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Friday, February 24, 2012

Tyranid Codex Update: Beta Version, discussion and 1.01.

New version available.

Additions and alterations:

-Paroxysm is back to 12" range. I think it was a bit strong before.

-Onslaught cannot target the caster's unit.

-Barbed Strangler made to be Barrage, same as Stranglethorn Cannon.

-Price on Armored Shell and Wings increased slightly for Hive Tyrant.

-Swarmlord altered significantly (BS3, S6, 3+ save, 6" aura.)

-Tyranid Prime base cost upped slightly.

-Parasite's abilities reworded slightly for clarity, "The Sarge..." simplified.

-Pyrovore base cost decreased slightly.

-Genestealers given Adrenal Glands upgrade.

-Mycetic Spore gained Hive Node (Synapse) upgrade.

-Swarm Attack wording clarified.

-Cost on Fearless Protectors upped slightly.

-Hormagaunts reverted to original stats/equip/cost; Toxin is now 2pts.

-The Red Terror added (see below.)

-Harpy base cost/HVC upgrades adjusted (overall "standard" setup cost remains the same.)

-Spore Mine Clusters are now 8pts/model.

-Carnifex cost adjusted up slightly.

-Old One-Eye given W5, cost dropped by 20pts.

-Terror from the Deep reworded slightly.

-Wording on Trygon tunnel majorly altered, due to accidentally always causing a mishap with the previous version, since the Trygon itself would always "block" the tunnel.

-Tyrannofex cost adjusted up slightly. Acid Spray changed to S5.

Ongoing thoughts, concerns, and responses:
Tyrannofex: Can someone tell me the odds of hitting with both shots, because a reliable 2 AP1 hits from 48" away on a T6, 6W, 2+, in Cover, unsupressible MC seems a bit good to me. Never mind the two glancing hits on AV11 and 2 glance, 2 pen on AV10 from 24" away.
Without cover, your odds are about 40%. With cover, the odds of getting the bonus drop to about 10%. It compares favorably with, say, a Railhead, but does come with disadvantages of its own (slower, can be locked in combat, etc.)
The double-HVC on that Carnifex is a very attractive option. I don’t know that it’s a healthy can of worms to open. Carnifexes with a mix of weaponry should be encouraged I think.
Unfortunately this isn't really possible except by barring people from taking more than one of the "heavy" guns, which is something of an artificial solution. The problem, at its heart, is that dedicated-role units are better than mixed-role ones, so taking double HVC, double Deathspitter, double Devourer, etc, is always going to be taking a mix. I know the mixed weapons look prettier and that's how GW always wants to army its models, but unfortunately they're just bad and there's no easy way around this.
Toxin Sacs on the Carnifex are a problem, a problem I don’t think you’ve solved. As it is here going with toxin is strictly worse than avoiding it unless you’re fighting Wraithlords. It’s a junk upgrade even when it is free. Then there’s the possibility that the poison mechanic will change to allow you to use your normal roll to wound if your Strength is higher than their Toughness, or otherwise have this kind of situation written out of the poison mechanic. This entry and the similar problems you see with other Tyranid monstrous creatures would convince me to come up with a different way of handling poison for Tyranids.
To be honest, I'd really rather avoid rewriting/overruling the core rules to make a unit do what I want when possible. I accepted it as a necessary fix for Ripper Swarms because they're a bizarre exception anyways, but in the case of Poison, that's simply a mechanic I don't want to screw with. Making Toxin free on all the MCs was the simplest solution and, while it still isn't very good, it's at least not completely undefendable (since it does make you better against other MCs and you only lose a little bit of efficiency- and gain some in reliability- against T4 or lower models.)
If Adrenal Glands are near-mandatory for Trygons, why not bump up the price so that it isn’t mandatory any more? Wouldn’t that be good game design?
It's less that they are mandatory (I don't feel they are, though they are quite useful) and more that they're a very common thing. The comment was mostly an offhanded rationale more so than any kind of meaningful thought on balance. Certainly they could have their cost adjusted, but my feeling is to leave things the same where it isn't obvious that they need a change.
“he picked up BS4 because why the fuck doesn't a shooting unit have BS4?”

