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"Pink isn't a color. It's a lifestyle." - Chumbalaya
"...generalship should be informing list building." - Sir Biscuit
"I buy models with my excess money" - Valkyrie whilst a waitress leans over him

Friday, May 14, 2010

AbusePuppy's Tyranid Review Part 4: Troops


The backbone of any list, in a Tyranid army troops are where you will find some of your strongest CC threats and anti-infantry shooting. Tyranid troops are, as a rule, not terribly durable, so make sure that you take them in sufficient quantities to ensure that they survive until the end of the game.

(The Tervigon, while often a troops choice, is discussed in the HQ section above.)
Tyranid Warriors

Interestingly enough, despite the above caveat we start off with the most survivable of the troops units. With near-Marine statline (better in some areas, worse in others, but notably with W3), the Tyranid Warrior is a real monster to deal with. They come standard with Scything Talons and Devourer, which gives them reasonable CC ability (in combination with their WS and A), but not terribly impressive, and pretty decent shooting. They're also Synapse/SitW and thus can be counted on to hold a point until the last man. The basic Tyranid Warrior is actually rather mediocre for his cost- you're paying Terminator prices for something that can be taken out by a Krak shot, which can be really risky. You will want to specialize your Warriors in one way or another or you will consistently find their performance sub-par. We'll talk about the possibilities more in the Options section, but for now let's look at some potential uses.

One thing to consider is that, despite their vulnerability to ID, Warriors still get cover saves like any other unit, so insuring that they have cover at all times goes a long ways towards dispelling some of their perceived fragility. A line of Gaunts is one of the best ways, but terrain and Venomthropes can work just as well. You also do not want to make them an obvious target- in a list with lots of other MCs, the enemy may be hard pressed to bring enough S8+ weapons to deal with them all. In this sort of list, their lack of Eternal Warrior is almost a benefit, as it taunts the enemy with the possibility of killing a ~40pt model with a single shot; of course, that's the point of offering them the bait, as doing so is a mistake- those weapons are dearly needed to put wounds on the MCs, who are effectively invulnerable to fire from Bolters and similar weapons, whereas the Warriors can be chewed down by them.

Over-upgrading is a major issue for Warriors, just as it is with many other bugs. Always keep in mind what your specific role is, and aim only for upgrades to benefit that role. Thinking "well, I might get into CC, so ___ would be useful, and so would ___ and ____, and they're only five points each..." is a quick path to T4/4+ models that cost 60pts. Pick one thing. Be good at it. The nature of Warriors means that they will probably perform reasonably well at other things even if you don't upgrade them, but shelling out points for multiple types of upgrades will lead to disaster.

Warriors can be an excellent source of mid-field Synapse, since they themselves are scoring and can spread the unit around to cover a very large area. They are tough enough that it's hard to displace them from an objective and, depending on build, can be cheap enough that you can take broods of reasonable size to provide a pile of wounds that need to be eliminated. Compared to the MC alternatives, Warriors-based Synapse is very tough to take out and may not always paint the same sort of crosshairs on themselves that the bigger beasts tend to.

You generally will not want to take extremely large broods of Warriors, as it not only ends up being overkill ("I did twenty-three power weapon wounds to you.") but also makes you even more of a target for Battlecannons and the like. Groups of 4-5 are what I've found to work best, although you could go up to six or seven if you had a Prime with you, in order to try and take advantage of him.

Note that all Warriors in the brood must take the same options, so no wound allocation shenanigans. However, see the Venom Cannon/Barbed Strangler entries.

Mycetic Spore: This is a big one. Warriors advancing across the field can get shot up, but with a Spore you give your opponent exactly one turn to deal with things before you are in his face. As with many other units, Warriors should be fielded in a Spore only if it is part of an overall deep striking strategy that intends to deny your opponent the chance to deal with your army in the early game. If you are coming down in a Spore you almost certainly want to keep your gun, as shooting is the only thing you can really do the turn you come down. (With good arrangement of your Spores, running will generally be unnecessary, but there is of course the possibility.)

