Tuesday, October 26, 2010

A Wee Update: What's Next on the 40k Front


Here are my goals for the time being: I would like to put up at least a post a week in this blog. I enjoy blogging about the hobby (I make a pretense of being a teacher, and I enjoy spreading knowledge and discussing little plastic army men).

Current Army Project
Currently, I've been playing heavy with the Tyranids. Despite the utter curb-stomping of the previous game (sharp opponent + solid enemy army list + inability to roll well = DEATH) I enjoy the TMC/Venomthrope Stelek list.

I've got a Carnifex in the works on the bench (gotta convert the arms, then attach them) and I'm pondering ways to convert up Venomthropes. I like the idea of poison-cloud-bleching bugs, though I think I'm going to go for more of a walking smoke-belching factory than the floaty tentacle thing.

I also have the remainder of my Hive Tyrant's arm bits (wings/scything talons) to complete painting. Pictures will eventually be forthcoming, but at the moment I'm not sure I have access to a solid camera. I'll sort that when I sort it.

Up Next: Power Armor
A while back, I'd contemplated starting up a Space Wolf army, and a Blood Angel army, and so on and so forth. At this point, I've acquired a few boxes of Thousand Sons marines, most of the armor I need, and I have a fair amount of other stuff (then I got Indoctrinated* by Warmachine...).

I intend to make this a work of love with conversions, as I'm a big fan of the Thousand Sons sculpt and fluff. On the other hand, their rules...well, I'm just not feelin' the CSM book. I also like the idea of marine cavalry, and I have a number of Chaos Knights left over from when I thought about doing them as cheap bloodcrushers. I think I'll be using the K-sons as the Wolf Guard stand-ins, and it'd be an easy-to-ID one.

I also owe RayJ a thanks for convincing me on the tabletop that they're as solid as I'd thought. Not unbeatable by any means, but certainly contenders. That, and I dig the idea of death-seeking warriors and all things Space Wolf in general.

In Parting
I want to thank everyone for bearing with the decreased activity as of late. Some life stressors have finally died down or bowed out. I'd like a few thoughts on what everyone would generally like to see; I'll probably end up doing unit breakdowns and the occasional batrep. When I get inspired for neat conversions and such, they'll probably show up.

I'm aiming to get a couple matches in a month, as they tend to eat a Saturday morning without a hell of a lot of trouble.


*Points for you if you get the Mass Effect pun. Slaps for you if you don't.

Sunday, October 17, 2010

On Space Wolves, Tyranids, a Game, and News in General


I managed to clear time for a good 2,000pt matchup with RayJ. As I am told a picture is worth a thousand words (and he brought the camera) I figured I would sum up the battle report with a picture.

My 'nid army was something like:
Tyrant w/ 2x TL Devourers
3 seperate Venomthropes
2 Tervigons with Catalyst
2x10 Devourer-gants
2 Harpies w/ TL Heavy Venom
2 Tyrannofex

RayJ's list, from memory, had something like:
Logan Grimnar
2 Rune Priests (Living Lightning each, and some other random power that had no impact)
2 Lone Wolves (Terminator Armor, Chainfist, Storm Shield. You were expecting?)
2 Wolf Guard Squads (Sarge in terminator armor with Cyclone missile launcher, powerfists?)
2 Grey Hunter Squads (double melta, and a Wolf Guard in the lead)
2 single Thunderwolf Units (Fist/Shield)
2 Long Fang Squads (3 missiles, 2 lascannons each).

The Scenario
The crater describes the end state of my army. It's been a long time since I've been tabled. We rolled up Kill Points and Table Quarters. I won the roll to go first, brain farted, and made the grave error of going second. His stuff set up with the four melee speed bumps up front, then the hunters and Wolf Guard behind, and finally the Long Fangs with a commanding view of the field.

I set up with an eye towards making sure his Thunderwolf Cav can't get a first-turn charge off. His shooting drops a Tervigon (which takes out a chunk of one of the Devourer-gant squads. Stupid 'Brood Primogenitor' rule). At that point I'm beginning to realize what my cover saves are going to look like.

So, I unload a whole lotta gunfire into his approaching stuff. I am for the t-wolves because of their speed; I probably have another turn before the Lone Wolves reach my line. I have a metric crap-ton of anti-personnel shooting.

I inflict one wound on one of the T-wolves.

Yep. Gonna be one of them games...I made a few mistakes here and there, but my utter inability to roll cover saves or inflict wounds on the other guy (I kid you not, I had a TYRANNOFEX die while sucking up an amazing total of 8-9 wounds. Inability to make both a 2+ and a 5+....).

The Lessons
Naturally, in retrospect I should've gone first. Tyranids have very little shooting that reaches out more than 24 inches, and Rupture Cannons aren't the most reliable things for killing infantry at range. (Besides, they were trying to force instant death armor saves on T-wolves, which seemed like a good idea at the time.). It's a plain nasty Space Wolf list, and while I always figured Long Fangs were nasty, I'm now very, very, very sure that I dislike them greatly. When you get down to it, most armies don't have good ways to kill infantry from over 24-36 inches (excpeting IG Russes in some cases).

On the bright side, RayJ was a fun opponent to play against (which seriously mitigated the fact that I'm still sore from what the dice did to me...) and it was nice to not play Imperial Guard. I'm not knocking IG, but when you play against it for a while, a change-up is nice.

Other Bits
On the other bright side, I found out I'm getting transferred out of the high-intensity soul-crushing office* at work in a few weeks. What does that mean for you, dear readers? (Assuming there are still some out there, I know I've not been prolific as of late).

Hopefully, it means articles more than once a month.

Anyone interested in taking a look at a gallery of 'nid pictures can find my Tyranids here. It's what I've been laboring on for the last year, though I must warn you that picture quality is not necessarily what the interweb slang would call 'uber.' I think it's more 'servicable' myself.



*Seriously am getting out of the nasty stuff, which is just in time. I seldom bring personal matters onto this blog, though work stress was starting to leech into everything else (including chronic tension headaches, which you get AWESOME meds for...) and it's a matter of either a) not having the time/urge/opportunity to blog at the same time, or b) not wanting to inflict a Grim, Dark, Bleak, Bitter-er than usual rant on the potential passer-by.

Thursday, September 30, 2010

An Interesting Point on the Nature of Competition


Honestly, I tend not to post about other people's posts. It's a principle about avoiding interweb drama. I had enough drama in high school, and I get more than enough in the way of office politics.

That being said, Black Legion Matt has an interesting point about the nature of competition. His statement is something about list variation does not mix with a level playing field. Now, I agree with this to an extent, but I also think list variation is a part of what makes 40k interesting.

Agreement
Honestly, there is something to this. Games like chess and checkers involve a predictable field of battle, and give each player identical armies (and in the case of checkers, uniform playing pieces).

The only real difference between the respective forces is that one side goes first, and one goes second. Not being a chess/checkers expert, I have to assume that there are tradeoffs between going first and second, and if not, there's at least the 50/50 shot (...I suppose that depends on the playing format? I'm making assumptions here) at getting it. I suppose you could try to go at the same time, but I don't think the games are set up that way, and the difference between first/second is just something that's built into the game.

The bottom line? Since first/second is generally random and the armies are identical, it's purely a case of player versus player.

The Disagreement
Frankly, if you wanted to play with uniform armies, you'd either play chess/checkers, or you'd have some kind of agreement with your opponent prior to a game that allowed for variety in army builds. Given the cost of the game and the allowance for variation in builds, I've got to kind of say if you're playing the game, part of you is tacitly in agreement with variation in army build.

So, I'm assuming you're cool with variation in army build. Where do you go from there?

Balancing Armies
Now, this is much, much easier said than done. Ideally, though, this is the solution to varied armies. Now, all the armies abide by the same Force Org charts (3 each Elite/Fast Attack/Heavy Support, 2 each HQ, 6 ea Troops; required 1 HQ/2 troops). They also abide by the same points level.

The stuff in the game (troops, vehicles, monstrous creatures) dictates the type of destructive tools you'll need. Now, honestly, here's where I think a lot of the variation gets screwy. The easy example is the mighty melta weapon. Some armies have access to it (Tau, the Marine armies, Imperial Guard, Eldar, Witch Hunters, Daemon Hunters) and some do not (Tyranids, Necrons, Orks, Dark Eldar).

Consider the effectiveness of melta weapons against vehicles (which are good because of Vehicle Damage Rules that say a 35pt Rhino can take the same number of AP1 hits as a 250+ point Land Raider) and the prevalence of vehicles in lists that can take a lot of them (Imperial Guard and Razorback-spam being a couple of the prototypical examples) or Tyranids, who can roll with a heap of T6 multi-wound monsters. It's easy to see that the people that can bring and effectively employ such weapons are in good shape.

The codices
So, having access to the right capabilities is crucial. Now, here's where we get to the meat of the problem. How does your army handle various types of threats? Vehicles are just the easy example, since they're prevalent. If you want another sample, look for psychic powers and/or psychic defense, and the effectiveness thereof.

The simplest example here is the Ork army. What do they have for anti-tank at range? Lootas. (Ok, they can take missiles as well, but considering you get only a few per squad, want to take large squads over multiple squads most of the time, and have a mighty BS2...yeah). Problem? AV13 and 14 at range are issues. So, how do you kill heavier armor? Assault it with...power klaws. Either by having your armored kanz walk up and punch, or committing a squad full of boyz and hoping the one Klaw can do the deed. Neither of these are attractive.

The other answer involves Deffrollas, which is committing a vehicle to a 12" move and hoping it can do some S10 hits to a heavy vehicle. Full stop, end of story, those are your options. And your psychic powers? A random power of questionable utility, and no meaningful way to stop others from casting powers.

