Sunday, April 10, 2011

The Proper Care and Feeding of Tyranids - SinSynn's Expose, Part III

Hey guys, thanks for bearing with me for a while as I needed a while to feel up to doing this article justice. I appreciate SinSynn being a good sport through this process and remaining cordial despite our... disagreements. I will put my comments in orange if I have any. 

Without further ado, here's SinSynn's final response:

The Proper Care and Feeding of Tyranids

Hello again, SinSynn here....uh, again.
So to conclude my debate with Purgatus, regarding his 'Dual Tyrant' list and the resulting back and forth shenanigans that have occured, I thought I would take a step back.
I think that, short of running a bunch of games with that list, any arguments I make will just get me 'snowmobiled.' There's nothing wrong with snowmobiling. Just saying.

Hey, speaking of Snowmobiles...this would be a good place for you to put links to your original list, and maybe links to parts One and Two, huh, Purgy? Maybe save me the time of re-writing it, and prevent me from making another rather obvious 'mis-print' that you can crack jokes on, hmmm?

I mean, really...2 broods of 3 Hive Guard? Gimme SOME credit :P

Or you could have, ya know, embedded them in your document. *Le sigh* Here ya go:

My Dual Tyrant Test List (This is the version that started it all).
SinSynn's Riposte (Part I of his three part Master's Thesis).
SinSynn Pities The Fool (Part II of the series).

Also, Brent, from Strictly Average fame, had to go and say something nice about how these discussions are helping him as a new 'Nid player....and that got me to thinking...

That's what it's all about, isn't it?
Not the 'argument.' That's kinda silly, actually, and ultimately irrelevent.
Especially cuz Purgy is wrong, and a big ol' knucklehead to boot.

I think the universal consensus is that we are BOTH big ol' knuckleheads, but you are absolutely right. I think this discussion has been really enlightening and entertaining to boot.

That slipped...God's truth ;)
Ok, seriously....No, really...

What's important is the exchange of ideas. If our debate can help other 'Nid players in any way whatsoever, than SOME good has come outta this nonsense, right? Absolutely.

So....Hugs and Gropings, I guess...
Curse you Brent! I won't eat Turkey Burgers! I won't! I refuse!
Just as soon as I'm done with this Turkey Burger....why I'll.....nom-nom-nom.....

Oh, speaking of Strictly Average (and who doesn't, right?), if I ever had a reason to be mad at Purgatus (I mean, beyond the obvious), it would be because his insipid comment regarding 'maths informing decisions' is ABOVE my ever-so-clever remark about the overly friendly and somewhat disturbing shadow Brent has cast over the internet as a whole, on the (in)famous 'Wall of Quotes.'
(It's really funny if you scream that like Invader Zim...cuz it's a Zim reference from 'Gir goes crazy and stuff')

What can I say? I know how to turn a phrase.  Oh, obligatory shout out to Strictly Average. Welcome to the bugs man.

So I'm gonna extend the ol' Olive Branch, and I'm gonna share my thoughts on Tyranid List Construction, at the most basic level.....and no more arguing.
Purgatus can go ahead and leave his little 'comments in red,' Orange. Fire burns orange, not red. ;D and at the end, I hope him and I will have a good, solid foundation for.....future arguments. Heh.

Cuz it all starts with a list, right?
Let's go.... Finally. ;D

Ok- At the most basic level, I think a Tyranid Army is so vastly different from the standard Troop/Transport 'template' EVERY OTHER 40k ARMY uses that it's important to emphasise THOSE DIFFERENCES when one constructs a list. Agreed.
In theory, that's what the writers of the Codex INTENDED, right? I'm not 100% convinced they knew what they intended.

So what are those differences? To me, the largest difference is that the MSU approach doesn't work.

* Well, Tyranids have more units in their Troops Section than any other Codex, for starters. I think that a 'Nid army is defined by it's Troop choices- that they set the 'theme' for one's army.
Fortunately, we have a Troop choice to fit every occasion.

* More importantly, we have multiple ways of buffing even our most basic troopies, and turning them into CC killers...which Purgatus demonstrated excellently with his 'Dual Tyrant' list.
(Do you see what I did there? Did you see that? Olive Branch, I tell ya! Love. Hugs. Gropings.) Sweet.

Do I want Fearless, Furious Charging, Counter-Attacking, Poisonous troopies with a single-shot bolter equivalent assault weapons for 5 points each? Uh, yes please...
And maybe I want people to have to take Difficult AND Dangerous Terrain Tests to assault them...cuz, y'know...they're precious....
Yeah, only Tyranids can do this...

* Mmmmm...Monsterous Creatures. I mean, how cool are these guys? Pretty friggin' cool, right?
And they're only a hundred times cooler looking that the Dread Knight. Dread Knight sucks. Demands conversion, just like the Stormraven. It will look awesome when fixed up though. 