Rending Claws: As with the Prime, you can actually get these two different ways: by trading in your Talons (and paying 5 pts) or by giving up your gun (for free.) The former option I consider sub-par- it's generally taken as an attempt to make a shooty/bitey hybrid Warrior, but I just don't feel it's worth the points. Rending simply isn't that good of a rule anymore, and Genestealers do the Toxin + Rending trick much better thanks to their superior Initiative and mobility. The other method, however, holds more appeal for me; essentially, it is the concession of all modicum of ranged ability to become a close combat monster. Paired up with the Bonesword/Lash Whip, it allows you to penetrate vehicles, vaguely threaten Dreadnoughts, and minimize damage to enemy squads if you are trying to hide in CC. The note about Dreadnoughts is important, because Warriors are otherwise unable to harm them, so if you don't have a Prime attached and a lot of MCs in the list, you may want to consider it. Overall, the Dev -> RC swap should be a major consideration; do you really need a few S4 shots, or will the flexibility in melee help you more?

Paired Boneswords: Boneswords are the real reason that Rending Claws + (other melee upgrade X) is a poor choice. For a pretty reasonable price, you can add a better-than-a-power weapon to your CC unit, turning them into real monsters. Paired swords, although cheaper, are generally the worse of the two options because you really want to be striking ahead of Marines to minimize your casualties on these expensive dudes. However, some lists may be extremely scraping for points- in which case the downgrade is an option- or may be worried about killing multiwound models. The twin swords are very handy here, since a Ld test on 3d6 kills almost everything in the game. (Note that only one test is made, no matter how many wounds you did to them.) Enemy Tyranids are, ironically, extra vulnerable to this due to generally poor Ld on our non-Synapse creatures. See also below entry for more on Bonesword strategy.

Bonesword/Lash Whip: This is the good stuff. Although it's far from cheap, this is effectively power weapon + grenades (which you desperately need). Striking first- or, at worst, simultaneous- is a massive advantage and lets you ruin most types of dedicated CC units, although your nemesis (TH/SS Termies) don't really care, which is why you should leave them to other units in the codex. Combined with Toxin Sacs, you should be able to scythe through roughly two marines per Warrior, which should quickly turn most combats into a slaughterfest. Of course, the unit does become pricey at that point- 50 pts per model- but what you get is a brood that is all but unbeatable in melee, and even just one or two models can beat a lot of units in combat. This is, in my opinion, one of the strongest possible Warrior builds.

Barbed Strangler: Unlike all of the other options, this actually creates a unique wound group within the brood, which is a huge deal because it means you can suck up potentially two more wounds without losing a model. This alone is often enough reason to take one of the heavy weapons, but the truth is they're not too shabby on their own. The Strangler is a very nice large blast template to be carrying around and has the range to reach out and hurt people even in the early game. If you're using Devourers, it also matches up nicely with their target priority and adds yet another leadership roll that the unit needs to pass. The main issue with the Strangler is that Tyranid lists rarely lack for anti-infantry shooting, so you're paying points to improve something you don't really struggle with. However, it is a reasonable choice in any case and if your area is very mech-light it can really shine.

Venom Cannon: A lot of people don't like the VC and its big brother, but honestly, they're not all that terrible. They aren't great, either, but as noted above, you need AT guns. If the rest of the brood has Deathspitters, a VC can bring a nice bump to its transport-killing ability. Your blast will land roughly 50% of the time (depending on hull size), so it isn't a terrible proposition for you and you're really only looking to stun/immobilize most targets anyways, so the -1 isn't all that crippling. Like the Deathspitter, it also performs reasonably against non-vehicle targets, so you have good duality in the unit. And hey, ID for Guard and Eldar never hurt anyone.

Spinefists: See the Tyranid Prime entry. They aren't great, but they aren't horrible, either. If you're one of those people who's always b****ing about rolling 3s on their to-hit, maybe you'll want them.

Deathspitter: While the anti-infantry improvements over the Devourer are rather mediocre (+1S, trades morale penalty for AP5), against vehicles they make a world of difference. You'll be able to score some damage to transports by virtue of sheer number shots, although you aren't going to be wrecking many Rhinos with them. Really, though, all you need to do is Stun/Immobilize them so that you can get in there in CC and do some real damage, so the Deathspitter ends up being a pretty good option for a shooting brood. A Warrior Prime particularly benefits such a unit with his BS boost and ability to shrug off S8/9 hits (since you can't hide in CC easily.) If you're taking these, you probably aren't taking any other upgrades except maybe, maybe Adrenal Glands, as you want to keep the individual Warriors as cheap as possible to act as a Synapse centerpiece.