I don't want to use Orks as the buttmonkey here, but they're just a simple example. They're lacking a couple of capabilities that make it hard to build a balanced ork list. I'm not saying it's impossible, but when someone like Space Marines can drop 200 points on a troop unit that has a meaningful anti-tank weapon (BS4 multi-melta), a workable anti-troop capability (a flamer, a bolt pistol and 8 rapid-firing bolters) and a transport it can fire the anti-tank weapon out of (Rhino not moving) then, well...yeah.

Symmetrical armies?
No, we covered that; it's probably not what people are paying $300-500+ on an army to play when a chess set is probably a lot cheaper. The core, then, is to give everyone the capabilities they need. At that point, it is on the players to bring all of the tools. Let's be honest, while some people play more (or less) 'cut throat', everyone plays to derive some enjoyment out of the game, and most people don't enjoy getting monkey-stomped.

Hell, most people don't enjoy giving out a monkey-stomp; you either wanted a challenge or feel bad for the other guy (and either way, it's somewhat counterproductive, since crushing people mercilessly and just gloating about it aren't healthy for the hobby).

So, what's the answer?

SIMPLE! (/sarcasm). Symmetrical capabilities. Everyone needs a reliable way to accomplish their missions: you need both access to competent anti-infantry and anti-armor capabilities, and you need to take them.

I don't care how good a player you are, if you bring as many power-armored bolter guys as you can and I bring a couple land raiders and some tanks, you're probably screwed. Now, the Space Marine codex is a solid book with plenty of ways to get the capabilities you need; you as the player need to bring them.

The Problem
So, we've solved the game's problem: you just have to bring the right tools for the job. Now, the issue: not everyone has access to the tools. Necrons are the easy example here: no transports, one option for troops that's basically a slower tactical squad sans weapon options, and one gun with a strength better than 6. The rules for 4th edition made them fine, the rules for 5th? Not so much.

So, what's the Necron player's situation?

Honestly, pretty crappy. You either try to find a build that works while you lack some crucial tools (I'm not saying necrons need psychic powers, but a psychic counter would be nice...) and hope that your player skill is enough to make up for it, or...you get a new army.

Considering the cost involved in starting up a new army (even using e-bay or other discount methods, that's a few hundred bucks) I think that's a pretty crappy answer. The other option involves getting an update to the rules, but GW's release schedule for codices is...sometimes slow (I'm looking at any Dark Eldar fans that have kept their armies for the past however many years...).

Even my pet Tyranids were in the same situation not too long ago, and honestly? I had a 'nid army, sold it off, and then got back into it when the new book came out. Did I lose my love for the 'nid fluff and spontaneously recover it when the book came out? Or, did I get tired of trying to kill vehicles by running melee-fexes at them or hoping to glance them to death with S6 AP-, or when my best long-range gun was S8, single-shot, BS3? (Pro tip: it was the latter, and dying a little inside when the rules said I had an uphill fight).

The Answer
And this is the part where I propose a comprehensive solution, right? Well, honestly...the best I can think of is that GW should consider updating the rules a little more often. 4th to 5th edition was a major sea change, and the armies that had access to the right tools could be more competitive.

If you give someone a few tools to tide them over and have some semblance of competitiveness, you're going to keep that player happy, and they're more likely to keep them in the game. The alternative is to have people impose artificial, arbitrary limitations on the game, which isn't necessarily going to make the balance any better, only different.

TL, DR?
Update the freaking books more than once every few years when you radically change the rules, or it ticks people off, and keep people angry long enough and they probably stop dumping hundreds of dollars into your game...

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

On Harpies

At last, I have finished my Harpy conversions. And, of course, I feel the need to share them and to wax poetic about the care, feeding, and employment of harpies. The first picture puts them alongside some devourer-packing Termagants for a sense of scale.
They are PRETTY. YES. THEY ARE. Side view. Coat hanger bracing FTW.
Another side view.
This is probably not what you want to see.

Construction
A cookie if you spotted the ingredients already. It's not an exhaustive list.
1) Old-school Hive Tyrant
2) Dragon Wings from WH Fantasy
3) Pair o' Venom Cannons from Warriors
4) pair o' scything talons from the trygon/mawloc kit.

The limbs were generally chosen for sake of scale. The general scale of the thing was built with transportability in mind. The wings are pinned on, as I simply could not make magnets work that well. They're secured to the base at two points; there's the coat hanger and there's an additional point on the tail, be it the base or the jutting building wreckage.

Tactics
Mobility
First off, the Harpy is fast, as it's basically monstrous jump infantry. It can get a good 12" move each turn and then fire off both of its weapon systems. However, synapse means that you will probably NOT use it to rush across the field, and frankly there's no need to close with the enemy that much. 18" is just fine for infantry-hunting, and 36" is fine for shooting at larger targets. Use the speed not to advance, but to set up shots.

Shooting
Honestly, you brought this thing because it's got guns. It starts with a twin-linked stranglethorn cannon, but I highly recommended paying 10 points to go to the twin heavy venom cannon. Why?

Simple: suppressive fire against vehicles. With twin-linked, the gun's got a base 50/50 shot of landing where you put it, just from rolling a hit with the scatter dice. More refined odds involve 2d6-3/ (size of the vehicle) and are a bit too tedious to put here. S9 has a good chance of glancing, and even with a -1 to damage from a penetrating hit it's likely to at least keep a vehicle from shooting, and will do damage 50% of the time on a good pen. Mostly, though, it's to shut those frakking tanks up for a bit. Use the mobility to line up flank shots if necessary, and you can always try to ping multi-wound T4 guys in a pinch.

In closer, you should've equipped Cluster Spines. Large blast, S5, AP-. Quantity over quality of hits, but it wounds most infantry pretty readily.

In really really close, you get the once-a-game Harpy Crap-over. You just have to move over an enemy model, and then you can barrage d3 S4 AP4 Large Blasts on top of them. Hilarity can ensue.

A word of warning: bad rolls on danger-close shots CAN hit you. As you are T5 with a 4+, it's reasonable to assume you can wounder yourself, and I kinda helped a harpy kill itself with its own large blasts.

Assault
Well, as a monstrous creature you ARE ignoring armor, and rolling 5+2d6 against vehicles. You get two base S5 hits, so pick your fights carefully: go for depleted units or go in with friends. You won't do much more than polish off a couple non-melee guys by yourself. Still, you do have Sonic Screech, which translates to assault grenades and making the enemy go at 1/2 initiative (rounded down), so if you can get buddies in there it's a good time to go to town.

Even so, I probably wouldn't try to fist-fight a dreadnought unless it's wounded or minus the Dreadnought CCW, since you'll get maybe one good penetrating hit on it in melee.

Durability
This is where some folks start quibbling about the 170pt price tag: you have four wounds at T5 with a 4+ save. At danger close, you can harm yourself with your own spore mine offal. Autocannons can ding you up, and a rail gun will break you in half.

I've got four answers for that:

1) in a pinch, hide behind another MC or grab cover if you can find it (or, say, a venomthrope).

2) ...so there's ONE ARMY that can insta-gib you at range. One. Crap happens. Are you seriously going to make your decisions based on ONE graphic mis-match? That's being a wee bit disingenuous.

3) Make sure harpies aren't the only monstrous creatures in your army, because, um, well, they won't like the attention.

4) when you get down to it, stuff like missile launchers and lascannons will wound you on a 2+ and take away your armor save ANYWAY, so how's the T5 and 4+ change that? Other than autocannons and rail guns, you're more or less identical to other MCs in terms of heavy weapons (...excepting heavy bolters, I'll grant, but they're not too common other than dakka-preds).

Overall
Harpies are mobile suppressive fire that get nastier up close. They're snipers with a point-defense system and some assault power. Use them to suppress/harass armor at range and from the flanks (since it's one of TWO guns that fire more than 24" and can harm vehicles in the 'nid book). If infantry closes, unload spore mines and cluster spines on them, and watch the wounds pile on. Take them as part of a shooty army (IE: consider Tyrannofexes, and/or hive guard/Venomthropes) to augment your long-range vehicle-harassing capabilities.

They're not all bad, but they're not auto-includes in all 'nid armies.

Saturday, September 11, 2010

Tyranid MC-Heavy with Venomthropes

I apologize as it's been a while since I've posted; the Warmachine league's been in motion and I've been busy hacking away at that. Additionally, I've gotten a little 'eh' about running the same Tyranid army over and over again. I borrowed a Stelek army, the Venomthrope list in particular. It consists of:

Hive Tyrant; 2x Devourerers, Adrenal Glands, Paroxysm & Leech Essence
Venomthrope
Venomthrope
Venomthrope
10 Termagants w/ Devourers
10 Termagants w/ Devourers
Tervigon w/ Catalyst
Tervigon w/ Catalyst
Harpy w/ Cluster Spines, TL Heavy Venom Cannon
Harpy w/ Cluster Spines, TL Heavy Venom Cannon
Tyrannofex w/ Cluster Spines, Rupture Cannon
Tyrannofex w/ Cluster Spines, Rupture Cannon
Carnifex w/ 2x TL Devourers, Adrenal Glands, Frag Spines

I admit it's got some stuff I'm not used to, like spending for Devourers on the Termagants and actually running a shooty-fex. On the other hand, I'm not used to being without Hive Guard and the Adrenal/Toxin glands on the Tervigons.

