15 Dec 2013

Tyranid Rules Compilation and Thoughts

Howdy everyone, my name is Learn2Eel and today I have a different kind of article for you. Tyranids are my favourite Warhammer 40000 army, and as we all know by now, they are about to receive a massive update with several new kits, including a few updates to older ones. However, what many are interested in most of all are how the codex itself shapes up in-game; will this be the defining Tyranid codex to wipe away the sins of the 5th Edition incarnation? We can only hope that it gives us more reason to include numerous diverse army lists, and the early rules leaks have left me hopeful.

There has been a lot of conjecture and misinterpretation over information posted about Tyranids from the White Dwarf, most notably from my own excitable self! With so much interest in the subject, certain bits can become lost in translation rather easily. I could just list all the clarified 'facts' that we know, but instead, I want to share my impressions of the stuff we know from the White Dwarf. I think many haven't really registered what some of these rules mean exactly and just how significant they could be. However, please remember that we have yet to know the full picture on any of these units - even those with the leaked profiles - so these thoughts are merely based on what we know and are not an overall impression of each unit. As an aside, after having a lot of looks at the new models - which I will not show on this blog - I'm ready to give some expanded thoughts on just how I feel about them.

Before I begin, a big kudos goes out to Endobai from Warseer, Vhalyar from both Warseer and Dakka Dakka, and the Anonymous poster from 4chan /tg/ who all contributed this information. Thank you guys for giving us an early peek at a massive impending release!

The Rules

For ease of viewing, I am going to have first a 'confirmed' rule from one, two or three of the above sources, followed by my impressions on that rule. I'm going to be covering a lot of little details here, so be wary of lots of excitement! Let's jump in!

1) Tyrannofex with Rupture Cannon drops 60 points - When I did my predicted rules changes article a few months back, I predicted that the Tyrannofex would receive a points drop of about 70 points. I didn't really expect this to happen though and was expecting probably a 40 point drop. Well, the former happened! A 60 point drop to the Rupture Cannon variant is a gigantic points decrease and, alone, should make Tyrannofexes a more than viable choice now. This would mean the stock version should be around that 190 mark. I'm almost astounded that they actually dropped it by so much! Still, hopefully the Tyrannofex is boosted to Ballistic Skill 4, or its guns improved, just so we can have a monster that really brings the pain from afar.

2) Carnifex base is around the 120 mark - This is the change almost everyone wanted, and it looks like GW have obliged. Carnifexes at their current stat-line with a 120 point cost per model are more than adequate. Will we finally all be able to use those iconic monsters of ours again without fear of them not being a competitive choice? It certainly seems that way! My main hope now

3) Harpy has dropped 25 points - A points drop for the Harpy is more than welcome, providing the game with what would now be its cheapest Flying Monstrous Creature. However, this raises another issue; the main reason the Harpy isn't a great choice is because it is Toughness 5, has 4 wounds and a 4+ armour save. This makes it incredibly vulnerable to Quad Guns, Hydras, and even Flakk missiles. I hope beyond hope that it has at least a 3+ armour save now, with maybe a 5th wound or Toughness 6 to compensate.

4) Old One Eye has dropped 40 points and "regenerates like crazy" - While he didn't drop 100 points as I originally predicted, I'm still quite happy he dropped about the same amount of points as regular Carnifexes did. He is still highly expensive though and has the distinction of being only 20 points cheaper than two basic Carnifexes (if the 120 figure is exactly right, which it seems to be). The interesting part is that he has been described as "regenerating wounds like crazy" in the battle report. What this means exactly is unknown, but it is safe to say that against Riptide-heavy Tau, it seems like Old One Eye was damned difficult to put down. I am guessing he has some kind of boosted It Will Not Die roll to justify his still considerably high cost.

5) Venomthropes dropped 10 points each - This is a welcome change for sure. However, to be truly useful, I think they need to be changed so that their 5+ cover save bubble instead grants Shrouded, what with such cover saves being very easily accessed. At the moment, they are just a bit too easy to kill.

6) Trygon Prime has dropped 10 points - I'm a bit iffy on this one as, with Riptides and Wraithknights costing as much as they do, a Trygon Prime with its current rules dropping 10 points really isn't that much. However, there are so many unknowns here; stat changes, is the Prime a HQ, does Synapse do more, is Instinctive Behaviour more harmful and thus Synapse more important, is the Prime upgrade more or less expensive, etc. Too early to say anything here.

