Friday, May 21, 2010

Codex Overview: Tyranids - Part One

We hold these truths to be self-evident…About Tyranids:

For my first overview of a Warhammer 40K Codex I decided to cover the codex and army that I know best, the Tyranids. When I first started playing this game in the tail end of 4th Edition with Necrons, I took note to my local game scene that no one around me was playing Tyranids. I told myself then that I would start the army as soon as I got board with Necrons. And when 5th Edition effectively killed that army, it accelerated my want to play another army that actually had a chance to win. I have played them pretty much non-stop since, although I do have a pretty impressive Space Marine Force I am saving to teach my boys the game with and plan to begin my Eldar army very soon.

So, where to begin with Tyranids? First I will say that these are my opinions of the army and should not be taken as ‘written-in-stone’. My tactics and use of units (or lack of) are based on my play style and how effective I have found them on the table. I am sure that there are plenty of people out there in the web-o-sphere who will disagree with me on many issues. Please do, I would love to hear what everyone else thinks and maybe you can change my mind. However this is my take on the army.

First, before we get too far in I want to lay down the ground work with some “Truths” about the Tyranids that as a player or opponent of this army you simply must accept.

Truth #1 – No Invulnerable Saves!

Save for the Zoanthrope, the Doom of Malan ‘Tai, and the way too over priced Swarmlord (hand-to-hand only), the entire army lacks an invulnerable save of any kind. In fact, to the best of my ability, I believe that this army is the only army currently in 40K without an HQ unit with an invulnerable save. This complicates things, especially for all of those nifty Monstrous Creatures we all want to run so badly, because it makes them susceptible power weapon attacks in hand-to-hand and AP3 or better shots in the shooting phase. Couple that with the fact that it is really hard to get a cover saves on a Monstrous Creatures and you can end up with some dead expensive models early.

One way to help combat these issues is unit screening. Use a unit of Gargoyles to cover your Flying Hive Tyrant, get a cover save, use a big unit of warriors to cover that Carnifex, get a cover save. Sorry Trygon, no help there. The model is big and beautiful and unless you get it behind a building or run it with a Venomthrope, you’ll never see a cover saver for this guy.

Truth #2 – Shoot the Big Ones

Your Monstrous Creatures are all going to die! Accept it now. It will be better for you in the end. Yes, they are a lot of points, and yes, the models look great on paper and on the table, but in the end, every gun that can wound them will shoot at them. And by turn 3 – 4 all of your Monstrous Creatures will have been blown off of the board. This is not a bad thing. Because while all of that concentrated fire did manage to kill both of your Trygons, the Carnifex Brood, and your Hive Tyrant, it did not touch those three units of fifteen gaunts holding three objectives and winning you the game. I have a friend at my local game store who, on a weekly basis, asks me why I run two or three Trygons in my lists. “Every time I see them they end up dead, seems like a waste to me” he says. This is very true, and while my Trygons may have bit the big one, I rarely lose the game. This might be hard for some of you to read, but your Monstrous Creatures are expendable! Use them to pull units away, distract your opponent, tar pit units, and contest objectives. I have sent Trygons out to the middle of no where and seen half an army shift off of objectives to go and get it. Great, because my hoard of gaunts was right there to grab that flag and hold on for the win.

Truth #3 Send the big ones after the small ones and the small ones after the big!

Select which units you send your Monstrous Creatures into hand-to-hand with very carefully. A Trygon will make short work of a 10-man Tactical Squad without a powerfist, but will be murdered by a 5 man Thunderhammer and Stormshield Terminator Squad in one round of combat. In the beginning phases of the game, during setup is best, determine the threat level of a unit in hand to hand. I tend to score them on a 1 to 5 rating, 1’s being easy to kill, 5’s being ‘stay the hell away from that’! If the unit has a low WS, no real power weapons to speak of or is a vehicle that did not move in the previous turn, ripe targets to wipe out. Walkers are midrange targets in my opinion, more then likely, with adrenal glands to help, you’ll have a higher initiative on the charge and will score several penetrating shots before they ever get to attack. But if your dice hate you and he gets to swing back, you might be in trouble. The special assault unit loaded down with attacks and power weapons, avoid that like the plague!

Conversely, with Toxin Sacs giving small point units a 4+ Poison Weapon, this has changed the game for Tyranids in my opinion, for the better. Now, all of a sudden, a unit of 20 Hormagaunts can lay down 25 wounds onto a 5 man terminator Squad, killing them before they ever swing back. Sure, the Avatar or Greater Deamon might manager to kill a few, but with their high toughness no longer protecting them, they will die awfully fast to little guys! Couple Toxin Sacs with Adrenal Glands, and all of a sudden your units get to re-roll to wound on units with a T4 or less. I have seen wave after wave of gaunts wipe out the toughest of assault units, simply by making them roll more dice. Eventually those ones and twos come, and there are dead models in their wake for a low point cost.

So send in those little guys and watch them do amazing things!

That’s it for this week. Next Week we will look into the first HQ unit, the Hive Tyrant!

Questions? Comments? Obscene Remarks? Post them here in the comments sections and thanks for the feedback guys!

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