My opponent was one of my old disciples (assuming he doesn't mind me calling him that) and rolled with a good ol' Black Templar double Crusader list. It was something like:

Emperor's Chump w/ Preferred Enemy Vow
Marshal w/ hammer, shield, artificer armor
5 Terminators w/ Furious Charge (4 claws, one hammer/shield)
5 Terminators w/ Furious Charge (4 claws, one hammer/shield)
9-man Crusader Squad (Fist, Meltagun, 2x Newbs); Rhino
9-man Crusader Squad (Fist, Meltagun, 2x Newbs); Rhino
7-man Crusader Squad (Plamsa gun, lascannon)
MM/HF Speeder
MM/HF Speeder
Land Raider Crusader
Land Raider Crusader

Scenario: Annihilation
Setup: Dawn of War
Deployment
He set up the objective-camping Crusader Squad on a hill with a good, central shooting position, as he rolled to go first. I set up the Tervigons and the Hive Tyrant behind some cover. Since he's got the speed, I'm fine with going second. He's left his mechanized assets in reserve, because he might as well set up to react to my deployment, as my guys are much slower. I opt to not even try to seize the initiative.

Black Templar Turn 1
Fairly stock BT deployment: he puts the speeders as far downfield as he can, and keeps his troop transports in a central position. He decides that he'd rather put his objective-camping squad to use, and moves them up.

Tyranid Turn 1
Here's Tyranid deployment. I try to keep it central, angling a little towards one flank.
My shooting ends up exploding the speeder on the right, and I manage to shake up the speeder on the left. That's all my shooting does, but I'll take it. The Tervigons crap out a forward screen, as I think putting the Devourer-gants into that duty is a waste of some anti-infantry firepower.
Black Templar Turn 2
He boosts th speeder over to the flank, and gets the save. His objective-sitting squad hoofs it up the field, and that's about that.
Tyranid Turn 2
Of all things, the forward Termagant squad glances his speeder once, gets through the cover save, and immobilizes it. This is somewhat inconvenient for a fast skimmer that moved flat-out...it's vaguely anti-climatic as I'd positioned a fair amount of shooting to kill that thing off. My anti-vehicle shooting does crap-all past that, though my left-side squad of Devourer-gants and the Carnifex reduce the objective squad to a lascannon and plasma gun. They promptly flub their morale check, in dice luck that's going to be all too common for my opponent this time around.
Black Templar Turn 3
He moves up, popping smoke on the Rhino on my right flank. His other Rhino promptly immobilizes itself on terrain. Land Raider Crusaders disgorge their cargo and open fire, knocking some wounds off the Harpy on my right, and the Plasma gunner blows a termagant to hell.

Then, the dice make themselves known. The venomthrope dangerous terrain checks kill three terminators on their way in, then Terminators do what Termiantors do to anything they touch in close combat.

Tyranid turn three goes something like this:
Terminators on the left flank go away under a heap of devourer fire; two of them on the left flank go away. In my excitment at his ability to roll 1's repeatedly at armor saves, I forgot to take a picture. The others turn their guns on his disembarked marines, and it becomes a VERY inhospitable place as there's one plasmagunner left from one squad, and the other squad has a wounded Marshal, a meltagun, a Neophyte and a couple other space-bobs.
Black Templar Turn 4
The remaining two terminators get themselves dead because they have no Frag Grenades, and fourteen termagants are apparently angry. He puts more gunfire into my carnifex and the right-side harpy; they end up with one wound each. He's also unable to roll anything more than 1's to move his half-strength Crusader Squad; this includes the difficult terrain AND the run. Freakin' wow. He throws the other Crusader squad into my right flank and KOs the squad there. Big shock.
Tyranid Turn 4
The wounded carnifex breaks into a screaming run, finds itself a land raider, inflicts four penetrating hits on it and kills it. His commander eats two wounds and falls on a pair of 1's, and a withering barrage of devourer fire and templates kill them off.
The harpy on the right (which is conspicuously absent from this pictures) flew over that Crusader squad, took a spore mine dump on it, killed some, took a shot with cluster spines, scattered the spines onto itself, wounded itself, and killed itself. EPIC FAIL.
The Tyrannofex wanders into the survivors of that squad. It eats a couple of wounds, then steps on the Emperor's Chump repeatedly.
Final
He has a Land Raider Crusader and Rhino left at the end. This has been one of the most comprehensive crub-stomps I've seen, and honestly? It was the dice. I've never seen that many 1's that fast for armor saves so often. He played it pretty much correctly, though when you get down to it Double Land Raider Crusader + Terminators = straightforward plan. I throw up termagant screens, hope they'll hold, try to take out Termiantors before they can do too much damage.

Thoughts on the Tyranid Army
I'm beginning to see some of the logic behind this army. The Venomthropes were inordinately effective with regards to forcing dangerous terrain checks, but costing the enemy extra attacks and giving me cover saves is nice. After the game, he wondered if he would've been better off trying to potshot them with a lascannon, but I'm not too sure, since the answer is 'go to ground for the 3+' if it's not 'hide behind something scary.'

That IS a lot of monstrous creature love. The Harpies are the least durable, and their speed is more of a 'rapid response' thing than a 'look at me I'm fast!' thing. The thing is, their firepower is somewhat comparable to the Tyrannofex, but they're only useful for the suppressing aspect on vehicles. Sometimes, shutting the guns up is enough. I have to say I'm pleasantly surprised by the Harpies. I expect to have pictures of them up eventually, as they're now on the paint bench.

Devourer Termagants are a NASTY anti-infantry shooty force. Even at BS3, that's still 30 S4 shots. THey don't go on the front lines, but since they don't have enough AP to make it worthwhile.

I can even see the point of the Carnifex; the shooting is lovely and there's that whole S10-against-vehicles thing that's nice. That's one of the downsides of thea rmy; the Tyrannofex guns are the only real way to kill vehicles at range, but that's enough Devourerers to say 'slow down a little there,' and you can punch the crap out of them in a pinch.

Final
I'll be curious to test this army against other matchups, as I feel this would've been closer had he not rolled a crap-ton of ones. I would've had to commit monstrous creatures to close combat, and probably taken more losses. I know that's a pretty solid Black Templar build, but sometimes the dice just kill you, hard.

Monday, August 9, 2010

Tyranids: Base Size


This is a follow-up to my commentary about GW being responsive. One thing I've seen some debate on is the base size for the as-yet-unreleased sculpts for the Tyranid codex.

Tervigon, Tyrannofex, I'm looking at you, mostly. However, I can see some room for debate when it comes to the Harpy as well, and maybe even the Parasite of Mortrex.

Page 3 says that if your model comes with a plastic base, you should use that. If you're using a larger scenic base, then you should 'make sure it is ok with your opponent.' This tells us nothing about units that are without a model. I believe that putting stuff on a smaller base than intended is usually frowned upon (especially if it's a 40mm vs. 60mm deal, IE Bloodcrushers), and putting stuff on a larger-than-intended base is usually considered ok-ish if it's for modeling purposes and/or doesn't confer you a huge advantage.

The source of this post actually comes from a time when I was playing my Tyranids and someone actually walked up to me out of the blue and told me I was some win-at-all-cost cheating jerkass for putting my Tyrannofexes on a small base. His evidence was that "He had seen a rumor on a forum of a forthcoming tyrannofex kit, and it was on the new large oblong base," and that since I wasn't privy to the internet rumor (as I don't hit forums very often; staring at a screen for 8 hours a day at work doesn't make me keen to do another 3-4 hours of that at home...) I was obviously a terrible person for scratch-building a model that he did not approve of, which brings me to:

Raptor's Pro Tip On Courtesy
If you think someone is disobeying the rules, endeavor to make your point logically and point to the rules. An internet rumor is an internet rumor, no more and no less.

Back to your regularly-scheduled blogging...

His logic was that by putting the MC on a smaller base, I was actually looking for an advantage because he 'couldn't fit as much in melee with it.' Well, let's go back to the part where there's no official kit. Could GW have bothered to put out a base size indicator? Honestly, if they'd done this when they released the codex, we'd all be fine. Instead, since the new book significantly de-values the Carnifex, there are plenty of folks using Carnifex kits to construct the new MCs, and people using both of the high-end bases.

The Nuts and Bolts
What it boils down to is a contrast between the 60mm round and the big oval base (henceforth referred to as BoB for comedic and space reasons).


So, let's look at the game effect a 60mm and a BoB would have on the two new MCs most likely to come on the BoB.

1) Tervigon
Frankly, I think the BoB favors the Tervigon. You want your Termagants within 6" to benefit from the glands and Counterattack the critter-spitter came with. You want other stuff within 12" or so to benefit from your psychic powers.


Honestly, I think if I've got a choice between base size, the BoB is a clear winner for the Tervigon, simply because it offers a great increase in ability coverage. Take two of those, put them long-ways-forward, and see how much of your front you cover. The flip side is that you'd have to work your assault screens a little more diligently, but you'd be much more likely to get the benefit as well. You'd also have a much greater area to place your newly-spawned termagants, but the death throes from it would reach further.

If I had to eyeball it and guess, I'd say it maybe doubles the coverage?


2) Tyrannofex
I don't think this one wins so much from the larger base. You have a 48" gun (...unless, for some reason, you decided to take the Assault 20, S4 gun on a BS3 platform or the short-ranged flamer), so technically you get even more coverage. The shorter-ranged weapons DO gain some range off it, and your flamer gets placement options (so you can do things like poke an edge out and kick off a shot between your troops, but that's something you could probably finagle anyway...).


I think it's so-so at best for benefits. You do get more coverage out of your guns, since it measures from the base edge at the model's eye. It's probably not the same kind of benefit as the Tervigon, because honestly, what's another inch or two for the gun in a couple directions?

The Others
Should the Harpy get a 60mm or a BoB? Good question. Given the range of its gun, it's not such a huge deal. The question the Harpy has to answer is how the base size interacts with the spore-mine-on-black-car ability: you want to fly over the enemy to hit him with the mines. A larger base allows you more freedom to just 'graze' a unit, but also makes landing placement more difficult. I'm not sure if it's a benefit or not.


