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Monday, January 17, 2011

Email in: Competitive Gladiator Tyranids?


I've been banging my head against the keyboard over the holidays trying to come up with a Tyranid list for the Adepticon Gladiator tournament in April. I've just gotten a Forge World Hierophant/Bio-Titan (not built yet) and would like to build a list around him (at 1250 points, the list definitely would have to fit around him). This year's rules are 2250 points total; a 1750 main group plus one of two 500 point "sideboards" (for lack of a better term) determined after the opponent provides you his main group list.

So far, what I've come up with (not worrying about sideboard construction, yet):

Hierophant 1250
Tyranid Prime (LW/BS, TS) 105
Hive Guard (x2) 100
Hive Guard (x2) 100
Tervigon (AG, TS, Cluster Spines, Catalyst) 195
Tervigon (AG, TS, Cluster Spines) 180
Termagaunt (x10) 50
Termagaunt (x10) 50
Zoanthrope (x3, Mycetic Spore) 220

This tries to play the mid-field game and seems to have a little of everything required (transport suppression, anti-tank, and buffed-up gaunts to swarm the contents of the vehicles that the Hierophant, Hive Guard, or Zoanthropes will pop open). I like the T6 MC troop choice to hold objectives, Zoanthropes to pop Land Raiders or other Super Heavies, and the Hive Guard just seem to be an economical points choice for handling transports. I normally wouldn't mix Hive Guard and Zoanthropes in a single list, but with the number of Super Heavies or Transport spam that might show up at a Gladiator event, it seems prudent to have both.

My other thought is to run another "must shoot" threat in the army:

Hierophant 1250
Swarmlord 280
Tyrant Guard (x3, LW) 195
Genestealers (x9, TS) 153
Genestealers (x8, TS) 136
Zoanthropes (x3, Mycetic Spore w/ Barbed Strangler) 235

Hierophant shoots the biggest ranged threat and then charges the most "appropriate" CC threat. Swarmlord and Tyrant Guard go forth to deal damage, Stealers out-flank to force the opponent towards the middle, and the Zoanthropes drop in for the "big stuff." The pro's; two of the best single models in the game (Hierophant and Swarmlord) on the same playing field at the same time. The con's; no objective holding capability, no transport suppression, susceptible to psychic defenses, etc.

Constructive criticism and insight would be appreciated -- I've got to get building sooner rather than later. I've got a Barbed Hierodule already painted sitting on the shelf if that would be a worthy substitute for the Hierophant (it's "only" 700 points, however its life expectancy is only a fraction of what the Hierophant's would be in this environment). Even at 550 points more, the Hierophant is a better deal, I think. Sideboard construction would be next (D of M might be a good situational substitute).

Just a moment to say how much I love the site. Appreciate the positive analysis of Tyranids since a majority of the 40K community have relegated them to the lower tier of competion. Keep up the good work!

Thanks, p"

Alright, so using the INAT FAQ is crap, moreso in how it treats the Heirophant; however, it's still pretty good for its points, so I would definitely recommend bringing it (as opposed to some of the other options.)

Gladiator is an effing mess, competition-wise. Str D weapons and some of the FW options means that Tyranids are... really not all that competitive anymore; with the old book, blanket immunity to ID made us reasonable, but lacking that now, you can expect to lose half your army to a Warhound Titan on the first turn with absolutely no recourse. There is literally nothing you can do about this- you do not have have enough easy access to "Melta drop" units in order to disable such a model (Zoanthropes, sadly, are too expensive and have too few shots to really work, not to mention the possibility of being negated), nor do you have any good ways to disable Void Fields in order to bring it down efficiently. Worse yet, you also have no good ways of dealing with Fliers- Tyranids get absolutely no AA weapons and our guns are mostly either short-ranged (Hive Guard, Zoanthropes) or blasts (HVC) and thus unable to realistically hit such units. The Heirophant itself can potentially bring down such a craft, but even it is likely to have issues against such a unit, as the rest of their army will likely focus on shooting it to death as quickly as possible.

So, pessimistically speaking, Tyranids do not stand a strong chance at Gladiator. The rules are warped rather heavily against them such that you are very limited in the ways you can deal with enemy superheavy/gargantuan units. However, if you wish to fight the good fight, here is what I recommend:

You need a Heirophant; this will be how you attempt to deal with generic superheavies and fliers. It is big enough and tough enough to weather some fire from the enemy, but your real hope is to shut down enemy vehicles before they can really hurt you. There will be situations where this is not possible, and in these you want to be able to make use of reserves, cover, etc, in order to maximize your survivability. Thus...

Venomthropes. You need to give your Heirophant a cover save or other survivability. 5+ is not great, but it's better than nothing, and they are small enough to hide behind other models (like the Heirophant itself, depending on what kind of base you built.) They will die quickly, but they will provide a turn or two of survival. If it weren't immune to psychic powers, we would add in Onslaught and Catalyst to our list of things we need, but we get screwed over in that respect, so we need to look other places, like a...

Hive Tyrant. He gives us +1 reserves, which is necessary, and he also can help out our Heirophant by granting Preferred Enemy or forcing the enemy to WS/BS1 (or both.) Flying Tyrants are probably more useful in these games- though they are fragile, there are other places for the guns to be aimed and cover saves (from his Guard) are only going to have a limited utility anyways, thanks to Str D weapons.

