So, after reading through the book, checking out articles online and doing some thinking at work (as it is just soooo slow) I have been trying to figure out how to adapt Tyranids to 6th edition. Here are some of the initial ideas/thoughts I have both on how the army will fare and ways to help adapt to the up-coming environment. With my “First Impressions” article I talked a bit about stuff that I thought was good, rule wise, for the edition and stuff that I thought was not so good. Now I want to talk about how those rules will really affect Tyranids and what the big changes will really mean for this army, both Improvements and Challenges.
Improvements: There are a handful of big improvements this army will see in this edition, here are just a few that I have been thinking about:
Monstrous Creatures: Of all the rules for this edition the biggest benefactor has to be our Monstrous Creatures. Why is that you ask? Well, let me tell you!
Terrain: With the new Terrain rules all you need to get a cover save is 25% coverage instead of 50% which is HUGE. Trygons and Mawlocs might occasionally struggle but the medium sized MCs like Carnifexs and Hive Tyrants should have no issue with this. It should be very easy to be able to use units of Gaunts as screening units again (especially Hormagaunts and Gargoyles). Another nice change is that if a unit is in Area Terrain (regardless of what it is) then the 25% rule is overridden so ANYTHING can get a cover save! That is huge in my opinion. Another thing to consider too is that Mawlocs just got better since most terrain is a 5+ and only models, not units, that are in Terrain will benefit from the cover saves, so their attacks should be a lot more effective.
Vehicles: There are two very specific changes that tie into this. First is the inclusion of Hull Points. While it makes locking an army down and limiting the return fire on their vehicles much tougher, it does mean that on a whole our anti tank is much more effective. Guns like Venom Cannons, Heavy Venom Cannons, Brain Leech Devourers, etc which used to do nothing but stun vehicles can now be used to strip off Hull Points. I mean, don’t get me wrong, I am not saying take a Venom Cannon (either) as they are still some of the worst guns in the game. All I am saying is they actually can be slightly useful instead of 100% useless lol. The second part is that the worst you will ever need to hit a Vehicle in close combat is a 3+. That is HUGE and has much more far reaching implications to this army past MCs (makes adrenal sacs on smaller critters almost a must). You combine that with the Smash ability (reduce attacks in half and double the MCs strength and re-roll armor pen rolls) and you are primed to wreck face.
Feel No Pain: This one is a give and take change. The give is that you lose the 4+ after you take a wound and now are on a 5+. The take is that it will now work with EVERYTHING so you always get it. I think the net gain is well worth losing out on 4+ as it now gives us some form of save in close combat and shooting (a 5+ cover save followed by a 5+ FNP gives us just over a 50% chance to ignore damage from any shooting source vs. the 0% of last edition).
Close Combat Weapons Gaining AP Values: Another huge thing is ALL MCs (including Madam Tervigon) now have AP2 in hand to hand which got very rare in this edition. Almost nothing in the game other then Power Fists and the like have better then AP3. You also gain +1 on the damage chart which is also great.
Armored Shell: This ties in with the previous point and that is how few weapons have AP2 or lower. You combined Armored Shell and FNP and you will have a Tyrant that is VERY durable in Close Combat. In my mind I think Armored Shell is a mandatory upgrade for a walking Hive Tyrant.
Fear: This will only affect a very small number of armies as Space Marines ignore it. Basically any army in close combat now has to make a leadership test before attacking or have their WS reduced to 1.
Hammer of Wrath: Whenever one of our MCs charges into close combat they get a free Initiative 10 attack at their base strength but with AP “-“. Not a game changer but still a nice buff. Will be amazing for Carnifexs charging Dreadnoughts though as each one will get a free str 9 hit before combat starts.
Pyschic Powers: This is where Tyranids are officially the undisputed Kings of 40k. Each and every psychic Tyranid (so, Tyrants, Swarmlords, Tervigons, Zoans, Broodlords and the DOOM!) can now either keep their current powers (boo!...well, except Doom and maybe the Zoans) and change them out 1 for 1 for the new powers (yeah!). There are two parts to this.