Scything Talons: I guess this is an option, just like with the Prime. Not really sold on it, though.

Adrenal Glands: Lets you strike before Marines and hurt vehicles more. However, not really compatible with Toxin Sacs (since they give you a fixed to-wound value) and redundant with Lash Whip. Taking these in place of Rending Claws in order to penetrate vehicles is an option, but honestly I think you're better off with the Claws for the other options they give you, especially against Dreads. However, you could do a lot worse than these.

Toxin Sacs: Pretty much an auto-include for any CC build. Rerolling wounds against Marines is simply too good to pass up, and the fact that it lets you threaten bigger monsters as well is just gravy.

Common builds
The Budget Patrol: 1 Barbed Strangler, no other upgrades

Shooty Synapse: Deathspitters, 1 Venom Cannon

Choppy Doom: LW/BS, Toxin, RC (deep strike version keeps Devourers instead)


Cheaper than before, with the same stats, but the devil is in the details this time around. Genestealers are still excellent shock troops and rate reasonably well against even the best assault troops in the game, but their current incarnation suffers from a number of issues that drag this otherwise-excellent unit down in little ways that add up.

First off, the numbers. No complaints here- they strike ahead of everything but the rarest of characters and units and will almost always hit on a 3+. Their reasonable S/T values put them on par with Marines and two attacks means you are going to cause some hurt no matter what. Fleet, Infiltrate, and Rending as basic are all very nice. However, that 5+ armor save is a killer, because it means anything you don't kill is going to wreck you in assault and virtually everyone's base gun scythes through your armor like it isn't there.

Infiltrate as a special deployment option means you have several ways to run them. First off, you can do a "standard" infiltrate, which would mean putting them 18" away from the enemy (or 12" if you're out of LOS). The upside is that you can threaten otherwise-weak sections of the board, like Outflank but without the issues with reserves. The downside is that you are going to get shot all to hell because you're not with the main body of your force, and consequently can't get cover as easily, have no backup, etc. So option 2 is fake-infiltrating, i.e. using it to deploy somewhere near the remainder of the army so you can get cover. This is effectively giving it up in return for some safety, forming part of the first wave of assault units. Finally, you can outflank, but unless you have a Swarmlord with you this is very unreliable- you have a 33% of "missing" your correct board edge and a canny opponent will simply stay away from one or both edges, denying you the possibility of a charge. Arriving late to the battle (turn 2 at best, more likely 3 or even 4) means that you're committing a lot of points to remaining off-board where they don't affect the battle at all, a risky strategy.

Their Brood Telepathy is also worth special note; it allows them to operate independent of Synapse, and combined with Ld10, they can pass most Morale and Pinning checks with ease. However, don't get cocky with them- you have a non-negligible chance of failing these checks, so don't rely on it absolutely. High Init also means that losing a combat isn't necessarily the end of the world for you- you have two chances (Ld test, I test) to get away unscathed, although doing so at the end of your own turn will likely result in them being shot to death.

Above and beyond their basic abilities and numbers, Genestealers have a number of issues. First off, there are several cheap, quick, dangerous CC units (Hormagaunts, Gargoyles) and other MEQ-killers (Warriors, Zoanthropes) available to a Tyranid general, so they are no longer the far-and-away premiere choice they once were. They still excel against Marines and will have some trouble with hordes (like Orks), but other units are competing for their main role and are debatably better. More importantly, they lack access to any kind of grenades, which makes their high I come into play less often than you might like, given their expense and fragility. While assaulting into cover isn't complete suicide, it is a very risky proposition and shouldn't be done lightly with Genestealers.

So what are they good for? Well, as said they're fine shock troops and a lot cheaper than Warriors and more effective than Hormagaunts when built properly. Their special deployment options also lend them some flexibility and they are one of our few troops that can be counted on to hold a point if you can't get some Synapse to them. A squad of eight 'Stealers gone to ground is surprisingly hard to dislodge without assaulting, which will probably spell doom for whatever dares to attack them. While they aren't as rock-solid as troops in a transport, they can weather far more firepower than most of our units. If you face a lot of Marines and are looking for some tactical flexibility in a melee package, you could do worse than Genestealers. Broods of 8-12 are normally the ideal number, as the ridiculous-sized squads simply become too much of a fire magnet.

