Sunday, July 29, 2012

Foodie got an E-mail!

by Anonymous Foodie

I got an E-mail with a couple of good questions about Nids and their viability in 6th, so I wanted to share.  Fair warning, it's gonna be a bit of a read...

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).

Kudos to the artist, found on Desura 40k Community

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.

Space Wolves share the same stunted Hoods as all the other boys in ceramite, but their Rods of Wonder (yeah, it's a thing now) still smack down enemy powers pretty easily.  The same caveats apply here, except that Puppy Troops are typically considered very solid, and most Imperials (although not all) are Battle Brothers.
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.

Further, what made the Wolves sick at negating powers was the combination of a Hood and a Rod, which gave you essentially two 4+'s (not quite, but close enough) to drop any power in range.  While a 4+ at 24" is still more than acceptable (especially by today's standards) it's far less potent than in 5th.   (apparently some people thought Wolves needed to be that much better...ah well)

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?
Cover changes are game-wide.  The only unit in the game that never cares about cover is TH/SS Terminators.  While area terrain and blocking units went down to a 5+, there are loads of 4+ pieces across the board, and 3+'s will be seen more often as well.
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.


  1. Not sure who your source was on the wolves in 5th, but Rune Priests do not come with Psychic Hoods. They get thier Rune Weapon that acts as a 4+ rod of smacking down enemy psycic powers in 24" and if they wanted to could take a wolf tail talismen that would let you ignore an ability targeted at them or their unit on a 5+, which is sort of redundant in 6th edition since as a psycher they'll get at least a 5+ deny the witch anyhow. Prior to the current codex a "Runic Staff" could be bought for a 10 points to give them a psychic hood. They could also buy a Runic Weapon that would act as a Force Weapon. The new codex just combined the two pieces of wargear into one item and added increased effectiveness vs Demons.

    1. But if Wolves are allies with another codex the runic weapon can cancel on the 4+, and the hood from another army work. In addition you get the deny the witch chance as well.

    2. You can roll for WTT in addition to Deny the Witch, in addition to Runic Staff(s). Even if a psychic power causes no wounds (looking at you, Enfeeble!) Wolves can generate 3 individual rolls to negate it.

  2. Good read (needs some pictures to break it up perhaps) and making me loving the nids again.
    Of note, FAQ says we cannot use gun emplacements if I recall correctly.

    1. It says we can not manually fire them - they still have their automated fire mode (normally worthless, as it auto-targets the closest enemy), but the Interceptor rule allows you to target any unit that came on from Reserves.

      Massive wall of text, I know... far longer than I intended... and I may yet try to go back through and break it up a bit. For one night, though, I'm spent.

  3. In addition, Nids don't worry about perils as much as other armies as their 4 to 6 wounds each mean you can fail a few.

  4. Right now I'm loving two similar builds at 1999. It's basically this:

    3 Tervigons with a couple crushing claws and psychic upgrades, along with 10X3 termagaunts (Mass scoring units are good. But what is even better is creating tar pits for death star units)

    9 Hive Guard (They're just too good not to use)

    Swarmlord (66% chance of getting Iron Arm which is simply sick)

    Hive Tyrant with Old Adversary (Preferred Enemy with Hive Guard rock)

    Some Biovores (Great sniping unit)

    I'm also really liking this build:

    3 Tervigons like above (w/termagaunts)

    9 Hive Guard

    Carnifex Deathstar - 3 Carnifexes with double twin-linked devourers, along with two Tyranid Primes with Lash whip/bonesword. You can do some serious wound allocating. And if you want to get crazy, throw in some regeneration- it's not bad, but not great either. If anything charges this unit, some serious snap firing goes off. Hard to tar pit.

    And oh, by the way, great article!

  5. I want to piggy back off Foodie for a second. WHO CARES!?! Eldar farseers like he said can either sit in the back and do nothing or chew up your points. Point is he is one guy. Chances are you didnt buy him a transport. If you did tyranids dont care because hive guard love skimmers. Until the eldar book is more economic on points they will suck points and army lists dry.

    Space wolves are still the end all be all to beat tyranids honestly. Why? well Jaws. . .that helps. But mainly because they lend themselves to those 3 long fang squads that can drop a single MC a turn Easily. (fnp/cover or not it'll be close) Also that 4+ to stop our powers hurts. At 1850 tonight I took 12 rolls on the new tables for powers and I loved it. I had the utility in the powers to buff anything I wanted along with a shooting attack for every opportunity. Without these things I do get my ankles cut out from under me.

    I did run into one thing I forgot existed. GK have dreds that lower leadership by 4 and they also have psych grenades. . .I found this out after the game because luckly my opponent didn't know he had them also. So watch out dont target within 12 of a dred, bad idea.

