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"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

Monday, July 23, 2012

Tyranids in 6E Part 2: Head and Body

Welcome to part two of my Tyranid 6E review; I'll be going through the meatiest of the FoC slots (HQ and TR) this time around and seeing what kind of army we can assemble out of things these days; unlike my old 5E review I won't be going over the unit options in quite so much detail for a number of reasons, but mainly because, with a lot more experience with the book I think I can make more solid judgements about which ones are potentially relevant and which are largely chaff. That isn't to say anything I don't mention here is awful, but it probably isn't something most armies are going to worry about.

This review isn't designed to be exhaustive- we haven't even seen the first of the 6E codices, which could greatly change things, nor do we really know how flyers are going to affect the tourney scene or if there will be ways to deal with them. However, I think the concepts within will, at the least, build a strong launching-off point for getting started with 6E list-writing, so that's something.

HQs are, obviously, where you get your leaders from, but for Tyranids they are doubly important because HQ units are usually a major source of Synapse coverage. They also bring quite a bit of strong punching- and again, Tyranids are no exception here, as they have access to some of the strongest punching HQs in the game.For us they also bring lots of support abilities, enhancing our other units in various ways and filling gaps in our abilities.

Remember that all of the Tyranid HQ units are characters and can issue/accept challenges- obvious for the Prime/Parasite, but the MCs are easy to forget. And with excellent combat stats, Smash Attack, and buffs, it should only be the very toughest of opponents that can give you pause when doing so.

Tyranid Prime
The Tyranid Prime was a major contender for your HQ choice before because it was protectable Synapse that was relatively cheap; with those advantages doubled, it will be even tougher to justify taking something else (although hardly impossible.) The Prime's main strength is still that it is one of our few Independent Characters, able to bounce from squad to squad as needed (and as the numbers of squads wane.) At half or less the price of a Tyrant and virtually the same combat capability (bar Smash for ID and vehicle-killing), Primes are well set up to simply hang out with a squad of Gaunts and apply murder to any enemy unit they touch; since you're often going to be pushing those Gaunts forward, this is a very good thing for them to do. Being able to bounce around wounds can also be very valuable, since it allows you to put him at the front of a squad and distribute the hits as you please, avoiding pulling the nearest models (if you're looking for a charge) or keeping things alive as long as possible (if he's hanging with multiwound models.)

Setups for your Primes haven't changed very much from last edition at all. Regen is still cheap as all get out and since he's likely to soak up a wound (from a failed LOS roll or challenge) it's a pretty safe investment. Taking one of the Bonesword combos is virtually mandatory- the real question is which one you go for. Twinned swords makes you rather murderous to multiwound enemies and I5 means you'll generally get your hits in, but against HQs and Eldar there is a good chance they will go first or at least simul with you, and with your lack of invuln that can be fatal. Swords are at their best against Nobz and other models that are likely to be toting a Fist equivalent, which I think you'll see a lot more of on challenge-style HQs in the future here; if this becomes the standard, double Swords will be the go-to choice. On the other hand, Whip/Sword gives you some excellent utility outside of a challenge and guarantees that your Prime will get to swing each turn, virtually always before the enemy. You still cleave through even those 2+ saves with it, so against single-wound models you're strictly superior to the other setup, but without the ability to reliably cause ID on the enemy it's quite possible for a multiwound character to slog through your attacks, pass that Ld10 check, and then punch the hell out of you in return. Now, they're gonna have to get three hits in on your WS6 guy, but that's not horribly unlikely and if they've got that 4++ or 3++ getting wounds through is not an easy thing to do; twin Swords make sure every one is a danger, but Sword/Whip can't really say that. However, if you're used to seeing a lot of I5+ characters, Whip/Sword is probably your better setup, as making sure to get your hits in is important and the cost difference is minimal.

