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Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Armies in 5th: Psychic Powers: Tyranids

Well onto Tyranids. Tyranids have a lot of psychic powers spread over different units and are an army which doesn’t like their powers being stopped! The units which can use psychic powers are the Hive Tyrant/Swarmlord, Tervigon, Zoanthrope/Doom and Broodlord. The main two are obviously the Tyrant and Tervigon with most armies fielding at least one of these guys. We’ll break it down by unit in order of the best to worst.

Hive Tyrant

Paroxysm - WS/BS 1 for target unit within 12”. Very effective and rending a unit useless in the next shooting phase and in combat (Guants love assaulting WS1 units). Problems obviously lie in its short range (18” please!) so it’s impact on the opponent’s next shooting phase is generally minimal and it’s a psychic shooting attack. This means the Tyrant cannot cast this and let guants assault the unit then assault another unit (though multi-assaults are possible). Even with these drawbacks though, Paroxysm is a very powerful and useful spell. Few Tyrants should leave home without it.

Leech Essence - Not really powerful but is basically a cheap form of regeneration. It’s offensive ability isn’t fantastic but the ability to drag your Tyrant back up to W4 generally easily is well worth it and can make the Deathstar unit of Tyrant & Guards difficult to remove. A very good utility and back-up spell to Paroxysm but also suffers from the short range  of 12” and shooting attack profile. Can be annoyingly wasteful though when there are no wounds on your Tyrant.

Psychic Scream - not really powerful but it has the added benefit of not being a targeted spell so can assault any unit. Better than the Horror due to ability to affect multiple units and can be decidingly annoying to low Ld armies. Low range and no Ld modifiers make it unlikely to damage anything though.

The Horror - the Tyranid’s poor form of tank shocking except without the clumping effect…why bother. Forcing a single unit to take an Ld test can be useful on a last turn to make them run off an objective but again suffers from low range and being a psychic shooting attack. You’re better off assaulting the unit.

Hard to go beyond Paroxysm and Leech Essence for the Tyrant as the other two spells just seem so useless in comparison. Remember the Tyrant is generally a support and buffing unit first which Paroxysm really adds to and Deathstar unit second (odd, I know).


Catalyst - The be all and end all of powers! The ability to cast FNP on any unit is pretty valuable. Guant screens can suddenly become very survivable and any MCs which aren’t hit with low AP weapons can be very painful to bring down. Warriors/Raveners with this in combat are simply hard as nails unless up against instant-death weapons and can cover for the low saves across units which are important such as the aforementioned Guants, Warriors and Raveners and also Harpies + Hive Guard.

Onslaught - often an overlooked spell it can extensively extend the range of your Hive Guard but more importantly can get your shooting units into side armor arcs (particularly important against IG). Unfortunately the Tervigon cannot cast two spells in a single turn (no upgrade either, here it might be useful!) so Onslaught is generally relegated to a first turn use or against faster mech armies.

Dominion - People forget about this spell and it’s free. Extending Synapse range to 18” can be very important with faster units which range ahead of the Tyranid force but is very situational in comparison to Catalyst and Onslaught and generally used late game to prevent units from moving off objectives due to instinctive behaviour.

Tervigons should never leave home without Catalyst or Onslaught, and I mean never. I’d generally recommend Catalyst first but Onslaught is very important for Hive Guard. My best advice? Take them both! Tervigons really don’t like psychic defenses though. These powers are very important to keeping the swarm ticking by keeping the important unit of the Turn alive for longer or getting units into better firing positions. The nullification of these spells can be highly aggravating.


Warp Lance - The ultimate in anti-tank for any army the only drawbacks are it is a psychic power and 18” range. Zoans generally need Onslaught (another psychic power) or a Spore to make the best use of this power and psychic defense can really shut them down. However, if Tyranid players are looking for an answer to heavy mech outside of combat, this is their answer.

Warp Blast - Longer range, low AP and blast are nice but Tyranids don’t really need assistance in anti-infantry. Mass MC attacks and combat are generally enough to take anything down backed up by generally impressive shooting (depending on list style). It’s a nice duality purpose weapon for the Zoans against hordes but not the reason you should be taking these guys.

