Thursday, January 30, 2014

Battle Report - Tyranids vs. The Imperium (SM/SW)

The final installment of this little trilogy of Tyranid battle reports is a mammoth one. Jamie, Dan, Matt and I booked a table in our FLGS (Wargames Emporium, Sheffield) last Sunday and got stuck into a 3,500pt doubles game (i.e. 1,750 each). Both sides were making the most of double FOC and cramming plenty of units in. The Imperium of Man was represented by the Space Wolves and Ultramarines (in this case a successor that looked suspiciously like Blood Angels!).

1,750pts of Space Wolves (Me)
Ragnar Blackmane
Arjac Rockfist and 4 WG terminators in a Land Raider
Lone Wolf in terminator armour with fist and shield
2x 10-man grey hunter packs with plasma, melta, wolf standard and wulfen
14 blood claws (one with flamer) joining Ragnar in a LR crusader

1,750pts of Ultramarines (Matt)
8 Sternguard in a Drop Pod
6 Scouts (5 snipers, 1 bolter)
2x 10-man tactical squads (melta/flamer, missile pod)
10-man assault squad with jump packs (power fist)
Stormtalon (lascannons)
Stormraven (multi-melta, assault cannons)
Centurion Devastators (grav cannon/amps, omniscope)

The Tyranid horde was represented by contingents from Hive Fleet Kraken and Behemoth.

1,750pts of Tyranids (Dan)
2x Hive Tyrant with twin-linked devourers with brainleech plus two tyrant guard
3 Venomthropes (conversions that look like jellyfish on the pictures)
30 Termagants (5 devourers)
2x 3 Biovores
3 Dakkafexes

1,750pts of Tyranids (Jamie)
Flyrant with HVC
30 Termagants
9 Warriors with 8 deathspitters plus barbed strangler
15 Gargoyles
Hive Crone
3 Carnifexes (1 with crushing claws)

I'd like to point out that the aim of the game was to have fun and test a few things in the new Tyranid codex rather than fielding particularly competitive lists. Obviously there were cheesy elements in both lists like double devourers on tyrants/fexes and our centurions but we tried to keep it to a minimum.

We'd be playing Big Guns and elected to use Dawn of War deployment as it was easier logistically. Tigurius got Hallucination, Prescience and Perfect Timing. The tervigons took Dominion. The tyrants got a mix of powers between them including paroxysm, warp blast and catalyst. We played with a warlord each and their tyrants got Synaptic Lynchpin and Digestive Denial as their warlord traits, Tigurius stuck with his trait and Ragnar got -1 to reserve rolls. There'd be Night Fighting on the first turn. Jamie and Dan got to pick deployment zone and won the roll for first turn too. They could barely fit all of their nids in their zone even though it was an 8' x 4' table! We spread our forces out so that we could try and spread the Tyranids thinly and prevent hordes of termagants from swamping us.

Turn 1
I confidently told Jamie and Dan that I was going to Seize now and to the suprise of us all, I actually did! This allowed us to bring down the sternguard on their left flank and with help from the jammy scouts who rended 4 times (I think, might've been 3) they downed one of the Tervigons straight away for First Blood. Elsewhere we caused a couple of wounds on a hive tyrant and thinned out the big termagant hordes a little.

The tyranid response was pretty brutal with Cassius and his sternguard being cut down to size by the gargoyles (who decided not to bother with Blinding Venom in a bid to kill the squad off instead). Cassius and a couple of sternguard survived the initial onslaught though and swept the gargoyles. The dakkafexes enacted their own vengeance causing 25 wounds on my grey hunters who promptly failed 10 of their saves wiping them out! The tervigon spawned something like 15 termagants but was corked in the process so there'd be no more bonus nids. The flyrant hit the land raider with warp lance but despite penetrating he could only shake the mighty tank. The biovores killed off a couple of tactical marines and pinned both squads and the harpy was similarly effective. Meanwhile the hive crone drooled on the scouts picking off a few.

Turn 2
Unfortunately our flyers failed to arrive which meant we'd struggle to deal with their FMCs this turn. One of the assault combat squads arrived though and dropped in near the sternguard to support them in combat. Cassius and his squad headed towards the termagant blob whilst Ragnar's land raider disgorged him and his pack of blood claws who charged headlong into combat with the combat carnifexes easily dispatching them. Cassius was able to stay locked in combat with the termagants who surrounded him and prevent the warriors from charging next turn.

On the other side of the field the centurions made the dakkafexes pay for killing the grey hunters by wiping them out with their grav-cannons. Tigurius had tried to use hallucination on them but they'd denied the witch. The other land raider rumbled forward and Arjac piled into combat with the flyrant (who was downed by the land raider) whilst his terminators charged into a blob of termagants. The remaining grey hunters had lined up to charge the hive crone but despite forcing 4-5 grounding tests the crone remained aloft and only took a single wound.

The crone stayed up in the air sweeping over the grey hunters before finishing off the scouts with this drool. The mawloc arrived, killed two of the three centurions and left the sergeant wounded. The warriors fired at the blood claws thinning them out significantly before charging in and leaving only Ragnar and a couple of the young space wolves alive. The hive tyrants elected not to charge into combat with Arjac and his pack instead happily allowing them to chip away at the termagants. The biovores killed half of the grey hunters and more tactical marines.

Turn 3
Tigurius tried to use Hallucination on one of the walking hive tyrants but once again Dan denied the witch. Our flyers finally arrived and lined up to try and take down both the crone and harpy (or at least force them to drop so the land raiders could finish the job). The lone wolf (who I'd forgotten to deploy) also arrived from reserve and headed in to take on the mawloc next turn. The flyers failed pretty miserably at their job with neither killing its intended target. Luckily the harpy was knocked out of the sky and the land raider was able to finish it off with lascannons. The crone survived the drop too but the hurricane bolters from the crusader were able to finish it off. Tigurius and the remaining centurion tried to gun down the mawloc with help from the tactical squads but it remained on 2 wounds meaning they'd need to charge it to prevent it burrowing. Luckily they survived the combat this turn but with Tigurius' rod only being AP4 the mawloc made its saves.

Meanwhile the assault marines went in to help Cassius out and luckily left a single termagant standing to protect them from biovore fire. Ragnar found himself alone and surrounded by warriors whilst Arjac and his terminators were still chewing through gaunts. The remaining grey hunters hopped into the land raider Ragnar had vacated.

The tyrants attempted to down the stormtalon with their brainleech devourers but could only strip a hull point and stun it. Cassius and co. finished off the remaining gaunt and consolidated towards the warriors. Ragnar survived with a single wound.

Turn 4
The lone wolf now charged into the mawloc and was able to finish it off where Tigurius had failed. The two assault combat squads, along with Cassius, charged into combat with the warriors. It was too late for Ragnar though who died to give our opponents Slay the Warlord. The warriors were heavily thinned out in return though. Matt and I now had a heated debate about whether to fire at the venomthropes or the tyrants. I still maintain we should've shot the venomthropes first but as with anything like that in 40K we'll never know. Either way the tyrant and his unit only took a couple of wounds from the flyers and land raiders. The lone wolf headed in the direction of the tyrant hoping to finish the job. Arjac and his terminators finally finished off the termagants even though we could've done with him staying in for just one more turn.

The tyranids had very little firepower left and the tyrants weren't likely to be able to charge anything. What they did have they used on Arjac and his remaining wolf guard (he'd lost 3 terminators to gaunts!). The champion was cut down easily but with the assault squads and Cassius now free of combat our final turn should be bloody.

Turn 5
Cassius charged the nearest squad of biovores solo and was able to finish them off. The two assault squads charged into the venomthropes and wiped them out too. The lone wolf charged into combat with the tyrant. The tyrant caused 4 wounds, the lone wolf saved two on his shield and a third with FNP. This allowed him to down the tyrant (their second warlord) with his power fist and forever etch his name in the sagas. Meanwhile the two land raiders had moved onto objectives with one dropping off some grey hunters on another. With the one controlled by the tactical squad this gave us 4 of the 5 objectives meaning little chance for the tyranids to take the win.

