Tuesday, July 18, 2017

Index Tyranids Overview: Elites

Finally got around to getting this one up. Not as many pics this time, sorry. There are a bunch of them that I don't have, or don't have pics of. Anyhow, here they are. Some pretty good Units in here, but other areas have been strengthened to the point that I don't think Elites are going to be the big limiting factor like they were in 5th.

Tyrant Guard
I touched on these in the Hive Tyrant overview, but there is a bit more to them. When kept basic, they’re significantly cheaper per Wound than a Tyrant, and fairly similar in durability, plus they can now be taken in Broods of up to 6 (almost tripling the effective Wounds of their charge), making them one of the best Bodyguard Units in the Game as far as I can tell. If you’re expecting them to make it into Combat alongside their Tyrant, It’s probably worth upgrading a few of them to Lash Whip/Bone Sword, since it’s cheap, gives them an extra point of AP, and also the ability to Attack even if slain before its chance comes up. Crushing Claws, on the other hand, are very expensive, and on a Model with only 2 Attacks, the -1 to Hit is pretty bad. Adrenal Glands, like the Boneswords, are pretty worthwhile. Possibly even standard, as they have no shooting Attacks, so they’re probably going to be either Advancing or Charging every Turn, and they’ll help to keep up with their Tyrant. Toxin Sacs are fairly meh, not a particularly bad price, but you’re probably going to lose a few of them before they hit Combat, and the low number of Attacks mean it’s unlikely to kick in often.

Hive Guard
A staple of Tyranid Lists during 5th and 6th, Hive Guard fell out of favour when they were nerfed as 7th came out. I’m pretty sure they’re back now, but the changes in how Vehicles work mean they’re not as crucial as they were in 5th. The Impaler Cannon got a nice buff with its increase to 36” Range and 2 Damage, but is one of the few Heavy Weapons Nids have. Not a huge deal, since even taking that into account, they’re better than they were no matter how you look at it. The Shock Cannon is also much improved. I don’t have any of these, but I might have to get some, what with them causing a Mortal Wound in addition to normal damage on a Wound roll of 4+, and d3 on a 6+. They also gained Range, and remained Assault, and the change from a Blast Marker to d3 shots gives rather more chances to roll up those Mortal Wounds.

Not that scary individually, with a damage output about on par with a Stealer costing a quarter of their Points, Lictors still seem to have a lot of potential as extreme MSU. Chameleonic Skin makes them pretty tough to deal with (especially at range if you can keep them in Cover), they’re easily spammable with a Vanguard Detachment, and since they can re-roll their Charges in the Turn they burst from hiding, giving them a better than 50/50 chance of making that Charge. Also good for just sitting on an Objective, since they’re as cheap as Rippers, but substantially more dangerous to many Units that may be sent to run them off.

It’s a pretty sad statement about the previous incarnation of the Tyranid Army that it contained multiple Units that were contenders for Worst Unit in the Game. I’m not sure how great the Maleceptor is now, but it’s certainly far improved from the trash fire it originally was. My initial feel is that its special power might be nice against MSU Lists, especially those reliant on fairly expensive Models like Terminators. The only option is Adrenal Glands, but they’re probably more expensive than they’re really worth here. They would be nice, but it has to pay the higher price since it’s a Monster. On top of that, it is one more Psyker option, and +1 to cast is definitely nice to have.

Basically just Synapse coverage and Smite spammers at this point. Since you can’t take them as singles anymore, they’re kind of an expensive option for what they bring to the table. If you are going to run them, definitely take the Neurothrope, since it’s a free upgrade, and lets the Unit heal itself.

These feel like the first real miss in the Nids so far. Their Shrouding Spores are good, but at only T4 with 5+ Armour, they’re really squishy in addition to being a Force Multiplier, which makes them a prime target. Also, as in their previous version, they suffer from the fact that the Malanthrope is just flat out better. It’s cheaper for the same number of Wounds, it’s a Character under 10 Wounds, it has Synapse, it’s better in almost every conceivable way.

Another that was previously a contender for Worst Unit in the Game. I don’t think Pyrovores are going to be amazing in their current form, but they’re definitely not bad any more. They’re not terribly cheap, but not too expensive either, and they got a couple of inches of extra range on their Flamespurt and more Attacks with their Acid Maw. The real special sauce tho is that because the Flamespurt is an Assault Weapon that automatically hits, they can Advance and fire it at no penalty, giving them a potential 21” threat radius, and their Overwatch is pretty scary, too.

