Saturday, January 30, 2010

Tyrannofex Conversion, WIP 1

The Tyranid codex has a fair few critters without models; IE the Harpy, the Tervigon, and the Tyrannofex. While I've seen some debate on the Tyrannofex (though Haihastur brings up some things I'd worried about in the comments, and I welcome the opposing viewpoint. I kinda hope I"m not building something I'm going to shelve 'ere long...). So, I set out with the goal of making a Tyrannofex out of the Carnifex kit, and it's a swell kit, lemme tell you. A pity they kinda neutered the 'fex in the 'dex, but what do you do?

My initial vision is something like a larger Hive Guard. Four limbs, and then the gun arms. I'm pondering an over-and-under kind of weapon, since the Rupture Cannon is apparently a two-stage weapon (first the tick that pops and coats the target with jell, then the second shot that detonates it). But, first, we have to have the bracing arms.
This is step one of the process. They're kind enough to give me three carapace-tops for the 'fex. I used the one with the little pointy spines (since I'll be giving the Tyrannofex Cluster Spines without fail), and butchered the smooth one and the spore cyst one.
And now, a use for the crushing claws. I mean, it's not like we'd equip the carnifex with them. You can see on the right where it's a pretty clean cut between the claw and the wrist, and then chop the lower claw off. Then, it's a matter of glue and patience.
And now, the finished forelimbs. In lieu of using green stuff all the way through, I build it up with layers of hot glue. Hey, it's a lot cheaper than greenstuff, and sets faster. Then, it's two layers of green stuff; one for the details on the side, and a seperate application of the scale-top bits.

And now, a showcase of my terrible photography. I took a few shots of the modifications to the torso and waist. In order to make the thing taller, I severed the 'fex waist/tail, and reversed it. Instead of having a hunched S-curve to it, the model stands a little taller. Note that you'll have to remove some bits to make the torso fit.

The Grey Knight has graciously volunteered to hold up the curing torso/leg joint. I intend to offer updates as I work, and better pictures than the last one. Had to get the girlfriend to take the completed forelimb pics; I was just having a case of the Fail there.

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Tyranids and Big Guns

Tyranids have a heap of new options when it comes to throwing out the pain and suffering in the shooting phase. The previous codex simply did not have enough punch to stop vehicles reliably with guns. That is no longer the case, and you can bring a significant shooting game to the table. I'll go into my thoughts on the major ranged combat options in the book, and possible support units for them. And, they're all lovely Assault weapons, so you can pop shots AND move and fistfight, should you want to do so.

By 'major' ranged stuff, I'm talking about a unit that's actually focused on shooting, as opposed to something like a Trygon or Tervigon, which simply has the option to make ranged attacks.

Common Shooting Options
There are a couple of ranged weapons that several creatures share, and that you can use to bust armor. These guns are:

Heavy Venom Cannon: 36" S9, AP4, Small Blast, -1 on Vehicle Damage Chart against closed-top
Stranglethorn Cannon: 36" S6, AP5, Large Blast, Pinning
Devourer w/ Brainleech Worms: 18" 6 shots S6, AP-, -1 to morale checks from shooting if they inflict an unsaved wound
Cluster Spines: 18", S5, AP-, Large Blast
Stinger Salvo: 18", S5, AP4, 4 shots

Thorax Swarms: Template, with profile:
-Electroshock beetles, S5 AP5
-Desiccator Larvae: S1, AP-, wounds on 2+
-Shreddershard Beetles: S3, AP-, Rending
This is the basic monstrous creature menu for guns. The Heavy Venom Cannon is your main support option, as it's passable against infantry and capable of inconveniencing vehicles. It's not so hot for killing armor, but can at least damage it.

The Stranglethorn cannon is usually an option alongside the Heavy Venom cannon. S6 harms its effectiveness against vehicles, but it's still a fine way to inflict wounds on footsloggers.

The Brainleech-packing Devourer is the good old high-rate-of-fire monstrous creature gun. You want infantry and monstrous creatures to eat it? This is how you feed them.

The Stinger Salvo is a backup gun for larger monstrous creatures, and can usually be exchanged for Cluster Spines. Given the BS3 on most of the creatures that can get these, I'm inclined to go with the spines for the large blast template, unless you really want to use S5 for anti-vehicle work (...which might scare AV10 a little) or think you can't get more than two hits average on the blast weapon.

The Thorax Swarm is another one of those backup weapons on larger monstrous creatures. It comes with the S5, AP5 shot, and costs points to upgrade. Frankly, I'd rather spend the points on other things. I consider it a point-defense system; if you have to use it things have probably gone downhill, or you're already winning.

The Weapons Platforms
The Hive Tyrant
The first decision you need to make is whether you want winged or walking. The Hive Tyrant's abilities are support-oriented, and put on a nasty chassis. If you're going to bring guns on it, though, here are the thoughts:

1) Winged Tyrant w/ 2x TL Devourers [260]
This is a bit of a 'classic' loadout. It's purely short-ranged shooty; a dozen TL shots at S6, BS3 means an average of 9 hits, and 8-9 wounds on infantry. You still have decent assaulty capabilities, too. This is really the multi-role tyrant, though it costs you a hefty 260 points. You can drop 15 off the price and keep the whip/sword combo if you want, but that dilutes you a bit more, and you might just consider wings and melee.