One of the tyrants attempted to charge a land raider but rolled a triple 1 through terrain. The game ended here with one objective for the tyranids and four for the Imperium (plus first blood, linebreaker and 2x slay the warlord).

Imperial Victory 16-4

When we first saw the number of tyranids arrayed against us we weren't quite sure how we were going to deal with them with so few models of our own. Obviously the land raiders would be impossible for the tyranids to destroy with shooting (aside of warp lance) so as long as we kept them out of charge range we'd be safe. It's a shame really that it was Big Guns as it would've been a lot closer scoreline without it. I'm not sure Dan and Jamie realised that vehicles can score in big guns.

Stealing the initiative and killing a tervigon was undoubtedly a big deal and when the other tervigon corked we knew we'd had a lucky escape. Had the warriors been able to finish off Ragnar quicker then they'd have been able to charge the assault squad and the result would've probably been different. The flying MCs could've probably been used to bring down the land raiders earlier on but, again, I don't know they realised they were scoring or they'd have probably done this. The hive crone passing soo many grounding checks was a real hindrance early on although if we'd had our flyers on turn 2 it probably would've been dead sooner. It was frustrating when we couldn't get them even with Tigurius' re-roll!

There's a couple of Tyranid units worth mentioning here. Firstly the warriors were actually pretty good. Obviously they're vulnerable to power fists in combat but a big enough squad with guns puts out a lot of fire and isn't easy to shift since they're always Fearless. Perhaps there are better ways to spend the points but I don't think they should be discounted. In smaller numbers I think they'd struggle though.

Secondly, biovores were great. This isn't really news as the interwebs are pretty impressed with them but being able to put out large pinning barrage blasts against massed troops is excellent. I'd say it's worth swapping a mawloc (or even two) for a squad and having 20pts to spare. They shone against marines so against kroot, fire warriors, guardians, cultists etc they'd be excellent.

Overall it was a thoroughly enjoyable game, my personal highlight being the lone wolf cutting down both a mawloc and a hive tyrant. We're going to play another round (with slightly altered teams) next month. It'll be Chaos vs. Angels of Death so keep an eye on the blog for that one. Right, now I've got no excuse not to finish my Tyranid reviews before getting to the small matter of a thing called Blog Wars 7.

Tuesday, January 28, 2014

First Attempts at Airbrushing!

I recently picked up a compressor and a couple of airbrushes from eBay. I'd done quite a bit of research about what type of compressor and airbrush combo to go for. The general consensus seemed to be that a piston compressor with a cylinder gave the right balance of reliable, constant air flow whilst keeping the price down. I plumped for this little number from eBay at £60 with two airbrushes (neither of which I'm using at the moment but they might come in handy later).

On eBay it's referred to as the AS186 and I think some sellers provide it without the cylinder. As I say the cylinder is a good idea though as you get a more consistent pressure whilst spraying. Anyway, the listing showed two different brushes but when I opened the box one of them didn't match the pictures plus the case of the other was damaged. I managed to persuade them to give me a partial refund with which I was able to pick up this airbrush:

A lot of sellers refer to this as the HS30. Basically it's a cheap knock-off of the more expensive named airbrushes like Iwata and Badger. Of course it isn't going to last as long and probably isn't as well made but it cost me around £10 which I was more comfortable paying when I wasn't sure how much use I was going to get from it. In addition I picked up a cleaning station for a tenner that doubles up as a holder and allows me to blast through some cleaning solution in between colours whilst filtering some of the vapour that is generated.

I've watched rather a lot of videos on YouTube about airbrushing including OrcPainterNerd, MarneusAugustusCalgar and Wargamers Consortium amongst others. Most recommend having a go on some paper first to practice the action and get the mix right. I had a bash with some thinned down Mephiston Red and sprayed some pretty patterns on some paper. Generally I wanted an idea of how the spray pattern changed depending on proximity of the airbrush to the surface and how far you need to pull back the trigger to get a good flow. I'm led to believe that better airbrushes have smoother actions and more control but to me my cheap little brush seemed pretty good.

After that first session I took the airbrush apart to clean it. I know you don't really need to but I wanted to see how it went together. A couple of bits were a bit tricky to re-assemble but generally it's a pretty simple construction so taking it apart once in a while for a good clean should be do-able.

I've had a rhino lying around for a while now that was originally assigned to my Space Wolves but when 6th edition pushed people away from mech I tossed it in the direction of my Dark Angels for the odd occasion I might want to run a rhino with my bikes. You may remember that I've been painting my Dark Angels up in a similar scheme to the Angels of Redemption. You can see my test model below and I must confess I haven't painted many more models since him. I do have a couple of bike squads up to table-top standard but my motivation to paint them waned when I quickly got bored of the new DA codex.

Nevertheless it was a good excuse to give the airbrush a go on a nice big model first and also an opportunity to try masking and seeing how well that works. The rhino was already sprayed with Chaos Black so this would be a good test of how well the airbrush could cover with lighter colours. To start with I sprayed one half of the model with Caliban Green (incidentally I'm using Vallejo Airbrush Thinner to "water" down). I then added some Warpstone Glow to the mix and tried to spray a thinner coat in attempt to shade. I think I probably got a bit carried away though so the shading is kind of lost.

After that I left it to dry for a bit. Not sure this was necessary mind you as I think it was dry by the time I'd washed out the brush. I then used some conventional masking tape (B&Q's finest) to mark a line down the centre of the tank. I toyed with the idea of taping some newspaper over the green bit to avoid overspray but I wanted to test out the accuracy of the airbrush so I decided not to bother.

I sprayed a coat of Rakarth Flesh over the other half doing my best to get an even coat and get into all the nooks and crannies. Once the tape was removed the "final" finish was revealed. I use the inverted commas because it's actually barely started. I want to spray on some chapter heraldry and then go to work with a regular brush to add details. I'll come back to the airbrush at the end though to add some weathering.

As you can see from the picture below I probably should've taken more care to smooth down the masking tape as there are small leaks where it wasn't down enough. Additionally I probably should've employed the newspaper idea as I've gone over the other side of the tape a bit. This is probably just me being overzealous rather than the brush being inaccurate. These will be pretty easy to touch up with a regular brush though and I'm happy with the finish and the time it took me to achieve it. There's no question that, even including setup/cleaning of the airbrush, it was much quicker than using a big brush. I'd have never gotten the finish as smooth either. Not bad for a first attempt I reckon.

Couple of things I've learnt so far. Firstly it's a good idea to mix more paint than you'd think. It's annoying to have to mix more when you're in the middle of a colour and you can always pop it back in the pot since it'll barely affect the mix. If you're worried I'm sure there's empty pots lying around that it could go in. Secondly an old brush seems to be the best tool for mixing the paints. I was trying to use the pipettes but they're too much of a faff and you end up losing half of your paint inside. The old brush is great for getting the paint into the airbrush cup too. Finally, it's a good idea to have plenty of kitchen roll to hand. Very useful for cleaning out the cup (I'm using Medea Airbrush Cleaner), test spraying before committing and generally avoiding mess.

Overall I'm pleased with my purchase. I know I've got nothing to compare it to but it's actually much better than I thought. Obviously I'm just doing block colours here so I'm not really testing myself too much. When I start to work on my Dark Eldar I'll be trying some fading and more intricate masking and stencil work. Anyway, I hope this stuff will be interesting and at least I'm getting some hobby content on here for a change! I'll post again once I've done the stencilled chapter logos etc.

If anyone is thinking of getting an airbrush feel free to ask questions in the comments and I'll either answer or point you in the direction of a good youtube video!

