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 Post subject: The Carnifex, the Venom Cannon, and you.
PostPosted: Sun May 30, 2010 11:40 pm 
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Little One
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So at this point in the online community it's become an article of faith that Carnifexes are overpriced and inferior to other heavy support choices, and that the heavy Venom Cannon is a subpar choice for tank hunting of any sort. Neither of these assumptions is groundless; a basic Carnifex is nearly 50% more expensive than it would have been in the previous codex, and is slower and has fewer wounds than the competition for its role as combat brute, the Trygon. A heavy venom cannon is inaccurate, now has only one shot, and STILL carries a penalty to its damage roll. This underwhelming profile is thrown into even starker relief when compared with the transport-shredding capacity of an Impaler cannon or the potential of a Warp Lance to shatter armor; both Hive Guard and Zoanthropes support better, more specialized guns, with superior ballistic skill to boot.

So here is why, knowing this, I regularly use not one, but two, Carnifexes equipped with venom cannons at 1500 pts and up, and why I think more Tyranid players should.

The first and most obvious advantage is range. A venom cannon can fire double the distance of a Warp Lance shot and 12" farther than the Impaler cannon. In some situations this won't matter; between your own movement and forward deployment, the 24-30" both Zoanthropes and Hive Guard can cover with their movement will be all you need. In other situations, particularly Dawn of War or facing an oppenent who deploys to the rear or spreads their vehicles across the board, it will matter quite a bit. The heavy venom cannon's extra range means that it will be able to choose its targets more often than its competitors, rather than firing at a unit you merely hope is in range, or one that it cannot hurt significantly. Only the Rupture Cannon of a Tyrannofex boasts superior reach.

Secondly, there is the issue of accuracy. The venom cannon is undeniably weaker here than its competitors... but not so weak as to be useless. As a blast weapon it has a 2/3 chance to miss, but it will seldom do so completely, scattering up to 9". Alot depends on the size of a vehicle and the distance rolled, but it is hard to scatter completely off some vehicles - Land Raider, Valkyrie, Leman Russ, Battle Wagon,and Valkyrie chases are not exactly small, while smaller vehicles such as Rhinos,Chimeras, and Trukks possess lower armor that is easily penetrated by a S9 weapon.

Which brings around another factor: rolling for damage after a successful hit. Once again, the venom cannon is at a disadvantage, suffering
-1 on top of any other modifiers unless the target is open topped. I swear I am typing this with a straight face; it doesn't matter. Regardless of what you roll, the outcome will be good. At best, the target is a smoking wreck. At worst, you've immobilized a Predator or shot the stormbolter off a Rhino, either of which will make them easier to destroy next time around. The most likely result is Shaken, and this actually plays to the Tyranids advantage. A shaken vehicle can't fire its weapons, and neither can its passengers while they're aboard, something most players often need to be reminded of (BRB, p.67). A shaken tank isn't causing damage to you next turn, while a shaken transport's passengers will have to disembark to fire... which was probably the whole point of you shooting it in the first place.

Now let's move on to the Carnifex itself. First off, let's talk durability. A Fex is about on par with its competitors. Hive Guard have a similar toughness, but weaker save, making them vulnerable to small arms fire (although this can often be mitigated by their ability to deny LoS to enemies) while Zoanthropes can shrug off high strength, low AP fire with their invulnerable saves that would easily wound the Carnifex... right up to the point where they fail one and suffer instant death, or until someone takes adavantage of their moderate toughness and kills them with weight of fire. Each unit has weaknesses that can be exploited, but balancing strengths. A Carnifex has one advantage in this regard - it will fight at full efficiency until dead, while broods of Hive Guard and Zoanthropes will pump out fewer shots as they fail saves.

Now let's talk offense. Your Carnifex has all the advantages of the venom cannon listed above. In addition, it is equipped with scything talons, which make it slightly more likely for it to hit in combat despite its low weapon skill. Oh, and it's a monstrous creature that will wound anything short of a Wraithlord on 2s and can crush most characters like empty beer cans. You know how most players hate having to roll leadership tests when their characters are wounded by our shiny new boneswords? They hate it even more when it happens without the roll.
Hive Guard and Zoanthropes can't hurt much in combat, and can be tied up, if not killed, by a variety of cheap units; such squads might stop your Fex from shooting for a turn or two... while they are stomped into paste, after which it can gleefully get back to the battle. Similarly, they can turn the tide of a stalled assault or make an effective countercharge unit. Finally, assuming you've been moving it up, by midgame you should have the option of crushing tanks in assault as well as shooting them. A gun-beast in your lines won't perform as well as a Trygon against as wide a variety of foes... but it is still far from useless in an assault.