I had been thinking that the Haruspex hadn’t got much of a buff (an inch of movement, better ability to regain Wounds, little stuff like that). Then I re-read the Datasheet again and realized that, like the Tervigon, it got buffed to T8. I totally missed that during the Game I used it in, just played it as T6 out of habit. That goes a long way toward explaining why it’s so expensive. Its Profile doesn’t degrade nearly as much as many as it takes damage, either. Between the Ravening Maw and the Shoveling Claws, it has good options for hitting both numerous lighter Models and single heavy ones. Definitely worth more table time there.

Basically a Lictor+, same as always. It costs as much as two regular Lictors, and only gains 2 Wounds and 1 Attack on the base profile, so it really comes down to whether or not you think the extra Rules are worth the extra Points. A -2 debuff on Enemy Attack Rolls is pretty brutal, as is the ability to pop up within 6” of a nominated Character, and being a Character itself provides an extra potential layer of protection when not operating completely alone. Do be careful when using It’s After Me, tho. The FAQ lets you set up anywhere more than 9” from any Enemy Models if the chosen Character isn’t on the board, but if they’re just surrounded so you can’t get within 6” without being more than 1” away from Enemy Models, as far as I can tell, DeathLeaper just gets destroyed since there’s no legal placement.

The Red Terror
As DeathLeaper is a Lictor+, so is the Red Terror a Ravener+. Or maybe even a Ravener++. The difference is rather more substantial in some ways. The Red Terror is good at two things: with 6 S5 Attacks hitting on 2+ (and 5 of those re-rolling 1s), it’s pretty respectable at chopping through most chaff Units, tho it can’t handle large ones by itself. The real fun is from the Swallow Whole ability (or as I prefer to call it, Feed Me, Seymour! Feed Me Food!) In the highly likely event that it hits with at least 4 of those 5 ScyTal Attacks, it can try to roll against the highest W value in the target Unit. If it equals or beats it, one Model is instantly slain. This seems to me like it would be fantastic against things with good Saves, but relatively low Wounds, like Terminators, or even Primaris Marines. Basically anything with 2-4 Wounds and a 3+ or better Save, you’ve got good odds of doing more damage with the biting.

Previous posts: Armywide Rules - HQ - Troops

Wednesday, July 12, 2017

Index Tyranids Overview: Troops

Hofstadter's Law states that everything takes longer than you expect it to, even after taking Hofstadter's Law into account. That said, here's my look at the Tyranid Troops options:

Tyranid Warriors
While still not restored to their glory days of 4th Ed, Warriors are better than they’ve been since then. Much of the reason for it is due to changes in the Core Rules, rather than any changes in the Warriors themselves. The removal of Instant Death isn’t actually as big of a deal as I might have thought. The real benefit is that Nid MCs are now solidly durable against the kind of mid-level firepower that used to cut them down quickly, and so both the MCs and Warriors need Anti-Tank type Heavy Weapons brought to bear on them to really do damage, making it easier to achieve target overload. The substantial improvement to the Venom Cannon, Barbed Strangler, and DeathSpitter also help significantly, as does their reduction in Points. I can see Warrior Broods once again forming a solid backbone to the Synapse net, probably with DeathSpitters and Rending Claws, plus a “heavy”.
My handwriting is terrible, but I liked the joke enough that I had to show it off

Another classic Unit that looks to be making a comeback thanks to changes in the Core Rules. This time, it’s the removal of Initiative, and the fact that Charging Units get to strike first. For a Unit as fast as Stealers are, that’s pretty doable, especially since Gargoyles are available as a super cheap Charge Screen if needed. Not much to say about them, really. Everyone knows what they’re supposed to do, and now they can actually do it. Note that adding ScyTals is, for the moment, a purely aesthetic decision, as their Rending Claws are better in almost every circumstance. You get what you pay for, in this case.

One of the foundation Units of the Swarm-style Nid list, Termagants remain pretty much the same as always. There are two main changes worth keeping in mind. The first is the change to the Tervigon, which can now replace casualties in Termagant Broods, as long as they were armed with Fleshborers. The second is that when a Termagant Brood has 20 or more Models, they can re-roll Wound rolls of 1 when shooting. This makes me lean toward big, very possibly full-size, Broods, with at least 10 armed with Fleshborers, and many (probably 15-ish) of the rest with Devourers. Unless your Opponent has some ridiculous volume of fire, that should take a while to chew through with a nearby Tervigon reinforcing, and they’ll dish out some pretty scary firepower of their own against anything they can get in range of. Remember that their Weapons are all Assault, so they can fire after Advancing. Makes that range a bit larger than it used to be.