(Aside: Stealer Shock is not a real army anymore. If you want to play it for fun that's fine and it's not totally horrible, but it is in no way competitive and lacks the tools to deal with most "good" lists.)

Scything Talons: Not a terribly impressive upgrade, as you could just be running more 'Stealers. However, rerolling 50% of your misses isn't awful. Numerically, they work out to be okay but not great. 'Stealers tend to already be a glass cannon unit, so emphasizing this isn't a great buy most of the time.

Adrenal Glands: Doesn't really do anything for you. You already penetrate tanks on a Rend, so this doesn't change much. It does up your chances against a Dreadnought, but it's probably not worth it since you can get the Broodlord; see below.

Toxin Sacs: As with all the other S4 guys, these are awesome. Given that you have Rending, they are extra awesome. Doubling up on Rends is good stuff, although it isn't quite as fancy as having them on a Tyranid Warrior with Bonesword. I consider these a more-or-less mandatory upgrade, as your gain in damage for points invested is so large as to be absurd. They don't help a lot against T5/6 (since units like that mostly are only taking wounds from a Rend anyways), but every little bit helps.

Mycetic Spore: Wait, what? What? I don't understand. I don't even understand a little bit. Never ever take this unless, for some reason, you just wanted to add a short-range T4 shooter to your army. What the hell.

Broodlord: This guy is a big enough deal as to practically deserve his own entry. Okay, so you pay a crapload of points and get a +1 to a bunch of stats. S and T are nice, the save is a bonus, you get a couple more wounds as well. But you could get three Genestealers for his price, and that would be more wounds, more attacks, etc; why would you want him? Well, he does have two psychic powers. Aura of Despair is pretty trashy, but it can make life difficult for enemy Psykers (assuming they don't shut it down, which they likely would). It's not nearly as useful as SitW, however, and the fact that you can't use it until well after shooting is done (so no effect on 50% of Doom's rolls, pinning/morale tests, etc) is really trashy. Hypnotic Gaze is occasionally useful and randomly amazing- I've seen it shut down a Trygon before, but more commonly you will knock a Sergeant out of combat or do nothing.

The real advantage of the Broodlord are his extra options (most notably Implant Attack) and higher S value. Normal Genestealers are Dreadnought bait; they can only penetrate basic Dreads by Rending followed by rolling a 5 or 6. Broodlords double that chance, only needing a 3+ (and even on a 1-2 they still glance it.) Given your high number of attacks, thus puts the squad at almost on par with Marines w/PF Sarge in terms of killing the Dread- not great chances, but enough to matter. Secondly, having the option of Implant Attack means you can make the squad into a major threat against characters, as a single roll of 6 will spell their doom (remember, both Rending and IA trigger on to-wounds of 6 and you should be rerolling wounds thanks to Toxin.) Combined with Hypnotic Gaze, it turns a 'Stealer squad into something that very few characters or MCs want to get anywhere near, which gives them a measure of protection they desperately need. (Broodlords can also buy Acid Blood, but don't do it.)

Trivia note: "Termagant," with no 'u', is the correct spelling; Gaunt (from the adjective of the same spelling) is the more general genus that collectively refers to all the breeds, sometimes including Hormagaunts and Gargoyles. Termagant is generally reserved for the Fleshborer-bearing variant that is most common. The omission of the 'u' is due to its derivation from the old English word for a violent or raucous woman. Harridan and Harpy have their origins in similar words; many other Tyranid beasties take their names from Latin or pseudo-Latin terms. So anyways...

The humble Termagant. It's not particularly good in assault (I4 being its only distinguishing feature.) It doesn't have very good shooting (Bolt Pistols are not known for being Super Pro.) It isn't tough, fast, or... well, pretty much anything. It's got about as poor of stats as you can get, bar Grots. Its only redeeming feature is actually not even a feature of the unit, but rather the fact that it can get Fearless from a nearby Synapse unit. Hell, they aren't even particularly cheap- Guardsmen are the same price, but come with a better gun, better Leadership, Frag Grenades, and options for Heavy and Special weapons.

The Termagant's effectiveness, then, lies in its role in the rest of the army. It serves as mobile cover, as an assault screen, and as a scoring unit (rendered durable by its ability to go to ground without any real concern for loss of firepower.) And, even though its 12" reach may be pathetic by most standards, it still outranges most of our other troop units, who are exclusively melee, so you will usually see Termagants taken as objective holders, especially alongside their momma.