Toxin is still a useful buy- more so now that you'll be wounding on 3+ with reroll against most targets- but not required, especially if you're skimping for points. (Also remember that the Prime benefits from Toxin/Adrenal/Counterattack if part of a Termagant brood hanging in range of a Tervi.) Adrenal are really just worse than Toxin at this point, as they no longer give you an Init bonus and being slightly more able to punch tanks isn't worth much, as you want him fighting infantry and making good use of WS6 and ignoring saves. The Deathspitter is marginal, since he'll generally be with a unit that can't hurt tanks and it's almost a sidegrade from the Devourer, but if you have five points to blow there are worse things you could buy. Replacing his gun with Scything Talons is still an option if you wanna go all-combat, which may not be a bad thing if you're looking to get into challenges. Rending Claws are never worth it in any form, nor are Spinefists, so don't bother.

I think the Prime is your "default" HQ for a Tyranid list- he's flexible, cheap, and effective and makes it harder for all your Synapse to be wiped out than any other choice. That's not to say that other HQs won't be major considerations for many lists or that they don't have their places, just that when you're not sure what else to take or if you don't have a specific plan for your leader, you'll probably just be going with a Tyranid Prime.

Hive Tyrant
Well, the Hive Tyrant certainly didn't get any cheaper, although he did gain some stuff. On the other hand, he also lost some significant stuff, so he becomes less of a needed choice at higher point totals. However, with the ability to make the best use of the Biomancy discipline and upgrades to some of his options, he's still worth considering. Tyrants are still the kings of providing a swathe of buffs to your army and they can easily turn a fight from tilted against you to overwhelming victory without even stepping in directly- and make no mistake, if it comes down to it they are more than capable of breaking some faces personally.

If you're looking to take a Tyrant, you're looking to take one of two basic builds- Flyrant or Buff Tyrant. Flyrant intends to use the new Flying Monstrous Creature rules to lead the attack, zipping forward 24" on T1 and spewing Devourer shots into the enemy to help distract them from other targets. He will thus generally carry two pairs of the Brainleech Devourers, although a single pair is defendable if you're aiming for Telepathy/Telekinesis powers. However, since Biomancy is so good for Tyrants you generally won't have to worry about that and can thus get the full twelve shots. The Heavy Venom Cannon is so much worse compared to the Devourers now that the latter don't get damage table penalties, are better against both vehicles and infantry, and can easily get in range with his long Swoop move that there is really no excuse to be taking it. Flyrants generally don't need any of the upgrades, either- Old Adversary is nice, but he'll often be too far away from the main swarm for them to use it and he already rerolls misses when shooting; Hive Commander does a lot less with Outflank being somewhat less useful (though still having some applications) and the native reserve roll being 3+ anyways. None of the other upgrades are particularly helpful for him, either, although there is something to be said for Toxin Sacs now if you see a lot of enemy MCs.

The Buff Tyrant is likewise going to get a similar armament of Devourers, although it won't be uncommon to go with Lash/Sword on him, either; the former simply has applications against flyers that you desperately need. Biomancy is the obvious choice for him and should be kept to except in rare situations. Here, however, he differs from the Flyrant: Old Adversary is actually your primary reason for taking him, since he hands out rerolls on shooting and melee to all your nearby units. He'll be trying to advance in the midst of a swarm of other critters; Hive Guard and Termagants especially benefit from his attentions. Such a Tyrant also probably looks to be rolling on the Command or potentially Strategic warlord tables, giving him even more bonuses he can hand out. As with the Flyrant most of the upgrades are unneeded, although a 2+ save could possibly maybe be worthwhile in order to teach people that seriously, don't bring Missiles and Missiles alone. Really, though, not many people are able to stand any chance against you in a challenge, so you may not need it.

The sheer expense of a Hive Tyrant makes them only an option in lists of 1750+, realistically, and even there you'll have to really look at what you need. Yes, Hive Guard rerolling some misses is pretty sweet and he can be a T9 monster with a little luck (or ave FNP/IWND, etc), but you're looking to sink nearly 400pts for the privilege, so you need to look at whether you have enough force left for your multiplier to really be worthwhile.

All in all the Tyrant lost some ground to its competitors, but it's still a reasonable choice for larger lists.