Let's get back to the Trygon comparison for a moment as well. There is absolutely no mitigation for a Carnifex's lack of wounds; in many instances though, it can make up for it's lack of Fleet with its own shooting. Stunned vehicles can't fire. Shaken vehicles can't run, and the damage table only gets better from there. While alot depends on the dice, a Carnifex can prevent its prey from escaping or even hurting it, something a Trygon can only rarely do via deepstriking and side/rear armor shots.

Finally, there is the cost. A max brood of Hive Guard will run 150 points, one of Zoanthropes will run 180(or 220 if they take a Spore in) and a Trygon 200. For 185 points, a Fex with talons and a heavy venom cannon can passably fill both roles, freeing up more points to spend elsewhere.


Is this configuration the best possible anti-tank we can field? Absolutely not. Is it invincible? Not only no, but heck no! What it does is combine range and stopping power with a vicious assault capacity, to create an adaptable unit that is stronger than the sum of its parts.


Criticism and comments welcome.

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 Post subject: Re: The Carnifex, the Venom Cannon, and you.
PostPosted: Mon May 31, 2010 12:58 am 
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Little One

Joined: Mon Mar 23, 2009 5:33 pm
Posts: 139
I like using Carnifex but they are second-class Monsters in the new codex. You need to exploit the Brood rule to get the most out of them.

I do disagree wih you on the gun. Heavy Venom Cannons are garbage. With BS 3 you will scatter 2" or less 52% of the time. Anything ggreater than that will miss most vehicles. That gives you a 26% chance to Stun (or better) against AV 12 and a wonderful 7.2% chance to kill av 10! HVC is so bad against AV 13 & 14 (5.8% and 2.9% to Immobilise/wreck) I would not even bother shooting at those targets.

Take two sets of Brainleech Devs and you have much better chances of stun-locking tanks. Range is shorter but you have a 79.9% to stun (or better) AV 12 and 40% to kill AV 10. Can not deal with AV 13/14 at range, but that is what charging or your other units are for.

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 Post subject: Re: The Carnifex, the Venom Cannon, and you.
PostPosted: Mon May 31, 2010 10:38 am 
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Biomass

Joined: Fri Sep 11, 2009 12:13 pm
Posts: 12
I had originally thought this to be a terrible idea. Given your arguments, I am willing to try a pair out in the next couple games. Thanks for the write-up.

Lyracian, in my opinion, you need to think about this option in terms of an army, and not just a separate unit on it's own. If it stuns/shakes a vehicle, your other shooting can focus elsewhere. If it whiffs, so be it. If it gets a WD result, your other shooting is one step closer to destroying the vehicle. It's not a terrible option, and as pointed out, not an amazing one either. The Carni has become a support critter, and this weapon option does just that; It supports your other shooting.

Just my $0.02.


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 Post subject: Re: The Carnifex, the Venom Cannon, and you.
PostPosted: Mon May 31, 2010 10:55 am 
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Big One
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Posts: 643
waaggghhhhfish wrote:
I had originally thought this to be a terrible idea. Given your arguments, I am willing to try a pair out in the next couple games. Thanks for the write-up.

Lyracian, in my opinion, you need to think about this option in terms of an army, and not just a separate unit on it's own. If it stuns/shakes a vehicle, your other shooting can focus elsewhere. If it whiffs, so be it. If it gets a WD result, your other shooting is one step closer to destroying the vehicle. It's not a terrible option, and as pointed out, not an amazing one either. The Carni has become a support critter, and this weapon option does just that; It supports your other shooting.

Just my $0.02.


I feel that it is a matter of thinking about the whole army when you say, "this model will be a waste of points and will hurt my army by taking up valuable resources." It's not short sighted at all to avoid a Carnifex if you think you have a more viable investment to suit your playstyle.

