Armies in 5th: Basics Part 2: Army Composition II

Here we are back at army comp, and you thought it was all over (okay basically I forgot to say a few things so putting them here).

Psychic powers & defense! I said it when I picked up the 5th edition book and I’ve said it every time a new army comes out, psychic is back (maybe not as ridiculous as 2nd ed) and you need to deal with this. For most armies this is pretty simple (Eldar, Tyranids and Imperial armies) where you have some sort of psychic defense. The other armies? Well only really two are competitive (DE and Tau) due to their awesome gun array. Since Eldar are running a Farseer anyways we don’t need to look at what they need to take for psy defense and Tyranid psy defense is incorporated into their army as well up close. However, taking a Deathleaper will improve your psychic defense quite dramatically even when outside of Shadow in the Warp so it’s a recommended Elites slot. For Space Marine armies you’ve got a lot of options in Libbys (& Dread Libbys), Rune Priests, GKTs w/Hood and Inq w/Hood whilst other Imperial armies carry theirs around with them (GKT and SoB) or need to take Inq/GKT w/Hood. Either way, you should be incorporating a Hood/Staff into your army otherwise certain spells well be your undoing. Consider psy defenses to be an extra 4+ save to prevent damage. We all like cover, yes? Take your cover with you.

And the other concept I needed to lay down was something GWvsJohn called forced choices. This is where you give a gun in an opponent’s army multiple targets. This is most often done with saturation (i.e. autocannons like to shoot at AV10-11 but if you have 10 AV10-11 you’re going to overload those autocannons). The idea here is if you have so many ideal places for your opponent to land shots, they aren’t going to be able to deal with them all. Furthermore, if they have to make a choice they are more likely to make a mistake. The opposite of this (and generally bad option) is giving a target to every gun from the beginning. This generally happens with bad hybrid builds (i.e. no bubble-wraps, JSJ troops, etc.) as all those anti-infantry guns and anti-tank guns get a target on T1. More damage = less army.

So how do we incorporate this into our army? Certain guns like to shoot at certain things. Most blasts like to shoot at infantry, higher strength weapons prefer shooting at higher AV (this will also be covered later in target priority), medium strength and good rate of fire weapons like to shoot lower AVs, etc. To make a forced choice outside of saturation you need very specific units for this. A really good example is Tyranids. Raveners and Warrior variants are T4/W3 and subject to ID. This means those S8 guns are perfect for shooting at these units but they are also perfect at shooting at MCs. These are two completely different units and thus force a different choice that target saturation does, do I take out the Warriors or wounds off the MC? By forcing your opponent to make such choices, they are likely to make mistakes.

This is the advantage of pure armies (i.e. foot or mech) over hybrid. Whilst certain hybrid builds wreck havoc (i.e IG & Tau), others (i.e. BA, SM, CSM, etc.) can be good but not as competitive because against a balanced opponent their T1 fire is going to be more effective than yours. An all foot list laughs at all of those S8+ guns heading their way (as long as they are an effective foot list) whilst an all mech list early laughs at the anti-infantry fire. These brief moments of ‘security’ give them a leg up on the competition.

So by incorporating psychic defense your army can better stop other psychic powers (both offensive and defensive) which gives you more control over what takes place on the board whilst forcing your opponent to make choices makes the game harder for them and increases the chances of them making a mistake. Sorry these weren’t included in the first post, it was a bit long anyways! Will do target priority next.

It’s my birfday

Internet cookies who whoever figures it out. No one who knows is allowed to say that’s cheatering. Yay for getting older. Doubt I’ll be posting much today but let’s see shall we?
Oh the F1 yesterday in Melbourne was one of the best races I’ve ever seen. I’d put itup there with Brasil 2008, I love rainy races where everyone overtakes. Kudos to Ferrari to doing so well whentheir day kept looking like it was over.

