Friday, June 28, 2013

Tyranids and sixth edition…the good, the bad, the not so bad

I think we have all had enough time since the release of the most recent rule set to get familiar with the sequence and meta.  I am going to discuss 6th  Edition from a Tyranid perspective... trying to avoid too much discussion of individual units.  More detailed unit analysis will follow in the coming weeks.

The Good…

-      Vehicle Damage:  I am very happy with the changes in the vehicle damage rules.  Tyranid shooting, particularly at longer ranges (36”-48”) has not been, and remains, minimally effective.  Sure, I have a S10 gun that has two shots, but it is AP4, and the shooter is BS3.  Oh, did I mention that I pay 250 points for this?! Our S9 weapon is a blast weapon, and gets a -1 on the damage table if it penetrates (unless you are open top).  This means my chances to kill a vehicle on the damage table, especially with all the unique saves available now (jink, “wawa” shields that turn penetrates into glances, e.g.) are statistically very low and I pay lots for it.  This is where the new rules come in.  I DO have some decent mid-range (18”-36”) weps that will now allow me to glance vehicles to death.  Most vehicles only need 3 glancing hits to die.  Twin-linked Devourers, Ripper Tentacles, Impaler Cannons.  All have the ability to glance vehicles to death at a reasonable cost, strength and volume of fire.  The change I see is that the volume of shooting is the vehicle killer for me now, not the quality.  A single shot at S10 is not nearly as effective as six shots at S6 against most vehicles.  Remember when glancing gave you a -2 on the damage table?  We don’t need to even consider this anymore.  Not that Lascannons and Missile Launchers are not effective now…remember this post is from a Tyranid perspective.  There is also the ability to glance vehicles to death in assault...even without Genestealers and Rending.  If I have a brood of lowly Termagaunts with Adrenal Glands (Furious Charge), they are at S4 on the charge.  Ten of them will get 20 attacks, almost all will hit.  I only need to roll three 6s to wreck most vehicles (always hit rear armour).

-      Psychic Powers:  The plethora of powers now available to psykers in the game is now truly amazing.  For Tyranids, we get to choose from Biomancy, Telekenesis and Telepathy.  This is, of course, with the footnote that the randomness of psychic powers sucks.  But looking at the game effect of some of these powers, particularly in terms of unit buffs, that randomness is necessary for game balance.  Imagine if I could give my MCs +1-3 toughness, Feel No Pain and It Will Not Die every turn?  That would be insane!  Also, the option to choose Primarus powers is a reasonable alternative to mitigate the random nature of power selection.

OK, enough background.  Concerning Tyranids, we are now arguably on par with armies like the Eldar in regards to psychic potential.  My Swarmlord can roll four times for powers!  My Tervigon (with purchased upgrades) can roll three times!  My Zoanthropes and Broodlord twice apiece.  In a recent game (see Tyranid vs Iron Warriors Battle Report) I had eight psykers on the board…I could use nine powers a turn!  Wow!  There are those ‘Nid players who would say you could always use that many powers.  True, but the choices, say for the Hive Tyrant, are mirrored in the new choices PLUS we get several more to choose from.  The Broodlords’ Hypnotic Gaze was pretty worthless unless a Character or IC was in base.  Now, that power can be used against someone during a challenge!  The Tervigons’ powers were pretty good already, but the possibility of powers like Iron Hand certainly increases its’ survivability.  Zoanthrope shooting powers are still there, but these guys use for unit buffs can be more effective in the long run (see Vehicle Damage comments).  One last thing.  The Deny the Witch rules, which really change the effectiveness of psychic powers in general, also adds value to the Tyranid psyhic arsenal.

The Bad…                

-      Assault Rules:  Not so friendly, especially for Genestealers.  If you disagree, then help me understand how spending 200 pts for a unit of 10 Stealers in a Pod that will get shot off the board before they reach an enemy unit makes any sense.  I can’t assault out of the pod.  A unit of Marines will get, say, 16 bolter shots .  The math hammer says that 5-6 will die.  Now they move into overwatch fire…another 2-3 dead.  I have an average of two models that make it into base with the Marines.  You might say why not put 15 in the unit?  This kicks the cost to 280…although if ONLY the Marines are shooting at them 6-7 will make it into base.  This is an unlikely scenario, at least in the games I play against.  There is the wild card of taking the Broodlord upgrade, but now we are over 300pts for this unit!  It would be more effective to take a unit of 20 Hormagaunts with Toxin Sacs, and this would only cost 200pts in a Pod.  More bodies to absorb the punishment and make it into combat.

-      Flyers:  Sorry.  If my only option is a Flyrant, I don’t consider that enough to make this new set of rules a win for my ‘Nids.  Many would disagree here, as the prevailing opinion is that Flyrants are awesome sauce!  They are certainly effective, but with the only reasonable (IMO) loadout (2 Twin-linked Devourers, Hive Commander and Old Adversary), this is 310 point unit.  Only hitting him on 6s?  Not so fast.  Many of the players  I compete against have armies that have Skyfire units.  We won’t talk specific tactics here, this is a general commentary on 6th edition.  However, unless he has a Gargoyles escort or something similar, he is very vulnerable.

-      Outflanking:  Not being able to assault out of this is a pretty big nerf for any ‘Nid units that can’t shoot (Genestealers and Hormagaunts).  The extra turn of shooting that results from a meta that is more focused on shooting can be fairly debilitating.

-      Allies:  None.  Nada. Nichts.  Self explanatory.  At least give me Genestealer Cultists in the next ‘Dex as an allies option.
Not So Bad…

-      Shooting:  All things considered, I feel this is the one area that is a mixed bag for my little dudes.  I already discussed how the meta shift to shooting is a negative for me in regards to assault and outflanking.  On the other hand, with the proper mix of weapons, the ‘Nids can be a fairly shooty army, at least at medium ranges (18”-36”).  Two units of 3 Hive Guard each can put out 12XS8 shots at BS4…did I mention they ignore things like cover, smoke and custom-force fields?  How about a Pod full of 20 Devilgaunts?  60 bolter shots at 18” range.  Nice.  Dakkafexes putting out 12xS6 Twin-linked shots at 18”.  Lots of glancing love.

That’s it folks.  Comments welcome.

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