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 Post subject: 4th Edition Tactica and Strategies
PostPosted: Mon May 31, 2010 12:19 am 
The Red Terror
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All the old tacticas and strategies of old will be stickied to this one thread for posterity, and in case you ever feel like using your 4th edition codex in 5th edition ever again.


What would happen if a gargoyle had air sickness?
Hive Fleet Lamia

 Post subject: Re: 4th Edition Tactica and Strategies
PostPosted: Mon May 31, 2010 12:55 am 
The Red Terror
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A Tyranid Guide to Killing Vehicles
Written by: Sylph

Of the many ups and downs of the 4th-ed nid codex, one sore-point of the book, and indeed the army as a whole, has been beating targets with an armour value at range, particularly skimmers.

Acknowledgement of this fact spurred a series of investigations into just how to crack these targets open, and here I share the findings with the denizens of warpshadow.

Before we get into numbers and probability, it worth noting one overuling fact - the tyranids *do* have a need to hit vehicles without having to assault them, particularly at high-level play where the mobility of a vehicle really lets a skill-gulf come into play. Destroying vehicles is important, no doubt, but doing it without having to execute a field-wide masterplan is something that can only be done with the longer ranges.

For the investigations I'm assuming play on a 6x4 board will allow weapons with an effective range of 24" to get to shoot a vehicular target almost every turn, and as such I'll be focusing on units with this capability.
Furthermore, from experience and opinion it's come to my attention that monstrous creatures (MCs) are the best solution for anti-vehicle available to a tyranid army. This is not simply because of their double weapon firing or high strength, it's actually more to do with their ability to fire all the weapons in the unit even after taking 2-3 wounds, their high toughness allowing them to move out of cover and towards the opponent, and their ability to take biomorphs to tailor their weapons.
Because of this, the article will be focusing on monstrous creatures. Warriors, winged tyrants or zoanthropes, while very good on paper, will be mentioned only as something to think about, due to their bad reliability(they can die first turn, or have trouble getting into range) in a battle.

Also note that conclusions will always take points values into account. If I say a hive tyrant with dual venom cannons and toxin sacs is less effective than a carnifex with dual venom cannons, it means 1000pts worth of those tyrants will not be as good at killing vehicles as 1000pts worth of venom fexes. This is important to note for the comparisons that follow.

The overview:
I decided to deal with the overall performance of vehicle killers first, rather than last.
The tests pretty much show what lots of playing experience has demonstrated here - there are a few units that are a head and shoulders above the rest when it comes to killing vehicles - these are the devils (twin devourers), venom-devourer or venom-deathspitter combos, and 'snipers' (venom cannon and barbed strangler, or venom cannon + deathspitter). Range is obviously an issue, and unfortunately performance is indirectly proportional to range here, with the 'devils' doing the best numerically, and snipers doing the worst.

The other problem that comes to mind is that while the devils are absolutely incredible at taking down the lower range of armour values (10 and 11), they are ineffective against the stronger ones.
This is what made me decide to try a few runs with the 'hybrid' tank killers - MCs armed with devourers and venom cannons.

Their results are consistent, reliable, and impressive.

Devils, of course, are excellent anti-troops units, and snipers have a ranged strategy that allows them to use cover saves for resilience. Likewise, Venom cannon + deathspitters work well against tanks, but poorly against fast skimmers, whereas devils work well against skimmers but not so well against tanks. All -in-all though, If I was purely after an anti-tank solution for a nid army that was having difficulty in that department, I'd usually take a carnifex with venom cannon + devourer. It's tyrant counterpart, while ever so slightly less effective against most vehicles, offers synapse, and thus will sometimes be a better choice.

Before going on, I feel it worth mentioning that tyranid warriors armed with twin fleshborers, flying hive tyrants, and zoanthropes armed with warpblast produce great numbers on paper.

Now, onto some specific areas:

Light tanks
Light tanks are probably the least problematic type of vehicle for tyranids to deal with. We have a large range of weapons effective against them, and little need to strategize too deeply since we can always resort to hitting them with numbers in close combat.
That said, the monstrous creatures armed with venom cannon + deathspitter are leagues ahead of the rest for smashing these, rivalled only by devourers and aforementioned fleshborer warriors.
The venom cannon + devourer MCs are also very good in this area.
in order of best to worst, the top performers in the AV 10-12 range are:
venom cannon + deathspitter tyrant, devilfex, Toxic Venomdev tyrant, Venomdev fex, deviltyrants

Also, the fleshborer warrior beats all 3 of those, but of course their disadvantages mean I'm not recommending them. Same goes for the flying tyrant, though the flying tyrant is somewhat more practical.

In short, to take out light tanks, use warriors or devourer MCs

Heavy tanks
Against heavier non-skimmers, the field opens for venom cannons to shine, and as such you'll be wanting to incorporate these where possible. Against AV 13 and 14 the top, in order, are:
Venomdeath tyrant, venomfex, sniperfex, Venomdev fex, toxic venomtyrant, Toxic Venomdev tyrant

Note here the presence of the venom cannon + devourer combinations, with the fexes taking the lead

The zoanthrope of course beats (hands down) all of these for smashing heavy vehicles, though they are not a simple choice for reasons stated above. Consider adding them, but don't rely on them. Even more effective than the zoanthrope is the flying hive tyrant, which is incredible at it's job.

Light skimmers
Light skimmers, such as land speeders, raiders and jetbikes (AV 10-11), are very much the realm of massed ranged fire. To take these down you'll want a large amount of shots rather than high strength, and as such the best performers in this field are, in order:
devilfex, Toxic Venomdev tyrant, deviltyrants, fleshborer warriors, Venomdev fex

Notice again the presence of the venom cannon + devourers MCs, this time with the tyrant's higher number of shots putting it ahead.
fleshborer warriors once again omitted, though they fall right in the middle of these 4 for performance. Winged tyrants are also incredible here, but omitted due to their 18" effective range.
Also worth noting is that lack of the venom cannon + deathspitter tyrant. The creature that performed so well against vehicles is very poor against skimmers.

Heavy skimmers
The heavier skimmers, usually employed by eldar or tau (AV12-13), are a *massive* headache for tyranid players, because high-strength weaponry cannot cause penetrating hits, massed fire usually doesn't have enough strength to do much damage, and assault is a bad option because of the 'hitting on sixes' rule.
The numbers, however, show that the setups used for punching heavy tanks usually works better than the volume of shots approach. That said, volume of shots still counts for something, as heavy skimmers rarely go as high in armour as heavy tanks, and as such twin venom cannons fall short of venom cannon/devourer combos.
Heavy skimmers, as targets, resemble heavy tanks more than they do skimmers, and as such the effective nids, if any, are:
venomfex, Venomdev fex, sniperfex, toxic venomtyrant, Toxic Venomdev tyrant, and zoanthropes

Winged tyrants, while needing a 6 to hit, are still highly effective against skimmers, since the find it easy to penetrate the armour, and only have to roll 3+ to destroy their target.

The Monolith
I've included this in it's own heading because it fails to resemble any other vehicles in the game. The best solution at range is a carnifex venom cannon. Second to that, obviously, is a tyrant venom cannon with toxin sacs. The very best we can possibly achieve, however, is less than a 10% chance per turn of taking one down without using zoanthropes, and as such the usual dominant counter to the monolith should be employed - ignore it.

The numbers:
Finally, for those wanting to do their own comparisons, the numbers themselves in all their ugly detail can be viewed here:


       Chance of destroying vehicle with 100pts of shooter
                              AV:   10       11       12        13       14         average
Venomdev fex                        26.89%   22.08%   15.24%    7.95%    5.98%      15.63%
Toxic Venomdev tyrant               32.94%   22.56%   10.87%    7.32%    3.69%      15.48%
devilfex                            36.42%   25.82%   13.73%    0.00%    0.00%      15.20%
sniperfex                           22.29%   19.64%   15.33%   10.94%    6.48%      14.93%
deviltyrants                        39.48%   21.96%    0.00%    0.00%    0.00%      12.29%
toxic venomtyrant                   20.02%   16.16%   12.23%    8.23%    4.15%      12.16%
venomfex                            15.11%   15.11%   12.63%   10.13%    7.61%      12.12%
toxic sniper tyrant                 20.92%   14.70%   10.35%    6.96%    3.51%      11.29%
venomtyrant                         19.36%   14.72%    9.95%    5.04%    0.00%       9.81%
scythewing                          60.88%   55.73%   48.47%   38.51%   27.90%      46.30%
warpblast thrope                    37.70%   33.91%   28.03%   21.93%   15.61%      27.44%
fleshborer warriors                 63.83%   42.96%   12.70%    0.00%    0.00%      23.90%
spikehail warrior squad             36.73%   15.44%    5.43%    2.73%    0.00%      12.06%
acid warrior squad                  24.59%   16.18%    7.19%    2.45%    0.00%      10.08%
gargoyle                            20.79%    0.00%    0.00%    0.00%    0.00%       4.16%

        Chance of destroying fast skimmer with 100pts of shooter
                                  AV:   10       11       12       13       14          average   
Venomdev fex                            47.86%   40.34%   28.83%   15.69%   11.85%      28.91%
Toxic Venomdev tyrant                   56.44%   40.95%   21.11%   14.35%    7.32%      28.04%
devilfex                                60.82%   45.70%   25.82%    0.00%    0.00%      26.47%
venomfex                                29.74%   29.74%   24.92%   20.05%   15.11%      23.91%
toxic venomtyrant                       38.16%   31.13%   23.80%   16.16%    8.23%      23.50%
sniperfex                               29.35%   27.82%   22.96%   17.95%   12.77%      22.17%
toxic sniper tyrant                     35.62%   28.14%   20.15%   13.68%    6.96%      20.91%
deviltyrants                            64.35%   39.48%    0.00%    0.00%    0.00%      20.77%
venomtyrant                             36.57%   28.23%   19.36%    9.95%    0.00%      18.82%
scythewing                              32.69%   29.52%   25.28%   19.85%   14.13%      24.30%
fleshborer warriors                     57.75%   42.96%   24.01%    0.00%    0.00%      24.94%
warpblast thrope                        26.02%   26.02%   21.93%   17.74%   13.45%      21.04%
spikehail warrior squad                 43.89%   28.88%   10.70%    5.43%    0.00%      17.78%
acid warrior squad                      30.40%   22.52%   14.02%    4.86%    0.00%      14.36%
gargoyle                                37.47%    0.00%    0.00%    0.00%    0.00%       7.49%

Venomdev fex             22.27%
Toxic Venomdev tyrant    21.76%
devilfex                 20.83%
sniperfex                18.55%
venomfex                 18.02%
toxic venomtyrant        17.83%
deviltyrants             16.53%
toxic sniper tyrant      16.10%
venomtyrant              14.32%
scythewing               35.30%
fleshborer warriors      24.42%
warpblast thrope         24.24%
spikehail warrior squad  14.92%
acid warrior squad       12.22%
gargoyle                  5.83%

Venomdev fex             Venom cannon, twin devourer, enhanced senses
Toxic Venomdev tyrant    Toxin sacs, venom cannon, twin devourer, enhanced senses
devilfex                 Twin devourer, twin devourer, enhanced senses
sniperfex                venom cannon, barbed strangler, enhanced senses
venomfex                 Twin venom cannon, enhanced senses
toxic venomtyrant        Toxin sacs, twin venom cannon, enhanced senses
deviltyrants             twin devourers, twin devourers, toxin sacs, enhanced senses
toxic sniper tyrant      Toxin sacs, enhanced senses, venom cannon, barbed strangler.
venomtyrant              twin venom cannon, enhanced senses
warpblast thrope         Warp Blast (psychic test fail chance included)
fleshborer warriors      twin fleshborer, enhanced senses, extended carapace, toxin sacs
spikehail warrior squad  enhanced senses, toxin sacs, rending claws, spinefists (+1 venom cannon)
acid warrior squad       enhanced senses, toxin sacs, deathspitters, rending claws (+1 venom cannon)
gargoyle                 fleshborer, bioplasma
Scythewing               wings, 2x scything talons, implant attack

Hope you enjoyed the article.
~Sylph x

 Post subject: Re: 4th Edition Tactica and Strategies
PostPosted: Mon May 31, 2010 12:57 am 
The Red Terror
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Hive Rejects Tactica: Biovores
Written by: RampagingRavener

Well, after the relative success of my last article (well, It didn’t attract any scathing criticism anyway), I’ve decided to expand it into a series of tactica articles detailing the less-used units in the Tyranid army, the things that get sacrificed on the alter of Competitive Lists. Not that this is a bad thing, you understand-but lists maximised to be the most competitive possible tend to be rather similar. Hopefully these articles will inspire people to make use of some of the other choices in the codex.

So, next up, Biovores.

1. Breaking some bonds…

Before I actually get on with the tactica, I think something needs to be addressed, and that involves the general stigma surrounding biovores. People look at the old versions (Large blasts, independent firing) and then look at the new versions (small blasts, got to fire at the same target) and instantly see them as useless due to the drop in versatility and power.

Biovores did drop in power. They are certainly a lot weaker than what they once were. But they are by no means useless. They are unsuited for tournament play when you don’t know what is coming, but if you know what enemy you will be facing, biovores can be a worthy choice against many armies.

So, forget the old versions. They might have been more powerful, but they won’t come back. Hopefully, this will help to teach you to that while they might not be as good, that they aren’t that bad.

2. Brood Size.

First things first, you’ve got to choose how many you want in the brood. Since they only use the small templates, more is always better here. One biovore really isn’t very useful except as a cheap unit to hold a table quarter and perhaps harass the odd squad. Two become more useful, able to get between 3-5 hits between them on average and can often dent small squads of light-medium infantry. Three are where they really come into their own, often able to land upwards of 6-7 hits with some lucky rolling for their blasts.

They also become more adept at holding table quarters-for every biovore you take, that’s one more wound the enemy has to knock off to make them a non-scoring unit. Admittedly as they are an average toughness and poor save this isn’t that hard, but every little helps, right?

3a). Mine Types.

Of the three types allowed, you can only choose one type of mine for the brood, though all the biovores have to pay for it. They type of mine you go for should be pretty much dictated by your opponent:

Frag Mines:
Frag mines are the basic and cheapest mine type-if you can’t decide what to take and are determined to use biovores, then these are the things you should go for. They’ll wound most things on a 3+ or 4+ and can ignore 5+ saves. Generally, Frags should be used against any army that fields the majority of its troops as T3 with 5+ saves.

Poison Mines:
Against some armies, Poison mines are really useful, against others you’d be best off saving a few points and going for frags. Because they would on a set 4+, against MEQ’s frags are what to go for. However, anything army that field’s a lot of 4+ save units are good for a big of gassing. Against Orks or Dark Eldar they really come into their own, able to force glancing hits on transports and then thin down the small squads that ride in them.

Bio-Acid Mines:
Bio-acid mines are an odd choice. Because of the average strength, they can be rather lacklustre, but the marine-killing AP does make them a bit tempting. Really, against MEQ’s you’d be best off taking zoanthropes. However, if you’re playing a large game with several detachments and have a spare HS slot and some points left, some Biovores with Acid Mines can be useful. They also make half-decent tank busters against light/medium armour. Against Sisters of Battle, they come into their own, wounding on a 4+ and burning through the armour as if it wasn’t there can be useful for thinning down enemy squads.

3b). Vulnerable Targets:

For convenience, I’ve provided a list of all the armies and the mines to be used against them that work best:

Imperial Guard:
Frag and Poison. The Guard are one of the best armies to use biovores against as there are so many enemy squads that you can scatter into, and whatever you hit you are likely to kill. Also, three mines can seriously damage a command platoon. Poison mines are also good for killing off Stormtroopers and Sentinels.

Lost and The Damned:
Basicly, the same for Guard. Frag Mines clear out Traitors and Mutants quite quickly, and as they are a horde army you won’t be short on targets.

Frag and Poison, perhaps leaning towards Poison, simply for busting Aspects. A prime target are Dark Reapers, which can decimate a squad of warriors in one volley. However, they come in small, 4+ save squads (well, the exarch has a 3+ save) so a good volley of poison mines can waste them easily. One nice trick is to take down Banshees in a wave Serpent. Use Venom Cannon fire to shoot down the Serpent (killing off a couple of banshees in the crash), then drop a trio of small templates into them, which will most likely cripple the squad. It also forces them to take two pinning tests into the bargain (One from the crash, one from the mines). They’re also reasonably effective at taking out Vypers and WarWalkers.