Armies in 5th: Basics Part 1: Army Composition

Army comp to the majority of people means how un-hard or un-cheesy (or how cheesy/hard) your army is. It’s generally a bad system because it’s taking GW’s rules and placing restrictions on what armies you can build to make it “fair.” For the majority of people this is what army comp does but in reality it doesn’t; all that’s changed has been which lists are ‘broken‘. Good job on changing the game of 40k. So what does army composition really mean?
List building is very important in Warhammer 40,000. Games can be lost before a die is even rolled because you don’t have the tools for the job. I’ve been asked quite a lot what my starting point my an army list is and I generally pick a theme, idea or unit I want to base my army around (i.e. Space Wolves = TWC, BA = fast preds, Tyranids = what I already have/Tervigons, etc.) but from there my competitive army evolves around that idea to still be balanced and be able to deal with everything. So what types of units do we need to be able to handle. A list needs to be able to handle a whole army comprised of such units to be able to reliably deal with the balanced lists (I.e. you may never see 20+ tanks or MCs or 100+ bikes or 300 infantry but if your list theoretically deal with those extremes, you can deal with the balanced armies). These unit types include:
1) tanks = anything with an armor value and thus uses the damage chart
2) MCs = anything with the MC status, high T (5+) and multiple wounds
3) bikes/cavalry = anything that augments toughness and movement ability
4) infantry = the basic guys with saves
So to have good army composition you need multiple units which can handle units 1-4 and units which can handle 3 or more of these groups are better than units which can handle less unit types. However, there is a trade-off when the unit which can handle less unit types but handles the specific units at a better rate. This trade-off needs to be considered and such units like broadsides which aren‘t that great at anti-infantry are very much worth it for their ability to damage tanks. So this means your anti-infantry (which generally includes anti-bike/cavalry) and anti-tank (which generally includes anti-MC) needs to be spread across your army and generally the more units who can deal with both, the better. This is simply called duality and duplicity and something that army comp from tournaments frowns upon even though it makes the best lists which are balanced. Having an army maxed out on duality units means you can lose some units but you still have more (duplicity) and no one unit is ever going to be useless if you face extreme armies where they then become inefficient point sinks.
For example, a trip-las pred is very expensive and pretty decent against armor/MCs but if you face an Ork horde or BA jumper army… well you’re killing a max of 3 guys out of 60+ a turn, that’s not very good efficiency. However, for a significant reduction in cost and a minor reduction in anti-armor ability you gain more anti-infantry ability with an AC/LC pred and for a further reduction in points but a more significant reduction in anti-tank ability but a significant increase in anti-infantry ability, you can take an AC/HB pred. Here the trip-las pred is the weak link for it’s related point cost and efficiency ratios whilst the AC/LC and AC/HB preds can shore up either anti-tank or anti-infantry whilst not being a points sink and sacrificing little duality.
So the best armies have multiple options at every FoC slot to deal with multiple threats and more often than not this can be included in a single unit. Armies that are weaker don’t have those options (and thus generally have mono-builds) or can’t build as much duality into their lists. This means other armies will generally be able to target what the biggest threat to them first and thus neutralise it compared to an army with duality where no such targets can be picked out. This becomes target saturation.
What I explain here to many will sound like dealing with the metagame but since everyone has access to the internet and 40k can build balanced lists which can beat any other list out there…well there is not metagame because there is no advantage by knowing what is commonly strong. If you do it to your local area to counter marines or Orks for example that’s tailoring.

So outside of these basic principles what else does an army in 5th edition need to account for? A concept I’ve touched on a lot with this blog is fire suppression. This is a concept which is often underappreciated online particularly with armies who don’t have good pure anti-tank (such as Tyranids). Fire suppression in 40k 5th is all about stopping tanks from damaging you next turn whilst anti-tank is all about stopping the tank. The difference here is anti-tank generally uses higher strength and AP1 weapons whilst fire suppression uses weight of fire. Whilst fire suppression will inevitably kill tanks, it’s all about minimising your opponent’s ability to affect the battlefield. Whether this is simply shaking them to stop them shooting, destroying their weapons or stopping their movement through stunned/immobilised results, by slowing your opponent’s tanks, you are more able to enact your battle plan as you are more able to control the board.

So how is this done in an army list? Some armies do it better than others (I.e. Tyranids) as it’s built into their army books but what you are looking for is medium strength weapons with high rates of fire, good ranges and which are reliable as possible to hit. Such units include MP/PR crisis suits (which are also very good anti-infantry units), Riflemen dreads (who are functional as anti-infantry units), Hydras, etc. They either have so many shots or they are TL’d with good moderate strength weapons which are therefore very likely to do SOMETHING. Your meltaguns are your primary anti-tank but things like auto cannons/missile launchers/etc are there to slow your opponent up from T1.

Another uncommon concept is sacrificial/bubble-wrap units. Bubble-wraps have been covered on this blog before here but little has been said about sac units. In a good list built around duality and duplicity, every unit is expendable (there are obviously more important units than others but a single unit dying shouldn’t change your game plans drastically) but in most lists there should be units you are happy to lose to gain a turn to affect the board. Whether this is a speedbump against assault units, a blocker to slow down an army/unit or simply a screening unit, an army which has the ability to sacrifice a lot but still win is going to come out on top more often than not against an army which relies on a lynchpin.

