So this is obviously a continuation of my topic found here: http://hulksmash-homeplace.blogspot.com/2010/10/can-tyranids-compete-part-1.html
This part will cover my thoughts on how to build a competitive Tyranid army; how it works; why it can hang with the big dogs. First here are some of the types of armies you might see at the top tables or being run by some of the community at the "National" level:
Reece(SW's)-Local to me but now Northern Cali: http://www.dakkadakka.com/dakkaforum/posts/list/315517.page
Mike Brandt(Non-Typical IG)-Virginia: http://whiskey40k.blogspot.com/2010/10/rapid-fire-recap-battle-for-salvation.html
Stelek from YTTH(SW's)-Utah: http://www.yesthetruthhurts.com/2010/10/battle-for-salvation-ze-list.html
Danny Internets from Bald and Screaming(More standard IG much like Shep's from Dakka)-NY: http://www.baldandscreaming.com/battle-reports/whiskey-challenge-battle-report-danny-internets-vs-hulksmash/
Dashofpepper's Orks-Florida: http://www.dakkadakka.com/dakkaforum/posts/list/314435.page
Yermom's Daemon Army-NY/East Coast: http://www.dakkadakka.com/dakkaforum/posts/list/321717.page
These are some of the noted players who field some of the tougher armies around the internet and have had good showing at tournies this year. In fact I think only Yermom is missing out on his Vegas ticket out of the group. Notice a lack of Tyranid armies? I sure do. To be fair I believe that only 3-4 Tyranid players total showed up to the Nova or BFS events and there were only 2 at the Smackdown locally here in SoCal. Though those Tyranid armies did quite well at the event it's the only event I've seen them even show up to that wasn't a 1,500pt event. Remember this article series is about if Tyranids can compete on a "National" (read large tournament) level. So how would I build a list that has the ability to handle the above lists and still tackle the possible random pulls I might get in the first round or two of a 5 game event? We're going to look at 2 of my lists I'm currently tweaking and at how I think they can be competitive.
The first thing we obviously need to figure out is what kind of army we want. Do we want big bugs, a horde, or something in between? I did forget to mention this in my "How I Build an Army" post that I'm also a player who likes limited variability in regards to my army being on the board when I'm playing anything except Daemons so generally there are few to none deepstriking/outflanking/reserve style units in my armies. Back to the topic at hand; well looking at the lists above what we need in our tool box is:
- Speed to limit rounds of shooting
- Ranged anti-tank
- Deathstar Tarpit
- Like any list survivable troops
- Target priority saturation
So for #1 I currently look at 3 options. Gargoyles, Raveners, and Ygmarls. Now I will point out that Ygmarls don't get used at all without one of the others as then I can't control when I will have the ability to put pressure on the enemy but they are still useful even before deployment because of the worry and disruption they can cause. Gargoyles are my go to in lists with faster HQ's and generally are working on a round 2 charge into softer parts of the enemy. Raveners are much like Warriors in that they can be instant killed but that with the right amount of T6 wounds on the table that they are far less of a priority and thus far more survivable.
For #2 we obviously look to the elite slot and pick up some Hive Guard. Now having played Space Wolves for most of last year I've come to the conclusion that 4 St8 shots is fine for killing transports and vehicles. So I rarely max these guys to the full 3 models. Generally running 2-3 Squads of 2 depending on whether the Ygmarls make it into a list or not. I don't actually ever bring a Tyranofex as to me it makes target priority easier as well as limiting my close in attack power. Zoanthropes are just too easy to shut down in my opinion in the current game so they have a tendency to get left at home as well. I actually don't like to focus too many points into ranged anti-tank. I put enough in that it can provide covering fire for a turn or two but that is an easy enough "threat" to shift my opponents target priority from the other units coming down on him. Basically 2 Units of 2 Hive Guard is a staple of mine, add a third as needed.
I pretty much have a core to my lists with Tyranids that doesn't change:
2xTervigons w/Cluster Spines, Catalyst, Adrenal Glands, and Toxin Sacs
This core comes out to 490pts. It's trusted and reliable. It's not easy to destroy fast (#4) and it actually produces more units over the course of the game. This part I realize isn't going to come as a shock to anyone but the point is to go thru the whole process. This also covers #3 as Gants are great ways to hem an enemy in and keep him from killing anything important as you grind him down.
All of which leaves us with target priority saturation. This means enough targets to confuse your enemies shooting but also enough to still get thru even if he prioritizes correctly. Meaning a lot of T6 wounds on the table. Generally you're looking at 8-12 T6 from your Hive Guard, 12 T6 from your Tervigons, and I almost never leave home without 2 Trygons. So I'm starting with 32-36 T6 wounds on the table. All of them requiring Auto-cannons or something heavier to really hurt. All of which can be boosted to survive better with the Tervigons (side note: this allows you to control your opponents target priority as well).
So now that you've seen the why let's look at the first list:
Dual Bone Swords, Toxin Sacs, Deathspitter
Bonesword and Lashwhip, Toxin Sacs, Deathspitter
2x2 Hive Guard-200
2xTervigons w/Cluster Spines, Catalyst, Adrenal Glands, and Toxin Sacs-390
Now in the above list the Raveners can be switched out with Gargoyles but I think they are a better fit with all the big bugs as they aren't as easy a target with light weapons as Gargoyles are but they do hit harder. The idea is pretty simple with the above list. Generally the Trygons start on the table with the rest of your army (Saturation) and the Primes start with the Carni's to grant the Tervigons and themselves cover saves from incoming fire. The Ygmarls are obviously designed for turn 2-3 (hopefully) charge into parking lots or long fangs thus reducing the number of shots coming at you as you close. The most important thing is making the right target priority decisions with your Hive Guard as they probably won't be around by Turn 3 against a lot of mech opponents. The joy is that if they're not then it means your big stuff is hitting turn 3-4 practically untouched.
The trick with Tyranids is to make every choice the enemy makes with target priority a bad one which is something I've found that only Tyranids can do very, very well. The Carnifex/Prime unit is just plain deadly to almost anything in the game (including nobz which Nids struggle with) and you can do wound allocation shenanigans with incoming shots as well, keeping them up and running longer. The key thing is creating your own survivability with this list. It's not lightning quick so proper deployment is key but it does have all the tools to deal with what's generally out that and I'd put it up against any of the above lists and feel like I had a damn fine shot against them, list for list, which is pretty much what you're looking for in any army you build. The above list is more of my Hammer/Anvil style Nid list where my other one, while similar, is more speed oriented.
Since this post is closing in on 1,300 words and I generally like to keep it to 1,000 or less I'm going to cut it here. We'll pick up with the second list and more of my thoughts on Tyranid competitiveness in part 3 of what is now a 4 part series. Thanks for reading this guys!