Saturday, February 26, 2011

Part 2: Reserve Bomb Tacitca!

Any Tyranid players out there sick and tired of just setting their army up on their side of the board, marching across the field for 3-4 turns, getting shot to pieces and having a small amount of their force to try and catch up in the final turns of the game? Yeah, me too, and that is what led me to playing in this way. In my personal opinion this is by far the most competitive way to play Tyranids with the 5th ed Codex and it’s also one of the most fun. It is so much fun to finally be dictating the games on YOUR terms. So, without further adieu let’s get to it!

The first thing I want to get into is what you will need in order to play this type of army. Certain units, even ones you would normally think are crap, fit very well into this play style. Anything that can come in via deep strike, outflank or unique deployment are perfect. Here is a quick list of units that are ideal for this army:

- Flying Hive Tyrant (this is the only one that is a MUST). Note: he MUST have Hive Commander.
- Ymgarl Stealers (this is the other that I would have to say is virtually an “auto include”)
- Zoanthropes in a pod
- Lictors/Deathleaper
- Hive Guard
- Doom of Malantai in a pod
- Tervigon (only as troops so you can outflank with Hive Commander)
- Termagants (regular)
- Termagants w/ Devourers in a pod
- Hormagaunts (only if outflanked due to Hive Commander, if not use gargoyles instead)
- Genestealers
Fast Attack
- Raveners
- Gargoyles
- Shrikes
Heavy Support
- Mawloc
- Carnifex in a pod (specifically a dakka fex or a screamer killer)

Now, there are a bunch of units on that list that seem fairly “suspect” and I would typically avoid like the plague (specifically the lictors) but they actually work well in this list. Now that I have listed them I am just going to do a quick rundown on how they should be used.

Hive Tyrant: The main thing this guy is used for is Hive Commander (the +1 to reserve rolls) and Paroxysm. What I normally do is land him beside those pesky long fang/dev squads and paroxysm the crap out of them, greatly crippling their ability to return fire (i.e. they are only hitting on 6’s). If he actually lives past getting your army on the board then that is a bonus. Due to the nature of this army I typically only arm him with dual scything talons, wings and his two psychic powers. He comes in at 255pts (so super cheap for a flying tyrant). You could also make him a Dakka Tyrant which would be equally good.

Ymgarls: I am rapidly finding out that this is one of the best units in the book, hands down. The reason this unit is so important to this type of army is their ability to act normally the turn they come in (i.e. get into assault). Because of that they really are the ultimate boogeyman in an army of boogeymen. The best targets for these guys are similar to the Hive Tyrants: Devastator/Long Fang Squads, or anything that is not in a transport (IG blob squads are amazing targets). Charging the squad you paroxysm is by far the dirtiest way to use these guys. A friend of mine paroxysm’d a squad of 30 ork boyz, then charged them with 10 Ymgarls and chose “+1 Toughness” for the first turn. That means the orks hit him on a “5+” then wounded him on a “6+”, so it didn’t even matter if he was charging into cover. Needless to say by the time it came back around to his turn, the “boyz” were gone.

Lictors/Deathleaper: This is one isn’t one of the strongest choices you can take, but does actually have its benefits. Since your entire army is coming into the game via reserves you actually get around the single largest weakness for Lictors, and that’s getting shot to crap the turn they show up since they can’t do anything for a turn. Their ability to be placed anywhere they like is quite good. I would place them near stuff where the enemy has to deal with they (ALWAYS in cover btw). What this does is draw attention from the stuff in your army that actually matters. I personally would always just take a Deathleaper instead of lictors because he is just better in every way and has some extra use against psykers, but you will use him in the exact same way.

Hive Guard: Ah, so you noticed I put in hive guard. They are just one of those units where there really isn’t any reason why you WOULDN’T take it. They still fit into the over scheme of this army, and that is “come from all sides” which can include your own table edge. Another great thing is you can actually USE your Trygon tunnel every once in a while. The Hive Guard is the single best unit to use through that as you pop up behind enemy lines and throw tonnes of Str 8 shots into their rear armor. If that doesn’t work out you have a 30” range the turn you come in, which should put you in range most of the time. Another option since you don’t need LOS is to just start them on the board and hose transports turn one.