A concept fundamental to mech is mobility and due to its inherent nature within mechanised lists, is often over-looked during army composition. This is another reason why I believe armies like Tyranids are un-appreciated online. All mech lists are obviously fast so when you are not meching up (I.e. Tyranids, hybrid, BA jumpers, cavalry, etc.) if you aren’t fast (I.e. Pods) you are on the backfoot. This is why lists such as non-mech BA and SW can be very competitive, they can keep up with the mobility of mech’d armies. These are generally the type of armies that also place more importance in fire suppression (I.e. Long Fangs) so they can reduce the advantage mech enjoys until they get start bashing in their grills.

Finally a concept that should be familiar to everyone, Troops and scoring. Two thirds of 5th edition missions are objective based and only Troops can score. I’ve given a common rule of thumb of one troop per 500 points but this is obviously flexible, certain lists can do with more and certain lists can deal with less. But it again becomes a trade-off. Troop choices often have worse point efficiencies in terms of damaging output compared to other FoC slots. You therefore need to consider the trade-off between potential output and scoring ability. The 1 Troop/500 pt guideline is a good rule of thumb for this trade-off but it obviously depends on the army and army type.

So when taking all of these concepts into account and making a list that maximises them to the best of the book’s ability whilst maintaining a balanced theme is going to give you a good list. It seems like a lot to take in early but once you use these guidelines whilst making your own lists a few times, you’ll get used to them. Look at certain lists where I explain my reasoning behind my choices (Stelek does this too at YTTH and some others like GWvsJohn have done it here). It highlights some of the concepts used to make better lists.

BA Quick Analysis: Jump Packs

Okay, a nice quick analysis whilst I’m working on assignments and waiting for the F1 to start. I’ve seen a lot of “no way JP suck” or “they are the awesomesauce!” Now I’ll go into army composition shortly with an Armies in 5th article but let’s look at an all JP army and why it can work for BA.

1) JP in all slots bar HS. This is important, more so than DoA or FNP because you actually have variety. You’re not just spamming ASM but can have other units with differently specialities from different FoCs. This means it can scale well and allows you to make a more balanced army.

2) DoA has two parts. The first is the re-roll failed rolls to reserves w/DoA. This allows you to capitalise on an average or good roll. It makes your army more reliable, this is always good.
2b) DoA also reduces the scatter range. Halving the scatter minimises chances of mishaps, allows you to play more aggressively and makes your army more reliable :O (this is a theme it seems).

3) FNP/FC bubbles. People don’t like to remove 30-50 T4/3+ infantry and whilst a lot of people will claim Marine spam armies are awesome, here is one who can actually pull it off. Making all those infantry essentially have a 2+ save is…well pretty damn awesome and it requires a lot more firepower to take them out which means you have to charge them to avoid FC or the BA player’s army tactics come into play and since he survived he gets to dictate play.

4) Vanguard. I know, I know. But Vanguard are a significant reason BA can work. Ignore the price drop (the tiny one). You’ve just mass jumped in on T2 and blown up a lot of tanks and…you get shot to pieces. Sure FNP will help you a bit but you need to be able to tie things down and quickly or put enough torrent into units that they are useless next turn. BA don’t have good torrent outside of CC in JP armies so you need Vanguard to assault when they come on. Army synergy.

5) Every JP unit can take a melta, combi-melta or infernus pistol more than twice. Reliable anti-tank on the drop, yes please.

6) Unlike certain pod armies, the JP drop can be mobile afterwards because they can move 12″ which means if their alpha-strike fails they can keep up with mech. This is important.

Whilst like all DS style lists they are vulnerable to DS defenses and reserve denial, the JP list is able to put out enough firepower the turn they drop, make assaults with drop synergy, survive the return firepower and are able to overcome reserve denial to an extent with their DoA re-roll. This is again a new style of list which GW has given the tick of approval, be happy all you people who hate mech, another list that can beat mech which is not mech!

Email in: 2k Ork List

This list sacrifices Bikers for more scoring bodies/short-range shooting. Thoughts?

Warboss on Bike, w/ Klaw: 125 points
Big Mek w/ KFF: 85 points.

12 Lootas: 180 pts.
12 Lootas: 180 pts.
12 Lootas: 180 pts.

17 Grots, 1 Runtherd: 61 points.
17 Grots, 1 Runtherd: 61 points.
16 Shoota Boyz: 96 pts.
16 Shoota Boyz: 96 pts.
Deff Dread with 2 Big Shootas. 85 points.
3 Meganobz: 120 pts
-Battlewagon with Deffrolla, Ard Case, 2 Big Shootas: 125 pts

Fast Attack:
2 Warbuggies with Rokkits: 70 pts
2 Warbuggies with Rokkits: 70 pts
2 Warbuggies with Rokkits: 70 pts

Heavy Support:
Grotzooka Kanz x3: 135 points.
Grotzooka Kanz x3: 135 points.
Battlewagon with Deffrolla, Ard Case, 2 Big Shootas: 125 pts
Total points: 1999 pts.

