Sunday, September 4, 2011

A Tyranid Deathstar that doesn't suck

Tyranids don't suck completely.  I hope that doesn't surprise everyone that I've said.  I'm well aware that I've been saying the opposite for the past year and a half.  Please forgive me; try sticking a microphone in front of your face and not contradicting yourself now and then.  You'll see how difficult it can be.
My prior statements of Tyranid suckyness can be supported by tournament results.  The recent NOVA open results demonstrated that they are the worst performing 5th edition codex.  My own personal experience has also demonstrated the inherent limitations of Tyranids.  I have also recognized what Tyranids are good at.  I can sum it up in one simple statement; they are great at killing infantry.  What they suck at can also be summed up in a simple statement; they suck vrs mech units.
I'm going to start this series of posts that will examine the Tyranid codex with the most humble and underrated model in the codex, the Termagant.
Although their stat line is unimpressive this can easily be overcome with very large broods and proper support.  In the picture above I'm running 4 broods of 30 backed up with a Tervigon with Toxin Sacks and Adrenal Gland and a Hive Tyrant with Old Adversary.  This 6 unit 1,100 point combo is being run as a single large Deathstar swarm.  Supporting them is a brood of 4 Warriors, 3 Zoanthropes, 3 Hive Guard and Doom in a Spore Pod.
What makes it good; To begin with it's cheap.  At 5 points per model you can afford to make large broods.  A maxed out brood of 30 models will only set you back 150 points.  This is important because to get the most out of little bugs you need a lot of them.
It also benefits from a few rules.  The Tyranid codex may be one of the weakest 5th edition codex's but it does have synergy that most codex's lack.  The Brood Progenitor rule on the Tervigon gives all Termigants with a model within 6 inches of it the Counter-Attack rule and bestows Furious Charge and Poison attacks if the Tervigon has Toxin Sacks and Adrenal Glands.  The Hive Tyrants Old Adversary special rule bestows the Preferred Enemy rule on broods with a model within 6 inches if it.  Careful model placement can ensure that your entire army can benefit from these rules.
This is a brutal combo.  Since the Fleshborer is an Assault weapon that shoots at strength 4 they could soften up their target before the charge.  Each brood of 30 will charge in with 60 attacks that re-roll misses thanks to the Hive Tyrant.  Thanks to the Tervigon giving them Furious Charge they attack at Initiative 5 so in most cases their attacks will go first.  Vrs. Marines that works out to an average of 45 hits from a single brood.  The Tervigon gave them Poisoned attacks so they wound on a 4+.  Another benefit of Furious Charge is the +1 strength which pushes them up Strength 4 so their poisoned attacks can re-roll misses.  Vrs MEQ this means an average of 41 wounds before the Marines get a single attack.  Most squads of Marines can't handle this number of wounds.
Of course the Marines aren't sitting there waiting to be killed.  They have guns and know how to use them.  If they can rapid fire, flamer and a frag missile the Termigants and force them to charge through cover so they loose the initiative the situation changes significantly.  If caught without cover the Termigants will loose about half their number through shooting and close combat.  In that case the Tyranid Deathstar advance comes to a crashing halt.
Of course this is why I run 4 broods of 30 Termigants.  One forms a meat shield to provide cover and 3 more broods come in crashing waves.  The Tervigon can also bestows Catalyst on a brood so they can benefit from the Feel No Pain rule.  Tyranid losses drop from 15 to just 4 or 5 and the Termigants are back up to causing 34 wounds on Marines.  I can also send in more than 1 brood of Termigants on a single target.  In a battle vrs Screaming Heretic Joe I killed off his Grey Knight Grand Master buy having 70 Termigants shoot at him in one round.  He had no chance to survive.

My experience running this type of Deathstar supports the Mathhammer you just read.  Most Marine squads will be wiped out in one assault phase.  Even Terminators should fear a swarm of Termigants.  Most people react in amazement when I say that my main anti-Terminator unit of choice is a swarm of Termigants.  Don't belive me.  Roll 40 dice and tell me how many 1's you roll.
Another overlooked advantage of this type of Deathstar army build is the mind game.  Most players never start a battle outnumbered 4 to 1.  Facing such huge numbers intimidates people and quite often makes them loose their sense of tactics.
How would a player going against this type of Deathstar deal with it?  Here are a few tips;

  • Without the Tervigon and Hive Tyrant bestowing the special rules the Termigants wound have dished out an average of just 13 wounds to a MEQ opponent.  
  • If their Synapse units get killed the Termigants can be easily driven off due to their low leadership of 6.
  • This swarm is also fairly clumsy on the battlefield.  It's huge numbers slows it down and clumps it up so large blast templates can yield maximum effect.  
  • It can't effect armor higher than AV10.  Dreadnoughts and Land Raiders have absolutely nothing to fear from this swarm.  
  • Even though vehicles with AV10 sides can be glanced to death the swarm needs multiple 6's to do it.  Keep your transports moving to cut the number of hits the swarm can get and make sure your access point is away from the direction of the expected assault.  Jump out in the following round and flame the tightly packed swarm.  
  • Castle up on the battlefield with cover limiting the number of Termigants who can get in base to base contact with you.  The key to this Deathstar's effectiveness is the massive numbers of dice it rolls on the charge.  If you can survive that first round you stand a fairly good chance to break it in the following rounds when it doesn't have +1 strength and initiative from Furious Charge and a bonus attack from charging.

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