Tyrant Guard
This is one of the big nerfs to the Tyrant- before it was easy to take advantage of the mixed-cover rules to get the whole unit 4+ cover, which went a long ways towards protecting him and balancing out the huge cost of that unit. With cover being widely available to MCs and only 5+ standard Guard lose some of their value, although they're still pretty much a necessity for any footbound Tyrant. You'll want at least one at 1500, two by 1750, and three at 2K for each such Tyrant, and their upgrades are still pretty much the same- Whips if you can afford them, shrug and move on if you can't. Remember that a Tyrant joined to his Guard acts like an Independent Character and can redistribute wounds, etc, just as they would.

I think the Tervi is the other top-tier HQ choice for Tyranids, surpassing the Tyrant in that regard. With little bugs becoming a lot more relevant now, the ability to make (and buff) them is more important and the Tervigon, while also available in the Troop slot, is good enough to take as an HQ as well. (I'll talk about its applications as a Troop some more later.) While Tervigons may not have the durability or combat capacity of the other options, they are still tough enough and punchy enough to fill many of the roles we need and still bring a lot of other things to the table.

Naturally, the Tervi's main role is buffing- any nearby 'Gants turn into some pretty nasty customers (and note that they get his Ld10 as a buff as well, which has become more relevant in the new edition- sometimes Fearless isn't enough) and can hand out some other abilities as well, depending on how you equip him. Again, he may not match the Tyrant in this regard, but flexibility is the name of the game with a Tervigon and you're still getting some unique stuff. Most important are the two purchasable psychic powers, Catalyst and Onslaught. Catalyst is gold, pure and simple- FNP was good last edition and it's good this one as well. With only a 1/3 chance of getting the "superior" version off of the Biomancy chart, you will often simply want to stick with your normal power there, as you have plenty of other potential ways to get different stuff. Onslaught isn't quite as generally useful but is situationally very strong- pushing those Hive Guard or Devilgaunts forward another d6" can mean the difference between being able to hit and not. Grabbing Catalyst is basically a no-brainer; Onslaught is good for more shooting-focused forces or anyone who is looking to swap into discipline powers reasonably often.

Having a pseudo-scoring HQ shouldn't be underestimated in the new edition, however; with so much of the focus on troop units, being able to effectively squeeze one more unit into another slot is hardly a bad thing, and the Tervi itself is hardly a poor buy. Adrenal/Toxin means it wounds on 2s and rerolls failures on the charge and the option to give up one of three attacks for S10 is very attractive. If you happen to roll up Warp Speed or Iron Arm it becomes an even more threatening unit and can really punish a squad in melee quite harshly. Iron Arm is great for putting you to the point where even heavy weapons don't wound you consistently ("Oops, my toughness is too high to be hurt by a Heavy Bolter.") and Warp Speed's attacks are added AFTER you cut in half for Smash (remember order of modifiers) so you're looking at 4-6 attacks on the charge. With its combat prowess much improved and vehicles hit on a 3+, Scything Talons become a much more useful selection and are probably worth those 5pts most of the time; Crushing Claws, however, probably will not be, as they're quite a bit pricier and negate some of your buffs' advantages. While the thought of a Regenerating, It Will Not Die, Feel No Pain T8-9 Tervigon is fairly hilarious the investment for trying to get some wounds back is probably not worthwhile in games over 1.5K, so I would avoid it and most of the other upgrades. (If enemy hordes become common Toxic Miasma might gain some applicability, but likely not.)

The Tervigon will be your HQ choice when you really want to push a swarm theme for your army and aren't worried too much about Synapse; they can also help push a psychic choir list (remember that as a MC you can fire your Cluster Spines as well as any witchfire you have.) Remember, though, that a Tervigon will be much more vulnerable than your other options and has a major drawback if it dies near your 'Gants; if Tervis are your only Synapse, you may find your swarm going out of control fairly often.

The Swarmlord
Alright, so same drill as before: this guy is a Tyrant, but even scarier in close combat (WS9, 4++ and causes ID with every hit and cuts through enemy invulns) as well as tougher (five wounds) and double the psychic powers. The latter part is very relevant now as Swarmlord is our only ML2 psyker and he gets four powers out of a discipline, which is rather a lot. He doesn't, however, have any guns whatsoever, so unless you get something out of your psychic selection you're gonna spend a lot of turns Running. This lack of ranged options and slow speed are major strikes against him (not to mention his astronomical cost), though his ability to grant a nice little buff to a unit within 18" does give him some ability to affect the board at least.

