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Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Email in: 1750 Tyranid reserve list

Hi Kirby

I've been enjoying your site and articles for a long long time now. I'm from the Uk and usually play around 1500 pts. This is my list at 1500 points, which evolved from my games against a friend who plays Eldar. Sometimes I replace the zoanthropes with another brood of stealers. My usual strategy involves reserving everything which can deep strike or out-flank and marching my remaining troops with the hive guards towards my opponent's main battle line. I am thinking about expanding to 1750 points and making it a take-all-comers list. What would you advice me to get?

Alright, first considerations: reserve lists can work, but you are going to want to be careful about taking it past 1750; since you can't get more than +1 to reserves easily, you are very vulnerable to having only part of your force arrive and get chewed up by the enemy before you can do anything to them. However, it's certainly a workable tactic, so let's see what we can do here.

HQ Hive Tyrant
--lash-whip & boneswords
--heavy venom cannon
--hive commander
Psychic power
--leech essence

HQ Parasite of Mortrex

Elite 2x Hive guards

Elite 2x Hive guards

Elite 2x Zoanthropes
--mycetic spore

Troop 10x Hormagaunt

Troop 3x Warrior
--lash-whip & boneswords
--venom cannon

Troop 7x Genestealers
--toxin sacs
--broodlord upgrade
--implant attack

Fast 10x Gargoyles

Heavy Trygon
--prime upgrade
--adrenal glands

Well, one problem that jumps out immediately is the HQ/Synapse- you have two fairly pricey HQ units AND took the Prime upgrade to your Trygon AND are running Genestealers (which don't need Synapse) AND you have a a squad of Warriors AND you have Zoanthropes on top of all that. You're definitely overspending there, and I think it's hurting the rest of the list- heck, your Synapse units practically outnumber the ones you have without Synapse.

Worse, your Gargoyles and Hormagaunts are taken in extremely small squads- if you take three or six casualties before getting to charge, as will be common, you simply aren't going to have enough bodies to do any damage. With small Tyranids, always be thinking of numbers- one big unit is better than two small ones.

Hive Guard also don't have a lot of synergy with the rest of your army; when you're playing full reserve, they will tend to be one of the few things on the board, making them obvious targets. Alternately, if you reserve them as well, you are going to have trouble getting them in range in time to hurt the enemy. However, since it's very possible that you've already sunk for the (expensive) models, we'll try building two lists, one with and one without, so that you have the option of using them or not as you please.

On the up side, all of the unit builds here are well-considered, they just need to be combined in different ways to work properly. We don't even need to make major changes to a lot of the things here, just a few additions and subtractions as well as cutting points here and there to make room for other toys.

Reserve lists rely on one basic thing: coming in strong and hitting the enemy hard enough that they can't recover from it. You are always going to have fewer effective points than them, because you've spent some of your points on buying alternate deployment options. As such, we need to make sure that the turn we arrive we are doing as much damage as possible and that we are as reliable as possible about coming in when and where we want.

Tyranid 1750 list
1 Hive Tyrant (Wings, HC, HVC)
1 Parasite of Mortrex
2 Hive Guard
2 Hive Guard
2 Zoanthropes (Spore)
7 Genestealers (Toxin, Broodlord w/Talons)
7 Genestealers (Toxin)
3 Warriors (Whip/Sword, Toxin)
16 Gargoyles
1 Trygon
1 Trygon

The secret to a reserves list is flexibility- you want to have options so that whatever your opponent does, you have a trick to throw him off his game, and that's what this list aims for. Some subtle changes to the original list get us something that can not only go into full reserves and spring out to surprise people but also deploy (almost) entirely on the table and launch a rapid assault on their forces. Deciding when to do which is, of course, very tricky, but simply having the option can force the opponent into making bad deployment decisions and give us opportunities to wreck them.

We switch the troops over to more Genestealers, who can naturally outflank and are Fleet, giving them a larger threat range when they arrive. (We keep the Warriors because presumably he already has them and they are excellent for chopping up tough squads like Terminators, adding Toxin so they also scare MCs and are even more terrifying to T4 troops.) The Hive Tyrant obviously remains, needing no changes, but we also leave the Parasite in as he is a good, flying way to get Synapse where we need it. He can come in with the Gargoyles deep striking or he can start with the Hive Guard to give them some extra wounds and make sure they do what you want, hopping away to join another squad when no longer needed or when too badly wounded. We buffed up the Gargoyle squad so it can serve two purposes- screening the Hive Tyrant for a much-needed 4+ cover save (Gargoyles are rather large models for their points cost, making it very possible to give MCs the 50% coverage on the cheap) and acting as a retinue for the Parasite to get him into combat with things. Always aim for weaker squads with the Parasite if you can- every failed test is like having a Tervigon for a turn, so if you can get lucky and get 2-3 spawns at some point, you've significantly turned things in your favor. Remember that he is higher initiative than the Gargoyles and thus you get to try and kill as much as you can with him before they swing. Also remember to keep him far, far away from Power Fists- if you need to engage something with a Fist, make sure that one of the Gargoyles gets in base contact with the Fist model so that it is forced to aim its attacks at the squad, not at the Parasite.

The second Trygon is because they are big and scary and one Trygon is unpleasant but two are a wrecking ball, especially combined with the Tyrant and all the other melee threats. Remember the rule: if you have a big scary thing, the enemy will spend all their firepower shooting it to death. If you have two big scary things, they will shoot one of them to death and the other will be able to do what you want. This is true for Trygons as well as for Land Raiders, Stormravens, Manticores, Devourer Gaunts, etc, etc.

1750 Tyranid list
1 Hive Tyrant (Wings, HC, OA, HVC)
2 Lictors
7 Ymgarl Genestealers
3 Zoanthropes (Spore)
8 Genestealers (Toxin)
8 Genestealers (Toxin)
15 Termagants (Devourer, Spore)
15 Gargoyles
1 Trygon
1 Trygon

Similar, but different. Lighter on Synapse, but with more different tools for dealing with units and somewhat more reliable arrival points. The Hive Tyrant gets Old Adversary because it's a decent way to spend 25pts and getting rerolls on attacks is a big deal for a melee-focused list like this; the Gargoyles especially love it. We up the Zoanthrope count slightly because we need more AT here, being a bit short overall. Lictors give us a way to ensure everything comes in T3 at the latest, bar incredibly bad luck, and can suppress something when they arrive and then charge it the turn after. Ymgarl can do one better, charging a support the unit the turn they arrive; however, be careful when doing this to a vehicle, as explosions can cause casualties on your expensive, expensive models and getting caught out in the open will cause even more.

Genestealers backed by Devourers are our troops; the Termagants are quite happy to arrive on an objective somewhere and just sit there the whole game, peppering anything that comes close with a devastating number of shots- try to have them come in near the Zoanthopes if you can, as the latter can destroy a transport so the former can shoot its occupants to death. (Even against Terminators you will end up killing ~2 of them by simple weight of shots.) As with the other list, Gargoyles screen the Tyrant so it can close in with some degree of safety and the Trygons simply act as huge, threatening hammers that punish anyone who doesn't deal with them immediately.

With both of the above lists, it's important not to let yourself get split up into pieces- try and bring all your forces in on one section of the board where you can annihilate everything there and move on. Also keep track of the objectives- neither list has a strong presence of scoring units, so try and get yourself into a position to be holding onto something by turn 5 at the latest, and don't be afraid to Go to Ground once you're there.

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