Wednesday, February 26, 2014

New Tyranid Codex Review: Fast Attack

Found at Akreon's DeviantArt
Yesterday we took a look at Tyranid Elites. The Elites slot is somewhat still important for Tyranids. Zoanthropes and Venomthropes help the swarm survive on the tabletop with cover and FNP if you're lucky. I see most players spending less points in Elites and more in Fast Attack with this new codex.

With the previous codex mostly all you saw in the Fast Attack slot were Gargoyles. They had a sweet 'always wound on a 6 to hit' rule and they're priced not much higher than a termagant with jump infantry rules. Pretty cool. That was really it, though, for Fast Attack. 7 point gargoyles (with toxin sacs - poisoned 4+).

Tyranid Shrike Brood (Winged Warriors)
Tyranid Shrikes are such a cool idea. They are warriors with wings and are basically jump infantry. They are pretty much the same as a warrior; same stats, same loadouts. They have a 5+ armor save instead of a 4+, which means they melt to bolters. They went from 35 points in the last codex (+5 from a warrior for wings and a worse armor save?) but in this codex they're 30, the same price as a warrior.

With this new codex since we don't have drop pods we have to figure out a different way to use mobility. We'll talk about Gargoyles later, but we'll want to use them, so we need synapse. Mobile synapse will also be useful in case we have to redeploy and move around units. They're also a mobile firebase - 3 shots from a strength 4 devourer ain't nothing to sneeze at from each model.

I'm conflicted as to how to use these dudes. I built them with bone swords and lash whips, but the lash whip overall is worse and the price of lash whip and boneswords seems to be very prohibitive. It makes them pretty great in close combat but first they have to get there.

I feel like a better use for these bros is to use them as a mobile synapse (remember again, synapse is a MASSIVE punishment) base with fire support for your front lines. At 30 points with a devourer taking six of them makes their synapse cloud pretty huge. They also can shoot 18 shots at strength 4 which is pretty nice. What I think I'll do (when I get around to remodeling them) is make them have rending claws for 5 points so they have rending on four attacks on the charge. That is not bad.

You can also now give them flesh hooks (assault grenades) so they don't charge into combat and lose their initiative. This is a huge change. What I'd recommend is to use these guys as somewhat of a flexible unit. Give them rending claws and flesh hooks for 39 points each with 5-6 dudes in the unit. That way they can shoot or do close combat somewhat effectively. This might not work because then you're having these dudes hangout midfield just getting shot up by bolters. Perhaps they should just get into combat as soon as possible to avoid losing their armor save from shooting?

I feel like the 5+ armor save really hurts these guys and will keep them out of many lists. I am not really sure why GW insists on making flying Tyranids have worse armor saves than non-flying. Perhaps stealth would help these dudes? Make it so they can't take heavy weapons? If they go all close combat their armor gets upgraded? It is tough.

I've always loved the look of raveners. The models are amazing and look pretty impressive and deadly on the board. I like how they're beasts so they just move across the board and don't care about terrain. They've also brought back the Red Terror, which I'll discuss after the regular unit entry.

Raveners are another infantry clearing assault unit. They lost one attack on their base profile but gained another since they have two pairs of scything talons. It is really rough that scything talons don't give you re-rolls to hit though... that used to help them, especially since they'll be going second and will have already lost dudes.

They are basically warriors with a bonus of one initiative, which is really nice. I wish they could take flesh hooks to benefit from that one initiative. Beasts should just ignore the initiative penalty for assaulting through terrain - it seems logical and pretty dumb that GW ruled the other way around. Again, another dedicated assault unit that fights at initiative 1 most of the time.

They also have one less armor save so they're at 5+ instead of 4+. This is tough because you probably want to deep strike these guys to provide a backfield threat. I guess you could deep strike them into terrain for a cover save so they don't just melt to bolters. Perhaps deep strike them into forests and go to ground (if you're outside synapse) so they get a better save, then move dudes into synapse the next turn. Providing a Lictor so that they can deep strike reliably might be something to try.

They can take ranged weapons but that definitely seems like a trap because you probably want these dudes running most of the game. They can take rending claws which I would definitely recommend, otherwise you'll lack punch and probably just die. It is really curious that they lost access to two close combat upgrades - adrenal glands and toxin sacs - that would help with their damage output on a dedicated close combat unit. That is a total headscratcher.

I'd love it if raveners had flesh hooks in their base profile, had access to toxin sacs and adrenal glands, and had a 4+ armor save. You could take away deep strike. Boost them up to 35 points. At 35 points with flesh hooks and 4+ armor they'd definitely be worth taking.

The Red Terror
This dude is an upgrade special character for Raveners. He's toughness five with a 4+, which is decent for raveners as he can run out front and take hits so that they don't melt to bolters. The other reason you'd take him is because he can 'Swallow Hole'. You can target a dude in base contact with him who is basically a small infantry guy (not bulky etc). If you hit with 4 out of 5 attacks (you're WS6, but no re-rolls) you can then sacrifice all damage you to to make the target take an initiative test. If they fail, they just die. This is super unreliable and very very rarely you'll actually make back his points using this ability.

I guess it'd be OK against Orks or Necrons, but I can't really recommend using this dude. You can get almost three more raveners for his cost.

Sky Slasher Swarms
Nobody took rippers in last edition's codex and I doubt people will start now. They're not mindless anymore but I can't really see these guys doing much. They went up in point cost by 3 points, which is somewhat negligible. I could see perhaps taking a brood of six of these guys at 108 points, screaming across the board and hoping you can get into combat with some guard or marines or whatever and maybe doing some damage. The models from FW are amazing but I just don't see these guys making any army lists.

