26 Mar 2014
Tactica Tyranids - Trygon/Trygon Prime
As the Prime is essentially an upgrade over a regular Trygon, I will cover it in this article.
Trygons and Trygon Primes
When the new Tyranid codex released, there was a general consensus - and yes, that included me - that the new Trygon and Trygon Prime had been hit badly with some of the changes to the codex. While they did receive a small points drop, losing re-rolls to hit on all close combat attacks and paying more for some upgrades generally wasn't seen as a good trade. With some more experience with the new Trygon though, I have come to the conclusion that it is only "weaker" than its previous codex incarnation was in 6th Edition. The loss of a base attack to be replaced by being granted an extra attack through two sets of weapons stacking is a big change that means it will always have one more Smash attack than it previously would have. While the lack of re-rolls to hit does hurt its damage output considerably, this is a unit that dominated the 5th Edition Tyranid Heavy Support slot and the changes in 6th Edition made it easily capable of taking on considerably more expensive enemies - like Wraithknights or even Dreadknights - with ease.
I feel that while the toning down probably wasn't justified, it isn't something I disagree with and the small points drop does help soften the blow. The reality is, the Trygon is still useful even if the rules designers failed to fix one of its broken special rules, if only because it remains now as one of the few units able to Deep Strike in the codex. The removal of the Mycetic Spore has seen the Trygon become even more useful than before as Tyranids do need multiple forms of deployment to assault the enemy from all sides and saturate all areas of the field with viable targets. That the Trygon itself isn't as powerful as it used to be is made up by this fact, I feel.
But enough of that, what do we actually have in front of us? Well, aside from one tiny change, the profile of the Trygon is identical to the previous version, and this is most definitely a good thing. Weapon Skill 5 and Ballistic Skill 3 distinguish it as a melee-centric monstrous creature, while its Initiative 4 and Leadership 8 make it roughly analogous to a Space Marine in many respects. Strength, Toughness and Wounds 6 are of course shared between many monsters in the Tyranid codex, though out of those the Trygon is the only one that can claim to be a truly great combat unit due to its other stats. A 3+ armour save to back up all those wounds makes the Trygon incredibly resistant to small arms fire, and even massed Strength 7 AP4 shooting from missile pods and autocannons will still have to force about eighteen total armour saves to kill the Trygon. Between rolling to hit, usually on 3s or 4s, and rolling to wound on 3s, this is no easy feat for most armies; of course, multiple Crisis Teams or a Broadside Team with Markerlight support can do the deed, but the points investment is obviously high.
Between two sets of Scything Talons and five attacks on its profile, the Trygon still has the same whopping six attacks when fighting a melee. The only change here comes when the Trygon halves its attacks for Smash; as the value halved is the base attacks before modifiers are included, a Trygon would thus have three Smash attacks plus one for having two close combat weapons. In a sense, the change to Tyranid close combat weapons acting as proper melee weapons has given it a hefty boost in damage output against Toughness 5 or lower models lacking Eternal Warrior, in addition to vehicles who are now more vulnerable than ever. Add in Toxin Sacs and a Trygon can dish out up to five Strength 10 attacks that re-roll to wound against all targets on the charge. Ouch!
What really gives the Trygon its place though is that it is one of only two monstrous creatures in the army - the other being the Mawloc - that is capable of deep striking, bringing the total number of Tyranid units with alternative deployment options (if you exclude Hive Commander) up to eleven. While it does lack an effective ranged weapon like most other effective deep striking units such as Sternguard Veterans in Drop Pods or suicidal Chaos Terminator units, it is enough to threaten light vehicles and weak infantry alike with up to six Strength 5 AP5 shots at 12". However, what none of those units bring is the sheer terror of a colossal six-wound monstrous creature with Toughness 6 that is infamous for being one of the stronger melee units of its kind in the game. If a Trygon appears in your opponents backfield, they will either scramble to destroy it - generally not an easy task - or make the fatal mistake of ignoring it. If the latter situation occurs, a Trygon can happily wreak havoc by tearing apart entire units of infantry and vehicles or monstrous creatures of all sizes; everything is prey to a Trygon!
Remembering that the Trygon possesses safe Deep Strike from its Subterranean Assault rule - the more left unsaid about the other effects of this special rule, the better - and its superb melee skills and the Trygon is still one of the scariest monsters to face in the Tyranid force. Having the option to deep strike a six wound monster gives you a lot of flexibility in deployment to confound and force mistakes from the opponent, while it is also one of the more cost effective choices in the book even if you just run it up the field. It is one of the few units in the codex that really doesn't need upgrades despite having access to them, as it does its job very well with all but Toxin Sacs.
