Saturday, January 11, 2014

Ragnorok Cometh - the Rise of the Swarm

 by Anonymous Foodie
One little Two little Three little Fish Men...

 Some initial thoughts on D-Day...

Synapse - On the whole more important to maintain synapse coverage, as things will often go crazy on you if you fail a (low) Ld test.  I like that it matters more, but would have enjoyed a bit more of a boon from being *in* Synapse as well.
Shadow - Close to identical chance to shut down powers, no extra Perils, but also affects Psykers *all* the time.  On the whole a wash between books, but considering most anti-psy treatment (Hood, Runes, etc), this is pure gold.
Psy Powers - Strict access to only one table is a *big* downgrade.  The table is "okay", with one really good power, but none that stick out as terrible, at least.  All said, I feel that it would be better balanced if Nids could actually *pick* their powers from this table rather than roll (certain ones will be more powerful vs certain armies/builds).  As is, losing access to Biomancy (and any other table) is a big downgrade. 
Allies/Fortifications - No access, and nothing to balance it.  The rumored expanded FOC would have been a tactful fix, I thought, and would have opened up some extra builds.  Honestly this is a bit of a slap in the face to Nid Players, in a game where most of the highly competitive builds utilize the Ally rules to full effect.
Mycetic Spores - Losing this option only hurts.  It was fluffy, allowed tactical diversity, and made certain units viable.  Without it, and no replacement, we have no option other than "walk up the board".
Warlord Traits - A couple good, a couple pretty awful.  At least in theme with the Nids... shrug.

Tyrant - a touch cheaper, a better shot, and certain valuable upgrades got better/cheaper.  No real access to a 2+, as well as certain upgrades being silly is a shame... Dual Dev Flyrants will still be one of the most popular options, but there are one or two other builds worth looking at.
Tyrant Guard - Cheaper stock, weapon options are expensive, but potentially worth the cost for some.  Shieldwall got a boost as well (the rule that lets Tyrants join them).  Considering they're more or less mandatory for a walker, I'm glad the price dropped.
Tervigon - A downgrade from almost every angle, but still does allow access to a scoring MC.  My biggest complaint is not the new cost, but rather that the Tervigon pretty much doesn't buff Termagants now... so tactically it is better to run spawned gaunts to a *different* synapse node to avoid the Backlash if the Terv goes down.  Awkward.
Tyranid Prime - Base cost went up over 50% for absolutely nothing.  Traditional armament stayed the same or got worse.  Access to iffy-at-best "BioArtefacts".  Worthless excuse for an HQ.
"Special Characters" - Haven't looked into them in detail

Haruspex - Meh.  Big bug built for combat with low WS and moderate attacks at best.  Unlocks an MC in Elites, but does not seem to be an impressive creature.
Lictors - The new cost might validate them.  Maybe.  With the right army build Pheremone Trail will work (due to being able to start on the board now), but they're a very squishy lynchpin.  As I say... maybe.  I hope.  But maybe.
Hive Guard - Harpoon got a slight boost, new gun is interesting and does have a place, but a bit more expensive and less accurate shooting.  Still effective at what they do for the cost, I would think.
Zoanthropes - Overall a wash.  I dislike the Brotherhood rule, it leads to far less utility (and less casts).  But they're a fair bit cheaper.  There have been editions where they were essentially "Warp Blast and Synapse" for more points.  Now they're that plus some small utility, for less points.  A useful unit.
Venomthropes - I wish the bubble was bigger (as fast units will outpace it extremely quickly without big limits to their movement), but the Spore Cloud is great.  It will suffer vs Eldar/Tau (with regular and potent cover ignoring weapons).  Beyond that they potentially will absorb enough fire before dropping to get the job done (and that job is an army of gribblies in your face).
Pyrovore - Cool model.  That's about the only thing I can say about this unit.