Broadside Battlesuits, Vendettas, Crisis Suits, Manticores, possessed Vindicators, War Walkers, Killa Kans, and Lootas all seem to get by without BS4. There are other ways of doing shooting units. I think that BS4 being expected (even demanded) for shooting units makes the game less interesting.
Some of those units (Vindis, WW, Kans) are mediocre shooting. The others mitigate their BS value by virtue of high RoF, twin-linked, army-wide bonuses, or blast templates.

BS4 is not the only solution to the problem, but to expound: a unit needs to be sufficiently reliable at its role. BS3 shooting units with small numbers of shots are not reliable. I could also have given the TFex three shots instead of BS4 (which would have given it a similar rate of hits, though changed other things), but I chose to keep it a two-shot gun for fluff and other reasons. If you will note, all of the other dedicated shooting units (especially Hive Guard and Zoanthropes) in the Tyranid book are BS4- it does not seem unreasonable to expect that the Hive Mind would make its custom-grown organisms good at their primary job.
Tyrannofex - I'd rather the acid sprayhave to be placed in a straight line outward from the models base, as it's worded it sounds like you can place it sideways which seems odd. I'd also like the rupture special rule changed to 'if any model, vehicle or vehicle squadron suffers two hits, they are both resolved at AP1' not just vehicles that fail cover saves. If it can punch through a land raider at ap1, why not a MC or a Lone Wolf?
Acid Spray is worded identically to the Hellhound and other, similar shooting attacks; the ability to lay the template "sideways" is intentional. The Rupture Cannon functions as it does for a number of reasons, but the primary is descriptive- I thought the effect matched with what the fluff text said the gun did. The second is purpose- it helps define what the gun is good at. The third is rules- because of the order of actions involved, it doesn't really work to have the gun be AP1 against non-vehicle targets that fail a cover save.
Wait just a minute… are you trying to make a 40k Sliver deck?
Shhhhhhhhhhh! No, that's clearly not where I got any inspiration from! Shut up and go away forever!
Rending claws are an obvious choice for Raveners in the 5e codex, and remain an obvious choice here.
I don't think that's nearly as true now. Looking at Raveners, I can see several "good" setups. Adding just Adrenal to them makes them able to penetrate tanks and still inflict major casualties on horde infantry, since they keep the reroll to hit. Adding Toxin and Rending makes them very dangerous against Marines, but leaves you significantly weaker against tanks and hordes. You can also potentially tag a gun onto either of the above to give them a little more performance. While RC are still good, the addition of Toxin and Adrenal shifts your priorities with the unit a fair bit.
Wouldn't it be better to have the Harpy's incredible new resilience be cover based instead of invulnerable, especially if you base it around its movement? Make it vulnerable to things like Hydras and some other anti-cover shit instead of just being invulnerable. Also, why should the Harpy have such an extreme resilience compared to other monsters, wasn't the 3+ save enough during playtest?
There is a strong game precedent for "dodge-based" cover saves to be invulnerable, not cover- Assassins (both DCA and temple), Ragnar, etc, etc. Moreover, the actual ability itself is stolen directly from various Eldar flyer vehicles pretty much word-for-word. While it might make game sense for the Hydra to be able to shoot down a Harpy, by the same token it makes little sense for a Nova Cannon or Heavy Flamer to ignore the Harpy's save, and thus I choose to keep the original wording.