Battlewagons to the Center, everything else to the flanks, Kans in front, Shootas tagging behind. Warboss used to reinforce a flank as need be/dissuade charges/suicide into an artillery unit. The infantry is used for bubblewrap duties, or to make the Battlewagons Scoring Units.

Looks fine barring the Troops, I think the army folds there. Whilst you can put another unit in a battlewagon you’ve got half your force on the ground running to keep up (rather than just the Kanz normally). The shootas are much like the gretchin and scare nothing, the meganobz are too small to scare anyone and it just becomes a bit…meh. Whilst they certainly work as bubble-wrap units you don’t have the firepower to blast someone off the board unlike an IG or Tau list and since your BWs want to get in close to Deff Rolla stuff, the point of a bubble-wrap is? With the bikes they can at least keep up to push melta away to a certain amount but don’t impair the BW movement.

I think just be replacing the normal Warboss w/Wazdakka and getting some Biker Boyz in there it’d be a more balanced list with a twist on what has been posted here before. But as it stands you haven’t gained much dakka and have sacrificed mobility and decent Troops.

Warseer Battle Report: BA v Lash CSM 2k

Note: you can click on the pics to make them bigger

Well I played a game at a store before work today. I used some of the promo BA stuff + my own normal marines and versus a CSM lash list. As far as lash lists go it wasn’t bad, those DPs would have been a lot scarier w/Warptime but hey. As it stands I think the core of plagues and oblits is pretty solid other than the 10 man plASMa spam squad + Vindi and the aforementioned Princes. Tried to recreate with Vassal from memory but it’s a bit off.

Here’s the deployments. I screwed up my scout moves in relation to cover since he spread his Oblits out and displayed my side armor. Woops. His deployment is a bit weird but it did get annoying. Anyways his first turn he killed a Baal w/ the Vindi (though he was out of melta range with those Plagues, dur I didn’t screw up that badly!) and stunned one of the Baals with his Oblits. One of his DPs also took a wound from dangerous. My turn saw my Libbys drop pretty nicely but they are likely to get pwned by some melta next turn. However I took out 3 rhinos, a Vindi and a mini plague squad (+ a couple from the other squad). Good FNP rolling for the CSM player. Let’s see how I fair against the return melta. P.S. libby cast sang shield.

His raptors didn’t come in. He moved a lot of melta towards my dreads as well as the Oblits and moved his DPs into my lines. Oh nos. He lashed my disembarked squad towards his line but didn’t move them far enough so they got FNP and a 5+ cover. His plASMa squad opened up on them and none of his plASMa hit (inc 2 Gets Hot! which killed one). Unlucky them. The ASM saved 6 bolter wounds. The top melta squad and oblits destroyed the top libby who’s explosion didn’t kill anyone. The bottom squad missed on the back armor of my bottom dread and the other plagues in the Rhino & oblits only shook it twice. The DPs assaulted and only killed one ASM (and the bottom one took another wound).

My pod didn’t come in (aw L). I moved my remaining Dread towards his Oblits and converged on his plASMa plagues with my Rbacks whilst moving my Baals/Dreads away from midfield to try and take down his Dp there. After the flames cleared there were 5 plASMa plagues still remaining (damn FNP!). My Preds alone were enough to take down the midfield Daemonprince so my Rifledreads opened up on the remaining armor. One dread blew up the top rhino and the other two combined to blow up the final Rhino who’s explosion killed one plague (this game didn’t like wrecks did it…). Libby dread cast MoH (Sang Shield was cast before) and got an extra 3 attacks whilst he assaulted the Oblits whom he wiped. Hope he doesn’t get melta’d! The other DP killed 2 marines and didn’t take any wounds but the marines stayed in combat.

The CSM player is running out of guys atm but his raptors come in. He DS’d them very aggressively in my backfield (?) to take out some dreads (?). The other plagues move towards midfield and the Oblits maintained their firing position. The raptors took out a rifledread, his midfield plagues failed to damage the baal, the top left plagues blew up the libby dread which killed one of their own and the right plagues were stopped by sang shield. The Oblits continued their good shooting but only immobilised the rightmost Razorback. The plASMa plagues were able to get a single shot through sang shield and stunned the Libby’s ride. The DP made the ASM flee but didn’t pursue them as he slunk back into the forest.