Unlike a normal Tyrant there is absolutely no excuse for ever taking Swarmlord's basic powers- Paroxysm is nice, but not "let's give up the WC2 Telepathy powers" nice, especially since Invisibility can effectively duplicate its function. And Telepathy should almost always be your first pick for Swarmy, since getting to take advantage of the two superfancy powers are the main reason you would be looking to use him. You may want to swap over to other disciplines if you get one or both of them before using all four of your picks, as all of the stuff that is good for a Tyrant is nice for him as well, but since none of the other WC2 abilities really compare I think you want to go heavy on Telepathy most times. (It's worth noting that Swarmy has a good shot at getting Objuration Mechanicum when facing flyers, which is helpful.)

However, if you're using this bad boy what you really want to be doing is getting him into melee because there are very, very few things in the game that can fight him without getting murdered. Even Draigo, TH/SS Terminators and other top-tier guys like them have second thoughts about engaging the Swarmlord and anyone without Eternal Warrior simply can't realistically do it. Now, if you roll up Invisibility that goes a long ways towards getting him to the enemy- that's a 2+ save for standing behind your own dudes and even a 4+ in the worst situations. However, since you can't rely on that, make sure you have other options- Being able to give him FNP, cover, etc, go a long ways and he always, always, always needs at least two Tyrant Guard and often three. Lash Whips are a preferred armament for them, as usual, since Swarmy himself can't get any.

In the previous edition using Swarmy was more a matter of leveraging his special abilities- handing out Preferred Enemy, reserve bonuses, etc. The +1 to reserves is still nice for bringing in something (a Trygon, Zoey brood, or perhaps some Ymgarl), but the outflanking part of his ability is now largely useless and with reserve builds crippled you won't be doing a lot with it.

The Swarmlord really isn't a strong choice for an HQ, but he can be some fun and isn't really that bad- as I said, anything he gets into combat with will be very, very sorry. He definitely falls into the "don't bring him to s strongly competitive tournament" level, however, and there is never really going to be a time where you're actually taking full advantage of what he can do.

The Parasite of Mortrex
Alright, so this guy is a bit weird and I'm still not exactly sure what to think of him- some units that seem mediocre or poor on the surface hold a hidden utility for the army and Parasite has that potential, but I haven't been able to test him out enough to really say for sure. So I'm going to spool out my theory here with the understanding that it's still under consideration- it's very possible that he's still pretty garbage despite his 2+ LOS to protect him from those Fists, as what he does just won't be needed. Anyways, the theory.

So the new Tyranid list is looking to make a lot of long charges in the early turns of the game- Gargoyles and Raveners especially will often be dashing well outside of Synapse range to get into fights with things, and that's good in its own way- it means you are breaking up the enemy's game from the very starting turns of the game. However, doing so is reliant on you being able to keep those units stuck in and force the enemy to keep punching them, and if you aren't in Synapse that is NOT particularly likely, as you're going to take casualties, lose combat, and fail that morale test. If you charge a tank it's just as bad, as you aren't locked in combat and thus can be shot (and have to roll morale) and test for Instinctive Behavior on your next turn (which for Gargoyles is pretty awful, since it means you cower and do effectively nothing.) So you need ways to keep a firm hand on your models despite them ranging 12-18" ahead of the main body of your force. Now, Dominion (off a Tervigon) can help with this some, but especially if you make that 10" charge it's probably not going to be enough- and that's where the Parasite comes in.

The Parasite is your one and only source of forward Synapse on turns one and two; he keeps pace with the very fastest of the Tyranid army and can contribute meaningfully to combat (S6 Rending is nothing to sneeze at and really do some damage to tanks) without being too vulnerable. He will also occasionally spawn extra distraction units around you, which can be nice- more saturation of infantry targets is only good, at least when they're nominally free. So while Parasite might not be all that impressive of a guy in a lot of ways, like the Tyrannofex of last edition he does a job you need (and that might not be obvious) and is unique in his ability to do so.