Zoanthropes/Doom: Basically the Zoan’s tactics don’t change at all. Just land them near those land raiders/leman russes/transports. Same goes for Doom, landing it near as many units as possible, especially if they are out in the open.

Mycetic Spore Pod: As I mentioned in previous articles, it’s a complete waste of points putting guns on these guys. Just land it as close to units/transports as possible and lets its “ripper tentacles” do their thing. The point of these isn’t to do damage but get units you want “stuck in””stuck in”.

Tervigon: Basically same goes for this as the Hive Guard. They are just so stupidly good why WOULDN’T you take it? Two ways to use him would to be either set him up out of Line of Sight (if you can) or outflank him with hive commander if you have nowhere to hide him. In this type of army I ONLY give him Catalyst as you typically won’t have enough Termagants to make Toxin Sacs worthwhile.

Termagants (Basic): These set up in your own deployment zone to camp an objective, hopefully out of LOS, but not a big deal. Other than screening your Tervigon/other creatures there isn’t much other use for them. In this type of list I only take them in units of 10 and the only reason to have them is to make my Tervigon scoring.

Termagants (Devourers): A unit of 20 of them in a pod costs 240pts and it is worth every penny. The turn they land they put out 60 (yes 60) str 4 shots at 18” range. They just bring serious hurt. Due to my play style I reserve them for larger games.

Hormagaunts: As I said in the unit list if you aren’t outflanking them with Hive Commander don’t bother taking them.

Genestealers: This unit is made for this army. You can either infiltrate if there are obvious places to put them out of LOS or just outflank these suckers. As far as setting up these units I normally take them in blocks of 8-9 (8 stealers with a broodlord for example) and they all have toxin sacs. It comes in around 200pts and is just amazing.

Raveners: Believe it or not I try to include these guys in all my reserve lists. It is the only time I will actually deep strike them as nobody shoots at them…ever. In my experience everyone is just so focused on your Tyrant and Trygons to bother with the mini Trygons (aka raveners) hiding in the corner. The nice thing with these guys is they are so damn fast you don’t need to deep strike them anywhere near the enemy, which also helps people not shoot at them. You and I know that they have a min charge range of 19” and a max of 24” so they are one of the nastier things in your arsenal.

Gargoyles: Mainly used as a Hive Tyrant Screen. I always deep strike them in between my Hive Tyrant and the rest of my opponent’s army. They are also just a great, cheap unit with great speed once they can start acting like normal.

Shrikes: Shrikes work very well in this list like most things and that is 100% due to target saturation overload. Just throw boneswords, lashwhips, toxin sacs, scything talons (or devourers, 100% personal preference as they are both free) and you are good.

Trygon: Made for this army. Gets safe deep strike for free and has a built in shooting attack that can harm the rear armor the turn he comes in. With these guys you just get super aggressive and watch everyone try to shoot him while everything else in your army remains untouched (which is fine). There really isn’t much more I can say other then take 2…or 3. This typically is the type of list where "Priming" at least one of your Trygons is really helpful. It gives you some more shots the turn you come in to put on the back armor of tanks and it gives you that much needed synapse in the backfield.

Mawloc: The nice thing about Mawlocs is starting them on the board turn one and burrowing them at the start of your turn. Gives you a unit that comes in the following turn that you don’t have to roll for and it completely messes up parking lots and is a wonderful distraction. One thing to keep in mind though, is if you have the points/model ALWAYS take a second Trygon instead of one of these guys. Trygons are just flat out better in every way and after about 50 games using Mawlocs I am now starting to convert them over to become Trygons instead.

Carnifex in a pod: It’s just another unit to saturate your opponent with Target Priority. I personally would only do 2 different set ups for this guy. Either A) Dakka Fex (i.e. 2 MC Devs) or B) Screamer Killer (2 sets of scything talons and bio plasma). Keep them cheap and effective, don’t overload them with useless upgrades (well, this goes for ALL Nid MCs). The only thing that you really need to keep in mind for this unit though is it performs the exact same function as a Trygon, costs more and is 2 kill points instead of 1. That last point in particular makes me almost always go Trygon instead of Carnifexs for this list.

Phew! That was a lot more writing then I was expecting lol. As you can see everything in that list has a special way to enter in from reserves and allows you to fight the enemy on YOUR terms. Another thing that is super fun about it is almost everything is fast. Lots of things with wings, fleet or beasts which gives you that much more flexibility.