My pod came on yay! And then scattered away from objective, boo. My lone ASM rallied and ran back into the fray, the libby disembarked to do some shenanigans and my dreads/baals moved around to blast the midfield plagues/raptors whilst the razors stayed still to try and clear out those plagues on the right! The flamers and lone ASM took down the last DP and 2 more plagues. The baals with some excellent shooting and poor saving removed the midfield plagues from the game and the two rifledreads took down 3 raptors who fled. The pods shot at the right plagues but did nothing again. The libby assaulted the right plagues and killed one but took a wound.

Whilst board control is really mine I don’t hold any objectives so the CSM player seems rather happy about this… with 11 plagues and 3 oblits left. His top plagues move in to try and hold the top right objective some more but that’s the extent of his movement. Those same plagues explode my top most Razorback but oddly doesn’t assault what comes out. Oblits stunned and took off the weapon of my right razor and in combat nothing happened between the libby and plagues (though the raptors continued to fallback).

Move baals/dreads up to shoot the top left plagues on objective and also tank shock the raptors further to edge. Load up the lone ASM in lib razor and drive behind hill to hold objective at bottom whilst rest of my ASM disembark en masse to get rid of plagues. Sang razor still holds sang and moves through forest to provide bubble for everyone. The forest razor, 2x ASM squads and 3 pods only managed to fell one top plague whilst the baals and dreads dropped the 5 plagues on the top left objective. With the assault phase all my ASM charged into plagues somewhere. None were needed down south as the libby dispatched the plagues and he and the ASM consoled whilst up top the plagues struck first and killed none. In retaliation the ASM killed one plague and stayed locked in.

The raptors fell off the table and the oblits continued to shoot well but damage poorly with a double shake on the bottom most razor. The ASM finished off the plagues in combat and the game was called there.

Whilst this wasn’t the most tactical of games from my point I think this is a pretty clear example of lash failing. How often was it used? Once. Did it do anything? No as he could of assaulted the unit anyways. I wasn’t really happy with my BA list. The dreads did some initial damage (taking out 3 tanks <3) but died to melta pretty quickly and I considered myself lucky to have kept one alive more than a turn. The baals/dreads did brilliantly but the ASM were a bit sub-par so might need to rethink the Dreads/ASM core and build around the baals/dreads (yum). Now why did the Warseer popular lash list not have a chance. First a disclaimer, this isn’t directed at everyone at Warseer and I don’t know if this player is from Warseer but lash is still quite often complained about over at Warseer but the need for anti-mech from the oblits and plagues makes it a useless spell followed up by since everything is primed for anti-tank (where chaos are still lacking since they don’t have survivable fast melta) they lack a bit in anti-infantry. I had under 25 infantry going into this game and I lost 4... That’s terrible. The CSM player also stacked his tanks in midfield which gave my blood lance a really nice target. His target priority against the dreads was pretty good but then he simply didn’t have the tools to slow me down as I had too much mech running around and it was simply a matter of attrition for me. If he had used a 12 Rhino CSM list I’d of had a much harder time limiting his mobility (all of his rhinos were gone by T2 and all bar two were gone T1) and he’d of been able to put more shots into multiple targets because of it. So thoughts and comments on layout? Sorry about the shoddy vassal replay, a) I don't know hwo to make it a video, b) it's all from memory but I did write most of it down and c) hopefully I can just use my camera next time! Any suggestions or guest write-ins/links would be nice.

Blood Angels basics…Inc 2K list

I’ve folded under the pressure and will be posting some basics of the new codex now *shakes fist at people*. I’ll also be posting my variation list which is meant to give me a different playstyle to my normal marines without having to spend a heap of money (so whilst it’s competitive I wouldn’t say it’s the best thing out there). So let’s look at what BA can do:

1) Like SW and Tyranids they don’t have to rely on mech thanks to their JP and DoA rule. Their DSing is reliable, their movement speed after DS is good, they can pop tanks through every FoC slot and their infantry can take a beating (hi FNP!)
2) They can mech well but not in the same way as Sisters, IG, SM or SW. Their mech becomes like an Imperial version of Eldar mech and PLAYS DIFFERENTLY. Don’t expect to copy razorspam, dual raider or simple mech spam from previous Marine books and for it to play as well. GW (recently) isn’t stupid, each book is going to do something better than another.
3) Don’t try to max shooting and assault. Like SW & Nids, doing this will unbalance your army as a whole. Go for one supported by the other and you’ll have a much better army which will compete. This isn’t new edition fantasy where every phase you need to be very efficient in.

