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 Post subject: YATF: Armywide special rules
PostPosted: Tue Mar 17, 2015 5:09 am 
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Basic Rules
Army wide special rules are, in all cases, the core of the army and in large part determine how it functions. And They Shall Know No Fear for the marines, Powered By Pain for Dark Eldar, Reanimation Protocols for Necrons, Battle Focus for Eldar, that nasty "overwatch for your friends" rule for Tau...as such, the armywide special rules should carry the power of the army's background and drive the play of the army to match how they are represented. Unfortunately, since such rules apply to all (most) of the units in the army, slight changes have big effects, so they have to be balanced and somewhat modest unless matched by a points tax on everything in the army that can be affected.

What makes the Tyranids unique?

In my opinion, they key is not masses of cheap troops (Guard and Orks do this as well or better), close combat focus (not really true currently, and you can get/make better CC troops with many armies), or a mix of basic troops/intermediate troops/monstrous creatures (you can do this these days with Tau, Dark Eldar, Gray Knights, etc).

The real defining trait of Tyranids is their complete lack of individuality. All other factions place some value on individual existence. Even Necrons have the remains of a sense of self-preservation left, whereas Nids, under the influence of the Hive Mind, are entirely devoted to accomplishing the goal. Their physiology follows this pattern, frequently (for the lesser beasts) being engineered without the means to survive for more than a few days (lack of digestive system, etc). Although Fearlessness (i.e. not having to take morale and pinning tests) is a feature of a number of armies and units, it is largely used for troops that are merely unshakeably brave or foolhardy; even the bravest suicide troops (Death Company, perhaps) are driven to a meaningful death in glorious combat, following in the footsteps of their primarch. No other army (I argue) has the cold-blooded means to to deliberately throw whole broods at an aircraft on the 1% chance one will blow the jet turbine, or impale themselves on a power sword to foul it for a critical second while the rest of the brood presses the attack, or attack in the thousands deliberately to exhaust enemy ammunition. These deaths have no nobility or glory; no one will tell tales or raise a banner in the Hall of Heroes for such deaths. The ability to do such things is categorically alien to any species of individuals, which includes all of the factions except the Tyranids.

Another well-established theme is the ability of the tyranid forces to repopulate their losses from stolen biomass and also to control their own genetics, compensating for past deficiencies and mutating the means to better defeat their enemy. The first should be represented in the overall costing structure of the army (basic bodies are relatively cheap, upgrades are somewhat low power and mid-cost, which means you're never going to have a vastly expensive deathstar; everything will be cheap, tailored, redundant, and expendable). The second probably needs some kind of a special rule (more on that later).

* Synapse *
I'm happy with the now-traditional 12" radius fearless bubble, and negating Instinctive Behavior. Messing with that would confuse a lot of players since it's been consistent for many Codicies. What I want to twiddle, though, is its interaction with the rest of the rules and psychic powers, to work some fixes on lower performing Synapse creatures (Warriors), and to take into account the complete lack of self-regard and the overriding ability of the Hive Mind to remove biological fear and pain, to keep them running until they are completely dead or dismembered, and throw themselves into pointless acts of self-sacrifice without regard. Some of the thoughts for additional synapse rules:

-- For the purpose of Instant Death *only*, all broods in Synapse range have +1T. Therefore, a model with T4 on its statline would still be wounded based on the normal comparison of S to T, but would not suffer Instant Death from an unsaved wound at S8-9, because it would be effectively T5 for the purpose of Instant Death. The justification for this would be the ability of Synapse to override pain and shock, allowing the models to continue to fight even if they had suffered grevious wounds. I'm not sold on this, despite how much it would "fix" the Tyranid Warrior, because it doesn't make a lot of fluff sense; ID attacks are sufficient to blow the target apart, whereas Synapse override should work better on lesser wounds that would normally incapacitate due to shock, pain, and bloodloss...and this is properly represented by the well-regarded "Catalyst" power conferring Feel No Pain. So 'meh' on fluff compliance even though the rules would be nice.

-- Units in Synapse Range can attack in close combat at +1S (stackable with Furious Charge) in exchange for the unit taking 1d6 unsavable wounds (allocated as desired by the controlling player, removing whole models when possible) at the end of the Initiative step where the attacks are made. Alternately, make it Rending instead of +1S, or perhaps "automatically wounds or causes a glance on a roll of 6" like Gauss. This would go more towards the "it doesn't matter if they die" mentality rather than making them tougher, which I like, and it allows even "base model" Nids able to glance AV10 vehicles (any of the versions), which makes the swarm a threat to parking lots (especially if they're coming in from outflank or deepstrike). I suspect the Rending version is too good, but I think it actually fits the desired visual better (especially with rippers; swamped in a mass of tiny teeth, one of which finds the weak point). Either version of the rule also works to encourage large units, since it rewards you with larger benefit for the same cost. As with the previous idea, this might be better represented by a Psychic power and not a universal feature of all units in synapse.

