Friday, August 01, 2014

Review of the New Tyranid Codex - HQ

Posted by Ranillon on 29. January 2010 23:45

Now that I've depressed all of you over the possible/apparent problems with the new Tyranid book let's start going through the individual units and see how well they work.

Hive Tyrant 

Rundown:  The first thing that any veteran will noticed here is that that the price tag for a Tyrant just went way up (newbees will just notice it costs a lot).  At a base of 170 and add-ons that can quickly raise the total above 200 we're talking about a unit that could easily be a full fifth of your force.  For that you better make sure you get a lot.

And, to a point, you do -- but it is clearly not the same bargain as before.  The Tyrant's WS climbed 3 points (which is good as before your leader was only as skilled as most secondary characters) while their Strength and Attacks improved by one.  However, that is in no way worth the extra 95 points you have to shell out even for the basic model.  The implication here is that GW believes the old Tyrant was massively under priced, a conclusion that does not jibe with my own experience.  Not that the old Tyrant wasn't nasty, but it was also slow.  The fact that the new version is just as slow makes me seriously wonder what GW was thinking.

Still, the Tyrant is nevertheless quite effective what with being a monstrous creature with a 6 toughness, 4 wounds, and a base 3+ save.  While it comes with no ranged attack standard (save if you take the right psychic powers), the two you can get -- Stranglethorn Cannon and Heavy Venom Cannon -- are better than anything you had before.  You can also take "skills" such as Old Adversary that gives every Tyranid unit within 6" the Preferred Enemy special rule and, of course, the usual collection of add-ons such as Acid Maw or Regeneration. 

One thing you can't take is an invulnerable save meaning you'll have to be careful getting the guy into hand-to-hand with power fists.  Do the tango with, say, a Space Marine Commander with one and your Tyrant is probably tofu (especially since your enemy will be able to ignore any attack on 4+).  You can raise your save to 2+ and/or take wings, but both cost a lot.

Opinion:  The new Hive Tyrant leaves me scratching my head over trying to fathom just what the GW "philosophy" was behind how it was changed or for that matter even how they view the creature in general.  Basically, it comes off as the same old guy just at a higher cost.  How is that supposed to generate any excitement for using it?  Did GW think the Tyrant was badly broken?  That's hard to believe since, well, it wasn't.  Did they want people to take it less often?  The sticker-shock the new price is likely to invoke will certainly encourage this, but -- again -- if there were swarms of Tyrants invading tournaments or whatnot I never noticed.  What then was the point of almost doubling the basic price?

All would be forgiven if something had been added to excite the imagination.  For example, what if taking a winged Tyrant allowed you to take gargoyles as troops?  Now that would be interesting (even if in the final analysis such an army may not be all that effective) if only because it would at least be something new!  Alas, all we get is a less affordable same-old same-old.  Mind you, I think the unit still "works" in the general sense, but certainly it is hard to see how it has been "improved".  We certainly aren't going to be seeing it fielded any more often than before.

Tyrant Guard

Rundown:  The Guard are just the same phenomenon as the Hive Tyrant, but just on a smaller scale -- higher cost, same basic unit.  The one nice change is that they can now take power weapons (e.g. boneswords), but this is balanced out by how they can't protect their master as well as before.  The old Shieldwall rule stated that the Tyrant could never be targeted individually while there were still Guard around.  Now he's just a de facto independent character susceptible to any effect that can target them normally, most notably being vulnerable in close combat.

Opinion:  It's more of the same -- just what was the thinking behind these changes?   If there was any unit less likely to make an appearance than a Tyrant it was his Guard.  Having to pay 15 more points for less of the same is hardly going to alter that.  I understand the appeal of reducing the Tyrant when with the Guard down to a mere independent character as it simplifies the rules (and eliminates arguments over just what "may not be picked out as a separate target" really meant).  However, it makes the Tyrant much more vulnerable to power fists in hand-to-hand, thus removing a prime reason to take Guard in the first place.

The only rationale that makes sense to me is that GW expects you to always take boneswords with Guard and thus produce a strength 5, toughness 6 trio with power weapons.  Nasty to be sure, but it completely inverts the supposed purpose of the unit.  Instead of the Guard being there to back-up their leader, now you buy the Tyrant to get access to his cadre of bug swordsmen (and at a 66% higher cost than before).

The Swarmlord

Rundown:  Simply put the Swarmlord is a regular Tyrant on massive alien steroids.  A unique character the 'Lord comes with quad boneswords, all the psychic powers, a 4+ invulnerable save, the ability to pump up the bugs around him, and even gives you a +1 to reserve roles.  Most of this can be duplicated in full or in part by a generic Tyrant, but the Swarmlord is optimized for what it does.  Not surprising then it is a massive 280 points, but considering all it does that price seems fair.