2) Walking Tyrant w/ TL Devs, Heavy Venom Cannon [210 + vet abilities + Tyrant Guard]
This is the basic multi-role walking tyrant. You will want to pay another 120 for a couple of Tyrant Guard, just to keep you alive longer. You can inconvenience vehicles, and scare infantry. Drop 10 points to go double-devourers, but expect to spend some time running. Additionally, pick up the non-shooting powers for your support stuff.

The Harpy
Honestly, this is one of my favorite additions on paper. It's a fast attack choice that's basically a flying gun. It starts with a Stranglethorn Cannon and Stinger Salvo, though I would promptly upgrade to the Heavy Venom Cannon and Cluster Spines. 170 points for instant duality; you can harass vehicles at a safe distance, or harm enemy infantry that get in close. In a pinch, you can go punh something.

The downside is of course durability, so prepare to bring a pair of harpies and some other monstrous creatures. Still, I think it's a strong addition to an MC-heavy list, and its durability just begs more questions about target priority.

The Carnifex
Say hello to the red-headed stepchild of the codex. It got a hefty cost increase, lost its ability to be taken in the elite slots (...which is not actually a bad thing), but can come in broods of 1-3. So, what can you get on the Carnifex for guns?

About the same as the tyrant. You get one big gun, and a choice between Deathspitters and Devourers. The problem is that if you want big guns and anti-tank on the Carnifex, you have the shootiness of the tyrant and close to the cost of the Tyrannofex, but you don't have the Tyrant's support capabilites or the Tyrannofex's sheer firepower.

Frankly, I'd skip the Carnifex as a gun platform unless you were just totally opposed to the Tyrannofex. The Carnifex with Venom Cannon and TL Devourers costs 200 points; the Tyrannofex with Rupture Cannon costs 265, and I can tell you that those 65 points make a HUGE difference.

The Purpose-Built Gun Beasts
In addition to our more versatile monsters, we have three guns that are bodies, more or less: the Zoanthrope, the Hive Guard, and the Tyrannofex.

Ah, the Zoey. They come in broods of 1-3, and have two guns:
-S10, AP1 Lance at 18"
-S5, AP3 Small Blast at 24"

Scary, yes? We have duality. The downside is that we are a huge target; T4 with a 5+/3++ and two wounds makes you worry about S8 weapons, and people will do their level best to gun these things down, because they ARE that lethal. Frankly, a full brood of these should be able to maim/nuke just about any armor in a single round, and can put the hurt on infantry, two.

The achilles heel? Gotta pass those psychic tests. People that bring psychic tests can put the hurt on the Zoanthropes.

Hive Guard
T6, 4+, two wounds, and a, S8 AP4 Assault 2 24" gun that doesn't care about LOS. Compared to the Zoanthrope (its fellow elite), you're trading some graphic firepower for reliability. You only get cover against the Hive Guard if you're in or touching terrain, as well. This means you can slap Hive Guard behind a wall, pull the trigger, and the enemy might not be able to see you to shoot back.

The downside is of course the short range, and like the Zoanthrope you can get sorted in melee without that much of a problem. On the bright side, your T6 means it takes some serious firepower or specialist kit to drop you.

The Tyrannofex
Anyone like S10 guns? You DO? What about an S10, AP4, Assault 2 gun with a 48" range that can't be blown off the carrier? Are you willing to pay a bit for it? Then the Tyrannofex is your buddy. 265 points nets you a monstrous creature with T6, 2+ armor, six wounds, and a BS3 to go with the Rupture Cannon, Cluster Spines, and the basic thorax swarm. Screen it well (since it can't fistfight worth a darn, and anyone with a hidden powerfist can eventually grind it down...) and it will do wonders for you.

Supporting Your Guns
As your guns are not vehicles, they can be tied up in assault. As such, you will want to consider little gribblies as shield, but be aware that they can still get tank-shocked through.

The other issue with our guns? Some of them are shorter-ranged. See the Hive Guard and Zoanthropes in particular, but don't overlook the Devourer-wielding nuts, either. How to fix this? Consider the Tervigon: Onslaught lets you run AND shoot. Get an extra d6 of movement, and you might get range a little sooner. As an extra benefit, the Tervigon can ALSO produce meat shields for your guns.

The Zoanthrope can take a Mycetic Spore and guarantee the chance to shoot, but this entails building in reserves manipulation (IE: at least one Hive Tyrant) and may not see them arrive when you need them, or where you need them. But, it IS an option.

1) Hive Tyrants are support units for your army, but can take decent shooting.
2) Harpies are a solid support element with the Heavy Venom Cannon and have some versatility, you're certainly committing to bringing multiple MCs.
3) Carnifexes...skip them for shooting. Tyrant has similar capabilities and support options; Tyrannofexes are simply superior for popping vehicles.
4) Zoanthropes are graphically destructive, but have short range and are vulnerable to psychic defenses
5) Hive Guard are solid performers, but still short-ranged
6) Tyrannofexes are flat-out dangerous, but require support and have some accuracy issues.
7) Tervigons can help you with that 'range' problem with Onslaught

The Opinion Side
Frankly, I'm planning on converting Hive Guard from Warriors. I'm also planning on converting Tyrannofexes from Carnifex kits; one of those is actually WIP. I will post pictures. So far the thought is to make the Tyrannofex look like a larger hive guard, using some spare carapace bits and the like.

I think that the Hive Guard and Tyrannofex make a good team; one hunts lighter armor and the other can nail any armor value out there (...unless your dice decide you can't hit). I'm looking at running 3x2 Tyrant Guard and at least two Tyrannofexes, with Tervigons as support.

