Saturday, January 23, 2010

Tyranid Codex - A Codex in Review

Howdy Legio Minimus readers! Ghoulio here with a preliminary Codex review of everyone’s favorite gun wielding bugs…the Tyranids! First off let me say that I have been playing the mighty bugs for almost 15 years and this is my 4th codex with them. Like the army itself the codex’s keep evolving over time, adding new options and creatures while simultaneously making you redo your entire army. Luckily for all fans of the Tyranid race, this trend is 100% alive in the new book!

Let me start off by saying that after playing a game or two I do like the new book. I really like the feel of the army and the change in the play style. I also really like how many deployment options it gives you through Deep Striking, Outflanking, Infiltrating and other methods of deploying. They have also improved a lot of the units that were somewhat sub-par in 4th ed (like Zoanthropes, Raveners and Gargoyles). Another thing that I think was a good choice was removing Eternal Warrior from Synapse as I think it was somewhat overpowered, and kind of a quick fix to a problem that plagues the army.

Most of the new entries in the ‘Nid codex are also quite good and some are very much needed, specifically the Hive Guard. They are one of the best anti troop transport choices in any book, period. The Trygon is also incredible both from a rules stand point and the model. I am almost finished mine and I have to say it is both a joy to build and paint.

Even though many things were improved with the new ‘dex I would have to say just as many things are now broken (and trust me…there are MANY). After reading this book it feels like an incredible first draft, one that has lots of great ideas and is definitely moving forward in the right direction and all it needs is a strong edit/refinement pass to help work out the kinks/points values.

Here is a list of things that just don’t make sense and I am still trying to figure out how they got into the codex:

- The Trygon tunnel. At first glance this looks like an awesome idea, one that will add even more variety in your game plan. Then you actually read how it works and figure that it is a joke…until you realize you are reading the final dex. The way it works is as follows: Your Trygon deep strikes onto the board like a Space Marine Drop Pod (i.e. safe DS) and when he does so he leaves a “hole” behind him that other Tyranids can use. The thing is though they can’t use said hole until it has been on the board for a full turn. Once a unit comes through the hole they are placed within 2” of said hole and can’t move/shoot the turn they come in. Oh, and one other thing, you can’t select a unit to go through the hole, so if a unit becomes available either at the same time as the Trygon or before it, that unit has to walk on from your table edge. So the single best possible scenario is your Trygon comes up turn 2, the unit you want to come out through the tunnel fails its reserve roll and then comes in on turn 3, then on turn FOUR you can act normally. Why couldn’t a unit come out the same turn as the Trygon? Why can’t you nominate a unit to come out of the tunnel and that is the only way it can deploy? If you have to wait a full turn to come out why can’t you act normally when you do?

- Lictors. Ugh…I really had high hopes for these guys, but with this new book they are officially benched. Like the Trygon their special rules MAKE NO SENSE. They have +1 to reserve rolls and act as a teleport homer. Both awesome rules as any elder player who uses an Autarch will attest. The problem lies with the fact that this unit HAS to be deployed via reserves (so earliest it can show up is turn 2) and none of their abilities can be used until they have been on the board for a full turn. So both of those abilities are totally useless. Another thing that is awesome is they can’t assault the turn they arrive and they have a 6” str6, Ap -, Assault 2 gun with a BS of 3. In my mind the only positive improvement on these guys is the fact that they get fleet. If you are going to give them +1 reserve and teleport homers why couldn’t they deploy via infiltrate with night fighting rules when shooting at them? OR why not allow the +1 to reserve rolls be used even if they aren’t on the board? Sigh…

- Carnifex’s and zany point values for some MC’s. Carnifex’s where the unit that was hit hardest by the nerf bat. A basic fex with no guns costs 160pts and he has a WS of 3, T6, 4W and a 3+ save…that CAN’T be upgraded. To give him the single cheapest gun will bring him to 175pts. I will be one of the first to admit that in 4th ed they were WAY under costed, but the pendulum has swung the complete opposite direction. A “Dakka Fex” in the old book cost 113pts (it has 2 twin linked MC devourers). With Virtually the exact same stats and weapons (only difference is he has 4 base attacks instead of just 2) he costs 190pts. So a cost increase of 77pts…crazy. Another amazing thing is this guy only has a WS of 3 (and it can’t be improved). Why? It makes no sense to me that a “living engine of destruction” would have such a low WS. What makes them so bad is when you compare them to say…a Trygon. Trygon’s have +2 WS, -3 Str, +2W, +3 Init, +2A and +1LD and they come with an Assault 6, Str 5 gun, Safe Deep Strike and FLEET for only 40pts more. What? Seriously? Another screwy thing is the Hive Tyrant. They are more than double their old base cost and have no option for an invuln save. They are one of only 2 MC’s in the entire codex to be able to get a 2+ save and that option alone costs them 40pts. So to have a Hive Tyrant with just hand to hand combat weapons it costs you 210pts. In fact, this is the only codex in production where no HQ have an invuln save.