(Total side note here, and a tiny 'crazy rant'....look at the cost of that thing and tell me GW doesn't love the Imperials 50 times more than the Xenos...I mean, really...ok I'm sorry, rant over) Do you need a hug?

* Perhaps the biggest difference between the 'Standard Format' armies in 40k and the Tyranids is a little thing called Synapse, and it will be a CONSTANT in any 'Nid player's List construction process.
While some may consider Synapse an inherent weakness in any Tyranid Army (kill the Synapse Creatures and win!), I find that careful consideration of it's use leads quite naturally to building lists that harness what I consider our most important strength-

*Synergy between units is what wins Tyranids games*
*Synergy between units should be the focus of all Tyranid Lists*

That's the most basic, and most important thing to remember when setting about constructing a Tyranid list. Synergy in your list is THE KEY.

Every other Codex in 40k features units that can serve multiple functions- like Grey Hunters with an attached Wolf Guard, carrying assorted Meltas and combi-Meltas, maybe a Power Weapon, or -Heaven Forbid!- a Fist, and traveling in a Plasmaback.
I mean, jeez...those guys only do like, everything.

Yeah...Tyranids don't really have units like all.

What we DO have is a hodge-podge of assorted units that come in very single-minded packages, with mediocre statlines, and a lotta wonky abilities to buff them. Some big, some small, all with questionable durability and debatable point costs. Judged on their individual merits, they don't look like much....

Ah, but when put together in the correct combinations, when Synergy is created, and the Enemies of the Hive Mind get ground into Biomass in an efficient manner.....well, any Tyranid player can tell you it's a beautiful thing.
Let's use those differences, those things that make Tyranids special, and make that happen.

We'll start simple.
Here's a basic list I've been running lately @ 1850 points

HQ: Tervigon w/Adrenal Glands, Toxin Sacs and Catalyst

Elites: 3 Broods of 2 Hive Guard each (gee, I hope I said that correctly:P)

Troops: 18 Genestealers w/Toxin Sacs

Tervigon w/Adrenal Glands, Toxin Sacs and Catalyst

10 Termagants w/Devourers

Fast Attack: 20 Gargoyles

3 Raveners w/Rending Claws

3 Raveners w/Rending Claws

Heavy Support: 2 Trygons w/Adrenal Glands

The Key to this list, and the underlying Synergy, is the 'Spearhead.'

The Raveners, Trygons, Gargoyles and Genestealers all have a host of Universal Special Rules, like Fleet, Move Through Cover, Infiltrate, or they're Jump Infantry or whatever...bottom line is they're all fast and get get up in an opponent's grill VERY QUICKLY, forcing all kinds of Targeting dilemmas and general mayhem. Immediately.

They go and do that, and I follow with the HQ Tervigon, for Synapse and Feel No Pain distribution, as much as possible (Hoods, blah). Deathleaper.

Some Hive Guard may follow along, if I feel the need.
Together, they form the Spearhead.

I notice that 'Imperial Types' tend to focus on HQ's, trying to manufacture 'idealized confrontations,' where their HQ faces off against mine, in an honorable dual to determine the fate of the grimdark future....or whatever. I dunnoh. The Swarmlord facing off against Draigo tonight (and killing him) was pretty epic...

Yeah, Tyranids don't care, and we don't play that sh*t. The funny thing is, I don't care even when I'm playing Imperials. I've talked about this before. If I see the Emperor's Champion standing there am I going to go try to kill him in glorious combat? No, I'm going to pull an Indiana Jones and gun his dumb ass down with Meltaguns, lol. 

Since it isn't a troop choice for me, I honestly don't mind if I lose that Tervigon, so there ya go. I don't think that makes sense to me, but ok.

I'll use that Tervigon as 'bait,' to lure those key enemy HQ's out of their transport, and counter with Hive Guard fire, and a Ravener assault, or whoever's handy. A lot of 'Landraider/Terminator' players will commit, and unload to kill a Tervigon/Trygon/whatever- use that!
The Hive Mind exploits the enemies tendencies wherever possible >:)

Any 'gants the HQ Tervigon spawns go wherever...they DO come in handy ;)
Generally I send them back to support the 2nd Tervigon.

Because while my opponent is busy dealing with the Spearhead, the 2nd Tervigon, supported by a 'keep away' Brood of Devilgaunts and whatever 'gants it Spawns itself, combined with the 'throwaways' from the HQ Tervigon and some Hive Guard are busy takin' over the place all Gangster style....

Yeah, the Spearhead will die. But Long Fangs and Heavy Weapons Teams will get jumped, Mech rushes will get blocked up and disgorged troops set upon...the whole thing gets messy...and fun, from a Hive Mind Perspective. Heh.
By the time the Spearhead dies...well, it'll be too late to do anything about the 'gant infestation...those buggers just get everywhere....

