15 Feb 2013

L2E's Tyranid Tactica - Part 3 - Troops


The core of a Tyranid army, Troops choices are where the majority of your mostly necessary bodies will come from, either in the form of tough Warriors, droves of Hormagaunts and Termagants, amazing Tervigons, or a mixture of all. The most competitive combo usually proves to be Termagants paired with Tervigons, though Hormagaunts are always great, whilst Warriors and the like fit into a wide variety of lists. Usually, you don't want to upgrade your Troops choices that much - though they are generally the best units to give upgrades to. Just don't go overboard and remember that greater numbers usually win with these units.

Tyranid Warriors -Arguably the most famous sub-species of the Tyranid race, Warriors often form the core of a Tyranid army - they are durable, provide decent firepower, and are good in combat. Generally speaking, they are your more expensive - but stronger - utilitarian infantry equivalents to Space Marines, though they are less adaptable to taking out vehicles and will generally fall over in a heap when engaged by a walker. Tyranid Warriors provide a key role by being the only standard Troops choice that provides Synapse and Shadow in the Warp, meaning they play a big part in most armies so that your forces can operate at peak efficiency. They are invaluable in smaller games where their relatively cheap cost compared to other Synapse alternatives comes into play, and larger games where you can't spread out your Synapse coverage as much without them. On top of how this, they come stock with decent anti-infantry guns, and with Scything Talons, a good Weapon Skill and a high number of attacks, Warriors are quite nasty in an assault. In fact, their natural profile is fantastic - though their Ballistic Skill and Armour Save are mediocre, each Warrior has three wounds and Leadership 10, on top of usual Space Marine statistics like Strength, Toughness and Initiative 4. They can be kitted out with lots of different options that either make them nastier shooters or Terminator-hunters in combat alike.

The main detriment to their cause, however, is their cost and vulnerability to instant death - whilst 6th Edition is favouring plasma over krak missiles, they still drop like flies to Hades/Psybolt Autocannons and Leman Russ Battle Tanks, both of which are very common in the game nowadays. They will cease to exist the moment they come up against Tyranid Hive Guard. Their upgrades, whilst great, add up to an already considerably expensive unit that are too easily negated by certain weapons. However, it is not all bad - by the same token, a Warrior will on average die to three plasma hits, whilst two Terminators would die to the same number of shots and cost a lot more points. A Tyranid Warrior is - incredibly - as durable against small arms fire as a Terminator, for cheaper. This means that the meta change does benefit them immensely, though S8 weapons can and will still appear - and Warriors are prime targets for them. Make sure to abuse cover with them as necessary, and be careful where you set them up - they are both great objective holders and grabbers, but should be kitted out accordingly. A brood with a Venom Cannon or two with Deathspitters will provide a nasty defensive unit that is not easily removed, especially in combat. Kit a combat unit out with boneswords or a lash whip and bonesword and move them from cover to cover to grab midfield objectives - almost anything that gets near them will be eviscerated. Even Paladins will be frightened of them!

Generally speaking, you want to minimise the upgrades on Warriors as much as you can though - to ensure they don't die too quickly, you need them in chunky broods of around five or six, which when you add good stuff like Toxin Sacs and Boneswords can quickly turn into a 200+ point investment that disappears the moment a Battle Cannon shows up. Upgrade them as necessary, and they will do fine - it must be noted, however, that an entire army composed of Warriors is not recommended, as it will simply leave you too vulnerable to several kinds of armies, and will have too small a model count to make a big difference. They work well in one or two units, spread for synapse coverage and firepower with a touch of melee danger. They are good in that sense, but you need to make sure to take care of them.