Saturday, January 25, 2014

Battle Report - Tau vs. Tyranids (1750pts)

I hope you enjoyed Matt's report of his game against Scott's Tyranids. Today I'm going to talk about the game Scott and I had on Thursday. Scott was running pretty much the same list as he had against Matt (skip back to yesterday's post to check it out). I was running my mech Tau list that I've run in one form or another for a while now. Essentially, fire warriors in three devilfish with an ethereal, a missile crisis team, three squads of pathfinders, two riptides and a fusion plasma commander with similarly equipped bodyguard.

We rolled Relic with Dawn of War deployment. It'd be Night Fighting the first turn too. I rolled the warlord trait that prevents my commander from scattering when he deep strikes. Scott got the carnivorous jungle trait. His two tervigons took Dominion whilst the Hive Tyrants both got Paroxysm with one getting Warp Blast and the other getting Catalyst as their secondary powers. I won the deployment zone selection but Scott took first turn and I failed to Seize.

Turn 1
Scott moves all four FMCs right up into my face. With one of my pathfinder teams Scouting into a ruin in the centre they were a prime target for a vector strike from a tyrant. This was followed by devourer fire which finished off the squad and gave Scott the crucial First Blood. Otherwise the Tyranids did little damage to my Tau. One tervigon spawned 15 termagants but was corked. The other spawned 12 and there was more to come.

The drones from the devilfish were able to down one of the crones. Once on the ground the crone was no match for the missile team with markerlight support. All of the fire warriors had disembarked with the aim of helping the riptides deal with the other FMCs but both riptides failed miserably and all of the remaining FMCs stayed aloft. The next turn was going to be painful.

Turn 2
One of the mawlocs and the outflanking termagants arrived from reserves. The termagants came in on my right flank but there was nothing in range for them. The mawloc faired better killing 8 fire warriors with its Terror attack. The hive crone used its vector strike to finish off the squad before helping one of the tyrants to destroy the ethereal's devilfish. Meanwhile Scott rolled a perfect 6/5/4 roll for his active tervigon giving him a further 15 termagants. The other tyrant charged into combat with the riptide and used his bonesword to full effect by rolling a 6 to wound. Despite having nova'd for a 3++ save the riptide was cut in half by the tyrant.

One of my kroot units arrived and cut into the outflanking termagants with their rifles. The commander and his bodyguard dropped in behind the tyranids. I'd hoped for marker support but the pathfinders failed to hit the mark with a single markerlight. Even so, the commander shot down the venomthrope whilst his squad managed to strip several wounds from the tervigon. I'd hoped they'd be able to kill the tervigon outright and cause a synaptic backlash but now I needed to use the fire warriors to finish the job instead of gunning down some gaunts. The tervigon managed to survive the fire warriors' volley with a single wound but I spotted a couple of drones I'd not fired who were lucky enough to finish the job. The tervigon perished taking something like 12 termagants with him. The crisis team killed off another hive crone with ease. The riptide managed to finish off the bonesword tyrant but needed help from the pathfinders thanks to the effects of paroxysm.

Turn 3
The termagants in the centre claimed vengeance for their fallen mother by charging into the fire warriors and cutting down a whole squad plus the ethereal. The remaining tyrant charged the remaining riptide but could only take him down to one wound. The tervigon spawned another 12 gaunts but still wasn't finished! He then charged the commander and his unit but fluffed his attacks and took a wound in return. One mawloc burrowed whilst the other remained in reserve. The outflanking guants failed their instinctive behaviour and had to run towards cover.

With both of the remaining MCs in combat there were only gaunts to shoot at. More kroot arrived and killed off a small unit of gaunts. The remaining fire warriors and missile team killed off the big squad of gaunts. The other kroot killed off more gaunts from the outflanking squad and forced them to flee. The riptide was cut down by the tyrant in combat.

Turn 4
One mawloc arrived safely and took out all but two of the remaining fire warriors. The other tried to target the kroot on my right flank but mishapped and ended up misplaced safely in the back corner. Despite being busy in combat the tervigon spawned another 8 gaunts whilst killing a bodyguard. The tyrant vector struck the missile team killing two and finishing the third with his devourers. The termagants gradually moved towards the relic to claim it.

The two remaining fire warriors hopped into the devilfish to hopefully claim the objective if I could some how clear it or at least contest it. I was pretty much out of firepower though and the kroot needed to run to try and make it to the relic should they be required.

Turn 5
The mawloc charged into the devilfish, blew it up and killed both fire warriors inside! The tervigon finished off the commander and his bodyguard whilst spawning another 8 gaunts. That gave Scott 4 VPs (First Blood, ethereal, Linebreaker and Slay the Warlord) to my single VP (Slay the Warlord). That meant the game was pretty much over unless I could get both linebreaker and the relic somehow with all those gaunts, two mawlocs and a tyrant around.

There was little left for me to do but run the kroot in a vain hope of grabbing the relic. The pathfinders tried to kill the tyrant with their carbines but failed.

Turn 6 & 7 
I'd pretty much conceded anyway but we got turn 6 and 7 so played them just to see how much damage the tyranids could do to my remaining kroot and pathfinders. The tyrant finished off one pathfinder unit whilst the mawloc re-emerged and killed off the kroot. In the end I was left with 4 pathfinders and a devilfish.

Oh and the remaining tervigon went on to spawn 12 gaunts in turn 6 and finally in turn 7 Scott rolled a triple 5 to create a final 15 termagants! That meant the tervigon spawned a total of 78 gaunts over the 7 turns!

Final Result - Tyranid Victory 4-1

The tervigon was undoubtedly the winner here. Obviously the hive tyrants and mawlocs did their jobs but ultimately it was an objective game and the relic never looked in danger. The mission certainly played into the tyranids' hands (or claws) but any of the objective missions would've probably had the same result with so many guants! Now I'm not going to pretend that I'd expect the tervigons to do so well in every game but clearly they have that potential and despite the points cost they're still worthwhile. They can of course move before they spawn their termagants too which means you can get them a bit further forward.

There were several things I should've done differently or could've gone my way. If the pathfinders had lit up the tervigon then my suits probably would've killed him without help from the fire warriors and drones. That would've freed up the fire warriors to kill gaunts and probably saved their own lives along with the ethereal. I was complacent with the commander and his team too. There's no way I should've put them so close to the tervigon and allowed it to charge. That would've kept them alive too and probably allowed them to kill the other tervigon instead.

Finally there was one tactical play I could've made that I missed. In my turn the riptide was in combat with the tyrant and had a single wound left. If I'd rolled for nova I'd have either failed it and killed him allowing me to shoot the tyrant or else keep him locked with a 3++ save perhaps. Either way it would've stalled the tyrant and saved the crisis team for another turn. There's always things that could've gone differently though and I don't want to take anything away from Scott who played well and punished my mistakes.

Between the two tervigons there were 93 bonus gaunts. Not only is that a scary amount for an opposing army but Scott was lucky he even had enough models! I can't believe it didn't cork itself until turn 7. It's pretty incredible luck on Scott's part but still, as I say, there's always that possibilty with tervigons. Sure they're more expensive and not as good as before but they're still great in objective games when they don't cork early. Dominion is a must for them though to keep the gaunts under control.

That list contains 4 FMCs and 4 MCs. Some armies literally can't deal with that many monsters. Of course broadside spam, farsight bomb, etc wouldn't struggle but name me an army that can reliably beat them? I think that's part of the problem with the Tyranid book. Eldar and Tau are so strong right now that they're the yard stick for any new book. Frankly a mostly combat army was never going to have a hope against the kind of power the top lists can come out. I, for one, didn't want to see Tyranids reduced to another shooty army so they're always going to struggle in that environment.