I'd like to say I'm original, but I think this is just going to be a solid kind of build for the bugs. Part of me wants to roll it with double winged tyrants, or fit some Shrikes in there, though.

Saturday, January 23, 2010

Tyranids: Trygon v Mawloc

Or, Death From Below. Frankly, it's a beautiful kit, though there are some sweet conversions out there (like this 2007 one I found on a French guy's site). That aside, the Trygon and Mawloc compete for slots, and have some different capabilities. I'm going to go over their similarities, their differences, and ofter some thoughts on their employment.

They're both deep-striking monstrous creatures with a pretty ridiculous amount of wounds. They're both pretty reasonable troop-killers, and as monstrous creatures vehicles ought to be wary.

The Deep Strike
The Mawloc's chief use requires deep-striking, and the Trygon still benefits from it. Neither of them can mishap on the deep strike unless they scatter of the table, though. In that regard, deep-striking them only subjects them to reserves rolls.

Note carefully that you cannot assault on the deep strike. However, it's hard to end up out of assault range with the natures of their deep-strikes.

Killing Things
Both of them drop S6, armor-ignoring wounds on things on the attack. As monstrous creatures, when they assault they also throw 2d6 for armor penetration. However, they only hit at S6, which means multi-wound T4 boggarts can be...annoying...for you, to say the least. At least you can get poison and furious charge to give you a little more lethality.

Six wounds, T6, 3+ armor saves. Ouch. That's a whole heap of wounds to deal with. There's a good chance you'll survive to make it into hand-to-hand, though you do worry about powerfists. Also, should anyone wander up to you with a bonesword and manage to land a wound...ouch. Ld8 base is potentially worrisome, since you are NOT immune to instant death. However, it does take specialist kit to inflict that instant death on you (IE: Force Weapons, Boneswords, small children and pets rampaging across the table...).

Instinctive Behavior
Feed. IE: go forth and try to eat that thing. Honestly, while the enemy CAN bait you with expendable stuff (or stuff you don't want to assault), you weren't really taking these for the shooting, were you? I mean, if you wanted shooting in the heavy support slot, you would've bought a Tyrannofex, right?

The Difference is in the Damage
Honestly, there's only one real difference between the Trygon and Mawloc: how they do the damage. The Trygon generally wants to carve you into little pieces, and the Mawloc wants to take a big ol' bite out of you.

The Trygon: Stabble-stabble-stabble
On the deep strike, the Trygon's essentially a drop pod: if he would scatter into another unit, reduce scatter so that he does not. (or she, if you prefer; I'm sure an Aliens-like head crest would look nice on a Prime). On arrival, you can choose between firing a half-dozen S5 shots (or a full dozen if you upgraded to the Trygon Prime) at BS3. Or, you can run.

The turn after that, you're a monstrous creature (so you have Move Through Cover) and you're fleet (so you get a run). That's a pretty dangerous combination for something that just plunked down pretty much right in front of your lines. Then, you have six base attacks at WS5 that re-roll misses in close combat, since you have two sets of scything talons.

You worry about hidden powerfists in units, and running up against units full of S6+ power weapons. Anything else is meat. With I4, there's a good chance of ruining I3 walkers before they even knock a wound off, and even Ironclads step lightly around you. If you can catch a Land Raider that moved slower, you might be able to do some damage (...but then, y'know, there's the CONTENTS of said Land raider to contend with...).

On the bright side? Once you reserve in, it's pretty much a case of 'run here, assault this.' You'll arrive, the enemy has a turn to run away or kill you, and then you should be in it. A faster army might give you some trouble (IE: fast skimmers that can afford to relocate).

The only other real note is that you can upgrade a Trygon to a Trygon Prime and get yourself a Ld10 Synapse Creature that popped up right in front of the enemy lines.

The Mawloc: Om-nom-nom
And here we get to the crux of the matter: while the Trygon is a relatively straightforward assault machine, the Mawloc's use is a little more nuanced. It's this not-so-little rule called 'Terror from the Deep'.

Basically, you WANT to deep strike onto the other guy. When you emerge (ideally under people) you lay a large blast template where the Mawloc would emerge, and everyone under it eats an S6, AP2 hit. Vehicles take the hit on the rear. Then, the Mawloc gets placed, and everyone gets shoved 1" away from the base. If you're in assault, you stay in assault unless you just CAN'T. If you can't be moved out of the way period, you're dead.

Some caveats on this:
-This is not a monstrous creature assault hit, so you're not getting +2d6 armor penetration
-There's a bit of a question on whether or not cover applies. It's not a shooting attack, though; it occurs in the movement phase (the closest rules analog would be the Eldar Prince Yriel's Eye of Wrath special attack)
-Resolving this is going to just get...interesting (and fun)

Once the Mawloc hits, shoves everyone around, and generally makes a nuisance out of itself, it's got 3 base attacks at WS3, and I4. The I4 only matters because of hit 'n' run. Additionally, the mawloc can put itself back into reserve, and automatically enter the next turn. However, it cannot put itself in reserve on the same turn it arrives.
The easy way to deal with this (as Faolain noted) is you start the Mawloc(s) on the board on turn one. They burrow, go back into reserves, and arrive on turn two. Then you can pull them back on turn three, launch them again on turn four, and turn five you get the choice to pull them back and gamble on turn six, or keep them where they are.

