My Tyranid army isn’t geared just for shooting or just for assault but rather hovers somewhere in the middle but today I’ll be focusing on the shooty bit and looking at the alternatives.
I have 5 units capable of reliable (ish) shooting, these being 3 units of 2 Hive Guard and a pair of Tyrannofex. These are in my opinion the best units for the job, but there are other options.
Quite a few other units obviously have guns but none of them can be considered to have shooting as their primary purpose like the ones I’ll be discussing.
Since the main threat in most armies designed for 5th Ed. Seems to be armoured vehicles we need to have reliable methods of making them explode or at the very least end up as wrecks. Against gun platforms like Predators, ‘Crew Shaken’ or ‘Crew Stunned’ are nice to get but we need to make it happen again next turn, whereas a pile of wreckage is no longer a threat of any kind (unless your running across it I suppose).
Against transports shooting is the best method, as we want their cargo as far away from us as possible when it's cargo has to start walking.
Against tanks the distance at which they are destroyed is less of an issue, however given that Imperial Guard can have Heavy Flamers sticking out of the front of most of their vehicles for next to nothing (or in the case of the chimera actually nothing) we probably want to be at least a Flamer template away if were of the slightly squishier variety of shooty unit. As Hive Guard have only a 4+ Save which is ignored by the Heavy Flamers AP they have to rely on their T6 to save them from losing a Wound. That Flamer also counteracts the average Guardsmen’s poor BS.
So we need transports to die far away from us as possible and everything else to either be unable to shoot or be dead. Now that may seem obvious but I’ve seen poor target priority lose someone a game on multiple occasions.
So we need to decide what works best against what unit so we’ll have a look at our options and invite our old friend round ‘Mathshammer’ to give us a hand ;-)
We’ll be looking at chance to wreck or destroy as those results neutralise anything whereas the effectiveness of other results depends entirely on the target. For example, weapon destroyed on a Rhino isn’t much of a loss to the owning player whereas the same result on a Vindicator would be far more serious.
So lets have a look at our options starting with those with the highest strengths and working our way down. I’ll also work out the increased odds of destruction if target units are part of a squadron.
Rupture Cannon (Range 48”, BS3, S10, AP4, Assault 2).
May only be given to a Tyrannofex, however a T6, 6W, Monstrous Creature with a 2+ save has the added benefit of being a very survivable weapons platform. Long Range means that we can pop (or attempt to pop, at least) transports when they’re nice and far away. That 48” range also means we can reach out and silence annoying high strength or high volume units that hide away in corners (like Hydras*)
* I have a near irrational hatred of Hydras, especially in pairs as 8 Twin-Linked, S7 shots with a 72” range should cost more than 150 points imo…
With BS 3 were going to average 1 hit, but what damage are we likely to do with it?
Armour 10: Automatic penetration, 33% chance of unit destruction, 50% chance if target is part of a squadron.
Armour 11: 83% chance of pen, 27% chance of destruction, 41% chance if target is part of a squadron.
Armour 12: 67% chance of pen, 22% chance of destruction, 33% chance if target is part of a squadron.
Armour 13: 50% chance of pen, 17% chance of destruction, 25% chance if target is part of a squadron.
Armour 14: 33% chance of pen, 11% chance of destruction, 16.5% chance if target is part of a squadron.
Brilliant against light vehicles, not bad against heavy ones. Also it's added survivability makes it much more likely to damage heavy vehicles as it's likely to get multiple chances to shoot rather than die quickly like the platform for our other S10 option...
Warp Lance (Range 18”, BS4, S10, AP1, Assault 1, Lance).
Depressingly short ranged. Only useable by Zoanthropes, a unit which can be torrented away fairly easily with it’s T4 and 2 wounds. Having a 3+ Invulnerable save helps against high strength single shots but vs. anti infantry firepower you’re basically talking about the equivalent of killing 2 Marines and if you can’t manage that then I’d consider rewriting your army ;-)
AP1 adds 1 to the roll on the Vehicle Damage Table and Lance ignores anything over armour 12, which helps a lot **
** 2 factors that I admittedly failed to take into account when I assessed this unit previously, Doh.
As we need to pass a psychic test first our odds drop to 82%, we then have to hit which drops it down to 55% so we’ll start from there.