    So how's this all work? I have been running
    Flyrant, dual talons, poison
    flyrant, dual talons
    Tervigon- addrenal toxin, catalyst
    Tervigon- addrenal toxin, catalyst
    2X10 termas
    3x3 Hive guard
    3 zoanthropes
    5x Shrikes- lash bone
    20 Hormos- adrenal

    So at 2k with this list (yes thats 2 force orgs deal with it welcome to 6th it's here to stay) I have 14 rolls on the psychic tables :-D
    I normally shoot on they tyrants for a Roll on biomancy wanting iron army OR Warp speed. If I get iron arm I just roll on another table for second power swinging towards I believe telekinesis for psych shriek if I dont like the power I get.

    For the tervigons I try for one to get gate. 2 rolls on telepathy normally does it. If I hit the first one I take it and the second on biomancy. Gating tervigons until FAQed or mentioned otherwise are sooooo much fun. second tervigon is dependant on the actions of the first one.

    The zoanthropes depend on what I am playing against If it's Space wolves it will be biomancy to try and pull atleast 2 warpspeeds so I can hit my tervigons for the extra initiative. . .they'll need it. If it's vehicle heavy lists I look for crush or I believe it's called "mind control" make a melta shoot their own tank is nice.

    1. Warp Speed self-targets the Psyker that uses it; you certainly wouldn't be looking for it on Zoanthropes.

    2. Bear in mind that the power that allows you to fire a Melta at his own tank is a Focused Witchfire, meaning you must roll a 5 or less on the Psy test to choose the model hit - otherwise it's randomly generated.

      Against Runes of Warding, that simply won't occur.

      Further to the Eldar Troops point - 3 Jetbikes are 66 points, can sit in Reserve, and Turbo 48" to contest on the last turn if not killed.

    3. Gating Tervigons are one of those things that seem too good to be true. But maybe they're not. The simple question is - Does deep strike count as moving for *all* purposes, or just for shooting, which is so far the only reference we've found (albeit with only a few minutes spent looking).
      Also, it depends on the wording of the Spawn rule, which I'd have to look up again. If it's "before movement phase" then you're probably good. If it's "before the model moved"... well, it just move 24". Not by 'standard movement', but that doesn't change the fact that it *did* just move. Thoughts, anyway.

      And yes, Rhionnay, stop trying to target other bugs with your self targeting spells :p

      @ TKE
      Runes are definitely nasty, and I'm more than happy to find them in my DE list now. But as *most* armies are toting their own powers, they won't want to contest with dealing with them either, so for the most part a Hood is all you'll have to deal with. Wolves still shut down powers... but we still have boneswords.
      3 Jetbikes, now coming on turn 2 more likely, will have more trouble staying alive all game, I'd think. It's basically 3 marines that can move fast. Is it that hard to kill 3 marines?

  6. Crap, hmmm I was brain storming using warp speed wont work. . .back to the drawing board then. The zoanthropes are a huge tool kit and I'm still not positive how I want to kit them for powers. Need more games for sure against armies that allow me to use the different powers. For example I think running enfeeble on them against nob bikers and shooting them with hive guard will solve most my nob biker issues I’ve been scared of.

    Didnt I already state nids have NO issues with eldar. Honestly killing a farseer is stupid easy and their tanks are worse than flyers but cost as much. Hive guard pop serpants like it's no-one business. If I am going to "mind control" a squad I'd pick a squad that has multiple meltas in it. (attack bike, fire dragons, guard veterans) That way I can be sure I'll be able to pop w/e I want iwth the squad.

    SO jetbikes. . .3 of them. . .not hard to kill hope you went last so that you can keep that objective. Keep in mind hive guard still wound you on 2’s and you don’t get those fun flat out saves. I dont mind killing 3 eldar bikers and even though it's only 66 points thats 66 points that did nothing for you the whole game. Honestly I'm ok with that.

  7. If those EJB just take a single unit of HG a single phase to kill, that's still a turn you didn't shoot something valuable with your more expensive (both in points, but more importantly in FoC) unit.

    I can absolutely live with that trade-off, especially when 66 points leaves me so much room to pick things to actually threaten you with. :p

  8. my point is this, by the time those jetbikes come on I probably wont have anything better to shoot anyways (assuming your plan to come on late works). Also, Rule #1 ALWAYS shoot the thing you know you can kill.

    Keep in mind to those jetbikes coming in turn 2 are just a slingshot for me to charge so taht I can get to your lines faster. I do believe rangers are the better option for the troops. Even if you only snipe out 2 power fists a game or a couple special weapons, that's more help than you can believe.

    I've been brain storming and I think that runes and staffs can cancel one another. Example a SW would have to roll 3d6 to cast his powers while the eldar could be cancelled on a 4+. Everyone elses thoughts on this?

    1. Yeah, they're enemy units. Of course they work against each other. But since they're taken defensively, not offensively, it's not critical.

      As for slingshotting - they wouldn't be close enough to you to do that. Lol.

      Finally, regarding Rangers, they still evaporate in CC or to a Flamer, and sniping Sergeants out is barely even worth trying with Look Out rolls.


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