Friday, April 15, 2011

Biovore D'Oeuvre

For the French-challenged, "d'oeuvre" roughly translates to "of the main" - I liked the turn of phrase, but it actually lends itself well to the point of this article:  the Biovore as a high(er) value list choice.  The dancing termagant, however, is just a touch of class...  

I've briefly touched on the biovore in my dusty books article here, but SinSynn has been pushing for a more robust article for a while.  With my paucity of play, I can't promise a perfect how-to, but I will point out some common situations I've seen in batreps that represent a strategic capability gap which can be filled by biovores.  The short version is this: In the course of a typical game, there are inevitable gaps in spacing and timing where we are unable to get troops into assault within 1 turn.  Enter the humble biovore.

First up is the basics: for about half the cost of a Tfex, and 2/3 the cost of a dakkafex, you get a brood of 3 BS4 biovores with an Assault 1, 48" range, large blast, pinning, barrage, S4 AP4 gun.  Like the tervigon and Parasite, biovores bring a points-add mechanic - they shoot Spore Mines, which are 10pts apiece if we were to purchase them for our list outright.  That's +150pts over a 5-turn game.  That's not a good reason by itself to field the little buggers though, but 48" range is definitely a Turn 1 offensive option, especially for troops that can be clustered due to deployment restrictions.

Speaking of deployment restrictions, this is one of the tactical gems that taking biovores can offer the enterprising general:  don't want those pesky opponent's troops or light armor/flyers to zoom down a particular avenue of approach?  Seed it with Spore Mines.  Want to catch retreating troops in a KP game?  Seed the retreat paths with Spore Mines.   This is an error - my second edition rules familiarity is showing through; per pg 30 of the 5th edition rulebook - "when firing a blast weapon... just pick one enemy model [minus the "visible to the firer" due to the barrage aspect] and place the blast marker with its hole over the base of the target model, or its hull if a vehicle"; i.e. you must fire at an enemy unit.  Correction is this: even if you miss, that scatter *may* block the avenue of approach or retreat.  

Let's talk myths and measurements for a moment.  Tyranids are a horde/assault army - blast templates and scatter dice are bad.  If I miss with a biovore, I'll just blow my own troops up, right?  Not so fast! Re-read pg 48 of the Tyranid codex: blah blah - if no enemy within 6" of the central hole, place Spore Mines instead, then use Living Bomb rules.  Living Bomb rules: if a Spore Mine suffers a wound, touches an enemy model, impassable terrain, or it ends any Movement phase w/in 2" of an enemy model it explodes.  If it drifts into a friendly unit, it is removed from play.  What the heck does that mean?  Basically this: if it scatters, you're unit is safe unless there is a) enemy w/in 8.5 inches or less, or b) impassable terrain within 2.5 inches.  (5" large blast template)  For the former, with a BS of 4, you can roll boxcars for scatter and be safe.  So be mindful of impassable terrain, and don't leave a Spore Mine within 2.5 inches of your troops during an opponent's turn - if he's smart, he'll shoot it - which will hurt you.

Moving on to several batrep examples with good opportunities after the jump....

The first example is this excellent batrep by hyv3mynd here on his blog Synaps3. Ignore the hard comp (1 HS slot allowed) aspect, and take a look at the terrain and setup: DoW, Annihlation, opponent is playing a foot list and has first turn on a board full of channelizing terrain.  Big stack of MEQ in the middle, big pile of GEQs on one flank, including multiple heavy weapons teams.  Our hero has two entire turns of shooting to endure to get into close combat, and that's if the opponent obligingly moves forward, with significant terrain channeling his routes.  Against a foot list, just about any target here is a good choice - in this case, the 40-strong unit of guard, the heavy weapons teams, or starting to force saves on the GKs are all good options, and as the tyranid player moves forward, keep bombarding further back.

Second example comes again from hyv3mynd here, with another very good batrep, this time vs. Sisters.  It starts on turn 1, with troops being dumped out of transports.  Even with the threatening Raveners on Turn 1, there are 6"+ gaps between tyranid and sister infantry units throughout much of the game.

Third example is from Mercer, over on Imperius Dominatus here, vs. IG.  Again - lots of parking lot action, and heavy terrain that channels movement pretty heavily, leaving troops in the open at 6"+ from any tyranids for multiple turns.

Fourth example - hyv3mynd again, at last year's Da Boyz GT here, against Space Wolves.  The drop pods dumping troops out into the open, the Long Fangs, etc...

Fifth example - hyv3mynd again - vs. Jay of Adepticon fame here, in a mirror match.  Mirror with biovores on your side is a distinct advantage as S4 AP4 dinner plates can make a mess of bugs.

At any rate - in just about every batrep I come across, there are opportunities to use biovores effectively.  Even against MEQ and heavy armor, the more saves you force the opponent to take before closing with the truly killy stuff the better.  Keep in mind too that biovores are a weight of fire weapon - the point of the big template is to force a lot of saves.  One template is an annoyance, especially for MEQ, but three templates starts to bring the weight of fire needed to threaten even SS termies.

The opportunities for effective use of a biovore are simply this: anything AV10 or T6 and below outside 8+" from your troops at the end of the movement phase is a valid target; typically this is anything you can't get into contact with during the assault phase; plan for Fleet/jump/beast accordingly.  Any kind of foot list is especially tasty, as are parking lots, as hits from barrage weapons are always against side armor.  Lists that try to stand back or castle, especially when mixed with effective HG/Tfex fire that dumps troops out are a gift.


  1. I think Biovores will be used more often in the future, especially if the trend of GKs and the necessity of being outside of your vehicles to maximize firepower remains.

  2. I've almost always used a brood of 3 biovores. They are amazing. Against MEQs you can put enough wounds (I managed three direct hits for 14 wounds) and against 4+ or worse you are almost wiping out whole squads.

  3. Y'know, I never noticed that 'living bomb' rule, and now I feel a little silly...
    Yes, now I see the tactical uses of Biovores a little better- Thank You Ghostin!

    Excellent piece, Ghostin! This site continues to be a great resource for Tyranid players of all levels. I think you deserve to toot yer own horn a bit, dude!

    I've gotta work out some way to make a brood of Biovores, and a brood of Zoeys outta plastic...Warrior conversions similar to my Hive Guard conversions for the Biovores, and leftover Warrior Heads, tails from...something and Green Stuff for the Zoeys...curse you bloggers for putting ideas in my...basically idea-less head....

    *ahem* speaking of great resources, I'd like to plug Maximum Heresy. They've posted the best Termagant conversion article EVER- imagine having swappable weapons to switch between Devilgaunts and regular Termagants- no magnets and it's easy!
    Check it out here, and give them some clicks, comments and followers. EVERY 'Nid player should see this, it's that good...seriously...

  4. *sigh*
    Maybe it would help if I actually placed the link in my comment, huh?
    What a knucklehead I am....
    Anyway, give these guys some love- they deserve it for this! You'll love it, I promise!

  5. What are your strategies for fighting Grey Knights?

  6. I've been looking for netwisdom to compile on that one, but Synaps3 just made an excellent post on it here:

    FWIW - you'll have to outplay the player, not the army, if that makes sense. Which means you will need big, fast units to maximize your tactical flexibility and apply overwhelming pressure where and more importantly, when needed.