The Parasite of Mortrex? I'd wager most folks are modeling this one up like an upgraded Shrike or Alpha. I am ASSUMING the Alpha goes on a 40mm since it's an upgunned warrior, and by that logic I'd say the Parasite went onto a 40mm as well. I suppose a larger base increases the are of effect for its Synapse and 'don't die, little Rippers' special rule, but I don't see that as being a huge advantage.

Bottom Line
I wish GW had simply released some guidance as to base size. Frankly, since you're releasing the codex and some sweet units that have no models, you've got to expect people will kit-bash them. Is it really that hard to put a little blurb in there about base size?


Then again, I've also seen the 'joy' that comes from having stuff with an ambiguous footprint; there's no hard-and-fast guidance for how much space a Defiler/Soul Grinder should take up. Are they sweet models? Yeah. Can they have as big or small or irregular a footprint as you like? Yeah. I've seen some folks answer this by putting them on a base, though it's best if that base is detachable so that it can move through terrain.


On the BoB in general
This one gets more into the op-ed mode, but does anyone else have lukewarm feelings on this thing for foot units? I mean, I can understand it on Flyers; you want the size and shape for stability, and you're measuring to the Hull for shooting purposes anyway. It all works out.

My issues with it are the potential difficulties involved in basic movement. On a round base, your facing is irrelevant as you will always take up the same amount of space. Vehicles care about facing because it determines the armor, and on vehicles with potentially confusing facings they often have identical armor values (...not sure where you'd draw the 'x' to divide up a Wave Serpent, but at least the front and sides have the same AV, and frankly it deserves to die if you let someone get a rear arc shot on it...). Honestly, I don't think it's THAT big a deal, but it is a bit annoying.

So, spinning in place, yes/no? It DOES change how close you are to the enemy; is that movement? Honestly, I'd rule it as yes, and just try to be careful when I rotate the base as I move. No one's given me any trouble for how I've moved it, but I've also only run Trygons a few times (...then the Reserves Nerf Bat hit, and I was a sad panda).

Conclusion
I wish GW would put out some conclusive guidance on base size. It wouldn't be that difficult for GW to do; it honestly wouldn't. I have a hunch, though, that the first we'll know about an 'official' base size is when GW finally produces a kit. Given that it's taken them a long time to release the Manticore/Deathstrike kit and the Space Wolves are STILL waiting on a Thunderwolf other than the hero (AND it's metal, and thus a pain to mod...) I'm not expecting anything 'til mid-2011 at best.

Look, I can appreciate that it DOES take time to craft and then produce a new sculpt. In an ideal world, I'd try to make sure that the big-ticket items (IE: Thunderwolf Cav) are ready to go with the codex release. In lieu of that, though, I'd like clarification on stuff as closely related to gameplay as base size.

Right now, my Tyrannofexes and Tervigons are on 60mm bases, and if/when I get guidance that they should be on the BoB, I'll put 'em on it.

Saturday, July 31, 2010

More Thoughts on Tyrands, Post-FAQ, and Other News


I'll start with the 'Other News.' Posts have slowed down to an extent, and there are two reasons for that:
1) Work was consuming my soul gradually
2) I started playing Warmachine/Hordes

That being said (and despite some bottled-up annoyances/disillusionment with GW) I don't intend to out-and-out quit 40k. I mean, I own Eldar, Tyranid, Tau, and Black Templar armies and the nucleous of a basic loyalist space marine army. That's a hell of a lot of money to just walk away from, and I'm not too into selling it off when I'm just drawing down the game a bit.

That being said, since this blog gets a lot of 40k traffic and I tend to blog based on my experiences (Hey, writing it down is educational for me AND sometimes helpful to the community) I'm likely to start up a Warmachine-based Spite Blog. (Shameless Plug: Check out Spite for the Unblighted. )

I still intend to post 2-4 reasonably in-depth articles for Warhammer 40k a month, but I'd like to chronicle my experiences with Warmachine/Hordes as well.

Ok, we've got the 'other' part out of the way.

Down to the Bugs
So, what's changed for what I'll take in an army with Tyranids? Annoyed though I am, here's the list of stuff that I'm less likely to take because it's a pain in the tail to get +2 to reserves rolls:
1) Drop Pod Zoanthropes
These guys got kicked in the balls by the ruling. Look, when you've got an 18" gun of DEATH for vehicles, well, you might be a target priority. Just saying. And you're the main way this army stops Land Raiders? Ouch.

Not to get ranty, but either you hope the other guy lets you shoot his Land Raiders/expensive tanks with your Zoanthropes, or you um, y'know, get hosed/hope your MCs can assault them.

2) Anything Else in a Drop Pod
Ok, honestly, what makes me nervous about facing Drop Pod marines/outflanking IG skimmers and the like is the part where it craps out template and/or melta weapons in their preferred range. We can crap out Warriors or a heap of Hormagaunts, which are considerably less scary. The stuff with guns gets to shoot them when they arrive. Our guys have to wait a turn to move into position, and if Synapse isn't close, you have to hope you make that Instinctive Behavior check. If you're not in cover, then, well, ouch. So long. Nice knowing you, little guys.

3) Trygons
Ok, sure, technically you can keep them in on the table, but if you want to get to the enemy (Hey, T6, 6 wounds and a 3+ with a model THAT freakin' tall, you aren't getting cover at all, ever. Sorry. Wait, are there MISSILE LAUNCHERS on the other side of the table? Oh, s- BOOM!).

Best-case scenario: arrive turn two, weather a turn of gunfire. Turn three, assault something. Hope to stay in assault. (It worked once: hit a big squad of IG, and his COMMISSAR decided to be an epic hero and held in assault against 5 genestealers and a Trygon during my assault phase. Then he died so very, very horribly in his...). Turn four, repeat.

Downside? You don't start being that productive until the turn after you arrive. 6-12 shots off your personal static electricty at a mighty BS3 do NOT actually make you that scary in shooting; it's like giving a helicopter pilot a sidearm: it gives them something productive to do when they're shot down and waiting to get killed off for raining hellfire missiles on folks.

4) Mawlocs
Best-case scenario? Arrive turn two, deep-strike onto something. Hilarity ensues. Turn three, thank the enemy for NOT killing it, fall back into reserves. Turn four, emerge again for more hilarity. If you still exist in turn five, think long and hard about going back underground or staying topside, since you give away your points if you're in reserves on turn five and turn six doesn't roll around.

Outside of popping up and screwing up stuff, you have a mighty WS3 and three base S6 monstrous creature attacks. Hope no one wants to assault you, and if no one does, consider assaulting them.

5) Any of Your Other Elites
Seriously, unless it's a Venomthrope, has anyone else even taken other Elites choices? I mean, a walking flamethrower is cool and all, and so are Ymgarl stealers (at least in theoryhammer) but that means giving away all your shooting, which just doesn't do much. (Except for my last game against 'nids as Tau; watching the other guy seize the initiative and his one Tyrannofex popping your Hammerheads on turns one and two while they kill a mighty total of FOUR hormagaunts is, um...I needed some Jack straight; not Gentleman Jack because I was just going to THROW IT DOWN THE HATCH and that'd be rude to the good stuff...)

So, What Now?
Well, frankly, most of the time a solid core for a list for me starts with 20 Termagants, 2 Tervigons, and 6 Hive Guard. This is still 490 points of troops and another 300 points and 2-3 of your Elites choices.

As it stands, then, there are a couple of lists I'm down to considering.

1) Shooty Bugs
Take 3 Tyrannofexes and a Prime. You're at 1680. At this point I consider either more shooting (you might be able to fit in a couple of Harpies with Heavy Venom Cannons) or some mid-range shooty/assault support in the form of a warrior squad, or even filling out my Fast Attack with Spore Mines for the laughs.

2) Horde Bugs
Take a couple of Primes as HQs, take six Hive Guard, three Venomthropes and three Tyrannofexes. This costs you a minimum of 1420 (ok, maybe drop a tyrannofex) and then fill the rest of that with things that scuttle and bite.

Hope you don't meet Land Raiders or mech spam.

3) Try Reserves Anyway
Now, thing is, there's STILL a way to get +2 to reserves off the bat; you take the Swarmlord AND a Hive Tyrant, because Alien Cunning and Hive Commander still stack. Here's what I can think of as a prototype for that list:

Still Looking For That +2 Reserves, Thank You Very Much...
Swarmlord [280]
-3 Tyrant Guard w/ Lash Whips [195]

Hive Tyrant [220]
-Heavy Venom Cannon
-Lash Whip/Bone Sword
-Hive Commander
-Leech Essence, Paroxysm
Tyrant Guard w/ Lash Whip [65]

2 Hive Guard [100]
2 Hive Guard [100]
2 Hive Guard [100]

11 Termagants [55]
11 Termagants [55]
Tervigon [195]
-Catalyst
-Adrenal Glands
-Toxin Sacks

Tervigon [195]
-Catalyst
-Adrenal Glands
-Toxin Sacks

7 Genestealers w/ Toxin Sacks [119]

Mawloc [160]
Mawloc [160]

Total: 1999/2000

Thoughts
I feel light on shooting, but that's because I don't have Tyrannofexes. On the flip side, I can ram the Swarmlord down someone's throat with Feel No Pain, and potentially threaten them with the other Hive Tyrant.

The Mawlocs and Genestealers are supposed to make folks worry; with the Swarmlord I can reliably place them on the side I want, and then the Mawlocs SHOULD be there on turn two. Hopefully I've put the enemy into disarray, and then the brick of tyranids starts advancing.

Cons? My significant shooting doesn't reach past 24", as the Heavy Venom Cannon will at best annoy the other guy by making his heavy armor not shoot for a turn, or if I'm lucky take a gun off. (which is cool against people with just one main gun, mind you...).