Dark Eldar:
Poison. Often, Dark Eldar rely on their skimmers to get into combat quickly. Poison mines work well in bringing down, or at least slowing, the Raiders and pinning the riders. The other mines have their uses as well-Frags will decimate almost every single unit in their army, and Bio-acid can be good against Incubi.

Poison, yet again. Both they and Frags wound orks on a 4+. Poison has the advantages of being able to kill trucks and ignore ‘ard boyz saves. Use them in a similar manner as against Dark Eldar-kill off the transports then pin the passengers.

Really, you’d have better things to spend your points on against marines, but bio-acid can bag the occasional kill here and their.

Chaos Marines:
See regular marines.

See regular marines, only they’re even less effective as the Toasters will still get WBB rolls.

Daemon Hunters:
If you expect inducted Guard, go for frags. If you expect large numbers of Inquisitorial Stormtroopers, go for Poison. If you’re expecting lots of Grey knights, go for Genestealers. Or Bio-acid.

Witch Hunters:
Perhaps the time Bio-acid is most useful, as it kills sisters off quickly and is just as effective as poison against Stormtroopers.

Surprise, Surprise, Poison! Actually, biovores are very useful against fire warriors, who can really hurt your army with masses of pulse fire. Cutting down the numbers of them, and potentially drifting them into an ethereal (though you’ll need some serious luck for this) can be very helpful.

4. Team Buddies.

Its usually a good idea to give the biovores a little support. While they do have Brood Telepathy, they also have a rubbish Ld value so are vulnerable to running off at the first loud bang. They also can be quite vulnerable to people coming up round the flanks at them.

Zoes can be kept as dirt cheap “Shepard’s” for Biovores (Just add Synapse) that can take quite a bit of killing to put down. Unfortunately, it’s a bit of a waste for such a potent tank/MEQ-killing unit, and doesn’t help the biovores from getting attacked, just keeps them in place and stops instant death. You can add Warp Blast to solve this to some extent, but it quickly racks up the cost for a unit that basically will be sitting in place not doing much.


They won’t solve the problem of the biovores running off one bit. However, having a cheap brood of 10-15 termagants lurking in some cover, firing off volleys of fleshborer shots can deter small units that may get sent at you, while remaining fairly resilient with an average 4+ cover save. In my experience, small units of 3 bikes are often sent up on anti-biovore duty, and 15 borer shots can dissuade them very well-you should kill at least one or two, crippling their offensive ability to the extent where you can bog them down with the gaunts for a while. However, as already stated, it won’t help the biovores from running off.


These can be great. Add on carapace and leaping, and keep the brood size at 3-4 bases. Take more than one brood if possible. As soon as you see some enemy coming towards the biovores, send the rippers into assault-with their 12” range they can assault first and tie them up for a good while with their half-decent armour save. Two broods are the most useful in this came to make sure that if the first brood begins to thin, you can throw in the other brood. However, as with the gaunts, they don’t help the biovores from running off.


These are the best unit to defend biovores with. They can be kept fairly cheap, have decent ranged and combat power, and synapse to keep the Biovores from running. However, it can sometimes be tempting to make them quite pricey. Try not to-keep the brood size as 3, and the upgrades to a minimum. Two things to go for would be:
1. Senses, Carapace, Toxin Sacs, Twin-devs.
2. Senses, Carapace, Toxin Sacs, Strangler, 2x Deathspitters, Talons.
The first example has very good fire power, more than enough to overwhelm small squads. Since most bikes are T5, the toxins sacs will be useful-no matter what the situation, needing to roll 6’s to wound is not fun.

The second brood is less for defending the biovores, and more for supporting them with the Barbed Strangler-even if the mines miss the target, you can have a go with the Strangler, and the ‘spitters as well if they are close enough. Very few opponents can survive 5 small templates and 1 big template coming at them without taking casualties, even factoring in Tyranid (in)accuracy.
However, carapace on the warriors is not actually necessary. Since they will be hiding up the far end of the table and are unlikely to be that high on the enemy’s target list, you can get away with a 5+ save some of the time.

5. Fire for Effect.

You can no longer shell randomly with biovores. In the old codex, you could happily shell a wide area with the uber-artillery of fungoid death safe in the knowledge that if something set the mine off, it was likely to hit something. Now, you are forced to fire more accurately, and pick targets carefully.

So, you need to know what the best targets are for Biovores. The best kinds are enemy units that lurk behind the main line and give the rest of the army bonuses or just sit out of reach and hurt you with nasty zappy lasers. Biovores work well for taking these out. On that note, so do Lictors, but that’s another article altogether. What follows is a list of what I’ve found biovores to be good at neutralising. Do bear in mind that I don’t own all the codexes, and haven’t fought against some armies much, so I may well miss some out.

Imperial Guard Command Squads.

IG command squads are rather annoying. They like to sit out of reach, helping the rest of the army to pass their Moral Tests, often have long range heavy weapons to shoot at you with, and will sometimes have a nutter waving a power weapon in the squad to provide a half-decent counter attack unit.

However, they are still T3 with a 5+ save, 4+ at best, and come in squads of 5. So, a trio of mines in the middle of them can really ruin their day. It has the net effects of a) reducing enemy firepower, b) reducing enemy CC ability, and c) makes it easier to break the army’s moral.

Artillery of all kinds.

You know what I’m talking about. The big guns with 2-3 crew along with it. IG Weapon Teams, Eldar Support Batteries, Ork Big Gunz, and others I’ve missed. Even other Biovores. Because they only have a small number of models, it’s easy to knock out a few guns per volley. Eldar Vibro cannons are especially nasty, and killing them off early can be a great help.

Dark Reapers.

I’ve alluded to these earlier. Small, fragile squad, hides at the rear, has horribly good firepower. Beat them round the head with some poison mines to shut them up quickly.

Any open topped vehicles

It’s always good to inflict an automatic glance on enemy open-topped vehicles. Since they add +1 on the damage roll, you have a 1 in 3 chance of killing it-not bad odds, really. If it’s an open-topped skimmer, then that goes up to a 1 in 2 chance (if my shoddy maths is correct)-rather a good way for nobbling those irritating Vypers.

Non-Khornate Daemons.

While they do get an invulnerable save, it is fairly low, and they come with an average toughness, and can be quite pricey per model. They also are one of the units that can possibly give you pause in an assault, so killing a few, then hopefully Destabilising a few more with their instability tests can be usefull.

Things with a 3+ save that as still T3.

Simply because you wound on a 4+ and ignore their saves, so you can rack up kills quickly. Dark Eldar Incubi are one of these, especially as they are very choppy in an assault, but are expensive in points. Sisters of Battle are another good target.

Well, that’s pretty much it. I’ve probably missed out on a lot of useful targets, but as I’ve said, I haven’t used biovores against every unit in every race. Really, its just common sense-if you will wound on a 4+ or better and ignore their saves, and the target is likely to cause problems, go for it!

Just keep your Biovores hidden out of LoS of the enemy, sit a small synaptic squad near them to make sure they don’t run off, and prioritise your targets, and you’ll do fine. And remember-even if they kill very few of the enemy, they are after all a scoring unit, and one unlikely to be fired on, giving you a little advantage for calculating who wins.

Hive Rejects-because Tyranids don’t stop at Sniperfexes and Genestealers.

 Post subject: Re: 4th Edition Tactica and Strategies
PostPosted: Mon May 31, 2010 1:01 am 
The Red Terror
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Location: Fort McMurray, Alberta, Canada
Hive Rejects Tactica: Ripper Swarms
Written by: RampagingRavener

First, a disclaimer: What follows is not a guide to creating an unbeatable, tournament-demolishing steamroller army. It is a guide to using a unit usually left out of lists in a way to get the most out of it, and perhaps encourage you to take them more often.

1. Biomorphs-even the littlest monsters get some toys.

First, a list of the biomorphs and their uses. I’ve included spinefists in here as well, as it isn’t worth devoting an entire section to a single bioweapon option!

Adrenal Glands (WS.) It’s quite a pricey biomorph, and has debatable use. If you want to make your rippers hit WS 3 things on a 3+ or make WS 4 things hit you on a 4+, then go for it. But most of the time its best to leave it at home-its mostly defensive.

Adrenal Glands (I). Can be quite useful against Imperial Guard to make sure you strike at the same time, and help running down fleeing enemies, but most of the time, it won’t do much. You already strike before powerfists that insti-kill whole bases in one go, and that’s all you need, really.

Enhanced Senses. If you plan on taking spinefists, there’s no reason for not taking these. With them, you’ll hit approximately 50% of the time. If you’re not taking spinefists, then there isn’t any reason for taking them.

Extended Carapace. Very, very useful. Not so much against shooting (though it does help against Imperial Guard and anything else that has an ap6/- basic gun) but in combat, where it gives you a bit more survivability against most things. And even if you do end up in combat against power-weapon wielding foes, so what? You’ve lots one point per base. Woo.

Flesh Hooks. If you’re playing in lots of terrain, or with vertical terrain (so, basically cityfight) then these are worth going for. Besides, its dirt cheap.

Leaping. Pretty useful, I take it on anything. It lets you hit combat a turn earlier, so less exposure to fire. Plus, it lets you heap in the extra attacks for the larger assist zone. With the larger bases of the rippers, it can be tricky to get a whole brood into combat against small squads. I’ll look at leaping closely a bit later.

Toxin Sacs.Very useful if you want rippers that actually kill things and not tie them up. They are a bit pricey though, so if you just want to tie things up, leave them at home.

Wings. Winged rippers are expensive, and take up a valuable Fast Attack slot. However, winged rippers are a very useful fast harassment unit. I’ll deal with wings in the “Flankers” section.

Spinefists. These are really rather useful, but only combined with enhanced senses (Duh!). As already said, at BS2 with re-rolls you will hit about half the time. Combine this with 3 shots per base and a cheap cost, and you get a surprisingly effective shooting unit against T3, 5+ save opponents. They can even bag a MEQ here and there.

2. Battlefield Roles-Yes, they do more than just eat.

Generally speaking, rippers fill fulfil one of the following roles: Harassment, Tar, bodyguards, or flanking. I’ll look at each one separately.

Harassment: The general role of harassment is to annoy the enemy, trouble his units by killing the odd model here and there, kill off small units, and generally just get in the way.

For rippers to harass effectively, they need to be able to engage the enemy quickly, and do damage to him when they have attacked. First of all, this makes either leaping or winged essential so as to get the jump on the enemy. Then, you’ll need damage-dealing biomorphs. Against WS3 opponents, Adrenal Glands (WS) could be a worthy purchase if you’re willing to spend the points, and Toxin Sacs defiantly so. If you’ve gone for leaping over wings, consider carapace to add to their survivability in combat. Senses and spinefists could be considered almost essential here, allowing them to harass from afar before they hit combat. However, it is best not to take too many upgrades, and combining toxin sacs and spinefists is asking for trouble-it’ll send the cost shooting up.

Tar: Tar. Ah, the quintessential ripper role. Get stuck in quickly, hold the enemy up for as long as possible, and don’t worry when they die. There are only two considerations here-assault quickly, and stay alive. Now, there are two theories here. The first is to keep them dirt cheap-in this case, no upgrades except leaping and perhaps carapace. The other is to take defensive biomorphs in order to hold up the enemy longer-Leaping, carapace and Adrenal Glands (WS).

Personally, the cheap tar rippers work best IMO. The more survivability each base has, the fewer bases you have in total, which makes them more vulnerable to shooting attacks for only a small increase in survivability. However, there is “Hot Tar”; rippers designed to hold things up while thinning them out as well. In this case, all you need do is tag on toxin sacs!

Bodyguards: Many creatures can benefit from a little bit of help, whether it be a mobile tar pit or direct combat support. The kit for these depends solely on what you intend to protect-if it’s something like biovores, plain rippers will do just fine to tie up the enemy for a while. If you want to give a Monstrous Creature some combat support, then Toxin Sacs and Carapace work well, or perhaps Spinefists and Senses to try and dissuade any wannabes who think they can tie it up for a few turns. Whatever you go for, the most important thing is to set them up to intercept chargers, like this:

…|Rippers|…………| Unit you want to guard |………|Rippers|

Generally, setting up a few ripper bases to the flanks of units you need protected can make it harder for the enemy to make the charge. As the enemy cannot charge through the rippers, it forces them to manoeuvre round them, delaying them for a turn, and often giving you ample opportunity to charge them with a brood of rippers yourself, buying yourself even more time.

Another use for guarding rippers is to guard objectives. While they may not count as scoring units, they can head off and tie down any enemy units that try to take an objective, giving you time to throw a serious unit into combat to finish them off.

Flanking: This is the primary role for Flying Rippers. A brood of rippers with wings and toxin sacs, at 23 points a base, is very expensive. However, it is also a highly efficient unit for getting rid of enemy units that lurk on the extreme flanks of the enemy army, or cutting round the rear of the enemy and hitting them in the back-something that can be a killer blow, as after manuvering into position, you can hit them with lots of St4 attacks just as they start to buckle under the waves of hormagaunts, raveners, and genestealers.

Something to be wary of is that unlike most rippers, these will get shot at-the speed of them will draw fire. Keep them in cover (remembering the small targets rule-you should be looking at a 3+ cover save most of the time) and hope that they get forgotten about.

Adding spines and senses instead of toxin sacs makes them just as effective as a harassment unit, but with a bit of extra range to your attacks, so you can rack up a few kills before hitting combat. However, while wings, senses, spinefists, and toxin sac rippers are deadly at range and combat, they also cost a stupidly expensive 26 points each, which really is too expensive for a non-scoring unit. Try to avoid going over 22 or 23 points per base.

3a) Boing, boing, you’re dead!

One of the biggest problems with rippers is their speed, or more accurately, the lack of it. Similarly to assault carnifexes, by the time they arrive at the enemy he may well have drowned in a tide of Hormagaunts, Genestealers and Raveners, leaving you with little for them to do except wander around aimlessly.

Because of this, unless you intend to leave your rippers sitting up at the far end of the table to guard something, give them either leaping or wings. It will quickly make the brood pricier, but it’s defiantly worth it. Leaping will allow you to get into combat on turn 3, turn 2 if you’re lucky, and isn’t that expensive, and gives you that vital 3” assist zone. This will generally be preferable to wings, which as well as costing over twice as much as leaping and prevent you from taking carapace.

Another thing to consider about leaping is that it will allow you to move from combat to combat easier. If the first target you reach is eventually killed, then a 12” assault move means you can bounce into a new combat all the faster, tying up another squads worth of firepower.

3b) So much food, so little time.

All four classes of rippers fall into one of two broader roles-tar or fighty. The four types aren’t what classify them in these, but how you intend to use them and what they are equipped with. Thus, flying rippers could count as Tar if you want them to tie up enemy units, and don’t have any upgrades except wings, but could be fighty if they also have toxin sacs and you intend to hunt for devastator squads.


Right from the start of the game, tar rippers should have a clear idea over what they are intending to bog down. They should head for units that are able to cause you serious pain at range, or put up a credible counter-attack in assault. Against ranged opponents, common sense should prevail here-Devastator/havoc squads, Dark Eldar “Sniper” squads (10 warriors with two dark lances), Tau suits (all three kinds), Eldar Pathfinders and Dark Reapers, etc. Against combat opponents, it’s a little trickier, as common sense will say that if the enemy is good enough in combat to worry you, they won’t have any trouble with a bunch of rippers! However, there is a hard-and-fast rule you can follow:

Avoid things with st6 or more, or can instikill whole bases in one pop. These can chow through whole broods in seconds, negating the main benefit of rippers-the mass of wounds they can bring to bear on the enemy. One example is the chaos lord with a Dark Blade and a variety of other upgrades. I’ve seen this one model hack down five bases in a single round of combat!

Attack things toting power weapons. You’ll only be loosing a 5+ or 6+ save, rather than a 4+ or better if a whole squad of power weapons toting monsters rampages into one of your valuable squad. It can be very entertaining watching a squad of lighting-claw armed terminators or struggling against a horde of rippers while the big, carnifex they want to kill smacks down the tactical squads a few inches away.

Also, if possible try to thin down the squad first at range. If you can pop a few models first, then that’s less attacks coming at you in combat. I give all my rippers Spinefists and Senses for this reason alone. Generally, even if they only kill a few enemies at range, you should earn back the cost of the upgrade pretty easily.

