Monday, March 21, 2011

SinSynn Pities The Fool... (the Fool Being Purgatus In The Current Example).


That's an awesome article title!

Anyways, SinSynn has sent me another installment of his (now) three part instructional seminar on "how to not blow at Tyranids."

The crappy part was that he expected me to, ya know, provide some sort of input. And that takes time. And energy. 

Sigh. Anyways, I'll do my best. Here's his email with my comments snowmobiled in:

Dual Tyrants...done right? We shall see, worthy opponent!
By SinSynn

Ok, I'd like to begin with a 'Thank You' to Purgatus and the community as a whole. You're welcome. Whether or not I'm a knucklehead (and I'm pretty sure the jury came in with a 'guilty' verdict immediately after I was born), I always appreciate anyone taking the time to read what I type in my madness, or comment, or whatever. It passes the evenings, that's for sure. ;D
So, thanx! No, thank you. Good discussions are enjoyable for all parties. Possibly even informative.

Once again, we'll begin with the list, for reference purposes as we discuss....
Edited and corrected for clarity :P

2x Hive Tyrants w/Old Adversary, Lashwhip and Bonesword, Heavy Venom Cannon
Each Hive Tyrant gets a single Tyrant Guard w/No Upgrades

3x 2 Hive Guard

2x Tervigons w/Catalyst, Adrenal Glands, Toxins Sacs, Cluster Spines

2x 10 Termagants

18 Gargoyles

2x Tyrannofexes w/Rupture Cannons, Dessicator Swarms, Cluster Spines

52 models, 6 MC's.

Gonna jump right into the main problems I see, since I don't think I summed them up well last time-

NOTE- Hulksmah, for instance, didn't agree with things, and he's a 'Nid player, so I'm pretty sure I didn't make my points well. His comment about me assuming how the list would be played was spot-on, so I won't be doing that.

Also, I'm really bad at thinking up examples and I definitely DO NOT subscribe to 'Theoryhammering' stuff. For the record, theoryhammering is only ever not helpful if it's done poorly. Just like any other attempt to apply intellect, reason and mathematics to a problem. GOOD theory-hammer is actually quite helpful, and it also acknowledges its limitations. Everything I've learned about playing 'Nids has come from the dozens and dozens of games I've actually played with them. A couple months ago, I found the excellent Blogs I will reference here. My game has only improved since finding them.
So no 'Theoryhammer' in this part! Don't give up on the theoryhammer. Maths are our friend...

Instead, let's focus on some fundamentals regarding Tyranid List Building. Ok.

1) If the 2x 10 'gants travel with the Tyrants, and the Gargoyles are used as a screen so they give cover to both the 'gants and the Tyrant Guard (and thereby to the Tyrant), who the heck is bubblewrapping and otherwise protecting the 6 Hive Guard, 2 T-Fexes and 2 Tervigons? That's spreading the first couple of Spawns awful thin- 4 MC's and 6 Terminator-sized model to protect. Ok, this part I really don't get. I can tell you that right now I'm looking at all the models that SinSynn just mentioned (basically all the non-Toughness 3 bugs in the army) sitting upright in my 4th grader's shoebox. My monstrous creatures deploy in two "stacks" (if you ever did urban combat training you know what I'm talking about here), basically the Hive Tyrant, T-Fex and Tervigon can stand in a space that is about 7 inches "deep" and 5 inches "wide," have all models in cover (with a screening unit in front of the Hive Tyrant either from the initial gargoyles, initial Termagants or spawned Termagants (it's important to note that the distance from the front edge of the back Tervigon to the front edge of the Hive Tyrant is far less than 6", so the Tervigon can "toss" Termagants directly in front of the group without worry). Now keep in mind that my list only have 4 MCs that start the game which need "true" Line of Sight blocking cover. The Tyrant leads the way because he is in a mixed unit that is provided cover like infantry. The Hive Guard can likewise get cover in lots of ways. I guess the point I'm trying to make here is, I have not found getting cover to be all that difficult. I guess we will talk some more about how I would operate the list later. I still think there's some confusion there. 

This leads us to....

2) Too many MC's taking up too many points, not enough bodies.
52 models is Space Marine numbers, and 40 of them are T3 critters. Well, no. Each of those Tervigons is guaranteed at least one spawn. I would say that being conservative we can count on about 10 per Tervigon, even if we crap out on the first spawn. Some games you might get less, often you will get more. That's really on the low, low side of averages but just to be safe. That brings us up to 60 T3 bodies. Also, I don't think it's really fair to compare 48 Toughness 6 wounds are just "14 models." That's not really logical or helpful from a list building standpoint.

Let's look at Hulksmash's list as comparison- 56 Models, but only 4 MC's- two of whom are optimally configured, shooty Carnifexes (no dual-purposing). Two T5 Primes and the almost prerequisite 6 Hive Guard round out the list, along with the ol' double-Tervigons and their attendant 'gants.
The bulk of the list is 34 -count 'em- 34 Genestealers in two groups of 14. Ooofah. Wait, so 4 more models but two less MC's is better how (in regards to model count, etc)?