So many Psykers!: As I mentioned before virtually all armies in the game can get 1, maybe 2 psykers. Nids on the other hand get can 10+ with ease in 1500pts. There are so many possibilities on how it can change the makeup and effectiveness of your army. Things like casting Iron Arm from the Biomancy deck on your Hive Tyrant to increase his strength and toughness up D3 points (so you could get a Tyrant with Strength AND Toughness of 9! Lol) or casting Enfeeble on a unit you will be assaulting that turn with your Genestealers reducing their strength and toughness by 1. You can also take over enemy units in your shooting phase with Telepathy and use it against their own army. Another one to consider is how much better Doom has gotten with this edition due to greatly reduced effectiveness of Cover (most things only offer a 5+ cover and you only get cover for the models physically IN cover) and the push away from Vehicles. You combine those two last points and how all reserves come in on a 3+ (2+ with Hive Commander…what?!?!? lol) you can really get him in the middle of a bunch of units and do some serious damage. The only real down side to things is that most of the new psychic powers have a handful of shooting attacks and as you know the Broodlord has a BS of 0. So hopefully it will get FAQ’d that if you can’t use the power then you can re-roll. I mean, it KIND of says that since if a power requires more Warp Charges then you have you must re-roll it so one would guess that it would extend to powers the Psyker couldn’t use.
So Much Defense!: Nids went from having one of the worst Psychic Defenses in the game, although it did get marginally better with the last FAQ, to the second best. Part of the reason why it wasn’t great was most powers had a range of 24” and our Defense was 12” so often Shadow did nothing. Now Shadow in the Warp works the same as it did before and Psychic Hoods took a massive beat down. Psychic Hoods turn your “Deny The Witch” roll from a 6+ to a 4+ to any unit being effected by a power within 6”. So it seems the only armies that can deny our buffing powers since they don’t effect enemy units are Space Wolves (nothing in the FAQ mentions Runic Weapons working like Psychic Hoods…although we can hope that changes lol) and Eldar Farseers with Runes of Warding (the undisputed Kings of Psychic Defense). That is a huge buff. The other reason why our Psychic Defense got a major boost is that we still get our Deny The Witch roll after someone passes their Shadow in the Warp Roll. You combine that with the fact that any unit that has a Psyker in it will now get +1 to that roll so all our psykers and their units deny the witch on a 5+.
No More No Retreat Wounds: This one is a giant boost for this army. There are a bunch of reasons for it. First is you can actually hold units up with units of Termagants, Hormagaunts and Gargoyles until the big heavy hitters get there as they can actually Tar Pit like a boss. The second thing is that multi charges (two units charging one target) are now a great and very viable tactic. Throwing in a meat shield type unit to help support a Trygon or Hive Tyrant will be great and something that was VERY missed in 5th ed as this tactic normally led to both units being obliterated due to fearless wounds. Another great use for this would be sending in the small unit first to tie up the power fist and absorb the overwatch fire, then send in the MC on the other side to attack with impunity. I am really excited for this change.
Miscellaneous: There are lots of little miscellaneous changes that are nice buffs as well
Toxin Sacs: The change to Poison is what it should have been for this book all along. Basically now you use either the 4+ to wound - OR- what you would normally wound at due to high strength and then re-roll wounds at that value if your strength is equal two or higher than the target’s toughness. So now it makes total sense to throw Toxin Sacs on a Monstrous Creature as most wound everything on a 2+ with a re-roll. Trygons now need a 3+, re-rolling missed hits and then a 2+ to wound, re-rolling failed wounds on most things in the game. This for me is now the go to upgrade for MCs over Adrenal Glands as there isn’t much point in taking Adrenal Glands anymore (it lost its +1 init and you can just switch out half your attacks for str 10…so the strength boost isn’t needed).
Flying Monstrous Creatures: For the most part these are “so-so”. They do have some great benefits for sure, specifically the movement, which will be the primary use for me to get my tyrant in range of the enemy. I find the damage reduction for being a Flyer is mitigated due to the fact that every time you are HIT you have to roll a 3+ on a D6 or you crash to the ground, losing your benefits and then taking a str 9 wound with no armor save. One thing that changed a lot is that the Harpy is now a very viable option. Just arm it with a Stranglethorn Cannon and cluster spines due to the massive shift away from Mech and you are golden. Now you can fly over a unit, drop d3 spore mines, vector strike a second unit then shoot a third unit with both guns. You can put out massive damage and it will really surprise people.
Venomthropes: I am thinking that Venomthropes are starting to look really good in this edition, much more so then last. The reason I say this is with the new cover rules only MODELS, not units that are in terrain gain the benefit. The great thing about Venomthropes is that even one model from a unit is in range of the aura the whole unit counts as being in cover, which is huge. Another neat thing to consider is that since it also grants defensive grenades anything shooting a unit in the Venomthrope aura within 8” of the unit being shot at now receives “Stealth” so their cover will be 4+. Also, Night Fight is much more prevalent in this edition and when you combined the Stealth Rules from Night Fighting and the Venomthrope aura you get one of the toughest and most mobile foot armies in the game. The only real issue is keeping them alive long enough for it to matter so stocking up on Tyranid Primes and big MCs like Tervigons to block LOS will be key as well as presenting threats in your enemies face.
