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"Pink isn't a color. It's a lifestyle." - Chumbalaya
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"I buy models with my excess money" - Valkyrie whilst a waitress leans over him

Thursday, October 28, 2010

How to: salvaging your tyranids (#1)

I've been scouring the forum wasteland a lot lately. Partially for forumitis fuel, partially because it entertains me. Primarily, scouting for the biggest herds of whiners, so there won't be any fun missed when dark eldar hit shelves on the fifth of november. In my perilous quests, there are but two things I deflect and ignore outright: dark angels in general, and tyranids whining about their book in particular.

Both these are hilario
us at first, but quickly become extremely boring, predictable, and outright stupid. You know the angels are gonna cry that they have a bad book, written by people they used to worship, who never did anything bad prior, ever (Jervis wrote the book, you dolts, and is responsible for the fail 'streamlining' of 5th edition), then go out on huge, outrageous rants, which others quickly join in on, turning them into bizarre orgies of madness. Tyranids are, well - even bigger whiners.
The thing with the tyranids is, they have a good codex. For some unexplainable reason, they don't seem to notice. It's almost like they're reading a different book then I, but I didn't think much of it until recently.

Then I started searching, and asking questions.
Turns out the answers were there all along, but fiction's always fit in to replace reality. Because of that, this little series of articles now exists.

The most controversial codex release since dark angels. Generally despised by the players, and hated by everybody, this is that one book no one likes, puts up with, or even respects. It's a complete failure in every sense of the word. Warseer's dedicated so much time to the 'tyranids suck'-crusade, there simply has to be some truth in it. Right?

No, not quite.
You see, new players have very little problem with this book, and the older, actually good ones, don't experience any, either.
Unfortunately, the large majority of people who picked up tyranids way, way back did so because they wanted to push monsters across the field, preferably without thought or consideration. Sadly, this is true.

3rd and 4th edition tyranids: push monsters across the field. Pray for victory against experienced opponents.
5th edition tyranids: is an actual 5th edition army, with all that entails. Yes, even transports.

"What the hell!? I read VT2 because I wanna see waffling! Don't tease me like this!" Fine. Let me put my chef's hat on, and I'll serve some waffles.

3rd edition tyranids started out as a handful of very bland pages in the huge rulebook. Until late 2001, this was all you got.
Back then, you had a grand total of one build at your disposal: stealershock. Now, it's a generally accepted fact of life that genestealers aren't all they're cracked up to be these days, but during the dark ages, genestealers had power weapons. Yes, they were acceptable banshees.

Yeah, all the usual suspects were of course part of the range back then, too: warriors, rippers, carnis, tyrants, gaunts (catch-all for the small ones), gargoyles, and that's it, basically.

Very poor, wouldn't you say? Yes, you would, but you're probably not a 'core' tyranid player.
If you ask any of them, they'll tell you how great those rules were, and how OMGWTFBBQ tyranids were. How 'people feared their charges' - which we didn't, since 'stealers died like crazy to stormbolters and bolters, plus rarely reached combat in the first place.

Upon release of their actual codex, lots of people whined.
Genestealers weren't as good, obviously. New rending (invented specifically for tyranids) just wasn't the same as power weapons, and tyranids had gotten the shaft completely with all the new rules, items, mutations, guns, and psychic powers. Truly, tyranids never get anything new, ever, and are hated by the designers.

Notice a trend yet? I've added visual hints, in case you're not big into reading.

Compared to books of today, 3rd edition tyranids were horrible, but when measured against other books of its time, it was exceptionally well-written, and allowed a great deal of customization. Still, this wasn't quite as good as power weapons on genestealers, so the players with huge collections bitched and moaned all over the place.

4th edition came and went quickly, but tyranids were one of few armies that saw an actual update.
No longer were you allowed to 'mutate' individual critters in each unit ("NOOOOOOOOOO! ALL MY PRECIOUS HIVE NODES I NEVER ENDED UP USING!").
Replacing this were stat changes all across the board, for almost everything you could field.
Two randomly selected hive tyrants were very likely to differ greatly in statlines, gun strength, cost, and bling, despite supposedly coming from the same book entry.
This caused many, many problems, and is one of few things in the game's history that could seriously be considered broken. Not the power of stat changes, but how it made every match-up and game a 'fun surprise.'
And yes, this still wasn't anywhere near the might of genestealers with power weapons, so everybody whined, then whined some more for good measure.