Eaten Alive!:

If you decide to go for all-out assaulty rippers like flankers, then, the same goes for tar rippers-avoid things that insti-kill you. However, because you are intending simply to kill the enemy, don’t feel restricted to attacking his expensive elite units to tie them up-feel free to pile in against his rank and file infantry. A large brood of charging rippers can throw out a surprising amount of attacks that can really trouble lighter infantry. Normally, I don’t like using theoryhammer, but let’s look at some numbers for a moment:

10 ripper bases with carapace charges 10 Imperial Guardsmen. The guard strike first with ten attacks, which will average 5 hits, 3 will wound, and the rippers save one. The rippers then get 40 (!) attacks, hitting and wounding on a 4, forcing the guard player to take 10 (!!) saves-about 7 dead, and due to the massive outnumbering its quite likely that those three guardsmen will turn tail and run for it. Even if the rippers don’t catch them, which is more than likely, they won’t be rallying and won’t be a scoring unit, so that’s one unit basically stuffed. If you were to add toxin sacs, you’d most likely kill off the whole unit. Against MEQ’s, it becomes a little harder-with toxin sacs, you’ll probably get somewhere in the region of 3-4, and loose a base for your troubles.

3c) Some nuts are harder to crack...

…Which is why we have carnifexes. There are things which will really give rippers are real hard time-so, as you might expect, a list of the types of things that you don’t want rippers anywhere near, and the things that can pop the little dears at range:

Devastator/Havoc squads loaded up with plasma cannons:

Ugh. Not only do they insti-kill you, they also tend to hit a couple of bases per shot. I’ve seen the best part a whole brood torn apart by these things. Fortunately, they tend to come in small squads, so shoot at them to lessen the fire they can kick out, then try and hit them with a Ravener or Lictor.

Anything with a template:

Quite possible of frying a whole brood on one shot, these are really the rippers’ worst enemy at long range. Doubling wounds is one thing, but insti-killing as well is even worse! Unfortunately, there is also nothing you can do about it except hide in cover and hope, or shoot down whatever is kicking out the templates first.


Multiple shots, instant death. Taken in large quantities. Can hurt big things once it’s done with the rippers. Often has Guide cast on them to re-roll misses. Just be happy that they ain’t blowing lumps out Monsterous Creatures as instead.

Imperial/Chaos Terminators:

With multiple powerfist attacks, theses will stomp through an entire unit in no time, so you’re unlikely to even hold them up for long. And with that damnable 2+ save, you probably won’t even kill any in return. If you want to tie up terminators, try and aim for the ones with lighting claws. See also: Mega-armoured Nobz.

Ork Boyz:

Sheer volume of attacks will win out here. If you charge, everything will strike simultaneously so you should get a good number of orks, and if they charge, the boyz will strike first (Waaagh!) and you won’t kill anything! If you want to hunt orks, go for wings, senses and spines, and flap around shooting at stuff, especially things that you’re too busy to go after with anything else, like grotz.

Monsterous Creatures:

Might Initiative + High strength + high toughness + lots of attacks = lots of dead rippers. The only one I’d recommend going against is the Wraithlord, but that’s because it’s got very few attacks and will be lucky to kill more than 2 bases a turn.

As normal, I’ve probably missed a few, but the basic rule applies-if it insti-kills you, stay the hell away from it!

Well, we’re done for rippers. As usual, I make no guarantee that following these guidelines will make rippers a watertight, tournament-ready unit. However, hopefully it will encourage all those people who shelved their rippers when they lost rending mutants to take them out, dust them down, and have another shot.

Hive Rejects-because Tyranids don’t stop at Sniperfexes and Genestealers.

 Post subject: Re: 4th Edition Tactica and Strategies
PostPosted: Mon May 31, 2010 1:05 am 
The Red Terror
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Location: Fort McMurray, Alberta, Canada
Hive Rejects Tactica: Expensive Assault Carnifexes
Written by: RampagingRavener

Yep, the much maligned CC fexes. Personally, I think they get a lot of bad press, more so than they deserve. I'm not saying they are the "best" choice available to you to select, but they are a whole lot more useful than many people make out. I've been using them in most of the games I play, and have used them to great success-so I'm going to hammer out a tactica article and see what happens.

1. Breeding a Monster.

The first thing to do is to actually build your fex. As this is dealing with Expensive fexes (as the general consensus is that for CC carnies, cheaper is better), I'll only be looking at those of 180 points or more.

The first thing to understand is that this thing will often attract every single shot on the board to it-the thing is a veritable bullet magnet. Unfortunately, the basic profile leaves it rather vulnerable. Fortunately, there are some biomorphs to help solve this:

Bonded Exoskeleton: An odd biomorph in that it alters the Toughness of the Carnifex, in this case bumping it up to 7. While it might not seem very much at first, considering that the st9/10 lascannons/railguns will be unhampered by this. However, like carapace, it is a useful deterrent to small arms fire-it will affect any weapon with the following strenghts-3, 5, 6, 7, and 8. This also includes the dreaded Plasma guns, forcing them to wound on a 4+, and Starcannons, which must now get 5+. It also helps against marine powerfists, bringing a 2+ to wound to a 3+.

Extended Carapace: This will provide almost no protection against the things that really trouble a carnifex-Ap2 weapons. However, it will provide a lot of protection from other weapons, like the bolters that accompany that lascannon. The main benefit is that while a 3+ save can be breached relatively easily, a 2+ save is harder to crack. I might have got my maths wrong, but I thin that every third 3+ save will fail, compared to every sixth on a 2+. This makes it worth taking, I believe.

Regenerate: Yes, its expensive. Yes, it only works on a 6. Is it worth taking? Sometimes. Regen is very hit-or-miss, I've had games where I've regenerated four wounds in one turn and others where I've regenerated nothing over the whole game. It can be useful combined with Reinforced Chitin, you have a decent chance of getting a 6 to come up when the fex is on its last wound. I like it just as a precaution-if you have the points, go ahead and take it. But don't count on it working.

Reinforced Chitin: As far as I'm concerned, every HS carnifex should have this. The extra wound is just too useful for soaking up an extra lascannon shot, and its pretty cheap as well.

All in all, I think Carapace and Chitin are the most important defensive biomorphs, followed by Exoskeleton, and finally regeneration. However, if you are willing to put 90 points alone into it, adding all the defensive biomorphs can drastically improve the survivability of your fex.

Next, improving the other stats. The basic profile is rather poor, so you will have to invest in plenty of biomorphs. So, in alphabetical order:

Acid Maw: At first glance, it seems rather useless-you'll be wounding on a 2+, after all. But, it only needs to turn a 1 into a 2+ to earn back the points you spent in it, and often every kill counts. Far from essential, but a nice precaution.

Adrenal Glands (I): Very good for striking before powerfists and the like. At I1, most things will strike before you, but its always worth taking in case you run into a powerfist or two.

Adrenal Glands (WS): Essential. Dirt cheap and makes it easier to hit-why you wouldn't take this on an assault fex is beyond me. Unless you're fighting Tau.

Bio-plasma: Very helpful if you're expecting skimmers. Useless against 3+ save armies, marginally useful against 4+ save, nice against 5+ or worse. I don't normally bother.

Enhanced Senses: Since we're dealing with expensive assault carnies, don’t bother.

Flesh Hooks: Hey, for 1 point, why not? If your opponent is hiding in terrain, it actually makes the fex better-frags make you strike simultaneously if you charge into cover-the fex would normally strike last anyhow.

Implant Attack: Debateable how useful this is. Since most of the things you'll be fighting can be instikilled, it might not be worth it. If you want to risk going against Wraithlords, Greater Daemons etc, it'll defiantly help, however.

Spine Banks: Got 5 points to spare and nothing else to spend it on? There are worse things to buy. Don't actually expect it to do anything though. Frag Grenades is nice, but Flesh Hooks do it cheaper. Good against 5+ save armies though, 5+ with re-rolls will normally give you a hit, which combined with st6 means you can often get a single kill.

Spore Cysts: Can wound the fex, doesn't kill much, can't be dropped in combat...nah, go for something else.

Symbiotic Rippers: You count as 10 models already, another 1 on top will not do much. Save the 2 points for something else.

Tail Mace: It can help if you expect to go in against swarms of enemy troops, or a counter-charge to try and bog it down. Cheap as well.

Tail Scythe: Same as Tail Mace, but a little more unpredictable and more expensive. Looks damn neat though, which is why I use it.

Thornback: IMO the best back upgrade. Counting as 20 models means that it'll be hard to not outnumber the enemy, forcing No Retreat! wounds on them or making them run off easier.

Toxin Sacs: st9 will do just as well as st10 in most cases, but is nice for the inskilling of T5 units and extra vehicle killing.

Toxic Miasma: Combine this with Adrenal Glands (WS) to hit WS4 units on a 3+. A Very nice combination. It can also work as a defensive biomorph-again, combined with +1 WS, it forces WS5 opponents to hit on a 4+ instead of 3+.

Tusked: Extra attacks are nice. This gives an extra attack on the charge. Go figure. Is a bit pricey though.

Well, that’s all well and good, but what about weapons? As this is dealing with assault fexes, I'll be ignoring the ranged bioweapons.

Crushing Claws: Unpredictable. They can work wonderfully or not at all. Personally, I like them-probable because it’s rare for me to roll less than a 4! Statistically, the do the same job as two pairs of scything talons, but are more expensive. They look nice though, and there’s no denying the hilarity involved when you roll a 6-combined with talons and tusks, you can a possible 9 attacks on the charge!

Lash Whips: Bleh. Dunno why you would take these, really. If you want to cut down on return attacks invest in a small brood of warriors with lashes to run along next to it.

Rending Claws: You ignore saves and roll 2D6 for armour penetration already. More attacks is more important than rending. Ignore these.

Scything Talons: Meat 'n potatoes assault carnie weapons. It should have at least one pair, then a choice of another pair of crushers. I've talked about crushers already-if you're a gambler, go for crushers. If you like statistically sound models, go for more talons. However, chances are if you like statistically sound models, you'll be using sniperfexes and devilfexes instead!


2. Slow and steady....

Right. So, you've got your carnifex. Its dribbling acid and bio-plasma, flexing its claws, and ready to kick some power-armoured butt. There’s only one thing stopping it. 24" of table, and enough enemy firepower to level several small countries. Oh dear.

However, this is by no means impossible to cope with. If you are exactly 24" away, you should hit combat on turn 4, 3 if you're lucky. There is something you can do to speed this up though-force him to move towards you. There are a number of ways you can do this:

A) Play missions which revolve around taking table quarters, objectives, etc. March the Carnifex right towards said quarters/objectives, and watch the foe try to decide whether to move towards the fex, or surrender that area to you. Even if he vacates that objective and the fex never hits combat, it doesn't matter-denying an objective can be just as much a way to win as killing the enemy.

B) Plant a Lure. Take a small, vulnerable squad and deploy it with the carnifex a little behind. Try to get the enemy to assault the lure-this will have the effect of moving them about 12" closer to you-I've used this trick to get a turn 2 assault with a big 'ole CC carnie. 6 Scuttling genestealers with carapace was what I used-the threat of them pouncing on turn 2 and ripping though a squad was too much for my opponent, who charged them with a squad of Chaos Marines, flattened the stealers, and then got stomped by the carnie.

C) Put threat behind his lines. If many units appear in behind him and threaten his backfield, it can sometimes trick him into moving to get away from them-if you're clever, this can make him move right into the path of the Carnie. I've only pulled this off once though, and it relied on combining three lictors, 5 single-brood raveners and the red terror deep striking in (this was playing with two detachments), and two CC carnies-one on each flank. He split his forces to try and outflank me, and ran straight into the juggernaughts, which rumbled right over him.

D) Work out in advance if any parts of his army will be moving towards you of their own accord-bikers, jump troops or squads in transports who may try to launch assaults on the less-assault elements in your army-Gaunts, biovores, zoanthropes, shooty warriors, shooty fexes etc. Deploy the Carnie where you think he'll launch his assault-either he runs towards the fex, or you disrupt his plans.

Ok, now you now how to get it into combat on time-now, ways to keep out of the enemy gunfire:

A) Hug Cover. Like you didn’t see this one coming! Pretty simple really, try to make sure there’s a small warehouse worth of terrain in the way of the fex and whatever’s trying to shoot at it. Even a 5+ cover save can help save the odd wound here and there.

B) Another simple one-tie up the enemy guns. Use cheap, fast units like basic hormagaunts, scuttling spinegaunts, gargoyles (ok, gargs can be quite pricey), or even lictors (though they ain’t cheap either!). I’ve found lictors the be the most useful for this job, they can often score a kill or two themselves, leave plenty of room for the fex to get into combat, and can help chase down the opponent when they flee with his monster Initiative.

C) Give him more pressing things to shoot at. Often heavy weapons come in squads with rapid-firing weapons. If there are a load of gaunts about to attack, he may well want to rapid-fire at the gaunts. If he does, then the Lascannon won’t be pointing at your fex, and that’s never a bad thing. Even if he does kill the fex with said lascannon, you can get him with the gaunts.


3. With a Little Help from my friends.

As mean as the carnifex is in combat, he isn’t invincible. Daemon Princes, C’tan, Terminators, Ork Warbosses and Mega-armoured nobz and more can take down your beast in an assault with a bit of luck. Even if you’re just against enemy infantry, a large enough squad can just swamp the poor thing and tie it up for the rest of the game. The best way to deal with this is to give him some support:

A) Lictors.
• Can leap out just where the fex is with no risk of getting shot down first.
• High Initiative means you can run down the enemy if they flee.
• Feeder Tendrils means the fex will hit on a 3+ against most things.
• Unpredictable. You can’t control when they appear, so are likely to jump out early.
• Fragile and rather expensive.
• Don’t generally kill a lot.

B) Raveners.
• Can hide behind the fex to block LoS to them.
• High I and WS with several rending attacks means they can kill quite a bit.
• Since you’ll want it to hit combat at the same time as the fex, you can give it a gun and not fleet-the range of deathspitters might be useful.

• Fragile. If the enemy gets a shot, they’re in trouble.
• Waste of their speed.
• Uses up a FA slot.

C) Genestealers.
• Very good in combat.
• Move at a similar speed, so should hit combat at the same time.
• Can be given feeder tendrils for additional support.

• Expensive. A min sized brood with carapace is 120 points.
• May well sweep the kill-zone against lesser foes, leaving the fex unable to attack.
• Can block space into the assault.

D) Warriors (shooty)
• Can whittle down the enemy so the fex floors most of the squad on the charge.
• Won’t outpace the carnifex.
• Able to attack the enemy while moving along with the fex.

• Rubbish in an assault unless you pour some serious points in.
• Weapons can be quite short-ranged.
• Small, cheap broods are fragile. Large resilient broods are expensive.

E) Warriors (Assaulty)
• Lots of rending attacks can build a bodycount, but not enough to sweep the kill-zone before the fex.
• Won’t outpace the carnifex.
• Small brood can be kept cheap, its possible to get 3 warriors with carapace, initiative, scythes and rends for 90 points.

• Depends solely on rending unless other upgrades are bought.
• Large bases can block the fex as it gets into combat,
• Small, cheap broods are fragile. Large resilient broods are expensive.

F) Zoanthropes with Catalyst
• Catalyst is a beautiful thing. Able to make your fex attack, even if it already has done, it can make the difference in some battles.
• You can tag on another power to help further-Synapse to make sure it doesn’t fail IB tests and keep any other support broods in line, Scream to add on more modifiers to enemy moral tests, or Warp Blast for some fire support.

• Useless in combat.
• Expensive.

Often, the best thing to do is combine broods for support. I often use two Raveners with Talons and Claws, and three warriors with senses, carapace, and twin-linked devourers, and occasionally adding a Lictor if there’s one at hand, and keeping something with catalyst in range.


4. Target Priority.

Right, that’s the basics sorted. Next up is target priority, or what you want it to fight. It’s a good idea if you know in advance a rough idea of what your opponent will take; planning in advance what you want the fex to attack can often help in deployment. Even just finding out what an opponent uses as he deploys is useful.
Puny Insects!