Damage and Reliability
Now, when you get down to it, you're paying in the 170-200pt range for either of these. The durability is the same, the reliance on reserves is about the same, and it boils down to who slings more damage.

Here's where I have to lean towards the Trygon. The Trygon arrives, gets shot at for a turn, and then probably gets into assault. The Mawloc arrives, hopefully lands on something (as you ARE rolling 2d6+scatter, so you hit on-target 33% of the time) and then considers going back into reserves or assaulting something. The Trygon cranks out a pretty high number of attacks with re-rolls to hit. The Mawloc might be able to eat a stationary vehicle, and has a 66% chance of hitting and running so it can go back into reserve.
Note that if you look carefully at the rules, at the moment there's nothing in the Mawloc rules that allow it to deep-strike onto a target! You MUST deep-strike no closer than an inch to the enemy, and hope like hell that scatter onto the enemy.
This kind of kills the Mawloc for me, until they FAQ it.

The problem lies in getting the Mawloc's ability off. Suppose, best-case scenario, you get a Mawloc in on turn two. It arrives, eats something. Turn three, back into reserves. Turn four, auto-arrive. Turn five rolls around, and you're left with a question: do you put yourself back into reserves and hope there's a turn six (...which is pretty reasonable, since there's turn six on a 3+ barring time considerations) or just go to town hitting and moving things? The problem is that if you're wrong, and the mawloc ends the game in reserves, the enemy gets credit for destroying it. Whoops.

The trygon...just gets there, and starts cutting things.

Why Look at the Mawloc, Then?
For a minute, let's go look at the Callidus assassin. She has the ability to move an enemy unit during their deployment. Do you know what else lets YOU move the enemy? There's the Lash of Submission, which can be fun with plasma cannons against people not in a transport. There's the Pavane of Slaanesh, which hardly ever sees use (...seeing as how you need the Masque, or a Herald of Slaanesh).

Now, what abilities do you know of that damage the enemy, AND let you move them?

What happens when he's got a scoring unit on an objetive, and you damage them, force a morale check, AND slap a six-wound monstrous creature on the objective?

Can you think of some nasty uses for this? Yes, you can. You might not even HAVE to go back into reserves. You might not even have to win the assaults. If the enemy can't kill you in CC, and you can wander around objectives with a Mawloc, you can cause some serious mayhem. Now, a Trygon will be nasty in CC, but you can potentially screen higher-value targets from a Trygon. There's nowhere to hide from the Mawloc. It can hit you, wherever you are on the board.

It's this ability to potentially hit anywhere that makes the Mawloc so nasty. It's kind of like ordnance: flinging large blasts makes people spread out. A mawloc makes people spread out, and makes them worry that it will pop up somewhere inconvenient. I think that a lot of people might overlook these tricks.

Things to Use With Either of Them
Well, first off, take a couple of them, either way. Redundancy is your friend, unless you're throwing a Trygon out as a wild card.

Second, consider reserves manipulation. Trygons can start on the table, but you're still moving 6" and running to make it to the enemy. Consider a Hive Tyrant with the +1 to reserves upgrade to get the big cutty snake thingy on the table faster. Note that you also want guns. While either of these can damage vehicles, you'd really rather hit troops and just EAT them in shorter order.

The Mawloc can be kept in reserve, but given its ability to go back into reserves and guarantee arrival next turn, I'm not sure I'd ever start it in reserves unless you're playing Dawn of War, then I'd walk on, and burrow.

Additionally, you don't have frag grenades. Be aware of that fact. It'll only really hurt you if massed powerfists/relic blades/Grey Knight Terminators have cover, but I had Black Templar termies in cover knock four wounds off a Trygon just because the Trygon didn't get its I4 on the assault.

Finally, a word on regeneration: it's pricy, but I think six wounds is enough to keep you around to make some regeneration rolls. One-rounding a carnifex isn't out of the question, but those two extra wounds make a difference. Unless you meet massed melta/plasma that's in a position to deal with you, you're gonna last. However, if you DO take regeneration, take it on pretty much everything that can take it. Otherwise, regeneration just means 'One-round me or ignore me in favor of something you can one-round.'

Both MC 'chassis' are hefty, resilient, and will never see a cover save. Neither of them are god-like in assault, but can do some serious damage to people without specialist kit.

The major difference is this: do you take the Trygon for its simplicity and brutality, or do you take the Mawloc and do dastardly deeds with Terror from the Deep?

Monday, January 18, 2010

Tyranid Thoughts: Overview, First Impression

Like everyone else, I've just laid hands on the Tyranid codex. I've given it a couple of read-throughs, and am thinking long and hard about which units I'll need to buy in order to run several types of armies, as I believe this is a book that will let me have options and different types of armies.

The problem, of course, lies in actually BUYING everything. But, hey, as far as codex design goes it's a good problem to have, right? Anyway, on to some reflections on the book as a whole, since it IS a total revamp of the bugs.

So Long, 0-1 Choice
Redundancy is important; 0-1 choices are not redundant, not reliable, and thus often skipped. Thankfully, GW did away with that mess. This changes Zoanthropes, Biovores, Lictors, and Winged Hive Tyrants.

The bugs can shoot now. The Elites, Fast Attack and Heavy Support can all bring some tidy weaponry now. There are four nasty new anti-tank guns making the rounds in the army:

Rupture Cannon: S10, AP4, 2 shots, 48 inches. It comes on the expensive tyrannofex, but considering that you can't blow it off the fex and you can screen the thing with cheap fodder to keep it shooting every turn? Ouch.