Challenges: As with any change over in rules certain things get pumped up in power while others will see a decrease and 6th ed is no different. Here is a small list of different aspects of the game that I think will prove to be challenges for the 5th ed Nid Codex going forward:
Improved Shooting Phase: The fact that Rapid Fire weapons are much improved and that the game will focus more on anti infantry firepower which will make it harder to get across the board in one piece. This one was going to happen whether we liked it or not. All it means is you have to change your mind set on how you make army lists and shifting it to an army building style that increases your armies ability to weather the storm to get to where they need to go. For example I am going to start taking units of 20+ Termagants instead of minimum of 10 just to get my Tervigons as troops. This will really help with getting cover saves for the rest of my army and is such a small investment (just an extra 50 points per squad) there really is no reason not to.
Wound Allocation: Not going to go into too much depth as I already talked about it a bunch on Sunday. The two things I did want to touch on is main effect that this new system will have on the Tyranid army is to just delay when your units of small bugs can assault by a turn or two. The other big factor that adds to the increased difficulty of getting into hand to hand combat is the change to “Fleet”. What I mean is the average charge range of “Fleet” models has been reduced by 2” (6” move+d6” fleet+6” assault vs. 6” move + 2d6” assault). Not massive changes but big enough that I think we will notice it in game.
Anti Air: Basically the book as no options at all for AA. Vector Strikes are really bad with this since the highest strength you can achieve is str 5 or 6, both of which won’t do a lot vs. most flyers as many of them have a side armor of AV 11 or 12. We also don’t have access to a single model with Skyfire, which is a bummer. So the only real options we have are twin linked Brainleech devourer and units of 3 hive guard as they ignore “jink” saves and can actually blow them up. The Brainleech Devourers, on average, will get 3-4 hits per monstrous creature (12 shots, 2 hits first volley, 1-2 hits from re-rolls). Against Xenos Flyers its fine…but Imperial ones it’s not great as you will need 6s to hit then glance. The other thought I had was…does it really matter? Most flyers in the game are expensive, can’t score/contest and carry anti tank weapons. With the changes to cover and feel no pain those AT weapons won’t be nearly as effective against our Monstrous Creatures as they have been in the past. The only real threats I see are the Dark Eldar Flyers and Storm Ravens. The Dark Eldar flyers don’t really matter much as DE just smash our face in anyways lol. Storm Ravens can be troublesome just because of the units they transport. The good thing about Storm Ravens though is they have to slow down to let their cargo out so it at least gives you a full round to assault/shoot them if you really need.
Changes to Reserves: When initially looking at the rules one would think it would be a huge boost to my play style as I love reserve Tyranid Lists. Then you start digging deeper and realize that there are a lot of issues, potentially crippling ones in fact. First off is you can only reserve up to half your army. Why? That makes no sense and unfairly penalizes players going second. The second is you can’t assault out of Reserve. This one really hurts as you can’t assault the turn you arrive from Outlfank. The unit that is affected the most though is Ymgarls. If they can’t assault when they become active then there is zero reason to take them and they might as well be removed from the codex. I personally am of the mindset that they are fine simply because they have their own specific rule like heroic intervention. I mean, even this isn’t a big deal because of how many benefits you will get since if you take Hive Commander all your reserves are coming in on a 2+. So your deepstriking units get a huge buff as they will be way more reliable.
When looking at the changes to 6th ed the armies that look the most viable are Hybrid Reserve lists with distraction units that help tie up enemy units to allow your army to get across the board and what I call “Psychic Monstrosity” armies that focus on getting as many Psykers as possible into an army. I think that second option will be the main one I will be trying out as its new and it looks super fun. I gotta say that when I first read the rumors/initial reports for 6th ed my thoughts were filled with doom and gloom and how Tyranids just took it in the face with Nerfs. Now that I have actually had a chance to sit down and read the rules myself and get ideas reading other articles it feels that this book still has a lot of potential which is exciting. I will be playing my first game next week (doing a psyker heavy list) and I will post a battle report to show how the game went.
If there is anything that I haven’t covered, or that you would like to see me cover, please feel free to let me know in the comments section.