Anyway, that's the idea ;)
I'm not sayin' it works every time, but it's done OK.
That list has evolved over time, so I can tell you it's been tested....
Oh, I've fought some bloodbaths with that list, for sure.
I totally hate the 'New and Improved' Black Templars with that's like that 'Immovable Object meets Irresistable Force' theory....let me not get started about that...Oh, so this Vow gives your entire army Preferred Enemy, which makes all your CC basically 'twin linked.'
My mother what now?

*bad memories*

Ok, so that list highlights a basic Synergy that's easy to use- a bunch of fast moving, hard hitters working together to cause mayhem in rapid order, backed by a sneaky element.
The 2nd Tervigon is actually MORE IMPORTANT than the Spearhead, as that's my objective/table quarte holder, and that's what wins games....that's the 'sneaky element.'
I'm basically telling my opponent 'Here! Catch!' and throwing a bunch of (completely DISPOSABLE) Toothy stuff at him, while the 2nd Tervigon and however many 'gants show up hold down the Victory.

I think it's important, when designing a Tyranid List, to not have such an obvious 'Trick' that you end up with a lynchpin situation.
But, in all honesty, units like Tervigons and Hive Tyrants are lynchpins in any army that features them.
The 'trick,' therefore, becomes SUPPORTING and/or PROTECTING our lynchpins.

Purgatus' Dual Tyrant build showcases the Synergy between Tervigons and 'gants, further buffed by the Tyrant's Old Adversary power, and the 'Bubble of Evil' you could create by combining both.
Seriously, think about's evil and a good example of excellent use of the Synergies that the Tyranids can pull off.

The debate we shared was whether or not the build was properly supported.
At 2000 points and featuring almost 'Elite-Army' (i.e; Space Marine) numbers starting on the table, I thought that 6 Monsterous Creatures and an obvious lynchpin in the Tyrants may not be the best idea.
Hey, just my opinion....just sayin' :P I don't think they are such obvious lynchpins, and then you have the Tervigons which are also to me obvious targets especially against missile heavy armies to get rid of FNP. And some armies which spam light mech will prefer to kill the Hive Guard... I just don't think it's that obvious. I think the priority target will vary based upon the opponent.

With that in mind (Olive Branch, remember!), I set about building a list that not only had 6 MC's, was 'competitive,' and highlighted everything that makes Tyranids cool in my mind.
I tested this list this week, and went 2 wins, 1 loss in games vs. Grey Knights and the hated Black Templars....

2000 Points Tyranids- 6 MC's

HQ: Tyranid Prime w/Regen

HQ # 2: Tyranid Prime w/Regen

Elites: 2 Broods of 2 Hive Guard each :P

2 Venomthropes (don't worry, I'll explain....)

Troops: 2x Tervigons w/Adrenal Glands, Toxin Sacs and Catalyst

2x 10 Termagants

Heavy Support: 2x TyrannoFexes w/Rupture Cannons

1 Carnifex Brood of 2

Quick 'Trick' with this list- The two Regen Primes DO NOT join the Carnifex Brood, they join the Venomthropes and hang out in the middle of the Swarm, spreading the 'Screw You' Bubble the Army advances under, and using the Big Boys for cover and to block line of site to the 'hurty stuff' wherever possible.

When you get missiles tossed at you, use the Prime's Toughness 5 and wound allocation/Regen shenanigans as much as you can to get the Swarm into the opponent's face and killing stuff. Then they can die, no biggie. See, I think this is a mistake. I think the basic setup is sound, in fact its almost identical to this list which I wrote months ago over at YTTH. Your opponent would be silly to try and take down the Venomthropes in this list with the Primes attached. He would need more shots to kill them than to simply kill the Carnifexes while ignoring the Venomthropes. You are relying upon your opponent to make a mistake here, which is never a good plan.

The 'Double-Fex' Brood helps make up for the loss of the Hive Guard, and 2 T-Fexes never hurts, so the list has enough 'shooty,' and a few ways to handle AV 14.
In the end, however, the Carnifexes are the throwaway, disposable, distraction element in the list. Use them as such. Sure, but they are so much more resilient with the Primes attached, and they become the obvious target (which you want, in this case)... I just don't see attaching them to Venomthropes as being the best use for them.

Oh, did you notice that the list, as-is, weighs in at only 1830 points? Heh. (and yes, I'm running it at 1850 this week...cuz it's a cool build and I like it. But I do worry about screening and support, due to the body count.)

I think this is a pretty good way to play with 6 MC's, and I'm looking foward to testing it out some more. I agree it's pretty decent. Also pretty decent when I put it together in January. ;D

I'll leave it up to Purgatus, and whoever else, to use that last 170 points as they see fit.
Go nuts. I threw in a big brood of Gargoyles, but other things could work too.