It's worth remembering that although on paper the tervigons and mawlocs aren't amazing in combat, they're still MCs. That means Hammer of Wrath and Smash which aren't to be sniffed at. They've got anti-vehicle utility and as the tervigon proved they can insta-kill stuff easily enough. If there aren't power weapons around their T6, six wounds and 3+ save should keep them alive in combat for sufficient time to get something else in to rescue them if they can't handle it themselves.

I'll be writing up my Synapse post soon I promise but I wanted to get this battle report done whilst it was still fresh in my mind. I'm playing another game against tyranids on Sunday when Matt and I team up in a 3,500pt (2x1750) doubles game with Jamie and Dan. We'll be running marines and wolves against the horde and there'll be a report on the game of course. Once that's done I'll write my final verdict on the new book so that I'm actually basing it on experience instead of pure theory.

Friday, January 24, 2014

Guest Post - Battle Report - Tyranids vs. Eldar/Tau (1750pts)

In a change to the scheduled post, this is the very first, but hopefully not the last, guest post on this blog. Since it's creation there's only been me posting content so I'm thrilled to bring you something I haven't slaved over! Matt and I have had a pretty heated discussion about the Tyranid codex since it arrived. I have to say that I'm pretty negative about it whereas Matt is a lot more optimistic and believes it will still compete. My views have been changing as I've written my reviews of the book but I'll get to that in my summary in a couple of days. For now here's a report of the battle Matt had against our mutual friend Scott and his stunning nid army. I should point out that Matt and Scott failed miserably to take any pictures so I've just interspersed a few archive shots of Scott's tyranids to give you an idea, they won't be of any relevance to the report though! Anyway, here goes:

This is my first battle report ever (nevermind on this fine blog), so if it all gets a bit confusing that’s why!
Before I start I just want to say why I wanted to write this up. I am one of the few people (though not only person) on the whole interweb that thinks the new nids codex is pretty good and still competitive. I wanted to test out this theory by playing against what I thought was a competitive build using the new codex. I used a tried and tested Eldar/Tau list that I have previously won a tournament with.

So onto the lists:
Tyranids 1750
Hive tyrant with wings and 2x twin linked devourers with brainleech worms – 230
Hive tyrant with wings, twin linked devourers with brainleech worms, whip & bonesword  and Hive commander– 255
Venomthrope – 45
30 Termagaunts - 120
Tervigon – 195
30 Termagaunts - 120
Tervigon – 195
Fast attack
Hive crone – 155
Hive crone - 155
Heavy support
Mawloc – 140
Mawloc – 140

Eldar/Tau 1750
Farseer on jetbike with spirit stone and runes of witnessing (to use up points) -145
Tau commander with 2 missile pods, iridium suit, target lock and drone controller -153
Riptide with velocity tracker, ion cannon and early warning override -210
5 Dire avengers - 65
Wave serpent transport with scatter lasers and shuriken cannon – 130
5 Dire avengers - 65
Wave serpent transport with scatter lasers and shuriken cannon - 130
5 Dire avengers - 65
Wave serpent transport with scatter lasers and shuriken cannon - 130
10 Kroot – 60
Fast Attack
4 marker drones – 56
Heavy support
Wraithknight with 2 wraithcannons - 240
Wraithknight with suncannon and scatter shield plus a scatter laser – 300

Pre battle
  • We roll for scenario and get straight up dawn of war with 5 objectives (classic)
  • Farseer rolls powers and gets doom, fortune and prescience (a good start!)
  • Hive tyrants get psychic scream, warpblast, horror and dominion
  • One tervigon takes dominion and the other sticks with paroxysm as rolled 
  • Nids win the roll off and elect to go first
  • All nids deploy as far forwards as possible and one unit of 30 gaunts go in outflank reserve and Mawlocs in deepstrike reserve.
  • All Eldar/tau deploy as far back as possible and pretty spread out except for keeping the shield wraithknight and riptide close to farseer for powers. Farseer, drones and commander all deploy in one unit with commander at the front. Kroot in outflank reserve.
Nids Turn 1
All 4 FMC’s blast forwards 24” so they are all up close to the elder/tau lines, the only powers cast before are dominion, both tervigons spawn gaunts (one 12 the other 15), but one corks it straight off. In the shooting phase both hive crones shoot at the same wave serpent with 2 tentaclids each. One causes a glancing hit and the other a penetrating hit (due to haywire), but the serpent shield converts it to a glance. The Flyrant with 2 guns then strips the final hull point from the same wave serpent with its 12 S6 shots. First blood to nids.

The other hive tyrant then manages to strip 2 hull points from another wave serpent with combination of warp blast (which causes a pen, but again is converted by shield) and his devourer.

Eldar/Tau Turn 1
Farseer casts prescience on riptide and fortune on shield wraithknight, plus doom on one of the tyrants.

The marker drones snap fire at the sword hive tyrant, which is set to pounce on any number of units next turn, but they miss. The riptide then amazingly completely misses the same hive tyrant with all 5 (nova on fusion for 2 shots) of its shots even with prescience!!! The wounded wave serpent then snap fires a shed load of shots at it, but this is still ineffective as the shots that hit just bounce off its armour and it stays in the air, unbelievable!!

A hive crone is downed by dire avengers and then instant killed by wraithcannon fire.

More luck was had with the other hive tyrant as it is downed and wounded twice by a combination of the other wave serpent, dire avengers and commander’s missiles. The shield wraithknight then charges it but manages to fluff all of its attacks and so causes no damage, but loses a wound in return! Not the best turn that this list has ever seen.

Nids Turn 2
Both Mawlocs arrive. First tries to deepstrike onto dire avengers that were forced from wrecked wave serpent, it scatters right ontop of the tau commander, but still catches 3 dire avengers. 3 dire avengers die and the commander takes one wound and tries to look out other but fails, so takes 2 wounds, even so, the Mawloc mishaps due to the commander still being under the template after 2 attempts with the blast and is placed in the corner of the board (there is enough to deal with for now). The other Mawloc tries the same trick but scatters off the board and goes back in reserve.

Tervigon spawns another 12 gaunts.

Hive crone vector strikes the fresh wave serpent and strips a hull point, it then fires 2 missiles and strips another hull point (cover saves aren’t working on serpents today). There is some minor shooting at riptide which does nothing (but the swarm is closing in!)

In the assault phase the bonesword tyrant charges the wraithcannon wraithknight, it uses all 5 of its attacks and manages to roll a 6 to wound which causes instant death on the wraithknight!!!

Some gaunts join the combat with the other tyrant against the other wraithknight, but the wraithknight kills the hive tyrant this turn and loses 2 wounds in return, but is now locked with 15 gaunts.

Eldar/Tau Turn 2
Farseer casts doom on remaining hive tyrant, plus prescience on riptide. Riptide novas for 2 shots on fusion. The marker drones light up the tyrant and the riptide kills it with one volley (with use of markers to remove cover and boost BS, plus re-rolls to hit, plus re-rolls to wound!)
The whole of the rest of the army including commander with target lock shoots at the unbunged tervigon, but it survives on one wound! This is a shame as it is right in the middle of loads of gaunts, the synaptic backlash would have been phenomenal!
The wraithknight kills 2 gaunts in assault phase!

Nids turn 3
Tervigon casts pyroxism on riptide and reduces its WS and BS to zero, this prevents the riptide from intercepting the Mawlocs!

Mawlocs both arrive again. One scatters onto riptide, it does no damage and breaks its own neck on a riptide foot!! The other deep strikes close to the remaining wraithknight.

Gaunts outflank behind a wave serpent that was positioned to try to kill off tervigon. They strip off its last hull point and wreck it, dire avenger disembark.
All gaunts move up except for 2 smaller units holding back for home objectives. The nearly dead tervigon moves out of 12” range on most gaunts to try to protect them if he pops it, but has cast dominion and so stays in synapse. It then spawns another 13 or so gaunts.

