Thursday, October 21, 2010

Can Tyranids Compete? Part 2

So this is obviously a continuation of my topic found here:

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:
Mike Brandt(Non-Typical IG)-Virginia:
Stelek from YTTH(SW's)-Utah:
Danny Internets from Bald and Screaming(More standard IG much like Shep's from Dakka)-NY:
Dashofpepper's Orks-Florida:
Yermom's Daemon Army-NY/East Coast:

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:

  1. Speed to limit rounds of shooting
  2. Ranged anti-tank
  3. Deathstar Tarpit
  4. Like any list survivable troops
  5. 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:
2x10 Termagants
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:

Tyranid Prime-105
Dual Bone Swords, Toxin Sacs, Deathspitter

Tyranid Prime-110
Bonesword and Lashwhip, Toxin Sacs, Deathspitter

2x2 Hive Guard-200

7 Ygmarls-161

2x10 Termagants-100
2xTervigons w/Cluster Spines, Catalyst, Adrenal Glands, and Toxin Sacs-390

-Fast Attack-
6 Raveners-210
Rending Claws

-Heavy Support-

2 Carnifexes-320

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!


Ben said...

I'm guessing you are not trying to get cover on the trygons as well, so they are the main recipient of catalyst in this setup?

An objection that is sure to be raised is that you are primarily relying on cc to kill transports, which usually results in taking point-blank fire from the contents. You said earlier that mech guard doesn't really give you trouble, so what is the answer to a list like MVBs, where angry people with meltaguns are going to shoot you for wrecking their ride?

Hulksmash said...

No I never try to claim cover on Trygons unless there is a huge building or hill that actually covers them. Otherwise it's nearly impossible to cover them. In the above list the primes/carnies generally get one of the FnP and the other is used to focus the enemies target priority. Sometimes it's on the tervigons, sometimes on the raveners, sometimes on the Trygons.

In regards to relying on CC to take out transports and their contents the reason I don't sweat it as much is that most people use melta. Melta means generally 2 wound with maybe 1 more if your really lucky from rapid fire. The reason people like Orks don't do CC transport destroying well (and people carry this thought over to Nids) is because they are so succeptible(sp?) to small armes fire/flamers/ and templates. That's not generally the issue with Nids. Generally the thing your using to pop a vehicle is an MC that starts w/6 wounds. They are very resilient to small arms and unless there is a lot of plasma around they'll probably survive the next shooting phase.

I'll be covering more of my opinion of destroying vehicles in CC with nids in probably the 4th and final part. The next one will deal with my other army and some thoughts on using both lists and why I think they can hang with lists like the ones posted in this thread.

Ben said...

I should have been more clear with the trygon cover comment... getting cover from actual terrain is nigh-unto impossible, but not from a pair of fexes. But trying to run them behind the fexes, which are presumably behind something else, would create a nasty traffic jam in your assault elements.

Hulksmash said...

I probably should have been more clear in my reply :)

I've actually found a pair of Fexes don't really cut it either. I'd rather use that Fex unit to give the Tervies cover and run the Trygons to the side so that the CC units hit together. Otherwise, yeah, traffic jams would ensue and it would slow down the army like crazy.

Ben said...

Back to communication 101 for both of us, since it took four posts to say we agree. ;)

Purgatus said...

Interesting. I wholeheartedly agree on the Gargoyles/Raveners to limit ranged shooting. Personally I am a fan of the Gargoyles (I will be running them 3 x 10 in my list).

Hulksmash said...

I saw that Purgatus. After the experiences I've had with them though I'd recommend going to 2x15. Remember that the biggest thing your trying to limit is Long Fangs. Who have ld9 Counter attack that gives off 13 (if no casualties) attacks. That can eat a whole in your unit fast. The extra bodies really help absorb that damage and leave you able to hurt them back.

I love my Gargoyles. My other list has between 25-40 depending on what else I'm running.

winterman said...

Enjoying your blog and this series! Look forward to more DE posts as well (bummed alot of good stuff is being taken to PMs on dakka!).

Your post on dakka got me to get off my duff and get the 2nd prime needed to run the carnifex deathstar. Gotta thank you for that cause that units has been fun as hell and quite effective. Dunno why I didn't do it sooner, as it lets me use my fav 40k model.

So anywho, for point #2 above, I have an observations to add. I've tried to limit myself to 2x2 hive guard aswell (taking ymgarls as you have in the list above) and I am finding 4 hive gaurd shots is not the same as 4 ML shots on a long fang squad. Reason being is range -- LFs are firing from turn 1 but its rare that an opponent will give you turn 1 shots if they know what HG can do. So I am finding they aren't getting enough done early enough to really help out. It might be though that I am too conservative with them too, sticking as much as possible to safer zones for them to operate.

Any event this has led me to be a bit frustrated as far as anti-transport is concerned. I don't really want to go with 6 hive guard but I am starting to wonder if 4 is really enough.

Hulksmash said...

Just for you Winterman I posted what I think I'll be building for when I don't want to use the Baron list I've already done.

Back on topic though I tend to be very, very aggressive with my Hive Guard. Mostly as I figure they aren't going to last long so I need to use them while I have them. If there is any cover where I want to put them then they go at the front of my deployment zone which means they should be able to get shots on the first turn though sometimes I sacrifice a turn and run to ensure I'm in range for turn 2. If there isn't cover then they are right on the Gants butt in the deployment zone and the same thing as above happens. I learned last edition with Deathspitter Warriors that decisive movement is critical to making them work. I can thank Blackmoor for that after my loss to him at the only non-best general Broadside Bash attendance :)

winterman said...

" I learned last edition with Deathspitter Warriors that decisive movement is critical to making them work"

Yeah I am still getting used to running short ranged shooty with nids -- only shooty bugs I played with prior to the new codex were gun fexes (and stranglefexes once 5ed came out). Lot more leeway in movement with 36" range. I may have to bite the bullet and get some proper t-fexes built, they may work more with my mindset/playstyle.

Chumbalaya said...

I like this set up Hulkamania, only thing I'd change is adding some extra suppression fire in the form of a dakkafex and dakkarant, maybe Harpies if I'm feeling saucy.

Hulksmash said...

You'll see more suppressive fire in the next article Chumby :) For this list you could drop a single Ravenor or a little tweaking and you could get 1 TL-Dev on both Carnies. It reduces their CC abilities but gives you a nice 12 TL St6 shots.

Lyracian said...

I like the Fex-star as a unit. Think I would always go with some sort of ranged attack on the Carnifex thought since they can struggle to catch fast units.

I have never used Ygmarls just because of the limited area cover we have in some games makes options for deploying them limited. Outflanking regular units works fine for me though.

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