How to Equip Them
Compared to Carnifexes, Trygons are very limited in terms of options with access only to the regular Biomorph list and two tail weapon upgrades. Depending on your perspective, though, this may actually be a good thing as a Trygon doesn't really need any upgrades, save perhaps for one. Both of the tail weapons are mediocre additions, as has been the case throughout the rest of the codex, though I guess an extra Poisoned (2+) attack isn't all that bad. Honestly though, just take Toxin Sacs instead and leave it at that.
Unlike most other Tyranid units, Toxin Sacs are the real winners for a Trygon simply because it already has Fleet and thus only receives half the benefit for the more expensive Adrenal Glands. Furious Charge is inferior in almost every imaginable scenario to Toxin Sacs for pure combat effectiveness, so if you want to upgrade your Trygon, just leave it with poisoned close combat attacks. The other Biomorphs aren't really worth the points, especially on an already costly unit. Regeneration makes a lot more sense here than it does for a Carnifex, for instance, but it is still an expensive and unreliable upgrade that fails to take into account the ability of many armies to slay a Trygon and similar monster in one round of shooting. Acid Blood is only really effective against low Initiative enemies, and even then one must wonder if it is worth the higher cost over Toxin Sacs. My recommendation is to skip all the upgrades, except the almost mandatory Toxin Sacs - and even that is only taken because of the massive boost to damage output it provides.
Where to Put Them
The ability to Deep Strike gives Trygons a lot of deployment flexibility that few other Tyranid units possess. You can either play them from reserves and use their "safe" deep striking to enter the battlefield in an advanced position, or deploy them alongside the rest of your forces to add considerably to your target saturation. Ultimately, it depends on how you are running your swarm. Trygons can be used pretty well as fire sinks, even if Toughness 6 and 3+ armour are easier to negate than ever before, as six wounds gives and potential Catalyst or Regeneration gives them good staying power. Your average three-strong Broadside Team all with high yield missile pods, smart missile systems, attached missile drones and buffed with Ballistic Skill 5 from Markerlight support will still statistically kill a Trygon in one go, but other lesser shooting platforms will struggle immensely to down it in one go. The more units forced to shoot at one of your monsters to kill it, the less shooting the rest of your units must face.
This is why Trygons do work when deployed on "foot", especially as they are point-for-point one of your cheaper monstrous creatures per Toughness 6 3+ armoured wound. However, Deep Striking a six wound combat monster like the Trygon that has a nifty little shooting attack can be very scary for any opponent, especially in a concerted attack with Infiltrating elements or other Trygons and Mawlocs. Hitting your opponent with a lot of units at once on turn two or three can serve to panic them and see them waste shooting at multiple units and fail to eliminate most of the targets. These kinds of tactics are required for Tyranids to really succeed, and the Trygon having safe deep striking assists those efforts greatly. That a Trygon doesn't need to worry about Instinctive Behaviour so much due to a combination of good Leadership and less worrisome results means you can freely Deep Strike it without fear of losing control.
I see the Trygon mostly as an aggressive gun-line breaker designed to pop up near your opponents backfield support or ranged units and isolate them. It either serves as a moderately expensive distraction from then on - deep strike it into cover if possible as it ignores dangerous terrain - or as a devastating attacker that annihilates one or more key units. A Trygon is still pretty darn cheap for what it brings, so using it in a risky manner like this is rarely a bad idea; after all, why waste a near guaranteed turn three charge (provided reserve rolls are favourable) and the ability to break up the middle of a formation? Running it up the field does work as well, especially as it has innate Fleet and thus does not require Adrenal Glands as an upgrade, but I feel the terror a deep striking six wound melee monster brings is too good to pass up.
Don't forget its shooting attack, even if a regular Trygons' isn't that great; use it to shoot at the rear armour of vehicles and small, light squads like Marker Drone squadrons or Pathfinders. If there are no good or viable targets, Run into a better position, such as more beneficial terrain in terms of cover or just closer - or further away, in the case of a Dreadknight for example - to ensure a charge on its next turn. Trygons can easily take on squads of Tactical Marine equivalents, and do pretty well against elite infantry such as Terminator equivalents as well. With Toxin Sacs, they can go toe to toe with almost any monstrous creature in the game and come out on top due to their awesome stats like Weapon Skill 5 and six attacks base, or four base when Smashing.
These are a few example builds for the unit that I feel can fit into a number of competitive Tyranid lists. I'll list some thoughts on each build and what kind of lists they fit better in.
Trygon - Toxin Sacs - Your standard Trygon is principally a more expensive and "elite" combat monster than the Haruspex or even a Carnifex, even if it does retain a decent shooting attack. Its high Weapon Skill and innate Fleet make it naturally suited for taking on enemy monsters and being an aggressive monster. This means that Adrenal Glands really aren't necessary as they would be for other combat-oriented monstrous creatures. Instead, Toxin Sacs win out here just for the sheer efficiency boost they provide at such a low cost. I consider this upgrade near mandatory with so many Riptides and Wraithknights populating the meta, especially now as the Trygon no longer re-rolls failed to hit rolls in close combat.