Opinion:  Finally, a Tyrant with some flair that warrants interest.  The 'Lord is clearly a unit around which to build an army given how much he costs and how truly frightening is his in close-combat.  Basically, he can put the fear of the swamp in any opponent.  Unlike regular Tyrants that should be afraid of power fisted characters with invulnerable saves such meat is the Swarmlord's preferred prey.  Match him up with some bonesword equipped Guard and there is nothing he and his crew cannot take on.  Of course, that would be a fifth of your army right there, but that's okay with the right design.  He's an obvious choice for a Nidzilla army if nothing else.

Tervigon

Rundown:  This unit is sort of like an alien demon cow that when it's not slicing up an enemy is giving birth to its next litter of termigant spawn.  As such it is clearly meant to be taken with termigants -- many of its abilities only work with them while the rest can work on most anything.  In fact, if you look under the termigant listing you see that for every 'gant brood you take you can bring along a Tervigon as a troops choice.  So, it's a hard-to-kill monstrous creature with cool abilities, psychic powers, and the power to turn the termigants around it from cannon fodder to a real threat -- and all for just 160 points!

Opinion:  I wonder if "Tervigon" is Tyranid for "An excuse to buy lots of Termigant models" since it might as well be.  Mind you, that's not a bad thing (especially for people like me who have 80 of the buggers painted), but I do think it makes for inelegant game design.  Take away the combo with the 'gants and the Tervigon is just a somewhat wimpy Carnifex for almost as much points.  Put it back in and you have what looks suspiciously like a "you're insane not to take them if you want to take a lot of Termigants" design for a horde army that will soon be the only such design you see.

Still, the Tervigon is awfully effective in that role, maybe even too much so.  Its ability to give any Termigant broods within 6" both Toxin Sacks and Adrenal Glands (if it takes them too) is killer.  Combine this with Synapse Creature and Catalyst and you make Termigants actually dangerous in close combat.  Best of all is the monster's ability to pump out 3d6 new basic Termigants a round (with a 31% chance of the ability being exhausted after each time it does so).  That's an average of 10.5 extra a round.  Since you can take as many Tervigons as troops as you have broods of Termigants (plus up to two as HQ) you could easily take four of the former and be producing 12d6 more of the latter each turn -- an average of 42!  Yikes!  The only real limit here (besides bad dice rolling) is that you have to paint up a boat load of new Termigants to get the most out of the ability.

Tyranid Prime

Rundown:  The HQ choice for those who don't want the pay the high price of a Tyrant (or who want a second-in-command), the Tyranid Prime basically fills the same niche as the Broodlord from last edition.  He's a pumped-up Tyranid warrior that can take a bonesword(s) -- that is, power weapons -- and boost the skills of his associated brood.  However, with only a 5 toughness he can be one-shotted (if only by strength 10 attacks) and he has nothing to protect himself than a 3+ save.  He is also an independent character and therefore a target in close-combat.

Opinion:  You take him if you want to save points for other things or want to fill out your HQ choices with something less expensive.  While reasonably tough he has the same basic vulnerabilities as a Hive Tyrant only worse, so make sure to take him with a 'honor-guard' of fellow Warriors.  Beyond that he is just another generic bug character who should always have a bonesword (or two).

The Parasite of Mortrex

Rundown:  The Parasite is a unique Tyranid Warrior who no doubt considers the Alien movies light-hearted comedy.  His main claim to fame is that he can cause his victims to burst into a swarm of rippers.  He can also fly and has Rending Claws back up with a 6 strength.  However, he has a measly 4 toughness and nothing better to repeal attacks than a 3+ save.  He does make Rippers easier to control, but he is a steep 160 points.

Opinion:  The Parasite is a cool concept that doesn't really work in practice.  His 4 toughness is really a show-stopper, especially without any invulnerable save to rescue him from power fists.  You'll need to send him along with a brood of shrikes as back-up, but even then make sure to stay away from anyone with power fists (or the equivalent).  Depending on the opponent that can be hard to do.  As a result against some enemies I'm not sure it can be trusted on to be effective -- certainly not enough to justify 160 points.  His Ripper producing ability sounds nifty, but requires good dice rolls to be a serious factor.  Basically, I wouldn't take him without a very good reason.

Next up:  Elites

Comments (2) -

  • Dale

    Dale said,

    You sure like to rant about points cost, don't you? Just about the entire bulk of the reviews have been 'This costs more and that's way too expensive...' I personally don't care about that. I want to know if the unit is effective or is it going to be useless in gaming terms.


  • Ranillon

    Ranillon said,

    Thing is that unless you are always going to be playing no points limit Apocalypse games (where cost obviously isn't a factor), then I would argue that cost is ALWAYS a primary concern.  This is because the worth of something is always based in a fundamental way on its price.  A unit that might be nigh worthless at 50 pts might be a terrific choice at 20, for example.  

    Every unit can theoretically accomplish goals on the battelfield, but since your choice and number of units always depends on the amount of points you have whether or not a unit is worth the cost seems rather important to me.