-- Some way to allow shooting into close combat...this would give the Nids a game-unique ability which (I think) is justified by their complete lack of regard for the individual brood organisms. It would also permit greater interaction between the elements of the swarm, since you wouldn't lose all of the ability of your shooting units when your CC units made contact, and the enemy couldn't manipulate assault turn and phase (with challenges, for example) to stay locked safely in close combat with enemies that had little chance of hurting them. The rule would be easy to implement for blast and template weapons, since they already can deal with hitting multiple units. Direct fire weapons are more of a problem, because they should account for the relative size of the friendly and enemy units in combat, which would not be easy. Instead, and to make it unambiguous (and more bloodthirsty), perhaps the rule should read something like "Tyranid broods are permitted to target enemy units that are engaged in close combat as shooting targets. Such shooting attacks with blast or template weapons follow the normal rules for such weapons hitting more than one unit, allocating hits to to friend and foe according to how many models are touched. In such cases, the Tyranid player must place the blast marker or template in such a way as to cover the largest number of enemy models, regardless of how many friendly models are affected. For other shooting attacks (including witchfire psychic powers), roll to hit and wound as normal against the intended target unit, but make saves with the closest model to the firing model, regardless of whether it is friend or foe."

-- Shared awareness of the battlefield, as it is seen through thousands of eyes, should confer some advantage. What I would like to have is something like "any unit can draw line of sight (although not necessarily line of fire) from any Tyranid model that is in Synapse coverage. Therefore, for example, a Tyranid brood could assault a target unit that was out of their own LOS but within their charge range, or a brood of biovores could fire spore mines at a unit that they had no LOS with full BS instead of BS0." This would provide incentive to spread out onto the battlefield, distribute the synapse network (to cover more area), move up expendable units forward (to support the more lethal units behind them), and generally behave in a more Niddy fashion (i.e. discourages hanging back in a blob behind cover).

-- To compensate for some of these benefits, there could be a down side. The most intuitive one is to require units to be in Synapse coverage in order to hold or contest objectives; a brood that is out of Synapse is no longer connected to the Hive Mind and therefore is no more interested in military objectives than a pack of wolves; it may be dangerous or hungry, but ultimately it's not interested in goals other than its own immediate physical well-being. This is a significant restriction, as it will require lists to have a much more robust and distributed Synapse network to avoid getting knocked out of the game; unfortunately, it also means that the enemy can go for an "instant win" by focusing all of their attention on the synapse creatures...I don't really have a problem with that, since it represents a plausible tactic that *should* work against Tyranids. As a half-measure, perhaps instead of making Synapse the criteria, make it that creatures that are suffering from Instinctive Behavior can't control or deny objectives. This has the virtue of rewarding higher Ld mid-size creatures (who fail less often) and making it a matter of chance whether the Nids can take points or not rather than a binary "yes/no" proposition, and it offers the Tyranid army designer varying degrees of risk involved (and also adds relative value to broods that don't require Synapse to function, like Lictors and Genestealers).


* Instinctive Behavior *
I actually like the current implementation of Instinctive Behavior. All of the variants are bad at least half the time, and the randomness can allow some surprises, while still severely constraining the broods' freedom of action when they're forced to act independently from the synapse network.



* Shadow in the Warp *
I am completely uninterested in the current implementation of Shadow in the Warp, mainly because it's oriented around a pre-7E psychic phase that was still dependent on the Ld of individual psykers to cast powers (making a Ld nerf actually significant). Now, the only effects are to lower the Ld of units with psychic characters (usually minimal because the Ld of the troops takes over below a certain level), making some Perils of the Warp results more likely (failed Ld test), and perhaps synergizing with some Ld-dependent psychic powers (Shriek, The Horror) when directed at short range against psyker targets. Overall, pretty disjointed and not very useful against the vast majority of armies.

The background material suggests that the shadow in the warp acts like an impenetrable blanket on the warp; it's hard to draw power, invoke effects, and nearly impossible to communicate using astrotelepathy (the entire point of the Shadow is that planets lose the ability to call for help right when they need it). On a tactical level, Shadow should make enemy psychic powers more difficult to use, although perhaps decrease the risk of Perils of the Warp (as the warp is much less dangerous because you can barely touch it through the Shadow). A direct relationship between Synapse/shadow and enemy psykers would also reward fast synapse units (e.g. Shrikes, Flyrants) for moving ahead of the swarm to use the Shadow offensively.