What would I change? I'd frankly LOVE to get another big critter in there. As it is, I could maybe drop a Hive Guard off the Swarmlord and lose the Genestealers, then go up to a third Mawloc and find a place to put that other ~25 points.

Anyway, thoughts/curses/well-wishes/rotten produce? I'm looking at you, TKE.

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Tyranid FAQ: A Slight Rant


This is a slight rant, but more an expression of some disappointment in the Tyranid FAQ. Honestly, this blog tends not to get a lot of my ranting posted on it, and I think there are folks that tend to do it in a more entertaining fashion. As such, I turn to the internet for pictures of cats with captions to express my feelings.

I want to start by saying that the 'nid FAQ is not all bad.

Honestly, GW deserves serious props for answering contentious questions clearly and concisely.

"Doom hits stuff in vehicles, y/n?" Nope. It's clear, concise, and resolves a contentious issue.

"Is the Mawloc really supposed to be able to deep strike into stuff?" Yes.
"Can I single out a Tyrant with a retinue of Guard?" Nope.

These are clarifications that are handy. It would have been nice to have it in the codex to begin with, and the near half-year of waiting for it is a wee bit annoying. But, it's clear now, and it's stuff we wanted/needed clarified.

There's really one major disappointment, as far as I'm concerned:

Hive Commander Does Not Stack.

Big deal, you say? Well, it honestly doesn't come as a surprise. The IG Advisor that buffs reserves doesn't stack, either. So, why is this getting to me?

Tyranids have a fair assortment of deep-strike-capable units, including:
1) Pretty much every foot-mobile troops choice via mycetic spores (and Raveners...)
2) Spore-podding Zoanthropes
3) Various jump troops (Gargoyles, Shrikes, winged Tyrants)
4) Trygons
5) Mawlocs

Note that marines that rely on reserves have buffs for them; a full drop-pod army can guarantee half of it arrives early (well, unless you're Dark Angels or Black Templar). Blood Angels, whose schtick is falling from the sky screaming with jump packs, get a buff on that reserve roll, too. Sheesh, even Daemons can guarantee half of a deep-striking army arrives (albeit, the rest of their special rules and unit selection works to offset that...).

The Implications
Now, on the bright side, spores and trygons cannot deviate into units (and the Mawloc WANTS to, so yeah). On the down side, the best you can get for a reserves buff is +1 to the roll. So, if you want to see your units arrive anything other than piecemal, you want to bring multiples. Common sense, right? Here's the problem:

The more deep strikers you bring to make sure you get enough of them early, the less you have on the table.

This is called 'handing yourself over piecemal.' Too little on the table, and you might not have much of it left when the backup arrives. It's bloody challenging to try to make heavy deep-striking work. Most deep-striking units are going to be around 200 points. Trygons are 200 base; Mawlocs are around 160-170; pods are 30 points and a Warrior squad is easily 200 points. Hormagaunts are a toss-up because Feed - Synapse = potential hilarity ensuing if the enemy can bait you somewhere. (Or just drop a couple flamers on you, then it's a BBQ...I wonder if they scream like lobsters when broiled?).

So, I want two of my deep-striking units to arrive and threaten the enemy on turn two so I can hit him on turn three. I take three deep-striking units (IE: three Trygons). 600 points of the army, easy. I add in a hive tyrant + guard, 250-300 points (admittedly, it's also a nasty unit in its own right and a melee rock for smashing over someone's skull, AND a quality psychic unit). Then, I hope that the enemy army can't nuke 'em both, and I try to threaten him. I also hope that I can roll well, because most armies CAN handle a single Trygon in a turn. You buy some time, lose a Trygon, and then they show up turn three and you hope that they have time to do enough damage (Because they won't hit assault 'til turn 4, now...).

Second-order implications
Ok, I'm probably mis-using the term, but if deep-striking isn't so reliable, it follows that I want to make sure other items in my army ARE reliable. Let's go to that contest Elites slot, which is usually a Hive Guard vs Zoanthrope debate. Now, Zoanthropes are short-ranged, and there are two ways to try to shore that up: Onslaught (hope you roll well on that run...) and Mycetic Spores, which can deliver you into Warp Lance range.

Well, assuming you get the reserves roll right. So, you've put 2-3 Elites slot into Zoanthropes in pods, and you might have a Venom Cannon on the tyrant(s). Zoeys are already more or less single-use (Ok, you might get more, but do you really want to gamble on that?), and frankly, I'd like my anti-tank on the table fast to keep the enemy from doing damage to me. They're a little less reliable, now.

Bottom Line
What's this mean, overall? Less options for effective builds. That's my major complaint about the Hive Commander 'clarification.' Double hive commander can no longer get me results similar to a drop pod assault. Drop pod marines? Reliable and nasty. Reserving 'nids? Asking to come in piecemal.

Honestly, it feels like unless I'm wearing power armor or flak armor, I should get accustomed to fewer options.

Honestly, it's a hit. Pure and simple. It doesn't make a hell of a lot of sense, from a standpoint of promoting versatile builds. It's not encouraging me to go out and buy 9 Zoanthropes (...ok, the cost was kind of keeping me from that anyway). It makes me a little annoyed I have three Trygons, and it makes me wish there was a freaking official model for the Tyrannofex (since it's pretty much the only heavy support choice I run for a serious build).

Anyone else feel like this? I'm kind of annoyed when I get all psyched up, have a couple builds ready, and then my models get FAQ'ed.

Sunday, July 4, 2010

Blood Angel Brainstorming, Part 2

So, at some point I'd said I would offer up another list for Blood Angel Brainstorming. Part of me still has a hankering to do BA mech-style, but my main goal is to use flying psychic dreadnoughts to punch the enemy in the face, or force-weapon monstrous creatures to death.

Anyway, here we go: BA Mech attempt 1:
HQ
Librarian [100]
-Sanguine Sword, Blood Lance

Elites
Furioso Dreadnought w/ Librarian [175]
-Wings of Sanguinus, Blood Lance

Furioso Dreadnought w/ Librarian [175]
-Wings of Sanguinus, Blood Lance

Furioso Dreadnought w/ Librarian [175]
-Wings of Sanguinus, Blood Lance

Troops
5 Assault Marines w/ Flamer, no jump packs [105]
Razorback w/ TL Assault Cannon, Search Light [56]

5 Assault Marines w/ Flamer, no jump packs [105]
Razorback w/ TL Assault Cannon, Search Light [56]

5 Assault Marines w/ Flamer, no jump packs [105]
Razorback w/ TL Assault Cannon [55]

6 Death Company, 2 Thunder Hammers [180]

Death Company Dreadnought [125]

8 Scouts [148]
-Sniper Rifles, 1 Missile Launcher, Camo Cloak

Fast Attack
MM/HF Speeder [70]

MM/HF Speeder [70]

MM/HF Speeder [70]

Heavy Support
Storm Raven [230]
-TL Multi-melta, TL Assault Cannon, Hurricane Bolters

Total: 2,000/2,000

Thoughts
This is admittedly a stab-in-the-dark draft mixing in stuff I think I like and stuff I think could work.

The dreadnoughts take wings of Sanguinus to get up-field. I'm torn on the second power. The lance is nice for taking out armor that's moved quickly, though I'm also tempted by Unleash Rage to get the most out of the force weapon or dread CCW.

The assault marines are riding razorbacks as a means of saturating the field with armored targets. In a regular marine army I'd take the lascannon/plasma gun to sit back and shoot. With the speed, though, I can try for flank shots with the assault cannons. They get a flamer because it's the weapon that can operate by itself. The othe real troops choice is the assault squad with meltaguns/powerfist/heavy flamer.

The MM/HF speeders are still more armor saturation, and of course nasty targets in their own right.

Scouts sit on the home objective, freeing me up to head upfield and grab flank shots. Sniper rifles and a missile launcher let them try to contribute.

The Storm Raven carries the Death Company kit, and provides a wildcard for the army. If it's in your face kicking out the guys in black, then you have some incoming issues. Past that, it's a capable gunship in its own right.

Honestly, that leaves me with about 100 points for HQ, and I'd rather get a little bit of CC prowess, so I get the librarian. I'm not really sure what powers to give him, so we'll take the Blood Lance (just in case) and Sanguine Sword. Nothing says 'I hope you die' like an S10 power weapon to the brainpan.

Reservations with the List
Honestly, my gut says it's a little disjointed. I have decent armor saturation (3 AV10 speeders, 3 AV11 Razorbacks, 3 AV13 Dreadnoughts, and an AV12 fast skimmer holding another dreadnought) with six light vehicles, 3 heavy-ish from the front, and another medium in the back that I could theoretically deep-strike with some degree of accuracy.

The other option that comes to mind is trying to go for jump pack troopers, but that would mean dropping one of the flying dreadnoughts for FNP priests. Gotta avoid that attrition...but that would reduce me to a pair of flying dreadnoughts and the likely-deep-striking Storm Raven.

Another thought is dropping the speeders and trying to get some autocannon/las predators in there (yay more hefty armor!).

At any rate, that's what I've got at 2AM after sleeping only 5 hours the night before.

Thoughts/inputs/curses/prayers to the porcelein deity?

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Blood Angels Thoughts on Request, Part 1


This is a request in from Boc, an old disciple of Spite and provider of random inspiration. For the record, it's more like genetically-engineered supermen raining from the sky screaming hallelujah unto the Emperor, and that's good enough for them.
On my way towards finding a list, I think it's important to discuss what makes the Blood Angels stand out as marines. Ok, yes, we're all used to ignoring morale rules, and getting ready to shoot a bunch of T4, 3+ save guys that just don't quite.