A cute thing about 4th was the new, updated carnifex. This was not whined on, for reasons that will be explained in the next sentence.
See, Andy Chambers saw fit to give every single piece of plastic in the kit actual in-game rules, so you could have statline-modded carnis, with frag grenades, extra d3 attacks, further extra d6 attacks (at the cost of your base 2! boo-hoo!), initiative lots bonus attack, extra wound, 2+ armor save, spore mines, bonus rippers, bonus unit strength on the charge, built-in spinefists, dual heavy weapons...
Before anyone asks, yes, you could have pretty much all of this at the same time, and yes, the combo you fielded was guaranteed to have a name.

All 'fex builds had names, period.
There's spinefex, sniperfex, hugfex, venomfex, crusherfex, screamer-killer, uberfex, tankfex, gunfex, assassinfex, dakkafex, blingfex, and many more.
Obviously, you could have three megamonsters as heavy support, and everybody did, because the rest of the heavy support on offer was horribly poor, but you could also take three lesser fexes as elites - which happened to be a massive blessing, since EVERY elite choice was horrible, too!
It's almost like they wanted to sell a gazillion carnis, to replace the tyranid warriors everybody bought during 3rd.

Long story short: tyranids used to be a monobuild, easily worse and more predictable back then than lash chaos are now. You had your six carnis, a tyrant, handful of ripper bases, and maybe 12 total genestealers. That was 'nidzilla.'
Nidzilla never won a single tournament, ever, because lascannons, plasmaguns, and missiles were the melta of 4th edition, gunlines were everywhere, plus actual cover was rarer than transports.

Enter 5th edition.
New units in all slots. Better units. More gear. More rules. Things are generally cheaper, statlines are immutable but stronger, guns have one profile, and the rules are easier to get your head around.

Basically, everything got better, and what used to be overpriced/underpriced has now been changed to fit in with reality. No more pushing carni boxes by the thousands, either.
Your army can move, is less auto-fail without synapse, there's lots of choice, and you're actually playing the game now - not shuffling your slow-ass units towards the other player's guns. There's a built-in response to guns now, actually, called 'massed guns of your own.'

Yet, they cry. Oh, how they cry.
They cry for many reasons, or so they say. They miss mutable statlines. They miss the 'one' venom cannon, because 'it was great for killing tanks.' Depending on who you ask, all new units are terrible, or too powerful. Whine, whine, lies, lies.
As was hinted at in the opening segment, whining is a theme of tyranid players. It's like chaos always being 'overpowered,' and thinking of eldar as a 'finesse' army. The few loyal followers of the Lion might strike up really huge rants occasionally, but their moaning is NOTHING compared to what tyranids do now, and have always done.
It's a definining characteristic of the players this particular race seems to attract.

A fun game is uttering the four powerwords when tyranid players are close. Tervigon, trygon, tyrannofex, eternal warrior.
Instant hilarity, guaranteed. If you say 'codex creep' in a dark angels thread, the fish won't bite unless it's wrapped in something juicy, but the tyranids are mindless, and open to even the most basic of trolling techniques.
Obviously, they're easily enraged, but we all knew this already, didn't we? Yes, we did, but there's more.

'Core' tyranid players almost never win games. No, really.

It's true.
Initial theories included unscientific things like 'they spend all their time whining, rather than playing,' and 'too busy whining to read the codex.' Then it hit me.
They don't know how to play, because last time they did any actual playing was 12 years ago, during 3rd edition, and what worked back then 'worked' during early 4th, but's been completely useless and outdated since.

Few 'core' tyranid player even owns a plastic trygon, a converted tervigon, or has held in her or his hand a hive guard.
They loved the 3rd edition book because 'stealers were so easy. Rush and go. 4th edition required the same stealers, six carnis, and a cheap tyrant. Even more rush and go, with 2+ save on four guys. Amazing tactics at work!
Nowadays, when you have to, you know, secure objectives with troops to even have a chance, they're displeased. They just want their precious lolifexes and sniperfexes.
"So why not count them as tyrannos? You get blasts and a big gun. Isn't that what the sniper was all about?" No, because it's new, and all new things are evil.

In some ways, this is a bit like former tourney 'winners' in fantasy, who are still up in arms and massively butthurt, all 'cause 8th edition made them lose their 'tactical genius.' Contrary to what you've been told, in the whacky world of warhams, it's very possible to lose something you never had.

"An attempt to show the whiners what they're missing out on?" One can hope. True whiners don't want to change, but there are others out there, who're on the fence about the tyranids. Survivors of forumitis, mostly. This is for them.

Next up, a look at the tools and toys available to you. I deleted the 200 power weapon pictures; formatting people! lol

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