Kirb your enthusiasm!


"Pink isn't a color. It's a lifestyle." - Chumbalaya
"...generalship should be informing list building." - Sir Biscuit
"I buy models with my excess money" - Valkyrie whilst a waitress leans over him

Wednesday, July 4, 2012

Tyranids and Skyfire - How to beat Fliers in 6th Edition, Initial Thoughts


Tyranids are back with a vengeance this edition and whilst I personally am annoyed I cannot take Imperial Guard, Ork or Tau allies which all have strong Genestealer Cult fiction available that GW has published over the years, on sitting down and starting to nut through the rulebook there are so many things that suddenly pull the Tyranids back into a competitive bracket on an initial read. But one them that keeps popping up (Kirby's FAQ article, negativity over on ytth, comments in articles and chat bawks's all over the world) is that Tyranids got shafted on Anti-air aka Skyfire. They can't take allies, they didn't get any Skyfire FAQ use, they can't shoot guns on fortifications and their Flying MC's are str 5 or 6 meaning vs a common flyer - the Vendetta - harpies can't hurt them and Flyrants can only glance them with Vector Striking. Nothing else can do damage to them reliably (i.e. not requiring a 6 to hit)...or can they?

The big focus GW has emphasised in 6th edition so far is that Pyskers have suddenly become very prominant and Tyranids more so then any other army in existence currently dominate this psyhic saturation. And believe it or not, this is the key to their anti-air, their Skyfire abilities. More importantly the new psychic power disciplines available to Tyranids in the form of Biomancy, Telekinesis, and Telepathy.

The Tyranid FAQ shows us that Hive Tyrants, Zoanthropes, Tervigons, the Doom of Malan'tai and Broodlords are all Psychic Mastery 1 and so they can use a single warp charge one psychic power each turn, whereas The Swarm Lord is Psychic Mastery 2 and so can use 2 warp charge one powers or one warp charge two power a turn. A good amount of people don't run The Swarm Lord so for the most part we're concerned with the Warp Charge 1 powers.

Before moving on, it is important to note that the edition is new, most people myself included are still reading through the rulebook. it isn't an easy change from one edition to another like some previous ones were, there are a lot of new rules. Anything I am unsure of is noted where relevant, please, if you've an answer, add it to the comments below.

One thing of note is that Fliers and Flying Monstrous Creatures are two different threats.

Lets deal with Fliers* first (*for the purposes of this article, fliers are those in Zoom Mode).

Tyranids Vs Fliers

Fliers are vehicles and so we are limited by what powers can affect them as a Tyranid player.

Starting in Biomancy, the power (1) Iron Arm (warp charge 1) adds +D3 strength and Toughness and Eternal Warrior to the psyker. Flyrants (Winged Hive Tyrants) managing to get this power suddenly become str 7-9 and vs fliers your vector strike abilities start to get incredibly powerful allowing for penetrating hits vs such things as the aforementioned AV 12 (side) Vendetta which is fairly common in Imperial Guard armies.  This power is the extent of what is useful to target fliers for the Tyranids in the Biomancy Discipline. (As an aside, Broodlords with this suddenly become Str/T 6-8 and an armoured shell Hive Tyrant with the power at T7-9 each turn is rather awesome - anyone wanted to see The Swarm Lord at strength and Toughness 9 base? yeah, balling! Suffice to say a useful buff for our own Flying Hive Tyrants, though hard to get due to the random nature of power generation).

The Telekinesis Discipline gets us Crush and Objuration Mechanicum. (1) Crush (Warp Charge 1) is a focused witchfire power (which means you need to roll to hit with the power and with no skyfire in the army {although the swooping Hunters rule for flying monstrous creatures states that a flying monstrous creature can fire two weapons normally, I'm not sure if that means shooting at fliers/flying MC's is unaffected just yet - does someone have the answer to this?} this can be difficult) with a range of 18" that causes a 2D6 strength hit with a D6 AP value. If you roll an 11 or 12 you get an automatic penetrating hit. With anything barring a Flyrant, this power won't really come into effect that much vs fliers. (2) Objuration Mechanicum (Warp Charge 1) is a Malediction (hits automatically as it is an effect vs a target unit) that targets a single enemy within 24". To Hit and to Wound rolls of a 6 need to be re-rolled by the target whilst in effect. This, whilst not massive, can minimise some flier damage output. However, the real icing on the cake is that if the target is a vehicle (or vehicle squadron) each vehicle in the unit has a strength 1 hit with the haywire special rule allocated to it (rolling separately for each vehicle). This allows almost guaranteed damage to the flier and if it isn't damaged by the haywire effect the slightly less reliable weapons systems still come into play. Quite a nice power. Vortex of Doom (accessible by The Swarmlord) is a blast weapon so can't be targeted at Fliers.