So, what makes the Blood Angels special? Here's what jumps out at me:

Blood Angel Core Competencies
The Jump Pack Army
Assault marines are a troops choice, and a viable one at that. While costly, you can take ten of them, give them a pair of meltaguns, a powerfist, and a welter-weight flamer. It'll cost you 245 points, but it makes for a quick, versatile troops section that's not bad in combat. You'll look for a little more punch elsewhere, but this is a solid building block, and there are plenty of choices available that can pace them.

The other thing worth noting with the Jump Pack army is Descent of Angels. Holding jump packers with this rule in deep strike? You get to re-roll the reserves roll (so you've got a 75% chance of coming in ON TURN TWO) and you roll scatter dice + 1d6. Yeah. You heard that right; it can and will rain men where you want them. Sick, isn't it?

Feel No Pain/Furious Charge bubbles
Sanguinary Priests can grant Feel No Pain and Furious Charge to units within six inches. You can get three per elite slot, and kit them out with jump packs, bikes, or terminator armor. On the down side, they're 50 points bare, and go up from there.

The Fast Vehicle Army
Most of your vehicles are indeed Fast (and the land raider can deep strike, so yeah). Predators? Get a firing position again. Razorbacks and Rhinos? Get your troops or guns where they need to be. Oh, and you can take six predators now; the Baal Predator can fit into the Fast Attack slot. You can put heavy flamers or heavy bolters on the side, and the turret can take the stupidly nasty Flamestorm Cannon, which is a flamer with S6, AP3. Smells like roasted geneseed...

Note also that your vehicles ARE a little more expensive, but you're FAST. Use it, man.

The other big vehicular debut is the Storm Raven. Want to air-lift a dreadnought? You can now. AV12 all-around and immune to melta, it's also a Fast Skimmer that can put guns and troops where you want them when you need them there. In larger games, I think you can make room for one just for the sheer utility it brings to the table.

Dreadnoughts of Nasty
Note that regular dreadnoughts (IE: the ones often seen either falling out of a drop pod with MM/HF or sitting with a pair of twin autocannons) are now heavy support. You can get the Possessed Death Company Dreadnought as a troops choice if you take a Death Company unit. Or, you can get the Furioso Dreadnought, which has an AV13 front, and can be a librarian with a jump-pack-like power.

Your mileage may vary, but I've got a soft spot for the flying Furiosos.

Death Company
Relentless, feels no pain, and can't score. Thankfully, they're not compulsory. You can take them if you like, and they have plenty of melee options. Downside: yeah, they got a little bit of Rage going on. They don't require a Sanguinary High Priest to give them Feel No Pain and Furious charge, but they ARE 20 a head now, and 35 with jump packs. You can also have a 30-man-strong Death Company if you so desire. I suppose you could theoretically have the most expensive single squad in the game if you want with 30 flying thunder-hammer-toting maniacs, which would cost you around 1900 points.

What To Do With This Stuff?
One crucial difference between this book and the regular SM book is that you lose combat tactics, and instead get the Red Thirst. Basically, this gives your guys a small chance to trade And They Shall Know No Fear for Furious Charge and Fearless. Neat, yes, but it DOES keep regular bolter guys from trying to break off and fire again during your turn. That being the case, when you get into a fist fight, you either win or come home in a box.

Your first question with the BA army is do you want to do foot (IE: Jump Packs) or mechanized, and then there's a question of the flavor of mechanized.

Honestly, if you're not going to play with the extra goodies in the book, go use another marine codex. You can't just plug 'n' play your SM army, or even your old BA army. It's as simple as that. Note that you DO have a lot of the same/similar units; you still have sternguard/vanguard vets (and vanguard's still not worth taking, really), terminators, land raiders, MM/HF speeders, scouts, and so on and so forth. Your HQ set and librarian powers are different, but most of the new guys are pricy and I'm going to focus on some of the newer stuff.

So, what would I do? Frankly, I'm drawn to two of the army types:
1) Half-Dozen Predators of Death
2) Jump Pack Marines from Hell

With Boc's request in mind, I'm going to set out a rough pair of lists, and explain my choices in both of them.

Predator Demolition Derby
Well, first off, I'm going to use Assault Marines as my core. Three units of 10 guys + 2 meltaguns + powerfist + hand flamer cost me 735.

My heavy support predators will be lascannon sponsons with turret autocannons. Why? I need the long-range firepower to stop/slow transports more than I need anti-infantry. Trust me on that. This puts me at 1140.

The Baals? I will take Flamestorm cannons on them, and nothing else. Why? If I had sponsons, I would a) have to move slower to use them, and B) be unable to put them side-to-side, thus forming a nice wall for my jumpers to hide behind. Three of them put me at 1485. Why not take the assault cannon? It's inferior for cover-busting, and it's honestly not that great at hiding armor. I'm taking it because it is abjectly frightening to infantry, and I can push them up the field quickly.

Let's take stock. Right now, I have 30 troops, an advancing wall of three short-ranged, nasty tanks, and three guys sitting back and attacking lighter armor. I have about 500 points, and at this point, I need an HQ minimum. I also could use a couple of those Feel No Pain bubbles, and something to deal with nastier CC troops. Powerfists are nice, and furious charge + flamers + massed pistol/sword beatings can handle crunchier targets while giving me a backup weapon, but I'm not sure if that'll be enough against heavier targets. Let's do some math (and assume I get a Furious Charge) off at:

T6, 3+ save monstrous creature, assuming a 4+ to hit.
Powerfist: 3 swings, 1.5 hits, 1.25 wounds, or one.
Regular Swings: 27; 13.5 hits, wound on 5+ for 4.5 wounds, so 1.5 get through. Not that overwhelming.

Against Terminators:
Powerfist: 3 swings, 1.5 hits, 1.25 wounds, probably bag a regular terminator, questionable against a storm shield packer.
Regular attacks: 27 attacks, 13.5 hits, wound on 3+ so you get 9 wounds, and 1-2 get through. Also not so great.

Ok, my hypothesis is confirmed, I need nastier weapons. I have 500 points. Two Sanguinary High Priests and a Librarian with a jump pack puts me at 1760. I just have room for a shiny, nasty unit of Sanguinary Guard. I'll give them a powerfist, and then a pair of Infernus Pistols for taking wounds off harder targets. These guys have four mastercrafted power weapons on the (furious) charge, which will do a number on harder targets. Plus, they look cool.

This leaves us at 1990. Let's go ahead and give the Librarian a hand flamer or something cool like that, and call it 2,000. What's that look like?

Ride of the Predators
HQ
Librarian [135]
-Jump Pack, Hand Flamer
Powers: Sanguine Sword (melee at S10), Unleash Rage (Preferred enemy for self/unit)

Elites
2 Sanguinary Priests w/ Jump Packs [150]

Sanguinary Guard [230]
-Powerfist, 2 Infernus Pistols

Troops
10 Assault Marines [245]
-Powerfist, Hand Flamer, 2 Meltaguns

10 Assault Marines [245]
-Powerfist, Hand Flamer, 2 Meltaguns

10 Assault Marines [245]
-Powerfist, Hand Flamer, 2 Meltaguns

Fast Attack
Baal Predator w/ Flamestorm Cannon [115]
Baal Predator w/ Flamestorm Cannon [115]
Baal Predator w/ Flamestorm Cannon [115]

Heavy Support
Predator w/ Autocannon, Lascannon Sponsons [135]
Predator w/ Autocannon, Lascannon Sponsons [135]
Predator w/ Autocannon, Lascannon Sponsons [135]

Total: 2000/2000

Overview
So, recap:
3 hefty troops units waiting to crush face; you should be able to get Feel No Pain/Furious Charge coverage on them all.
Sanguinary Guard may be five guys, but they should also be furious charge with mastercrafted power weapons, and 2+ armor.
Librarian goes where you think you'll need Preferred enemy or an S10 fist to the gonads.
3 Predators provide a screen/flamer threat.
3 Predators sit in the back and provide you with long-range fire.

The one worry I have with a list like this is against shootier enemies, but in such a case you can deep-strike your units if you think it's necessary (and you'll get them reasonably quickly). You can also combat-squad the anti-tank elements if you feel you need to get the meltaguns in there, and I think the d6 scatter plus deep-strike placement is at least worth a look and experiment, as you don't necessarily NEED the +2d6 against lighter armor.

This being a wall o' text, I'll follow up with the Flying Dreadnought brainstorm in another post, just for sake of everyone's sanity.

Feedback? Thoughts? Faced anything or run anything like this before?

Thursday, June 17, 2010

Swarmlord & Friends: Abbreviated After Action

I apologize, as there would've been pictures had I had any brainpower left after dealing with a day of epic-level stupidity at work. I just have no words to describe it adequately; someone talking about training suggested a mentorship for letting the new guys learn 'the why behind the what.' I have to say that knowing the 'why' is kind of like being the protagonist in one of Lovecraft's shorts: the knowledge brings only pain and insanity.

So. That aside, here was the situation:

'Nids
Swarmlord + 3 Whip-packing Guard
3 Hive Guard
3 Hive Guard
Deathleaper
10 Termagants
11 Termagants
Tervigon w/ Onslaught, Catalyst
Tervigon w/ Onslaught, Catalyst
8 Genestealers w/ Poison
Trygon w/ Furious Charge
Trygon w/ Furious Charge

Vs

Imperial Guard
Co. Command w/ Meltas, Vox, Chimera (laser/flamer)
Co. Command w/ Vox
Chimera Melta Vets
Infantry Platoon
'toon command, vox
20 guys w/ 2 Lascannons, Commissar, couple power weapons, vox
30 guys w/ commissar, 3 autocannons, some power weapons, vox
Special Weapons Squad w/ flamers
Heavy Weapons Team w/ missile launchers
Hellhound w/ hull MM
Hellhound w/ hull MM
Leman Russ w/ Sponson bolters, pintle stubber, lascannon
Leman Russ w/ Sponson bolters, pintle stubber, lascannon
Leman Russ Demolisher w/ hull flamer

Scenario
Capture and Control, Pitched Battle Deployment

The Battle in Brief
IG won the first go. He deployed an objective in a corner, screened by his footbound infantry. Russes in central deployment, with melta-vets and a hellhound on either flank. I put my objective across from his, and hung on the side across from him. Hive Guard on one side and in the middle; and a fairly even split of assets past that. I failed to seize.