The Tyranid Codex offers a lot of good possibilities here, and I experimented with a couple of options in my 3 games.

With Grey Knights, I wanted Boneswords, so I used a Brood of 3 Warriors w/Swords, and one bought a Barbed Strangler. Exactly 170 points, and one or both Primes can hop into this Brood as needed, to contribute the Prime's WS of 6, AND wound/regen shenanigans...always a plus.

Against the Templars (I lost this one, BTW...), I decided to bring some upgraded Hormagaunts as kind of an experiment, but it didn't work out. Not because Hormies suck- they don't.

But they don't work with this list due to the Synergy. Hormies are fast, and they wanna rush out there with their Bounding Leap and jab at dude's eyes and whatnot.
One of those 'single minded packages' I mentioned.

This list plods along under cover of Venomthrope until it's close enough for the Carnifexes to rush foward and crash into the enemy lines.
The rest of the build supports that. Hormagaunts don't really 'fit in,' see?

The 'Bonesword Warrior' variant, however, featured all the BASIC things that make an effective Tyranid build, however- although those last 170 points may change due to standard list 'evolution.'

* A solid group of varied Troops. Bonesword Warriors terrify opponents. Seriously.
And hey, the 'Strangler gives me another Template to toss around...
Yes, Double Tervigons and minimum 'gants is boring, it's damned, nyah :P

* Venomthropes w/Regen Prime 'Bodyguards and Missile Soaks,' Tervigon buffed 'gants, and the whole Swarm moves at a similar speed.
The Mission: Deliver those Carnifexes to where they'll do the most damage....

* The lynchpin is obviously the Venomthropes....or is it?
Do you think this list will break down with the loss of 110 points of Elites?
Oh, I think it'll work just fine without go ahead- do your damndest to kill those Venomthropes, see if those Primes don't annoy you.
In the meantime...oh, boy. Look what we got comin.'
6 MC's.....with all kinds of support...go ahead, assault something.
Oh, don't wanna do that 'till the Venomthropes are dead. Whoops, too late...I'll just Assault you instead.

*insert evil laugh here* Again, I think you are making my point for me. Your opponent would be foolish to shoot the Venomthropes with two primes attached. If you had the Venomthropes alone then you at least can have them go to ground and possibly suck up some heavy weapons shots that would go into the Fex-star instead. If you attach the Primes they will be ignored, the Fex-star destroyed, then the Tervigons, then you really don't have much of an army.

* With the Primes, Warriors and Tervigons, we've got the Synapse covered....

Could it bear improvement? Sure. Can't they all?

Is there cool stuff we can do with 170 points? Heck ya...
You might wanna pack another Troop choice (Devilgaunts for moar dakka?)...
Maybe you want a 'fast' element, to jump out and grab anyone who attempts to get in Rapid Fire range...

Or maybe take a different route- let's say we drop a Prime.
Why, then you can add an Old Adversary Tyrant with a single Tyrant Guard if you wanted...
Sorry, Purg....I dunno if you can fit that HVC...go ahead and try, though...or give up Old Adversary.

See where I'm going with this, though? Lots of fun possibilities...

Tyranids are cool. Heh...

And You CAN win with them.
It all starts with a list, right?

Let's see what people think. I got in a good game against Grey Knights tonight with my Swarmlord experimental list (which I think is more SinSynn's playstyle). The thing is - I think my dual Tyrant list would have done well too. I will put up a photo batrep tomorrow I think of the game. I did win, but it was very, very close. 

Needless to say I agree that Nids can win. I'm just going to quote the great Jay Woodcock here (is that creepy, lol):
"The other advice i have is try ever thing in the codex at least once and ideas off other nid players. I did this with Hyv3mynd and the ETC player that took nids. I still think there are other good builds left yet to explore."

That's what I am doing. I am experimenting. Sometimes when you experiment you need to set up extreme conditions to isolate variables. My dual Tyrant list is so that I can experience that kind of build - the shooty, resilient blob build. I am seeing how it does well, as well as how it struggles. It does surprisingly well, actually. But I also see lots of other tools in the Nids tool chest, and I'm not done experimenting yet. I think that SinSynn never really "got" that - it's just a test build. I wanted to try it out. I did, and am, but I have other things to try out too. That doesn't mean I won't defend it against critiques that I feel are unfair or untrue, because that's not how we move the ball down the field.

A good conversation has come out of it all though, so I am definitely not going to complain. 

Thank you to SinSynn again for being a good sport and putting up with my snowmobiling. It takes a lot of guts to put yourself out there for critique. SinSynn's a good bud, and we can both agree that we love our bugs and this has been a good learning experience for us and hopefully the readers too.