The Termagants’ faster, pointier cousins. They’re definitely better than they have been, but with a higher base cost (and near-mandatory Adrenal Glands) and no access to buffs like those the Termies can get from Tervigons, they seem a bit harder to use as efficiently. At first glance, they also seem like a good candidate for Toxin Sacs, with a good price-to-Hits ratio and re-rolling 1s to Wound when in large numbers, but the need to close in and lack of replacements means that they’re rarely going to hit the enemy lines in sufficient numbers for the re-rolls, and it would probably work out better to just spend the Points on more Hormies. Still, they’re a fast, non-negligible Assault threat, and a prime target for Onslaught, to give them some truly scary speed.

Ripper Swarms
Like Warriors, Rippers benefit from the removal of Instant Death from the Game, and are one of the most Points-efficient Tarpit Units in the Game. They’re also one of the premier “sit out of sight on an Objective” Units in the Game, and can be Deployed underground to burrow up to distant ones. Oddly, they actually have some difficulty getting Cover, since they’re Swarms, not Infantry, but they’re usually pretty easy to hide completely, so that shouldn’t often be too much of an issue. I can definitely see including a minimum Brood or two in many lists to grab Objectives, since they’re so cheap.

I don't actually have any Stealers for my Hive Fleet Naeglaeria, so I borrowed one from my Behemoth Stealer Cult for these shots

Notes that Apply to Multiple Units:
- Gaunts and Rippers really want Synapse coverage if there is any chance that they will take casualties. With Ld5/4 respectively, even very light losses can start causing them to run very easily.
- Genestealers and Gaunts have buffs when above a certain size. In general, 8th seems to favour MSU, but for these (especially Termagants), larger Broods may well be the way to go.
- Rending Claws are almost always a better option than Scything Talons, even after taking into account the slight Points difference for Broods like Warriors. With only a single pair of either, the ScyTals are only the better choice against things with no Armour Save whatsoever. Mostly, that’s Units that rely entirely on an Invul, like Daemons. Two pairs of ScyTals perform a bit better due to the extra Attack, winning over a single pair of Rending Claws against 5+ or worse Saves, and breaking even against 4+, but that usually means giving up a gun.

Previous posts: Armywide Rules - HQ

Until next time, y'all have a good one now, y'hear!

Thursday, July 6, 2017

Index Tyranids Overview: HQ

Really, it was overly optimistic of me to expect to be able to get a post up the day after the 4th. The city's fireworks display is very close to my apartment, and runs quite late into the night, so I never get much in the way of sleep that night. Anyhow, here we are, back with a look at the leaders of the ravenous swarms:

Hive Tyrant
The Hive Tyrant’s options have opened up quite a bit from the Dakka Flyrant-only of the last couple of editions. The Flyrant is probably still the best option for a shooty Tyrant, even tho it no longer gains any protection from flying, or nearly as much of a speed advantage, simply because the Fly Keyword will let it Fall Back and still shoot if someone tries to tie it up in Assault. Quad DeathSpitters is probably the way to go, but the StrangleThorn Cannon’s profile actually matches them quite well, trading shots for range, and possibly even making up the difference against large Units with its bonus to hit.

Pure Combat Tyrants get two pairs of ScyTals. There’s no other combination of CC Bio-Weapons that’s worth spending both slots on. Wings are probably still the way to go here, so people can’t hide from you on upper floors, and Adrenal Glands are a must.

Because the other CC Bio-Weapons don’t gain any benefits in pairs, Hybrid Tyrants are now an option again. The default CCW here is Monstrous Rending Claws, which I find a little disappointing on an aesthetic level, but they come out slightly better than the other two options, even before taking the substantial (so much so that I think it might be an error) price difference into account. All the gun options seem viable for the other pair of arms, tho Twin Devourers are of course the weakest option now, since they spent three editions as the default, and everyone’s converted them…Anyhow. Twin DeathSpitters are the strongest option, but the HVC and STC seem viable if you want more range. This is probably the way to go for the Walking Tyrant with Guard if you want to take that route. Gives the Tyrant something to do other than Advancing, so the Guard can keep up with it, and it’ll provide a pretty solid Synapse core along with some firepower and a later-game CC threat.

At first glance, the SwarmLord is just an expensive walking CC Tyrant. It is much better in CC than a regular Tyrant, and its base move is enough faster that it is viable to hoof it across the table, but the real kicker that makes me want to try it is the Hive Commander ability. Each Turn, in your Shooting Phase, it can make one nearby Unit Move exactly as tho it were the Movement Phase instead of Shooting. Given how many already fast Units the Nids have, that seems like it should be incredibly useful even just from the starting line, let alone using it on things like Trygons or Raveners when they tunnel in so they can get a guaranteed Charge. Just be careful not to have them outrun your Synapse support, since almost all of those Units are also kind of fragile and have poor Ld.