Impaler Cannon: S8, AP4, 2 shots, 24 inches, ignores LOS. Hive Guard are walking T6 gun platforms. Mmm, kill that light armor and wound anything you can shoot at on a 2+, generally.

Warp Lance: S10, AP1, Lance, 18", single shot. Zoanthropes can now kill armor in a bad way. 3+ to penetrate any armor at the worst? Zoeys in drop pods? Yes please. Psychic defenses are mandatory, or did you know?

Heavy Venom Cannon: S9 Blast, 48", -1 on the damage charts unless open-topped targets. The downside is that they're not as damaging as the other weapons and their accuracy depends on the size of the target, but the upside is that they're blast weapons so they can engage troops as well, and S9 hurts.

For pure anti-troop work, the other highlight is the Cluster Spine: S5, AP- large blast; most shooty monstrous creatures can mount one on the carapace. Suddenly, they can dump wounds on infantry as well. Most other anti-infantry weapons work on the principle of volume of fire, though there are some templates available in the army.

Where did that come from?
Tyranids picked up drop pods and deep-striking monstrous creatures. They also picked up the means to boost reserves, via Hive Tyrants and Lictors that have arrived. Better yet? The Spores and purpose-built Deep Striking monstrous creatures have rules akin to the Marine drop pod that keep them from scattering into other units and rolling on the mishap table.

The Mycetic Spore is available to a number of units, and can take either a single monstrous creature or up to 20 smaller gribblies. This pod is simply a huge utility; there's nothing like 2-3 carnifexes drop-podding on a flank to get you worried sometimes. Sure, that Warp Lance has an 18" range, but the Zoanthropes started in that range AND get the shot off.

Additionally, the Trygon and Mawloc can deep strike naturally. Both are 6-wound beasts with the ability to draw a hefty amount of fire and influence the game. Trygons are simply melee beasts with a heap of attacks, while the Mawloc is basically a Tyranid shout-out to Tremors. Personally, I'm leaning towards the Mawloc just for the sheer amount of tricks that you can pull with it.

Poison, Furious Charge, Power Weapons Oh My! Melee, Tyranids, and You
Most of the army can buy Adrenal glands for a lovely 4+ poison. I'd say this is pretty much mandatory on Hormagaunts, since S3 just doesn't go that far. It gets discretionary on the larger creatures; poison ALWAYS wounds on 4+ but gets a re-roll on the wound against targets when your strength is equal to or greater than their toughness. 4+ with a re-roll is inferior to a 2+, but not by much. (15% for a 2+ as opposed to 25% for the 4+ with re-rolls). I still would probably consider it on the S6 monstrous creatures, as it benefits them on larger targets (IE: T5+).

Past that, Adrenal glands grant you furious charge. The initiative bonus would be cooler if YOU COULD GET FRAG GRENADES ON STUFF IN THE CODEX. This is one of the things I noticed that's a bit inconvenient: there are about two units that can take something close to frag grenades:
1) The Carnifex (who goes to I3 on the charge, admittedly)
2) Lictors (who start in terrain)

Addtionally, the Bone Sabre got an upgrade in a big way: it's now a power weapon, and any multi-wound critter that gets hit by them takes a leadership check or suffers instant death. Warriors and Hive Tyrants can take these, and frankly, this scares the poop out of a lot of multi-wound creatures.

Scything talons no longer grant extra attacks; they grant re-rolls. This means a unit with two sets essentially has preferred enemy. Just a note.

No More Eternal Warrior
Bugs lost Eternal Warrior. A lot of folks bemoan this, but there are now a LOT of 2-3 wound T4 models on the board in addition to a heap of T6 monstrous creatures. What's this mean? Now, a missile launcher or lascannon can have a 50/50 shot of popping a T4 critter in cover, OR a chance at knocking a wound off a monstrous creature. Now, there are target priority issues instead of all the big guns ALWAYS going into the big ones.

This merits much more discussion that I'm going to give it in an overview, but the short version: it's a 6-wound monstrous creature with the ability to drop 3d6 Gaunts in a new unit each turn, and provide psychic support/Synapse. The only thing that stops them is any doubles on the 3d6 mean they're tapped out of Termagants for the remainder of the game. I'll cover this guy more in-depth later. Trust me, it's a huge influence.

Frankly, I could keep going for some time, but I'm going to stop with the critical hit wall o' text. In short, the Tyranids picked up some brand new capabilities, and got tweaks to old ones.

1) Tyranids have anti-tank and anti-infantry shooting with fair range, now.
2) Tyranids have drop pods and other reliable deep strikers, AND the ability to enhance reserves rolls.
3) Tyranids can take poison on just about everything, and furious charge. Too bad they left frags at home (AKA: get COVER against them...)
4) They lost eternal warrior. Now you have target priority issues.
5) Tervigons.

I'm going to give the various segments on the book their own special treatment later on, and pick out some units (IE: Tervigons, Mawlocs) that deserve some special treatment and explanations. It's a good day to play (or get back into) the bugs.

Thursday, January 14, 2010

Monstrous Creatures versus Vehicles

Most codices field monstrous creatures as a support element: Dark Eldar get the insane Talos, Eldar can field Wraithlords and the Avatar, and the chaos books field Daemon Princes.

With the Tyranids, though, there are no vehicles: there are merely monstrous creatures. As such, monstrous creatures fulfill the same role as tans. The chief advantage of the monstrous creature is that while vehicles have excellent durability from the damage chart, monstrous creatures have greater stamina in terms of doing damage.