Now that we have our Unit list we need to know how to get the most out of it. Here are some very important tips on how to get the most out of this army.

The most important thing when playing All Reserve Nids is making sure you go second. It’s normally fairly easy since most people want to go first, especially if they see you are playing nids (they figure they will just shoot you up for 3 turns while you flail all over the board). The two main reasons for wanting to second are A) You get to see your opponent set up their army and they have to commit to it (i.e. if they have podding dreadnoughts and declare that they are podding in they HAVE to stick with it) and B) They lose 2 turns of shooting at you. You basically take them from shooting you 5 turns in a row down to 3, while you get 4 turns. It is a HUGE advantage. Going first isn’t an auto lose either; it just makes it bit tougher that’s all. Most players don’t know what to do when you set up NOTHING and say “I am done setting up, your go”. It honestly flusters even the best players, which is one of the main reasons this list works so well. I have seen people make serious errors in both deployment and what they will actually shoot at just because everything is coming in from reserve.

Overload one flank. This is important for many reasons. As most Nid players know the only way you reliably win games is by using the synergy of your force, and this tactic really plays on that. Also, depending on the terrain is set up, and how spread out your opponent is, you can greatly cut down on their firing lanes limiting the damage you take on that first turn. They have one turn to assess what is coming at them and deal with it. That’s it…1 turn! If they make mistakes you are there to feast on their delicious meat bodies of baloney meat.

Target Saturation. One of the two real strengths with this list is how much you overload enemies with things to shoot at that are in their face. Most of the units listed above are all very deadly so most of the time they will end up shooting one thing and the 5 others they ignore will cream them the next turn. It’s why units like Lictors and Raveners work well in this list. Both units CAN do well if they are allowed to run a-muk, which 9 times out of 10 will happen. The main job YOU have as the Nid player though is assessing the units that will ruin your day on the turn you come in. It is the main reason why I have so many units dedicated to taking out the enemy anti tank (paroxysm/ymgarls/etc.). If you can neuter much of their anti tank, they can’t deal with your MCs and your next turn they are toast. You want to stun as many vehicles as possible with shooting (like your Trygons shooting attack, devourers, etc.) which means the units inside can’t shoot either. If they get out to shoot you then your opponent has done half the work for you. It is another reason why I love overloading the weak flank is it makes your job of picking the right targets easier as you reduce the stuff you NEED to deal with.

Here is a sample list that I am currently running with great success:

Hive Tyrant – Wings, 2 Sets of Scything Talons, Paroxysm, Leech Essence, Hive Commander

Ymgarls (10)
Zoanthropes (3) – Mycetic Spore

Tervigon – Cluster Spines, Catalyst
Termagants (10)
Genestealers (10) – Toxin Sacs,

Heavy Support


As you can everything can deep strike or outflank minus the 50pts of termagants (which don’t need to). I have many units that are functional the turn the arrive and almost everything fills a “niche” in the army.

Well, there you have it! Give the army a try and if anyone has any questions please feel free to post it in the comments section. I will try to finish off the last two army types, “Mid-zilla” and “Horde” at some point in the near future.

- Ghoulio


Chaosheade said...

Nice analysis on all the options for a null deployment list. Just one concern. How does the hive guard work out with instinctive behaviour when it's going to be isolated from the rest of the army?

Ghoulio said...

@Chaosheade: You are right in regards to the Hive Guard. There is a pretty good chance this will happen.

Personally, just the way the games have gone so far I haven't had an issue with it. My biggest problem would be figuring out what I could take instead for those 100pts. For me I find that one of my biggest issues is nothing in the book can come close to giving you that type of "bang for your buck" as the hive guard for their points cost. After reading your comment I have been trying to think what else I could put in there but for the life of me I can't think of anything lol. Thanks for the comments btw :)

Chaosheade said...

@Ghoulio: As a prospective new Tyranid player, I'm more than happy to see these types of blog posts and discussion on null deployment armies. I say prospective, but I'm 100% certain that nids will be my second army... as soon as I can scrounge up the funding for them ^^; and I really like the null deployment style army. Eventually I will probably make a standard deployment Tyranid army as well but I'm starting with the fun one.