30 gaunts that started on the board are now very close to elder lines and kill remaining dire avengers from first wrecked wave serpent.

In the assault phase the remaining hive crone charges the last wave serpent and explodes it, 2 dire avengers survive. The wraithknight wipes out the remaining gaunts in combat, due to them being pulled out of synapse, it consolidates ready to charge the hive crone.

Eldar/Tau Turn 3
Kroot arrive and outflank onto far back objective held by 12 gaunts which are strung out to just be in synapse of fresh tervigon. They shoot everything at the gaunts and thin their number by about a half (but the back end is still in synapse).

The wounded tervigon is now out of range of marker drones (just) and so they have to fire at the full wound one as the riptide is still BS zero and so can’t fire at anything without markerlights! It strips 2 wounds from it, but it is getting very close and so are the massed  gaunts! The commander is the only thing able to fire at the wounded tervigon and he manages to hit and wound with all 4 shots, however the tervigon saves them all! The 5 dire avengers from the gaunt wrecked serpent move onto objective and shoot at the outflanked gaunt horde, killing a few. The other surviving 2 man dire avenger squad move towards the other home objective at the other end of the board near the hive crone. It’s not looking good.

Wraithknight charges and squashes the remaining hive crone with hammer of wrath due to instant death and therefore takes no wounds in return. It consolidates to try to protect the 2 man dire avengers from the looming Mawloc.

Nids Turn 4
Nearly dead tervigon spawns another 14 gaunts!

2 man dire avenger unit is out of range of newly spawned gaunts.

Outflank gaunts kill off 5 man dire avengers in combat and consolidate onto objective (they are in synapse range of the 4 wound tervigon, which is right in the elder deployment zone now). 2 other gaunt units charge riptide and commander/farseer unit. 4 wound Tervigon stays out of it and just provides synapse.

Small unit of gaunts shoot and then charge kroot, they lose the cobat and are wiped out, the kroot consolidate onto the objective.

Mawloc charges wraithknight and causes 1 wound, it loses 3 in return.

Eldar/Tau Turn 4
2 man dire avengers hide out of sight behind a ruin to hold the objective. Kroot stay put and hide behind a big rock for the other objective in the opposite diagonal corner of the board. The riptide and commander squad is locked with gaunts, both units kill a few but stay locked due to fearless.

Wraithknight and mawloc both take each other down to 1 wound!

Nids Turn 5
Tervigon spawns more gaunts, I forget how many, but it seems like loads again and she finally runs dry! (Not that it matters now)

All gaunts consolidate around the 3 held objectives and move towards the one held by 2 man dire avengers.

Gaunt units lose a few more against riptide and commnader squad but stay locked.

Mawloc and wraithknight kill each other!

Eldar/Tau Turn 5
It’s all over, 2 objectives will be held but remaining army will stay locked in combat with fearless gaunts.

Game ends at the end of turn 5 – Tyranids win 11 points to 8

The hive tyrants were great and I think that it is always worth considering the sword and whip combo due to the amount of MC’s around in the current meta. This game certainly proved their worth!

Venomthrope didn’t do much in this game, but I can see it being worthwhile in others to give ridiculous cover saves.

The stand out unit for me, just as before was the tervigon. It really doesn’t matter that they can’t spawn and then move and assault the gaunts. They can still spawn a crap load of gaunts and flood the board with fearless troops, which just tie units up and claim/contest objectives. Plus in a list like this you just don’t see them as a priority target due to 4 FMC’s and 2 deep striking MC’s in your face. You would be a fool not to run them still in my opinion, just don’t compare them to how they used to be, view them as a new unit and when compared to other troop choices in 40K they are great for the points. Also I think that this is the only unit that it is worth taking the dominion power for, 18” synapse is really useful for a tervigon.

The hive crones performed well against a list that certainly doesn’t flatter them. The combination of S8 vector strike and haywire missiles can make a real mess of many vehicles and S8 vector on its own is a real problem for many infantry units. Not to mention it’s a MC and so is very dangerous in combat against most units.

The Mawlocs didn’t really shine, but I knew they wouldn’t against this list. Against any army with lots of infantry they could potentially be devastating and many armies will have no way of countering them. As GW seem to think it’s fine for you to place a S6 Ap2 pie plate wherever you want (twice) that ignores cover, but no way can you assault from reserve or out of a stationary vehicle as there is just nothing you can do against that, apparently.

Overall I think that this shows that nids are still competitive, and more than that they are enjoyable to play with and against. I know that there was some luck involved, but you always need luck at the right times in order to convincingly win games, unless you are using certain Tau lists of course, or anything from the Necron codex……..

I hope you enjoyed this guest post from Matt. If so please comment as perhaps he'll write more then which will give me more time to paint models to show you guys! Tomorrow we're back to my review of the Tyranid codex with a look at Synapse and Instinctive Behaviour before a summary of all of my reviews on Sunday with some suggested lists. 

Thursday, January 23, 2014

Cypher for sale!

I'd be surprised if it escaped your notice that GW released the rules for Cypher as the end of their Digital Editions advent calendar. Suffice to say, Jamie (Index Astartes) was pretty excited about this. Games Workshop does of course make a model for him but as ever Jamie decided to convert up his own version. Well three actually! He's then painted them up to a very high standard (far better than I could). He'll be keeping one for himself and Matt is taking another. I was offered the third but since I'm trying to save money at the moment I passed up on the opportunity.

That means the third model has gone up for sale on eBay. You can find him here and bid away. There's just over 3 days left on the auction. Suffice to say the photos don't really do the model justice, I know whoever wins it won't be disappointed. Anyway, head over to Jamie's blog to read more about the conversions and their paint job.

Wednesday, January 22, 2014

New Tyranid Codex - Unit Reviews - Heavy Support

We're nearly at the end of this review of the Tyranid codex with just the Heavy Support section left. Of all the slots this is probably the one with the most competition as there are several decent options here. There are a couple which jump out immediately but I think over time we'll start to see some of the less obvious choices making it into lists. This section is also home to one of my favourite models in the whole of 40K, the Mawloc/Trygon, which alone could tempt me into starting a Tyranid army.

One of the things a lot of people are excited about is the whopping 40pt reduction in the cost of each Carnifex. They also got a boost to their Initiative (a big deal vs. power fists) and an extra attack each. Being able to take three of them in a single slot is helpful and some enemy armies will really struggle to remove 12 T6 wounds across the three MCs, especially with Regeneration (although that'd be pricey). With S9 they've always been excellent at taking out enemy vehicles in combat if you can get them close enough. Traditionally though they were taken as "dakkafexes" with lots of firepower and there's no reason for that to stop. Giving each two twin-linked devourers with worms means 36 S6 shots at 18" range, obviously they're only BS3 but with Onslaught you could make them pretty speedy and 15 wounds against marines isn't something to scoff at and it'd be fun to run a unit of three, if expensive.

Living Battering Ram now gives D3 Hammer of Wrath attacks which could be devastating across a unit of 3 fexes. Making them S10 with Crushing Claws is tempting to instant kill anything T5 or lower and cripple any vehicle with ease. You really can make them into literal combat monsters with a bone mace (why is it unwieldy when only MCs can take it and they ignore it?), crushing claws and adrenal glands. Spine Banks seem essential if you're going down this route as they allow you to strike before power fists, thunder hammers and the like.

I could talk for ages about the possible combinations here and with a 'fex in the Swarm kit I'm sure there'll be plenty of them on eBay. Obviously they're slow compared to other units but for the points they bring excellent firepower and durability combined.

With a 5pt price reduction it's tempting to field some Biovores to make use of their Barrage weapons against pesky scoring units. Biovores have also gained an extra wound each, an extra attack and their now initiative 2. Otherwise their role hasn't changed significantly. As I've said, Barrage is great against low toughness units in cover e.g. fire warriors, guardians, etc. and with 48" range it can reach out to most of the board from the relatively safety of its own deployment zone.