In an assault, very few opponents will be able to bring down a carnifex. They might wound it through luck and desperation, but the basic ‘poor bloody infantry’ are not a big threat. With the +1 Toughness upgrade, any troops with st3 or less can’t even touch you! However, there are a few pointers:

1. Watch out for large, swarmish units like guardsmen or orks that can afford to safely throw away without loosing a large chunk of their battle line, and by doing so gumming up your carnifex from actually doing something worthwhile-ironically, one of the things Tyranids are good at! The best way to avoid this is to try and soften up enemy squads with a bit of fire first, and to give the fex some support to help it deal with any suicidal chargers that decide to throw themselves at you.

2. The old, old worry of Hidden Powerfists…really, there isn’t anything to do except take the T7 upgrade and try to ensure the powerfist is in the carnifexes kill-zone and you sweep it completely…

3. Be wary of squads that contain multiple power weapons, power fists, etc. The carnifexes good armour save won’t help against these. Lighting Claws, power fists, Agonisers, Dark Blades etc are even worse as they go some ways to negating your toughness. Really, the only thing you can do is suck it up and take the wounds if you intend to go toe-to-toe with these. Even worse are the things that are entirely comprised of Power Weapons-Dark Eldar Incubi, Howling Banshees (though T7 sorts these out nicely), terminators, chaos chosen…if possible, avoid these entirely or thin them out drastically at range.

4. If possible, aim for the solid elite units that often accompany enemy HQ’s. It’s quite possible to smash straight though them in a turn or two of combat, earning back a whole load of Victory Points and removing a potentially large threat to your gaunt broods. However, they often tend to be full of power-weapon nastiness as described above.

Well, really, its just a 20-foot can opener, isn’t it?

Tanks are an assault carnifexes best friend. Easily able to go a big way to earning the points back you spent, able to be torn apart easily, and with the opportunity to get some cover in the wreckage. Really, there isn’t much else to say, except these:

1. If you can immobilise a vehicle at range that’s near an assault carnifex, stop shooting at it unless you really, really need it dead. If it can’t get away, the fex can waltz up and rip it in half.

2. Don’t expect to do anything against skimmers, unless you have bioplasma. By all means charge it and have a go if you get in range (besides, it’ll take you 6” closer), but since you need 6’s to hit with normal attacks…

War of the Monsters.

I don’t think I’ve ever met someone who doesn’t like to see big monsters kicking lumps out each other. So why not mirror this in your games? A fully-tooled assault carnifex is one of the biggest and scariest around, after all!

1. Be prepared to take wounds. Due to the carnifexes low Initiative, most things will strike before it, and will wound you rather easily. Try to make sure a Catalyst is near by for support.

2. Implant attack is your best friend. As cool as it may be to see two twenty foot behemoths slugging it out with each other, you want the foe’s monster dead quickly to protect your fex as much as possible.

3. Know your foe-have a general idea of what you can expect from your opponent’s monster-for example, while a Fex could rip apart the avatar with ease, you want it as far away from a C’tan as possible. This is even more important when you play against Daemon Princes, which vary from the horrible “Glaive Prince” to rather more restrained entries.


5. Things that can mess you up bad.

Every beast has his limits. As with all units, there are things that can really, really hurt. Here are the ones that come to mind, though there are probably many more which I’ve missed out.

At long Range…

1. Eldar WarWalkers with two starcannons.
Six St6, Ap2 shots a turn coming at you is not pretty unless you’ve invested in +1 toughness. Even worse is when a battery of them comes out against you! Really, the best thing is just to kill them however you can, quickly. Pop some lictors into them, shoot at them with Warp Blast, deepstrike gargoyles and fleshborer the rear armour, even just tie them up with hormagaunts!

2. Eldar Howling Banshees.

If you’re on T6, these will be horrible. Masses of Power weapons attacks are not an enjoyable experience, even if they do wound on a 6+. Try to shoot them up first, or just take T7. Actually, that should just be a basic rule. If you play against Eldar, take T7.

3. Dark Eldar Ravagers.

For 105 points, you get a fast skimmer that carries 3 st8, ap2 guns, firing at BS4. Thank god they’re armoured with cardboard and eggshell. Shoot them down with Venom Cannons.

4. Eldar Falcons.

Hard to catch, very hard to damage if they’ve been upgraded, and pack a helluva lot of firepower. Hit them with all your firepower or just try and ignore them. Or, use Gargoyles with bioplasma against the rear armour.

5. Space Marine Las/Plas Squads.

Dirt cheap, 5 marines toting a lascannon and plasma gun, these can chip wounds away quickly. Try to tie them up with something. Lictors work well for this.

6. Grey Knight Grand Masters.

Force weapons are not nice. Fortunately, most Librarians are too St4 to be that big a threat. Grand Masters are st6, and thus much more dangerous. Especially when surrounded by a bodyguard of Terminators. Who all strike first, and wound on 4+/5+, ignoring saves. Ensure you have catalyst ready!

7. Anything with a “Heavy Close Combat Weapon”.

For those who don’t know, Heavy Close Combat Weapons reduce your armour save to a 4+, and are mostly carried by Orks or Khorne Berzerkers. With orks, the T7 upgrade should keep you safe as they are only st3. With Berzerkers, you don’t have any such safety nets. If possible, add some Rending Support, or thin them out at range.

8. Predators with three lascannons.

These normally strip off two wounds a turn-not good! Try to puncture them with a Venom Cannon or Warp Blast at long range and make sure you hug cover as you approach. Attacking the rear amour with lictors works as well.


6. Sample Monsters.

We’ll, we’re nearing the end of our trip. You’ve got an idea of the uses of biomorphs and bioweapons to build your carnifex, how to get it into combat on time and alive, what sort of support it’ll need, what to attack and what to avoid. Finally, I have some examples of big, meaty assault carnifexes-from a (relatively) stripped down 180-odd point beasts to a fully fledged 250+point behemoth.

1. Carnifex with Adrenal Glands (WS & I), Extended Carapace, Reinforced Chitin, Toxin Sacs, Toxic Miasma, Thornback, Tusked, Scything Talons, Scything Talons.
Cost: 180 points.

A basic, fairly resilient troop killer, useful in smaller games where you’ll be up against less anti-tank weaponry. It gets 6 st10 attacks that will hit on a 3+ against most things on the charge, and as it counts as 20 models it will impose some nasty outnumbering modifiers on the enemy.

1. Carnifex with Adrenal Glands (WS & I), Bonded Exoskeleton, Extended Carapace, Reinforced Chitin, Toxin Sacs, Toxic Miasma, Thornback, Tusked, Scything Talons, Crushing Claws, Flesh Hooks.
Cost: 228 points.

A little more resilient than the first one, and a bit riskier as it has Crushing Claws-anywhere between 4 and 9 st10 attacks on the charge. However, it may well draw a bit more fire, and is a bigger blow if it dies.

1. Carnifex with Acid Maw, Adrenal Glands (WS & I), Bonded Exoskeleton, Extended Carapace, Reinforced Chitin, Toxin Sacs, Toxic Miasma, Thornback, Tusked, Scything Talons, Crushing Claws, Flesh Hooks, Regenerate.
Cost: 264 points.

This is more like it; we’ve broken through the mythical 250 point barrier by adding Acid Maw and Regeneration. Once it gets to this stage, regen becomes very useful to try and repair a wound or two in the later stages of the game to keep it going a bit. Acid maw is also a generally useful upgrade with crushing claws-if you roll a poor number of attacks, you’ll want to ensure that every one of them wounds. Incidentally, this is the Carnifex Layout I use in my games, and it’s worked fantastically against a variety of quite skilled opponents.

1. Carnifex with Acid Maw, Adrenal Glands (WS & I), Bonded Exoskeleton, Extended Carapace, Reinforced Chitin, Toxin Sacs, Toxic Miasma, Thornback, Tusked, Scything Talons, Crushing Claws, Flesh Hooks, Regenerate, Implant Attack, Bioplasma.
Cost: 290 points.

This is about as expensive a CC fex can get, really. I’ve added a scythe tail to stop it getting bogged down in combat, Bio-plasma to have a pop at passing skimmers and perhaps claim an extra kill here and there, and Implant Attack if any monsters wander into attack range. Personally, even I think neigh-on 300 points is a little too much…


7. Conclusion, and other random stuff that I don’t think deserves its own section.

Well, this is pretty much the end of the article. But, there’s a few last things-namely, reasons why people don’t like the expensive assault carnifex, and my own counter arguments-a word of warning, these are mostly shaped by my own prejudices:

xxx points of genestealers will do the job much faster/easier/more efficiantly..

Personally, I don’t like massed genestealers. As I warned earlier, this is mostly because I personally find them dull and uninteresting-they’re a bit too good. Also, they are very vulnerable to getting flash-fried by an ordinance weapon, while a fex will take a single wound at best. They also take up a troops slot-for those who don’t run massed genestealer armies, troops slots can be quite valuable to fill up with rippers, hormies and gaunts.

It’ll never reach combat.

It can if you know the tricks-alluded to above.

It’ll get shot down before combat.

Again, dealt with earlier. xxx points of genestealers could be shot down before they reach combat as well.

It’s a bad investment/it’ll never earn its points back.

For me, this argument annoys me quite a bit. Units do not need to earn back their points to be worth taking. One example was when an assault carnifex did, as so many people seem to fear, get shot down on turn two before it hit combat, earning a spectacular 0% of its points back. It soaked up almost half the enemies’ gunfire for two turns before kicking the bucket, leaving much of my army unscathed. That won me the game, despite earning back no victory points. Sometimes, a big, walking target is good enough.

Well, that’s it. Everything I know and have learned about using big, expensive assaulty carnifexes is here-you can choose to rip it to shreds (as I expect some of you inevitably will), or perhaps think about it a bit-I do, honestly think that they deserve more credit than they get. I make no claims whatsoever that they are a game winning, tournament worthy, cornerstone unit that can take on any opponent and win. What I do claim, is that they can be used effectively, and, in my own very humble opinion, are great fun to use. I really dislike the sniperfex (Senses, Strangler, Cannon), having tested it I believe they are too dull for repeated use. Fluff plays a very big part of my army selection, and to me, the archetypical fluff image of the carnifex is a roaring assault monster, not hiding in the sidelines and shooting at tanks. It’s quite true that they are more effective in this role-but personally, I’d rather field an enjoyable army that lost than a dull, cut-and-paste army of the “best” units that won.

For all those who have managed to slog though this massive article, congratulations, and thanks for your time.

 Post subject: Re: 4th Edition Tactica and Strategies
PostPosted: Mon May 31, 2010 1:10 am 
The Red Terror
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Joined: Mon Mar 06, 2006 9:07 pm
Posts: 2146
Location: Fort McMurray, Alberta, Canada
How to Use a Swarm
Written by: SonOf Makuta

Son Of Makuta's Tyranid Tactica

+++ A quick preface:

This isn't intended to be a guide on how to write unstoppable Tyranid lists, hordes, elite swarms, Godzillae et cetera. Instead, it's a tactica on how to actually use the nids on the table top, or rather a collection of musings and things I've picked up over my two and a half years of experience with them. Nids were my first 40k army; I started the game and the army the day after 4th ed was released, and I've been chowing my way through enemy since then, with a very good win record. In fact, I think I've only ever lost about eight or nine games, and I'd bet I've played over a hundred. I once won a combat patrol game by eight hundred victory points - that's right, I wiped him (Space Marines) out entirely without conceding any points myself. I also once won a game against Iron Warriors by complete massacre in turn two.

Now that I've finished boasting, I'm going to present my idea of how to turn the nids from a collection of highly useful and not-so-useful list entries into an army. In no particular order. I'll try to steer away from too much list-writing, or particularly cheesy tactics. Much of this stuff should be pretty obvious, but a fair bit of it goes unnoticed behind all the rending claws. If you want to argue a point or correct anything, or best of all add your own tricks, please feel free.

+++ Terror Tactics

Nids have a decent advantage over many other races which most people don't spot. While they don't have fearsome or infamous special rules ('And We Shall Know No Fear' and 'We'll Be Back' come to mind), and their main one is as much a weakness as a strength, they have a great psychological advantage in that almost EVERY unit in the whole Tyranid army has a really nasty reputation.

Let me just explain that. You know that slight kick of dread in the back of your mind when someone deploys a Monolith? Or a C'tan? Nids get that effect for almost everything. My opponents are terrified of most of the stuff I can bring to bear, despite the fact that between all the Guard, Tau and power armour I normally come up against, they have enough firepower to take a Titan legion down. There are only two - perhaps three - Nid units, as far as I'm aware, that don't have the terror effect, and I'll come to those in a moment.

The terror effect can be exploited in a zillion different ways. In deployment, slap 24 Hormagaunts on a flank and - oh! what a surprise! - all the Crisis turn up on the other flank, where you can then deploy your winged hive tyrant and the other Hormagaunt brood... which happens to have 32 models in it. XD Point a gunfex towards a big valuable target, and despite the fact that statistically there's a one in umpteen chance of blowing it up, a tactically minded opponent will be pretty nervous and move away, which if you're really clever you can get to bottleneck other units, or bring it into charge range of something. This works particularly well with transports carrying valuable units. A less tactical opponent might not notice and just leave it there... in which case your venom cannon/warp blast opens up and (hopefully) turns his Hammerhead/Monolith/Land Raider into junk. The double devourer combo will have the same effect against infantry, especially the 12(!) shot Hive Tyrant. Broodlords can draw enough firepower to save the rest of your army for one turn, which is all you need: turn 2 and your fast stuff's in combat, killing things.

Previous successes can also force further horrors on unfortunate opponents. Against Tau, I once shot down three undamaged Piranhas in one salvo from a three-man Warrior brood. Ben is now well aware of my fire support Warriors. He also hates my Lictors, but I'll come to those later.

You can threaten units, particularly expensive and fragile HQs, with mass assaulters or monsters as well. Tyranids pack a mighty punch in close combat, a reputation justly deserved but often inflamed. Power armour is sadly quite a deterrent to your Hormagaunts, so it's unlikely that a non-upgraded brood will actually wipe out your average tactical squad on the charge or the second round. But your opponents don't know this at all! When you pick up 72 or 96 dice for your attacks... he'll often offer to remove the unit without even resolving. "They're just dead,", or words to that effect, have fallen on my gleeful ears many a time. And when the Farseer in his Warlock unit sees the winged Hive Tyrant, all four or five inches of solid metal height and Khaine-knows-how-much of wingspan, bearing down on him, he's not going to go "Ah! I'll pop its brain"; he's going to go "Ah, crap."

And what about the three un-terrible units? First up, Rippers. Ignored utterly, until they jump the enemy's hard assault unit and keep them stuck there for half the game, killing a few while they're at it. Extremely useful for filling up spare points, as they can have a decent effect. Next: Gaunts. OK, a hundred critters are going to cause a bit of nerves, but my 32 assorted Gaunts don't go near to making my opponents even break a sweat. That is, until they get in fleshborer range of the Land Speeders/Vypers, devourer range of the Kroot or Guardsmen... Or until 16 expendable Spinegaunts jump a battlesuit team that forgot they were there and tie them up while the Broodlord strolls over with his claws flexing (a tactic I'm going to try for my next game, against an O'Shovah army).

Thirdly, or rather two-and-a-half-ly because they're more underestimated than ignored, Warriors. I've seen my deathspitter-slinging Warriors shoot down a Farseer and nine Dire Avengers in one turn, three Dark Eldar units in three turns, untold light skimmers, Guard command squads left right and centre... Everyone thinks "oh they're Nids, they can't shoot worth biomass" and then a phase later it's "oh god, they've just blasted half my army to shreds". A slight exaggeration, but true. People accept that MCs can fire decently, and Gaunts really are slightly ineffective unless the right targets stray into their negligible range, but Warriors... It's the same in close combat. I don't recommend CC Warriors, and I doubt I will in future; any other Tyranid CC unit can do the same thing for cheaper, faster, or better. But that didn't stop me laughing when a Grey Knight Justicar, sole survivor of a four-phase slugging match between his squad and a Bloodletter unit, thought he'd jump my four shooty Warriors. Swinging his S6 power weapon, he went in and killed a grand total of one. Striking simultaneously, the brood tore him to pieces. The only CC biomorph they had was toxin sacs (and that was intended for the guns), plus scything talons (I'm going to reconvert them to twin linked guns, though), but with 12 WS4 S5 attacks between them they put a wound through his power armour and that was enough. People assume Warriors are synapse creatures pretending to be fire/CC support (a half quote from White Dwarf 309's mostly inadequate anti-Tyranid tactica). They're not. In my book, they're walking guns with brains tacked on, a bit like Zoanthropes. In fact, I use Zoanthropes more for synapse than I do Warriors, usually buying them Synapse Creature as a third power. Warriors are there to bring the firepower.