From a rules perspective, what this suggests is a mechanism that permits fewer dice to be rolled by the enemy psykers, which accomplishes all of the goals above. So I'm thinking something like "When determining the number of warp charge dice each player gains at the beginning of the psychic phase, non-Tyranid psykers that are within the Shadow of the Warp contribute one charge less than normal, to a minimum of zero." This, again, provides an incentive to get as much of the battlefield covered as possible by the end of each tyranid turn, especially against enemies that rely on multiple small psychic units/models (Eldar, Daemons) to act as psychic batteries for the heavy-hitters. Played correctly, these mastery 1 battery units contribute 0 warp charges when covered by the Shadow.

Ideally, the Shadow should affect the "winds of magic" roll more than anything else, to represent the calming effect of the Shadow on the Warp. So another idea would be to have the die roll halved, set at 1, or removed completely as long as at least one synapse creature was alive on the battlefield, which would disproportionately hurt low psychic armies, but wouldn't really touch the nasty high-psychic armies (like Daemon Tzeentch spam); removing 3.5 average charges when your units are giving you 20+ isn't really meaningful. So maybe that isn't such a good idea. Makes sense in the fluff, but doesn't really match the effect in the game.

Another thought is to make it easier for Tyranids to negate enemy psychic effects (especially since a lot of their powers are targeted at the enemy, and tyranids have nothing like a psychic hood or shared defense...which they really should, being all telepathically connected and all). So instead of or in addition to the above, maybe let the shadow allow +1 to all Deny the Witch rolls against all powers cast by enemy psykers within the Shadow. This would greatly increase the effects of Tyranid anti-psychics (as long as the shadow sources were distributed well enough), especially against blessings and conjurations (which are the most significant powers in use in the current metagame), but wouldn't reduce the chances for enemy psykers to hit Perils. On the plus side, much easier to adjudicate.

Last thought on this subject...Shadow in the Warp has some effect on even non-psykers in the background material; perhaps not a strong enough effect to cause something in-game, but it's generally regarded as a low level increase in dread and despair, accentuated by the spore-laden air and constant attacks by vanguard creatures. The most limited effect I can think of is to broadcast a general -1Ld to enemy units in the Shadow, but this is probably overpowered, especially against enemies near the Ld tipping point (Ld7). Since it's more of a confusion and despair rather than overt terror (depending on what you read), maybe it would be better represented as a -1 to Pinning and Rally tests (troops are more likely to cower in the mud and keep running once they're broken), which would synergize with pinning weapons, The Horror, and positioning forward synapse near target units.


* Forced adaptation *
Unlike the previous thoughts, the concept of rapid adaptation to the enemy is not reflected in the rules anywhere; any faction has the same abilities to guess who they're playing against, or design lists against known opponents or the local meta, which confers no particular advantage to Tyranid players. Ideally, a Tyranid army should be able to engineer things into their creatures that are specifically against their current enemy (which means a decision made after list design but before the game starts).

This rapid evolution could either just be a feature (engineered into the cost structure of the whole army) or come with a countervailing disadvantage (if changes were unambiguously good, why not do all of them all the time? There must be an evolutionary trade-off).

For the advantages, there is already precedent for leaders and wargear granting a changable special rule each turn (the Puretide Engram chip, for example). Changing each turn is silly for a genetic alteration, but right at the beginning of the game (chosen while rolling warlord traits and psychic powers) makes sense. Choices might include things like monster hunter, tank hunter, furious charge, stealth, preferred enemy, skyfire, or hive node (unit gains the Brood Telepathy rule like genestealers). Should, of course, be limited to a small number of units (perhaps one per army, one per HQ choice, one per Tyrant?), which will itself encourage larger units.

This rapid DNA alteration could also come with some down side to reduce its impact on costing. With the list of possible benefits given above, I can justify either a Ld reduction (changes to the creature's biochemical makeup also causes behavioral oddities and more self-destructive instinctive behavior; largely meaningless for synapse creatures or armies with a robust synapse network) or a reduction in the armor save (mutations to specialize the creature's tissues, senses, or nervous system also alter the coverage and structure of its carapace, making it more vulnerable). Maybe both?