Spore mines are slightly different now in that they now move, run and charge like a normal unit (except at half the distance). This gives the Tyranid player a lot more control over them than before. There's the potential to build up the strength of their attack when they eventually charge. This means even if you miss the target you can use the spores to harass an objective holding unit. It's not totally clear about combat resolution but it seems that the spore mines dying doesn't count which means you're likely to make the opposing unit flee. Still they're rather situational and you'd still be hoping that the initial shot from the Biovore hits rather than relying on the spores.

Trygon & Trygon Prime
Although these units now get a separate entry in the codex they're basically the same thing so I'll lump them together. The key difference is that the Trygon Prime is a Synapse Creature (and as such gets Shadow in the Warp) and its bio-electric pulse has containment spines for additional range and 6 extra shots. Nothing really new there except a 10pt cost reduction each. Both are armed with two pairs of scything talons giving them 7 attacks on the charge but again they're missing out on the re-rolls they used to get. You'll still cause a decent number of wounds at WS5 and S6 though. Both still get Subterranean Assault which allows another unit in Reserves to emerge from the same position. The unit arriving effectively counts as having arrived by Deep Strike though in that it can't move or assault. With no way of manipulating reserves to delay them the chances are you'll end up not being able to use the tunnel effectively.

A Trygon Prime emerging in the middle of your lines is a difficult thing to ignore. Partly because it fires off 16 shots when it arrives (albeit at BS3) and partly because it will certainly be charging something next turn thanks to Fleet. Throw in Shadow in the Warp to disrupt psykers and the Prime really needs to be dealt with. If the rest of your army is mostly foot-slogging them the Prime makes a great distraction. With 6 T6 wounds and a 3+ save it isn't particularly easy to shift for most armies but Tau, Eldar etc won't struggle. Still it's all firepower that isn't aimed at your scoring units. The basic Trygon can provide some distraction and is just as good in combat as the Prime but to me it's worth paying 40pts for another Synapse Creature and the opportunity to bring Shadow to your opponent's lines.

As always the Mawloc is significantly cheaper than the Trygon that you can build from the same kit and it's even cheaper now with a 30pt (!) price reduction. It's retained its ability to Burrow and then arrive the next turn by Deep Strike.

The way the Mawloc arrives using Terror from the Deep has changed slightly though it still causes S6 AP2 hits but vehicles are now struck on their side armour instead of their rear. There's also clarifications about units in combat, in multi-level ruins and how wounds are allocated. Contrary to the previous FAQ the hits now ignore cover. Even with the slight changes that's pretty similar so far. Well now things have changed. In the past the Mawloc simply displaced models that had survived its attack. Now though, if there are surviving models in the way prevent the Mawloc from being placed you resolve another large blast marker. If after this second attack there are still models in the way you roll on the mishap table.

That sucks right? I mean you could lose your Mawloc. Well actually 50% of the time it's going to go back into Ongoing Reserves which actually means you get to make another Terror attack next turn which is a huge bonus. Unless you pick a target with a hefty invulvnerable save though I can't imagine you'd find yourself rolling on the mishap table that much. It'd be great fun to target a Farsight bomb with the attack though!

The final new unit, the Exocrine brings some much needed low AP firepower and is a stunning model to boot. Perhaps a little similar to a Biovore and Pyrovore but just different enough I reckon. Anyway, the Exocrine is an "artillery organism" which basically means an MC with a gun strapped to its back. The gun in question fires an S7 AP2 large blast or six S7 AP2 shots at 24" range. That's pretty good in my opinion and being an MC means it's a mobile platform.

Like a lot of the big monsters the Exocrine only has BS3 though which means the Streams fire mode will struggle to cause many hits. However, the Exocrine has an ace up it's sleeve with Symbiotic Targeting which allows it to fire at BS4 when it stays still. It's perhaps a little pricey at 170pts but then you are getting a S6/T6 5 wound MC that wouldn't be too bad in combat should the need arise.

The biggest price drop in the codex comes from the Tyrannofex. The base unit with acid spray is a ginormous 75pts cheaper. Well not quite because the previous version came with a thorax swarm. The t-fex with fleshborer hive is 70pts cheaper but the t-fex with rupture cannon is only 50pts cheaper taking the thorax swarm into account. At least now the thorax swarm is optional so you can keep the cost of the t-fex down. The short range thorax swarms don't really compliment the rupture cannon so if you're taking that then it makes sense to save yourself 10pts. If you're going with acid spray or the fleshborer hive then perhaps the thorax swarm is worth it. Incidentally the stinger salvo compliments the fleshborer hive nicely and effectively gives you a 24-shot 18" range fleshborer. It sounds pretty cool until you realise that with BS3 you'll only get 12 hits.

The rupture cannon would be useful against closely packed vehicles and for instant-killing multi-wound models but with AP4 it isn't especially good at either. I'd actually be tempted to go for the shorter range weaponry, keep the costs down and add another T6 MC to the mix. Some armies simply couldn't hope to deal with a whole pile of big MCs coming at them although others might not have so much trouble. The tyrannofex isn't awful then but probably loses out to better units for similar cost (I think I've said that about a lot of units in this book).

The Trygon Prime, Biovores, Carnifex Brood and Exocrine all stand out as decent units but I think they're all surpassed by the Mawloc. Having units in reserve is always a gamble so perhaps there's an argument for including Swarmy if you want to run three mawlocs but still the potential is there to cause some serious havoc with Terror from the Deep. The current meta features a lot of units on foot and Mawlocs will shine in that arena. If there's a lot of transports though it'll be a different story as you're unlikely to have much in your arsenal to deal with them before the Mawlocs arrive to kill the occupants. They'll be hideous against Tau gunlines though where they can make a real mess of broadsides and crisis teams alike.

Despite several changes in this section and some huge cost reductions I still think it's difficult to choose. As I say, I think most people will opt for Mawlocs but I'd expect to see the odd Biovore or Exocrine thrown in too.

That wraps up all of the units in the new Tyranid codex then. There are just two posts left in my review. Tomorrow I'll talk about Synapse and Instinctive Behaviour before wrapping it all up in a convenient summary and suggesting some lists. I hope people are finding these reviews useful but as ever I mostly write them to try and get my own head around the changes.

Tuesday, January 21, 2014

New Tyranid Codex - Unit Reviews - Fast Attack

With the exception of Gargoyles the Fast Attack section has never been particularly popular with Tyranid players. This is most likely due to the fact that very few of the units actually had models or required Forge World parts to upgrade (Shrikes). Now there's finally a model for the Harpy which is a dual kit with the new Hive Crone so perhaps things have changed.

Essentially Shrikes are flying Tyranid Warriors both in terms of the models and the rules. Strangely Shrikes have a 5+ save to their footslogging counterparts' 4+. They've taken a 5pt reduction though which essentially means free wings (although the Forge World kit is far from free!). Shrikes have the same options as Warriors but pay less for toxin sacs and flesh hooks (which they can now take) but slightly more for adrenal glands.

It's difficult to see a role for Shrikes. They're Synapse Creatures like Warriors but obviously aren't scoring most of the time and have most of the same weakness as Warriors. They're not awful though and could find us as mobile Synapse for faster moving units which get out of range of the bigger Synapse Creatures.

Raveners (& Red Terror)
Another unit hit hard by the loss of scything talon re-rolls, Raveners are a combat unit in a world of shooting. They aren't too bad if you can get them into combat and being Beasts there's a decent chance. They don't particularly pack a punch though. They've always been looked upon as mini Trygons and that's probably a reasonable comparison as they too can Deep Strike. Another unit with nothing particularly wrong with it but without the scything talon re-rolls they're probably confined to the shelf next to your genestealers.

