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!


  1. Good read. I look forward to getting more play out of my nids in 8th edition. Look forward to the next post on HQs.

    1. Thanks! I'm super happy with how they seem to play so far. Haven't had this much fun with them since early 5th Ed.

  2. Thats presumably why toxin sacs cost 5 times as much for a Genestealer unit than a Tyrant. Rending makes them too good? Great article, looking forward to the next one!

    1. and they can take Scytals for free. Interesting.

    2. Genestealers are actually one of the Units that fits the "2 Points per expected Hit per Turn" formula perfectly. It's really the Hive Tyrant that's the outlier here. Tyrants are far and away the most Points-efficient choice for Toxin Sacs, coming in at less than 1 Point per Expected Hit for a dual ScyTal Tyrant. They should have been priced the same as Trygons.

      The ScyTals are free because they're worse than the Rending Claws in almost every situation. Unless the target has no Save at all, the -1 AP is better than re-rolling 1s to Hit in every situation.

    3. Oh I see (I think). You can use Scytals or Rending but not both at the same time. The re-roll 1's is not worth losing the armour piercing.

    4. Exactly. With a few exceptions, you can only use one CCW at a time in 8th. I'm not sure that the Index version of the Nids really handled that in the best way, and I hope they revisit how they work in the actual Codex.