I think those are pretty much the basics…*shrug*. Anyways, like the most recent GW books there are a lot of good options and therefore a lot of army lists and styles. An excellent JP style army can be seen at YTTH here @ 2500 pts which can easily be scaled back to 2k. Outside of JP there are multiple mech styles, podding and Dreads. So let’s see what I’m thinking of running for my main variation of my Mech Marines (thanks to GWvsJohn for a bit of streamlining help).

HQ –
Libarian w/Blood Lance, Shield of Sanguinius

Elites –
Furioso Libarian w/Blood Lance, Might of Heroes, Drop Pod

Furioso Libarian w/Blood Lance, Might of Heroes, Drop Pod

Troops –
ASM x5 w/meltagun, Razorback w/TL-Heavy Flamer

ASM x5 w/meltagun, Razorback w/TL-Heavy Flamer

ASM x5 w/meltagun, Razorback w/TL-Heavy Flamer

ASM x5 w/meltagun, Razorback w/TL-Heavy Flamer

ASM x5 w/meltagun, Razorback w/TL-Heavy Flamer

Fast Attack –
Baal Predator w/HB sponsons

Baal Predator w/HB sponsons

Baal Predator w/HB sponsons

Heavy Support –
Dreadnought w/2x TL autocannons, Drop Pod

Dreadnought w/2x TL autocannons

Dreadnought w/2x TL autocannons

Total: 2000 pts
Tanks: 16 (3 pods)
Infantry: 26

So light on infantry models but a lot of armor out there. The ASM in RBacks are essentially mini-Celestians from SoB. Again, they do not do this style as well as them but provide for this army some saturation, anti-infantry and anti-mech all in one bundle. Main problem is they are scoring which makes them a bigger target than they should be. Dreads are cheaper versions than SM and since we can take Dakkabaals in the FA slot we can fit in more than 3 dreads like a SM list w/MotF but our Elite dreads are better here. The Dakkabaals and Riflemen dreads provide suppression fire and anti-infantry in a pinch. The Libby Dreads screw up mech castles big time but the 2d6″ scatter of the Pods can be a bit of burden to bear. Since they still have S10 with a blood fist MoH increases the number of their attacks once they inevitably get into combat. Finally the normal Libby provides mobile cover for the midfield body and packs another blood lance in a pinch.

Some options would generally involve dropping an ASM squad. I could then get infernous pistols for each of the other squads and a Sang Priest (or perhaps 2) which will provide some more survivability for my infantry whilst also making them more reliable against tanks. Perhaps any other suggestions?

To make this I need to get 1-2 more Rhino chasis, RBack/Furioso/Baal turrent upgrades (or parts to kitbash), 3 DPods and prob magnetise some arms to my Marines to give them more obvious ccws (rather than my current bayonet style). Not bad for a very different playstyle.

Armies in 5th: Tyranids Part 6: Summary

If we recall back to when I started these articles my aim was to look at the most under and over appreciated armies in 5th edition from the internet’s perspective (i.e. take your metagame and play with it on the Moon). Tau were underappreciated and Orks are certainly over appreciated, so where do Tyranids fall? For the most part I’m going to say underappreciated. Far too many people sit there and say Tyranids can’t play in 5th edition because they can’t smack around mech (hell I’ve heard people begging to go back to the old codex…seriously, what?). Again, if foot Tyranids (or foot SW but they have melta which makes people happy) could smack around mech from T1 AND just roll over you in combat, well they wouldn’t be a fun army to play against would they? Most mech armies shoot the blazes out of you, have some uber or minor cc elements and that’s about it. Go try it with the new BA. Try to make a list that just rolls you over in cc and shooting. By trying to do that you start to dilute both of them and it just doesn’t work. Tyranids (and SW/BA) can pull off non-mech or hybrid mech because they can neutralise your armor, not always through destroying it, but by stopping it from shooting or moving and then can cream you in assault. A quick example before we get back onto Tyranids. SW Calvary w/LF packs. The LF w/ML splitting fire aren’t reliably going to blow two transports up (there’s a chance which makes split fire pretty awesome but it’s not likely) but they are infinitely more like to cause two damage results and this increases the chances of stopping multiple mech targets and allows your cavalry to dominate the game more.

