So the pile of Termagants got me thinking about whether a Tyranid Swarm list is viable in 5th ed.
First lets look at some of the problems 5th Ed. Inflicts on us daily.
Mechanisation – Okay we all know that in 5th ed. The vehicle is king. A highly forgiving set of vehicle damage tables, combined with cover save providing options like Smoke Launchers, Kustom Force Fields and various ‘Shield’ psychic powers makes killing vehicles a chore. Not to mention that you’ve still got to hit and penetrate them first. Tyranids get access to a number of units capable of killing light transports but only Hive Guard could be considered reliable.
Land Raiders – Part of the above problem but also worthy of their own subsection. Armour 14 all around means that you need S10, Lance or Melta, AP1 or some combination of the above to reliably kill a Land Raider. Tyranids basically only get 2 options that can do this (Tyrannofex with Rupture Cannon and Zoanthropes with Warp Lance) and neither of them can be considered reliable.
Marines – Yes, Marines. 4 out of every 5 armies I see are of 1 Marine variant or another. Most Tyranid weapons are AP4 or lower (even the high strength ones), which means Marines are getting armour saves from 90% of what Tyranids can throw at them. As we are talking about hordes here they’ll also be getting 3+ saves in combat, will be getting hit on 4’s but hitting back on 3’s and against un-upgraded units will be wounding on 3’s and being wounded on 5’s. This means that a considerable volume of attacks is needed to put even a small dent in a Marine unit, while the Marines will be generating a lot of wounds back.
Templates – As any honest Ork player will tell you, thinking that your opponent can’t possibly kill 160 models is an excellent way to open yourself to disappointment. Massed Orks routinely die to even a half arsed amount of Flamer weapons and if those Flamers are vehicle mounted the problems are compounded even more. If T4 Orks have this problem what chance do T3 termagants have?
So what options does the humble Tyranid player like myself have to get around these problems?
Lets start with the major one – Vehicles…
Even 60 odd S4 (and that’s with Furious Charge) attacks on the charge have a very low chance of harming an armour 10 vehicle that’s moved over 6”
60 Attacks, 10 Hit, 1.667 Glancing hits…Well that’s just wonderful :-(
So we really need to work out how to de-mechanise that opposing army before we even start to think about our horde of infantry munching space bugs.
Our options are,
Hive Guard – BS4, 24” Range, S8, A4, Assault 2
Okay for taking out light transports, but even taking into account T6 and 2 Wounds an armour save of 4+ makes us vulnerable to even the lowly Heavy Bolter.
Zoanthropes – So they have a S10, AP1 weapon but they can be easily shut down by psychic defense and are not in the least survivable.
Tyrannofex with Rupture Cannon – 2x S10 shots at BS3 is averaging 1 shot per turn. Decent enough at popping light vehicles not so hot once we reach the Armour 14 level.
Anything with a Venom Cannon – S9 would be nice but the minus 1 to the result on the Vehicle Damage Table reduces their chances of destroying a vehicle (the result we really need) by 50%.
So the options aren’t brilliant. It looks like we’ll need Hive Guard and a couple of Tyrannofex’s before we even start to think about our actual horde.
So onto HQ’s,
As were not going down the uber killy path something cheap will do.
Best candidate is obviously a Tyranid Prime, which un-upgraded only costs 80 points. As he’s only there to provide Synapse and the mandatory HQ he’ll probably do, maybe 2 of them would be better as I wouldn’t be particularly happy with only a single synapse source.
Supporting the swarm.
So let now look at what can help out our swarm.
Tervigons are a great supporting unit but primarily only help Termagants and we’re not going to get very far just using mass Termagants. Catalyst (which gives a unit within 12” Feel no Pain) can affect any unit but as it can only affect a single unit we’d need a prohibitively high amount to be much use to our swarm of doom.
Venomthropes give a 5+ cover save to any unit within 6”, which is certainly worth having, they also give those units defensive grenades as well as other benefits. They are however very delicate so are extremely vulnerable to enemy shooting. We’d probably need at least 2 of these (more likely 3), which also use up an Elite slot that I could do with putting Hive Guard in. Still if that’s what we’ve got to do then we’ll just have to make do with 2 units of Hive Guard rather than 3.
We have 5 options, which are (in no particular order) Termagants, Hormagaunts, Ripper swarms, Gargoyles, Sky Slasher Swarms.
Both Ripper and Sky Slasher Swarms are rubbish so we’ll cross them from the list straight away.
Termagants that are unsupported by Tervigons are going to need both Toxin Sacs and Adrenal Glands which makes them 7 points each. Slow and relatively easy to kill these would serve better as our objective holding units.
Hormagaunts are a bit faster than Termagants due to ‘Bounding Leap’ and ‘Fleet’, Have 2 attacks base but weigh in at 10 points each once the Toxin sacs and Adrenal Glands are added in. These would most likely be our ‘Taking other objectives’ unit.
Gargoyles are the fastest horde unit we have available as they are classed as Jump Infantry. They also have the ‘Blinding Venom’ ability which makes any to hit roll of a 6 wound automatically, which obviously ups our successful attacks by a bit. Other than those abilities they’re basically flying Termagants and set us back 8 points per model once the (imo) mandatory Glands and Sacs are added. These would obviously be our ‘in your face early’ unit.
So if you stick that all together then we’re going to need a couple of cheap Synapse HQ’s, Hive Guard, Tyrannofex’s, 2 or 3 Venomthropes, Termagants, Hormagaunts and Gargoyles.
I’ll try and make an at least semi viable list out of that later, but if anybody else wants to have a go then I’m open to suggestions…
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