Tuesday, February 25, 2014

New Tyranid Codex Review: Elites

This is not an elite slot model, it is just really sweet
At the end of last week I took a look at the Troops one can select in the new Tyranid codex. In the end not a ton changed with that slot: you're gonna take gants and a tervigon, probably. With elites, much has changed. In the last codex the elites slot was packed to the gills with stuff you really wanted. It was tough to try to fit everything in.

Previous common elite slot layout for me:
2x Hive Guard
2x Hive Guard
2x Zoanthrope

Many Tyranid players took The Doom of Malan'tai in that slot. I've seen a ton of commentary lately on the removal of it. I agree it was likely a crutch and an easier way to level the field. I don't really care about that because I never used it. The issue?

Many, many, many players spent lots of time and cash to convert models for this entry. Similar with the Mycetic Spore, and probably more for that because you could take multiples. Beyond the fact that removing the Doom takes a lot of killiness out and removing the mycetic spore removes a whole huge army tactic (making Tyranids a slow, plodding army), there are more problems with this decision.

It is extremely lazy to remove a model just because you screwed up the licensing with it. Extremely. This kind of treatment of customers is awful and plenty of reasoning for anyone to quit buying GW product. I understand that they had issues with the Doom and Mycetic Spores and other things re: licensing. So what? Figure it out. Don't take the easy shortcut way. It just makes you look lazy, uneducated, and uncaring in the eyes of customers. GW doesn't need this kind of publicity when they've raised prices exponentially and combined that with poor decision after poor decision.
They even mentioned it on the fluff text for each unit entry. Twist the knife, GW.

I've gotten that out of the way, so lets hit some actual unit entries.
Hive Guard
Hive guard were the stars of the last codex for sure. S8, 24" range, BS4 assault 2. They were sweet anti-tank that denied cover saves. Once fliers started becoming common if you managed a hit with one of these (or even better against skimmers) they couldn't jink.

I used at least two units of these most of the time. They're hardy and were great doing their job. Their range left a little to be desired but you can't get everything. Oh yeah, they didn't need line of sight either.

They've taken a pretty big hit in this new codex. They not only lost 1 BS, but they went up in points cost. Dedicated gun beasts should be good at shooting! Totally crazy =/ And we don't have a way to make shooting more accurate at all.

I'll still try to fit them in somewhere, but for now there are better options in the heavy slot.

The zoanthrope has been a mainstay for Tyranids for a long time. They were decent in the last codex - basically the only way to get an invulnerable save on synapse. They're still good at that job, and synapse is 100 times more important, keeping your dudes from eating each other. A ten point decrease in cost isn't bad.

It is a bit of a punch to the gut now that they can't take biomancy or other book powers. They could also each take a different power (or powers? I can't recall). Now the whole unit gets Warp Lance / Blast and one random Tyranid power. I guess that is OK?

They're still poor at shooting. First, pass a psychic test. Then, the unit getting shot gets a deny the witch for each hit from the unit. Then they have to roll to hit. Then you have to manage to pen and do well on the chart (and they're not AP1 anymore). I guess they're alright? They're not a terrible choice. I just wouldn't expect much out of them except more reliable synapse since they have an invulnerable save.

The bane of modelers' existence. I should say Zoanthropes before they were Finecast™ were an ungodly terror. They never ever stood up and they had a huge head with a tiny join point to their 'feet'. Venomthropes are in Finecast™ now and I love that Finecast™ doesn't chip as much, is easier to transport etc, but those whip coil thingies are insanely fragile and break like that is their job.

In the previous codex they were decent but didn't add a ton to your units. They provided defensive grenades, which was cool, and made enemies take dangerous terrain tests but it was weird and shenanigan-y because they didn't have to roll move through cover, or something.

Now they're amazing. They went down in points by 10. Instead of all the weirdness with dangerous terrain and grenades they provide a flat Shrouded bonus to each unit within 6". It says model, but the Shrouded rule says any unit that contains a model with Shrouded benefits the whole unit. Awesome! Your dudes don't just walk across the field into a sheet of gunfire as much. Combine it with area terrain or jink and you have Space Marine saves! If you're not fighting armies full of ignores cover...