That is, of course, the other advantage- taking Termagants lets you take Tervigons as scoring units (and ones that produce additional scoring units, at that.) Their other special rules are fairly minor in comparison- Move Through Cover never hurt anyone, but it's certainly not anything to write home about.

So what kind of army wants Termagants? Well, as said, you're mostly going to be taking them as a way to get scoring units, although taking large broods for meat shields isn't unknown. Hormagaunts are only slightly more expensive, though, and can run forward with impunity (and cause some damage if they manage to arrive), so I generally find them (or Gargoyles) to be better living walls. Any kind of on-board army will want to strongly consider taking some Termagants and a Tervigon- or two or three- to create a strong scoring presence on the board, as 2/3 of your games are going to be won and lost on objectives. Armies that rely on shooting are going to especially want Gaunts, as they are not only surprisingly vicious when backed by a Tervigon's upgrades but also cheap and plentiful enough to make an effective army-wide screening force.

Mycetic Spore: Lacking much firepower in their normal form, basic Termagants are not a very impressive part of a Spore force. However, upgraded with Devourers they can become quite deadly to most units, pouring out a withering hail of fire the turn they arrive- something that Spore armies otherwise lack much of. I am cautious when adding any of the large blast weapons to my Spores containing Gaunts, as the possibility of scattering back onto the unit (as you are forced to fire at the nearest target due to the Spore's rules) is a very real one.

Strangleweb: Huh. Well, it is a pinning Template, at least. However, its crappy Strength value means that it's usually pretty useless; Orks are just about the only target it actually can do anything against. Everyone else you still wound on 6s, and against Kroot you're actually worse off. This really should have been S3, but lacking that it's probably something you'll almost never take. The option exists, though, so keep it in mind. Oh, and it can be cute with a Mawloc, since Mr. Mouthy pushes them the minimum distance possible.

Spinefists: :( GW really screwed a lot of the old guard Tyranid players when these switched from being the preferred combination to worthless. Statistically, against T4 models you will score the same number of wounds with Spinefists as with Fleshborers, so paying points to do the same thing is a poor choice. They are superior against Eldar/Guard/Tau, however.

Spike Rifle: Ummm... right. Well, it does have an 18" range, so that's something. Unfortunately, that's about it. Worse than a Lasgun? Yup. Don't pay points for this trash.

Devourer: Youch, that's a very pricey T3/6+ model. However, while it's alive you are spitting out ridiculous numbers of shots, so try to alpha strike your opponent out to the point where he can't effectively shoot back. Hitting isolated units is a good bet, as is hiding behind cover (or other units). These are probably the weapon of choice for Gaunts in a Mycetic Spore, since they let you cut down on incoming fire and your little men are already costing a lot of points. (Compare two squads of 20 Termagants in Spores to one squad of 20 Devilgaunts in a Spore in terms of firepower vs. points.)

Adrenal Glands, Toxin Sacs: If you want these, you should generally be taking them on the Tervigon that accompanies your Gaunts. They are otherwise not terribly costed, but not something I would really ever buy, either.

Mycetic Spore

Discussed mostly in the context of other units' entries, but we'll take a moment here to talk about the Spore in its own right. First off, the Spore is actually a pretty reasonable unit if taken in isolation- three wounds, T4, and a 4+ make it as tough as a Tyranid Warrior. BS2 means that its base gun is going to be very mediocre, but honestly that's not much of an issue. Ld is completely irrelevant. Three attacks and WS2 is not exactly great, but S6 and MC status mean that any hits it manages to make are going to hurt (assuming it gets a chance to strike, which is a little unlikely.)

The basic gun is actually a pretty fair deal, and certainly better than the Storm Bolter on a Drop Pod. Remember, it will get to shoot the turn it comes down (unlike a Pod), which will help cut down on your casualties on arriving a little. Its high Str can actually make it decent against vehicles, but don't expect much more than shaken/stunned results, as it's AP-. Keep in mind that as an MC, you can fire both the Tendrils and any gun you purchased as an upgrade.