Gargoyles were pretty well liked in the last edition's codex. They had a special rule where you wounded automatically on to-hit rolls of 6. That made them do more damage (combined with HoW) and fight above their 6 point per model cost.

There was some rage regarding the change to Blinding Venom. Instead of a 6+ auto wound, now they can sacrifice their attacks to do one blind attack. If it hits, the unit must take an initiative test or be WS1 BS1 for one turn. This is HUGE. Now there are a few different ways that people are interpreting it. There aren't many units out there that can provide a high volume of Blind attacks, so most of the time you're just being attacked once with it. Can a brood of 30 gargoyles have 15 of them do the blind attack on the unit they're assaulting and cause ~8 blind tests, or is it just one?

I personally read it as 8 blind tests the way it is written. I hate projecting common sense onto GW because they've often shown that they don't use common sense with rules... but why would anyone use the Blind attack if it only caused one test total for the unit?

So, assuming it'll cause more than one check, Gargoyles become very powerful. The blinding attack is also 6+ poisoned so you can wound tough targets with that (otherwise you'd just take toxin sacs and have a 4+ poison). You can string out 30 of them and hit two or three targets and make them all WS1 BS1 (BS1 being the huge one). The gargoyles can die, you'll lose 180 points of models, but now you've probably saved a ton of your models the next turn. The gargoyles will also do some damage.

I'd suggest taking 30 of these guys in almost any army. At 6 points they're super affordable and you can provide a cover save to most of your army. I wouldn't suggest upgrading them at all because they jump from 6 to 8 points. They're also amazing models to boot.

The art for the Harpy in the new codex was actually just photoshopped from the old image, lolly.
I made a harpy after the last codex came out because I thought it was a cool idea. Unfortunately the model didn't really hold up because a FMC at toughness 5 with a 4+ armor save just dies. It was also the only other FMC than the Hive Tyrant in the book, and it only had access to blast weapons... so it couldn't shoot other flyers. Weird decision.

With the new codex they went from 170 points with a twin-linked venom cannon to 140. This makes them much more affordable and I'm much more inclined to take one. That strength 9 blast that isn't -1 to vehicle damage rolls is much nicer now.

They also have the rule where they can drop spore mines over units they move over during the movement phase. I wouldn't recommend taking another gun on these models since you're going to be dropping mines and that takes a gun shot.

You also have the ability to drop enemy units with a -5 initiative when this model is engaged in a combat with them. This is pretty huge. In general you don't want your FMCs in combat because the next turn they'll just be shot to death, but if you have one that is really really important you might drop these guys in there to win the combat.

I wouldn't recommend any biomorphs on this model. Just take the twin linked venom cannon and fly it across the board at a cheap 140.

Hive Crone
Hive crones are the new babe on the block. These are really interesting flyers. The first comparison most people make is to the Heldrake. The heldrake definitely comes out on top in terms of toughness and overall damage output, but the two cannot be compared in a vacuum. The hive crone comes in at 155 points.

For those 155 points you get a heavy flamer (without torrent), four tentaclid missiles, and a S8 AP3 vector strike. The tentaclids and vector strike are probably what you'll be using most often. The vector strike is amazing because it gives us access to pretty decent AT in the movement phase. You might have to fly off the board to do it but you can take out some backfield tanks with it. The tentaclids are pretty awesome too. They are basically a haywire missile that re-rolls misses vs flyers, which is cool. Shoot two of them at a Stormraven and do one or two haywire hits and hope for a takedown or at least a glance. Take two Hive Crones and they're gonna do some work.

I used two of them in our game two weeks ago and had great succcess. It was Planetstrike, so I did have an advantage of engaging them early, but I think these models will be pretty cool for their price of 155.

Spore Mines
Spore mines are great when shot out of a biovore. Taken on their own, not so much. They did go down in cost by 50% but the points cost wasn't usually the issue - mostly just the opportunity cost of not taking another FA choice. The way they explode now is pretty confusing.

You move the models 3" every movement phase. Then they can charge but they half that distance. Then at I10 step they explode, causing a S4 + however many mines are left hit on everyone under a large blast of one of the mines. So you can choose the mine that has the best location then do damage. That might help with side armor on vehicles. If all 6 mines explode you get a S9 hit.

Overall Thoughts on the FA slot
Fast attack in the previous codex was a pretty underutilized area. Now I can see some fun units to use in there, especially gargoyles and hive crones, which I'll definitely take in most games. Saving points for the heavy slot is definitely recommended, but I can see myself taking 180 points worth of gargoyles every time and probably at least one hive crone. Two hive crones ups your changes of getting value out of them for sure.

It'd be really nice to see some kind of Tyranid benefit to flying creatures. Grounded only on a 1, better jink saves, etc. While Tau and Eldar and even Space Marines received a lot of unique gear and special rules, the Tyranids seem to have received none. You can put them in cover on turn one and have a venomthrope nearby so they have a 3+ cover save (venomthropes work with jink too) but that doesn't work for too long.

The author's harpy

Hive Fleet Muggis assaults Blood Angels entrenched in a Fortress of Redemption during a Planetstrike game

One of two of the author's hive crones
One thing to mention is how beautiful the new harpy / hive crone model is. It is very well made and looks very Tyranid-y. You could probably magnetize the kit but I don't have the patience for that. I only have two beefs: it is a very mono-pose model, so most people's harpy / hive crone will look the same, and the joint where you put the flying base in is one of the 'hollow' cheapy joints that they've used on other flyers like the Stormtalon. I hate that, but overall the kit is really really awesome.

1 comment:

  1. Excellent points on each unit. I'm concerned about how soft and squishy the Harpy and Hive Crone are.

    Question: How did you "dip" you entire flyers?