Monday, January 31, 2011

A Thorough Review of the Nid FAQ - What Did We REALLY Lose?

Ok, so drinniol asked me what the Tyranid FAQ really "FAQ'd up"for Nids players.

TLDR: not too much was actually messed up. A few builds were impacted, yes, but I think the damage was MOSTLY psychological. A lot of the decisions were stupid, and angered the players.

But the actual "on the board" impacts were less than many imagine.

The reason it upset many Nids players was because some of the choices seemed... what's the word... illogical? Biased? Stupid?

Yes. All of those.

Ok, so let's look at a few of the big ones:

Hive Tyrant Reserve Bonuses:

"Q: If I have more than one Hive Tyrant with the Hive Commander ability, do their bonuses to reserve rolls stack? Also, do I get to outflank with one Troops unit, or one Troops unit per Hive Tyrant with this upgrade?

A: No the reserve roll bonuses do not stack. You can only choose to outflank with a single unit of Troops, regardless of how many Hive Tyrants you have with this ability."

Many people expected these bonuses to stack. This would have allowed Nids to build an army that was not subject to the weaknesses of a Drop Pod list (no forced first turn drop) but which would come in on Turn 2 on a roll of 2+. This would have been a powerful option for Nids, and would have made them a "premiere" Deep Strike army.

A 2+ reserve roll virtually guarantees that you will get your forces on the table all together, or at least the vast majority of them. And then of course anything that wiffed its reserve roll will auto-enter on Turn 3. Now, the best we can* do is a 3+ reserve roll on Turn 2, a 2+ on 3, and auto on 4. That's... ok. Pretty good, relative to what a lot of armies get, but not the "aaawwweeesome!" option that Nids thought they had.

*Do note, however, that you can still combine the Swarmlord with a Hive Commander Hive Tyrant for a combined +2 to reserves. This option is really only viable at 2500+ points, however.

Moving right along:

"Q: If a Hive Tyrant or the Swarmlord joins a unit of Tyrant Guard, is it treated as an Independent Character for the purposes of resolving shooting attacks (i.e. independent characters who are monstrous creatures can be targeted separately from the unit) and assaults (i.e. independent characters always count as separate units in an assault)?

A: No."

And the separate but very related:

"Q: Can a Hive Tyrant or the Swarmlord choose to leave a unit of Tyrant Guard once it has joined them?

A: No."

This is sort of a Catch-22.

First, Tyrant Guard count as a "retinue" for all intents and purposes. This means, for one, that you cannot pick out the Hive Tyrant either with shooting attacks or close combat attacks.

This is good. On the other hand, the Hive Tyrant cannot choose to leave his retinue (this is normal for a retinue, part of the definition of a retinue is that you cannot leave it). This primarily took away the "Winged Tyrant Delivery System" which some players had proposed: Stick a Winged Tyrant with some Tyrant Guard for ablative wounds and cover saves, slog them halfway across the table, then have the Hive Tyrant fly away and assault something once it's in range of something juicy.

A cute thought, certainly, but I'm not sure that it was really that great of a strategy to begin with AND the fact that the Hive Tyrant can't be targeted is a huge bonus (sort of essential for what the Tyrant Guard are supposed to do).

So in the end I think we came out ahead on this one.


"Q: If a unit of Tyrant Guard, joined by either by a Hive Tyrant or the Swarmlord, launches an assault in which the Hive Tyrant/Swarmlord is killed before the surviving Tyrant Guard have struck any blows, will they gain Strength and Initiative bonuses due to Furious Charge even though they didn’t have this special rule at the time when they initiated the assault?

A: No."

Anyone who was upset by this needs to take a hard look at themselves. This was entirely justified and correct. Next!

"Q: Can Harpies and Hive Tyrants with the Wings biomorph deep strike?
A: Yes."

Good, correct, accurate, reasonable. Next!

"Q: Does a Spore Mine’s random movement replace its
normal movement, or is it in addition to it?

A: It replaces its normal movement.

Q: Also, can a Spore Mine move in the Assault phase?

A: No."

Well, I was getting tired of spore mines assaulting me, so this was a good move. Spore Mines suck anyways. Now, they did MISS a FAQ here that should have been issued. Here, let me help them out:

Q: I am a cheesy git, and would like to claim a Kill Point every time someone shoots a Spore Mine at me and it explodes. The rules say that Spore Mines are ignored for the purposes of all mission Objectives, but I'm a jerk and I really want some free kill points. Can I do this?

A: No, you prick. You really think that you should get a Kill Point for what amounts to a round of living ammunition blowing itself up on top of you? I'm sorry that we suck as game designers sometimes and didn't make this clear for everyone, but here let us spell it out for you: Spore Mines do not count for Victory Points. They do not count for Kill Points. They cannot contest Objective Markers. They cannot claim Objective Markers. Got it?

That first FAQ comes free GW. If you want me to write more you owe me. I accept cash and "plastic." ;D

"Q: Can a Mawloc choose to Deep Strike onto a point occupied by an enemy model on purpose in order to use the Terror from the Deep special rule?