Hyv3mynd, from Synaps3, also packs just 4 MC's (2 Tervigons, 2 T-Fexes) at 1850 points, but also brings along a 18 strong brood of Toxin Sac 'stealers and 2 Broods of 3 Rending Claw Raveners to work with them.  I like Hyvemynd's list.

Ghostin, from Mid-Life Gaming Crisis, posted a Nova list that featured double Tervigons running with an Assault-Minded Swarm, complete with a pair of Trygons, and two 4-strong Warrior Broods- one shooty, one choppy with Dual Boneswords. Both were accompanied by matching Primes.

All of these lists feature a balance of MC's- a pair of Tervigons, and a pair MC's for 'Muscle,' that work with the players style and the overall list 'Theme.'

They also feature a large number of 'Supporting Troops,' which deflects the reliance on random spawns, offers Targeting Priority issues to the opponent and enough bodies to protect whoever needs protecting.

The two lists featuring Genestealers also offer a way to project an Assault threat -that doesn't require Synapse- into immediate threat range during deployment, or can force the opponent to make bad decisions during their own deployment, via an Outflanking, if called for.

Problem 2 is pretty much a direct result of the single most common mistake a lot of Tyranid lists feature.....

3) Relying on Spawned 'gants. Old Adversary Tyrants don't need a better 'Team' to work with, but they'd LIKE one. Lol.

Termagants, when in range of both the Tyrants and the Tervigon are quite a lovely little unit. That's the foundation of a Old Adversary Tyrant/Tervigon list, after all. We just need to 'Balance Things Out,' I think. As it stands, the List we're working with lacks the 'Balance' the above lists showcase so well.
Hey, we can do worse than emulating players we both acknowledge as good, right? Well we could do worse, but we might be able to do better also. Just sayin, don't follow blindly. Follow intentionally.

So those are the 3 things I think we've got to iron out.
Time to fire up Army Builder!

.........Ok, at this point I sat for quite a while, and tried to design a Dual Tyrant list WITHOUT giving up the 'Six Monsterous Creature' Theme.
I couldn't make something without giving up a Tyrant, or Tervigon. Unfortunately, T-Fexes really should be run in pairs to be effective, so no losing one of those guys.

So I think it's best to throw the ball back to Purgatus....

How ARE you planning on running your list, as is?

You did a fair job of Snowmobiling my comments last time, but I think I presented the whole thing wrong.

Simply put, your list (as is) lacks a 'killy element' and enough bodies to properly protect those that need protecting. It will be too slow getting across the board (especially if those...Venom Cannons are shooting), and will get 'Target Prioritied' to death before reaching combat proper. Target Priority does not kill things. Guns kill things.

I'm perfectly willing to go further, and help you design a list that will fair better than this one, but I don't think you're 'believing me,' so I'll wait for your response to this. Now, I'm a bit disappointed, TBH. I think it's very easy to say "I don't like this, this and this. Also, you should look at what these guys do. 

Oh, come up with a suggestion....? umm maybe next time." lol.

;D Just fuckin' with ya bro.

Now, Sin. I'm gonna give you some tough love brother. And you know it IS love. And you've been giving me some tough love too, so I hope you can take it in the spirit it is intended.

I think you're parroting a bit. You think you've found some people with some ideas that you like. And that's fine. But you don't fully own those ideas yet, so you are having a hard time articulating them in such a way that you can provide positive solutions. So anything that doesn't look like those folks, you are going to think is bad, even if you can't quite articulate why, other than to say they "aren't balanced." 

To clarify something, just because I say that I like and respect another player doesn't mean I will automatically agree with them. I listen to someone because I like and respect them. I agree with someone only if the evidence and rationale presented supports their conclusions. I disagree with Stelek and Mike Brandt, two of the best players in the world. 

Further, I expect everyone to give me the same respect - listen to my ideas carefully enough that sometimes you disagree. If you always agree with me, you're not actually listening, you're just bandwagoning.

Now, again, I'm not saying my list is a "Best Of" level list. It's not. 

It's just what I'm fucking around with right now. I'm liable to change it further as I continue to fuck around with it, as I already have.

But that being said I will defend it against attacks IF and only IF I think that those attacks lack merit. 

And I think many of your critiques, thus far, DO lack merit. Do you not see the 26 Strength 6 reroll to hit power weapon attacks this list can bring to bear? Do you think I'm worried about hidden fists against 18 wounds? I'm not. Do you think I'm worried about Hammernators? That's what Gaunts are for.

I'm going to give you a concrete example where I think your biases are clouding your judgement. Recently Brent reached out to Synaps3 of the awesome and Nids-centric Synaps3 blog for some Nids advice. 

Now, the original list Brent had offered up is irrelevant for our purposes. Go read the whole article if you like. What's important is the list that Synapse provided to Brent in response to his request. Now, keep in mind that the below list is 2500 points. 

