Monday, November 25, 2013

Tyranids - Last Hope for a Comp-Free World?

This is possibly not true. How many people out there think Space Wolves will retain Runic Weapons that nullify psy powers (vs. just buff their own unit's Deny the Witch)?


OK, so maybe it is true.

The state of the 40k Meta is not bad right now, save 2 builds that make the game incredibly difficult to prepare for.

These are:

Long story short, these lists rely on extremely powerful units that are geared/equipped/ruled to be able to kill technically anything in cc, yet are also extraordinarily fast, separable, and possessed of some form of re-rollable 2+ saves. By far the NASTIEST of these is the Jetstar.

Jetstar lists can be run a variety of ways. In my opinion, the strongest at present was run by Matt DeFranza at the Battle for Salvation.

In general, these lists revolve around 5-6 squads of Guardian Jetbikes, a squad of Dark Eldar Warriors [to enable ...] Baron Sathonyx, 2 Wraithknights (or a set of Wave Serpents if you prefer, which I personally do not if you're doing it "right"), a pair of Farseers on Jetbikes (both with Runes of Warding/Witnessing to prevent Fortune Fails and Misfortune/Terrify/Hallucinate; one with the Shard of Anaris for Fearless), several squads of Swooping Hawks and 10 Warlocks on Jetbikes, with a few spears optionally to fill in points.

This list is custom built to 6th Edition, combining psychic powers and special rules for the ability to win almost any objective-based mission (which should be 5 of 6 Tournament Missions if you're reflecting the game's design), and to field a unit with extreme mobility and a re-rollable 2+ armor save, cover save, and re-rollable 4+ Invul Save (with optional 2+ re-rollable invul save if you want / position for it). The unit also has Hit and Run and Fearless, and it fails its Hit and Run on only a 6. It has extreme mobility (able to move 48" a turn if needed ... trailing behind to keep Baron in coherency for shorter moves ... and able to split into 4 distinct units, 3 of which can go anywhere, AFTER buffing everyone with powers like Fortune and Protect, so the splitting units are all 2+ re-rollable cover/armor when they split).

Hopefully we can all figure out you can't torrent these units down. Many armies in the current meta CAN torrent down a 3+ re-rollable save. No armies can torrent down a 2+ re-rollable (barring dumb luck).

Moreover, these armies are backed by bunches of Guardian Jetbike units that score and contest effectively, and also can move 48" at any point. Coupled w/ the ability to often enough get Scrier's Gaze and keep them off the table until Turn 4, it can be hard to actually draw a bead on them (much less do so without getting pinned down or outright destroyed by the highly mobile council in your face, or the 2 Wraithknights that in the idea situation should be trailing it).

The catch here is that even now, a properly designed Tyranid list trumps BOTH these armies rather dramatically, due to the mobility and model count of units like Gargoyles, coupled w/ Shadow in the Warp on a hide-able model like the Parasite of Mortrex. Being able to jam a 12" aura of "take your key LD tests on a 3d6" down the throat of an army built around a relative paucity of firepower and the presence of a big honking 2+ re-roll unit dependent on psychic powers to function is a pretty effective way to take them down.

Moreover, Tyranid lists have the bodycount in throwaway or "it's ok if they aren't doing anything" troop units like Termagants to properly bubble wrap objectives against late game contests / controls from units like the council and guardian jetbikes. They also possess key abilities like mass poison, to make the prospect of Wraithknights getting tangled into big 30-model gargoyle and/or termagant squads not all that terrifying (in fact, Parasite outright loves a chance to fling rending instant-killing attacks at Wraithknights).

That all said, Tyranid are neither overly popular nor overly present in contemporary 40k, and the "right" list with the current Codex takes far too long to play (making it painful physically in a tournament setting, and also downright unsporting for your opponent).

We're also about to get a new Tyranid codex.

So what should we all be hoping?
a) The new Tyranid have optimal lists that can be played reasonably in a tournament setting without utterly destroying either your back or your opponents' patience.
b) The new Tyranid are good enough to be taken by a fairly large # of players, thus forcing Jet/Screamerstar players to face the concept they are fairly likely to run into them during a typical GT.
c) The new Tyranid retain Shadows in the Warp or see it buffed, in its ability to apply psy power dampening or nullifying auras to portions of the table. If Shadows in the Warp sees a nerf the likes of which Runes of Warding suffered, and simply applies something like Adamantium Will to units in range, the game of 40k will in my opinion be broken, and will require a basic rule tweak added to the tournament environment akin to:
"Any re-rolled save only succeeds on a 4+."