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 Post subject: Re: YATF: Armywide special rules
PostPosted: Tue Mar 17, 2015 6:31 am 
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 Post subject: Re: YATF: Armywide special rules
PostPosted: Tue Mar 17, 2015 7:56 pm 
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@Vonny: I like your take on Shadow. I would phrase this as "Shadow in the Warp: whenever an enemy psyker that is in Synapse range attempts to cast a psychic power, their highest rolling warp power die is removed; this is different from a die being negated by Deny the Witch in that the die is taken away completely and is not considered for either successful casting of the power or for Perils of the Warp." This would take away the need for any additional Adamantium Will / Psychic Hood type rules because you're just getting one free "Deny" as long as you have a Synapse creature close enough to the caster, but it also doesn't make successful casts any harder to Deny the normal way. I added the "highest die" proviso to make it a little more fluffy and balanced; Shadow in the Warp actually reduces the chance of Perils for enemy casters at the same time that it makes it less likely for them to get their powers cast successfully.

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 Post subject: Re: YATF: Armywide special rules
PostPosted: Wed Mar 18, 2015 1:53 pm 
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nice! Well done :)

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 Post subject: Re: YATF: Armywide special rules
PostPosted: Sat Mar 21, 2015 7:07 pm 
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how about shared awareness of the battlefield working like a mini-hive guard. Basically that's what you're doing.
so: "as long as one model in synapse has unobstructed view of the target, whereby the target would not be granted a cover save if any tyranid model within synapse range would have a weapon with enough range and an ability to shoot, then this model receives no cover save from any shooting."
This would still allow people to sit in area terrain, as you still get instant cover from that even if you're fully visible, and would encourage enveloping the field and getting models everywhere, as you noted before.
This does focus on shooting, and it might actually be a tad powerful, but... well, it's an option I thought of due to your shooting weapon thing.

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 Post subject: Re: YATF: Armywide special rules
PostPosted: Wed Mar 25, 2015 7:00 pm 
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 Post subject: Re: YATF: Armywide special rules
PostPosted: Thu Mar 26, 2015 11:20 pm 
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actually, with tyranids i would love to see the most is true 'brood symbiosis' of our units...

as in being able to split up or combine squads together at a whim.

have three rippers and three warriors join that squad of 20 termagaunts... let the rippers stand in front and take fire like they are supposed to, while the warriors are shielded by the gaunts. need to hold an objective? split off 5 gaunts and a warrior to stay put and have the rest continue on towards the enemy.

terms horms and gargs are our only 'squads' that can exist... everything else is bought and fielded as a normal unit, but could be divided up between the swarm squads as per old royal court rules... and things like lictors and zoanthropes given IC status so they can pop in and out of squads as needed.

pyrovores that can join gaunt squads and actualy make it to the enemy without dying... melee carnis with horms jumping in the way of bullets until it can hit the front line. tervigons that are attached to the brood it is spawning... and those gaunts can break off into any number required by the situation... shrikes attached to a gargoyle squad to give rending claws or boneswords where needed, just like power weapons on sergents..



heck, they already set a precedent for such pairing with the flying tyrant formation that lets a winged tyrant join gargoyles..


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 Post subject: Re: YATF: Armywide special rules
PostPosted: Fri Mar 27, 2015 3:26 am 
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That would be cool, Drakis. watching our synapse creatures driving their own sections of the hive around the battlefield. It would also really add to the feel that the synaptic creatures are in control of the non synaptic ones.


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 Post subject: Re: YATF: Armywide special rules
PostPosted: Fri Mar 27, 2015 4:32 am 
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 Post subject: Re: YATF: Armywide special rules
PostPosted: Fri Mar 27, 2015 8:12 am 
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Shadow in the warp is a tricky one. On the one hand, it blots out the warp in such a matter that psykers can harldy get in touch with it anymore (of at all), which would lead you to believe that perils would become less frequent or even non-existant. On the other hand, there are scattered reports of psykers who try and reach through the shadow of the warp and get hurt because of the overwhelming presence and vastness of the tyranids in the psychic realm.

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 Post subject: Re: YATF: Armywide special rules
PostPosted: Fri Mar 27, 2015 9:40 am 
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perhaps for SOTW all psychic powers cast within its range of influnce are +1 warp charge, but effects of perils are negated?

or only cast on 5+ and perils are negated?


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 Post subject: Re: YATF: Armywide special rules
PostPosted: Fri Mar 27, 2015 10:41 am 
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 Post subject: Re: YATF: Armywide special rules
PostPosted: Sat Mar 28, 2015 6:02 am 
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 Post subject: Re: YATF: Armywide special rules
PostPosted: Sat Mar 28, 2015 6:05 am 
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