Or so goes the theory. Whether the reality of such charges actually succeeding makes him really necessary (as opposed to simply Running Tervigons forward and popping Dominion and other such tactics), only time will tell.

As a 5th Edition codex, even if they sometimes didn't seem like it, Tyranids do at least have the benefit of some pretty good troop selections, many of which got better with the new rules. Unfortunately they can suffer from a similar problem to BA/SW where they are forced to rely on their Troops to do a lot of their heavy lifting and thus tend to put them in quite a bit of danger, leaving them at risk to end up suiciding all their scoring units in order to win fights. However, as 'Nids are often able to produce units in such numbers and such variety, it's not uncommon to end up with lone models wandering around the field, available to score an objective, so you have some consolation in that regard.

Tyranid Warriors
Friends, I come not to praise the Tyranid Warrior but to bury him. No, really- as much as I love these guys, I think their rather brief time may be over. In the previous edition 4+ cover, wound allocation, and abundant MCs in the list made these guys a potential contender- they could shrug off Missiles/etc at a better rate than the big bugs could (point-for-point) because their larger brethren rarely got a cover save and they could hang with a Prime to eat up some of the shots without danger. However, with the general cover save- and most importantly the save for intervening units, which are a major part of the Tyranid strategy- reduced to a 5+ and MCs now getting a save with only 25% coverage (or none, if in area terrain) Warriors have lost a lot of their advantage there and they cannot perform wound allocation tricks against non-ID shots without a Prime hanging with them, so no more "I've taken four Bolter wounds and haven't lost a model" shenanigans anymore.

Now, there are some perks- Boneswords are a lot scarier now and longer charges mean their lack of speed isn't quite as punishing, but weak armor saves and more firepower from Boltgun-equivlent weapons coming across the field mean that they are going to be hard-pressed to really survive for long.

Now, that mostly rules out the more expensive melee-focused builds, I think, but there may be some glimmer of hope for Team Discount Synapse, which has some options. The basic Venom Cannon is far from an impressive gun but it is a lot more likely to do something meaningful to a tank now, since partial hits are better, and combined with two other guys carrying Deathspitters you can do some actual damage to tanks if necessary. The Barbed Strangler is also more useful now, as you're going to see a lot more infantry on foot, so for 110-115pts you can get a minimum-sized squad that provides Synapse coverage and some fire support. Is that good/necessary? I'm kinda thinking not, but if you're dead-set on seeing Warriors in your army I think it's a reasonable way to run them.

Most competitive lists, however, will see very little use for Warriors, for which I am sad. For those who were hoping for good news I can only give the few small tidbits above; save those bodies and pray for a 6E codex (we've gotten one every edition so far, thankfully) at some point to actually make them worthwhile.

I'll remind everyone once again: Termagants are the species with Fleshborers; Gaunts are the generic breed of T3/6+ bodies in the codex. This has been a public service announcement by the Council for Actually Using Words to Mean Specific Things Rather Than Just Any Word For Whatever.

Termagants have been a mainstay of the Tyranid army for quite some time now, as they enable the scoring Tervigon, benefit from its auras, and are a cheap way to hold objectives. Though unable to hit the dirt when shots come in (a favorite tactic last edition), they are still cheap and expendable and those are your two favorite traits for anything in a Tyranid list.

The essential strength of the Termagant is threefold: first, they benefit from "free" buffs from their mommas, whereas their main competitor (Hormagaunts) has to not only pay for them but pay rather a lot. Second, they have a gun on them- now, it's hardly a great gun, but it's better than nothing and it can cause the occasional casualty, which will sometimes be important. I've taken out Terminators, HQs, Monstrous Creatures, and more with little Fleshborer shots, so don't underestimate those volleys of fire. Especially in the numbers that 'Gants are taken in they can add up and are a great prelude to a short-distance charge, effectively giving them a Hammer of Wrath-style extra attack. Third, they are flexible; their shoot->charge routine can threaten even real melee units (especially "elite" units that have small numbers of high-quality attacks- pretty much every attack is the same to a Termagant!) and they are cheap enough you don't feel bad about standing some on an objective. They are a do-all unit, able to help out in almost every situation and, with the changes to tanks, even their main nemesis has become a lot more vulnerable to simply being punched until it dies. In short, while Termagants may not excel against any target, they will do a reasonable job and be able to at least contribute to virtually every fight you can imagine.

