Hello, fellow Earth creatures. Kevin from the Daemon Blog here to editorialize at you.
As always, check out the Tactics Corner for more articles and videos!
Now, over at the Daemon blog we mostly talk about Daemons and Chaos Space Marines (which don’t suck, btw), but with all the fuss over Nids, I thought I’d step out of my lane for a bit. And since the book is brand new, we’re all on equal footing when it comes to understanding how it ought to function at this point. I’ve been looking through it to see what all the weeping and gnashing of teeth is about. You can’t really get a sense of a book from reviews others write up.
My sense of the book is that people are probably kvetching about it because they’re used to playing it a certain way, and it doesn’t work anymore. Heretofore, the book was Tervigons, Gants, Tyrants or Swarmlord, Gargoyles, the Doom, and some seasoning.
Dat don’t work no more, but everybody is still stuck in the old paradigm. I admit that Tyranids are not my department, but TEH NEW BOOK SUX syndrome isn’t new. This happened with Daemons at first when we all thought the book was terrible, including me. Then the day after the book came out I figured out I could drop my entire army in the enemy’s face in one turn and I decided things would work fairly well.
After a few months, we had things figured out. Remember balking at paying 350 points for a Daemon Prince? Now we don’t bat an eye. Everybody thought Fateweaver sucked at first, too. Can you imagine a competitive list without him now? We figured it out. So too shall the Nid players.
The numero uno thing about the book is maintaining synapse else your whole army gets shpilkiss in its gnechtgazoink in a hurry. So you had best make your synapse creatures numerous or tough to kill, or both. To this end you have most of the HQ section, most notably Tyrants, Warriors and Tervigons in Troops, Zoanthropes in Elites, Shrikes in Fast Attack, and Trygon Primes in Heavy Support.
What immediately jumps out at me is that a single Hive Tyrant with a Norn crown, protected by three Tyrant Guard and flanked by a Venomthrope has a 24″ synapse range so long as they get Dominion off successfully, and is not easily removed by anything. With adrenal glands, the unit is fleet and has furious charge, so it can keep up with an army and make it behave, while being able to threaten a wide variety of targets. Is such a configuration too much to pay?
Are you sure?
How’s that Flyrant with dual devourers and brain leech worms you’re still running planning to stay alive darting around all by its lonesome with nothing but T6 and a 3+ to protect it? Any flying circus player can tell you that shit don’t work. If you want to run one of those, how about you join him to the Tyrant Guard for a little bit until it’s safe to take off and start picking things off? Why isn’t anyone thinking about Tyrant Guard? They sucked two weeks ago, probably.
Tyranid Warriors are terribad, right? S8 kills them instantly and it only has a 4+ armor save. What garbage! What edition is this? Long Fang spam died over a year ago. Now it’s S6 and S7 everywhere. Everywhere!!!
I see a fearless unit that gets you both scoring synapse for 90 points and is only ten points per wound for a good stat line. So it has T4 and 4+ armor? There’s this thing called a Venomthrope that can give them 3+ cover so long as they’re behind a friendly model or in area terrain. Now all you need to worry about is blastmasters, and even those are likely to take out only one model per shot. One Warrior can take a barbed strangler, which gives it a 36″ large blast that causes pinning, which is just the thing to both babysit those Biovores and keep Tau Pathfinders from stripping away too many cover saves.
I think people are going to find the Venomthrope almost as must-take as synapse creatures. They allow the army to advance quickly and weather casualties. They must be protected from serpent shields, so hiding them behind something large like a Tervigon, Haruspex or Exocrine would be wise if there’s no terrain to hide behind.
Things that used to be considered good, probably aren’t so good anymore. Hive Guard went to BS3 with their S8, 24″guns. Three cost you 165 points. We’re in Forgefiend territory here. It does not strike me as wise to pay that much for three S8 hits per turn at 24″, ignores cover or no. Nids are the melee swarm army. Consider using only as much shooting as necessary to help your army get across the board.