- Synapse. Everything that is out of Synapse range has to make an instinctive behavior check (which is a LD check). This list includes: Carnifexs, Trygons, Mawlochs, Tyrannofexs, Biovores, Gargoyles, Harpies, Raveners, Lictors, Hive Guard, Venomthropes, Gaunts, Rippers (who eat themselves when they fail) and Pyrovores. Everything there has a LD of 6-8 except the Lictors and Harpies. Sooo…if you have a Ranged Carnfiex and he fails his LD 7 check (which is almost 50% of the time) instead of shooting he will run full bore at the enemy. Basically everything has to be baby sat. Also, in the old book if you failed a break test outside of synapse your units would run to the closest Synapse…now they run to the board edge. One little thing that kind of bugs me is they didn’t add any special rules with synapse…just fearless. I would of liked to have seen it do something interesting for the army other than being a weakness.

- The Ranged Weapon list. There are something like 26 ranged weapons and virtually all have a range from 6’-24”, a Str from 4-6 and an Ap of 5-6. There are so many redundant entries it blows the mind. The 4th ed book that has 7 entries has just as much variation as this book with 26+ entries. Another thing is random point costs for weapons. On a Tyrant or a Fex for 15pts you can get either A) twin linked Str 5, Ap 5, Assault 3 gun or B) twin linked Str 6, Ap -, Assault 6 and units that take break tests do so at -1 LD (both have the same range). This makes NO sense.

- Hormagaunts. Probably the unit from the old Codex that I was hoping would get fixed the most, and they are still pure trash. The old book they were over costed by about 4 pts for what they did (not upgraded they were 10pts), so when I heard that they were going down to 6pts in the new book I was excited and I started building more for my army. Then I read that they lost leaping (12” charge and everyone within 3” gets to attack), are now WS 3 instead of 4 and they also lost any ability of getting frag grenades. While those don’t look like huge losses trust me they are. I found out in my last game that with a unit of 20 I will typically get less than half of that unit in combat on the turn they charge. One nice thing they did get is super fleet (i.e. roll 3d6 and pick the best). Like many entries in this book there are ones that are cheaper and do a WAY better job. Gargoyles for instance. For 8pts I can get a Hormagaunt with toxin sacs (i.e. poison attacks). For the same points I can get a Gargoyle that flies 12”, has a bolt pistol, has a special poison attack (auto wound when you roll a 6 to hit), toxin sacs and furious charge. There just is no comparison.

- Lack of Frag Grenades. There are 2 entries (maybe 3) that can get them. Lictors and Carnifexs (and he is Init who cares lol)…that’s it. So all of the books dedicated, high initiative hand to hand combat troops can’t get them…which makes no sense.

There are a lot of other inconstancies in the book, but I think you get the idea. As I said at the start of this review I think the book will still be fun, but I also think that it is nowhere near close to the other 5th ed books, especially Guard, Space Wolves and Orks. Maybe some of my thoughts on certain “issues” will change after I do a tourney or two, who knows.

If you are just starting Tyranids then this will be a great book. If, like me, you already have a Tyranid army, then you will find yourself spending many a night ripping arms off of your dudes and putting new ones on as all the weapons have changed, which is frustrating (imagine the outrage if this happened to the Marine Codex :P ).

My official review would be a 5/10


eriochrome said...

Looks like you have a lot of the same opinions I do from my similar post.

Really hate the new lichtor rules, I have 2 of them but only 1 as a deathleaper is likely to ever see the board. I hate being force to use unique characters all the time.

Unknown said...

Great summary of the codex. You definitely hit the nail on the head.