Back to the gribblies. Tyranids have just the mix of tank popping and tank suppression available in the codex to make sure mech isn’t an insurmountable advantage for the opponent. They also have the survivability (read T6 MCs) and/or mobility (Beasts, Wings, Spores, etc.) to play tag with mech. These are all concepts I’ve covered in my previous articles and something the internet I believe fails to appreciate. They’ve come to grips with mech (finally. How long did we have to say mech beats non-mech 90% of the time until they got it?) but now think Mech is always the winner. As an entity, the internet (you know I’m surprised no one has really brought up the semantics of what I mean by the “internet” on this blog yet :P) has grasped that mech is good on some solid premises (mobility and protection) so kudos there. However, they have not understood really what is going on behind the scenes; how the newer books not only provide a variety of builds but completely different builds from the current paradigm (not metagame); how armies that are not based on shooting the opponent’s mech out from under them yet can still win; how being able to crush your opponent in the shooting phase and close combat phase would be imbalanced, etc. SW and Tyranids are capable of crushing mech whilst not being meched not because they can blast you out of your transports T1 but because they can neutralise the advantages of mech to an extent where their close combat ability rolls mech.

I really do need to put these concepts into specific posts… So back to Tyranids and why I believe they are underappreciated and shouldn’t be. Outside of what I outlined above (which as you should be able to see is not Tyranid specific) there is a lot of misunderstanding of the Tyranid units. There are really only IMO two units which should never be taken, Ymgarl Genestealers and the Pyrovore. Other units like Lictors, Mawlocs, Biovores , Doom, Parasite, etc. are units that can work but aren’t really optimal. At the same time these units aren’t that bad that an opponent can easily ignore them and do offer some possibilities (i.e. Mawlocs/Lictors). Whilst the majority of the internet agrees with me here (bar Doom) here is where we happen upon some major discrepancies. I’ve covered all these units before but will do a quick run-down here.

Harpies. The internet hates them for T5/4+. Wait, Tyranids have a fast heavy weapon? And it’s twin-linked? And people don’t like it? Like the Piranha or Crisis suits in Tau, the Harpy provides nothing else the Tyranid codex can outside of spores. This is why it is T5/4+ and the cost of two speeders plus.

The Tervigon. Mixed bag here. I’ve seen reviews without a mention of them and I’ve seen reviews and lists that pack 5 of them into 1500 points. They are an awesome support unit, one of the best in the game but they need to support something. Their killing power is lacking and thus you need to make sure there is enough for them to support whilst not being so easy to kill (i.e. 2 or sometimes 3 at 2k or less points).

Hive Tyrant. It’s not as cheap as it used to be but it now provides a lot more to your army than what it did before. Fire suppression, decent to good cc ability, a good psychic power and army wide buffing. You can also make it a monster in cc w/Guard but it becomes an appropriate point sink then. Why is it so expensive say compared to terminators? Because T6 in combat is tough. It’s expensive because it has to be. Whilst the Prime is an excellent option outside of the Tyrant, a properly built army lead by a Tyrant is greater than its parts. The same deal here goes for Carnifexes. They got a necessary point increase and whilst Trygons are often better in general terms, S10 is hard to ignore coupled with the flexibility a Carnifex provides (you can give it guns and spore it, walk it, get three in a group, etc.).

Warriors/Raveners. Both of these provide target priority problems for your opponent. They are T4 so small arms fire is good against them but they have 3 wounds each which makes them attractive targets for S8+ weapons. This makes your opponent make a choice, get rid of the T4 guys with S8 and suffer the MCs or vice versa. This is good. The more choices your opponent makes, the more likely they screw up. Add in these units are excellent midfield units for different purposes and they are certainly given the axe too often for my liking.

Overall, these articles have shown how to take advantage of the Tyranid book to create a list that can handle mech through shooting and beat face in combat with a variety of units. As most of you are aware, this is the new hallmark for GW books, variety and lots of units that don’t suck. Kudos to them. Whilst the internet doesn’t like the book because they think mech (and particularly AV14) ruins their day, well I just don’t see how they can’t see that a simple core of HG and T-Fexes is very likely to damage 5 targets. Mech generally has anywhere from ~9-16 tanks, that’s a pretty good damage ratio for an army that is all about crushing face in combat.

I’m not going to do a list for Tyranids here because I’ve got a couple in under the My Armies section but if anyone would like to submit some lists based on the principles I’ve outlined in these 6 Tyranid articles we shall see if I can scrounge up a picture saying you’re awesome 😛 (I, unlike Stelek, do not get donations so can’t hand out prizes lol).

Blood Angels Upcoming

I’ve had quite a few requests for BA lists as a vast majority of people now have their hands on it. I won’t be releasing anything until the codex is officially released for everyone however; it’s not polite otherwise. I do have a few lists sitting and waiting and will prob make over time but to those pure mech lovers of SM (like me), don’t worry SM still has their place (and with Bikes) but BA do make a different kind of mech list.

So if you have any requests for BA send them to my e-mail and I’ll post them all up on release day.

