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Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Email in: Make my creation GROOOOOOOOW!

Email in:

Spurred on by fester's articles about Nids, and just general reading, I've got a question about an older email/post you had. Specifically this one.

The store that I frequent plays in the 1750-1850 range so I was wondering how you would expand this...

Tyranid Prime (Whip/Sword, A Glands, Regen)
Hive Guard x2
Hive Guard x2
Termagants x12
Tervigon (Catalyst, Toxin, Adrenal, Cluster Spines)
Tyranid Warrior x3 (Deathspitter x2, Venom Cannon)

Would either a Harpy w/ TL HVC or two groups of Raveners w/Deathspitters and Rending Claws along with at minimum one TFex with the Cannon, Cluster Spines and Dessicator Larvae be a good expansion? Are the Warriors a good fit for going with a predominate shooting army?

Alright, so the thing to look at when expanding a list is: which of these units still work at the new point value? Which don't? This is an important consideration that is often missed; some units simply don't function at higher point totals, and some don't at lower.

In this case, the Prime/Fex star is going to be the main problem- in smaller games, its combination of T6, Regen, and cover saves makes it very difficult to bring down while still contributing strong shooting and CC elements. As the game scales up, however, it loses value as it is very dependent on Regen having time to work in order to make itself useful. Let's look at the 1750 list first, as it's relatively easy to push that up 1850 for this style of list. (Note that this is not true for all lists; sometimes you are just those few points short and things that just don't work at 1750 are very viable at 1850.)

So our obvious big gap to start is in the realm of scoring units. Warriors + Tervigon is fine in a small game, but as you push up we're going to need a lot more than that. In fact, let's straight-up double things by adding another duplicate set of those same units. They don't really get any worse at what they do as points scale (although Tervigons dying becomes a bit more of an issue) and they both fill useful roles. This nets us a minimum of five Synapse units (including whatever HQ we take), which should be more than enough.

Our second is shooting, especially AT shooting. Three Hive Guard and two squads of Warriors is not going to be nearly enough. We could simply add more Hive Guard- in fact, this is not at all a bad way to go. However, since the poster expressed some interest in Tyrannofexes and Harpies, let's see what we can do with those. They add more MCs to our mix, which strengthens our CC power, and give us some more tough wounds to chew through. So let's loot at adding a Tyrannofex and two Harpies. (We go with this option because TFexes are expensive and a Carnifex can easily be converted to one; with all the MCs around, stunning a vehicle with a Harpy will be pretty much as good as killing it.)

But we're still lacking an HQ; this is where one of the big differences in point totals becomes apparent. Whereas before a Prime was our go-to, since he is cheap and very killy, in larger games we can afford to invest a few more points and get a force multiplier that is not just dangerous on its own, but also makes every other unit in your army more effective. The Hive Tyrant is, despite what some people think, an amazing model and given a Heavy Venom Cannon (to at least try for suppression shots) and Old Adversary to make even our shoddy WS3 monsters look pretty scary. Combine that with Paroxysm and you can ensure that basically anything you charge will come to pieces. Tyrants ALWAYS need a bodyguard (unless you run them flying, which we will not) and so we'll give him a friend to play with.

Unfortunately this leaves us a bit over on points, so we're forced to drop Deathleaper to make room for things. Still being slightly over, we can also afford to remove the second squad of Warriors; however, this frees enough up for us to add either a second Tyrant Guard (if the Tyrant dying turns out to be a problem) or Regen to our two Harpies to give them some survivability and some other miscellaneous upgrades. We could also trade out some of the Tervigons' bling in order to keep the Warriors, although it would mean cutting our psychic powers and one set of Toxin/Adrenal. We end up with:

Hive Tyrant (HVC, OA)
Tyrant Guard

2x2 Hive Guard

4 Tyranid Warriors (DS, 1 VC)
2x10 Termagants
2x Tervigon (Catalyst, Toxin, Adrenal, Cluster)

2x Harpy (HVC, Cluster, Regen)

Tyrannofex (Rupture, Cluster, Dessicator)

(I think this may be 5pts over, so you'll have to drop Adrenal from one of the Tervigons or whatever.)

What does the army do, overall? Advance as a pack, mostly. While it has some differences between the "normal" list, they're in many ways cosmetic- we have a plethora of big, tough monsters and even our "weak" stuff like Harpies can chop up a lot of squads in CC. Combined charges after shooting are key to this army- soften things up, then send in all your MCs. Make sure you're advancing forward those 6" every turn because your real strength is that you not only shoot, but also have a ticking clock for when you reach melee. Against assault armies you use your big guns to whittle them down and then charge the remnants; in either case, remember to screen your big guys with Termagants in order to stave off disadvantageous assaults from things like Terminators. Also remember that your Harpies are fast little buggers. While they normally will be hanging out with the main body of your units in order to make your combined charges even more devastating ("Yeah, you're WS1, half init, my guys are T6 and everybody rerolls misses. Good luck.") you can also "detach" them in order to hit targets of opportunity or necessity, like a Devastator squad that's just out of range of other units or a silly tank that decided not to move this turn.

So what do we do to expand to 1850? Well, one obvious choice would be to just change back to the way our list was. We drop the "extra" Warrior in our squad and either take a clone of the original one (VC, Deathspitters and all) to provide another annoying nine-wound scoring unit that must be gotten rid of, or we can add Deathleaper back in. I lean a bit towards the latter; DL is nice because he's very tough to kill at a distance (3++ and must check half-range Night Fighting to see him) and also hard to kill up close (he drops most units' difficult terrain rolls to a single die and is WS9, so they have to invest a "real" squad to fight him.) If you are going second in a Capture/Control mission he can practically guarantee a win if you preserve him to the last turn, as he simply appears on top of their objective and takes the game- and unlike a Mawloc, he isn't a huge target. He also helps deal with psykers, which are a real problem as lists scale upwards. Given that we have an Elites slot free I believe he is a solid choice here.

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