Armour 10: Automatic penetration, 28% chance of unit destruction, 37% chance if target is part of a squadron.
Armour 11: 46% chance of pen, 23% chance of destruction, 31% chance if target is part of a squadron.
Armour 12: 37% chance of pen, 18.5% chance of destruction, 25% chance if target is part of a squadron
Armour 13 + 14: same as armour 12 due to ‘Lance’ rule.
So with everything taken into account the Warp Lance is about the same as the Rupture Cannon (within a few %) until you hit the armour 14 level at which point the Warp Lance becomes superior. If you take multiple units of Zoanthropes obviously you get multiple chances at the above, unfortunately with Psychic Hoods seemingly coming free in Space Marines breakfast cereal there is also an extremely good chance that your power won’t go off at all.
Heavy Venom Cannon (Range 36”, BS3 for the most part, S9, AP4, Assault 1, Blast).
Most units using this weapon are BS3 with the exception of the Harpy, which has the additional benefits of having the weapon Twin-Linked. Has the unfortunate rule that makes all hits take a –1 penalty to rolls on the Vehicle Damage Chart (unless the target is an open topped vehicle).
So we have a 33% chance of a hit. Any scatter over 5” will take us off most vehicle targets (5” scatter – BS3 = 2” scatter). That works out at a roughly 60% chance of hitting something Rhino sized up to about 70% for something as big as a Land Raider. ***
*** If anybody has exact figures worked out for scatter then send me an e-mail please as trying to calculate all the variables has given me a headache and made my Calculator rebel against me…
We’ll call it 60% for the testing purposes, remembering to reduce our Damage Table rolls by 1. We’ll also presume the target vehicle isn’t open topped.
Armour 10: 50% chance of pen, 8% chance of destruction, 17% chance if target is part of a squadron.
Armour 11: 40% chance of pen, 7% chance of destruction, 13% chance if target is part of a squadron.
Armour 12: 30% chance of pen, 5% chance of destruction, 10% chance if target is part of a squadron.
Armour 13: 20% chance of pen, 3% chance of destruction, 6% chance if target is part of a squadron.
Armour 14: 10% chance of pen, 2% chance of destruction, 3% chance if target is part of a squadron.
I’d stick to shooting at infantry with this one, however it is (somewhat ironically) pretty consistent when it comes to getting ‘Crew Stunned’ and ‘Crew Shaken’ results…perhaps it makes a scary noise?
Impaler Cannon (Range 24”, BS4, S8, AP4, Assault 2).
Exclusive to Hive Guard this is your most reliable light anti-tank weapon. Though T6 the Hive Guard are somewhat disadvantaged by only having a 4+ armour save making them vulnerable to medium anti-infantry firepower such as Heavy Bolters, Assault Cannons, Autocannons and the like. Due to the weapons relatively short range you’ll probably have to leave cover at some point unless your opponent is happily charging headlong towards you. Luckily Tyranids have access to a cheap and mobile cover save known as a Termagant ;-)
BS 4 gives us a 67% chance of a hit, meaning our Impaler Cannon is averaging 1.33 Hits. Which is a pretty nice starting point ****
**** I told you they were reliable didn’t I?
Armour 10: 89% chance of pen, 30% chance of destruction, 44% chance if target is part of a squadron.
Armour 11: 66% chance of pen, 22% chance of destruction, 33% chance if target is part of a squadron.
Armour 12: 44% chance of pen, 15% chance of destruction, 22% chance if target is part of a squadron.
Armour 13: 22% chance of pen, 7% chance of destruction, 11% chance if target is part of a squadron.
Armour 14: Glance only.
If you can get a couple of these guys into range of light transport vehicles you’ve a good chance of stopping them in their tracks even if the target is getting a cover save for some reason.
So what have we learned?
So that was a pretty long-winded way of saying take Hive Guard and Tyrannofex’s. For those of you more interested in punching transports to death I’ll be looking at those statistics at some point in the near future as well at looking at what anti-infantry firepower upgrades seem worth having.
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