Armies in 5th: Tyranids Part 5: HQ & synapse

Well it’s time to look at who leads the swarm. There are three primary choices, the Hive Tyrant, Tervigon and Tyranid Prime. The Tervigon has been discussed in detail as a Troop/utility and is an excellent unit but loses a tiny bit of effectiveness as an HQ since it can’t score. Going for 5 Tervigons has its merits at 2500 points but 2000pts and less you’ve got too much support and not enough killing power. So for this discussion we’ll consider Tervigons a much better choice as a Troop. This leaves us with the Tyrant (inc. Swarmlord) and Tyranid Prime.

They Tyranid Prime is essentially a buffed up Warrior (which lends his BS and WS to them if he joins their unit) but has one major advantage over the Tyrant. He’s an 80pt IC. Whilst it is generally advisable to give him BS/LW (or BSx2) + Toxin which takes him to just over 100pts, he is cheap and can roam. This is huge for Tyranids in making units like Hive Guard or Warrior squads more survivable, particularly for Warriors against S8/9 guns and for Hive Guard with 3 extra wounds which can be taken on a 3+. Outside of this defensive utility, the Prime saves you points (roughly 70-100) as you don’t have to buy a Tyrant. You can therefore buy two or use the extra points elsewhere. They are pretty good in combat and will particularly improve a Warrior unit’s output though this will make them a bigger target especially if you’re running less MCs.

So what does the Tyrant bring to the table then? Obviously MC status + the ability to bring a very evil unit into combat through Tyrant Guard (the Swarmlord can do this especially well and for all intents and purposes the Swarmlord is just a bigger, meaner and badder HT in close combat but not so good at shooting). Outside of that the Hive Tyrant allows you to really change the way your army plays and can be a huge utility unit through upgrades and psychic powers. Firstly though equipment, standard layout is going to be something like LW/BS and a Heavy Venom Cannon with a Tyrant guard. This gives it 6 wounds, very scary in combat and can put out fire support as it advances. The other option is Wings but these are very expensive and will lead your Tyrant to being shot early. Personally I find Trygons or Carnifexes in spores to be more effective MCs in combat than a Flyrant as you are sacrificing the Tyrant’s ability to support an army.

So the unique and primary upgrades for the Tyrant are Hive Commander, Old Adversary and Indescribable Horror. IH is useless, the Tyrant is a beast in assault anyways and most low Ld units aren’t going to want to assault him as it were. The other two however lend themselves very well to armies. Old Adversary makes everything within 6″ much better at combat. This is one improvement over the Swarmlord who can bestow a specific USR on a single unit with 18″. If you’re going for a midfield presence or combat oriented Troops, this skill is an extremely good effect multiplier. Hive Commander will be a very popular choice for any army using reserves or spores. Not only does it give the added benefit to reserves rolls but it allows a Troop choice to outflank; suddenly Tervigons as Troops in a spore army seem more viable. This upgrade is a must if you are using such an army simply for addition to your reserves.

So outside of being able to make super-unit, support the swarm and lay down supporting fire, the Hive Tyrant also has access to some pretty good psy powers. The problem is they are all short-ranged. However, the one that jumps out from the rest is Paroxysm. Whilst the lowering of BS doesn’t really help due to it’s short range, the lower WS can really render super-units useless as even gaunts will hit on 3s and get hit on 5s. Add in Old Adversary & poison and that unit is likely going to be dragged down in combat. Other than that Psychic Scream has some decent utility against low Ld armies and Leech Essence can unreliably help your tyrant stay alive but it boils down to utility as you’re going to be using paroxysm more often than not.

Whilst the Tyrant offers a lot more options for the Tyranid army and can really ‘gel’ a whole list together, you pay for it. Each of these guys is going to net you 200+ points and if you add in the Tyrant Guards start thinking 300. The Swarmlord is even more but is much more potent in combat whilst lacking in support firing and to a certain degree, utility. It then becomes a trade-off between the Prime and Tyrant with what you want as neither is a bad choice. Taking Primes generally lets you fit more into your list and gives your valuable units more wounds whilst the Tyrant soaks up more points but makes your army more potent overall and can lend certain lists (i.e. Spores) a huge boost.

This brings us to the final point before our summary, synapse. Losing synapse isn’t going to lose you the game but it will lose you some degree of control. Depending on the unit, once out of synapse and Ld is failed, the unit will either be forced to run towards the nearest enemy or shoot it (depending on unit type this generally fits their role). Whilst this isn’t a huge problem, an opponent who does take out all of your synapse early on will have a distinct advantage. It is therefore very important when making a list to ensure you have multiple synapse cover units. Generally speaking since Tervigons, HQs and Warriors are so popular this isn’t a problem but with units like Ravengers, Hormaguants or Gargoyles who race ahead, it can be.