Genestealers - Once one of the deadliest combat units in Warhammer 40000, Genestealers have been hit hard by the changes to Outflank - meaning they can no longer charge out of reserves. Whilst this means that you can't simply abuse them in that way, forcing a worried opponent to bunch up in the middle of the board and thus become easily surrounded, they are still quite capable fighters once they actually get into combat. With a ridiculous Weapon Skill and Initiative paired with a good chunk of Rending attacks, they will make mince meat of almost any equivalently costly unit. There are few Troops choices in the game that carry as much threat as they do up close. But is that all there is to them? Unfortunately, no. With a weak armour save and a middle-of-the-ground Toughness, Genestealers are prime bait for any kind of anti-infantry shooting - even the standard Bolter ignores their armour saves, meaning Genestealers are forced to hug cover as they run forward. Though Move Through Cover and Fleet mitigate this, mobility does become an issue, and actually declaring a charge at the wrong moment can be very costly - with the new Overwatch rules, Genestealers can be gunned down well before they even get close to the enemy. Flamers are, and always have been, their bane - more-so with the Wall of Flame.

So how are Genestealers run in a competitive sense? Most commonly, they are infiltrated into a good position before the game begins, forcing your opponent to focus on them or lose a chunk of their forces, or hiding in a good line-of-sight blocking terrain to minimize their casualties when they move up. As for the actual squad layout, the most common build is as the 'Broodlord Delivery System' - that is, a bare five-strong squad with one upgraded to a Broodlord. The reason for this is the amazing abilities of the Broodlord, particularly in light on 6th Edition - particularly challenges. Broodlords rock a stat-line that would make a Tyranid Prime blush, and they are a paltry sixty poppies - with Rending Claws and a high volume of S5 attacks, they are very adept at killing up close. The best part is their basic psychic power, Hypnotic Gaze - simply put, you and a random opponent in base contact (i.e. a challenge) roll a D6 each and add your respective Leadership values, remembering that a Broodlord is LD10. If the Broodlord rolls equal to or higher than its opponent, that enemy model can't attack at all. See where I am going with this? You can feasibly tarpit a nasty commander such as Draigo and wail on him, causing a wound each turn without even a hint of resistance. Typical squad leaders will usually fall in a heap when a Broodlord is around, and many Commander-level characters stand little chance at defeating it too. And, with access to Biomancy and the like, it can either buff itself even more or provide some great benefits for other units in your army. Simply put, you want a Broodlord - you know you want a character assassin in a squad so small your opponent won't see it coming.

Whilst the Commando style Genestealers are a good and nasty unit that is very cheap, they shouldn't fill up your Troops choices - Termagants, Tervigons and the like should still fill up most of your slots for the purposes of objectives games. Genestealers run in this fashion are there to kill - though they can obviously grab an objective and dissuade melee units from engaging them, it still isn't their best use. For what they cost, Genestealers are fantastic in combat, but lack reliable ways of getting there without suffering significant damage along the way - this means that the best way to use them is as smaller, distraction units that complement your army. I wouldn't usually use them in any other capacity. Always add a Broodlord to these spiny fellas.

Mycetic Spore (Dedicated Transport) - The Tyranid Drop Pod, (no really!) a Mycetic Spore is a cheap-as-chips monstrous creature that will die the second a krak missile hits it. But that isn't why you are here - it deep strikes a friendly unit, such as Termagants or even a lone Carnifex, into the fray with the same scatter reduction rules as a Loyalist Drop Pod. And for that purpose, it is great - not to mention, it can do a little bit of damage on its own, with a decent ranged weapon and lash whips to dissuade potential chargers (want to know what happened to the unlucky Daemon Prince that charged a Mycetic Spore?). Once a unit has dropped down and jumped out within 6" - a very tasty change in the recent FAQs (Doom alert!) - the Mycetic Spore is immobile and can't do anything except shoot at something that gets close to it. It has terrible WS and BS, and generally a terrible stat-line - albeit a high strength - but again, that isn't what you worry about with a Mycetic Spore. It literally pays for itself when Devourer-armed Termagants drop in and wipe out an entire enemy infantry unit, or launches a smiling Carnifex right into the thick of your opponents' backfield.