A Matter of Wounds
I'm going to be arbitrary here, and take a hive tyrant with a pair of devourerers and a heavy venom cannon. Place it opposite a Space Marine Predator toting Heavy Bolter sponsons and an autocannon.

Aside from range, they're roughly similar in terms of guns: anti-personnel suite, and a weapon suitable for attacking lighter armor and heavier infantry. Following me so far? Have the image of a happy little hive tyrant, and our stout, chugging Predator?

Now fire a meltagun at them from within 6". Let's assume it hits, and neither of them have cover.

The Predator might:
1) be stunned, and unable to move/shoot for the next turn
2) lose a weapon
3) be immobilized
4) be destroyed
5) Explode violently, sending shrapnel and chunks of space marines into innocent bystanders

The Hive Tyrant might:
1) Lose a wound
2) Die, if that was its last wound

Capabilities, and loss thereof
Every roll on the vehicle damage chart has a 33% chance of temporarily inconveniencing a vehicle, 33% chance of degrading its capabilities permanently, and 33% chance of killing it outright. The exact numbers change depending on the AP value of the weapon.

Additionally, some vehicles may have an immunity to shaken/stunned, and while that's annoying as all get-out (...nothing like getting shaken/stunned results against Soul Grinders and Defilers, lemme tell ya) it's not that common, and even with extra armor, you can keep vehicles from shooting for a turn.

What does this mean? It means that even if you don't kill a vehicle, you can reduce its ability to participate in the fight, sometimes in a significant manner.

What use is a Land Raider Redeemer that's immobilized on turn one?
How's an immobilized Wave Serpent going flat out going to land? [Hint: not very well]
What use is a Hammerhead without its Rail Gun?
How's that Dreadnought going to do in assault without its Dreadnought Close Combat Weapon?
What's a stunned vehicle going to do when there are powerfists nearby?
How's a Leman Russ Demolisher feel when you forcibly removed its battle cannon?

Sometimes, even shaking or stunning is enough. If you shake something like a Hammerhead or a Leman Russ Demolisher, you've kept an expensive gun from contributing to the battle for a turn, and that may buy you some breathing room you desparately needed.

Stunning a tank near assault troops can sometimes be very unhealthy for a tank; S6+ attacks against the rear armor of 10 are...painful...en mass.

The Flip Side
So, just how do you lock a monstrous creature's guns down, or hold it in place? Oh, and for fun, realize that a monstrous creature can move and fire two guns, regardless of strength or class, and how this doesn't always hold true for vehicles*.



Sure, the Wraithlord has S10, ignores armor saves, and all that good stuff. He also has...2 attacks. So he got charged by 20 termagants that have Synapse support. So, Mr. Wraithlord, what're you doing for the rest of the game? That's right, squishing a gaunt a turn. Real productive, that. Bet you wish you were firing those heavy weapons, or wandering around flaming things, or insta-gibbing stuff like Warriors. But, you're NOT. You're playing patty-cake with largely inconsequential troops.

Also, cry if the other guy has lots of poison attacks. Your expensive T5-6 just got negated. Wraithlords HATE poison...

The downside is that a monstrous creature has two settings in melee: full blast, and d-e-a-d dead. That Trygon that's in a fistfight with you? Yeah, he's swinging all those attacks until you drop him, as opposed to, say, a Dreadnought. Mr. Dreadnought is big and bad and crushing you with S10 power weapon attacks until, y'know, someone with a powerfist breaks that dread CCW off. Then the dreadnought tends to go bye bye.

Cons of being a monstrous creature
While you're not going to lose combat capability each time you get wounded, you ARE still vulnerable to anti-tank weapons. As a slight con, melta weapons don't care about getting within half range of you, since S8 is S8 at all ranges.
Cover is harder to find, too. It's not impossible, but Vendettas are a royal pain for you.

Cover is not always enough, though. Toughness means that even small arms are a (small) threat to you. Bolters will NEVER harm a Rhino's front/side AV11; but bolters CAN wound T5-6. T5 monstrous creatures feel this keenly, which means stuff like Daemon Princes and the Harpy. 5+ to wound isn't bad if there are 6-10 shots like that, or enough melee attacks. However, T6+ ones tend to worry much less, but a 1/6 chance to wound isn't the same as 'Cannot Be Damaged'.

Even though you ignore armor saves in assault, monstrous creatures not inclined towards close combat CAN be tied up by large numbers of expendable troops. Furthermore, larger squads with a powerfist in them can kill you (...albeit, at a cost to themselves, BUT 4-6 marines are usually a decent trade for a monstrous creature).

Monstrous creatures that want to get into assault may have problems as you are slow, unless you have wings or deep strike (or deep strike WITH your wings). Deep striking into assault range also carries the issue of sitting there and bellowing 'SHOOT MEEEE' to the other army, which is something you have to work around.**

Monstrous creatures with guns tend not to have the same level of firepower as a vehicle. This is likely to balance out the fact it's harder to stop them from shooting.

Speaking of vehicles, vehicles can simply tank-shock troops off an objective. Even if they pass that morale check, the people move aside. If a monstrous creature wants to pull that trick off, you're hoping for an assault that leaves you within 3" of the objective to contest (or just, y'know, killing the guys...). Furthermore, monstrous creatures are technically vulnerable to tank shock. You get one attack against the front armor, and if you're one of the lower-strength monstrous creatures, the odds get a little long against toughter targets. Plus, you have to STOP the thing, so even if you penetrate, it's a 50/50 shot that you'll stop/kill the thing. Or, you just got run over, good job...