Rippers - Still made of fail, but now for more points.  At least the Swarm Box only has 5?
Termagants - Cheaper stock, and cheaper Devourers.  Upgrades will net you higher points than the last book, however.  Better at being fodder, worse at killing things in CC.  No Tervigon support is a hit to them as an offensive unit, but 30 bodies for scant over 100 points will camp objectives like a champ.
Hormagaunts - a bit cheaper naked, and ever so slightly faster.  Better, but they were bad before.  Upgrades are the same, so Ubergaunts are actually worse in combat now.  Hopefully the subtle boost to naked gaunts will make them at least good at hitting enemy lines fast enough to choke fire (which I would be fine with, I understand naked gaunts aren't there to scythe through marines in a single turn)
Genestealers - Still paperweights, unfortunately.  No change to the base Stealer (ie, no addressing the glaring issues with the unit).  Broodlord's power was meant to help them reach assault, but on the whole it boils down to a roughly 20% chance of actually getting you there.  I'm very sad to say that I don't expect anything worthwhile from this unit, but I would be beyond ecstatic to be proved wrong.
Warriors - Shooty builds are still "meh" at best.  Assault builds having easy access to Fleet makes me think Assault > Shooting for these guys.  Ironically, they finally got an option for Grenades, but it's too expensive to be worth it.

Fast Attack
Gargoyles - The new Blinding Venom loses killing power, but gains some very nice utility.  They're still cheap gaunts, and probably still the most cost effective of the genus (edit: ignore "probably"). 
Shrikes - Cheaper, so now you chose between Wings or a better save (and Scoring) for the troop version.  Technically gain the benefit of a joined Prime.  Again, my thought is CC > Shooty here, but the save may still be problematic.  One of our only fast synapse options, though.
Raveners - Pointless.  Same cost/stats as Shrikes, but lose Synapse, Shadow, Ld10, and upgrade options.  They gain I5 to "compensate".  Access to The Red Terror is fun, but not worth the Ravener Tax.  Luckily, someone has pointed out that "wings" are not in the Shrike entry, so just run them as "Burrowing" Warriors.
Spore Mines - Cheaper to the point of useable, and with much better rules, but I still wish they didn't take a full Slot on their own (or at least that any number of broods took only a single slot).  If you have a spare slot, they're worth looking at (will be common in small games), but other FA options (read, Gargoyles) are good enough that FA will be well used.
Harpy - Still an anti-troop FMC.  Dropping large blasts, including the improved spore mine rules.  As the Tyrannofex, no more than 2 Templates a turn, but a nice price drop.  Survivability is not amazing, but I would say moderate for the cost.
Crone - Anti-air FMC.  Still reasonably priced. The missiles are built to plink flyers, which should finish the job after a S8 Vector Strike.  Extra-heavy flamer adds some utility once primary threats are dealt with (or for turn 1 before enemy flyers show their faces, if you're feeling gutsy).  Again, will have to be wary of dedicated anti-air, as Skyfire will make short work of them.  Target saturation is key, as with about anything else in the list.

Carnifex - Finally well priced.  We're starting to see a number of effective builds around the 150 mark.  Dual Dev will still be popular, but is no longer the only viable option.
Mawloc - Cheaper by about 20%, and the Terror rule is probably slightly better than a wash.  It makes them better vs Infantry, worse vs tank parking lots.  Chance to Mishap now, but that also means a chance to go back into reserves immediately and pop back up the next turn (read, hilarious).  Smashing with them is almost always worth it, so they're a great disruption unit.
Trygons - Meh.  Slight points drop, but the loss of re-rolls is nothing but bad news.  Smashing with them is a wash, but their combat vs infantry (which is where they shined) is less potent. 
Exocrine - Looks to be a solid choice.  Reasonably priced for what you get, versatile shooty support, and adds ranged AP2 to the list.  Not auto-include, but worthwhile.
Tyrannofex - 20% or so points drop, but considering what the cost *was* that's really a huge difference.  Slightly less template-spam, but a certain Thorax Swarm got a boost that may compensate.  Add to the list of worthwhile choices as a template-throwing linebreaker bug, and still very survivable (the only stock 2+ in the book).  The Rupture Cannon build is cheaper due to base cost, but still suffers from few shots at mediocre BS, while the 'Borer Hive got a range boost to *maybe* make it an actual option.
Biovores - Cheaper, and better.  They were already solid.  They will continue to be.