I definitely think these guys are the star of the elite slot. I can see myself taking three in any army that uses walking models. Spread them out 2" and hope they don't get missiled immediately.

The lictor is probably the most iconic Tyranid creature to me. It stalks the shadows, spreading terror and finding weak points and destroying what they can. Back in the day they could pop out and basically eat whatever they wanted.

Lictors were almost never seen with the last codex. They just didn't provide much in the way of actually killing things and they paid points for 3 wounds but almost always just got doubled out and died. They also couldn't really provide much utility with their deep strike rules. They could make it so dudes wouldn't scatter if they deep strike next to them, but they'd have to be on the table first. They had to start in reserve, so it almost never did anything.

With this codex they went down in points by 15. They also can infiltrate now (which is really cool). This allows you to deep strike in reliably as long as the lictor is still alive. I would have really liked it if they had shrouded instead of stealth, but you don't always get what you want. They have rending claws with a decent number of attacks and flesh hooks (which can shoot at S6, but lost rending at a very short range).

These dudes can infiltrate on turn one as a brood (three), allow guys to deep strike in on turn two reliably, and then go to ground if they're not in synapse or attempt to kill things later on in the game. I'd love it if you could take three and all three popped up separately. For 50 points I might take two and be blown away if they can take out a few marines.

Leadership 10 means they can operate outside of synapse pretty well although they'll fail you when you really want them. They can go to ground outside synapse then regain synapse and no pinned when you move models into their range.

The first dataslate for Tyranids made Lictors kinda funny and maybe something to try out. You need five of them, though. Not a cheap venture. They can either be part of Deathleaper's assassin brood where each one of them is a separate brood and any character within 12" has a -1 to LD - which is nice - or they can be part of a forest brood where again they're five separate models with Shrouded now instead of Stealth, and can be infiltrated within 6" of an enemy (yay powerfists first turn).

This is a new model with the new Tyranid codex. Grognards will totally push their glasses up and yell "but Muggins Haruspexes were in Epic and made by Armocast!!"

Yeah, this was the Haruspex, lol.

I love Armorcast but holy cow, terrrrrrrrible.

The new model is pretty cool, even if it is a mouth with legs. I love the idea of it; a Tyranid dude who walks across the field consuming bio mass. The model is a bit static but it can be magnetized to be the Exocrine, which you'll get a ton more use out of.

The Haruspex has a few special rules: if it inflicts at least one unsaved wound in the assault phase, it recovers a wound. This is pretty nice. Would be better if it had six wounds like all other oval based models, but five is alright. The other rule is that it generates more attacks off unsaved wounds it inflicts ONLY by attacks, not by tail attacks, hammer of wrath, etc. It also has a S6 AP2 shot it can use at 12" range that it can precision shot with a 6 to hit (it has BS3). Not bad for sniping out powerfists on a long shot.

The main issue? It is a dedicated assault beast with only WS3 and 3 attacks. This thing will likely do one wound to marines and maybe get an extra wound in from another attack. It may do more wounds before it attacks since it has acid blood (unit inflicting damage takes an I test for each wound done, then takes a S5 AP2 hit if they fail) but that is unlikely. Oh yeah, it is I3 and has no access to assault grenades (on an assault beast).

This dude rolls in at 160 points and I think most people would rather have a carnifex at 120 points in a more competitive slot. I can't recommend this thing at all.

Better rules for this beast: provides assault grenades to units within 12", pinning checks for every unit within 12" when it assaults, instant death on 6s.

I put another picture of the Haruspex because holy jeebus the Pyrovore is still awful. Just don't use it. You can't drop pod them in anymore, they don't have torrent, they're just awful. Don't.

What would I use now?
I think my likely lineup would be:

3 Hive Guard
3 Venomthropes
2 Zoanthropes

This provides you anti-tank, cover, and synapse all in your elite slot. I will probably try out lictors but with the new dataslate they don't have to take up elite slots. I am really disappointed with how hive guard turned out but we'll have to make do.

Thanks for reading and check back later for the Fast Attack rundown!


  1. Spot-on notes. Well done!

    I plan to use the same 3 Elite units....

  2. Spot-on notes. Well done!

    I plan to use the same 3 Elite units....