I think with Tyranids coming out, it's worth noting the differences between vehicles and monstrous creatures, since the Tyranids can and do press monstrous creatures into service as gun platforms.

1) Monstrous creatures fight at full strength until death***; vehicles can die in a single hit or lose weapons/mobility temporarily or permanently

2) Monstrous creatures can always move and shoot two guns; moving vehicles can limit their available firepower

3) Monstrous creatures are generally slower than vehicles, but see item 2 for the compensation.

4) Monstrous creatures can be locked in assault, for better or worse.

I think that wraps it up for the major ones. I think the MCs have more combat stamina because they're based on wounds, though this can be a double-edged sword.

*Mr. Predator is sad. When he drives, he can fire ONE gun, while the tyrant can stomp around all day firing every gun it holds. Mr. Predator thinks that makes the Tyrant intolerably arrogant. So, the Tyrant kicked the predator over.

**I'd suggest giving them lots of scary targets and asking if they can kill them all.

***Which may be Instant Death, in some cases. OR poison.

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Minor Tweakage, and What's Coming

I want to thank my readers for the input. I've tweaked the font colors and layout slightly.

Now, I'm keeping the layout simple; I've just switched to a whiter font to up the contrast between text and background. I prefer simple because it makes it easier to navigate the page; it's just less distracting to the eye.

As for the articles themselves, I'm going to aim to keep the content fresh. I think a little intro isn't a bad thing; I could probably do a little better to write an intro paragraph on some of the articles.

Pictures, too, can be good. I'm going to try to get more batreps with actual pictures. I try to spruce up most articles with at least a little bit of picture love, just to keep it from being the wall of text to the face. I'll make sure most of them get at least a small picture up front, since I do think it makes it more pleasing to the eye.

Content-wise, I'm mostly pleased; I'll keep with the logic of my list-building and with the unit analysis. I'm personally trying to work up to an army-level understanding of things; I'm not 100% confident with slapping a whole list together but I'm pretty confident in my ability to figure out good uses for a unit. I think, though, this is one of the things keeping me from being an upper-tier general. (That, and the tendency to every now and then do something out of stupidity and/or inattention to detail. Whoops.) I'm also going to try to be less reactionary in general to other's posts, though I think some of that's from occasional burnout with work. Work is...somewhat stressful; I've had worse jobs but the demands go from reasonable to insane and back again with the drop of the hat. But, it's a job and a paycheck, and I'll take what I can get.

What's Up Ahead
I'm going to get a round or two in against new Tyranids come this weekend.

I'm also going to lay hands on the Tyranid 'dex this week, so you'll get some impressions on that.

Last question: should I get a spite for the dice gods e-mail? I think I'm probably going to cave and do it, just because it'll give me some fuel for writing.

Oh, and a 5k brawl with Boc at some point. I WILL EAT YOUR SPACE ELVES! Albeit, with a combined force of stuff.

Thursday, January 7, 2010

In Review

In review? This time, it's this blog.

I'm using the new year as an excuse to ask you, the reader, what you come to this blog for, what you'd like to see more of, and what you'd like to see less of. I'm doing this in part because this blog is a hobby of mine and I'd like it to be helpful to readers. (the other part is that I've caught The Crap and it's snowing, so I've got some spare time.)

So, on that note:
Layout of the blog, good, Y/N?
Bat-reps, good, Y/N?
Unit Analysis, good, Y/N?
Larger army-type analysis, good, Y/N?
Anything I'm missing here that you'd like to see, Y/N?

I'll tell you some things I won't really get into, though.

This blog will never be a hot one for painting tips. I might show off my work (such as it is) but honestly, there are better places to go for painting advice.

I will probably not do much on modding stuff, honestly. There are better places for a how-to, but I'll show off anything that looks neat to me that I've pulled off.

Anyway, comments, questions, feedback. Please.

Saturday, January 2, 2010

Foot Armies Space Wolf Brainstorming

Blame this one on the beating the Black Templar took today, along with Stelek's 'Top Ten Units of 2009' post.

On the BT Front
Fact is that there's just not a ton you can do if the enemy wants to make your troops go away and they're all on foot.

This time around, the Guard player wasn't nearly as frightened of the Templars, so he blew the hell out of my troops.

Had I been really, really lucky with the dice, I might have actually won because he wasn't paying quite as much attention to the objectives. I would have had to have a Terminator get a better 'run' roll (...or not have, y'know, botched his bloody morale check...) to get within 3" of one objective, and have the game end on turn 5; that would've made it 2-1 in terms of objectives.

As it was, I had the Grey Knights, a random BT terminator, and about 9-10 guys in power armor alive at the end when I conceded.

Highlights included a Hellhound and a lone marine with a lascannon trading shots for about 3 turns. Additionally, two surviving terminators took two wounds and pulled snakeyes on the armor saves. Yay. I really needed that.

The short version of his list was:
Company Command w/ MEltas in Chimera
Allied battle sisters w/ flamers (borrowing 'toon command's Chimera)
2 melta-vet squads
toon command w/ flamers
30-man 3x autocannon + commissar platoon
2 Hellhounds (Hull meltas)
Vendetta w/ Heavy Bolters
2 Russes w/ Lascannon, Sponsons
1 Demolisher w/ HHF

I managed to do SOME damage, but not NEARLY enough, obviously.