Mycetic Spores definitely combine well with certain units, particularly ones such as Zoanthropes and the Doom of Malan'tai - the latter of which requires a Mycetic Spore - and as such is well worth the price tag in every game that you use them. As for upgrades, you don't need to worry about them - whilst sticking Cluster Spines on them might be fun, it generally isn't worth upgrading something that is there solely to transport a unit and provide some very light harassment in a tiny radius. You should always consider these when using several units - laughably, they are the only way to make Pyrovores even a slight, miniscule possibility for a semi-competitive army. That is, if you've buried your head up your.......

Tervigon (Troops) - As I mentioned these in the HQ section already, a lot of what I would normally say has already been covered - I advise checking that section to get a more full analysis of a Tervigon in general. However, I will say that they are fantastic support units that, by spawning more Troops choices, are a key choice in almost any competitive Tyranid army. They are extremely durable and are very dangerous in a pinch - give them Toxin Sacs, Adrenal Glands, Crushing Claws and Catalyst and you are set. What I didn't cover before, was that every Termagant brood in the army list allows a Tervigon to be taken as a Troops choice - that cheesy T6 W6 monstrous creature that casts psychic buffs and is very dangerous up close can be a scoring unit? You read right - as a Troops choice, a Tervigon is even more brutal for your opponent to deal with, as it is arguably pound-for-pound one of the toughest scoring units in the game, whilst providing amazing buffs for units around them. It simply makes an already incredible unit that much better, and I thoroughly recommend that you use Tervigons as Troops choices wherever possible. A phenomenal unit, and one that should form the core of your competitive armies in conjunction with Termagants.

Termagants - The Tyranid equivalent of Guardsmen, Termagants are cannon-fodder with decent guns, which, combined with Move Through Cover, make them decent harassment units - they are also great tar-pit units. They are crazily cheap and can be fielded in table-covering hordes, though their use usually involves taking smaller broods. There are two main ways to field them; the first is as minimum sized units to fit Tervigons into your Troops slots; which you would be crazy not to do, frankly. Considering Tervigons spawn more Termagants, you don't need to field those starting on the board in large broods - invest the points elsewhere. When paired with Tervigons, Termagants become brutal combat units against the likes of monstrous creatures and even elite infantry - drowning your opponents in a high number of Initiative 4 poisoned attacks. If you use Termagants with Tervigons, never upgrade them either - their best upgrades to fit the role in a Tervigon-heavy army are actually purchased for a Tervigon, that applies to multiple units and is much cheaper.

The other, and perhaps more popular, use of Termagants is decent sized broods armed with Devourers - S4 AP- Assault 3 18" guns that make even your basic Troops a nightmare for light infantry of any kind. Even Space Marines will feel the heat from the sheer number of shots put out by Devourer-armed Termagants - appropriately abbreviated to 'Devilgants'. They pay for this weaponry though, as each Devilgant costs the same as two basic Termagants. This is where you need to weigh up cost and effectiveness - whilst Devilgants win in most cases, they are very fragile for the cost and become more obvious targets for your opponent. You don't want to tar-pit with Devilgants either, a key role which is often filled by Termagants. Generally speaking, Devilgants should stick to cover - as for delivery, they can also take a Mycetic Spore, which I would recommend as they are quite capable of obliterating entire infantry units in a single salvo at close range.

Overall, Termagants should always be used in one of two ways; as meat for Tervigons, or as rockin' Devilgants. Each path for this unit is great if used correctly, even if their role changes considerably. When used as large swarms with no upgrades though, you are better off looking at Hormagaunts - provided you aren't fielding Tervigons of course. Termagants aren't naturally a great unit, but when moulded into one of those two themes, they become very effective and dangerous units for a very low cost. Always consider Termagants or Devilgants in your competitive armies.