With regards to balance, the 4++ does not strike me as overwhelming- RoF guns will still do significant damage to a Harpy, especially the mid-range ones like Autocannons, Multilasers, etc that take advantage of its lower Toughness value. With its (relatively) high price tag, I don't feel it's inappropriately tough to bring down. Sure, shooting Missiles and Lascannons at it is a waste, but a Demolisher or Manticore can give it a bad time and the aforementioned midrange guns will also be able to take it out in relatively short order.
Tbh, my main problem with the codex is that it can create lists that effectively invalidate enemy firepower (would missile launchers serve much purppose at all if everything always had cover and they didn't ID anything?) without sacrificing anything of its own/whilst playing to the codex's strength. (In all other codices, to invalidate one kind of firepower, you make yourself vulnerable to another or lose a significant strength. For instance Land raider spam, Storm Ravens, TDA-only armies, the list goes on)
Note that Missile Launchers still give most MC-based armies a pretty bad time, since they wound on 2s and ignore armor saves; while you can take measures to protect them from such guns (Gaunt screens with Fearless Protectors, Venomthropes, etc), all of these have weaknesses of their own.

The "weakness" induced by making everything immune to ID is a simple one- cost. If you slap Synaptic Network onto every model you buy, you're going to be looking at 100-200 fewer points to spend (or more, for a Warrior list) for a somewhat higher survivability rate. Note that a Tyranid Warrior with EW has almost exactly the same survivability as a Terminator against anything but a Lascannon, but costs the same with worse equipment.
Shrikes still have a 5+, despite their closest equivalent (Raveners) getting a 4+ for free. 45+pt models with T4 and no save from bolters is always going to be bad. 10 Tactical marines double tapping kill a squad of 3 regardless of the upgrades you bought them, and that's not a good sign.
With cover saves I think the problem is a lot less damning than you put it; a 5+ armor save really only matters in close combat, and Shrikes are meant to be harassment units, not down-and-dirty fighters. Given that Hit and Run is a pretty significant upgrade, I'm fine with leaving them where they are.
Harpies in my mind are "light" MCs, but you've doubled or tripled their survivability. I personally instead would have given them a 5+ cover save vs shooting and dropped them to be about 100pts base, and maybe let them be taken in broods of 1-3. Yes, they still don't like heavy-to-middle weight guns, but that's fine, because you can have lots of them, fulfilling the same role as very fast, maneuverable Hydras for some supression/destruction on light vehicles/skimmers.
This is an interesting idea, but it represents a major shift in what the Harpy is, something I tried to avoid doing with the update. One thing I didn't want to see was an over-proliferation of Monstrous Creatures- even as it stands you can field 6-10 of them in many lists and more if you really, really want to, so significantly upping this I felt was getting out of hand.

As I said, it's not as though that's a bad solution, just not the one I chose to take.
I think that the swarm rule on the termagants is a bit too obscene and I think you're wishlisting a bit here. 30 Gaunts with adrenal glands will only cost 180 points but will pretty much guarantee the destruction of any non-skimmer vehicle since they'll effectively be causing 3-4 (or more) penetrating hits alone (more than the average Long Fang squad) for most of the time - God forbid they outflank with a full squad and get the jump on the vehicle. While it doesn't seem so bad compared with how cheap transports are, they can just as easily wreck Predators and Leman Russes, and so they're a bargain at 180 points.
One thing to keep in mind is that the bonus applies for every ten FULL models the squad has; kill one Termagant and suddenly you're down +1 on the pen rolls. My expectation was that the squad would usually have 10-19 models when it reached combat and thus that was where the ability was primarily balanced; it is, of course, possible to have more than this, but given the fragility of Gaunts in most cases, I didn't think it was unreasonable to expect a lot of them to die. Catalyst can mitigate that, but doing so involves investing other resources into the unit and is not necessarily reliable, especially in the age of Psychic Hoods. Even sinking for Adrenal Glands, that is still only S5 attacks- reasonably dangerous, but as anyone using Genestealers can tell you, not actually all that likely to kill tanks moving 7"+. Battle tanks that are shooting and such may not be moving this fast, but given that Tyranids tend to take 3-4 turns to reach the back lines where such a tank is stationed (or even more, depending) a player should reasonably expect some punishment to fall on their head in such a case.

