How to Play Ridge Runners

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Alex Macdougall from Art of War here to talk to you about the in’s and out’s of the very fun and more than a meme Ridge Runner list. The Ridge Runner list was originally born out of the mind of one Colin Sherman and refined over time by the excellent and super secret Hive Mind chat. It was really conceived out of sheer frustration with the limited options within Blood of Baal. Obviously everyone but marines is requiring a boost from the many Psychic Awakening books on the way to try and level the playing field. Hopes were high with the power that CSM and Eldar had received from their respective books and the understanding that Tyranids were already near the bottom of the power scale. Having one of the oldest non-revamped books of 8th many things needed an update. However between minimal meaningful point changes for Tyranids and oddly restrictive new stratagems and relics it was going to remain an uphill battle. One of the sleeper changes though was the Ridge Runner and Heavy Mining Laser points drops. Dropping a staggering 25 points total on a sub 85 point model is huge. However the runners had been so abysmal previously that no one really noticed until almost a week of deep diving and math hammer. And so, with the back story told, lets get into the how the list plays.

The List.

Kraken Tyranid Battalion

HQ

Swarmlord and Broodlord

Troops

Genestealers in squads of 20 and 16 and minimum ripper unit.

Kronos Tyranid Battalion

HQ

2 Neurothropes

Troop

3 squads of 10 Termagants

Elite

6 Hive Guard

Mixed Genestealer Cult Outrider

HQ

Jackal Alphus (Warlord)

Fast Attack

3 Achilles Ridgerunners. All with Mining laser, 1 with a spotter and 2 with flare launchers

3 Achilles Ridgerunners. All with Mining laser, 1 with a spotter and 2 with flare launchers

2 Achilles Ridgerunners. Both with Mining laser, both with flare launchers

A 4 armed Emperor Sanctus for access to A Plan Generations in the Making

Play Style

Luckily for me this style of list plays perfectly into how I enjoy the game. Its fast as lightning and allows me to play every phase of the game well. There are a lot of technical aspects and positioning and decision making is rewarded. The biggest change this list provides is to finally have a ranged answer to heavy vehicles and flyers. Historically the Tyranid and GSC lists have struggled to deal with flyers due to there poor shooting and limited range. With the Ridgerunners in the list though we can actually start to interact with the flyers and give the Kraken genestealers some room to breathe. With some higher range and strength shooting it gives Tyranids the option to play into many of the meta lists without being forced into playing pure denial or extremely aggressive. It also feels quite nice to not have to sweat every time you roll for Perfect Ambush. The list is actually far enough into the shooting spectrum you may even turn the Genestealers into a pure counter punch or bully unit instead of being aggressive at all. This really is a take all comers, balanced list. It’s still very finesse though and rarely out muscles the stronger lists in the game. Nids and GSC are still near the mid to bottom of the power level. This list, like many other Hive Mind lists, is starting to run out of steam by the final turns. The game needs to be played tactically and work for it’s points. Look to take away your opponents indirect fire or speed so that you can maintain board control for as long as possible. Most games should have you routinely scoring hold more and the odd bonus point. One of the great aspects of the list is how versatile it is and just how differently it plays into the popular match ups. Playing into possessed bomb is completely different than an eldar match up or your standard Iron Hand list. The uses of the Genestealers and Runners constantly shifts over match ups and game states. So to begin we really have to look at what occurs in each match up and what the units are trying to accomplish.

Using the Ridge Runners.

We start with the primary use. An average of 18 fairly accurate lascannons. The positioning of ridge runners is very important and will allow for a lot of flexibility of where to apply all that firepower. The Runners have a 9 inch scout move at the beginning of turn one that allows for great defensive plays going second or excellent access to line of sight going first. As usual with a shooting list it now comes down to target priority. But its not quite so simple. You have to weigh the options more finely than just what they are efficient at killing. Target priority needs to take into account protection of Hive guard and giving access for Genestealers to get into your opponents lines. In the thought of protecting the Hive Guard we need to hunt down flyers that can get behind your terrain and any indirect fire we can get a shot at. It’s also good to keep in mind to target the Runners at any units with negatives to hit. This allows maximum efficiency with the Hive Gaurd’s exploding 6’s that they should be receiving from Symbiostorm. The next point and probably the more important one is activating your Genestealers. On most deployment styles Swarmlord and Kraken stealers should have a fairly easy first turn charge. However a cagey opponent will set up a smart screen to prevent the stealers from either getting the kills they want or shutting down the gun line. Between the Mining Lasers and Heavy Stubbers though you have lots of options for removing screens. You can clear guardsmen and even scout screens with Stubbers and remove flyers and Large vehicles to allow the stealers to get where they need to go.This will be the difference between bouncing off the front line or getting to go deep, getting character kills, preventing return fire and getting the all important wraps.