A: Yes."

Good. Thanks for not making ANOTHER model with rules that don't actually function (I'm looking at you Pheromone Trail and Trygon Tunnel)! Mawlocs work as they are intended to work. Anyways moving on...

"Q: Can I take cover saves from a Mawloc’s Terror from
the Deep attack?

A: Yes."

Meh... ok whatever. Not really that big of a deal. They would need to be in area terrain to get this and I'm not really sure why standing on rubble that then gets swallowed by a gigantic worm would be better than standing on open ground, but whatever... They are making an effort to "integrate" the attack into the ruleset and they are essentially treating it as a barrage. That's fine.

"Q: If a Tyranid unit takes a Mycetic Spore, can an Independent Character join the brood before
deployment (and hence deep strike in with the brood)?

A: No."

This, along with the stacking Hive Tyrant, is the one that pisses the most people off. What? I can't stick my Prime with a unit of Warriors and put them in a pod? Really? Why the fuck not? This is just... bizarre and stupid and any other adjective for "what the fuck, GW?" you want to put in there. Yeah, people would use this to attach Primes to Zoanthropes. So the fuck what? The Hive Mind, the eternally adaptable and constantly evolving Hive Mind, can't think of these things? I just... ugh. This one pisses me off royally.

But in an attempt to look at the bright side, what do we really lose here? Warriors in a Pod with a Prime. Can't do it. That sucks. Zoanthropes in a Pod with a Prime (or two). Yeah, that sucks too. What else? Well, I suppose I could throw a shit-ton of Termagants/Hormagants in a Pod as ablative wounds and use them as a Prime delivery system. Somewhat obnoxious that I can't do any of those things.

Army breaking? Definitely not.

It's just annoying that they did this apparently for no reason other than (probably) some half-conceived notion that it doesn't fit the 'fluff' of the Mycetic Spore. Whatever.

"Q: If a Tyranid unit takes a Mycetic Spore, can it choose to deploy normally whilst the empty Mycetic Spore deep strikes on its own?

A: No."

Another stupid ruling, which is obnoxious but really doesn't change anything. What, you were going to buy 6 Spores and Drop them in? It's not like they have good gun options. If they had Heavy Venom Cannons I might be interested. Oh, and not BS 2. Lol. Again, we didn't lose much here. Next.

Q: Can cover saves be taken against wounds inflicted by the Doom of Malant’tai’s Spirit Leech ability?

A: Yes.

Sure why not. Those branches you are hiding behind will totally keep me from sucking your soul out through your nostrils. Basically they are treating it as a psychic shooting attack. That's fine.

Q: Does the Doom of Malan’tai’s Spirit Leech ability affect units embarked in transport vehicles?

A: No.

Yep, still a psychic shooting attack. Also, they way 80% of the thinking community played this already. Nothing to see here folks...

Q: Can Psychic Scream affect units embarked within a transport vehicle?

A: No.

Yay for being consistent. Still no surprises...

Q: Does Shadow in the Warp affect psykers who are taking a Psychic test whilst embarked within a transport vehicle?

A: No.

Oh... wait what? Really? So hoods and runic weapons can but... really? Hrrmm. Well... that's pretty f-ing stupid. Again, just a weird rules change for no real apparent reason. I admit that this one sucks.

All the rest of them are boring, pretty standard and I've never heard anyone argue about them anyways.

So... let's see what we can walk away with. The Dual Hive Tyrant Deep Striker list is somewhat less effective, for no apparent reason, but is not "dead."

You can't stick Primes in pods, again for no apparent reason, but I don't really see that "destroying" any builds that would be otherwise viable.

Doom of Malentai works EXACTLY like 90% of us thought he would. SHOCK AND/OR SURPRISE! (Oh except for INAT who managed to bollux that one pretty bad, lol).

Of all of them, the most painful, to me, is Shadow in the Warp not affecting embarked psykers. That's just... wrong. It's not a psychic shooting attack guys, it's a freaking pseudo-hood. Why shouldn't it work?


Ultimately though it's not the FAQ that destroyed Nids, it's the frustration that a lot of players FELT about the FAQ that really turned a lot of people off to them. When an army just gets arbitrarily nerfed after release like that... it's discouraging.

It smacks of bias (anti-xenos bias).

It's not good business practice.

Also, their failure to errata Pheromone Trail or Trygon Tunnels was a big oversight. Those rules don't even work as they are currently written. And for Pheromone Trail especially, it doesn't make "fluff" sense. The Lictors are, for all intents and purposes, lurking in the shadows, guiding in other Nids from the start of the game. The +1 to reserves OUGHT to be in effect if they are alive, not if they are on the board. Or allow them to infiltrate and deploy normally.


Does it piss me off? Yeah, a little.

Does it discourage me from trying to find the builds that DO work? Nope, not even a little.

Anything I missed? Any other thoughts?