The Telepathy Discipline nets us Puppet Master and for The Swarm Lord Hallucination. (1) Puppet Master (Warp Charge 1) is a focused witchfire power with a 24" range. The target immediately makes a shooting attack as if it was one of your own models although it cannot shoot the unit it is with. Once the attack is done the model is uncontrolled. This is an attack which allows you to take control of your opponents anti-air firepower and use it against them. You could use a Flyrant to take command of an enemy flier to target another flier as well. But Gun Emplacements or enemy units with Skyfire abilities are prime targets for this power. (2) Hallucination (Warp Charge 2) is accessible to The Swarm Lord,  and is a malediction with a D6 roll producing 3 results, the first is ignored as vehicles can't be pinned, the second result 'Ermmm? is suppression for the flier - 'The unit cannot shoot, run, declare charges or strike blows in close combat whilst the power is in effect'. Self explanatory really asides from the flier being able to move and to an extent utilise board control (you can move under a flier but you can't finish a move within 1" of the base). Unfortunately, the last result of 'You! You're a Traitor!' won't affect a flier...unless that flier is a Storm raven that is currently carrying a dreadnought at which point you can target the Dreadnought instead, and if you roll that 1 in 3 Traitor result, there's a good chance the Dreadnought will destroy itself. Okay, so this might not be true, questions arise on whether you hit the transported dreadnought via skyfire rules or normally (technically it's not a flier - is it targettable? You draw line of sight to it afterall and this is one of the conditions of using psychic powers, that you need to be able to have line of sight to the target - I don't know, I'm sure someone has the answer, if not FAQ time!) or whether it can be targeted at all. In 5th it counted as an embarked unit, but there aren't any rules (that i can find) stating that embarked units can't be targetted if you can draw line of sight to them. It's up in the air, someone help us find an answer, many of us are curious. If none can be found, we have a FAQ question to put forwards!

This then sums up dealing with Fliers via Psychic Powers that aren't just snap fired like all the normal firepower Tyranids can bring to bear.

Tyranids vs Flying Monstrous Creatures (MC's)

Flying monstrous creatures who are in Swoop Mode are the difficult ones to take down as Glide mode is just moving as a jump monstrous creature whereas swoop mode is where the flier aspect and the ability to only snapfire them comes into play. An interesting thing about Swooping MC's is that as soon as they are hit they have to take a grounded test i.e. roll a D6 on a 3+ you're fine on a 1 or 2 the MC crashes to the ground taking a strength 9 hit with no armour or cover saves allowed and becomes grounded being able to be charged in the following assault phase (shoot the MC out of the sky follow up with a strategic charge to finish them off). It's important because you can torrent them out of the sky with small arms weapons as every 18 hits should cause a flying MC to drop out of the sky and more than likely take a wound to boot. You can't do that vs most fliers. That all said, the real juice on taking out Swooping MC's with Tyranids is in the new psychic power disciplines just like with taking on Fliers.

Biomancy gives your own Flyrants the (1) Iron Arm (Warp Charge 1) power and like against Fliers, you get to unleash str 7-9 vector strikes against Swooping MC's. D3+1 str 7-9 ap 3 hits are going to put the hurt on opposing MC's and in some cases will kill them outright. If you have 2 Tyrants floating around, that's a pretty solid way of taking out opposing Swooping MC's. (2) Enfeeble (Warp Charge 1) is a malediction that takes 1 away from both the strength and toughness of the target with the additional effect that all terrain (including open ground) is considered difficult terrain. One can then question what open airspace is classed as in terms of terrain as if open ground which normally has no effect on movement is considered difficult, as is all terrain, then is the medium that the swooping MC moving through also considered difficult terrain? RAW show that moving over difficult or dangerous terrain has no effect but what about moving through? Over is not Through. If so, how does this affect the Swoop? Open ended question, your thoughts below. Regardless of that, the negative one to the strength and toughness reduces the damage of opposed vector strikes and also makes the swooping MC more vulnerable to shooting attacks. (3) Life leech (Warp Charge 1), (4) Haemorrhage (Warp Charge 1), and (5) Smite (Warp Charge 1) are all witchfire powers meaning you'll be snapfiring against the swooping MC and so this is not an effective means of dealing with the flier, useful as a whole vs other threats an opponent may have but not great vs enemy flying monstrous creatures.

Telekinesis is actually not that useful vs flying MC's in terms of trying to neutralise them as a threat. (1) Crush (Warp Charge 1) is useful as per fliers with a 2D6 strength AP D6 hit inflicted (roll of 11 or 12 for strength is an automatic wound as well), so that will help to start trim wounds and coupled with the grounded effect on rare occasions may be the cause of two wounds, the rest either are snapfired, can't be fired at any sort of flying model (Vortex of Doom is a blast weapon) or are blessings for your own army. (2) Shockwave (Warp Charge 1) is interesting because it also causes pinning. Monstrous Creatures are Fearless, and so immune to Pinning. however, when coupled with the Terrify power from the Telepathy Disipline pinning of MC's is possible. This will be looked at below. As the Shockwave power is assault D6 it's got a better chance of hitting then the other single shot effect powers do and so is useful for getting more chances at forcing a grounded test.