In the new Tyranid army this strength is used extensively to form a "second wave" that hits just behind the faster critters and in huge numbers. Seeing 80+ Termagants on the table turn 2 is not going to be at all uncommon and, though they may not be particularly scary individually, the fact that you will have to punch your way through each and every one of them can be very troublesome to many enemies. Thirteen Termagants on the charge will wreck a Rhino; a similar number kill a five-man Marine squad by the end of the opponent's turn. It is very possible to just drown the enemy in squishy little bodies that demand to be dealt with and never give them a chance to move out of their deployment zone, much less aim for objectives.

20+ Termagants (2x10) will be a starting place for most every Tyranid list for a while, I think, and you will commonly add 10-20 more on top of that to ensure you have some large squads making it to the front lines early on. There may be some competition from Hormagaunts, but I think that Termagants will win out in the end.

Swap the gun for an extra attack and Scything Talons, upgrade to I5 and Fleet and add a point to cost and voila, one Gaunt becomes another. Unfortunately Tervigons don't buff Hormies with their auras (so no free Adrenal/Toxin) and both upgrades are 2pts per, so if you want the usual trick of 4+ rerollable wounds on the charge, you're paying 10pts per body. A lot of people like these "Ubergaunts," but given how extremely fragile they are and how little more you'd pay to get a Genestealer instead (Rending, T4, 5+ save, I6, WS6, Infiltrate, command options) I can't really see why. Now, one advantage Hormagaunts do have is speed- though reduced somewhat compared to last edition they're still reasonably fast and thanks to the way Fleet works now they throw three dice to run and can reroll any of them, which basically guarantees 5" or 6" distance. This can be useful for keeping them ahead of the units they are screening and they aren't much more expensive than basic Gaunts are if you stay off the upgrades. Admittedly, this makes it difficult for them to hurt a lot of things, but they can get in the way and annoy the enemy while other units close in- and don't forget the reroll on charge distance, which can be very handy, netting you an average of 2" more distance.

(A lot of people are also going ga-ga over "omg u can move them out of Synapse and then faila check and RAEG +2 attax!"; ignore these people. This plan is working off of a threefold set of poor ideas: A, you have to move out of Synapse and be not-Fearless for a turn, during which time you will probably make a morale check. B, you have to hope the dice do fail you for once. Rolling a 7+ on 2d6 isn't hard, but it will never happen when you want it to. C, that one extra attack isn't going to turn them from squishy bodies into combat monsters; it's gonna kill an extra Marine or two. Again: any strategy that necessitates moving a creature with Instinctive Behavior out of Synapse is probably a bad plan. Your army runs on Synapse, don't try and game the system and work around it; it will usually bite you in the ass, possibly literally.)

I don't think Hormagaunts have a real place in strong armies, as Gargoyles fill the "expendable forward screen" role better, though they are harder to get cover for that Hormies. However, being significantly faster (consistently moving 4" further than them on both charge and non-charge turns) and also having a gun in addition to a relevant CC rule and cheaper upgrades to threaten tanks with are all tough obstacles to overcome. Hormagaunts aren't drastically worse than their two competitor-species, but they just don't have a strong niche to fill.

'Stealer Shock is dead, long live Stealer Shock! With weaker cover, impossibility of first-turn assaults and stronger Rapid Fire, 'Stealers are looking at some real problems. However, they also had a HUGE gain- the Broodlord can now trade out his two really bleh powers for discipline powers, of which there are some excellent ones, and that is critical.