Hormagaunts - The little critters have undergone some serious changes in 6th Edition. They are almost as quick as they once were, though it is more random than before. Overwatch means opponents can get some extra shots into your hordes, reducing their combat effectiveness, and random charge lengths can leave them stranded due to a bad roll. Cover saves are thankfully far easier to come by, but the biggest change is Fearless; with the removal of No Retreat! wounds, Hormagaunts truly are one of the most cost-effective melee horde units in the entire game. Also, the change to Rage has benefited Hormagaunts greatly; they no longer charge at the nearest enemy unit, but instead gain an incredible +2 attacks on the charge! This means you will need to weigh up whether risking the loss of Fearless is worth the bonus damage they can cause. With Scything Talons, a high Initiative and a sheer number of attacks, Hormagaunts can put the pain on nearly any unit with impunity - Hormagaunts can and should be fielded in absolutely massive broods, fulfilling every players' vision of a far-spread Tyranid horde backed by monsters. Though they lack guns, the sheer speed of Hormagaunts usually compensates for this - they are more expensive than Termagants, but generally much better at what they do.

Hormagaunts have access to a few upgrades, the main one to focus on though is Toxin Sacs; for a paltry cost, you can give each Termagant Poisoned attacks, turning them into literal blenders against anything that isn't a vehicle. A Wraithlord got you down? See how much it likes being hit by sixty or more attacks hitting on 4s with re-rolls of 1s, then wounding on 4s. Hint; that is a very dead Wraithlord. Obviously though, the costs mount up the bigger a unit is; generally speaking, Poison is a fantastic upgrade when preparing for multiple opponents, though Adrenal Glands also have a place due to allowing Hormagaunts to damage the rear armour of most transports. Usually, I wouldn't bother with Adrenal Glands though, as Hive Guard will usually take out said transports before the Hormagaunts get close, and Toxin Sacs are far more useful in general. One of the crippling oversights for Hormagaunt is a stark lack of assault grenades; usually though, Hormagaunts can ignore this if you charge them at the right units. Taking all that in, I would say Hormagaunts are point-for-point the best melee unit in the codex, and our best tarpit outside of Tervigon-spawned Termagants. Take them in broods of 20 or more, and either leave them bare or give them Poison - they will do their job, and do it very well.

Ripper Swarms - Your other tarpit unit, Rippers have lots of wounds and attacks, but are far less effective in combat than Hormagaunts and cost considerably more. Not to mention that Rippers actually die once they fall out of Synapse range - sadly, they are a unit that always needs to be kept in check, which is not always possible. Still, they do have their uses; aside from S6+ weaponry, they are considerably more durable than Hormagaunts, and are likely to hold up most infantry units in combat for a longer period of time, which is important for any Tyranid army. For the record, you should also avoid upgrading them - they are already a lot more expensive than they should be, and the upgrades do little of note to justify their cost. The only potentially useful one, given their role, is the Tunnel Swarm upgrade - the cheapest of the lot. This allows them to Deep Strike, getting close to the enemy much quicker. Of course, this means they are a lot more likely to mishap and either be delayed or die, so you need to be careful if you use this. Still, you should probably just avoid that and run them up the field - they really are there to die, so you may as well let them soak up some firepower. I would usually avoid Rippers, but they are ok once they get into combat; soaking up some worried Devastator fire and assaulting them is sure to give you a smile.

Example Builds - Our Troops choices have multiple builds and options available, and I'll cover some of them here;

Warriors (5) w/ deathspitters, venom cannon -  190
Genestealers (5) w/ Broodlord - 116
Tervigon w/ crushing claws, cluster spines, catalyst, adrenal glands, toxin sacs - 220
Termagants (15) w/ devourers, mycetic spore - 190
Hormagaunts (20) w/ toxin sacs - 160

   So that's it for Troops guys! Remember to leave your comments below, if you have any critiques, suggestions or idea's for future articles - let us know here, on Facebook or over on the +Bell of Lost Souls lounge.

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