I finally fielded my happy, happy little swarm of gribbles, and managed to eke out a couple of wins. I did not think to take my crappy little camera, and today, well, I'm still a weeeeee bit out of it on antibiotics. (Allergy season startup + sinus infection = floored raptor, add in the scorched-earth antiobiotics and I was motionless from about noon Wednesday to 4PM Thursday, and fading in and out of delightful madness today).
So, the list I ran with:
Tyranid Prime w/ 2x Boneswords
3x2 Hive Guard
2 Tervigons w/ Toxin, Adrenal, Catalyst
6 Shrikes w/ whip/sword
2x18 Gargoyles w/ Toxin, Adrenal
2x Tyrannofex w/ Cluster Spines, Rupture Cannon, default thorax swarm
Played two objective games; one against Black Templar double-raiders and one against Tyranids.
Brother-Captain w/ Hood
Emperor's Chump w/ Preferred Enemy vow
2x 5-man assault termie squads (4 claws, 1 hammer/shield)
2x8-9 fellows in Rhinos w/ melta, fist
2x5 man las/plas
2x mm/hf speeders
Swarmlord w/ 3 Tyrant Guard
2 Hive Guard
2 large squads of Hormagaunts (~20)
2 small squads of Termagants (~10)
4 Warriors w/ Swords, Devourerers
General Tyranid Thoughts
On Land Raiders
Frankly, I figured I'd shoot his support before I shot his raiders. This proved to be wise, as I had some good rolls and managed to total his Rhinos and ruin his speeders in 1-2 turns. (Well, he made the mistake of leaving a rhino in range of Hive Guard on turn one, so it got maimed, and the Tyrannos accounted for the other one and a speeder).
You will have to give yourself over to the idea that you're gonna be doing one of three things to kill a Land Raider:
1) Shoot it with a Zoanthrope
2) Shoot it with a Tyrannofex
3) Punch it repeatedly with a monstrous creature
The raiders were a pain, in part because even after one squad of termies broke from shooting and ran, he slapped one on my objective. I won the game against the Templars because it went into seven turns and I managed to kill the Raiders on turns six and seven. Admittedly, that was some pretty poor Tyrannofex shooting there, and then a Tervigon wandered over and punched one in the explosives.
I haven't run the new Zoeys yet, but with everyone and their dog packing some kind of psychic defense, I have to admit I like the reliability of two S8 shots at BS4. These things are happy to maim up lighter mech, and against any T4 multi-wound bug? Ouch. My tyranid opponent made the mistake of leaving Warriors in the open for a turn, and they paid for it. They're also good for taking out Zoeys, or at least forcing instant-death saves.
Now, I know there have been some critics of the t-fexes, but I have to say they have a place. Why? Several reasons.
1) S10 shots
3) T6, 6 wounds, 2+ armor save
S10 means it CAN threaten AV14, but against lighter armor? Two shots at BS3 mean that 25% of the time you'll see 0 hits, 25% of the time you'll see 2 hits, and 50% of the time you'll see a hit. Against Rhinos, Landspeeders, and even AV12 (other than Eldar skimmers...) you're probably gonna get a pen. Seriously, it's some decent firepower.
48 inches means you can shoot pretty much from the start. Considering that you NEED all the shooting you can get to stop/slow mech, this means there's nowhere to really run.
The durability means that against shooting, either the opponent brought a crap-ton of lascannons or he's not going to bother engaging your Tyrannofex at range. He'll either melta it, throw powerfists/thunder hammers at it, or ignore it. That means you get to shoot, and you'd BETTER screen the bloody thing.
As an added bonus, the Cluster Spines and flamer templates are nice point-defense goodies. I lost the Gaunt screen to a Hormagaunt charge in game two, and dealt with this by burning half the brood (bad consolidation roll) with the t-fex, and gunning the rest down with fleshborers.
Bottom line? It's a solid performer, but it is for a shooty-heavy build.
On Gargoyles and Shrikes
I won't lie; I was a little worried about taking these guys. I like the gargoyle sculpt, and I figured that the Shrikes would provide some punch/synapse. It gave the build some speed and a rapid-response element, which turned out to be useful.
The down side? Hello, traffic jam. Thank god I didn't see a crap-ton of templates or such early on, as that's just a lot to deploy. Additionally, that's a LOT of ground to cover; Gargoyles will be taking dangerous terrain tests, but you should be able to avoid moving through terrain for the assault.
Shrikes? Mmm, power weapon love. The whip is absolutely a keeper. Instant death is nice and all, but robbing the enemy of the initative is big. Going into cover? It's 4th-ed frags. Going into a faster creature? Slap one in base-to-base contact. Shank with power weapons. Enjoy.
The gargoyles help in a charge, but honestly you need a little more punch to take stuff down. They DID manage to drag down a Tyrannofex, but that was after knocking off one wound with massed small-arms fire, then going poison + to-hit wounds all over it. Granted, it TOOK several turns, but it stopped the big brute.
Still, there's nothing like watching 10-20 of them around a target, and seeing a few heads and powerfists above the mass. It made it totally worthwhile.
...what a beast. Frankly, as 'nids, I don't have enough high-AP shooting to reliably drop wounds on him. Ok, we have plenty of S8-10 fire available, but sometimes it was going elsewhere and we've all played Space Marine players with hot dice before, right? This guy took some serious dog-piling to drop. I managed to KO one guard before it got there. Then, I threw Termagants, Gargoyles, and Shrikes at it, and drug it down over a couple of turns. It managed to kill a heap of gargoyles, termagants, and all but one Shrike (which was busy holding it down).
Lesson learned? GET POISON ON THE BLOODY SHRIKES. Would have made it SO MUCH EASIER.
Still, all things considered, the Swarmlord is a nasty foe for bugs to deal with. You pretty much have to drown 'im in poison weapons and expect to take heavy casualties. As well it should be, for 280+ points of the army...
Or, 'we have reinforcements!' Anyone who's pulled off the Kroot Shield knows what I'm talking about. Round one, I managed to spawn one brood each, and game two I managed a total of four broods. Honestly, it's enough. You get into some serious traffic-direction issues in the backfield...
On the other hand, there's a LOT of fun to be had with Catalyst. Fun uses for Feel No Pain include:
1) Making Termagants last
2) Making Gargoyles last in the open
3) Keeping Shrikes alive against small arms
4) Softening the impact of 'No Retreat!'
Number four was the big one. There are some furballs you're just not gonna win quickly. You're going to have to wear the enemy down, and the problem is lsoing troops with 'No Retreat'. Well, now you lose half of them. If the enemy doesn't have power weapons or the like, then you can last. Plus, your piddly little T3 6+ save fellows can actually endure a little more abuse. Why, you're about as tough as an Eldar Aspect Warrior!
General Tyranid Thoughts
Traffic direction is an issue. This army's deploying something like 60-70 figs off the bat. No tanks. The only thing that relocates more than 6" a turn are the flyers. With Tervigons, you're dropping even MORE of them on the table.
The games have been close so far, and I think that might be partially due to the build, and partially due to getting used to a new playstyle. This current build reminds me of my Tau, except I can actually fistfight in a pinch.
I'm still a tad bit loopy. This crud actually started ramping up around last Sunday, but didn't hit in full force 'til Wednesday. There'll be some more lucid-sounding points eventually.