Small squads of 'Stealers with a Broodlord can infiltrate into tricksy positions (sometimes even out of LOS) and slap army buffs or debuffs on appropriate targets; Biomancy and Telekinesis (oddly) are the best choices here. For 130-150pts you can get two psychic powers and a small batch of wounds, which ends up being pretty similar to the cost a lot of folks pay for their HQs, albeit in character form instead of a squad. Larger squads are possible and make better use of buffs, but I think they are a mistake for several reasons; for one, overkill when assaulting is a very bad thing and twelve or fourteen Genestealers crashing into a unit definitely counts as "overkill." For another, Genesteakers are very fragile for their cost, even with something like FNP on them. Flamers and Bolters will do a real number on them, not to mention more specialized choices like blast weapons, etc, that can root out large squads moving through choke points.

My current 'Stealer Support Squad is relatively simple and based on similar squads I ran in 5E; six bodies with Toxin Sacs, one upgraded to a Broodlord with Scything Talons (which, due to his greater number of attacks and solo buffs, are more worthwhile.) This runs 150pts; an alternate variant minus Toxin ends up at 132pts. I am not entirely happy with either currently and have been tweaking squad size around, but haven't settled on a what I think is the ideal number quite yet. However, I strongly suspect it will be small (5-8 members) and largely intended to support the rest of the army by charging into stalled fights and by applying Biomancy (or occasionally other) powers as needed.

We covered a lot of the stuff about the Tervi in the HQ section, but there are some differences when looking at them as a troop unit. For one, it's easy to do- it's not often you won't want to be bringing along a bunch of Termagants, in no small part because you want the scoring MC to go with them. Tervigons are a major part of your strategy with Tyranids, making your little guys more frightening and spitting them out en mass, so we want to fit as many as we effectively can in as Troops.

Now, to some people that might mean taking three of them straight off the bat and moving on from there, but that does fill all our Troop allotments and does deny us some flexibility from Genestealers. So the triple-Tervi may end up being the "right" build, but I think three pairs of two (Termagants, Tervigon, 'Stealers) also holds a lot of possibility as well, since you end up with one more set of powers to roll on. In larger games this balance can tilt somewhat, but I think it's a good start for 1500-1750.

Well, that pretty much covers things for those two slots, so- wait, what's that? I missed something, you say? No, I'm pretty sure I covered all of the units. Tervis, Gaunts (both kinds), Warriors, 'Stealers; yup, that's every single Troop I have ever used in a 'Nid list in all the history of my playing the game, so I don't see what you might be thinking of.

OH. Oh. You don't actually want me to- really? For serious? Like, you truly think they're worth the time it will take to bash my head against the keyboard and tell you what we both already know? sigh Alright, fine.

Ripper Swarms
Goddamn you. Alright, here's the skinny: Ripper Swarms are awful. There is not a single thing that they do well and many things that they do badly. Yes, they can move through terrain with no penalty; guess what, so can Termagants, realistically speaking, and a Multilaser never kills three Termagants with one hit, nor a Flamer two. With the loss of the +1 to cover save as part of the Swarms rule, Rippers have absolutely no excuse for existing anymore, most especially because they can't score objectives. Do you get that? They are Troops who cannot score objectives. That is like being an assault unit that can't move or a a shooting unit with BS0. The only time you should ever put a Ripper Swarm down on the table is when you get them for free with your Parasite and even then you are wishing they were absolutely any unit other than a Ripper Swarm.

Someone is now shouting in the background about Spinefists and Tunnel Swarms and distraction units. That person can go to hell- I am not paying 17pts/base for a shitty "distraction" that can barely cause any damage, can't survive any firepower, and can't even arrive where I want it to consistently.

For Reals Conclusion
The Tyranid HQ and Troop slots have always been pretty reasonable- maybe not blowouts, but certainly some very strong stuff that you can base an army around. And that's good, because armies are defined by their Troops and HQs, both in 5E and 6E. While other units will fill out specialist roles and provide support, your Troops are going to be the body of what your army can do, and if they aren't helping out then your army is probably not going to go the distance. That doesn't mean you want to invest all- or even most- of your points in Troops, but you are going to need a pretty fair chunk of them to get by. And, thankfully, Tyranids pass muster in this regard, having access to even more scoring units than even the Combat Squad-capable chapters can bring to the field.

In the third and final edition of this series I'll look at the remaining FoC slots, including Fortifications, and possibly throw a couple lists out.

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