The Red Terror makes a return from the aether with a reasonable price tag of 85pts for a T5 three-wound model with Character. Swallow Whole is a fun idea and a great way of getting rid of a pesky power fist to protect your Raveners. There's a reasonable chance of getting it off on the charge too with 6 attacks at WS6 (4 base, two pairs of talons and charge bonus). He's difficult to ignore if he Deep Strikes in with some Raveners which might buy your footsloggers some time. His inclusion makes Raveners a potentially viable unit at least.

Sky-slasher Swarms
Rippers with wings and also 3pts more expensive for some reason. Like Rippers I really don't see the point in this unit unless to tie up enemy models thanks to Fearless. Most of the stuff you'd want to lock in combat would be S6+ anyway which will prevent them being stuck for long. Once again I rely on veteran Tyranid players to point out their use as I'm struggling.

Another "with wings" unit, this time termagants. Unlike their earth-bound cousins they can't upgrade their weapons though. They've stayed the same cost as before but Blinding Venom works in a different way now. Before a roll to hit of 6 caused an automatic wound, mitigating their S3. Now you swap your attacks for a Poisoned (6+) attack with Blind which isn't as good really. Against Initiative 3 units or those with minimal attacks I suppose you could Blind them and tie them up by preventing return damage but I'm not sure Blind is as good as GW thinks it is. Not bad against units like Riptides with low initiative though and even a single gargoyle in combat with a Riptide could severely hamper its effectiveness next turn should it be out of combat.

Since you get a handful of gargoyles in the Tyranid Swarm boxed set I suspect we'll see them used but I'm not sure they're as good as they were and there are now better Fast Attack options I reckon.

As I mentioned above the Harpy is a dual kit with the Hive Crone. It's inevitable then that players will compare the two to decide which to model the kit as. The Harpy is ostensibly an anti-infantry unit with an S6 large blast from its stranglethorn cannon and spore mines cysts. You can upgrade it to a twin-linked heavy venom cannon but then it becomes anti-tank which doesn't compliment the rest of its arsenal. Like any FMC it's got a decent chance of surviving if you can pass those Grounding Tests but with a T5 and a 4+ save it isn't going to take too long to lose those five wounds.

The Harpy is decent in combat with S5 AP2 attacks, you've still got the option to Smash and Sonic Screech means it's almost a certainty that the Harpy will strike first even against Daemon Princes. That means if you can successfully charge one you've got a good chance of causing Instant Death before the DP strikes. I'd say that's worth some consideration then.

You could potentially Vector Strike a unit and also hit it with Spore Mine cysts which allows you decimate a unit and keep at a decent range to avoid reprisal. Alternatively when Gliding you could fire both an S6 and S5 large blast to soften up a big unit before charging.

Hive Crone
If the Harpy is an anti-infantry unit then the Hive Crone is firmly anti-vehicle. Most notable is that you can Vector Strike another flyer at S8 before firing at another vehicle with the tentaclids. Speaking of which, tentaclids are S5 Haywire and re-roll to hit against other FMCs and flyers. Although you can only fire two off a turn there's the potential to cause 4 glancing hits against a low AV flyer and lucky 6s might bring down a Stormraven or Heldrake. Edit: I must be thinking of 5th ed. Haywire weapons don't roll for armour penetration as well. They just get the haywire effect. That means only one glance/pen per tentaclid not two.

The drool cannon is reasonably useful for softening up ground targets before charging but feels out of place and it would've been nice to see it given Torrent to give it utility from the air. Still for 155pts I think the Hive Crone is a bargain when compared to other FMCs. Like the Harpy, it's lumbered with a 4+ save so it isn't hugely survivable but if there's a couple of these beasts zooming around the board they're certain to attract some attention and they'll be difficult to deal with for a lot of armies.

Spore Mines
At 5pts a piece they're hardly going to break the bank but I'm not sure many will take them. It'd be fun to hit something with a full unit of 6 mines and potentially you could instant-kill a Daemon Prince if it was daft enough to stray to close. Otherwise they're mostly a novelty distraction unit that most players will ignore if possible.

Since they've got shiny new models I expect to see a lot more Harpies than we used to. Mind you the Hive Crone's S8 vector strike is almost enough reason to take it over the Harpy on its own and I suspect a lot will be tempted. I'd actually consider running one of each though as Harpy would be very useful against objective grabbers. Dropping some spore mines on an objective would be irritating and those large blasts, though situational, could prove devastating.

To my mind there's little else worth bothering with in this slot. As I say, Raveners with the Red Terror might be fun to use but gargoyles aren't what they were and the other options don't particularly grab my attention.

At first you might think the flyers will suffer when out of synapse range but both are Fearless. The Harpy may not be bothered by "Prowl/Destroy". The Hive Crone might've used it's missiles already and can still Vector Strike so there's no great loss from Devour/Kill when it's Swooping. I'll be talking more about Synapse after the Heavy Support post which arrives tomorrow.

Monday, January 20, 2014

New Tyranid Codex - Unit Reviews - Elites

As I mentioned at the end of the Troops post I've always thought of this as a difficult section to choose from. Hive Guard used to be the goto choice in 5th edition as their impaler cannons were vital for dealing with massed mech. Zoanthropes saw use for their warp lance and it's ability to deal with land raiders. The current meta doesn't feature either in abundance though (except wave serpents). Are the Elites still difficult to choose then?

Hive Guard
Unlike other units, Hive Guard have actually gone up in price. They've also lost a point of BS which seems like another unnecessary nerf. Were they really overpowered before? Their impaler cannons still don't need line of sight but now have Ignores Cover where before models could claim cover from area terrain. Otherwise your basic Hive Guard is the same.

Strangely they now have the option for toxin sacs and/or adrenal glands. I can't really see the reason for this as I can't imagine many players opting to sink more points into what is essentially a shooty unit. Speaking of which they've now got access to a shockcannon (perhaps so you buy the new models?). I can't really see that they needed an options and a single S5 AP3 haywire blast is rarely going to be preferred to S8 which is so useful for instant death, MCs and vehicles alike.

Outside of friendly games I can't remember ever seeing a lictor (unless it was Deathleaper). They have a ludicrously long list of special rules which essentially boil down to the same as before but with added Fear and Infiltrate. Stats-wise they're pretty similar. Infiltrate could be combined with Pheromone Trail to make a Lictor into a Homing Beacon but it seems expensive for minimal utility.

Despite a 15pt cost reduction they're still not going to make it into many lists. If you've got the points to spend on Lictors then you should probably look elsewhere in the Elites section as there are better places to invest. Essentially Lictors pop up, look scary and then get gunned down. There's an element of distraction tactics to them but they're hardly tricky to dispatch and difficult to keep in synapse range.

Aside from a 10pt price drop the biggest change for Zoanthropes is that they're now a Brotherhood of Psykers. Instead of taking a test of each individual Zoanthrope you now take a single psychic test for the unit. This makes them all or nothing. Warp Blast is unchanged but as I've mentioned Warp Lance is no longer AP1 (another unnecessary nerf). Zoanthropes may have Mastery 2, which allows them to use Warp Blast/Lance but their other power will be WC1 which seems a waste. Having a second power is nice though as it gives them a bit more utility when there isn't a suitable Warp Lance/Blast target.

The crucial thing for Zoanthropes is that they're Synapse Creatures. Combine that with Dominion as their second power (which you can guarantee getting) and they can play a very useful role in keeping your army on the table! Personally I think they'll be used for synapse almost as much as for their shooting. They're not tricky to take out mind you as despite a 3++ save they're vulnerable to S8+ like any other T4 model, even lower strength weaponry won't struggle to cause two wounds.