Next up is Zoanthropes: yes, these are not ideal for taking down big targets, but they are still better than nothing, and their 3++ means that they can even survive Str D weapons and such occasionally. So we need to run two full squads of them in order to try and handle tough targets, which works reasonably well with the need for a Tyrant.

There is one other thing that most lists need to deal with: Lucius-pattern drop pods. Being able to bring in 6+ Dreads to assault on first turn is devastating, but Tyranids are naturally strong against Dreads due to having abundant MCs, so we aren't really worried about them; screen your units well and you should be fine.

So currently our list is:

Hive Tyrant (Wings, HVC, OA, HC, Parox, Leech)
3 Zoanthropes (Spore, VC)
3 Zoanthropes (Spore, VC)
3 Venomthropes
1 Heirophant

So from here we have to make choices. It is likely you're going to need scoring units- that means Tervigons or Genestealers (we'll explain in a moment.) We are also down a HS slot- this is relevant because it means we have to make some choices about what our army wants to do.

We could go aggressive- the Heirophant is a terror in CC with its Whips and high number of attacks. Only on the rarest of occasions will it fail to penetrate a vehicle when it hits, so we can reliably wreck walkers and slow tanks if we can successfully get into B2B with them; it is also fairly fast, so we can potentially be assaulting relatively early with it- even on turn 1 in some circumstances, such as when the enemy deploys forward. For such a list we would be inclined to add two Trygons, some Genestealers for dealing with smaller units, a singular Tervigon to stay in reserve and try for rear objectives, and possibly another Flyrant or some Harpies to really put pressure onto the enemy early.

Alternatively, we could rely on our Heirophant's ability to shoot at range, complementing it with other shooting attacks. Tyrannofexes would fill our other slots, with Harpies and perhaps other units backing us up; Tervigons would be more important as troops as we hope to shut down all the Str D guns and go for a win by objectives.

Now the question to ask is: can we do both? Sadly, the answer appears to be "no"; with a sideboard of only 500pts, we are 30pts short of being able to switch between Trygons and Tyrannofexes, and running part one and part the other is a very poor option. So, looking at what we have to work with, I will choose to go aggressive with our strategy- we can always get lucky and hope for good matchups that let us win big, but a cautious, slow-play army is unlikely to get us to the top tiers with a battle points system. So we will be ignoring the "sideboard" system for the time being, looking to come back to it when we have finished our army and see if we can do anything useful with it.

We want two Trygons as our other HS units, then; they are fast, dangerous, and can complement a reserves-based approach. We'll leave them bare-bones for now because we know we are short on points.

Which is an issue, as it turns out: 1250 for the Titan, 400 for Trygons, 440 for Zoeys, 165 for Venoms, 305 for a Tyrant... we are out of points already, given that we have a total of "only" 2250 to play with. So let's go back and take a look at things. We need the Venomthropes- they are key to our strategy of keeping the Titan alive. The Trygons and Zoanthropes actually perform similar roles- they arrive near the enemy quickly and do damage, the difference being whether they do so in melee (and thus a turn later but more effectively) or at range (and thus vulnerable to disruption). Since these two units are differently effective against different lists, we will designate these components as our "sideboard," thus letting us choose what we bring in to deal with the enemy- Zoanthropes have a better chance of bringing down superheavy tanks, as they lack Void Fields and tend to be a bit more fragile; Trygons have the advantage against walkers or anything that can't easily escape their threat radius- depending on the vehicle, they can also be excellent tools against superheavies, who can't always lay their large blast weapons close to themselves if we arrive by DS.

We still need a Tyrant, and we will still go ahead and give him wings- we want him to be fast and able to keep up with our Heirophant. We also need some Troops- since we are blowing so many of our other points on things, we need to look at having minimized points there, which means a Tervigon + Termagants. Thus:

1 Hive Tyrant (Wings, HVC, HC, Parox, Leech) (280)
2 Venomthropes (110)
10 Termagants (50)
1 Tervigon (Cluster) (160)
1 Heirophant Titan (1250)

LIST A: 2 Trygons
LIST B: 3 Zoanthropes (Spore), 2 Zoanthropes (Spore)

I'm not entirely sure how the Gladiator rules work- if you're required to have a full 500pts as a "sideboard" and can't use those points as part of your main list, you may have to do some tweaking to find a way to spend them. (Perhaps you can designate the Termagants, Heavy Venom Cannon, and Hive Commander as part of both lists? I don't really know.)

This list is incredibly unbalanced. It is not really "good." It is a gimmick that tries to force itself on the enemy and ruin whatever toys they brought to the party. Against fliers, you gun them down with the Heirophant and Zoanthropes (remember, you are allowed to arrive "beneath" them to maximize your chances of getting within the 6" that you need to hit them); even looking for sixes to hit, you should have three-ish hits per turn with the Bio-Cannon, which can give them a bad day. Against "balanced" armies, you shove high-toughness wounds in their face and hope that keeps them distracted from your scoring units. Against other gimmicks, you hope that your gimmick rolls better. Your Heirophant is more than capable of wiping out a whole squad in CC each turn, or more if they are stupid enough to charge you. Push it towards them and don't be afraid to charge anything- your CC superiority should overwhelm just about whatever you fight. Even Hidden Fists need fives to wound you (and you have Regenerate), so trust in the numbers and pray for good rolls.

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