7) Cheaper Flying Hive Tyrants - The famous build for Hive Tyrants in 6th Edition is to take Wings, two twin-linked Brain Leech Devourers, and swap their two powers out for Biomancy rolls. The current incarnation is 260 points. In the battle report, a psychic Mastery Level 2 version of the otherwise identical monster is 230 points. That is quite a drop! This likely means the Wings upgrade was brought in line with other books (40 points usually), while the Hive Tyrant itself probably dropped in points. However, this leads into my next point.

8) Brain-Leech Devourers are 'weaker' - This seems to have been confirmed, so I'll include it here. Another possible explanation for a psychic Mastery Level 2 version of one of the current books' best units dropping 30 points is that the Brain Leech Devourers have dropped in usefulness, making them a cheaper upgrade. This was always going to be a possibility and, if it did happen, was likely done to encourage players to use other weapons on their Flying Hive Tyrants. I appreciate this change, if true, as long as they didn't make Brain Leech Devourers sub-par.

9) Cheaper Walking Hive Tyrants - A current Hive Tyrant with Mastery Level 1 and a Heavy Venom Cannon is 195 points. In the Battle Report, however, a Mastery Level 2 version of the otherwise identical Hive Tyrant build is 185 points. Given that psychic mastery level upgrades have universally been 25 points each, we can extrapolate that a Mastery Level 1 Hive Tyrant with the Heavy Venom Cannon is now 160 points. Given that the Heavy Venom Cannon would surely be a minimum of 10-15 points, it appears that Hive Tyrants are between 140-150 points stock. This would be about a 20 point drop, and is simply awesome. Hive Tyrants were never 'massively' over-costed, just quite a bit. Dropping 20 points, making Wings cheaper (which apparently they have) is just fantastic!

10) Hive Tyrants can be Mastery Level 2 - Yes, I've mentioned it a few times already, but this is just too good not to mention. Hive Tyrants can be Mastery Level 2 psykers. Whether or not they can still take rulebook powers is yet to be confirmed, but regardless, they can actually use Mastery Level 2 powers they roll up, or two powers a turn. If they still get access to Biomancy, imagine how insane a Flying Hive Tyrant with both Iron Arm and Endurance cast on itself would be! This means that not only are Hive Tyrants going to be psychic commanders, but they will - provided the profile doesn't change too much - also be true monsters. It sounds like this is the return of the customizable and awesome Hive Tyrants of old!

11) The Crone has a Strength 8 Vector Strike - I'm not sure I even need to bother with the rest of what we know about the Crone. Ok, a flying monstrous creature can move up to 24" when Swooping, meaning the Crone won't have as large a threat range as the 36" moving Heldrake. However, the value of a Strength 8 Vector Strike is just priceless. Statistically, this thing will wreck a Stormtalon, a Crimson Hunter and quite a few other fliers in one swoop. A pair of Crones will take out a Stormraven with their Vector Strikes alone. Additionally, T4 3+ models such as Crisis Teams and Space Marine HQs are going to fear these things above few others. Even then, heck, it wounds Wraithknights on a 4+ and most other monsters on a 2+, usually wounding the latter three times without cover saves in one go!

12) The Crone has anti-air Missile weapons - So we know what those weird looking things on its wings are now, and they are missiles - the first of their kind available to Tyranids. We don't know anything about what they do, other than the usual "they are awesome against flyers" description that we say used around the sub-par Nephilim Jetfighter in regards to its Black Sword missiles. What is important to note here is that regardless of how the missiles shape up, it is the fact that a Crone can shoot one of them after Vector Striking at Strength 8 that is so alluring. Depending on how they function and how many can be fired - usually a Crone would only be able to Vector Strike and shoot one missile unless it has a rule ignoring this restriction - these could allow a Crone to destroy most any flyer in one go. That Vector Strike......

13) The Crone is 155 points - Going off of the earlier stuff, having a 155 point - or 20 points more than the new Harpy with a twin-linked Stranglethorn Cannon - cost on this model just sounds way nasty. Of course, the unknowns are its stats and how it functions exactly; if the missiles aren't great and it is T5 W4 4+ armoured, it probably won't be a great choice. However, I can't honestly see a Strength 8 monster having such poor defensive stats, honestly. This gives me hope that the Crone at least will be something along the lines of T6 W5 3+, and the Harpy something similar. If this is the case, the Crone will be a stand-out choice for sure.