Bottom line with Foot Armies?
Mech up. If you don't have a crap-ton of guns (...IE: Tau, IG potentially) or speed (SW Cav Lists) or have a heap of monstrous creatures and/or speed (IE: up-and-coming Tyranids) then you're just not gonna do that well against a decently-run, decently-built mech-heavy force. (Or Tyranids, probably.) I consider myself a decent player (...I just sound smarter on the internets because I wrote way too many papers in college) but I'm just not seeing a real decent way to make this list work against nastier opponents. I might've been able to win that Chaos match from last time with better target priority, but against a lotta tanks + a lotta guns, it's uphill.

On to Space Wolves
So, another brainstorm. This brought to you in part by the Stelek post mentioned previously, and in part to me realizing that I'd be able to pull this together without a lot of money spent (...just need to get a few Dreads and a few tanks and some bits). Basically, the goal is "I Go First. You Get Hurt." To that end...

Bjorn the Fell-Handed [270]
-Assault Cannon

Inquistor Lord [82]
-Bolt Pistol, CCW
-Emperor's Tarot
3x Heavy Bolter Servitors [87]
2x Mystics

Dreadnought w/ TL Autocannons [125]

Dreadnought w/ TL Autocannons [125]

5 Grey Hunters w/ Flamer [80]
Razorback w/ Lascannon, TL Plasma Gun [75]

5 Grey Hunters w/ Flamer [80]
Razorback w/ Lascannon, TL Plasma Gun [75]

5 Grey Hunters w/ Flamer [80]
Razorback w/ Lascannon, TL Plasma Gun [75]

5 Grey Hunters w/ Flamer [80]
Razorback w/ Lascannon, TL Plasma Gun [75]

Fast Attack
4 Thunderwolf Cavalary w/ Thunder Hammer [230]

4 Thunderwolf Cavalary w/ Thunder Hammer [230]

4 Thunderwolf Cavalary w/ Thunder Hammer [230]

Total: 1999/2000

Now, I could theoretically turn the Inquisitor into a Multi-melta bunker in a Rhino; I'd need to find at least 20-30 points to upgrade the bolters to multi-meltas, and then get them a Rhino (50 points from the DH 'dex, 35 from the Wolf 'dex)

Logic behind the choices
Bjorn + Inquisitor means I'll usually have a +1 to my roll for first turn, AND a re-roll. From there, I need to take as large an advantage as I can with that, so it's a mix of guns and/or cavalry.

My best choice for firepower/durable scoring units is (I feel, anyway) 5 Grey Hunters with a flamer in the shooty-back. They can torch smaller squads and potentially beat them down in melee. Also, since I'm running 5-man squads with my Templar, I can just give a guy a flamer and they're suddenly interchangeable (...and I'll have to change out a plasma gunner, but what the hell, right? That's 4-5 guys, or a couple of those small unit boxes).

Bjorn gets an assault cannon because I'm too cheap to give the boggart a lascannon; he's ALREADY 270 freaking points. He can amble up behind the Thunderwolves.

The rifleman dreads are in there for four reasons:
1) They'd be hella fun to convert
2-4) dakka, dakka, and dakka

They can help me work over lighter armor and put a hurt on things at range. Now, in fairness, that's 250 points of shooting. Given the slots, I could get some other stuff for that price; I could probably shave some points and fit in three dakka-preds. However, the Dreadnoughts can move and shoot, and while they don't throw out as many shots as the Predators, the Dreadnoughts can threaten armor with all their shots, and are more accurate with it. Plus, they can scrabble onto rooftops if needs be. I'd probably look into Typhoon speeders if, y'know, I wasn't planning on running Thunderwolves.

As I have thunderwulf cav, I am not quite so worried about killing infantry, so yeah.

Thoughts on that?

Other brainstorm: if I were going to try to run footslogging Terminators, here's what I'd probably really roll with:

Space marine codex
Shrike, Null Zone Librarian, ~10 TH/SS terminators infiltrated.
2-3 Tacticals in Rhinos with multi-melta/flamer.

Fire support to taste.

The draft (that I'll probably never field) looks something like:
Shrike [195]
Libby w/ Termie Armor, Storm Shield Null Zone, Might of the Ancients [140]
9 TH/SS Termies [360]
2 Rifleman Dreads [2*125 = 250]
3 MM/Flamer Rhino-Tacs [3*205 = 615]
1 Las-plas razorback + squad [165]
3 Dakka Preds [3*85 = 255]
Total: 1980/2000

I could drop the Rifleman Dreads for 3 HB/Typhoon landspeeders, which would trade some firepower/durability for mobility and the ability to hide and/or get off some shots.

The basic idea would be to infiltrate the terminators with Shrike, then rush the tacticals forward to melta-bunker and support them. The rest of the army sits back, makes loud noises, and ideally targets transports so the fleet terminators use hammers to introduce forehads to brain pans.

The Librarian either Null Zones enemy CC specialists with invulnerable saves, or activates Might and swings at S6 with 2d6 for armor penetration. Any of the shooting powers would invariably work to keep me out of assault, and with the Might he's at least vaguely comparable to a Gray Knight Terminator.

Shrike hangs out and plays cutty cutty stabby stabby with the rending lightning claws, or splits off to go eat a smaller squad on his own. Depends on what I need done. He also makes sure the Librarian's hood will actually be in range (or close to it) from the get-go.

And that's your wall of text to the face for the day.