You don't even have to have a brood on the table for it to freak people out. Oh yes, I'm thinking LICTORS! I have one, but I proxied some old exceptional-size Warriors once to make it up to three for a game involving bunkers (tip - if attacking fortifications, always, always take Lictors). On turn two I deepstruck a pair of them into the central bunker and made mincemeat of the Broadsides therein. Lictors aren't brilliantly powerful, they just don't have enough attacks, but they have a massively scary reputation. This is helped by little lucky rolls here and there, like the time I ambushed a Shas'o who'd taken one wound and rolled three 6s to hit, wiping him out. As you can see, I like using Lictors against Tau!

What haven't I mentioned? Biovores... Well, they do have a slightly nasty reputation, but because of the way they operate it doesn't have much of an effect on the game. Raveners: Like Hormagaunts, but scarier. Use cover, because they will be shot to pieces otherwise. Genestealers: Nuff said. CC fexes: One of these can block off an entire flank if your opponent sees it, not to mention their objective-taking capabilities.

OK, that's fear over and out. Next - mobility.

+++ Mobility

People quote Eldar and Tau as mobile firepower armies. Yawn. Eldar rock, but they've got so many static-ish shooters (Reapers, War Walkers, Rangers, Avengers etc) that the Nids actually outclass them when it comes to moving and shooting. And don't get me started on Broadsides and Fire Warriors. Tyranids have the massive - but again overlooked - advantage that EVERYTHING they have, bar the Biovore which you don't really want or need to shift at all, can fire on the move.

Your average Devastator squad that wants to get into a forward position will have to spend perhaps two turns moving up, giving them the other four turns to fire. Your average Warrior squad can shoot as they approach their position, as they reach it, and for the rest of the game, giving them the whole six turns. If they need to advance, grab an objective, or get the hell out, they can keep shooting as they go; the Devs can't.

Your shooty units are comparably good in combat. Gaunts have the useful ability to act as tar - 32 of them won't sweat at losing five or even ten, and will throw a bucket of dice back - and Warriors can do surprisingly well with their high Strength and MEQ-style WS and I. Carnifexes... well you can work that one out for yourself. ;) Don't be afraid to charge with any of these broods, or use them to take an enemy assault (preparing for the countercharge next turn, I hope...) As for Zoanthropes, you can tuck them into a unit - even put them in the centre of the brood - which will absorb assaults for you. I used to use Rippers as bodyguards for them, but for some reason I forgot all about this trick until just now. :/

When you're moving your Tyranids, move everything forwards. Except the Biovore (see above). I mean everything, even the CC-weak firepower units (basically Warriors optimised for shooting and Zoanthropes, which are synapse creatures and so need to keep up with the rest.) Close off the board, hemming your opponent in and restricting his options. If you're playing Loot, Take and Hold or best of all Rescue, he's as good as dead if he's got a wall of chitin blocking him into about 18-24" of board and you've got the objective (preferably with a Gargoyle brood running off with it in the opposite direction).

It doesn't have to be an even line, mind. Feel free to fleet ahead, pounce on things with Hormagaunts, etc. The sooner your speedy CC units get into assault and start killing things, the better. Don't worry about keeping a neat formation or battleline, because it allows more enemy units freedom of movement, shooting, assaulting, and objective-taking (and breathing) and reduces your effectiveness. Get stuck in ASAP. Use winged Warriors/Tyrants, or a well-positioned infiltrating Broodlord, for forward synapse. (Don't use the 'straggler' technique, where you position a brood before the charge so some of its models are stretched out into a tail that leads to within 12" of a synapse creature, unless there's no other way to charge; it might end up leaving you with less than half your models in striking distance of the enemy and you'll kill very little, getting battered in return.)

I can think of only a couple of circumstances where you might want not to move. The first is if you're sitting on an objective. A CC Carnifex, for example, is nigh impossible to budge from an objective, and is worth a hefty chunk of victory points which will get added to your final tally. If he gets reduced to below scoring unit status, of course, then just charge. Another scenario which might justify sitting still is when you have a shooty brood in a good firing position - in cover with good fire lanes, such as atop a building. In this case you may as well keep your cover save and lines of sight, and stay there for a turn or two until the time comes to move out (which it often will). Thirdly, you may be suffering from Instinctive Behaviour and want to Lurk, but why are you out of synapse range in the first place?

Quite apart from their general usefulness, assault weapons aren't so named for nothing. You can take a CC or mixed brood, move up, shoot and charge - something very few other units can actually do, barring pistols (Dire Avengers come to mind). If the brood happen to be Warriors, your S5-but-otherwise-poor attacks can benefit massively from a salvo of S6 blast weapons or S4 Assault 4 that rerolls to wound. If they're Raveners... well, how about six devourer shots apiece and then five WS5 I5 rending attacks? Eleven attacks per creature, times six for a full brood... on turn 2.

Tyranids can also use this to outmanoeuvre units such as tanks. As you'll want to be in amongst the enemy lines, you'll have opportunities once in a while to move 6" in the right direction and slam a venom cannon salvo into the AV10 exhausts of a troubling Leman Russ or Hammerhead. Gargoyles have a growing renown for zipping behind tanks such as Falcons and spraying them with flesh-beetles and bio-plasma.

A note on the ever-underestimated Tyranid firepower. Don't let the rubbish AP fool you. Tyranids have the only multiple shot S8+ weapons in the game apart from the pulse laser. Even Forge World only has two multishot S8+ guns amongst its range as far as I know, and that's the Warhound's double-barrelled turbo laser and the Eldar pulsar (both S9 with two shots, and both mounted on Titans or super-heavy vehicles). This is a massive advantage, and something you should take great care to boast about to firepower players. There's nothing better than making Tau players feel inadequate - then dropping a barbed strangler on the Ethereal's honour guard and causing 12 hits. He failed quite a few armour saves, even with my lowly AP of 5. A Hive Tyrant can have a S8 Assault 3 gun, at BS4 too! I am reminded of the WD307 inaugural battle report (one with words, unlike the modern ones) where such a creature slaughtered three Ogryns in one Shooting phase. My own shooty Hive Tyrant has a venom cannon and a barbed strangler, and for those out there who are only too ready with the cries of 'Cheese!', I made him long before I heard of the sniperfex combination, and my shooty Carnie has a twin-linked barbed strangler. So there. ;)

+++ Speed

I'm not going to rabbit on on general use of speed. This is because it's simple: move, move, charge. Instead I'm going to detail a few useful tricks you can pull with it.

1. Catch-up
Canny opponents will run away from your units. Carnifexes and their like are far too slow to touch a Stealth team. But for a unit with fleet of foot, assuming your opponent moves away at 6" a turn, you're catching up D6" each time. There's only so much board edge to run into (see Deployment below for tips on making maximum use of this), so even 12"-escape-move jump infantry (including the JSJ battlesuits) can only flee for so long. If you happen to be chasing an enemy unit, perhaps objective-takers, don't bother running Carnifexes after them. Send in the Hormagaunts, Raveners, winged ones, whatever. Don't be dispirited by enemy running off, especially if they're in transports (shoot the tank and suddenly they're entangled and stuck). If you happen to lack speed and need to play catchup, use pinning weapons (Biovores, barbed stranglers) to try and force pinning tests to give you a boost, and also try to hem the target in with multiple units, so whichever way they run there's either a board edge or a Tyranid brood.

2. Rescue
When playing Rescue missions, always take a fast unit for objective grabbing. Only infantry can take objectives, so your Gargoyles are out of it, but Gaunts or Hormagaunts can make a good substitute. 32 of the things jumping onto the objective and haring it out of the area can give you a fairly secure victory. Genestealers are less numerous, but can have Scuttlers, which allows them to deploy on the table at the start of the game in addition to your basic single Troops choice.

3. Terror Again
There's nothing like a whole assault army moving 12" towards you on turn one. A few good Fleet rolls can really put the fear up your opponent.

4. Getting the Charge
Cagy use of the movement phase can guarantee you the charge against slower units. Move to within 13" of an enemy infantry unit, say a tactical squad. If they try to charge you, they can't. But even if you roll a 1 for fleet, you can get them. Faster units can be dealt with with Hormagaunts/Raveners/Gargoyles (move to within 19"). With the 13" trick, the target may well have a slew of nasty rapid fire weapons - say 10 marines with bolters - that will take apart half the attacking brood if they move up and fire. You can deter this by moving a Carnifex to within 18" of them. If they move forward to shoot, the monster will tear them to pieces next turn. If you position the units right, with a bit of luck you can use this trick across an entire enemy line, with just two or three monstrous creatures, on the second turn.

5. Avoiding the Nightbringer/Enemy Monster
Hive Tyrants, especially shooty ones, really don't like Wraithlords, and nobody likes the Nightbringer. Fortunately, they're very slow. You can just run away from them. Even your 6"-a-turn models can avoid them, keeping their distance. If you're really, really clever, it's possible to lure such a model into charge range of a lot of hungry Genestealers. (Statistically, it takes 20 charging Genestealers to take out the Nightbringer, providing he doesn't use his etheric tempest to push them away. If you give them toxin sacs, rendering the ET attack useless, it takes 14-15, as they're now able to wound him. As for a Wraithlord, maths-wise you only need six.)

+++ Deployment

Nids have a few deployment tricks up their nonexistent sleeves, some because of the fear factor. Here are a few.

1. Push Zoanthropes
A 'push unit' is one you deploy in missions like Seek and Destroy or Cleanse to push the enemy back. In Cleanse, your best bet is Hormagaunts or anything similarly large, fast and vicious. In Seek and Destroy, though, you're fighting across an entire board length, a mighty 72". If you deploy three Zoanthropes, though, you not only have a premade synapse net that doesn't give away any of your deployment secrets, but you can place them 15" forward and effectively shove the whole enemy army back into a 9" zone!

2. Sort-Of Push Carnifexes
Dropping a monstrous creature on a flank or in the centre near an objective can discourage enemy troops from deploying in the area, especially if it's a massive, hard Heavy Support Carnifex worth 300 pts with all the toys... or a Hierodule ;)

3. Redeploying with Scuttlers
You don't have to use Scuttlers to run at the enemy. You can deploy a unit within 6" of its choice of cover. Depending on where the enemy's shootiest units are placed, you can move them to safety - into or behind a nice fat piece of area terrain.

4. Open Deployments
Gargoyles, Hormagaunt broods etc have a vast assault reach, and so you can place one at a mid-flank and it has the option to charge half the table by turn two. Just because a unit is on one side, or in the centre, doesn't mean it has to operate for the centre.

5. Getting the Charge II
When you place units, plan avenues of assault for them. Tyranids like to leapfrog from cover to cover, keeping safe in their charge up to CC, so they can avoid the worst of incoming fire. Deploy units in places where they can do so according to their speed. A Genestealer unit might need two or three pieces of cover, but a Hormagaunt brood can survive using only one if you get the first turn (or deploy in cover).

6. Cherry Picking
Having large numbers of units, generally Troops, is a great boon to Tyranid armies. It's often worth taking two units of six 'Stealers instead of one brood of 12 just because of the extra deployment options. If you're lucky you can get to deploy your Fast Attack, Elites and even HQ after your opponent's finished his whole army! The advantage of this is obvious - placing units directly opposite juicy targets, hiding from shooters, etc.

7. Infiltrate
To infiltrate or not to infiltrate...? I prefer to do so, because it means I can get my Broodlord into a position where he can act as forward synapse for the second turn (as well as, of course, getting him closer to the enemy). One turn is all you need, for your Hormagaunts to pass from the synapse control of the slower hive node creatures to the Winged Hive Tyrant and Broodlord, and then back again on turn 3 as the slow ones catch up. Infiltrating Broodlords are huge fire magnets, which can be good if they spare your army from a lot of enemy firepower for a turn or so.

 Post subject: Re: 4th Edition Tactica and Strategies
PostPosted: Mon May 31, 2010 1:13 am 
The Red Terror
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How to Use a Swarm (continued)
Written by: Son of Makuta

There's a LOT more:

+++ Cover

Tyranids, while extremely vicious on the offensive, aren't very good at taking return fire (apart from the monstrous creatures and the masses and masses of Gaunts, anyway). I use a lot of Genestealers, and they're incredibly fragile even with the 4+ extended carapace save. The answer? Cover.

Unless you play on a pool table (which you shouldn't be doing anyway), there should be a few decent pieces of cover in the game. Canny use of these can dramatically cut down on the enemy gunnery you have to face down. Before any of you start informing me that cover saves aren't that great, and slow your offensive down, let me explain something.

Where I say 'cover' here I really mean 'hiding behind area terrain'. The safest place to be is behind a nice, fat, Size 3, LOS-blocking CoD building piece. Or a wood. Or a vehicle wreck. Out of sight means out of shot reach. In cover, you can still be fired on, and chances are you'll lose a few models despite your cover save. It's best to be completely hidden. Another advantage of this is that it lets you move normally - if you're next to a corner of the terrain piece, you can run around it with your full 6" movement. (If you're at the middle of a wide piece, then just make the difficult terrain roll.)

This, of course, is for assaulty units. For shooters, especially monstrous creatures, you are better off inside the cover. Buildings are my favourite, especially those huge tall Cityfight ones. A high vantage point and a 4+ cover save - what more could your Carnifex want? Striking first if he gets charged? Sure, he gets that too. :D A cover save is exactly what you need to give some protection from those lascannons. When the time comes to move out, your 3D6 cover roll (with a reroll for the MCs) should get you out of there in no time.

Enemy cover, of course, is annoying as hell. OK, you don't really have to worry about cover saves, because most of your guns are the amazing AP5, so your targets will generally get saves anyway. The problem is the Initiative 10 bonus for charging enemy in cover. Unless you load up on flesh hooks, which I don't, any half decent unit will severely reduce your kill-potential when you charge. The solution? A) Catalyst; B) Hurl more than one unit at them. 16 Hormagaunts won't do much damage once the 10 marines they've just charged have beaten them up (some three kills on average - those nine lost attacks can have quite an impact). Genestealers are tougher, but of course their smaller numbers mean they need all they can get. But if you throw in your 16 Hormagaunts AND your 12 stealers, your opponent will only be able to make a few attacks against each one, and you'll drown him under all your attack dice.

The result: If you hug terrain for all you're worth on the way in, you'll probably be able to halve the casualties you take in the first couple of turns - enough to get you in amongst his line and slaughtering away.

+++ Unit-by-Unit Analysis

This isn't some kind of biomorph list. Instead I'm going to look at how each unit fits into a Tyranid army as a whole, and if they're worth taking. This is mostly useful for newer Nid players, but old hands might find something to suit them as well.

> Hive Tyrants
Hell, yes. I very, very rarely go to a game without taking a Hive Tyrant. As well as being synapse creatures, they're able to lead a chunk of your army 'by example'. Hurling a winged Hive Tyrant with six WS6 I6 S6 attacks on the charge (that's right, they're all 6s...) into an enemy unit will generally result in its destruction, but in case there's ten of them or something, you can throw some Hormagaunts in as well. And perhaps another brood of fast assaulters to take on the unit to the left, and another to the right, tying them both up. The Tyrant and his minions massacre the unit in the middle and join in the combats to either side if necessary. Result: three dead enemy squads. By the same token, a shooty Hive Tyrant can provide synapse to your Gaunts and non-SC'ed Zoanthropes, stomp along in between them and take out anything they can't reach or can't damage. What I mean is that Hive Tyrants are not only leaders but heavy support; they are one of the few units capable of doing both effectively.

> Tyrant Guard
Useful. +2 Wounds and +3 Attacks for a non-upgraded Tyrant, for a bargain 45 points. I have one to protect my walking Tyrant, and it usually dies, but that's its job! Tyrants attract a LOT of firepower, so they need either wings or a retinue to ensure their survivability. (Wings allow them to duck behind cover and jump into combat, getting into places where the lascannons can't hurt them.) Tyrant Guard also have some kind of reputation of their own, not exactly terrifying, but rather, opponents are fully aware of how hard they are. This means that instead of ignoring your Tyrant+3 unit, he'll shoot at them more, trying to take the Tyrant Guard down. (Although I only have one, I have actually noticed this effect.) This means less firepower coming at the rest of your army. Lovely.