As for using the venom cannon on any unit, my vote is definitely for the Harpy. Harpies are more fragile, but they're also faster moving and their weapons are twin-linked. The twin-linking makes them significantly more likely to hit with the guns, and in any case it's actually cheaper to outfit a Harpy like that than it is to equip a Carnifex. They're more fragile, but they can also assist in assaults by using their scream ability, and they're more likely going to be able to catch stray vehicles if they can get to them without being vaporized by heavy weapons.

Unfortunately, once you set the Zoanthropes and Hive Guard aside there really are no good anti-tank options. Per point spent, the Carnifex is on the lower rungs, but I suppose if you're also breaking enemy lines with it then it does have some multi-role use. It's just a shame it's all so expensive, but I still hear people saying "monstrous creatures are overpowered" at my game store. They don't complain about Hive Guard, though, which are basically everything the Carnifex was only not as strong and able to get cover saves.


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 Post subject: Re: The Carnifex, the Venom Cannon, and you.
PostPosted: Mon May 31, 2010 12:31 pm 
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Little One

Joined: Mon Mar 23, 2009 5:33 pm
Posts: 139
waaggghhhhfish wrote:
Just my $0.02.
Your argument does not convince me. :D
I am looking at it in terms of the army and we have a very different view of what makes a reasonable choice. I can see no value in spending 185 points on a Carnifex with HVC. I would rather spend the extra eighty points and give it a 2+ save and a Rupture Cannon so it can actually do the job of supporting the rest of my army.

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 Post subject: Re: The Carnifex, the Venom Cannon, and you.
PostPosted: Mon May 31, 2010 8:37 pm 
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Monstrosity
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Joined: Sun Dec 18, 2005 4:53 pm
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I don't think range is that big of an issue at times. With a tervigon I can move my HG 6" and then run d6" and shoot, giving me a range of 30+d6". Add in that I'll probably be having them near the front and you can add in another 8-10" to the turn 1 range for 40+d6". Unless the opponent keeps his stuff against the back board edge you're going to have range. It's more of an issue with zoans than with hive guard.

As for venom cannons... I was going to bring this up, but CapnWellpoint beat me to it. If you want a VC then take a harpy. They have enough range that they can stay out of small arms fire, they can move 12" to get side armour shots, they can fire off plenty of blast templates, and vs heavy weapons (lascannons, missiles) they are no easier to kill than a fex and you can still take Trygons and T-fexes with them because they're fast attack choices (you know, that slot that everyone always forgets exists because maybe 3 or 4 armies have good fast attack choices).


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 Post subject: Re: The Carnifex, the Venom Cannon, and you.
PostPosted: Mon May 31, 2010 10:28 pm 
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Mawloc Prime
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Joined: Mon Sep 27, 2004 8:26 am
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Location: Western Massachusetts, New England, USA
Phalanx wrote:
(you know, that slot that everyone always forgets exists because maybe 3 or 4 armies have good fast attack choices).

Stop trying to trick me, i'll never give up my 18 Spore Mines!

although, with the way i run my army with three Mawlocs right now, i can see in bigger games going 2 mawlocs and 3 of these fexes... partially for the points, because i actually fill most slots up and only have 2250ish with how i'm running things these days (hormagaunts, hormagaunts, hormagaunts). they are a point sink and will not change how the army runs... but as my first HS choice, mawlocs are it in my book.

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 Post subject: Re: The Carnifex, the Venom Cannon, and you.
PostPosted: Tue Jun 01, 2010 12:05 pm 
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Little One

Joined: Tue Jul 29, 2008 11:17 am
Posts: 180
I think the 'Fex as a CC choice when in direct comparison to a Trygon is very poor. The strengths in the 'Fex come when you look at what one (or brood) can do that other things in the list can't. I have considered running 3 SPodding 'Fexes w/ double TL-Devs and after this thread, I would consider running three broods of 2 Fexes with VCs along with 3 Harpies. The -1 to Damage charts isn't so great, but Ripper Tentacles and Devs are at the same penalty and I have had them wreck plenty of vehicles. I don't think you could rely on them as your only AT, but when combined with any other AT in the list, you could overwhelm the light tanks initially and then switch up to anti-infantry in later turns.

Also, as awful as the HVC looks on paper, it would be amusing if it worked out as being quite useful in games (if fielded properly).


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