Overall thoughts - Interesting.  Tyranids didn't get a new hotness... there's no Wraith Knight or Riptide equivalent (not to say we don't get MC's, but rather that we didn't match the damage output/survivability that these bring for their costs), no Serpent Shield goodness... nothing that makes you do the googly-eyed squee.  But I do think there are a lot of solid options.  Out of the whole thing, our Troops have the most bad choices (about 50/50) compared to other slots.  It's sitting more along the lines of a Chaos or Dark Angels level release, rather than a Tau or Eldar release.  Maybe the overall points savings will rear their head as enough to swamp the board and give even the power builds problems.  Maybe they'll just be a "for funsies" army that isn't competitive at that level. 

Dice will be rolled, and plastic dudemans will kill plastic dudemans.  I will be playtesting different builds, and will likely be ripping off some arms here and there.

And the swarm will rise.


  1. It's worse than Chaos and Dark Angels.

    1. Maybe strictly in terms of being disappointing. It's by far the most boring 6E book, since it's just a copy/paste of the 5E book with barely anything added and small nerfs towards most of what was effective.

      Overall power-wise? It basically treaded water with where Tyranids already were, which is still well above DA and CSM (as primary detachment, at least). The loss of Biomancy and the various small nerfs basically result in a break-even with the points reductions and various small gains; being able to Outflank a Tervigon and immediately spawn Gants is a big one, even with all that Tervigons lost in the transition.

      It basically took the boring, just-under-competitive Flyrant/Tervigon monobuild, made it slightly more boring, and kept everything else the same. It was a viable spoiler build in a pre-Eldar/Tau metagame, and probably still would have been, if this book came out a year ago.

    2. I place them below DA and CSM. Between them and Sisters. I'm honestly looking and putting new life into my DA since I have a few hundred dollars I don't seem to need to spend now on tyranids.

  2. Well said, Dodger3. The book is boring and unimaginative. I'm quite bummed.

  3. We still get Fortifications, it states we choose our list as per the big rulebook, as the FOC also includes a Fortification slot we still get it and unless a forthcoming FAQ says otherwise we now may even be able to access Weapon Emplacements and manually fire Emplaced Weapons!

    Spawned gaunts also arrive as per disembarking troops, but this does mean you can spawn them after you move, into a ruin and run to capture those objectives hidden on first floors which is nice but I think I'd still like to spawn 6", move 6", shoot 12" and assault 2D6". It may have been completely different to every other mechanic and this makes things simple across the game, but why so? Having them be so quick was actually quite unique and did manage to represent the fluff in a way, now it's just dull.

    I think my other beef is the poor Broodlord, even with the harsh occassions where he'd luck out with a Witchfire spell having a cheap psyker that could buff or rush forward and occasionally tear someone apart with the Stealers taking the fire was always handy. Now, with the Horror? Really, who isn't Fearless nowadays. I can't think of any reason why I would take him except in a Kill Team mission where Instinctive Behaviour will just about ruin the fun so you need something that will just survive without eating itself!

    1. The thing with the Tervigon was the old way was to mimic 5th edition vehicle rules, where you drive up 12" jump out 3" and then assault (opentop/land raider). Now you get about the same distance, but the tervigon has to be going in the same direction, and it is like jumping out of a non-assault-vehicle.

  4. I basically came to the same conclusion in my rundown.

  5. First game, 600 points (escalation league practice), traded 24 hormagaunts and a warrior for 600 points worth of marines (well, he still had a Sgt on the board, but it was called by him).

    Obviously small games like this play far differently, and I'm not getting into "how optimized" lists were (I'd say decent for the size, though), or anything else. Just saying that it was a pleasant surprise, considering all the expected Nidfail that the internet has.

    I was particularly proud of the close combat warriors. I was hoping that Fleet would give them the edge needed to make them viable... and so far it's looking pretty good.

    There was another guy playing 1500 (the store was pretty full with an event going on). He played two games, I believe won once lost once.

    Such a tiny pool to draw from so far, I know, but things are panning out halfway decently *at this point*.

  6. I think the Mawloc's hampered ability to hurt vehicles is not going to be an issue. 6th has not been kind to vehicles and I just don't see more than 2 or 3 across the table anymore.


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