Old One Eye
Similarly to the SwarmLord, Old One Eye is basically a 50% price increase over a similar regular Fex, for an improved profile and a couple of special abilities. It’s traded some hitting power for durability, which was needed, but I think it might still be too much of a fire magnet to make it across the table, especially since it can’t benefit from Tyrant Guard like Swarmy can. Time and trial will see, tho, and if it does make it across the table with some other Fexen nearby, they will wreck stuff. OOE’s buff aura gives nearby Fexen a bonus to hit in CC, making Crushing Claws much more viable, and dual ScyTals really scary to mid-level targets. The bonuses also apply to itself, since it has the Carnifex Keyword, so it’s hitting on a re-rollable 2+ with its ScyTals, and 3+ with its Crushing Claws.

The BroodLord, on the other hand, is a very different beast. It’s one of the HQ’s that are Characters with fewer than 10 Wounds, so they can’t usually be picked out as a target for Shooting Attacks. It’s also scary fast, with an 8” Move and the ability to Advance and Charge in the same Turn, and tho it’s less durable, it punches in the same weight class as a Combat Tyrant. Add in Synapse, a Psychic Power, and a buff aura for nearby Stealers, and there is definitely a lot of potential here. The only real downside I see is that there are no options whatsoever, not even Adrenal Glands or Toxin Sacs.

Tyranid Prime
The other HQ that can hide amongst Units, the Tyranid Prime does for Warriors and Shrikes more or less what the BroodLord does for Genestealers. Unfortunately, as with its previous incarnation, it’s pretty badly overpriced. When you include the effects of its buff on nearby Warrior Units, it’s basically 2 Warriors bolted together, but it costs almost as much as 4 of them. Pretty much anything I can think of that I’d want one for, now that I run the math, either a BroodLord or some regular Warriors would do more efficiently. The only real point I can see is that the Prime is the cheapest possible HQ for a Nid Army, so maybe useful at very low Points levels, but other than that, it’s just not worth it. I find this disappointing, because I like my Primes that I’ve converted, but they’re frankly just too expensive for what they do.

As with the other options, time on the tabletop will see for sure, but it certainly looks to me like the pendulum has swung back in favour of the Tervigon. While the other HQs got tweaks to their profiles, she received a massive buff with her T increasing to 8, previously unheard of except for Gargantuan Creatures! On top of that, she still fills her previous roles, being a Psyker and a Synapse Unit, and buffing nearby Termagants and spawning more. The spawning ability has changed up substantially. It’s now a fixed 10 Models, and if you use it to create a new Unit, you have to have set aside Reinforcement Points for them when writing your list. But they can also be used to replace casualties in preexisting Termagant Broods with no Reinforcement Points needed. She can only replace Models that were armed with Fleshborers, but the FAQ did confirm that they will come with Adrenal Glands and/or Toxin Sacs if the Brood they’re reinforcing had them! A Tervigon plus a full Brood of Termagants with 15 or so Devourers should be a pretty durable and dangerous blob of anti-infantry firepower.

I don't have pics for the others, unfortunately. Hopefully by the time I get done with the Troops Overview, I'll have a bit of time to do a photoshoot for at least most of the options there. That one will probably not be until sometime next week, since Castlevania drops on Netflix this weekend, and that's going to soak up a lot of my available time. Until then, y'all have a good one, y'hear!

Monday, July 3, 2017

Index Tyranids Overview: Armywide Rules

I’ve had a chance to play with a few different Factions so far, and the one that has had the biggest improvement in how it feels to play so far is Tyranids, so I want to dig a bit further into their options in Index: Xenos 2. Just to cut down a bit on the possibility space, unless otherwise stated, I’m going to be considering these in the context of a Tournament environment, where a Player will have to take on multiple unknown Opponents with a single fixed list, built with Matched Play Points. Bear in mind that I do not yet have a huge amount of experience with 8th Ed yet, and don’t know how the Meta is going to shape up, so some of these judgements may well change as we find that the circumstances they need are more or less common.

To begin, let’s take a look at some of the overarching Rules and Options that will affect most of the Units in the Army. I was originally going to bundle in the HQs with this as well, but it ended up getting way longer than I expected, so they'll come along later.

Instinctive Behaviour
Definitely the best version we’ve seen of this in ages. Possibly ever. Reasonably fluffy, creates issues if Synapse coverage lapses, but it’s not crippling, and many of the options it cuts out are ones you probably wouldn’t often be using with such a short-ranged Army anyhow.

