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.


Chumbalaya said...

Bugs got a huge boost, I'm looking forward to seeing more and more updated armies locally.

haihastur said...

"there are about two units that can take something close to frag grenades"

there is also the lashwhip available to a number of units, reducing opponents to I1.

eg, flying warriors with bone swords and whips can be quit good at killing units in cover (and can be protected by DS or cheap gargoyles swarms).

surprisingly after a few tests, I think zoans don't belong in pods. at least, if you have a prime or a tervigon.

3 zoans with a prime and a supporting tervigon can cross any table and survive, benefit from close combat protection, help provide synaptic coverage, and are available from first turn (nothing more annoying than 3 zoans showing up on turn 5 against bi-raider armies).

Chumbalaya said...

Yeah, 3 Zoeys with a Prime, FNP and/or Onslaught active can be a big threat from turn 1 and are a pain to drag down.

Raptor1313 said...

Lash Whips are like the old-school grenades; you'll be going simultaneously with units in cover.

Not bad, but not the same as high initiative and frag grenades. Still, it's there.

And then, there's Onslaught/Catalyst...or, more reasons why we'll see the Tervigon a lot.

jabberjabber said...

Can't wait to pick up my copy of the codex soon! I might get some gargoyles as well -- they look like they'll be awesome for conversions :)

suneokun said...

Remember that the Carni can get I4 and S10 on the charge with 'adrenal glands' ... getting Tyranids into cover is going to be an issue.

My reading of Lictor flesh hooks is that they're frag grenades ... nothing complex. He hits in initiative order when charging units in cover. Nothing about him needing to be in cover first...

I'm intrigued by the fact you missed the fact that the Trygon beats the Mawloc down easily. The Mawloc can be taken out by five guardsmen as its rubbish in close combat. The Trygon however gets 7 MC attacks on the charge at S7 (with AG) and rerolls to hit (thanks to its duel scythtals) ... this, plus the Trygon is fleet - yes fleet of bloody enormous foot!

Raptor1313 said...

It's not that the bugs are lacking frags entirely, it's that there just aren't that many to go around.

A Trygon or Hive Tyrant loses the initiative advantage against something like terminators whne it goes into cover, and that can be painful.

As for Trygon v Mawloc, I view it like this...6 wounds is a lot to take down, but it's not IMPOSSIBLE to kill. Sure, a Trygon is bloody nasty in assault, and superior to a Mawloc in a straight-up fight.

On the other hand, the Mawloc can always do some decent damage on the turn it arrives, and does something very few other things in the game let oyu do: move the other guy around. Got people in an important spot? See what the Mawloc has to say about that.

I think both have their places, but I just have to rub my hands together and cackle a little with the Mawloc.