PS - Jetstars can be played around, can be meta'ed for (at risk to getting pantsed by everything else), can be beaten. In the hands of decent players, however, and as the proper jet council "net list" becomes more and more well known and played (it's also SUPER AFFORDABLE TO BUILD FINANCIALLY), it's going to become a serious problem at the average tournament, for the average player. TOs always have these folks in mind first and foremost. We care LESS about the person who is a 40k Savant and thinks he can handle any combo any time. I'm sure you can. You're not the majority of people attending events and having to deal with things like a unit that can contest the entire board at any time, and passes 35/36 saves.


  1. The biggest thing you said in this (Good) post is that tournament organizers have to care about all the other people attending. These types of lists (I played one and it is not fun to play with) just grind your opponent down. It is one thing to be shot off the board - it is another thing entirely to watch your army do nothing to a unit. I've always said the fun part of 40k is both players killing models. The back and forth of the rough game where both sides are decimated is the key to a fun experience. Go back and think of all the great games where you basically punched the crap out of each other and barely pulled a win or had a close lose. It was fun and the whole brutal aspect for 40k is realized.

    I had a long talk with a buddy and we all pointed to allies putting a damper on this edition. If Hit and Run wasn't in the unit then you could bog it down. It is how you deal with Screamer star and you hit it on the head with Nids doing a wonderful job kicking these armies in the teeth. The reason you don't see these bids list is they are not too fun to play with either - the amount of models you have to move mixed with a rushed sense of gameplay means these lists will only be usable in the hands of quick players.

    But hey… really the only thing I can say it is up to us the players to make 40k into the game we want. It is up to the TO's to decide a set of rules that both make it interesting to play. I love tournaments because I get to meet people and hang out. I am seriously looking at hitting Nova this year depending on the wife, life, and options at that time.

    Alright Mike - good post and good thoughts. I hope nids still have shadows and maybe the super Momma spreads the dread out by 18 inches.

    1. +1 to this :-) Have to say that the close games are far and away the most fun... Played one tonight with my Legion (30K) list against a completely non optimized Chaos Marine (Pink Slaneshi Marines) list... Wound up winning on a single secondary (line breaker), but we both killed lots of the other army and honestly I am fairly sure it was pretty much a draw until the 6th turn. These games are actually fun for both players. Had I played my Eldar or even the more "focused" Legion list it would have been over quickly and neither of us would have enjoyed the game I think...

  2. I've said it multiple times now. Tyranids are my love, my first army, and my passions. That said i've moved on to tau (started them when DE came out so shhhh). While i'm eager to have a 6th edition update, I'm not holding my breath that it will make them my main army again. The over all tyranid design and play style does not work in 6th edition. GW would have to have some super awesome ideas and rules to make them work, which I'm not going to count on. They way they will probably become functional again is to get an update like daemons, where they completely change. And thus they will no longer be the Nids I fell in love with.

  3. My issue is I feel like something needs to be done about mass ignores cover as well. As you said plenty of things can torrent down 3+ re-rollable saves. Well Tau and Eldar do just is one of the things that pushed me to play Screamer star in the first place I needed something that could survive in the world of taking 100+ wounds a turn. Now that something might be more LOS blocking terrain at tournaments....unfortunately that is not a fix we see from most events (as terrain is one of the biggest issues for most events especially smaller ones.)

    Just my 2 cents...Getting shot of the table before you can do anything is much less fun than ignoring the super unit and killing some other stuff. Maybe it is just that I personally not to go all in on screamer star in order to play fun games though that makes this my opinion.

    1. You have to be careful here. It would be more accurate to say something should be done about the mass use of Trick Commanders. Perfect Timing requires a roll, and Wave Serpents ignore cover with AP-, so the impact of Ignores Cover on *most* things is oriented around MSS almost entirely.

      YES Serpents do a ton of damage, but ignoring cover isn't the main driver there; it's RoF, which would require just changing them outright, and people are starting to learn how to deal there. You can't stick a Serpent Shield in tons of different battle bro units ... you can do so with a Tau Commander. Therein lies the rub IMO, if you want to call it one.