Another inexplicable BS reduction but not one that matters all that much. The Spore Cloud rule has now changed to giving Shrouded which is far better than the previous 5+ cover save. Combined with area terrain and/or Night Fighting it isn't hard to give termagants a 2++ save. Sadly the Defensive Grenades bonus has gone as that would've also given Stealth in 8" and therefore +3 to the cover saves of nearby units. Also gone is the Dangerous Terrain for assaulting units not that it's particularly effective anymore anyway.

With a 10pt points reduction the Venomthrope is a temptingly cheap way of giving a good chunk of your army a decent cover save. Sadly there are two things that make their use debatable. Firstly a T4 two-wound model isn't hard to shift even with a 2+ cover save if you get one. Secondly, there's a plethora of units out there that laugh in the face of your cover saves (Tau, Wave Serpents, Thunderfires, etc). Perhaps they're worth a punt for opponents without access to that weaponry but their few and far between these days and perhaps there are better ways to spend the points.

A new model and a brand new unit. The Haruspex isn't cheap at 160pts. On paper they look like a pretty decent combat outfit. Their Grasping Tongue is a fun way of potentially getting rid of that power fist before assaulting and getting bonus attacks when you cause an unsaved wound gives them the potential to chew through units. They don't exactly get a ton of attacks though and WS3 isn't amazing for a "combat monster".

The difficulty with any walking MC is getting them into combat in the first place. How many maulerfiends do you see? That's a similar kit really, a combat monster or weapons platform. Very imaginative. The Haruspex could be a bit of an irritation to your opponents if you shell out for Regeneration, then, combined with Feeder-beast, you could get two wounds back per turn making the beasty tricky to kill. Still I can't imagine there'll be many tempted by them. It's a shame because the model is lovely (well as lovely as something that monstrous can be). I suppose if you're building an army of big guys then at least you've got something for your Elites choice.

Cheap at 40pts for a three wound model but that's about the nicest thing I can think of to say. They're a pretty pointless unit otherwise. Essentially they're a heavy flamer held by three SM scouts in a monster suit. Not only that but they'll explode and kill your own models if they suffer Instant Death. Seriously why would you even buy the model?

It amazes me that they delete perfectly good units yet leave these lemons in there. Tell me I'm missing something!?

With the exception of the Pyrovore, I actually think there's a place for all of the Elites options. Lictors are a really niche option but Zoanthropes, Venomthropes, Hive Guard and maybe even the Haruspex are viable. For me the Zoanthropes are probably the most worthwhile as they're useful for their shooting and their synapse. I'm not convinced many armies will feature anything from the Elites slot at all. There'll be the token Venomthrope perhaps but there's probably better places for the points to be spent.

I can't really finish this section off without talking the deletion of Ymgarls and Doom. I know both were a bit gimmicky but they brought character to what is now a pretty dull book. Without a spore pod Doom wasn't going to be mega effective anyway but it's a huge shame that both of these units have gone. Doom conversions will now return to the Zoanthropes they probably came from I suppose. Anyway, onwards an upwards, Fast Attack tomorrow.

Sunday, January 19, 2014

New Tyranid Codex - Unit Reviews - Troops

We're onto the meat of the codex now, the Troops section. A reminder that these reviews will be pretty wordy so bear with me and remember that I'm not a Tyranid player so I might get the odd thing wrong here and there but I'll welcome corrections. There are no new units in this section but there's a notable abscence, the Mycetic Spore. This is a big deal for an army that struggles to get across the board and has very few options for getting in amongst an enemy gunline. Nevertheless they're gone and short of a dataslate they're probably not coming back this edition.

Tyranid Warriors 
There's nothing particularly wrong with Tyranid Warriors but don't expect to see them unless someone is trying to escort a Prime. They're the same cost as in the previous book and I still don't think that's bad for a 3 wound model. Still with a 4+ save they're not particularly tricky to kill and there's still some S8 out there to instant kill them. Crucially they're synapse creatures which, with the changes to Instinctive Behaviour might be their saving grace.

It's always easy to think a of units in a vacuum and so warriors can easily be written off because they'll never make it to the enemy right? That's assuming that your opponent ignores all of your other units and there are plenty of armies that rely on massed S6/7 rather than S8. You can equip the warriors with a barbed strangler and deathspitters and go hunting cheap scoring units like guard, kroot, cultists, etc. Like I say, they're not useless but most players will go for a swarm of gaunts instead.

These guys were hit particularly hard by the 6th Edition ruleset. Preventing units from assaulting from Reserves or when Infiltrating basically stopped genestealers from being useful. Sadly, they're no different now. They cost the same number of points but now there's no real need to give them scything talons except for an extra attack each and perhaps for WYSIWIG issues. Adrenal glands are a little cheaper but they already have Fleet and don't really need Furious Charge. Toxin sacs are still good for giving a re-roll to wound though. This is all irrelevant though as when you arrive from reserve you get gunned down by bolters and take more casualties from Overwatch. Even a full brood of 20 would struggle to be effective and works out very expensive. They'll stay on the shelf.

The Broodlord used to be quite entertaining with his old psychic powers. He now gets The Horror which is only useful if you're Infiltrating them and requires line of sight so you can't hide him from view. He costs the same points but since his biomorphs now come from the wargear section you pay a ridiculous amount for them! Adrenal glands and toxin sacs are ridiculously expensive for him. He doesn't particularly need them of course but it seems like a mistake. Oddly he also has access to regeneration if you really wanted to put a 30pt upgrade on him!

Termagants (and Tervigons)
As I mentioned in the HQ section you now need 30 gaunts to shift a Tervigon to the troop section. That means you can expect to see A LOT of termagants. The good news is that termagants' base cost has been reduced by a point. The strangleweb is now 5pts but still not worth bothering with. The other gun upgrades have all reduced by a point too and you no longer have to replace all of the guns in a squad with the same thing. That means you can have some meatshield gaunts at the front with fleshborers and then the devourers behind plugging away. They may only be BS3 but 120 shots at S4 for 240pts isn't too bad. Alternatively throw in some adrenals and they're almost as good as hormagaunts but with guns too.

Obviously there'll be a lot of spawned gaunts which will be totally vanilla and can't benefit from adrenal glands or toxin sacs from the tervigon anymore. They'll still be able to grab objectives well enough though and frustrating to shift. It's annoying when your expensive unit kills half a dozen 4pt models a turn.

Hormagaunts have probably suffered the most from the changes to scything talons. Mind you, they're pretty speedy with the changes to bounding leap as it now gives them an extra 3" to their run. That could be the difference between getting a second turn charge off or not and works well if combined with Hive Commander for Outflank. They've also dropped in base cost by a point but their upgrades are slightly more expensive. Combat units tend to struggle in the current meta though and they've got to compete with termagants. Tyranid players new and old will probably have a decent stash of them though so I'd expect we'll see them still.

Ripper Swarms
For some reason ripper swarms have gone up by 3pts per base. They get plenty of attacks and they're Fearless but again I don't really see the point. They can get Deep Strike to allow them to get into the middle of the enemy army but since they can't control or contest objectives they seem like a waste of points to me. Perhaps a hardcore Tyranid player can point out why you'd use them but I'd be hard to convince.

Unless you're thinking from a fluffy varied army perspective (and there's nothing wrong with that), I expect most people will be fielding termagants and still using them to bring tervigons into this FOC slot. The question now is whether Tervigons are still worthwhile. I can perhaps see a use for a single Tervigon with Dominion (and perhaps Norn Crown) to help with Synapse but otherwise I think you'd actually be better off using the 195pts to buy 48 termagants (or less with upgrades). Realistically that's probably as many as you'd get from the tervigon on a good day anyway. Warriors can come in handy as a synapse creature alternative but most experienced players will target them early.

It's frustrating that genestealers are still useless but I suppose it was to be expected. I don't like automatic choices but there aren't really many options here. As ever I'm sure I'm missing something though. Onto the Elites section tomorrow which was traditionally pretty crowded with decent units. Is it still the case now?


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