Remember also that just because you purchased a Spore for a unit doesn't mean you have to deploy in it. You are perfectly free to elect to deploy normally (or stay in normal reserve) with the unit, although the Spore will still arrive via Deep Strike, completely empty, anyways. This isn't something you'll want to do very often, but the option exists.

Cluster Spines: A very nice choice. You get a high-Str large blast template for a small number of points, which can be perfect for something like Zoanthropes that otherwise struggles with large numbers of dudes around. Comparing it to the Strangler, you're up a Strength but lose Pinning, which I would generally consider an overall gain since lots of horde units are Fearless. You lose your AP (boo hoo) and also a lot of range- that is probably the largest concern, as 18" just isn't all that far. Still, for the cost it's a real deal.

Stinger Salvo: I don't think so. You never want Salvo on any of the other MCs who start with it, why would you take it here? The VC is better for sniping at tanks and the other guns are better at hurting everything else. Against Eldar/Tau who aren't in cover I suppose this is a sorta decent weapon.

Barbed Strangler: Pretty nice. Pretty much like Cluster Spines, but with some tweaks. This is really going to shine against Tau and Guard armies, where the Pinning can really take effect.

Venom Cannon: Expensive, but possibly worthwhile? I haven't tested this one much, but its excellent range combined with high Str make it pretty good at most things. I've said elsewhere: Tyranids don't have a lot of options for AT guns. Being able to get one on a "transport" is a very useful option.

Well, Hormagaunts certainly couldn't have gotten any worse than they were before, right? In fact, they got so much better it isn't funny, although they took a couple major hits as well. The first thing to know is that they aren't beasts anymore, so no more 12" charge. As parting gift you get a slightly better run speed, but that's it. However, they're now extremely cheap and I5 base, which means even Marines can't just shrug them off and ignore them. With two attacks and Scything Talons they're actually pretty reasonable combatants, on par with Ork Boyz in terms of the damage they can do, although their specialty is more along the lines of striking first and killing things rather than going last and piling in huge numbers of attacks. However, WS3, S3, T3, and 6+ save all mean that they are terribly fragile.

So on their own, Hormagaunts are a middling choice; they ruin Guardsmen and Tau, but anything else will probably be able to pile enough attacks back to make them regret it. What makes them usable are the Tyranid support powers, most notably Catalyst and Paroxysm. The former gives them a 4+ against most attacks, cutting your casualties in half- with Hormies being so killable, this is a huge deal. Whether plowing across the field to screen your other units (a role they excel at with their three dice for Running) or leaping into close combat and getting chopped up, Catalyst pretty much doubles up your investment on a Hormagaunt squad. Paroxysm is slightly more situational but even better- it lets your Hormies hit on 3s and struck back on 5s, which will likewise halve the number of wounds you're taking and give you a 33% bonus to damage output. (Actually, I think with Talons it's even better than that, but I'm too lazy to do the math.) Combining the two should make it all but impossible for the opponent to win a fight against you. The Preferred Enemy/Furious Charge-granting abilities of the various Tyrants and Swarmlords also extensively benefit them, although not to quite the same degree.

Because of the above reasons Hormagaunts are generally best run in large squads or not at all- a small group of Hormagaunts will get shot up, charge into a fight, and die horribly to No Retreat. You are reliant with striking ahead of the enemy and reducing their damage to minimal levels in order to win combats- if they are striking back at full strength, you are in trouble. Charging into cover will probably kill you unless you have one or more of the aforementioned support powers backing you up, as the casualties you take before striking are going to be horrendous.

Hormagaunts excel at fighting other horde armies as well as the ubiquitous TH/SS Terminators- who cares if they have a 2+ save if they have to make 25-30 of them? Against normal Marines they are only middling (unless enhanced, see below). Gunlines do not like seeing masses of Hormagaunts charging at them, as you can often multi-charge several IG squads and still pull out a win. Charging other Tyranid units into a combat with Gaunts is risky, however, as enemies will direct their attacks against your weaker creatures in hopes of winning the fight and inflicting No Retreat! wounds on everyone.

Mycetic Spore: Not quite as much of a comedy option as for Genestealers, but still not terribly impressive. I would only bother if you're running an all-Spore, and even then there are probably things you want more than Hormagaunts.

Adrenal Glands: Useful for glancing vehicles, mainly; wounding Guardsmen on a 3+ isn't worth the price hike. Definitely the worse of the two choices, but see below for more.