14) The Exocrine is a Riptide wanna-be - Let me preface this by saying I am only referring to their firepower, without the use of Markerlights. Now that is out of the way, an Exocrine has been confirmed to fire either a single large blast, or six Strength 7 AP2 shots. Wow! That is double the rate of fire of a Riptide's Ion Accelerator with the same stats, and a similar function with a large blast! We don't know what the large blast does, but it would have to be very strong to want to give up 6 S7 AP2 shots! This gives us a lot of anti-elite and anti-light/medium vehicle firepower for a start. However, what is important to note is that a Riptide becomes so scary because of Markerlights for ignoring cover and being precise, as well as all its other tools (2+ armour, T6, W5, Jetpack, Nova Generator, etc). We also don't know the Ballistic Skill or other stats of the Exocrine, but regardless, this sounds like a true 'bio-cannon' stand-in for smaller monsters as opposed to the Rupture Cannon.

15) The Exocrine is 170 points - So it shoots similarly to a Riptide with an Ion Accelerator and costs less? Now, again, we don't know nearly enough about the Exocrine to pass judgement, and again, the Riptide becomes an amazing choice when supported correctly rather than just being so strong by itself. However, being 170 points as opposed to the confirmed 205 point Rupture Cannon-armed Tyrannofex when the Exocrine has been confirmed to have some pretty nasty shooting gives me hope for both units. It probably means the Rupture Cannon has been improved, and that the Exocrine probably has some beefy stats too - T6, W5 3+ armour are my guess.

16) Psychic Power Changes - We've seen the table and while I won't fully quote it, I will say that having Dominion - a blessing that increases the psykers' Synapse range by 6" - makes perfect sense as the Primaris power of the Tyranid discipline. Catalyst is crazy in that it now gives not only a target unit within 12" Feel No Pain, but also the psyker and their unit too. Giving two units Feel No Pain for the price of one psychic power is crazy good, especially for an army that generally needs to get really close to do some damage! We know Broodlords come stock with the Horror, but not what it does. Psychic Scream is a weaker, Nova version of Psychic Shriek with a 6" bubble effect. Basically, it won't be *that* useful save on a Flying Hive Tyrant that gets right in the middle of an enemy formation. Warp Blast being a Warp Charge 2 power is a bit disappointing, as I am not sure a S5 AP3 small blast really warrants two Warp Charges compared to some of the powers other armies get (i.e. the Poisoned (4+) AP2 large blasts for Nurgle Chaos Daemons). Overall, the changes I've seen are ok - and in one case, awesome - but I really do hope we haven't lost access to the rulebook powers.

17) Termagants and Hormagaunts dropped 1 point each - This rocks, simply because it means we will be getting more bodies on the table than before. For reference, for the price of 30 Hormagaunts in the old codex, you can now take 36. Similarly, for the price of 30 Termagants in the old book, you can now take about 37 or 38. The changes aren't massive, but each little extra body counts, especially when paired up with the significant price drops we've seen on a lot of our monsters.

18) Termagants with Devourers are 2 points cheaper per model - While this is undeniably awesome if Devourers stayed the same, there is a key issue here; Mycetic Spores appear to have disappeared entirely. If Termagants don't have deep strike options, Devourer Termagants won't be *as useful* as they used to be. Of course, if they did stay the same otherwise, the large points drop for a unit helps a lot. For reference, the other weapon options for Termagants also appear to have dropped, but they now pay double what they used to for both Adrenal Glands and Toxin Sacs. This makes me doubtful of Hormagaunts getting the much requested 1 point upgrades, unfortunately.

19) Hormagaunts now run D6+3" - Much like Slaanesh Daemonettes, Hormagaunts exchanged their 3D6 pick the highest run for running D6 + a guaranteed 3". With Fleet in the mix, this means their average Run roll is higher as is the maximum distance they can Run. The minimum they can Run now is 4", which basically eliminates any potential for a "bad roll". This is a hefty speed and reliability boost that, with the points drop, will make Hormagaunts quite a bit more viable.

20) Tervigon with Crushing Claws is 25 points more - I expected Tervigons to go up in points by quite a bit, and it appears this is indeed the case. As I can't see Crushing Claws staying at 25 points each, I'm betting the Tervigon is about 190 or 195 base now. However, it was noted that a Tervigon with "one power" was this cost, which may indicate that either they have to purchase the first Mastery Level (which would put them about 165-170 base), or they have the option for Mastery Level 2. Again, this was an expected change and I'm not too surprised.