In Telepathy the (1) Primaris Power Psychic Shriek (Warp Charge 1) is a witchfire spell so if you hit it has a good chance of well let's look at flying monstrous creatures - Daemon Princes of various ilks, Harpies and Hive Tyrants, they all have Leadership 10 so your average roll on 3D6 is a 10 and thus you'll do nothing at all with this power on average rolls, however there is still a chance to out rightly kill them, just don't bank on it. (2) Dominate (Warp Charge 1) requires a leadership test passed every time the MC wants to move or shoot or run, again, leadership 10 so only a 1 in 12 chance of this happening, but being a malediction you don't have to worry about hitting, so that's something. (3) Puppet Master (Warp Charge 1) does require a to hit roll however if you do hit you can use the power to either take control of an enemy flier with sky fire abilities to shoot other enemy fliers (both Fliers and Flying MC's), or to take control of either enemy units with sky fire abilities or units of high firepower output even if they have low BS chances. These units are good targets because of grouding tests, and being Tyranids, they're rather good at combat so this is a decent option, especially when you consider that the allies matrix opens up many armies access to monstrous flying creatures. (4) Terrify (Warp Charge 1) causes a morale check to be taken. Leadership effects aren't great vs flying MC's as already discussed, however somewhat causing the MC to move in a way you want it could be viable. The other aspect of the power is that the MC would lose fearless and all enemy units would cause fear against it, so that alone coupled with grounding the MC could have some nice synergies with the Tyranid combat units, even the lowliest ones (hello Toxin Sacs!).  (5) Invisibility (Warp Charge 2) is accessible to The Swarm Lord only and is to be considered a defensive buff to allow your own fliers assuming you have a Flyrant as well, a measure of protection against the enemies assailing it. Useful, not going to see that much use as it's Swarm Lord dependent. (6) Hallucination (Warp Charge 2), again only via The Swarm Lord, but this is wholly effective vs Flying MC's unlike vs Fliers. 'Bugs! I Hate Bugs!' automatically pins you unless you automatically pass. Monstrous Creatures are fearless and thus automatically pass pinning checks but what if they've been hit with Terrify before hand and thus are now no longer fearless? Now they can get pinned. If you get pinned you go to ground...but you are what happens? Do you take a grounded test? Do you automatically fail a grounded test, take the grounding damage then become pinned? Or what? If you don't take a grounded test are you pinned in mid air? What sort of effect does this have? What do the rest of you say? I am entirely unsure here. Moving along, we have 'Ermmm?' where asides from moving, the Flying MC can't actually do anything useful, no shooting or running and if it drops down to gliding mode it can't declare charges or strike blows in close combat, in effect truly suppressing it outside of movement blocking abilities. 'You! You're a Traitor!' creates an automatic hit on the targeted Flying MC by itself at it's own strengths' but using the strength bonuses, AP values, and special rules of their most powerful close combat weapons (if they have any). So, first up, take a grounded test (you got hit automatically!), 1 in 3 chance of falling to the ground and then hurting the MC. next up, what bonuses apply from wargear against the MC? Do Tyranid Flyrants or Harpies with Adrenal Glands use the Adrenal Glands bonus or not? Regardless, there's the chance that a Flyrant with a Bonesword can kill itself outright. Oh and if it has an Implant attack that's two possibilities of instant death. Did I tell you Hallucination was a malediction so you don't have to roll to hit just like Terrify is a malediction? It's a good option if you roll it with The Swarm Lord. Regardless, there is a lot of interesting options related here.

Sumarising Thoughts:

Tyrainds have access to the most Psykers in the new edition. It is very easy to drop down a full 17 Psykers at just over 1500pts (2 Hive Tyrants or Tervigons, 6 Broodlords and 9 Zoanthropes) each with access to the above powers in addition to their own . It's important to remember that the new power disciplines are chosen at the beginning of each game at the deployment stage and so the flexibility as a whole is entirely dependent on what you are facing, so choosing to keep the stock powers or to take the random options from the power disciplines are an entirely game by game matter after you know what your opponent is bringing list wise (very important in tournament play). Remember also that broods of Zoanthropes don't have to all have the same powers, some could have Tyranid, some could have Psychic Discipline powers and as per the selection rules could be a complete mix of disciplines and powers. Some people have pointed out that Warp Field is a Psychic Power but it is NOT listed as such and does not get replaced (only Warp Blast and Warp Lance do). Tyranids have plenty of ways to deal with Fliers or Swooping Monstrous Creatures, but getting the right powers is not guaranteed. To my mind, a mixture of the Telepathy and Telekinesis Disciplines are the Tyranids best bet for powers to combat Fliers. Using the powers in relation to other wargear and units within the army as well as in some cases applying them to your opponents army will add firing solutions not otherwise available to the Tyranids. This is a new edition, everyone is still reading the rules, a lot of points raised in this article are open ended for just that reason, so feel free to contribute with your thoughts, everything is new and will be for a long time yet.

Follow us on Facebook!

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...