> Broodlord
Potentially. My Broodlord used to be a prerequisite for any list, because for a while he survived everything the enemy threw at him (he even killed a 3rd-ed Harlequin Solitaire in single combat once, without dying). But then his luck turned and he dies quite regularly now. The problem with Broodlords is that you look at their stats and their Infiltrate ability and think, "Well, he can't Fleet, so what? The old stealers couldn't either. And he's so cheap..." etc. You then end up taking him, and what happens? He kills, what, a couple of Ratlings, because he's too damn slow to pick his targets; the enemy character ends up getting killed by the winged Tyrant, most of the time, or ordinary Genestealers. His retinue do very little as they're a big fire magnet and get blown to shreds quickly. The point of all this is, don't expect your Broodlord to win the game for you by killing things; the benefits he provides are more tactical, despite the deadliness of him and his retinue. I kit mine out to take on characters most of the time, but no matter my intentions, he hardly ever actually gets to grip with them. However, his ability to provide forward synapse and distract the guns of the enemy is very useful. Just don't spend too much on him - he and a retinue of 11, even just with extended carapace, come to 290 points without any upgrades on the 'lord himself.

> Warriors
Perfect! Warriors fill a much-desired niche in the Tyranid army. They're cheap, synaptic fire support. A brood of four with my usual biomorphs (enhanced senses, toxin sacs, extended carapace), armed with scything talons and deathspitters, comes to a paltry 144 points and will often kill a lot more than that. I field them in broods of three, maxing on heavy weapons, because I built many of them during 3rd ed when you could have heavy weapon broods and I took too much advantage of that... :/ Although fragile in the face of the enemy guns, even with a 4+ save, Warriors more than make up for it in terms of output. Although inaccurate (but twin-linking can cure that), they can blow up a surprising amount of just about anything except MEQs. Preferred targets: light skimmers, expensive T3 troops (Guard command squads are perfect deathspitter fodder), light infantry, similar things. I almost always take these guys; I have 12 and I want to get more (with wings).

> Lictors
Hmmmm... Lictors need good tactical use to get the most out of. They are feared, which can help keep your opponent out of terrain. Their Hit and Run rule is useful for keeping them from getting bogged down. Always, always keep a Lictor in cover. Its only defence against shooting is the cover save it can get - 2+ in buildings, 3+ in woods. Avoid flamers! Feeder tendrils can be a useful squad support biomorph, but their use tends to be rather hit and miss. The Lictor needs to deploy within 2" of the unit, which generally means it needs to be in the same combat. Unless you're outmatched, that combat will probably be over in a round or two. The Lictor isn't fast enough to jump from combat to combat, although if your units are fanned out, it's probably possible to move to within 2" of a straggler or a model at the edge of a brood. The best use of Lictors (as far as killing things goes) is to ambush isolated, low-number units, like Devastators/Havocs who've taken a few casualties, attack the rear armour of light vehicles (Basilisks make good targets) or lone, wounded characters. Aside from that there's no real way for one to 'earn its points back' without inordinate luck. The Lictor's reserves deployment also makes it unpredictable in use; it's difficult to factor them into your battle plan. If you devote a Lictor to taking out a vibrocannon battery hiding in a corner of your opponent's deployment zone and it doesn't turn up till turn 5 (which happens surprisingly often with reserves), those vibrocannons are going to cause considerable damage. They make good 'adaptive' units though - when one arrives, apply it to the most pressing problem immediately. Remember, the unpredictability also affects your opponent, who has the added disadvantage of not being able to decide where it turns up. All in all, it's always better to take two or three Lictors, as one won't do much. With three, you've a good chance of getting one into the fray on the second turn.

> Genestealers
Need I say more? Genestealers terrify your opponent, can shred anything, are pretty fast, have Toughness 4, and come with obscene combat characteristics. There isn't another army in the game with access to I6 Troops, apart from the Dark Eldar Wych Cult. As for WS6, that's Tyranid only, thank you very much. With good use of cover, you can get some 'stealers into combat on turn 2 and take it from there. You can even use MSUs (Minimum Sized Units) of 6 to minimise casualties and give yourself deployment options. There are, however, a couple of things to bear in mind when fielding Genestealers:
- They will get shot at, and they will die. No matter how well you hide your stealers, unless you work very hard to distract your opponent with other targets and he's stupid enough to fall for it, you will lose a fair few. If you use them as your main troops, you can expect about half of them to die.
- They are beatable. Daemons, with their 5+ invulnerable saves, can give Genestealers toothache (one of the Chaos players in my club passes about 95% of his 5+ inves). Terminators need high numbers and high rolls to take out. Et cetera. Just don't be too overconfident with your 'stealers.
- They are expensive. A heavy bolter wielded by someone accurate (i.e. a Marine) can take out, what, 60 points in one salvo - that's just with extended carapace. Don't take any biomorphs besides carapace or - possibly - Scuttlers, and don't take both.
Moral of the story: Unless you're playing a themed army, don't max out on Genestealers. I used to, but it gets quickly boring and it's too much of a one trick pony. Mix them in with monsters, fire support, Gaunts or Hormagaunts et cetera. Take a couple of broods, and use them against select targets. In the middle of a mass of everything else the nids can field, they're more likely to be forgotten, meaning they won't be wasted and they can get on with carving the enemy up in short order. Genestealers' role is NOT the one people think it is. They're not the main assault troop of the Tyranid swarms. They're the elite assault troops, like SM Terminators and Chaos Possessed. Just because they're troops doesn't mean you should max out on them.

> Gaunts
Yes, they're worth taking. New players and Genestealer purists (I have been both) listen up! Gaunts are NOT useless. Veterans (I'm getting there) listen up! Gaunts are NOT just cannon fodder. In fact, the humble Gaunts deserve a whole section to themselves, so I'll do them separately. Moving on (for now).

> Hormagaunts
Definitely. Unless you just want cheap tie-up-the-heavy-weapons units, toxin sacs are pretty much mandatory, with adrenal glands to taste. Then hurl them at the enemy. Hormagaunts obviously fill a fast-assault niche, and they don't mess around. 72 or 96 attacks will almost definitely get a Torrent (more wounding hits than there are target enemy = choose one model to make the first save). Duck them behind cover when they're not in close combat, to protect from large blast templates and mass firepower.

> Rippers
Slow unless upgraded, but winged Rippers are a true blessing. They can jump almost any unit that doesn't inflict Instant Death on them. Want to tie up the Howling Banshees for a few turns? Reach for the Rippers. In my last game, they started off in the centre but flew off to the left flank, where three units of six Fire Warriors awaited their attentions. By the end of the game they had chewed up all eighteen of the pulse-rifle-armed fishboyz, losing only one base in return. Ordinary Rippers can also be used as bodyguards to stop vulnerable units (e.g. Zoanthropes) from being assaulted.

> Gargoyles
I haven't got any of these (well, I have two :( ), but I'm planning on getting a few. By all accounts, they're very useful. Tie up heavy weapon units, take out transports via the rear armour, harass small elite units... the uses for these unusual jump infantry are many and varied. Don't forget their Fleet of Wing either; use it when you need it. Gargoyles are basically more versatile versions of Hormagaunts. What's that? not an assault unit did you say? Well, they can shoot (S4 with a re-roll), deliver a S4 attack at Initiative 8, and another S3 attacks at I4. Which is more attacks per model than a Hormagaunt brood, even if two of them are WS3. The reason Gargoyles aren't seen as an assault unit is that they're not very numerous, because of GW's (insert many swear words here) insistence on using metal models. If they came in plastic, 12 for £18 or something, all of a sudden there'd be 32-creature broods flying around. And with a total of 128 attacks when shoot-charging, on turn two, that's what I call an assault unit. (I'm going to make mine cheap: plastic Gaunts with scratch built paper-and-wire wings. You have been warned.)

> Raveners
Very, very fragile, but very, very powerful. With a potential of 12 attacks each on the shoot-charge, when armed with double scything talons and devourers, Raveners are absolutely deadly. In my last game I had one 46 point Ravener (scything talons, rending claws, deathspitter) wipe out a 252 point Stealth team single-handedly on turn one. (He spent the rest of the game chasing the Hammerhead around, managing to rip its rail gun off but doing nothing else.) Ravs get shot to pieces easily, so the best way to prevent this is to put them on a quiet flank (behind some cover too) or bury them in a mass of Hormagaunts, Genestealers etc that'll be far more worth the gunfire to take them down. Don't move them ahead, 'cos they'll get annihilated. Use them in units as small as possible; there isn't much competition in Fast Attack (Gargoyles being metal and Spore Clusters being useful ways to take up points), so you should be able to make use of this. Raveners don't have an individual role as such, because they're basically just big Hormagaunts. I suppose 'assault support' might suit it.

> Spore Mine Clusters
A bit hit and miss, and like I said earlier, good ways to use up leftover points. Worth taking if you haven't got anything else to buy and don't have Biovores, or want a bit of non-apparent extra firepower, or just want to make your opponent slightly nervous when you're rolling for Deep Strike (although Lictors are far better than that). I have used these before. When they land on target, they can do something, but they often scatter miles out of line and end up drifting around doing nothing.

> Carnifexes
OK, you can guess this one. Heavy support, tank bashing, fire magnetting, whatever; a Carnifex can fit just about any role you need it to, apart from fast assault. (Yes, even cannon fodder.) I think I'll write a separate Carnifex section as well.

> Zoanthropes
Walking lascannons? Yes please. I always take Zoanthropes in threes, as they're pretty inaccurate. Warp blast is mandatory. The second power is usually Synapse Creature, but if I don't have Gaunts or if I have a lot of Tyrants and Warriors, I might go for Catalyst or Psychic Scream. Zoanthropes' role is psychic support. Whether you need tank busting, synapse, morale damage, etc, a 'thrope can fill two roles at once due to its double power. Its warp field makes it fairly resilient, too. Zoans also make good push units - see the deployment section.

> Biovores
I only have one, but I want to get the full set. I still field him; he's done his share of damage over the years. He won a shootout with a Basilisk once, which was pretty funny. Biovores fill an indirect fire support role, obviously, and despite their lack of S9 AP3 ordnance and their 'nerf' from 3rd to 4th edition, they do it quite well. I think my 'vore has only ever died twice, both times against Tau. A long time ago, a Stealth team assaulted and killed it. In my last game, a battered Hammerhead took it out with its remaining burst cannon. Parked behind solid cover, they have the advantage of not having to move from their hideouts, and of course your opponent has a Tyranid army rushing towards him to deal with; the little spore mine chucker doesn't take high priority. The mines' ability to hang around when they miss is useful. Although they rarely detonate afterwards, their ability to force target priority tests and make your opponent avoid proximity to them like the plague is highly useful from a tactical point of view.

+++ Gaunts

Ah, the humble Gaunt. Held as useless by many and as cannon fodder by the rest. Set your prejudices aside! Here are a few uses for the little ones...

1. Not Cannon Fodder
I had to put it in really, just to disprove it. Unless your opponent is inexperienced, has a very good reason to, or knows you've read this section, he won't shoot much at your Gaunts. It's a staple of general tactical thought: If it's cheap cannon fodder, ignore it, it can't do much except catch bullets. Wrong! Take advantage of this. If you feel brave, upgrade them a bit - S5 fleshborers will give your opponent a hell of a shock. You can probably get away with it. If he does shoot the Gaunts, then they've served their stereotypical purpose and protected your other units, so well done to them.

2. Light Skimmers? What Light Skimmers?
Fleshborers are actually very effective against AV10. And the most AV10 you will find comes on light skimmers. Land Speeders, Vypers and the like are all fair game to fleshborers, as are Ork Trukks. If you give them toxin sacs as well... Even a non-upgraded brood of eight will usually cause at least one glancing hit. Their short range doesn't matter much, as these vehicles have a nice habit of flying/speeding straight into range.

3. Kroot? What Kroot?
Light infantry are fair game to Deathgaunts (devourer) and even Spinegaunts (spinefist), as well as Termagants (fleshborer). Devourers' low Strength is offset by their ability to reroll to wound and their high number of shots, and the long range can be very useful as it keeps you out of Rapid Fire range.

4. Objectives
Everyone ignores the Gaunts - until they grab the Rescue objective and run off the board with it. Gaunts are cheap, but 32 six-point models come to 192 points. An extra 192 Victory Points just because they're within 12" of the centre, or holding a table quarter, is not to be sniffed at.

5. Bear Trap
Tie up Crisis teams, Scourges and similar mobile shooters with Gaunt units conveniently left within range. Your opponent may well ignore them. Teach them the error of their ways!

6. Tar
Tie up advancing assault units with huge Gaunt broods. Even Terminators will take a while to thrash their way out of 32 wounds pressing in on them. You may even bag a kill or two in return. Monstrous creatures with low attacks (especially Wraithlords) and walkers are susceptible to this as well. You can't hurt them, but they're going to take years to get out of the brood. You've effectively removed them from the game for as long as you need to bring a Carnifex or something into the combat and bash them to pieces, or just ignore them for a few turns.

7. Deployment
In deployment, chuck the Gaunts down before your other troops. As they're supposed to be meatshields, it won't give your battle plan away, and allows you a little more cherry-picking of your Genestealers and Hormagaunts to maximise damage.

+++ Carnifexes

And at the other end of the scale... You can write whole tacticas on just one variant of Carnifex. However, as these are often biomorph lists I've condensed their usage here. (Note, mentioning biomorphs is unavoidable where Carnifexes are concerned, but I'll avoid them as much as possible.) A few ways to use Fexes are:

1. Fire Support
Obvious, this one. There's no mental obligation to give huge amounts of defensive upgrades to shooty fexes, so they're often quite cheap - I have one with spine banks, TL barbed strangler and enhanced senses for 138 pts. Considering the amount of sheer devastation he can dish out, he's quite a steal. The advantages with fire support 'fexes are that their speed doesn't matter - they can start hurting the enemy from turn 1 - and they can quite happily sit in a nice piece of cover while the rest of the army goes on without them, providing ranged support. A 4+ cover save is better against lascannons than any number of biomorphs. Fire support Carnifexes are also versatile - their high weapon strength gives them an array of target choices. They can be inaccurate, which is why I gave mine a twin-linked weapon, but when they hit something gets hurt.

2. Close Combat
Difficult to use, expensive, hard as nails and throwing out a bucket of S10 attacks; CC fexes are good fun when brought to bear, but it's the bringing to bear that's the problem. Offsetting their speed when compared to your average 'Nid assault wave is hard. You can use them in a pincer manoeuvre with a Genestealer brood or another monster - bring the two in on either side of an enemy so they can't run away. You can use other broods to push enemy into the charge reach of your 'fex, or just slog up the table absorbing firepower for the 'greater good' of the swarm (yes, a Tau reference there). Another good use for them is to 'hang back' slightly (unavoidable really) to deter or deal with enemy deep-strikers. If you have three Carnifexes, of any stripe, you can set them up like this: the outer two each 12" from an edge, and the centre one 24" from each of the outer ones. This generally lets you charge any deep-strikers with at least one Carnifex.

3. Cannon Fodder
Cheap elite 'fexes can be effective cannon fodder for a slower force. They block line of sight, can't be ignored via large targeting, are cheap, and are tough as old boots. They also pack a number of effective killing adaptations. The double devourer Carnifexes have a really nasty reputation, so the enemy's bound to shoot at them. A faster army, of course, will just speed past them, but for a shooting-orientated swarm they can be very effective.

4. Scaring People
See the terror tactics section. On an in-game note, Carnifexes with Thornback can be very useful for breaking enemy units. Pair one with a Lictor or a Genestealer brood, kill a load of enemy, and then outnumber them by 22 (Lictor) or 32 (full Stealer brood) to whatever the enemy are. Even with 40k's high Leadership ratings, they're almost bound to run away. Now it may not be annihilation, but breaking an enemy easily takes them out of the game, and as you're Nids they'll probably be close to their board edge, so if you're lucky you can run them off table in one phase. Big templates can easily cause enough casualties to break a unit as well, especially things like Dark Eldar and Tau with their comparatively low Ld stats. Don't forget the barbed strangler's pinning ability as well.