      That said, NOVA's doubling it's # of center LOS blockers for 2014, and I do think more LOS blockage in general is the way to go.

    2. While I do hope LOS terrain helps, it wont solve it all. It saves people from tau, and makes Eldar even meaner. Seer council and spiders and all that fun stuff just hop around corners far worse then tau could ever do with JSJ. The fact that they can operate with small models in size and unit just makes it crazy hard to draw line of sight to them.

      If you've ever played against eldar in Zone mortalis, you know how bad it can get.

  4. A large portion is the Buff Commander, but it is also the Serpent Shield (mostly rate of fire, but also Ignores cover hurts, as many units can get better cover saves than their armor save.) and Marker lights (have largely a similar effect to the ignores cover from the buff commander). I agree that more LOS blockage is the way to go though and would be fine for that as a fix if most tournaments adopt it (I know I am going that way.)

    My general point was that for many armies the reason certain builds show up is because they are what can withstand the hail of ignores cover (and general fire) that the top armies put out.

  5. Screw the Buff Commander. When is the last time you saw someone take an Ally to be fluffy?

    1. After Jetcouncil, MSS/Puretide are my least favorite things in the game (primarily b/c of the ease with which they can be BB'ed into key units that shoot really hard).

    2. Yup - that is it on the head. If it was harder to combo up it would be different - but many everyone can just combo something that wasn't supposed to ignore cover, and make it ignore cover now.

      Blah.. but hey I can go on and on what I think might make things better. I just want to see more diverse armies near the top. It gets bad when obviously good players play something so... easy.

    3. This is a lot of why we're doing our optional comp army-specific rules for the Narrative, to encourage diversity without punishing preference.

      If Tyranids don't save us Obi-Wan style (minus the completely nonsensical guard down suicide), game amendments for tournaments are not that far away from the minds of most TOs.

    4. "and able to split into 4 distinct units, 3 of which can go anywhere, AFTER buffing everyone with powers like Fortune and Protect, so the splitting units are all 2+ re-rollable cover/armor when they split)."

      They shouldn't all be 2+ armor after they split. Runes of Battle blessings specifically target only the psyker casting them, if the caster subsequently dies or leaves the unit (spiritseer) there's no longer a model with the blessing in the unit so the effect should end (likewise an IC that leaves the unit is no longer under the effect of the blessing). The IC ongoing effect rules refer to blessings (and other effects) which target the unit, which RoB blessings clearly do not. Compare it to Fortune which clearly targets the unit (so would remain in effect for everyone after the split).

      A 3W 3+/4++ re-rollable is still not easy to kill, but it's a heck of a lot better than 2+/4++ rr.

    5. It does not specifically target the Psyker. It says the Psyker and his unit gain a Blessing. Blessings confer after separation, so it's not quite as hair splitting as you're inferring.

      Regardless, b/c I never like rules arguments in a blog format, it's a ridiculous unit.

    6. Re-read it. RoB are blessings that target the psker. The ability affects the whole unit, but it's pretty clear that the caster is the only one targetted by the blessing, and i think that was vey intentional on GWs part.

      No arguments that it's a silly unit though.

    7. Read blessings in the brb.... ;-)

  6. We had a question on our QA this week for the podcast. Basically goes like this: "What does/can GW do to fix meta issues at present?"

    The short answer is: "either you start introducing Codices that can take away special abilities" OR "you continue to codex creep".

    Nobody likes Option B. :P

    And Option C, the best Option, should be, GW redact/fixes/changes obvious mistakes in these latest books. However, historically, GW has never done such a thing.

    As to the small convo here about is it the 2++/re-roll or mass ignores cover or whatever, I would extend this idea that the general problem, and also inclusive of the "allies are causing this" idea, is that the real problem is the proliferation of mass special rules.

    By the 2++/re-rolls, it's mass accumulation of special rules due to psychc powers.

    By ignores cover, obvious.

    By allies, it's the conglomeration of armies again causing proliferation of special rules.

    And the "fix" here from Tyranids is doing exactly as Option A, above. Having an army that has some way of removing special rules. In this case, special rules granted by Psychic Powers. :P

    I'm also holding my breath here, because Option B sucks.