The mechanics and wording have changed, but it still does basically what it always does: Lets us ignore the Morale section of the Rules, along with Instinctive Behaviour. Given the less harsh restrictions of Instinctive Behaviour, and the fact that many of our Units consist of single Models or have a very small Model Count with a reasonable Ld, it’s less important to maintain coverage for many things than in the past. Gaunts, Rippers, and Raveners (and to a lesser extent, Genestealers) want the Morale help, and our few long-range Units want coverage so they can pick their targets freely, but plenty of things can do just fine on their own.

Coverage has been reduced to 8” for everything other than Hive Tyrants, but given how much more viable Warriors are, how much more durable the Tervigon is, and how many things can operate on their own, it’s not as big of a deal as it might seem.

Shadow in the Warp
SitW actually returns to its roll of making it harder for nearby Psykers to manifest their Powers. Given that most Powers have target numbers somewhere near the middle of the bell curve, even a shift of just one point can have a pretty big effect, taking the odds of succeeding with a 6+ power from better than 72% to 58%, and a 7+ from 58% to 42%. You’re not going to be shutting down enemy Psykers completely, but you will definitely be making things harder for them.

Like Synapse, the range of SitW has also been reduced to 8” except for Tyrants. However, the expanded list of usable options helps keep it relevant, as does the generally shorter range of Psychic Powers in 8th compared to 7th.

Hive Mind Discipline
As with all the Psychic Disciplines, the Hive Mind Discipline got pruned back to 3 options from the former 7. There are no real duds here, tho Onslaught is a bit of a gamble, since you have to commit the Unit to Moving/Advancing before you know whether or not the Power will work. Probably a good candidate for a Command Point re-roll if you’re going to be using it in an important situation. Also, the restriction of only using a given Power once per Turn in Matched Play is unfortunate for Catalyst, which would be very handy to be able to spam. Because of this, and the aforementioned increased viability of non-Psyker Synapse options, I wouldn’t be surprised to see Nid Armies featuring at most a couple of Psykers.

Adrenal Glands and Toxin Sacs
I’m covering these here, because so many Units can take them, and their effects don’t actually change at all across the various Units that can take them. Adrenal Glands give a Unit an extra inch of Movement when they Advance or Charge. Very handy for things that want to get into Assaults, and even more so for those that don’t have guns. I’d consider them essentially mandatory on Hormagaunts, CC Fexen/Tyrants, Trygons (including Primes), and CC Shrikes. They’re a particularly great buy on Shrikes since the price only depends on whether the Unit has the Monster Keyword or not, so Shrikes pay the same price as Gaunts. Still a little disappointed that Raveners can’t take them, as they’d be fantastic there, too.

Toxin Sacs are interesting to analyze now. They simply increase the Damage value of the Model’s Attack by 1 when you roll a 6+ to Wound. This actually ends u creating a fairly complex range of possibilities for how worthwhile they are. To determine how useful they are for various Units, there are three broad factors to look at: How likely are they to work, how likely is it to matter, and how likely are they to actually get to use them?

GW has sort of done the first, with most Units paying somewhere around 2 Points per expected CC Hit, ignoring any bonuses. The key point there, in many ways, is “ignoring any bonuses”. Units with multiple pairs of ScyTals will be gaining an extra Attack on top of re-rolling 1s to Hit, and can come out with significantly more Hits than expected. Units with a bonus or re-roll to Wound (Unless I’m missing something, this is large Units of Hormies and things with Rending Claws) can also come out ahead in this area.

The second depends on a couple of things, which aren’t really accounted for in the Points Cost since they vary so much between different Units and against different Targets. For Units with no AP, a substantial proportion of those 6+s to Wound are just going to bounce off the target’s Armour. Units with Rending Claws, on the other hand, get to double down on 6+s to Wound if you add Toxin Sacs, improving both their AP and Damage. It is also important here to consider the types of targets you plan to hit with this Unit. This does depend on what your Opponent brings, which will obviously vary, but if you mostly plan on sending a given Unit at things like most Troops, the extra Damage is just going to be wasted, since those generally only have a single Wound per Model.

The third factor again has two sub-categories. For Units of a single Model, it’s a simple binary. Is this Unit likely to make it into CC or not? For multi-Unit Models, it becomes necessary to compare the increased damage with the effects of just spending the Points for the Toxin Sacs on more Models, and seeing where the break-even point is.

Without actually going into a full analysis, the main Unit that really seems to me to suit all of these categories is a CC Hive Tyrant, tho a Trygon (regular or Prime) is also looking like a pretty good candidate. Most other things seem likely to fall short in at least one category.

That's it for now. Hopefully I'll have a post for the HQs (or at least some of them) up after the holiday tomorrow. Until then, y'all have a good one, y'hear!