Sunday, July 8, 2012

Tyranids Tactics in 6th... This is Going to Be Fun

So as I'm sure any of my long time readers know, I am a Tyranids fanatic. One of the main reasons I was excited for the edition change was to see whether my beloved bugs could benefit from the new ruleset to breath some new life into them.

Well, first impressions: the answer is yes.

I now have four full 2000 point games of 6th Edition under my belt, and the learning process is ongoing. Every game there is an "aha!" moment or two, and the new rules are gradually getting cemented into place. Games have been on the long side, but I think that will change as everyone gets the hang of the new rules, especially wound allocation.

Tonight I had the pleasure of playing my first game with my Bugs. I had to do a bit of "counts as" because my wings for my Hive Tyrants haven't come in yet, and I don't have 30 Devourer Termagants built (yet), but for the most part I was able to throw together the following:

Hive Tyrant, Wings, Devourers x 2, Old Adversary
Hive Tyrant, Wings, Devourers x 2, Old Adversary

Hive Guard x 3
Hive Guard x 3
Zoanthrope x 2

Tervigon, Catalyst, Onslaught, Adrenals, Toxins, Regeneration, Crushing Claws
Tervigon, Catalyst, Onslaught, Adrenals, Toxins, Regeneration, Crushing Claws
Termagants x 10, Devourers x 10
Termagants x 10, Devourers x 10
Termagants x 10, Devourers x 10

Gargoyles x 11, Adrenals, Toxins
Gargoyles x 11, Adrenals, Toxins

So not necessarily optimized, but I wanted to try out a few things based upon what I have learned so far.

The first thing you may notice are some "questionable" upgrades on the Tervigons. I'll explain my reasoning. First you have to buy powers to swap powers. Second, Furious Charge/Poison on Termagants is still a very valuable way of killing infantry and  now at glancing tanks to death, plus they aren't bad on the big guy himself. My games tell me that a lot of firepower will need to be directed at my Flyers to take them down, and that my opponents will not be able to focus fire the Tervigons as easily, so Regeneration seems more valuable for the long game. It also stacks with the Biomancy power which grants a 5+ to regain a wound, and then of course the Tervigon may also have the Leech Life power. Lots of ways to recharge Ye Olde Wound Banke. Oh, and Iron Arm also provides a way to slow down damage from even heavy weapons, giving more time for these measures to work. Time will tell whether Regen is actually worth the points.

Finally, Crushing Claws are now fairly amazing due to the way that close combat works against vehicles and the Smash rule. getting 4-6 attacks on the charge which hit on 3's, with Strength 10 and rerolling to pen is almost certain death to any vehicle. There is also a nice Biomancy power which can grant additional attacks as well. Impressively, the Tervigon can have up to 10 attacks on the charge if not smashing and with some good rolls on Claws and Warp Speed.

I have always thought Devilgaunts were pretty damned good, but I think in 6th there will be more infantry targets available in general, and Devilgaunts benefit greatly from the way Old Adversary works in this edition (though that application will likely occur only rarely in this list).

Gargoyles make a great screen/cover providing unit from my Hive Tyrants, and can also glance vehicles to death quite effectively.

The Zoanthropes. I've always liked the models, and I think mine are painted quite nicely if I do say so. But 6th Edition gives us the opportunity to use them in a different role than is traditional.

Instead of being out front Warp Lancing shit, I thought to try using them as a backfield support unit, throwing out 24" ranged blessings and maledictions. At 60 points per, these are the most cost effective pskyer support units in the codex.

Now, I'm pretty sure that the way the rules are written, nothing prevents each Zoanthrope from distributing a blessing and/or a malediction to a separate unit. The provision that a single unit must target a single unit is in reference to shooting attacks only, and blessings and maledictions are explicitly not shooting attacks. This is similar to the Catalyst power, which can target any unit in range but does not thereafter affect the Tervigon's ability to shoot or assault a different target (which was different from Onslaught which, as a psychic shooting attack, did).

I would greatly appreciate anyone else's input on this, as if this does not work I need to know. Thankfully, my two Zoanthrope unit was not required to "split fire" blessings/maledictions in tonight's game, but I would like to verify this.

Each Zoanthrope can draw two powers, and for my purposes every psyker in my army (six in this list) drew from the Biomancy discipline. In some ways Biomancy is a tough discipline, with six level one powers you don't have great chances to get any one thing you need. Fortunately most of the powers work quite well for any of the TMCs, and even the Zoanthropes can make use of most of them. For the purpose my Zoanthropes fill, however, I want them to draw either Enfeeble or Endurance, and Iron Arm is not a terrible draw either.

Tonight one Zoey got Iron Arm and Endurance, and the other got Enfeeble and Warp Speed. Not a bad draw at all. All in all, I drew Enfeeble three times this game. It's entirely possible to draw it more than that if you have enough psykers. Iron Arm isn't bad on Zoeys either because one of them can buff his own Toughness/give himself Eternal Warrior and stand in front to take instant death wounds and, if a two model unit, increase their majority toughness. Not a terrible thing.

Now, Enfeeble is probably one of the best powers in the game. Making your TMCs Stronger is good. Tougher is better. Higher Initiative is a godsend against Jaws. Feel No Pain, Regeneration, etc. All good things.

But Enfeeble is just nasty good.

It reduces the target's strength and toughness by one. This doesn't seem amazing, until you realize all the implications this has. First, the rulebook states on page 68 that benefits and drawbacks of multiple blessings/maledictions are cumulative. It does state "different" blessings and maledictions. I take this to mean that a malediction from one psyker is a different malediction than from another psyker. I suppose you might argue that it has to be a completely differently named malediction to stack. Any input on that matter would be appreciated.

In any case, I'm assuming for now that multiple applications of Enfeeble stack. If this is the case, it allows for the destruction of units outright with enough applications of enfeeble. (Any model reduced to Strength or Toughness zero is destroyed). (Edge has pointed out that Maledictions cannot reduce a characteristic below 1, so no auto-destroying. That's ok, though, I was really just planning on shooting or assaulting them to death!

But instead of Enfeebling something 4 times, just note that reducing something's toughness and strength has dramatic implications on its ability to take damage, and deal it in close combat.

When hit by a single application of Enfeeble:

-Toughness 5 multiwound models like Thunderwolf Cavalry or Nob Bikers become very vulnerable to Impaler Cannons.
-Toughness 4 multiwound models (harro Paladins) get torn apart by Brainleech Devourers.
-Toughness 3 multiwound creatures like Scarabs suffer instant death from fucking Fleshborers and Devourers.

You can see already how interesting this is. If facing Blood Angels you can hit them once to make them more vulnerable to Devilgaunts and lose Feel No Pain against your Brainleech Devourers. Lots of applications really.

In tonight's game every single one of my TMCs got Iron Arm. This was obviously very fortunate. But it gave me the opportunity to see what a huge difference being Toughness 7, 8 or 9 makes.

Don't forget in your games that your Hive Tyrants are characters, and if they have Twin Linked Brainleech Devourers they can allocate any 6's to hit. Putting wounds on important models is a good thing. Putting instant death wounds on Lascannon teams hidden in Guard squads is a very good thing!

I get the feeling that Flyers are going to just be a pain in the ass. My flyers might be able to shoot them down with enough twin linked shots, but they shoot my flyers down faster and more effectively. It remains to be seen whether Tyranids will ever get a decent Skyfire option.

Anyways, thos are some of my rambing thoughts for tonight. More test games, modelling and painting to come.