The second use is maintaining board control and grabbing secondaries. The Runners take up a very large amount of real estate with their gigantic bases. This can be used very effectively for move blocking opponents (mostly trying to control flyer movement), zoning out deepstrikers or outflankers and using there speed to grab objectives and recon. Don’t be afraid to sacrifice accuracy for board presence and both primary and secondary points.

The third use is one that probably doesn’t come up often but is very important and that is soaking overwatch. Except against the strongest of overwatch the Ridge Runners should have the durability to take a great amount of punishment allowing the genestealers to get into what they want unharmed. This is especially something to pay attention to if you have a single Runner left in a squad. The damage output of the squad is lessened and having a single runner gain the negative one to hit isn’t so bad as if all three were to move into a position to charge.

With an understanding of how the Ridge runners function we can look into how the list functions around it. The true damage dealers of the list are the Hive Guard. They are absolutely brutal into most of what the meta has to offer right now. Excellent against the abundance of T7 vehicles and equally solid into the 2 wound intercessor body that loves to sit in cover. Getting the Hive guard into a central location and keeping them safe is a sure key to success. The genestealers are how you control the pace of the game. Either slowing down the push from an aggressive combat army or putting pressure on to a shooting army. Whatever the case is the stealers are what allows you to dictate where your opponent can move and keeps the enemy form getting anywhere near your Hive guard. The termagaunts are your one throw away units. Pushing walls out rapidly to stop deep strike and quite literally simply blocking entire movement phases by running directly into units. They were just there to die anyway. The final pieces are the characters. You have six and they are all important. The Swarmlord is of course there to activate the true potential of the Genestealers and to finally be a turn three hammer himself. Broodlord is very typically meant for support of the stealers but often times used to go deep past enemy lines and use his combat to dig out key characters or units hiding in back lines. The Neurothropes are very versatile and very durable. One should stay back to buff up the Hive Guard all game and keep them within synapse while the other can be used as a toolbox and to keep the gaunts in line. Finally the two GSC characters are the final magic for the Ridge runners. The Alphus can mark a unit a turn and increase the ballistic skill of all the Ridge Runner squads in a 6″ aura. Also the Hivecult warlord trait is a reroll ones to hit aura which really takes the runners to marine levels of accuracy. The Sanctus exists to hunt enemy psykers and control movement and as shown in the roster is 4 armed emperor for access to Plan Generations in the Making.

Playing the Field.

Here we will throw out a few of the common match ups you will see and how to deal with them. Most of these will be quite quick since we have gone into how the list functions in such depth.

Possessed bomb.

This is a match up that should actually go quite smoothly. All it should take is one Plan in the Making to stop them from making the possessed unshootable and you can gut this army quickly. Use the stealers to control the pace and remember that most of the negatives to hit the possessed only apply to shooting. Be aware to position a unit of termagants forward to give your self an opportunity to use the Kronos specific stratagem to turn off a key spell like warptime.

Mechdar.

A lot of Eldar lists are currently running the exceedingly efficient mech gun line. Night spinners, crimson hunter exarchs, and fire prisms abound. Its hard to out shoot this list and its hard to keep anything in combat with so much fly in the army. It typically pays off to be aggressive with the stealers. Forcing them to pull fire away from your shooting and keeping the few characters you can wrap in poor positions. If the Hive Guard can find a building or L to stay safe in they may be the firepower you need to outlast.

Triptide

Another hard match up. Sometimes though you can just simply jam enough firepower in to the riptides that you thin the drones efficiently. Or the pass off of wounds starts to fail and you begin to chip down the riptides themselves. Use the stealers once again as threats near the edge and control the riptides movements. Any wall or building you can charge from will probably end the game as the swing twice of stealers pushing out over 100 extremely accurate attacks can burn through the drones in a turn.

Marines.

We will break this down into the three most popular builds.

Imperial Fists.

Unfortunately if the list is built with 6 plus artillery pieces we simply have to go first. Sad but simply the state of things. Although this is probably true for most current armies that aren’t marines. Hit hard and make sure you grab as much shooting as you possibly can with the stealers. Open up paths for them with the ridge runners and Hive Guard and it is absolutely a winnable game.

Raven Guard.

A very tactically demanding game. Both sides have lots of redeploy and movement tricks. You can use the GSC strat to generate extra tokens to wall out aggressive centurions and actually prevent them from getting the flamers in range or charging. After that the game becomes purely board control. The army is far faster and needs to leverage that speed to engage the more powerful marine list a portion at a time. Expect a hard but rewarding experience.

BROVIATHIN.

Ha you think I have an answer. Hope for a mission that has enough objectives that they are forced to spread out and then use your hive guard to trade out well. Thin the intercessors as best as possible and use the many Smites at your disposal to burn out those marine bodies.

Well there you have it. Speed kills and there is fun to be had. The army is still punching up against the kings of the meta but all the tools are here to make victory possible even against the very best. Play smart and learn to make that movement phase a stepping stone for success in later phases. Let the Hive Mind guide your hand!

And remember, Frontline Gaming sells gaming products at a discount, every day in their webcart!

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