  7. Mike you are right. I'm running the Frostycon RTT in February with slight comp. The only restrictions are:

    Normal force organization chart.

    So allies are ok but they must fit in the normal foc. I thought long and hard and this is the best way to comp fairly to all.


    1. That buffs armies like eldar and sm that can max their power level just fine without allies.

      I think the only way to comp is with a scalpel, by codex, never with a broadly applied sledgehammer.

    2. But not really. Think abi ut the true power builds. They all need that 3rd hq. Screamer star, jetseer, ovesa star. These stars are still good but not as effective without the baron, the blackmace prince and helldrake or fateweaver, the buff commander, etc.

    3. That's not the point. Eldar, Tau, etc are still good regardless (and screamer star definitely doesn't need allies), whereas you've simultaneously restricted every other codex. That's the fundamental flaw and pointlessness of universal FOC comp.

    4. I agree with Mike here completely - Ahhhh god it burns it burns!

      :) But yea, not the way to fix it for the reasons mike put above

  8. You Comp fix is as easy as one rule change across the board. Eliminate all Battle Brothers as an ally choice. No more BB means no more attaching to other codex units. No more sharing of powers and spells.

    All current BB allies become Allies if Convienance. It's that simple.

    1. I think that only buffs armies like Tau, Eldar and CSD (already good) that are capable of putting together powerful lists w/out assistance of BB. Armies that require them suffer. You do weaken the Jetstar (and do nothing to impact Screamerstar), but simultaneously nerf all the non-top-codices while you're at it.

    2. How can Tau or Eldar anything be buffed by removing BB? Those lists live to have a Farseer or Buff Commander attach to another codex unit and confer abilities that unit could never have otherwise.

      No Farseer attached to broadsides giving them forewarning, foreboding, or a high DTW. No Tau buff Commander attached to Dark Reapers or anything else really giving that unit twin-linked shots and ignore cover. This is where the real abuse of battle brothers is coming from.

    3. They're buffed b/c Tau are quite happy twin-linking and ignoring cover on their Broadsides by sticking a Trick Commander in them.

      They're buffed b/c Eldar are quite happy laying down 18 Swooping Hawks, 6 Wave Serpents and whatever else suits their fancy.

      Tau and Eldar don't NEED Battle Brothers or Allies of any sort to be ridiculously powerful armies.

      There are SEVERAL codices (looking at Marines, Guard, Dark Eldar, etc.) that are utterly worthless *without* Battle Brothers.

      So you're suggesting a change that weakens everybody, but does nothing to harm or weaken the overall ability of Eldar, Tau, Daemons to bring powerful lists.

      You're basically looking at a bunch of guys getting ready for a fight. Three of them are armed with a pair of Katanas. The rest are all armed with 1 Katana. Your suggestion is that ALL combatants must drop 1 weapon. Sure ... the guys with a pair of Katanas now only have one. Everybody else now has none. GG.

      There is no effective universal comp, it doesn't exist. It just shifts the bar (in this analogy, from 2 katanas > 1 katana to 1 katana > weaponless). You have to apply a scalpel with precision to each and every codex in the way you think is appropriate, to level the playing field, or else there's really no point to comp at all other than seeing different lists.

  9. But what do I know. My days of national tourneys is long since over. I'll leave it to the experts to see us out of this one. I just thought this would be a simple way to fix the problem and still let everyone play what they want.

  10. I don't think it would be too terribly difficult to fix some of 40k's major issues with a few rule changes.

    -Cap re-rollable saves at a 3+

    -Tau Special Issue stuff (Puretide, MSSS, C&C) go off on a 3+, fail on a 1-2. This way, they can be like the Riptide's experimental generator, except that they don't cause a wound.

    3. Nerf Serpent Shields just a bit. 48" range, D3+1 shots, loses Ignore Cover, or aren't twin-linked by Scatter Lasers are all possibilities. Any one of those would bring the power level down without a complete invalidation.

    While there are other rules and abilities are can be over the top, these are some of the consistent offenders that are causing a homogenization of the game.

  11. there is a very simple way to hurt jetseerstar...Crucible of Malediction...with 10 seers at leardership 8 you are going to fail at least 2-3 individual rolls, but when you roll up on a raider with torment grenades and drop them to LD 7 and their farseers to 9 you watch their heads pop...

  12. Not looking too good for the last hope right now...