The Trygon Prime is, as such, the only Synapse unit aside from Shrikes that is capable of deep striking. This makes them almost mandatory in more aggressive lists such as Hormagaunts mixed with Gargoyles and Carnifexes with Adrenal Glands, while they remain useful as supporting Synapse units in the same vein as Tervigons are for spawning Termagants. If an opponent eliminates all of your Synapse units or scoring units, being able to call in an extra Synapse or scoring unit through a deep-striking Trygon Prime or a spawning Tervigon will be crucial to continuing the game and having any chance at victory. A Prime that deep strikes cannot be targeted until it arrives, keeping it safe in the early turns; this can be used to great effect if you focus on ridding the opponent of their heavy weapons early on at the cost of your other Synapse units. The Prime can deep strike in where needed with its safe scatter to restore control to your in-fighting swarm units, an invaluable tool indeed.
The Prime also possesses a significant boost to its ranged attack, gaining an additional six shots for a total of twelve Strength 5 AP5 shots with an increased 18" range. This not only reduces the penalties of a bad deep strike scatter, but it also becomes a truly legitimate threat to vehicles with rear AV 10 such as the Battle Leman Russ variants. On average, a Prime will hit six times and get one glance and one penetrating hit, potentially leading to a disabled or at least neutered tank; it goes without saying that it is very helpful for trying to finish off small left overs of infantry units. While still not a great shooting attack, it is one that you should actually consider using very often instead of just running, unlike the regular Trygons' ranged attack.
The Prime has access to all of the same upgrades as a regular Trygon, and as stated before, I feel the only worthwhile one is Toxin Sacs; while not mandatory, they provide such a big boost to combat effectiveness that I would really advise them. Of course, a Prime is not solely a combat monster like a regular Trygon, so you shouldn't feel forced to take it. The twist here - and likely the reason a Prime is now its own separate unit entry - is that it can, unlike a regular Trygon, take the Tyranid Bio-Artefacts usually only available to certain HQ choices. Of those, two in particular stand out; the Miasma Cannon and the Reaper of Obliterax. While expensive on an already costly model, these provide massive boosts to the damage output of a Trygon Prime. The Miasma Cannon should be used in conjunction with deep strike as a reserved infantry-sweeper that can clear out entire 4+ armoured units with ease, a weapon that can also be used defensively to get rid of potential tarpit units.
The Reaper turns the Trygon Prime into a ridiculous combat monster with Initiative 7, Strength 7 and Instant Death on to wound rolls of a 6. Remember how a Trygon Prime has five attacks base, and plus one for two combat weapons, a bonus that still applies when the Reaper is added? Yes, this is as absolutely ridiculous as it sounds. Expensive, yes, but undeniably brutal, allowing a Trygon Prime to scythe Wraithknights, Dreadknights, Riptides and all manner of enemies apart with ruthless efficiency. The other relics are decent, with the maw claws being a cheap way to bring back re-rolls to hit of a sort, but I feel the Reaper is a better - albeit far more significant - investment. The Norn Crown is better suited to a better protected creature such as a Hive Tyrant with Tyrant Guard bodyguards or a Tervigon that can feasibly hide in the backfield. The Ymgarl Factor is a mediocre upgrade I feel, especially at such a high cost; just take the Reaper instead for slightly more points.
The Serpent Strikes
When one feels tremors in the earth, their natural instinct is usually to hide under a stable platform or surface. But when a world is stricken instead by a Tyranid infestation, such places are no longer safe from the jaws of the earth. Even if the prey knows of what foul creature is searching for them, their fate cannot be changed; like a spider in its web, the titanic Trygons can sense the movements, the rush of blood in those they stalk. Like a howling maelstrom emerging without warning, a Trygon erupts from the ground with the subtlety of a thunderclap, destroying all nearby through the sheer force of its entrance. Those who survive have precious few moments to react and try to harm the beast, for fleeing from a monster that can hunt without sight or smell is impossible. The last breath of those attacked is silenced quickly by the scything blade arms of the Trygon, leaving nothing but mounds of dismembered corpses in its wake. Truly, to be hunted by a Trygon is to be courted by the whim of Death itself, for no mortal can escape this leviathan serpent without facing its wrath.
Thank you for reading this article! Please, share your thoughts on the article and the changes I am experimenting with for this series. I am open to any and all feedback! And remember, for any and all discussion on Tyranids and Games Workshop stuff, head on over to +Bell of Lost Souls. Thanks again! Eel out.
at 9:32 pm