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).

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.


Faolain said...

I would say that if it has 6 wounds, it goes on a BoB. If it has four it goes on a 60mm, three or fewer goes on a 40mm.

For me I wonder what the Doom should be mounted on. He's based off a Zoanthrope, so maybe a 40mm but he's got 4 wounds so maybe a 60mm?

It's not a perfect rule (why is the Pyrovore a. On a 60mm base, b. in the codex) but those are the guidelines I follow. Of course if you go differently I won't judge you :)

TheGraveMind said...

Actually the BoB doesn't really benefit the Tyrannofex at all, as the distance between the models should remain the same. The harpy... You could even argue on using the skimmer flying base.

Parasite I see as a flying lictor, and a 40mm base is how I would use it.

I used my carnifexes for my Tervigons and Tyrannofexs, so they stayed out their 60mm bases. They work fine, except the few random people that tell me they are illegally based. sigh.

Garth said...

My Tervigons and Tyrannonfexes are all mounted on CD's.

GMort. said...

My Tervigons and Tyrannofexs are mounted on the Oval Base because that was the only one that fit the model how I wanted it to look.

The advantage of the larger base (larger spawn area) is outweighed by the disadvantage (larger Termagant killing death area) imo. Plus I like the way it looks that way and that should still count for something.

With movement I just measure from the edge of the base my 6" and then alter the facing so its facing the right way for appearances sake same as I do with my Bikes which are also on a non symmetrical base (the 'pill' one) . I never rotate the base first as I consider this to be (over)movement and basically cheating.

You can see what I mean about the look of the models I made at the following links.

I don't think I could have got that look with the 60mm base,

Emmanuel said...

I'd refine the rule of Faolain like this :
- monstruous creature with 6W -> BoB.
- monstruous creature -> 60mm.
- non-monstruous creature -> 40mm.

All models I've seen for the new units in official GW photos (newsletter and dwarf) agree with this rule. And so far I've seen Tervis/Tyranno/Harpy/doom. But it wouldn't be past GW to release a rule going contrary to their own photos :)

I've never been bothered by anyone in a friendly/tournament game with this bases. But you can find retards at any time. On the other hand you can (should) ignore them ;)

Damon said...

Agree that GW really should note base size. If they're going to make a rule about how important a model's base is, they should eat their own dogfood and specify it right on the stat block.

That said, I felt like Tervigons and Tyrannofexes were "bigger" than your average monstrous creature. I *wanted* them on the bigger BoB just to emphasize that effect. I can't say that I've noticed any real affect in gameplay, other than it has made both beasties easier to take down in close combat. LOL

When you move, you have to measure from base edge to base edge. You don't get to "shift" your model and then twist it, gaining a few extra fractions of an inch. You put your tape down, 0" at one edge of your base and then put the leading edge of your model -- however you intend to orient it -- on the 6" mark. All this movement happens in one phase, so you cannot ever get your model to move farther than it's maximum via any kind of bizarre trickery.

Raptor1313 said...

Honestly, the movement of the oblong base is the least of my complaints. All the other stuff that does't care about facing is on a round base; it's just an adjustment in habit. How Damon said it is pretty much the only way I see it working.

More or less agree. The Tyrannofex derives minimal benefit from the BoB, when you get down to it as it generally has 'long enough' ranges.

THEY DID NOT COME WITH CDS! RAR! ;) It's a thought that hadn't occurred to me, but I think it'd probably piss the least number of people off. On the other hand, if/when they ever release a model I'm likely to have to re-base the freakin' thing.

Dig the conversions. I ended up doing mine on a 60mm base largely because that's what the carnifex kits came with...

You've hit the problem dead-on. GW is not entirely consistent with their logic. Pyrovores are the prime example, but if you went simply by the number of wounds, they should be on a 40mm base. Frankly, if I ever do the Doom of Malantai, he's gonna be on a 40mm base because he's a zoey knockoff, and given his ability is radial I'm sure I'd meet at least one person that'd have a conniption fit because 'I did not put him on the right size base.'

GW: Please put the freaking base size in the entry if it's at all ambiguous or you don't have a kit out.

For more history fun, can anyone tell me if the Trygon even came with a base when it first released from Forge World? I don't think it did, but I haven't done extensive digging. Talk about fun basing THAT thing...(then again, since it was apocalypse only, I'd hope folks were a little more light-hearted, but who knows?)

AbusePuppy said...

I actually use what are basically CDs for the bases on my Tervigons- they're a bit large, but they solve the issues with the oblong base and turning. (Note that the rulebook explicitly allows you to turn infantry models to face the enemy when they shoot, which makes things worse.) Plus they're big scenic things, so I haven't had any real complaints about it.

The Trygon and other gargantuan creatures did not come on bases. (Although maybe the Heirodules had them? Never actually met anyone who owned one, so...)

0range said...

Totally agree. A single line "This model uses an X sized base" would solve so many things.

Now correct me if I'm wrong, but don't PP release that kind of info and more before release of a new model?

Why is it such a big deal to be secretive for GW? Give people free starter rules? Playtest rules for everyone? YOU MAD?!

0range said...

On a similar note, being informed about the newest release plans earlier would be great. All you get are rumours, then the "Incoming: Next Army" on the GW site a short time before release. Would it really hurt them to tell us earlier? D:

Why does it matter? Because I'd like to start BA, but if GK really are next I'd freak out. So I gotta wait until we know what's really next before I spend more $$

winter said...

Base size information would be great.

The swiveling issue is potentially thorny when it comes to non round bases. The rules say that when moving you can turn to face the enemy. You are also not allowed to move more than 6". So I guess that adhering to both of these rules means that you should measure the maximum distance you could move via the nearest edge of the base and then position the base in anyway you like so long as the edge at the end of movement is no further than that 6".

The issue then becomes that you are able to turn to face your opponent in the shooting phase. However the rules aren't specific about how to handle non-round bases at this point.

Other shenanigans I've come across with bases are with skimmers. People seem to think that if the base fits, then the skimmer fits, but you measure to the hull, so if the wings are over cover, you landed in cover and need to make a check.

Matt Varnish said...

I have my Tyrannofexes on custom bases even bigger than the BoB, purely because the way the legs are, it had to be wider. I wholeheartedly agree with '6 wounds = BoB' thing, it just makes sense. That being said, my Tervigons are converted from Carnifexes, and I SHOULD have put them on BoB's but I didnt have any spares, and I know that when a kit comes out, I will repurpose them back into screamer killers. Though trying to cram extra termagaunts on a 60mm with a Carny on it was quite a feat let me tell ya.