Turns 1 and 2
I have to admit that off the bat, he had some awesome shooting and I couldn't roll a save worth a crap. I lost two hive guard, a couple wounds off the Swarmlord, and took some damage here and there. Notably, the Hive Guard had to Onslaught into position in the middle, flub their shooting horribly, and lose two of them to counter-fire from a hellhound, the demolisher, and melta. I only really suppress ONE of the bloody hellhounds...ouch.

But, come my turn two, Swarmlord's still around...and I get everything. The Genestealers appear on the correct flank (the one with assault targets as opposed to the flank waaaay out there with nothing to hit) and promptly grab themselves a 20-man + commissar squad (Deathleaper had penalized the Commissar's leadership and at least tried to work that angle...). Punchline: due to a Trygon scattering to an inch of that squad, he couldn't pile in for crap. Ouch.

Insult to injury: he gets a hellhound and a chimera hull flamer into termagants; kills a whopping 4 out of 10, between rolling a heap of 1's with the hellhound and the other squad makes some awesome feel no pain rolls.

Turns 3 and 4
Sadly, he'd committed his melta assets too early to harming the Swarmlord and one flank's hive guard. I managed to take those out in the previous turns, so he had about a turn before the Trygons went to town on me. He managed to shoot the crap out of them, but kill neither. His commissar takes out another genestealer, and they hold on turn 3. Punchline: he holds out as the last man on HIS turn, staring at four genestealers (...yes, he killed the other four in the squad) and a Trygon that are Not Amused.

The other Trygon ate itself a russ, and grabbed a position for the assault on his objective.

My turn 3 gets gruesome; his stuff starts dying. Deathleaper popped out behind the Vendetta, hit a shot, and wrecked it. Thank you, flesh hooks. The special weapons team managed to flub their morale check, and my original 11 termagants had more or less made it across the field.

By his turn four, he's got a stunned hellhound looking at a hungry Tervigon, a pinned squad of flamers looking at an advancing group of Termagants, a lone missile launcher looking at 8 angry termagants, my objective firmly in hand, and the four genestealers, two tervigons, and Swarmlord looking at his objective hungrily. I have two hive guard left; one of them survived a heap of shots only to go down to an exploding hellhound.

As the store was planning to close, we called it at the end of my turn four. I had two Trygons into a 30-man squad suffering from Paroxysm, and four genestealers had cleaned his other command squad off his objective and were contesting it (might have had it after pile-in moves). Deathleaper had pegged his other Russ and tear off the cannon.

Thoughts on the New (to me) Units
Swarmlord and Buddies
Frankly, 3 tyrant guard are pretty much essential; against gun-heavy lists if they want him dead, you'll need all the protection you can get (and Catalyst). He made it to turn two by the skin of his teeth, and then they had more immediate threats. My opponent DID target him explicitly to try to screw up my reserves plan.

Against Guard, honestly, a bunch of S6 preferred-enemy insta-gib attacks that force re-rolls on invulnerable saves is just a little bit of overkill in assault.

Deathleaper
This is the first time I've fielded him, and I can see the merit. Admittedly, all he really did was make one guard squad Ld8 stubborn instead of Ld9. I think I might have played him conservatively, but the thing is that assaulting the 20-30 man squads is not gonna work, and the missile team can insta-gib him. Threatening rear shots on vehicles is reasonably nasty, but I think it's just a matter of target selection this time around.

Onslaught on Tervigons
Catalyst will still be my go-to power. I went with catalyst for two reasons:
1) get Swarmlord into position while still being able to use his powers
2) extra range on Hive Guard

I feel justified on number two as I've got all of two shooty units, and I need to get as much use as possible out of them. If I can get another turn of shooting out of them because of extra movement (or making up for a craptastic Difficult Terrain roll) then it's worth it. In this army, the Swarmlord is probably gonna get Catalyst, so that leaves an Onslaught to hand out.

Trygons
Getting them in early helps, and getting them in with as many threats as possible helps. Coming in on a 3+ helps, and the genestealers are also a credible threat, especially if the enemy's close to the flanks. Still, if I get them in early, they'll do damage. The enemy gets...one turn...to drop them.

Genestealers
Frankly, the Swarmlord makes them work a little better. I get the reserves bonus (well, it's mandatory under Alien Cunning) but I also get a re-roll on the side they arrive. Since there's normally a 66% chance of making it in on the desired side, Swarmlord bumps that up to 88%.

Poison is useful for boosting lethality, pure and simple. 'Stealers have S4 and I6; S4 is really the place to be for poison outside of S6 (as S4 + poison on 4+ translates to 75% chance to wound per hit against most infantry) and you don't really NEED I7. You do get a slight perk as it gives you another chance to see a rend on toughness-based targets. It translates to about a 25% chance to score a rend per hit if you get the re-roll.

Bottom line, though, with the Swarmlord the outflank becomes a serious consideration, because your enemy has to assume that you WILL get them on the correct side more often than not. The 'stealers force your enemy to avoid keeping stationary vehicles close to the edge (...not necessarily an issue unless it's a gun platform) and make sure everyone's got terrain in the way. It doesn't make them an auto-include in the army, but I think a unit CAN be a performer.

Overall
Honestly, both me and my opponent were a little out of practice, so there's that to factor in. The play was not top form, and the dice were a bit wonky (average on the long run, but some wild swings on the individual rolls, like my early 3+ save fails and inability to fail later on).

I think the Swarmlord works okish with this setup. I do miss having three groups of hive guard for the ability to split fire (both incoming and outgoing). I think Deathleaper is much nastier when I'm screwing over psykers. I think the Swarmlord IS a bit hit-or-miss, as sometimes that kind of melee killing power is overkill.

Certainly, Trygons + Genestealers can throw someone on the back foot, and if the enemy commits assets too early, well, they get hurt.

Other experiences with the Swarmlord?

Special thanks to Chumbalaya for recommending genestealers on that count...

Sunday, June 13, 2010

Pondering the Swarmlord

I've been thinking about what I'd like to do to get away from the usual list I run that centers around Hive Guard and Tervigons and Tyrannofexen. It's usually led by a Tyranid Prime. So, I figured I'd turn around and go for the big nasty in our HQ choices: the Swarmlord.

On the Swarmlord
First off: the Swarmlord can grab preferred enemy, and inflicts instant death and forces re-rolls on invulnerable saves. He's also the only unit outside of Zoanthropes to have an invulnerable save in the book. Neat, huh?

Beyond that, he's prime psychic support. All the powers you'd want (...not that a lot of them are that awe-inspiring outside of Paroyxsm) and the ability to fire off two in a turn. On the downside, the bulk of your psychic powers are shooting attacks, but you've got no fleet and the urge to crush face in assault. But, we have a way around this conundrum: Onslaught! And Tervigons are cool as is, so it's not like you're necessarily sacrificing anything to get 'em.

The other big perk is 'Swarm Leader.' During your shooting phase, you can give a unit within 18" Preferred Enemy, Furious Charge, or Acute Senses. All nice, yes? If the Swarmlord is going in himself, he's probably going to grant himself Preferred Enemy. Most units you have that you want in assault have or can readily get Furious Charge, and Acute Senses is so-so. The prime scenario I envision (other than a preferred-enemy Swarmlord) is something like a heap of preferred-enemy fully-glanded unit of Termagants going into a unit of whatever you like being subjected to Paroxysm.

So, the Swarmlord is a brute. What do do put with him? Here's a brainstorm I had with the idea of using a Swarmlord and some of the other stuff I've been painting recently.

Swarmlord and Friends
Swarmlord [280]
-3x Hive Guard w/ Lash Whips [195]

Elites
3 Hive Guard [150]
3 Hive Guard [150]
Deathleaper [140]

Troops
Terivgon [210]
-Cluster Spines
-Toxin Sacks, Adrenal Glands
-Catalyst
-Onslaught

Terivgon [210]
-Cluster Spines
-Toxin Sacks, Adrenal Glands
-Catalyst
-Onslaught

10 Termagants [50]
11 Termagants [55]

Fast Attack
4 Raveners w/ Rending Claws [140]

Fast Attack
Trygon w/ Adrenal Glands [210]
Trygon w/ Adrenal Glands [210]

Total: 2000/2000

Thoughts
Swarmlord gets a full tyrant guard because, oh, I'm pretty sure people would rather shoot him to death before he does something drastic (like get into assault). Tyrant Guard get whips as a measure of cutting costs and to back up the swarmlord; no one really needs to go before him as far as I'm concerned.

Elites? Not a big surprise. Requisite six hive guard, and Deathleaper is in there to try to cripple any psychic hoods or enemy psykers.

Troops are kind of the same as usual; it's the Tervigon core. The only difference is that they pack Catalyst and Onslaught alike. Why Onslaught? Well, Hive Guard are nasty but only have a 24" range, and the Swarmlord wants to push ahead and still benefit from his psychic powers.

The Raveners and Trygons are a bit of 'I want to try something new' and they're assault-oriented. I'd love five raveners, but I'm just short of it (I had 25 left; that went to Adrenal Glands on the Trygons and the requisite spare Termagant. Plus, I've got some reserves manipulation. I should be able to get 2-3 of them in on turn two, and since the whole army is running at you and baying for your blood,* well, yeah...