21) 30 Termagants in a brood required to unlock a Tervigon as Troops - However, this one did surprise me a bit. This means that before adding in any other upgrades, a Tervigon with the 'troops unlock' is going total up about 310 points or so, as opposed to the 210 from the old codex. Of course, the new build has 20 extra Termagants starting on the board, but it is nonetheless a very hefty points increase. I think it makes sense though, as I never really liked just having 10 Termagants stating on the board next to a Tervigon. It never really felt right to me as a Tyranid player. I'm betting this combination will still be our go-to Troops choice, but it does appear to have taken a bit of a hit. We will have to wait and see on the points cost of upgrades for the Tervigon, and if those rumoured spawning upgrades actually are real.

22) The Swarmlord is Mastery Level 3 and 5 points more - Ah, the Swarmlord. Arguably the single most terrifying combat monster in the game that, with the right psychic powers, can school anyone - even Skarbrand! His Mastery Level 2 and four powers in the current codex, combined with good survivability and ridiculous melee capabilities, make him a very versatile commander and an extremely powerful one at that. We know nothing of his new incarnation, but he appears to have went up a bit in points and is now a Mastery Level 3 psyker. Many expected a points drop for the Swarmlord as once he was reigned in with the Mastery Level = number of powers stuff, his usefulness would drop quite a bit, and he was already quite over-costed anyway. However, adding in an extra mastery level - valued at 25 points everywhere - means his new incarnation at the same psychic level would have been 260 points. This leads me to believe his abilities aside from psychic stuff have probably remained mostly the same. Regardless, having a Mastery Level 3 psyker will now give the Swarmlord a true role in the army what with regular Hive Tyrants now able to be Mastery Level 2. Hopefully the Swarmlord is a premier choice and remains one of the scariest foes to face!

23) Genestealers are mostly the same with a few upgrade changes - Genestealers are one of those units that simply doesn't work in 6th Edition as they are neither fast enough nor durable enough to survive to make it to assault. Even then, they really aren't that great of an assault unit anyway. It was fair enough then to assume that they would either gain a stat boost - 4+ armour! - or drop in points by quite a bit, but neither has occurred. Instead, aside from changes to how a Broodlord is purchased and a possible nerf to it because it no longer has the Hypnotic Gaze power, Genestealers pay double what they used to for Scything Talons. This begs the question; why would the cost of those go up unless there have been changes to how they function? I've seen some speculation on this topic, such as melee weapons combining both their effects and extra attacks, but it still is nonetheless an odd decision.

24) Warriors appear the same with slight differences - Like Genestealers, Warriors are a unit that really isn't that viable nowadays, albeit for different reasons. Warriors are good for the most part, save that Strength 8 weapons kill them so easily, especially with only a 4+ armour save, no invulnerable save and no way to really boost their cover saves. They just die too easily against very easily accessed heavy weapons to justify their points. Their upgrades did drop a bit in points, particularly - and oddly - Toxin Sacs (I would have thought Adrenal Glands were less valuable, which probably means they have changed as well) but they now also have access to Flesh Hooks. This probably means Flesh Hooks are now assault grenades, and it is a welcome change indeed. Still, Warriors will be made or broken by whether or not they have Eternal Warrior conferred on them in some way.

Overall, I am very hopeful after reading these rather small details. We know probably only about 5-10% of the rules in the codex, so making any claims now as to its overall viability would be foolish. In saying that, the early signs are mostly good. Unfortunately, Genestealers appear to still be sub-par, and Warriors are pretty much reliant on Synapse conferring Eternal Warrior to make their way back into most competitive lists.

The Models

Regardless of how the rules shape up, if there is one thing both Tyranid players and their prey can agree on, the new models are every bit as disgustingly awesome as they should be! And hey, there could very well be a second wave!

The Haruspex - When I first saw this beast, I was taken aback. I've never seen such an over-the-top, garish Tyranid model. A huge, gaping maw with dozens of tentacle feeders, an eye-opening elongated and over-sized tongue, and a bulky design. The overall aesthetic just screams Tyranids to me more than perhaps any other model; a disgusting, aggressive work of flesh and biomass. From what I can tell, it seems to look very much like a frog, particularly with the giant tongue. This leads me to believe the Haruspex may very well be a Jump Monstrous Creature; the comparisons between a frog are almost too close to be a coincidence!

The Exocrine - Where the Haruspex 'wowed' me with its over-the-top and downright risky design, the Exocrine definitely is a 'safer' and more 'generic' model. This looks very much like a super-enlarged Pyorovore, and that doesn't bother me one bit - as long as the rules are distinct (which they are by the sounds of it). The design fits more into the rest of the range and doesn't have as much interesting stuff going on. However, it still looks pretty unique; the pose of a gorilla, armed with a giant bio-cannon on its back. It is a nice looking model indeed, even if I prefer the more outlandish Haruspex.

