I write codices to sell models" Cruddace will be with us for a long time to come.

    As for other things, allow spore pods to drop in terrain, allow Lictors to start on the board in a secret location (like Ystealers). I could go on and on.

    At the end of the day, Xenos armies are ultimately designed to give Imperial armies something to fight against, we are the boogeymen that are designed to scare the noble hero, then ultimately lose. As someone once said somewhere in the blogsphere: "Warhammer 40K was, is, and always will be a game about playing Space Marines".

  9. Decided to get off my box and onto the battlefield the other day, and took the Nids out to get some greenskin biomass.

    For all of my complaints (and thanks to those who didn't call me a whiner), the army does indeed still play well.

    Hive Guard are an amazing unit. Even my Hive Tyrant who managed to fail oh-so-many cover saves, and then fail his Ld 10 test for Paroxysm, managed to gimp a Warboss thanks to the Deathleaper dropping his Ld by 3 against the Bonesword. There are tricks, kids. Oh yes, there are tricks.

    As the most debated part (not that there's been a huge war or anything) of my post stems from Grenades. Let me throw this out there -

    I do not want most units to get them. In fact, even after charging orks in cover, and losing combat probably twice before killing the unit (yay for enough bodies to seize the day!) despite outnumbering them (in the beginning, at least) I agree that not every joe shmoe should get grenades. It would pretty much negate the point of the Init penalty that terrain imposes in the first place.

    The option to get them on Stealers, who are a bit of a legendary combat unit, would be nice. Not stock, but 1 pt each. That'd be cool. Even if you have to take a Brood Lord to get the upgrade, having it available would be a plus.

    And something like a Hive Tyrant. They can't get some Flesh Hooks? Or something, seriously... it's an HQ monster. Comon, kids... throw us a bone.

    Anyway, just throwin' that out there.


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