However, I'm not strictly opposed to the "+1 pen for 10 or more models" idea, although I'm not sure why you would also add a combat resolution bonus to it, since all vehicles ignore combat resolution. I'm just not sure if the slim possibility of getting +2 penetration is particularly damning- keep in mind, the 180pts for a full brood of Adrenal Termagants is basically the same cost as a Tactical squad. Why shouldn't such a unit have a narrow, if potentially powerful, way to destroy tanks?


Several people have pointed out potential memory problems with the variety of Synapse auras, but I'm not sure if that's really going to be all that difficult. With the changes, all of them are a basic 6", so habitually measuring them simply becomes part of playing Tyranids, much as doing so for FNP/FC is for BA players. Yes, stacking a variety of different auras together can net you a wide array of bonuses, but doing so also involves concentrating all your resources on one point on the board, and if you've read the various articles on Deathstars, etc, you'll understand why that is a bad idea in many ways.

A lot of people still think Synaptic Network on Warriors is an automatic choice, but I don't really feel it is. Yes, it protects you from missiles, but with a properly-built army, the enemy is being stupid if they shoot Missiles at your Warriors anyways.

The Barbed Strangler and Stranglethorn Cannon, despite some upgrades, are still very mediocre guns. I'm not really sure how solvable this is in the 5E environment, though; anti-tank is simply always going to outclass anti-infantry as long as mech continues to dominate the metagame. The cost on Tyrants/Warriors/'Fexes could be further adjusted downward, I suppose, but there isn't a whole lot of room to play with in that regard. Would 5pts or free be fair prices for such guns? Could some sort of secondary effect, a la the old 2E version of the Strangler, be usable?

There is still some concern over the Swarm Attack rule; I made some responses above, but further discussion on the subject would definitely be appreciated.

Several commenters have also noted that the book gives across-the-board improvements to what is nominally a perfectly fine book already, but my defense would be that the improved units/rules/weapons are mostly those that were regarded as lacking before, especially the ones with major alterations. Moreover, most of the changes add anti-tank functionality to existing units, which was sorely lacking in the codex before. In the 5E environment a book whose weakness is "bad at destroying tanks" is simply not playable for the most part.

It has been suggested that Hormagaunts gain The Scuttling Swarm along with Termagants, to better mirror the new Tervigon. Thoughts?

Old One-Eye will be reamining in the Heavy Support slot despite some thoughts regarding him in going to HQ; in my mind, it is important to remember that he is a faux leader of a swarm, not a real one.

It has also been suggested that the Trygon Prime gain some stat adjustments over its basic counterpart, Leadership aside. However, I'm unsure of whether to go with this- I feel doubling the number of shots, adding free Adrenal and Synapse, etc, is fair compensation. On the other hand, I've never really been a fan of the Prime to start with, so...

Also, without further delay, stats for The Red Terror, drawn mostly from the old, now-unavailable unit entry published in White Dwarf and later on the Games Workshop websight. The only real changes made were to alter the "trigger" for swallowing whole (two sixes rather than four hits) and bring its other rules in line with 5E.
THE RED TERROR..... 120pts
6 0 5 5 3 5 5 10 3+
1 Red Terror (Unique)

Monstrous Creature

Bonded Exoskeleton
Scything Talons (two sets)

Deep Strike
Instinctive Behavior- Feed
Rapid Advance
Swallow Whole

Rapid Advance
The Red Terror moves like a Beast and can thus charge 12" during the assault phase and has the Fleet USR.

Swallow Whole
During a melee combat, if The Red Terror rolls two or more sixes on the to-hit dice when attacking a unit, one model from that unit (the owner's choice) will be devoured whole by the Red Terror! No further to-wound rolls are made- the enemy is removed from play with no saves of any kind allowed. Only models with a Toughness value of four or less can be swallowed in this way, and vehicles of any kind may never be swallowed; against unaffected models, simply treat the attacks as you otherwise would.
(The Red Terror is a FA choice.)

Last but not least, many thanks to the people who have commented, criticized, and tried to break the codex so far. There were lots of things- from little things to very big things- that I missed when writing it, which only goes to prove my point about game design being hard.

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