Tuesday, January 28, 2014

Tyranid Lessons Learned

I thought it'd be fun to go into some of the specific lessons I learned over the last two weeks in playtesting the new Nid book, and touch on some of the specific builds that seem to be most effective from my list building.

The armies that I've faced with my Nids so far have been Tau, Eldar, White Scars, Mech IG, and Tau again. Major lessons learned from each game:

Game 1 - Tau (Farsight Enclaves), Dawn of War, Kill Points
  • Synapse is BRUTAL in this edition; in my first game with the new book, I was way to lenient with my synapse coverage, and ended up paying the price dearly. By turn 3, most of my termagants had abandoned the battle field, and run off the board due to my sloppy coverage.
  • Game ended up a blood bath - I was tabled, but the only thing left on the board for my opponent was a riptide. Psychic Scream flyrants absolutely wrecked his gun line, but broadsides were able to ground them / beat them to a pulp early on.
Game 2 - Eldar (Iyanden), Vanguard, Kill Points
  • Again, synapse ruined me. I didn't add any more synapse to my list, just made a more concerted effort to keep my army within synapse range...and when my opponent was able to pick off my syanpse creatures with wraithcannons and the like, I was left once again to my gant swarms running off the board.
  • This game actually would have been a tie, but I burrowed my mawloc on turn 5, and the game ended without him coming up for air, giving my opponent an additional kill point. Go big or go home I always say - should have left the bugger on the board to secure the draw.
Game 3 - Space Marines (White Scars), Vanguard, Kill Points
  • Synapse coverage was a non-issue in this game. I learned my lesson well and good, and kept an abundance of synapse monsters on the field. The big lesson here was to be aggressive with my swarms in order to distract the opponent and forcing tough decisions.
  • I won the game, in no small part because I gave my opponent too many targets to take on at once. After only a turn of shooting at my termagant swarms and tervigon, my flying hive tyrant got into combat and made short work of both Khan and his squad with his lashwhip/bonesword combo.
Game 4 - Tau (Non-Farsight), Dawn of War, Relic
  • The biggest thing I learned in this game was to be selectively aggressive with my army - I tried the same tactics that worked against the first tau list, as well as against the white scars, and wound up with 2 dead hive tyrants on turn 2 because of it. While they both made short work of a few infantry squads thanks to psychic scream, being shot down by markerlights and subsequently killed by broadsides and ion-tides was a tough pill to swallow.
  • I won the game, thanks to my termagants securing the relic on turn 2 and never letting it up, but the body count was high on my side. I was able to make a 12" charge with a carnifex to lock up and ultimately kill a riptide in CC, but if it weren't for that and the fortunate terrain set up (lots of LOS blocking ruins), his gunline could have torn me up easily.
Game 5 - Imperial Guard (Mech Traitor Guard), Hammer & Anvil, 4 objectives
  • This game was by far my most dominant showing of the 5 games played, due in large part to my opponent being unsure of my army and tentative with his units. This is another game where target saturation and proper synapse coverage made the difference between victory and defeat. The biggest lesson learned here was to commit my entire swarm to a goal, and to view every model and unit as expendable as long as the goal is reached.
  • I won this game as well, decisively.  From turn 1, I committed my entire army to move forward and into his line of chimeras and valkyries and manticores, and was successful because as my hormagaunts, termagants, and warriors died, my hive tyrants and carnifexes were able to pick off vehicle after vehicle and unit after unit, almost surgically, until my tervigon-spawned termagants were able to move forward and secure all 4 objectives.
So far through 5 games, I am 3-2 with the Niddies. My favorite army composition so far, for both how competitive it proved to be vs Tau but also because of how fluffy the army felt, was as follows:
  • Flyrant, 2x Brainleech Devourers
  • Flyrant, Lashwhip/Bonesword, Toxing Sacs (rerolling to wound with an instant death on 6's weapon? YES PLEASE - lookout riptides and wraithknights!)
  • 30 Termagants
  • 30 Hormagaunts
  • Tervigon, Shreddershard swarm
  • 6 Warriors, rending claws, adrenal glands
  • Mawloc
  • Trygon Prime
  • 2 Carnifexes, 2x Brainleech Devourers
The list had a good mix of swarms and monstrous creatures, and allows for a lot of tactical utility.

Carnifexes are easily able to take out infantry and AV12 vehicles with their devourers, and can scratch even AV14 in CC if they can get there.

Swarms of termagants and hormagaunts are great for distraction, holding objectives, and eating bullets so your other models (trygons, mawlocs, and hive tyrants) can get into combat and wreck face.

Tevigons are still rock solid, even with the increase in points and the increased damage to gants within 12". Nothing else can spawn troop choices every turn, and nothing else holds an objective like a fearless T6 W6 3+ SV monster.

Hive Tyrants are as good as they ever were, now with BS4 to make the devourers an even better choice. I like the lashwhip bonesword option bc it lets you take out riptides and wraithknights, he's just as efficient at taking out heavy infantry or infantry in CC as a devourer flyrant (more so in fact, thanks to the +1 attack of having two pairs of CC weapons).

My warriors did nothing in either game I brought them other than die, but it took several turns, and it meant that, again, a lot of other stuff got into the enemy lines unscathed. They have the benefit of being synapse, meaning that even though they're generally viewed as useless by both Nid players and other players alike, your opponent wants them dead, and will likely spend time to remove them if it means the lynchpin in that area of the board is gone.

Again, I really like this book, and I think once the internet calms down in a few weeks people will start to actually look at what it can do - its already being taken at tournaments, and isn't doing any worse than the previous book. Bottom line is, while eldar and tau are a very competitive build right now, Nid players can take solace in the fact that their book is fluffy, has some amazing artwork, is completely unique in the way it plays on the field, and is still as good as any other book that isn't tau/edlar.


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