I'm glad the Hive Guard works for you even with the risk of lurking on your table edge the whole game. I decided against them largely because I'm trying to avoid as many expensive metal models as possible. I also want to use ymargls, zoanthropes, deathleaper, and doom of malantai because they just look like they would be fun. I don't personally have room in my list for hive guard.

One thing I love about the nid dex is that we have so many choices for this type of list. Looking at the sample list at the end of your post, you have a few options for hive guard replacements. Not saying you should do any of these, just pointing out options. The 100 pt hive guard by itself won't get you much by itself, but if you also drop the prime upgrade from one of the trygons that makes 140, or 150 if you also drop adrenal. That could upgrade your gants to a larger group of devgaunts in a pod or deathleaper/doom of malantai, or you could even try out some spore mines to mess with your opponent's deployment and force him to make bad decisions. Eight genestealers with toxin comes in at 136 so that's an option too. There are so many different options for us in a null deployment list that it's hard (at least for me) to decide exactly what to take and what not to take.

Milk_Jester said...

Hi Ghoulio,

I think this list looks great. What would you drop to make it a 1500 list? Which parts of the list are most necessary to make sure it still works?

Ghoulio said...

@ Milk_Jester: The army actually scales really well down to 1500pts (which is by far my fav points level). The two most important units to make this army work are:

1) Flying Hive Tyrant w/ Hive Commander
2) Ymgarls

Everything else is 100% personal preference. Here is what my 1500pts list looks like:

Flying Hive Tyrant w/ Hive Commander

Zoanthropes (3) - Pod
Ymgarls (10)

Tervigon - Cluster Spines, Catalyst
Termagants (10)
Genestealers (10) - Toxin Sacs

Heavy Support

Comes to 1500pts on the dot. It's not really big on numbers but everything other then the termagants has serious killing power. Just make sure you overload one side (good way of doing it is roll for the outflanking of the Stealers first, then bring everything out on that side). With 2 Trygons and a Hive Tyrant paroxysm-ing one side and cutting down on angles/ranges it is really hard to deal with :)

Milk_Jester said...

Awesome! Cheers for the help. This looks like a really fun list. I'm looking forward to giving it a go. Thanks for taking the time to reply.

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Ghoulio said...

@ chiropractic marketing:

Just gonna throw this out there...I have NO idea what you said just then. The entire thing almost seems like you were using an English translator or something. If you have any real questions please let me know.

Travis said...

Hey Ghoulio,

First off, thanks for these articles. As someone new to the game and choosing Nids to start with, you've given me an incredible amount of useful information to work off of.

A couple things:

1) in the comments, it asks about bringing the list down to 1500 points, but the list you give after the article is already at 1500. Did I miss something?

2) You talk about on of the main ways of being successful with this list and strategy is to know what will ruin your day. If the list of those things isn't extensive, could you list what those might be? If it is a longer list, how bout some general types of things to make sure you remove?

I'm sure I won't know everything on the list, but it'd be nice to have an idea as I start playing of the things to be afraid of/concerned with.

3) A tad off topic - Since I'm a total newbie, how would you suggest going about getting the majority of a new army? I'm thinking looking for a nice sized lot on ebay is the way to go, but am open to suggestions.

Thanks again for the tips & Advice!


Ghoulio said...


Thanks for the comments! To answer your questions:

1) When I originally wrote the article I had the list at 2000pts. I have since then edited the article bringing it down to 1500pts

2) When I say things that will ruin your day I am more talking in generalities. I am referring to heavy firepower units like devastators/long fangs, IG heavy weapon squads, DE blaster trunborn, etc. Basically anything that can drop your MCs super fast. If you can weather that first round of shooting with some strategic strikes (like paroxysming the devastators/long fangs or stunning battle tanks etc.) then your are golden.

3) If you are just getting into the hobby and dont mind what condition your models are in I would probably just do Ebay. Since the 5th ed Codex has been out for a couple years and each codex released since it has knocked it down the power totem pole (easily the least powerful codex in 5th ed...also less powerful then some of the 4th ed books like Orks). If you DO care what condition your models are in there are tonnes of discount online retailers that sell GW product for 20%-30% off.

Anyways, I hope that helps! If you have any other questions feel free to ask :)