So, thoughts/feedback? Swears?

*...I'm pretty sure tyranids actually advance silently, according the fluff. It just makes it creepier.

Sunday, June 6, 2010

Tervigon Conversion Pictures

I'm going to let the tactial deep-thinking go by the wayside for a little bit since I finally got off my tail and got access to a camera. Here come the tervigons! They're a carnifex kit with warrior scything talons (...I don't see much point in melee upgrades past the double-glands for these guys, but I suppose I could justify Scything Talons) and a foam ball to bulk up the back. Like the Tyrannofexes, I'm going for simple but effective. One of them's even taking a termagant-dump.
Front and back. Mmm, green stuff and foam for the bulking out.
I figure the big tongue works as a toxin-type upgrade. If you look closely at the ribs on the bottom, there's the adrenal gland. With all the other gooey bits up top, I just couldn't find a good spot to slap the gland. The pointy carapace bit servs me again as cluster spines, though I suppose it could also do the Stinger Salvo in a pinch.
Side view; one of them has the talon atached to a chunk of the base and the other's doing just fine.
And finally, a bit of a top view. If I shot directly from the top, well, there'd be the shadow from my hand and all.

I know there's no way they'd actually fit the 20 bajillion termagants in there, and the max production they could make out over the course of a game is 15 per turn (that's a 4, 5, and 6, so no doubles) for seven turns, or 105 termagants. There's no way you're fitting that much space into anything you really want to field and justifying it being able to move under its own power.

I figure that the tervigons carry a crap-ton of embryos, and then use some kind of internal fuel source to rapidly hatch them and grow them and fire them out. Thus, when you see doubles, it's the fuel source burning down, or some other internal ammo-depleted type of deal.

Thursday, June 3, 2010

Tyranids in Drop Pods: More Thinking Involved


I blame this in part on Chumbalaya for making me think more, and blame work for not getting to it sooner.

In part, I'd like to get out of my comfort zone; I usually play with som hive guard, tervigons, and usually tyrannofexes past that. Is it solid? Reasonably so. However, it IS potentially a rut, and I don't think I'm using all the 'nid codex can give me, and frankly, I picked it up over Tau and Eldar because I wanted variety in my builds.
With that in mind, I'm going to run down stuff I think might or might not fit into a 'nid drop-pod/reserves list.


A Crucial Difference
Now, the other well-known arrives-in-pods lists is, of course, the Space Marines. One of the things that Marines can do that I like is bring units suited for engaging multiple targets, AND make sure they get what they want when they want it (well, other than the BT codex; the others get Drop Pod Assault) and can usually bring units capable of engaging a variety of targets (IE: MM/HF dreads, MM/flamer tac squads, combi-toting Sternguard, etc.).

Tyranids? We tend not to have as much duality, so I've got to get away from my preconceptions of what a drop-pod list 'can' do, and think about a Mycetic Spore list.

So, on to the choices, run down by Force Org slots.

HQs
Tyrants
Hive Tyrants get Hive Commander, our reserves manipulation. You get two things for the 25 points: first, +1 to reserves (optional unless it's the Swarmlord) and you get to designate one unit to outflank.

Tyrants can take wings for speed/mobility, or take a couple guard for durability and give you a 'starts on table' core. I'd think about either whip/sword + heavy venom, or look into devourerers. The Guard can probably run naked.

Tyranid Primes
Primes really only give you two things in a spore list: more points to play with, and the ability to slap synapse into any unit. The former means you're not getting the Hive Commander perk, and the latter gives you the ability to slap it in with 19 hormagaunts for comedic value.

HQs Overall
I have to lean towards Tyrants here. I think you need to try Spores at a larger points level to get enough, and because you want a Tyrant or two to make sure you can get them there.

Elites
Again, this is where we're getting the guns. For that reason, I'm not gonna touch the other reserves.

Zoanthropes vs Hive Guard
This is your big question, honestly. I think if you're gonna focus on pods, you should give serious thought to Zoanthropes. Zoeys are your 'kills the tank' option. If you're reserving Hive Guard, there's the issue of getting them into range, or starting with enough on the table to mak sure they don't get splattered on turn one.

Deathleaper?
Ok, you're taking Deathleaper for one reason: you want your Zoanthropes to get Warp Lance off. That's why you brought them. Deathleaper can give you better odds; even a Ld9 hood is a decent step up in chances to win the dice-off. If you manage an average d6 roll and knock them to Ld8 for the hood, then so much the better: it's pretty much sunk.

That aside, Deathleaper is ALSO just plain fun to field. You're NOT bringing him for the whole +1 to reserves, since he has to be on the field to use it.


Troops
Well, we need 'em. I think you can get serious mileage out of Tervigons/Termagants, though Warriors are also a nasty thing to put in a pod.

Tervigon/Termagant
But a Tervigon doesn't fit in a pod! Ok, wait. Go read Hive Commander. I'm not always a fan of outflanking, but a Tervigon has the potential to open up a whole new front in a fight when they walk on. First there's one, then there's 10 termagants, then 20...and you suddenly have to worry about that.

Termagants, well, you can slap them in pods, or just run them normally. You can at least buy pods for them and have the option, and I might think (I'm not sure how long) about throwing Devourers onto them for range, and for the ability to lay down a reasonably withering torrent of fire should I decide to land them and shoot things. I mean, a minimal 10-man squad IS throwing out 30 dice.

Warriors
Frankly, you're running these as a Deathstar distraction. 5-6 of them, whips/swords, devourers and a venom cannon. Ok shooting, but NO ONE wants that hitting the lines next turn. No one. You're looking at close to 300 points for that assembly, but it DOES have to be taken seriously. However, IG with russes might just LOL at this and feed it pie, but that's part of the game. Then you can cry a little.

Hormagaunts
Now, you CAN slap 20 of these in a pod, or 19 plus Prime. Frankly, I think this falls under a similar use as Warriors, though cheaper. Do worry about flamers, but on the other hand, Hormies CAN pretty much auto-pilot. The downside? If you're outside of synapse, they might just throw a tank at the hormies and laugh; if they move it well enough it might take a couple of glances but they can buy time.

Fast Attack
Frankly, there are two choices here for deep-striking: Raveners and Shrikes. I don't think Harpies have a place in a deep-striking list; while they can, you want them on the field shooting, and they benefit from having other targets to draw fire. I mean, they ARE only T5 with 4 wounds and a 4+ save. Target saturation is a survival mechanism for them.

Raveners
These are your cheap deep-strikers. 35 points a head for beasts with rending claws and speed 'On you next turn!' I like them because with rending claws and a solid volume of attacks, they're a legitimate threat to vehicles AND troops (...though should probably avoid Dreadnoughts, especially AV13 front-armor ones...)

The only downside is that compared to the rest of your army, they're less adept at deep-striking since they have no defense against a mishap.

Shrikes
Go read the warrior entry; remove the pod, add wings and reduce save to a 5+. Take the speed of 'on you next turn.' If you thought Warriors would draw fire, these things will SERIOUSLY do it. However, they're also 50 points a head for whip/sword + scything talons, and they do give up their ability to shoot in order to beomce adept at melee. Limits them somewhat, but seriously, they're gonna be assaulting something and praying they don't hit a dreadnought.

Given the cost, though, I'd almost lean towards regular warriors because I can put them in a drop pod and make SURE they land alive, instead of scattering a 250+ point unit off the table. Whoops.

Heavy Support
I'm inclined to look at three choices for heavy support in context of a drop pod list: Tyrannofexes, Carnifexes, and Trygons.

Tyrannofex?
Ok, it doesn't fly/fall with style. Why is it in here? Simple. It has the range to come on from reserves and contribute from the get-go. It's tough enough to survive all but the heaviest of firepower (or at least the highest of AP...) for a few turns. And, as long as you have the enemy on the back foot, they probably won't tie it up in melee. Failing that, it still has nasty close-in firepower with the flamer and cluster spines, and the durability to deal with melee for a turn or two unless they brought a heap of poison boneswords or powerfists.

...Carnifexes?!
Blame it on Chumbalaya, but I think he's got a point here. Twin-linked devouerers won't KILL vehicles, but it WILL allow a Carnifex to throw out some suppressing fire. I admit I haven't tested this theory out, but I can see some potential.

You're taking the Carnie for suppressive fire. A dozen S6 shots at BS3 twin-linked should quite down/stop most lighter vehicles, and if you can nail it with S9+2d6 melee attacks after that, you've probably solved a tank problem.

You ARE losing your re-rolls in melee and paying 190 points + pod for the thing, but it's one of the few versatile(ish) choices we can drop in. In a pinch, it's got a reasonable(ish) chance at passing Instinctive Behavior, and the enemy is pretty much sacrificing anything used as bait against it, or they're killing it.

Trygons
Pretty simple: survive a first turn of fire, then assault things with a heap of S6 MC attacks with re-rolls to hit. I'd think about finding points for Adrenal Glands, if only because S6+2d6 has given me issues against heavier armor often enough. It's also an edge if you attack other monstrous creatures (wounding on 3+ against T6? Yes please?).

Loading Out the Spores
Base 40 points, and you get some S6 attacks out to six inches. It'll do something if you actually land close enough to hit the enemy, but that's cutting it close. You have two real weapon options, the way I see it: Cluster Spines give you a large blast for your crap BS, and a Heavy Venom Cannon can potentially suppress vehicles. However, the guns ARE an investment in points, and I'd probably look to those last.

Overall
I've got whiskey and Mass Effect calling my name now (and some frustration because Blogger decided to try to EAT the post...). I am curious to hear from others who've tried reserves-heavy 'nid lists, and faced them. I think it can work, I think the tools are there, I just think it's gonna have to run it differently than other ones.

Thoughts, feedback, and insults are welcome.