Cataclysm - everyone forgets about this power I think and takes Doom for Spirit Leech and the damage this does to Doom may be way people choose to forego it. Again, Tyranids don’t really have much need for more anti-infantry, it’s built into their codex but AP1 is nice. Not really an anti-tank weapon thanks to blast status but @ S10 AP1 could be troublesome for some opponents and adds some anti-tank capacity to the unit.

Zoanthropes are taken for their Warp Lance, simple as that. Warp Blast offers some decent anti-infantry but that’s about it. Seriously consider the need of Warp Lance in your army though as psychic defenses will ruin the effectiveness of this unit and they are vulnerable to instant death. Doom really revolves around it’s spirit leech ability which is okay but not fantastic (even if it does affect units in transports) and thus isn’t really taken for Cataclysm. I personally prefer Hive Guard/Deathleaper over both of these units but Zoanthropes certainly have their place thanks to Warp Lance.


Hypnotic Gaze - Ability to potentially shut down special weapons suck as Mark of the Wulfen, Power Fists/Weapons, etc. or Independent Characters is a handy power but like most Ld + D6 rolls unreliable. Most combat wielding models generally have Ld buffs due to being leaders so it’s not always going to work. Add in psychic defenses and don’t rely on this to make your combat work.

Aura of Despair -
The new codex’s answer to yesteryears psychic choir. If combats are going to be close and you want the unit to run (not always advisable), this can be useful, especially since it’s cumulative. Genestealers would generally prefer to remain in assault though and since it can’t be used during your opponent’s assault phase, has minimal applicability I think outside of increasing the chances a unit will run late game but as mentioned before, leaves the Genestealers open to being shot (doesn’t matter if it’s the bottom of T7 though).

Broodlords are taken for their combat prowess, not their psychic abilities. They have some uses which can be fun and help the squad or battle-plan but don’t rely on them to do anything.

Overall, the Tervigon & Tyrant are the best psychic units for Tyranids. Zoanthropes don’t really have the weight of fire once cover and psychic defenses are accounted for and with the increasing saturation of psychic defenses…I just think Hive Guard are better. Again though, they certainly have their role just not my cup of tea. Broodlords are really an afterthought to the psychic pool and again, Tyranid players really want to focus their psychic might through Tervigons & Tyrants who can really provide benefits to their army. All Tyranid synapse creatures also have Shadow in the Warp. With a 12” range this is generally sub-par psychic defense but increases the chances of perils of the warp which is nice. I’d prefer a Deathleaper personally to fiddle with psychic defense (and improve your chances against Hoods) but Shadow in the Warp is built into your army which is nice.

14 pinkments:

Chumbalaya said...

<3 Paroxysm and Catalyst. Best powers in the book.

Anonymous said...

It's odd how when the codex came out everybody screamed at how 'broken' the psychic stuff was in the codex. No change there I suppose.

Paroxysm is nasty but it'll only really affect drop assaults. Who is going to put their guys within a 12" for you to paroxysm and assault them, or assault you after they've been nerfed? Paroxysm with wings though... hmmm.... with a few harpys... now that's a scary thought!

Catalyst is good, but on just a single unit... I'm not so sure if it is as good as people make it out to be. I'm gonna shoot the big stuff with the big guns and they don't care for FNP and if one unit of termagaunts is FNP'd I don't really care, there are probably 5 other units lurking around that aren't. If you want to advance behind a screen of FNP'd gribblies fine, but it means you're Tervigons needs to advance with everything else. If you want a faster assault, you're going to find yourself out of range pretty quickly.

Chumbalaya said...

Hey, it is not June yet. OMG time warp!!

Paroxysm is good for the one-two punch. Hit something with Paroxysm that you want dead, and it dies. Makes Termagants buffed by a Tervigon and Old Adversary ridiculously effective. I wish it had a longer range and could be cast into ongoing combats though.

Catalyst is great, but it does only effect one unit. However, if you play it smart (like I apparently can't) you can get good mileage out of it. Matchups are obviously an issue too. Armies with lots of power weapons and AP2 could give a shit about Catalyst. If nothing else, it can be used to minimize the damage of no retreat on your smaller bugs to help them hold things up for longer.

Anonymous said...