Presented in its original, glorious pink:

Here's my version @ 2500pts.  Carnifex fast n slow.
Tyranid Prime + lash whip/bonesword
Tervigon + ts, catalyst, cluster spines
Hive Guard x3
Hive Guard x3
Venomthropes x2
Termagants x10 + devourers, mycetic spore
Termagants x10 + devourers, mycetic spore
Tervigon + adrenals, toxins, catalyst, cluster spines
Gargoyles x20 + toxins, adrenals
Gargoyles x20 + toxins, adrenals
Carnifex's x3
Tyrannofex + rupture cannon, cluster spines, desiccator larvae
Tyrannofex + rupture cannon, cluster spines, desiccator larvae

All right. So what do we have here. Let's talk about elements that are IDENTICAL to my list. 

T-Fexes times two. Check.
Tervigons times two. Fully decked. Check.
Hive Guard broods times two. Close.

Gargoyles. Check.

Ok, let's talk about the differences. 
Carnifex x 3. Ok, so this is a whopper of a combat unit, yes? But please bear in mind that this is still only 12 T6 wounds with 3+ armor saves. 

Gee. I think I have two combat units in my army with 12 T6 wounds and 3+ armor saves, and they get cover as infantry. 

Against missiles and the like, my units are significantly more survivable, FYI.

Venomthropes. Certainly a nice choice if you are trying to give cover to a three "man" Carnifex Brood. My Hive Tyrants don't need them, however, so I went for the extra unit of shooters (more Hive Guard).

Devourers and Mycetic Spores for the Termagants. Very nice but also 180 points that my list simply does not have. You can do a lot with 500 points. Additionally, I don't have as many Gargs so I need those Termagant bodies hanging out near my "core" not galavanting off on special operation: get behind the longfangs.

So maybe it's just me, but does anyone else see the remarkable design similarities between these lists? Yes, there are differences, which reflect both the 500 point difference and the slightly different styles of the list's authors. You see in the comments of the above post that SinSynn tries to enlist Synaps3 to come "show me the way to glory." I thought Synaps3's response was quite measured. He said:

"I don't want to jump into someone else's blog and tell them why I think my lists could work better."

Very gentlemanly. For the record, I value Synaps3's insights quite highly and he (and everybody) are ALWAYS welcome to comment or critique. It makes for lively and informative debate as I think we've seen with SinSynn. I particularly love and pay close attention to what Synaps3 is doing with Genestealers. Really, just great stuff.

Anyways, I'm sure that with the striking similarities in the lists, SinSynn would have some harsh critiques of Sysnaps3's list, right? Let's see what he said:

"Excellent list analysis and advice."

Oh. Ok, then.;D

In answer to your question Sin, here's a few of my thoughts. I intend to keep the entire army moving together. The Monstrous Creatures form a "core" that (in the NOVA missions) moves up into the Golden Triangle formed by the Central Objective and my two Home Side Objectives. Yes, ALL of the MC's. Together.

This is where this list plays and stays. From that point I can throw troops onto any of these three objectives, and move very points heavy units quickly into any of the 4 quarters. This is where I win games. 

The Tyrants stay in the front. They get cover easily and provide cover easily. Win win. The T-Fexes are immediately behind the Tyrants or beside them if my opponent has no or little AP 1-2 or if I am confident he will not be targeting the T-fexes. 

The Tervigons stay immediately behind either the T-Fexes or the Tyrants, depending upon which I think my opponent will target (if he's trying to kill the Tyrants, I put them behind the T-Fexes, or vice versa). 

I fully recognize that the Tyrant Stars are slow, as are the Carnifexes from Synap3's list. Synaps3 made some VERY accurate observations in his list critiques. One, 170 points is too much to spend for a Heavy Venom Cannon platform (speaking of Harpies). Fully agreed. Two, Carnifexes are slow and will be ignored by a canny opponent until late in the game. Fully agreed. Synaps3's analysis in general is pretty spot on, in fact, though I think that SinSynn and I might apply it differently.

Put these two factoids together and then ask yourself this question - is 50 points too much to spend to move the Tyrants from "eventual dire threat" to "immediate moderate threat, eventual dire threat"? I say no.

It's interesting that when you look at my list it seems "obvious" to you that the Tyrants are target priority one. I don't think everyone will see it that way. In fact I don't think that the target priority is obvious at all for quite a few armies out there. For Wolves, for example, the Tervigons are likely to be their top priority. Why? Because the Tyrant stars will start with Catalyst, and the Wolves don't like bouncing missile shots off Tyrants w/FNP or T-Fexes with 2+ armor. 

I know, because I'm a wolf player, and that's what I would do. 

For Dark Eldar the Tyrants are not the biggest threat. But they are still a threat because of the Cannons and so cannot be ignored. Likewise with Razorspam. 

You seem to think that the Tyrants are at cross purpose because they each have a 25 point upgrade. I would argue that weaponless Tyrants will be ignored until all other shooting has been silenced. Now we can debate Brainleech vs. HVC all day, and it's a good argument. But I've gone with HVC for now, and I already explained why. 

I need to get some sleep here. As far as I'm concerned the BEST POSSIBLE OUTCOME would be for you to fire off a Part III tomorrow which thoroughly blows me away with it's eloquence, rationale and reason such that I completely scrap my list and start over. Because I would have learned something new. So far I haven't been thus blown away.

So bring it on, man.