5. Walking Cover
Size 3 things block line of sight. Use this to help protect your smaller 'nids. A pair of monstrous creatures are essentially a moving hill, just like a Land Raider. In a narrow avenue between pieces of cover, e.g. streets in city fights, this can be very useful.

6. Tank Busting
I don't care if your Carnifex is as shooty as a Titan; if a tank wanders into assault range, CHARGE IT. Unless you're guarding an objective, of course. Even mediocre monstrous creatures go through vehicles like a piledriver through a plaster wall; Carnifexes are a minimum Strength 9. Use it!

7. Dreadnoughts
Close combat Carnifexes outclass Dreadnoughts and Wraithlords. Your opponent may not be aware of this, and of course, everyone likes a 'clash of the titans'. If your opponent's moving such a model towards your Carnifex, meet him half way. (You can help to engineer this by deploying your 'fex opposite the enemy walker.) Try to get the charge, of course. Remember that, as vehicles of AV10/11 count as five models and AV12+/monstrous creatures count as ten, you can use mace tails against them. (This is contentious, but I'm pretty sure you can do it.) You can compensate for your lower Initiative by using Catalyst if you've been severely wounded, but if you've got reinforced chitin and are unwounded, nothing short of a Blood-Raging Chaos Dreadnought actually has a chance of killing your 'fex in one round of attacking. Bio-plasma is useful against the Dreadnoughts as well.

8. Very Big Tar
Toughness 7 Carnifexes can render Strength 3 units useless, and kill them at their leisure. Even the T6 ones can hold down your average non-powerfisted Tactical or Devastator squad quite easily, killing a few in the process. It's not an optimum role for 'fexes, but can be useful in a pinch.

And an addendum: Don't Use Mixed Monsters
A monstrous creature with close combat and ranged upgrades will be wasting some of its potential every turn. When it's in CC, the 50pts you spent on your Tyrant's BS4 venom cannon are useless; while he's not rushing into combat, all those CC biomorphs are doing nothing. There's also the fact that a mixed monster is less effective at shooting than a shooty one, and worse at assaults than a CC one. Two cheap, specialised monsters are better than one incredibly expensive jack-of-all-trades.

+++ Enemy Tanks

Tanks can give any Tyranid player a real headache. Often wielding large blast ordnance weapons or lascannons galore, they can annihilate squads and blast monstrous creatures into submission, given the chance. Transports can carry expensive squads up the battlefield in relative safety, while fast skimmers attack the units you thought were safe. What to do?

1. Blast Templates
Tyranids are very good against open-topped vehicles. As well as their low armour values, open-topped vehicles are Vulnerable to Blasts (meaning they take an automatic glancing hit in addition to any other damage when hit by blast weapons), and can be penetrated by venom cannons. A Carnifex or Hive Tyrant with barbed strangler and venom cannon is the utter doom of any Ork vehicle. Warriors' deathspitters can also be used to no small effect against vehicles; I once had three Warriors with two deathspitters and a venom cannon destroy three hitherto undamaged Piranhas in one salvo! When shooting at squadrons, take care to place templates to hit as many targets as possible, to maximise those auto glances.

2. Fleshborers & Devourers
See the Gaunt section. It's not just Gaunts, either; Warriors with their S6 Assault 2 fleshborers, rerolling to wound, can spell doom for light vehicles or rear armour. The downside to the fleshborer is its short range; it's easy to avoid, and Warriors are a good deal more conspicuous than Gaunts. Warrior devourers shoot four times and re-roll to wound, from 18" away. This is surprisingly lethal against AV10, and that's without mentioning the double-devourer-armed Hive Tyrants or Carnifexes. It's not just venom cannons that can take out tanks.

3. Strength 10, and lots of it
Tyranids have multiple shot S8+ guns, and they aren't hard to get hold of either. They can also get up to six Strength 9 or 10 monstrous creatures in one force organisation chart. Venom cannons may not be able to cause penetrating hits, but that's what warp blasts are for. Basically, don't fall into the rut of thinking you haven't the firepower to blast tanks. You have!

4. Rending
Your Broodlord, Genestealers, Raveners, Lictors etc can also cause some damage. It isn't just the monsters. 'Stealers in large numbers are particularly effective against walkers, as they hit them on 3s (there's no such thing as a WS6+ walker as far as I'm aware). Skimmers cause problems, because you need to roll 6s to hit, and then 6s to damage to get the rending bonus. However, once you've rolled that double six, you've a good chance of a penetrating hit.

5. Hormagaunts
Throwing a brood of S4 Hormagaunts at an unsuspecting War Walker squadron can be highly effective. They may only be able to glance on 6s, but that's a good thing because the vehicles can't explode! With their vast number of attacks, they've even got a good chance of bringing skimmers down.

6. Pincer
Tanks can normally drive away from your slow monstrous creatures. But if you bring one in from each side, perhaps with another in front for good measure, there's nowhere to escape to.

7. Ambush
Monstrous creatures can ambush if they need to! If you're using tall terrain such as Cities of Death buildings, you can hide a Carnifex behind one out of your opponent's line of sight, and he might even forget it's there! Then you can jump out and maul his tank into pieces when it comes close. (This does work. In a doubles tournament once, me and my partner hid a Chaos Lord behind some terrain, so he wouldn't get noticed and he could then summon daemons directly where our opponents wouldn't expect it. He didn't get to summon, but some enemy Crisis suits left themselves in charge range, allowing him to leap out and kill them.)

8. Death or Glory
If by some chance a Tank Shock hits one of your Carnifexes, especially one who's down to a wound or two left, it's probably a good idea to use Death or Glory. You've a good chance of a penetrating hit, and any penetrating result will stop the tank shock (you need to stun, immobilise, or destroy/explode/annihilate the vehicle).

And an addendum: The Transport Trick
This is something I use with my shooty Hive Tyrant. He fires his barbed strangler and venom cannon at a transport that's just disembarked its contents, or a tank surrounded by infantry. Resolve the strangler first. As the template is placed anywhere over the target model, not centred on it, put it near an edge or corner so you hit a few of the infantry. Kill a couple, force a pinning test. Then resolve the venom cannon and (hopefully) smash the vehicle. It's not really an anti-tank technique, but if you don't manage to damage the vehicle, you've hit the troops at least, so you don't waste your firepower.

And another addendum: The Leapfrog Trick
Even if your Hormagaunts can't hurt that tank, they can still charge it. It can't damage them in return (note: if it has an upgrade allowing it to do just that, don't use this trick!) and doesn't lock them in combat. They are now 12" closer to wherever they're trying to go. Also usable with just about anything. If it can destroy the vehicle, so much the better.

+++ Enemy Combat Units

Despite their reputation, Tyranid units aren't unbeatable in combat. Daemons, Terminators, Wyches, enemy HQ squads, Veterans, Berserkers and so forth all have a good chance of beating up 'nids in an assault. So how do we counter them?

1. Genestealers
Most combat units will suffer greatly at the claws of these guys. Striking Scorpions will tear through Hormagaunts, but will lose a few casualties to Genestealers. Just beware - they will likely take some punishment in return unless there's enough of them to annihilate the target squad on the charge.

2. Swamping
Terminators will rip 8 Hormagaunts to shreds, but not 32 or 48. Throwing lots of bodies in means you get more attack dice, and even Gaunts can do some damage that way.

3. Initiative
Many combat units suffer Initiative-wise, having no increases for their specialised role. Nids, on the other hand, rely on high Initiative values. Most daemons are I4, Terminators strike at I1, Marines are I4 (or I5 for characters). You can upgrade Hormagaunts to Initiative 5, and your Genestealers are Initiative 6. If you can strike first, you've a good chance of killing a few of them before they get to hit back, reducing their attacks.

4. Shooting
Stuff combat, blast 'em. A barbed strangler can annihilate a Wych squad quite easily. Terminators can duck behind their 2+ saves, but throw enough flesh-worms at them and they will die; devourers can cause a lot of wounds very quickly.

5. High Toughness
If they happen to be Strength 3, hit them with a T7 Carnifex. They're not getting out of that one... Also see the Gargantuan Creatures section.

6. Tar (Again)
Bog them down with Rippers (watch out for Instant Death though) or huge numbers of Gaunts. That'll effectively take them out of the game for a few turns. By the time they thrash their way out of all that, you'll have (hopefully) killed off most of the army and can (hopefully) turn a large amount of 'nids onto them.

7. Avoidance
If they're a slow combat squad, you can run away from them using your faster speeds and manoeuvrability.

8. Kill the Icons
Daemons need to be summoned. A standard anti-daemon trick is to take out the Chaos Icons. If you can manage that, you can remove a substantial threat. Use of the Torrent rule can help here.

 Post subject: Re: 4th Edition Tactica and Strategies
PostPosted: Mon May 31, 2010 1:14 am 
The Red Terror
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How to Use a Swarm (continued)
Written by: Son of Makuta

+++ Gargantuan Creatures

I'm going to look over each of Forge World's Tyranid models and write my thoughts. I've actually used quite a few of these, as I used to be adept at making proxies out of Lego before I sold the lot. Here are a couple of basic notes that apply to a number of the Forge World models.
- Toughness 8. Monsters with T8 are highly useful for tying up S4 units and rendering them useless - Terminators with lightning claws in particular. T8's other usefulness is that it's impervious to almost all 'basic' weapons such as bolters, meaning shooting heavy weapons at one wastes the rest of the squad, and unlike your average tank you can't take a Hierodule out in one shot! (That's a big advantage monsters have over vehicles; generally, they're dependably resilient.) Power fists also wound on a 4+, and even lascannons lose their usual 2+ wound roll.
- Some creatures have a defence against being charged: The Horror. If the chargers fail their Ld test for assaulting the creature, they can't assault at all this turn. While the likelihood of failing the test is quite low, the possibility of being unable to charge at all can be enough to force your opponent to pick a different target, sparing your monster from powerfisted vengeance.
- Most of them are Fearless, too, meaning you don't need to babysit them with synapse creatures (although you might want to keep them in range to avoid wraithcannons and similar instant-death effects).

> Scythed Hierodule (445 pts)
Advantages: WS6, I3, hard as nails
Disadvantages: only four attacks, not much offensive bonus compared to a normal Carnifex
I didn't initially think much of these. Although they can absorb mighty amounts of firepower, have a surprising WS6 and a nifty acid spray, you can get two Carnifexes for its points cost - in total a small drop in resilience but three or four times its offensive capacity, although they do take up an extra heavy support slot. However, dropping a Scythed Hierodule on an objective must be a hell of a laugh, as your opponent tries desperately to kill it and (hopefully) fails. With that in mind, they're suddenly a lot more worth taking. They also have about triple the fear factor of any Carnifex, meaning your opponent will either shoot at it to the exclusion of all else (and hopefully fail to penetrate the Toughness 8), or give up and ignore it completely. Either way, you win. You can also cause a few casualties on the way in with the acid spray. Verdict: Up to personal preference.

> Barbed Hierodule (540 pts)
Advantages: Bio-cannons.... *drools*, hard as nails
Disadvantages: poorer than all but the most basic Carnifex in combat
Now we're talking. S10 AP3 large blasts? Gimme gimme! I have one of these, or rather am in the sculpting stage of scratch-building one, and I've fielded it once so far. Man that was fun. 540 points of my army that my opponent completely ignored; that's more or less an automatic Loot counter (it was Alpha-level Secure & Control). The guns will really put the fear of god into opponents - when Imperial Guard turn up toting three S8+ AP3 ordnance blasts, the usual response is "oh well, break out the lascannons", but when Nids have it - "AAAARGH!" (Not out loud, but you know what I mean.) The Barbed Hierodule can perform the same bullet-sponge function as its CC counterpart, but it can fire on the way in, meaning that in the three or four turns that it takes the Barbed Hierodule to reach combat, you have three or four twin-linked, high Strength templates flying around. When I used him, he killed seven Crisis and a Hammerhead, although he only actually shot three battlesuits down. Two of them were in a squad with one of the dead ones, and they fled off the table. The others, he charged. A Barbed Hierodule isn't brilliant in combat, but when it comes to kicking in the back door of a Hammerhead (yes, kicking; mine's a 7.5" tall bipedal uber-thing) it does just fine. Don't be afraid to send him in. He also has the advantage of being that magic Toughness 8, and has The Horror to top it all off. Verdict: Definitely worth it.

> Hierophant Bio-titan (835 pts)
Advantages: Everything
Disadvantages: Needs an additional detachment to itself, and it's £185 for synapse's sake!
Possibly the hardest model in the game, with the best assault weapons in the game, the most terrifying model in the game... I could go on. I proxied a Hierophant once and had three games with him when my Tau player friend came over for a visit. He wiped out 1000pts of Tau on his own (losing one mass point), joined in a 2500pt battle where the Tau were supported by Eldar and lost all mass points - two of those to a lucky Wraithlord, and finally took on five Tyranid monstrous creatures, losing his mass points and one wound. That's right, in three games he took one wound, despite being assiduously targeted (and indeed, on his own for two of them). Imagine the objectivability as well... 835 VPs in your pocket as soon as he reaches the middle/the table quarter/whatever. Five WS6 S10 attacks, two S10 AP3 large blasts (which it can fire at two different units), and even a spore cloud. With 3 mass points, that special T8 and a 2+/5+ save. (Don't underestimate that invulnerable save, either; 5+ invulnerables can be luckier than 2+ saves, which actually happens pretty often.) It can even Regenerate lost wounds, knock enemies' attacks down with lash whips, and run towards a target with Fleet. And it's got the Horror too! I definitely want to scratch build one of these, definitely. Verdict: If you can, get one.

> Trygon (290 pts)
Advantages: Really fast, brilliant in assault, can deepstrike into combat, cheap as hell for its abilities, I5, can sometimes be found on Ebay for below £40
Disadvantages: Less resilient than other Gargantuans, needs a brood of Raveners to be taken
I had a proxy Trygon enter play on turn 5 of a six-turn game and still earn its points back by the end, killing a Russ and running two Guard squads off the table. These things are deadly. They're not S10, but I actually like the S8 as it provides a desired halfway house between a Tyrant and a Carnifex, something I've wanted for some time. T7 and a 3+ save (with one mass point) isn't Hierodule resiliency, but it's decent. The bioelectric field also provides a 6+ invulnerable when it's not being fired, which can help - it only needs to save one wound to preserve your Trygon's life. Trygons' fairly high points value makes them ok for objective snatching, but I'd recommend using them simply to kill the enemy (moving back into objective range later on if necessary). Don't bother with Deep Strike, as it's too unpredictable. Deployed on-table (behind some cover so as not to draw too much fire) they can hit combat on turn two and rampage through the enemy lines. With their five attacks plus scythe-tail they can maul tanks, infantry, fast stuff, heavy infantry (especially command squads - S8 insta-kills Marine commanders), other monsters (possibly - think carefully about Wraithlords) and more or less anything else you can think of. Initiative 5 is another great feature - striking before Dreadnoughts and the like, at WS6 no less. Be careful though, as exposing a Trygon to too many power fists or lascannons will reduce it to a smoking carcass; they're not hard enough to dissuade people from attacking them, and they're high priority targets. I'm probably going to make a Trygon, else I'll try to buy a cheap one. Verdict: Yes please!!

> Brood Nest (3 x number of wounds inside)
Advantages: Provides infiltrate to your broods
Disadvantages: Can be destroyed, far too expensive, models can't charge on the turn they emerge, uses reserve rules for emerging broods
Although brood nests can be used for psychological warfare, they're far too easily taken out and actually slow your broods down. You're far better off deploying normally. If they were 10 points or something, they'd be worth using, but as it is they're just too expensive. Verdict: Just don't bother.

