Competitive 40k tactics and Battle Reports with the Tyranid Codex

Saturday, January 25, 2014

Hope is a good thing

Here comes a little piece about the Tyranid Codex, and everyone's perception of it. Two weeks ago, the majority of us picked up our copy for the first time, and every rumor we had heard became a fact, or became false. And then came the crying. Actually that started a few days earlier, but many people insisted that we should wait until we held it. And when we picked up the book, there was a collective sigh. I like going on the various 40k forums, but I don't like all of the negativity that seems to be pervasive over the Internet. However, among all that negativity, there is something much, much more productive. Hope.

In all of the forums and sub-forums, there are topics springing up on Tyranids. They're a popular army, who just got a release, so this is natural. But there are more than usual as people try to figure out exactly how they're going to win with this codex. And mark my words, they will find a way. No codex this edition has fallen completely flat, without a single build a player can win with. Even Dark Angels can put a bike-army together that will do well against most armies. 

What do I think of this codex? I would compare it the most to Daemons. This book has changed the army fundamentally, because the 6th edition rules took the army well away from where it was supposed to be. Do you remember how bad Daemons were when they came out? No one knew what they were doing, and a lot of games were lost because people saw Flesh hounds as the only good unit in the book. However, the Tyranid book is far less random than Daemons. There will be no good roll to make a unit virtually unkillable, and there will be no single roll that causes half of the army to disappear. The most important part of all that? The army has changed fundamentally. There are new ways to play the army now that must be addressed, because many players are living in the past. And if you dare to hope that the book can be good, try not to be discouraged by those vocal members who dislike the book.

Like Daemons, the army must now be played differently. Units that got worse may still not be bad. Units that didn't change at all may have gotten better. A realistic and objective point of view is the best thing that you can take into list-building with Tyranids. Again, look at Daemons. Pink Horrors were initially considered to have gotten worse from the last codex, and are still the most commonly seen troops choice. Tyranids play differently. The Tyranid army was not designed to be focused on Monstrous creatures spamming Psychic powers, that was a result of the edition switch. Look at how the army plays now! Instinctive Behavior is crippling, so Synapse is important. Units are cheaper, so there are more, so more synapse is needed. Units are just as tough (minus Biomancy) but in greater numbers, you can ensure that some reach your opponent.

The Tyranid codex is now designed to revolve around Synapse, and those units that can give it. The synapse units and our Monstrous creatures have been broken into separate units now, instead of the Tervigon, which was a crutch. Now we have MCs that will be tough by their own merits, or cheap enough to bring multiples. Tyranids will not have the highest toughness MC on the board, nor the best save. But, they can easily have the most Monstrous Creatures, and that can be even better. 

Let's look at the Warrior for a second. They suck. Last edition they were bad, and now they haven't changed, so that's an easy answer, right? 
Tyranid Warriors are a T4 multi-wound unit. Getting an equal wound total in Space Marine scouts is more expensive, isn't fearless and doesn't buff the army... Warriors have Synapse, which is all-important with Tervigons no longer being the master of backfield support. They get killed by Strength 8? Who really has strength 8 now? Your usual Tau army has Fusion blasters, 12" range that shouldn't get near you, and the Riptides blast weapon. If your opponent can afford to shoot your Warriors, put a Monstrous Creature in his face. Even then, he can scatter, roll a 1 to wound, or if you have cover then it gets a lot trickier for him to kill that unit. Plus, 3 models are easily hid out of Line of Sight. 

The Tyranid army is not exclusively bad units. Do we have duds like rippers? Yeah. But there are also units like Howling Banshees, and yet Eldar are a great army. This army is not perfect, and the book feels rushed. The Eldar book also bothers me as rushed, and again it is a very competitive army. The book is many things beyond the competitive level of its army, so judge the quality of the army separately from the low-quality book. 

Now, look at some "bad" units in a vacuum. The Tervigon is nerfed, and yet still good in my mind. It's role has changed, from an attack dog to a guard dog. In terrain it is a pain to kill, and can reliably grant an 18" bubble of synapse, which is HUGE for the army. It is just as good at scoring as before, and now supports a wider variety of units, so use it for that instead of bull-rushing your opponent. 

As I wrap this up, I'll provide a quick list that to me feels viable, so you have an example. There are plenty of little tricks (like Venomthropes) that I'm sure are common knowledge. So, we must adapt for this. No forge world, no double Force Organization, no Dataslates, here's an 1850 list. Tyranids play differently, but this list has some common units to before to make an easy transition. However, they are used differently because of the army. Tervigons are now a backfield unit that can control the army and score. With lots of wounds and good cover saves many armies will struggle to prevent this army from controlling the middle of the field, as well as the Tyranid half of the board. Control the majority of the board and you can control the majority of the objectives. 

Flyrant, Devourers
Flyrant, Devourers, Hive Commander

30 gants
30 gants, 25 Devourers


2 Biovores


So, try to look on the  bright side and acknowledge that the army has changed. Also, acknowledge that it takes time to change. You won't whip out your 5th edition list, add one new unit and go win a tournament. I've seen plenty of Battle Reports where a player takes his new army and plays it like his old one. Then, they get discouraged and talk about how bad the army is when they lose. There are many ways I can talk about how this codex has improved. The new powers, Flyrants, Biovores, Venomthropes, Dataslates, Fortifications, Tyrannofex, Carnifex, Exocrines, synergy, and much more. But I'm only one person, and I want to see what the community can do if it takes an honest, unbiased, new, fresh, and clean look at the new book without mourning the old, so I want to see your thoughts. If at first you don't succeed, try again. But don't just try the same, thing, adapt. It's what we do. 

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