What are your thoughts on Paroxysm, Wings and a couple of harpys?? Yeah it's over 600 points, but it'd be pretty nasty coupled with the Tyrannofex/Hive Guard combo. The problem I see with it as it is, is you're opponent is unlikely to leave much sitting in front of you (that is worth anything to him/her) for you to one-two punch. With wings, he doesn't have much choice. Just some thoughts???

A unit with lots of power weapons is unlikely to leave many termagaunts around to worry about no retreat and if anything, it'll keep your gaunts in combat a turn longer protecting your opponent from open fire.

But I've not played with it and theory-hammer is not cool (don't tell Stelek I'm practicing this dark-art) so you guys > me! :(

Chumbalaya said...

I think the Tyranid air force could work, though I'd rather have Shrikes or Gargs than Harpies for it. Shit, Gargoyles with Old Adversary and Paroxysm would be scary.

MagicJuggler said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
MagicJuggler said...

Actually at higher-point levels where I swap out Harpies for Cannon Tyrants, I actually do sometimes use Psychic Scream as the secondary power; reason for this is so they can take out nearby enemy units tied up in assault with the Termagants, while still laying into enemy tanks.

Need to experiment more with Broodlords, but aside from enemy characters, a *lot* of times, the Aura will be in favor of the Broodlord. Winning ties+many melee meanies being Leadership 8 or 9 helps a bit.

Kirby said...

The problem with that Loring is Harpies generally don't like assault w/o FNP thanks to 4+ though they do have some combat abilities I wouldn't send them forward to do it. Further, Catalyst can completely stop your opponent from shooting something (i.e. the Tervigons, Harpies, Hive Guard, etc.) and makes combat units against no power weapon units a lot more survivable (i.e. Warriors, Raveners, Termagants, Hormaguants, etc.).

Furthermore, if you want to screen everything you can give the front row of Guants FNP, then subsquent rows get 4+ cover then Warriors/HiveGuard get 4+ cover which gives cover to your shorter MCs which can give cover to your taller MCs <3.

Anonymous said...

Like a big ol' russian doll display? Sounds fun.

AbusePuppy said...

Yeah, Catalyst's main target should generally be your front rank of dudes so that everyone is getting a save against shooting.

Onslaught hardly gets any justice, even here. The ability to get an extra movement phase for one of your units and still shoot is a really big deal; Zoanthropes and Hive Guard especially love it, but anything with a gun and A, short range or B, assault potential gets good use out of it. Trygons, BWL Dev Carnifexes, Raveners, Tyrants... the list goes on and on.

Also note that Psychic Scream _does_ have targets- every unit in range is targeted by the attack. The power isn't clear, but presumably this allows you to target multiple units with your shooting attacks, giving you multiple legal assault targets as well.

MagicJuggler said...

Harpies are not an assault unit. They take hits like chumps, and have very few attacks for their point cost. Actually, most Tyranid Monstrous creatures are like this, specialized as support/tanks for your glass-cannonish swarm elements.

This said, reducing enemy Init for the rest of your Gargoyles is funny when fighting other high-initiative enemies. ("You mean you strike BEFORE my Genestealers?!!?"

MasterSlowPoke said...

The problem with everything-is-screened is that your screening no longer denies targets. If you're getting a 4+ no matter what, I'm not going to be antsy about shooting Krak missiles into your Warriors rather than Frags into the Gaunts.

AbusePuppy said...

That brings up the problem with Catalyst: where to put it. Often enough, there will be another target for them to shoot and ignore the buffed unit; to do something useful with it, you have to be able to force them into a bad choice. (Personally, I think that Warriors with cover are a "bad choice" for Krak, assuming you have other MCs on the field and advancing- it's the equivalent of trying to down the Monolith rather than phasing out Necrons. Krak _does_ kill Warriors something fierce, but with a 4+ save against it, it's taking a major hit to its effectiveness. And if there's a Prime in the group to soak up the first couple of hits? You might as well give up.)

Putting your opponent into a "might as well" is a good thing, because it means that none of their options are particularly attractive.

Kirby said...

^ What Puppy said which is why onslaught is so <3able. At the same time, being able to FNP a unit and have your opponent go "I'm not going to shoot at that" has its own advantages, etc.

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