> Meiotic Spores (35 pts each)
Advantages: S5 AP3 large blast detonation, anti-aircraft capacity, can deploy more mines when destroyed
Disadvantages: Fragile, one-use-only, deploy using reserve rolls
These are basically Spore Mine Clusters of one huge mine (three spores to a choice). Meiotic Spores not only detonate at S5 with a decent template, they release D6-1 bio-acid mines when they do. Lovely stuff! If you feel low on AP3, these can be a bargain. They're good for psychological warfare too, although it's unlikely to affect the game plan until after they come down, in which case your opponent will avoid them or their subsidiary clusters like the plague. The bio-acid mines detonate a turn later, meaning that a unit underneath them will be forced to move - assuming it passes the big spore's Pinning test that is - and of course they'll force target priority tests. 35pts is perhaps a lot for a spore, but these are useful for blowing irritating enemy to pieces. Personally I'm going to get a few and then arrange a game that involves Incubi... Verdict: Up to personal preference

> Harridan (636 pts)
Advantages: Gargoyle transport, flyer, bio-cannons
Disadvantages: Huge and expensive, spends half its time off-table, needs a separate detachment
I've never used a Harridan and don't plan to at the moment. Flyers are overrated in my view. They are often under-armed for their points cost. The Harridan has bio-cannons, which aren't bad, but something like a 275 point Nightwing has a twin linked pulse laser and a TL shuriken cannon. You can get the twin-linked bio-cannon on a Barbed Hierodule for 96 points cheaper, which can be on the table and shooting stuff from turn one. On the other hand, its ability to swoop down and attack with its claws is pretty neat, and it's unlikely that a Harridan will actually die. As it's only on table for short periods of time, your opponent won't bother blasting it out of the air, as with five T7 wounds and three mass points it's unlikely to cop it. This, however, is a double-edged sword. 636 points off table means 636pts less on the ground, 636pts less for the enemy to shoot down, and most importantly 636 fewer Victory Points for surviving troops or objective taking. The ability to deploy an extra bunch of Gargoyles is nifty, but that's even more stuff you can't use until later on in the game. If you want bio-cannons that badly, get the flipping Hierodule. Verdict: Stuff it.

> Malanthrope (140 pts)
Advantages: Instant Death special rule, synapse, Fleet, only £32 (or is it 36?)
Disadvantages: Outperformed by Hive Tyrants, needs Rippers to field
If you're expecting a super Zoanthrope, forget it. This is basically a Hive Tyrant that swaps Monstrous Creaturehood and decent combat characteristics for Fleet (of Tendril, no less) and Anaphylactic Shock - a special rule meaning it causes automatic Instant Death on anything except daemons. While the latter sounds useful, a Hive Tyrant's ability to ignore saves and instakill T3 anyway means it will usually cause more damage, not to mention that the Malanthrope's unpredictable D6 attacks hit using WS3, whereas a Tyrant with two scything talons gets five attacks with a possible WS7 equivalent, and can have a higher Initiative than 5. And you can buy wings, so Fleet isn't a redeeming feature. It has The Horror, but so does your Hive Tyrant. Verdict: Pointless, unless you like the model or the fluff.

+++ Psychic Powers

> Catalyst
This seems obvious, but it requires a bit of thought to use. You may well have more broods needing catalysing than you have creatures with it, if you're assaulting an army that's deployed itself in cover, or if you're fighting a high initiative army like Dark Eldar (or other 'nids). Carnifexes in particular will want catalysing a lot. When choosing units to catalyse, consider how many casualties they're likely to take. High on the priority list are wounded monstrous creatures fighting high-strength power weapons, such as a battered Carnifex (I1/2) in combat with a Dreadnought (I4). Next are expensive small units such as Genestealers that will lose a lot of their attacking ability when their opponents attack. Units which have more than enough strength to overwhelm their enemy after taking casualties can be left. Don't waste spare catalysts; remember the Psychic test can cause damage to the model using the power. If you're playing against an enemy with a psychic hood, be prepared for mass nullification - it's likely you'll need repeat attempts at casting on the same brood. Continue until the highest priority unit is catalysed, then move on to the next, and so on.

> Bonesword Catalyst
A nice advantage here. You can use this to some effect if you surround a Hive Tyrant with two or three assault Carnifexes (only worth using in a big army, as in a smaller one they'd most likely be too avoidable) and charge in. Alternately, if you're charging into cover it's not too hard to keep a few broods with a model within 6" of the Tyrant, especially if you have two of them. You also pay 15 points for the weapon and its accompanying lash whip, which is 15 points you save on not having to by adrenal glands (I). There's also the advantage that the Bonesword looks damn cool.

> The Horror
This isn't just useful as a deterrent against assaulting your monsters. I've never taken Zoanthropes with this power, but Hive Tyrants have it by default. You can use them to protect a less powerful brood against the predations of an enemy. Suppose you have four shooty Warriors and you're playing against Grey Knights or Chaos or something else that'll eat them in seconds. You can deploy the Tyrant in the midst of the unit. Stretch out the Warriors' coherency to get a large gap between the two middle ones, and put the Tyrant in the centre, with the Warriors huddled up tight to it. Your opponent, when wanting to charge this combination, has a choice (assuming you angle the units' frontage to face oncoming attackers). He can charge both units, and risk failing the Horror test (and facing the Tyrant's attacks if he passes), or try to charge the Warriors while keeping unit coherency AND staying further away than 1" from the Tyrant. He can do it, but unless he has a huge unit he'll only be in contact with one or two Warriors, and they'll be the only ones he can kill. If the Tyrant has any Guard, you can space the Warriors out further and deploy the Guards amid them - now let him charge the Warriors, keeping 1" away from the Guard as well!

> Psychic Scream
Deadly against Tau in particular. This is best used on a brood of Zoanthropes, and optionally on your Tyrants as well. If you have two Tyrants with it as well as the Zoans, you can force -5 Ld on any units within range of them. If those Tyrants are shooty - particularly with the double devourer combination, whose 18" range fits into the Psychic Scream range and have a pile of shots, or with Pinning barbed stranglers - there'll be enemy running every which way, even Necrons. Against Orks, you have easily enough firepower with a shooty Tyrant to knock them well below the automatic-mob-check-passing size - 12 models - and with a base Ld 7, they'll be fleeing in no time. Even with just the 3 Zoanthropes, -3 Ld is a nice fat modifier that'll allow you to break squads far more easily. This also applies with nearby CC units - coupled with a nice outnumbering bonus you'll be running enemy down left, right and centre. Useful on an assault flyrant as well; an extra -1 to targets' morale checks goes well with the 'monstrous creatures count as 10' rule and the Initiative 5 or 6 he can use when making sweeping advances.

> Shadow in the Warp
I wouldn't. 3D6 and discarding the lowest is unlikely to do much; most enemy psykers are Ld 10 and won't be fazed by this. It may even help them, as you ignore Perils of the Warp results. Now if it nullified PotW for your own side as well, it might be worth taking, or if it meant taking the Ld test on 3D6 full stop (like runes of warding, and they force PotW on any roll of 12+ too). You're far better off with one of the other powers on a Tyrant.

> Synapse Creature
Worthy of a tactica in its own right, and a standard power. When making a swarm always ensure you have enough synapse to keep your Gaunts, Hormagaunts, Gargoyles, unsynapsed Zoanthropes, and Raveners in line (everything else is Fearless, Mindless or a synapse creature). Also, ensure that you have fast or forward synapse. Hormagaunts in particular are easily able to charge right out of control range, so you'll need winged synapse and/or a Broodlord to shepherd them for a turn while the slower ones catch up. The power's ability to ignore Instant Death is another incentive to take it, particularly if you're facing wraithcannons. Detonating Spore Mines isn't that useful, as their small blasts mean they won't have much of an effect if they weren't close enough to detonate in the first place. You can also get some advantage out of deliberately leaving broods out of synapse - Lurking can be useful, or if the nearest synapse creature is closer to the objective/enemy you can get them to fall back that way. This isn't much of a boost for most units, Gargoyles in particular, but Hormagaunts, Raveners and Zoanthropes all have a decent chance of moving faster than they normally would. (Hormagaunts and Ravs fall back 3D6", rather than moving 6+D6"; Zoanthropes only move 6" so their 2D6" fallback is useful.)

> Warp Blast
Warp Blast is deadly, but its weakness is its inaccuracy. Unlike most Tyranid guns, it can't be twin linked, can't come on a BS4 platform (BS4 Tyrants can't use the high power bolt) and can't have multiple shots. This means that if you want one Zoanthrope, take three. I always give my 'thropes WB, because it's the only way they can do some damage. Apart from WB+something, about the only viable Zoanthrope setup is Synapse Creature + Psychic Scream, but even that's not brilliant. Besides which, it's a way to get more a) Strength 10, b) AP3 & AP2 into an army. I haven't used it on a Hive Tyrant since the new codex was released, as I've redone my old walking CC Tyrant into a shooty one (taken with BS4 too), and the other's a flyrant, so he likes to hide behind a warp field. My old one, though, once blew up a Monolith with one shot. My Zoanthropes are fielded in almost every game and, despite their inability to hit barn doors, are pretty effective. When that S10 shot hits, something dies. A problem with the high power bolt (aside from its short range) is its requirement for a Psychic test, meaning it can be nullified or cause damage to the caster. The S5 AP3 blast, though, is lovely. It can annihilate anything short of Terminators at the rate of two or three per shot.

> Warp Field
I usually take this on my flying Hive Tyrant, as it's the only way he can get the 2+ armour save. My shooter sometimes has it, if I'm expecting lots of AP2 to be coming my way (I take it over extended carapace for purposes of the invulnerable save). The 6+ inv isn't much, but it can be useful; if it saves one wound I'm happy. I actually had a cool moment with it before - in a monster-v-monster battle, one Tyrant wounded another twice with an implant attack, killing it outright. I removed the victim and then suddenly remembered the warp field. Rolling just in case, not expecting anything, I got a double six. The Tyrant went from being dead to unwounded in one lucky roll. :D It's an easy power to use as you don't tend to forget it's there (which happens a lot with Catalyst and is the bane of my deep striking Lictor - in my last game I forgot him completely!) and don't need any thought over - you just pay the 35 points and get on with the game. Its bane is its high cost - 10 points more than extended carapace, which could buy you Psychic Scream or Catalyst, for a rather crummy invulnerable save that uses up your Tyrant's only psychic power option. If it was 5+, now...

+++ Army Lists

Different people write army lists in different ways. Personally I think over what I'm likely to be facing and draw up units to counter those threats, so for example if I'm playing against Tau I take fast assaulters, hard fire magnets where necessary, and plenty of guns to support me on the way in. If, on the other hand, I'm playing Dark Eldar, I'll load up on shooty stuff ('Nid guns are great against Dark Eldar), some Genestealers, and Hormagaunts (fast enough to get the charge, numerous enough not to worry about the casualties the enemy inflicts), as well as a few Catalyst and Psychic Scream powers to counter the Dark Eldar's Initiative and take advantage of their lowish Leadership. I have about 4000 points of nids so it's hard to come up with a balanced list as I want to include EVERYTHING!! As such I make the most of my club's habit of organising games beforehand and writing specific lists. Here are a few pointers to bear in mind when preparing your swarm for battle.

> Balanced Lists

1. Take All Comers
You need units suitable against any threat. To this end you need versatile, hard hitting and resilient units wherever possible. Hormagaunts, especially upgraded ones, excel against any army. So do Genestealers, although their vulnerability to heavy bolters is a big problem. Shooty Warriors, Carnifexes and Tyrants can be highly useful depending on loadout; most 'nid guns are good against both troops and light vehicles, but you'll need to take specific tank-hunters to destroy heavy vehicles. This means Warp Blast and/or combat monsters.

2. Cheapness Versus Hardness
Biomorphing everything to the gills will leave you with numbers comparable to all-Grey Knight armies. While 300+ point Carnifexes are undeniably fun, you're far better off with two 150 point ones. On the other hand, taking no upgrades at all will leave you vulnerable. CC Hive Tyrants, which are generally your character hunters, benefit massively from adrenal glands of both types - enabling them to strike before Marine and Chaos characters and hit them on 3s - and could use toxic miasma as well, hitting WS6 on 3s, making WS3 hit on 5s, and making WS7 hit on 4s. You also need toxin sacs (whoever heard of S5 Hive Tyrants? ;)) My combat flyrant generally costs 217 points, or 221 with flesh hooks. Ouch - that's a seventh of my points gone. 1500pts lists, while supposedly allowing for enough variety to field a properly balanced or properly specialised (read: cheesy) army, are quite restrictive in this regard. Thus you need to cut down on the biomorphs as much as you possibly can. This is difficult and mostly down to personal preference, but you can make it easier when considering cohesion.

3. Cohesion
Taking three synaptic Zoanthropes, fifty odd Gargoyles, a walking Tyrant and loads of Hormagaunts is going to get you nowhere. You need an army which operates as a whole and fits together. Tyranids aren't renowned as users of this playing style - the Tau are most famous for it - but in fact they are quite interdependent on each other. You need a good synapse web, able to lose a few models and still control the Gaunts. You need fire support in the right places, and enough of it; one warp blast and a few fleshborers are literally pointless. Unless you're going for an all-assault army, take plenty of guns. I used to load up on CC nastiness and then just take a few shooters in the background, and wondered why they never did anything. Similarly, six Genestealers in an army of gunbeasts are going to do very little. 40K revolves around application of firepower, be it assault or ranged, and for it to actually have an effect you need to apply plenty and keep applying until your target dies, then move on to the next target. (Players of Battlefleet Gothic will understand this concept.) Your slow CC Carnifexes need help - fast assaulters to tie targets down, Genestealers or other monsters to enact the pincer manoeuvre, barbed stranglers or Biovores (possibly combined with Psychic Scream) to pin victims in place. Read over and think through your list a couple of times. What are the weaknesses? Fix faults by changing or adding units so as to cover them up. Make sure every unit has a purpose (or purposes) and a way of fulfilling it/them. If it has any upgrades, weapons or biomorphs that aren't essential for what it has to do, ditch them in favour of more models and units. For example, Rippers intended as tar units don't need anything other than a mobility upgrade; those toxin sacs are pointless, as are the spinefists.

4. Have a Battle Plan
Your cohesive army is all very well, but it's no good if you don't have a rough idea of where you're going to put everything. Think through your deployment, and your first moves. Adjust your army list to fulfil the plan. If you need flank attackers, drop that extra Carnifex and get some Gargoyles/Raveners/Hormagaunts. If you need more close-up shooting ferocity, drop the Biovores and get a Carnifex with double devourers. If you're worried about Basilisks, drop the Raveners and get Biovores. (Ravs can be good against Basilisks, but Biovores' blast template auto-glance is better, and Basilisks are so big that you've a good chance of hitting them after scattering.)

5. Objectives
If you know the scenario, think about the objectives. Recon? Take Gargoyles and other fast units. Take and Hold? Hard, expensive CC 'fexes are your friend. Secure and Control? An army which operates in different sections or waves, capable of splitting up to go for objectives all over the board more or less simultaneously. Meat Grinder? Lots of troops, upgraded as you wish. Bunker Assault? Lictors to get inside, and monstrous creatures and heavy guns to breach the bunkers. Alpha-level? Leave the Broodlord at home. Omega-level or Patrol mission? Scuttlers galore are your friend, as well as infiltrators and the odd deep striking unit.

6. Specific Lists: Know Your Enemy
Reading up on your foe can help if you don't know what the army does. Borrow the Codex, look in the Wargear book, read online articles etc. Obviously committing a huge amount of time to this is going too far, but it helps a lot. It also prevents your opponent abusing rules without you knowing! Look at each force's strengths and weaknesses. You need units which will counter or absorb the strengths, and exploit the weaknesses. As an example, let's take the Eldar. Eldar have good guns, powerful close combat and close-up shooting units, and decent fire support. They are very versatile, fast and mobile. Their downfall is their fragility. Tactics can exploit any army's traits, but you have a great head start if you write an army list tailored to the purpose. You can counter the CC Aspect Warriors with Genestealers, absorb the shooting with cannon fodder and fire-magnet Carnifexes, counter the close-up shooters with Gaunts and devourers (and of course charging them), and counter the fire support with venom cannons and Biovores. You can reduce their speed and mobility by fielding faster units and long range weaponry (countering). Finally, their fragility can be exploited at the end of your guns and high strength attacks. You'll need combat upgrades on your CC Tyrants to beat Autarchs, although you won't need an implant attack because he's only T3 and your S6 monster can insta-kill him. Hormagaunts will do well with WS5 to hit Aspect Warriors on 3s, and I5 to strike simultaneously with them. Warp Blasts and Carnifexes can take out Wraithlords. Eldar don't have AP4 anti-infantry guns, so take extended carapaces on 5+ save models, halving your casualties from scatter lasers and shuriken weapons. And so on. If you take this to its extreme limits, you end up with 1500 points (or whatever the game limit is) so anti-Eldar that it could scare a craftworld. It's even better if you have an idea of what your opponent's fielding...

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