Toxin Sacs: Wounding MEQs on a 4+ is decent and rerolling against GEQs is a fine secondary. You can also use it to threaten MCs and other high-toughness target with weight of attacks- a full squad charging a Trygon or the like will often kill it. The craziness happens when you pair them with Adrenal so you can reroll wounds against MEQs while still striking first; at this point you are starting to become a real threat. However, at 10pts each they are too expensive for my tastes, despite the excellent combat performance. Hormagaunts are, in my opinion, meat shields for the real killers in your list, and if you want a MEQ-hunter you should be taking Toxic 'Stealers or Warriors with LW/BS+Toxin, both of which outperform the so-called Uebergaunt.

Ripper Swarms
Ick. Here's someone who got worse since the last codex. On the upside, they have a ridiculous number of wounds/point, better than any other unit in print I believe. Combined with Stealth, they are actually an incredibly durable unit and would be perfect for capturing objectives... if they could score. Yes, the unit that the Tyranids literally use to accomplish their objectives cannot capture objectives. Thanks, GW. So what you have is a mediocre tarpit unit that is extra-vulnerable to all of the things that our troops are generally already vulnerable to.

Rippers do have some amusing tricks, though; Stealth makes them able to take extra advantage of a Venomthrope's Spore Cloud, so they can make a very durable front line to an advancing swarm. And three wounds per base means it can be very hard to cut them down once they're in close combat, so if you can get some next to a Devastator squad or the like they can be a real hassle, tying up expensive units for large portions of the game. They are also naturally Fearless, although leaving them outside of Synapse range is not recommended anyways, as they tend to eat themselves. However, if they're stuck in melee or the like you can afford to ignore them, secure in the knowledge that they won't break and run.

Ripper Swarms are best taken as either a single huge line (to shield the rest of the swarm as it advances) or several small clumps to try and jump into the enemy's backlines and cause havoc. However you take them, don't expect them to kill much; rather, think of them as living shields for your important units. They're a pretty poor unit in general, but they have some uses.

Spinefists: Well here's a case for actually taking Spinefists on something. With their high A value and low BS, Rippers are the perfect candidate for carrying these guns. You end up paying 15pts for every ~2 hits (which is an unsaved wound on a MEQ 15% of the time or so, or 50% of the time against a GEQ in cover). In terms of shooting-per-point that's not terrible, but not all that great, either. Again, a harassment unit. You probably want to Deep Strike guys like this because of their short range, so grab Tunnel Swarm or Sky-slashers.

Adrenal Glands: Glance vehicles, strike even with Guard, wound MEQs on 4+ when charging? No, don't think so. You're a tarpit, not a combat unit.

Toxin Sacs: As above. You're better off buying more bodies. Combining them the way the Gaunts like to isn't really very effective, either.

Tunnel Swarm: Deep Striking is a nice trick, but you're really asking to have a Plasma Cannon or something dropped on you. It is cheap, however, and if you aren't going to use them as a screen for your main force all the time it's a pretty worthwhile option. Note that Sky-slasher Swarms can also DS and, for a few points more, have a 12" move to boot makes them often worth the upgrade.

(Apologies, in a hurry this time; more words on stuff later. Because obv this is not enough words, right?)

5 pinkments:

Chumbalaya said...


I really want to use sword/whip Warriors and a Prime in my shooty/Tervigon list. Not too pricey for a CC death machine and scoring unit.

Kirby said...

Warriors offer up huge target priority issues for opponents and can be awesome cc monsters or decent, depending on the points you spend on them.

Add in potential FNP...woot

MagicJuggler said...

Stealer Shock wasn't a good army to begin with. Considering all costs, a minimum of 19 points per outflanking stealer (Most likely up to 23 or 27 if you wanted the Acid Maw/Carapace) added up quickly, and it still had the issues with being dealt with by anti-outflank defenses.

But for outflank/infiltrate being used for taking out selective elements, Stealers are a lot handier in this regard. 17 points for Toxin Sac Stealers>20 points, plus they're a lot easier to support now. And the Broodlord Powers do prove handy. But like anything else in the Tyranid army, they're not an army into themselves.

Victor said...

Hey Abuse, you forgot to mention one of the drawback of Hormagaunts: lack of grenades. Most of your likely targets are going to be in cover so I5 is not going to come into play so many times as you would want

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