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"Pink isn't a color. It's a lifestyle." - Chumbalaya
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Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Armies in 5th: Tyranids Part 5: HQ & synapse

Well it's time to look at who leads the swarm. There are three primary choices, the Hive Tyrant, Tervigon and Tyranid Prime. The Tervigon has been discussed in detail as a Troop/utility and is an excellent unit but loses a tiny bit of effectiveness as an HQ since it can't score. Going for 5 Tervigons has its merits at 2500 points but 2000pts and less you've got too much support and not enough killing power. So for this discussion we'll consider Tervigons a much better choice as a Troop. This leaves us with the Tyrant (inc. Swarmlord) and Tyranid Prime.

They Tyranid Prime is essentially a buffed up Warrior (which lends his BS and WS to them if he joins their unit) but has one major advantage over the Tyrant. He's an 80pt IC. Whilst it is generally advisable to give him BS/LW (or BSx2) + Toxin which takes him to just over 100pts, he is cheap and can roam. This is huge for Tyranids in making units like Hive Guard or Warrior squads more survivable, particularly for Warriors against S8/9 guns and for Hive Guard with 3 extra wounds which can be taken on a 3+. Outside of this defensive utility, the Prime saves you points (roughly 70-100) as you don't have to buy a Tyrant. You can therefore buy two or use the extra points elsewhere. They are pretty good in combat and will particularly improve a Warrior unit's output though this will make them a bigger target especially if you're running less MCs.

So what does the Tyrant bring to the table then? Obviously MC status + the ability to bring a very evil unit into combat through Tyrant Guard (the Swarmlord can do this especially well and for all intents and purposes the Swarmlord is just a bigger, meaner and badder HT in close combat but not so good at shooting). Outside of that the Hive Tyrant allows you to really change the way your army plays and can be a huge utility unit through upgrades and psychic powers. Firstly though equipment, standard layout is going to be something like LW/BS and a Heavy Venom Cannon with a Tyrant guard. This gives it 6 wounds, very scary in combat and can put out fire support as it advances. The other option is Wings but these are very expensive and will lead your Tyrant to being shot early. Personally I find Trygons or Carnifexes in spores to be more effective MCs in combat than a Flyrant as you are sacrificing the Tyrant's ability to support an army.

So the unique and primary upgrades for the Tyrant are Hive Commander, Old Adversary and Indescribable Horror. IH is useless, the Tyrant is a beast in assault anyways and most low Ld units aren't going to want to assault him as it were. The other two however lend themselves very well to armies. Old Adversary makes everything within 6" much better at combat. This is one improvement over the Swarmlord who can bestow a specific USR on a single unit with 18". If you're going for a midfield presence or combat oriented Troops, this skill is an extremely good effect multiplier. Hive Commander will be a very popular choice for any army using reserves or spores. Not only does it give the added benefit to reserves rolls but it allows a Troop choice to outflank; suddenly Tervigons as Troops in a spore army seem more viable. This upgrade is a must if you are using such an army simply for addition to your reserves.

So outside of being able to make super-unit, support the swarm and lay down supporting fire, the Hive Tyrant also has access to some pretty good psy powers. The problem is they are all short-ranged. However, the one that jumps out from the rest is Paroxysm. Whilst the lowering of BS doesn't really help due to it's short range, the lower WS can really render super-units useless as even gaunts will hit on 3s and get hit on 5s. Add in Old Adversary & poison and that unit is likely going to be dragged down in combat. Other than that Psychic Scream has some decent utility against low Ld armies and Leech Essence can unreliably help your tyrant stay alive but it boils down to utility as you're going to be using paroxysm more often than not.

Whilst the Tyrant offers a lot more options for the Tyranid army and can really 'gel' a whole list together, you pay for it. Each of these guys is going to net you 200+ points and if you add in the Tyrant Guards start thinking 300. The Swarmlord is even more but is much more potent in combat whilst lacking in support firing and to a certain degree, utility. It then becomes a trade-off between the Prime and Tyrant with what you want as neither is a bad choice. Taking Primes generally lets you fit more into your list and gives your valuable units more wounds whilst the Tyrant soaks up more points but makes your army more potent overall and can lend certain lists (i.e. Spores) a huge boost.

This brings us to the final point before our summary, synapse. Losing synapse isn't going to lose you the game but it will lose you some degree of control. Depending on the unit, once out of synapse and Ld is failed, the unit will either be forced to run towards the nearest enemy or shoot it (depending on unit type this generally fits their role). Whilst this isn't a huge problem, an opponent who does take out all of your synapse early on will have a distinct advantage. It is therefore very important when making a list to ensure you have multiple synapse cover units. Generally speaking since Tervigons, HQs and Warriors are so popular this isn't a problem but with units like Ravengers, Hormaguants or Gargoyles who race ahead, it can be.

5 pinkments:

Chumbalaya said...

Good summary.

I'm sold on Primes, have been since the German PDF linked, but Tyrants are trickier. I can see the benefits they offer, but for the points I'd much rather have more Hive Guard/Tyrannofexes/Tervigons.

Raptor1313 said...

For me, the Prime is your cheap HQ. You basically have the option to spend ~100 on an Alpha, or drop 250ish on an equipped Tyrant.

Every now and then in my double-Tervi lists, I've considered putting one Tervi into HQ. Admittedly, it would free up points, but I'd likely rather have the easy-to-hide synapse of the Prime, and have scoring Tervis.

The_King_Elessar said...

I concur, good summary.

Kirby said...

I agree Primes are an excellent source of offensive power in combat and ablative wounds as the Tyrant cost went up. Sites like Warseer, etc. though don't give the Tyrant and due credit. Like the Tervigon, it's a force multipler but unlike the Tervigon it's also a awesome in combat. You have to pay for that but at the same time make sure your army benefits from the Tyrant as much as possible.

R. C. Fountain said...

Glad you posted this article! In my opinion, the extra point cost is worth it for the power and versatility the tyrant brings to the army.

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