The Harpy - Oh boy, words just cannot describe how much I adore this model. This is the grand mommy. This is the queen of queens. This is quite easily my favourite new model since getting back into the hobby, and what an important one it is. For those of you who don't know, the Harpy has been the most requested Tyranid model ever since its rules were introduced in the 2010 5th Edition Tyranid Codex. The artwork and description were of a 'flying Trygon' that had unique and interesting abilities such as a Sonic Screech, dropping Spore Mine clusters, and generally serving the role as an aerial bomber. The new model was so heavily demanded that anything short of a fantastic kit would probably have been met with derision, but oh my, how this model manages to impress. Its' introverted wing design is unique and suits its 'dedicated flyer' role, while the size of the beast - it is the first ever flying monstrous creature to use a proper flying stand - immediately denotes it as one of the most important releases so far in this edition. The under-slung gun design is nice, while having the Scything Talons integrated into the wings gives it a very sinister and aggressive overall look. The armour plating is the stand-out here though, with the accentuated purples perfectly highlighting the awesome design of the 'spikes' and vents. The head of the Harpy is really something special, with an almost devilish appearance with the two thin, lightly curved horns. It really is a joy to behold. Games Workshop, you have outdone yourselves!

The Crone - Given that much of what I said about the Harpy also applies to the Crone, suffice it to say that I really like this model as well, even if it doesn't impress me as much as the Harpy. It is hard to tell, but it seems like it is a bit bulkier than the Harpy. In any case, the 'feeder tubes' on its under-side really compliment the seeming flame weapon in its mouth. The mouth is quite odd and very reminiscent of the Heldrake, and I'm not sure if I really like the look of it. However, the top of the head is awesome with more spikes than the Harpy and a more outward design. I really like the missile symbiote creatures clinging to its wings; this reminds me of the Broodlord from Starcraft 2, and it is really cool to behold. It doesn't impress me as much as the Harpy, but it is still a very cool model.

Tyranid Prime - I'll be honest; they didn't make the Prime as cool and unique as I would have hoped, and I still prefer my conversion from the 5th Edition Finecast Hive Guard. However, as the fluff describes, the Tyranid Prime is essentially a "super-Warrior" and in that sense the model is just fine. The pose is a bit standard and uninspiring with no real action, similar to the foot-slogging Hive Tyrants, which is kind of disappointing. However, the extended shoulder plates and head crest really distinguish it from regular Warriors and give the impression of a Xenomorph Queen, or even a few of the Zerg designs from the Starcraft series. It is an impressive model, though it isn't as good as I hoped it would be.

Tyranid Warriors - I'm very much a stickler for details, and even I think the differences between the new and old Warriors are miniscule. However, I already liked the classic Warrior design, and the new models appear to update them somewhat to look a bit more modern and extravagant, especially with the tongues. I like them, pure and simple.

Tyrant Guard - These appear to be the most criticized of the new releases, but I don't really share those opinions. I liked the old Tyrant Guard, sure enough, but they never really struck me as models that could stop a missile for a Hive Tyrant. They weren't models that looked like "defenders", really. The new ones turn that previous concern on its head completely. With significantly enlarged shoulder player, a bulkier design, and a larger overall model (they are supposedly on 50mm bases rather than the previous 40mms), these new Tyrant Guard actually look like "Guard" to me. I really like the design, personally, especially with it stepping up on a pile of rocks, and it is even holding the decapitated head of a Space Marine! It is just a far more interesting, detailed model, and a big improvement over the previus model in my opinion.

Hive Guard - We have only had one look at these, and the picture we saw was lower quality than the others. However, after now seeing the Tyrant Guard, it is a bit easier to appreciate the design similarities. The new Hive Guard are bulkier, their faces seem 'grittier', and that new gun option is pretty darn cool. They look cool, but I also really liked the old Hive Guard. I'll wait for a better look where the picture doesn't skew the faces somewhat, as of now, I actually sort of prefer the old Hive Guard. Again though, this is probably just due to picture quality more than anything else, but regardless, they are looking good.

So those are my thoughts on the leaked rules and pictures for Tyranids so far. As you can probably tell, not only am I a die-hard Tyranid fan, but I am also a stout optimist. I hope that the new codex offers a lot of diverse army builds for us Tyranid fans to consume our prey, while the new models certainly look to be of the highest standard for any release in 6th Edition. I hope you enjoyed this article, and I hope you have a great day! Eel out.

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