I think the biggest problem folks are having with Nids is that everybody is so damn sure that you need Eldau levels of shooting to even have a prayer in this game, and Nids are quite possibly the worst shooting army in the game. Daemons have even less shooting, but what shooting they can bring is usually pretty effective. Tyranid shooting is almost universally low BS, low AP, short range and low rate of fire. It’s a token amount of shooting designed to soften things up a wee bit as the army crushes forward. The army should be built around closing in for assault.
Admittedly, I don’t play the army, but I sure wish I did considering all the whining. What if you Nid players tried a little something like this?
Hive Tyrant, Norn Crown, adrenal glands (24″ synapse and fleet)
Hive Tyrant, wings, two TL devourers w/ brainleech worms, adrenal glands (a speedy problem solver)
3 Tyrant Guard, adrenal glands (Keeps your Nornrant alive and your army functioning.)
30 Termagants, adrenal glands (Fleet and furious charge so they can take out vehicles and makes your Tervigon scoring.)
29 Hormagaunts (Super fleet and scoring.)
Tervigon, adrenal glands (You need a Tervigon.)
3 Warriors, Barbed Strangler (Not sold on this, but scoring and synapse are good things. They shoot a pinning weapon that might buy you one less unit worth of shooting.)
Venomthrope (Hides behind the Tervigon and hands out shrouded for 3+ cover with all those gants in front.)
28 Gargoyles, adrenal glands (Furious charge to kill vehicles if they’re meched up, fleet, jumpy and blindy. The perfect early tie up unit to buy you more time to advance.)
3 Biovores (Soften ’em up. Kill Pathfinders who would negate your cover save.)
Aegis defense line (Make that 2+ cover for the whole army.)
It probably needs tweaking, but it’s a start. I might feel better with a fourth Tyrant guard and a third Venomthrope, but it will be a long time before I ever have a Nid army, and by then, people will probably have it figured out.
Now, look at what this gets you. You place the Aegis along the board center. You place the Venomthropes out of sight and advance them behind the Tervigon, who screens them, and deploy your army such that everything is either out of sight, or has 2+ cover from the Venomthropes and the Aegis. Remember, only one model needs to have Shrouded for it to affect the entire unit, then use your imagination. You place the objectives on your opponent’s side of the board, but not in their deployment zone.
The Warriors and the Biovores provide just enough firepower to soften up Tau, Daemons, Orks and IG on foot. They are the midfield support that gets left behind and shores up the rear synapse.
Everything advances together, stretching out to keep shrouded from the Venomthropes, who advance behind the Tervigon. the Venomthropes will either be dead, or left in the dust by turn 3 at the very latest. Once that happens, the survivors can hang with the Warriors and the Biovores, plus whatever Gants the Tervigon farts out on its way across the board.
The rest of the army is fleet and numerous. Your opponent has two turns of shooting tops to stop you. The Gargoyles will no doubt make it before that (remember to daisy chain them to within 6″ of a Venomthrope), and on the first turn or two, your army has 2+ cover.
Flying armies do not bother you, because you can clog the board for flyers, and force FMC’s to land and get tied up by fearless mobs for the entire game. Bikeseer Councils do not bother you because they can’t hit and run far enough away to break combat with all the models you have on the board. You can tie them up for the entire game for all intents and purposes. Bike armies don’t bother you because they have nowhere to run, and not enough dakka. You don’t care about Mechdar because it doesn’t have enough shots to kill the swarms bearing down on it. Maybe the O’vesa star bothers you, but you can probably reach that quickly enough.
Can any other army start the game fearless and entirely in 2+ cover while rushing the other side?
The sooner the Nid players shed the paradigms they’re under, the sooner they’ll start figuring this stuff out. There’s a lot of neat stuff that deep strikes in the book, too, and I hear tell the Swarmlord bumps up your reserve rolls by one so it can all arrive at the same time for a very mean alpha strike. There’s probably a list or two there as well. I do not buy for a second that the book is weak, or rushed.