Friday, August 3, 2012

Flyrant Kites: valid strategy or waste of time?

This will be a post about a list concept building on a rather quirky strategy involving a Flyrant being able to join a Tyrant Guard unit while maintaining his swooping status as a flying monstrous creature.  It started with a comment by jifel1 over on Synaps3, which led to this post on his blog, Knighthammer, so kudos where they are due.

The basic hypothesis was that the unit of Tyrant Guard, joined by the swooping FMC tyrant, could only be fired upon using snap-fire rules (i.e. could only be hit on 6s), and using minimum swooping distance and running by the Guard, could be maintained indefinitely.  Pretty slick for a unit with 10 T6 wounds that can use Look Out, Sir shenanigans to provide 6 ablative wounds for your Tyrant.  A closer look a the rules and the snap-fire aspect appears to not quite be the case, but everything else is a completely valid way to try and give your fire magnet flyrant a chance at surviving past the first turn of shooting.

Here's how I think it works and the rule citations:

Flying Tyrant begins the game Gliding, near (2-3") one side of a 3-model Tyrant Guard unit that is at max coherence, straight line flush with the long table edge. Tyrant Guard unit makes its 6" move forward. Tyrant declares it is swooping, and moves 12" at a 45 degree angle across the path the Guard unit took, stops to the front of and on the other side of the Guard unit, still in coherency and joins the unit, still swooping. The Tyrant, still swooping, and Guard can both declare they are running during the shooting phase (Guard as far as they can go, the Tyrant moves zero); during subsequent movement phases the Tyrant makes a 90 degree turn back towards the front of the unit, and moves 12" across it to the other side, still swooping.  With intentionally strict measurements, I can keep it together for at least 2 turns of movement w/o any significant problem, so movement rules-wise - this works.

The first question was how to resolve shooting at this unit, and are all shots at the unit considered Snap Shots (6s to hit)?
- Pg 13, BRB, Snap Shots: "If a model is forced to make Snap Shots rather than shoot normally, then its BS is counted as 1 for these shots"

Sounds plausible, but the Tyrant's Hard to Hit special rule would need to somehow be transferred to the unit.
- Pg 49, Hard to Hit: "shots at such a target can only be resolved as Snap Shots. Template and Blast weapons cannot hit". - Resolved is the key word here.

However, Hard to Hit does not transfer when the tyrant joins the unit of Guard as an Independent Character:
- Tyranid FAQ, pg 2, Amendments; "a tyrant may join a unit of Tyrant Guard as if it had the IC special rule, and is treated as such for the purposes of Look Out Sir!, Challenges, and Precision Shots and Strikes."
- Pg 39, Special Rules and IC's joining a unit; "unless specified in the rule itself, the IC's special rules are not conferred upon the unit." 

That takes us to shooting; for which model placement counts for line of sight, cover, and wound allocation:
- Line of sight is moot: if at least a single model of the unit is visible, the unit can be fired upon.  Since the unit does not have Hard to Hit, it can be fired on normally.
- Cover is moot: the tyrant doesn't provide cover to other models of the unit while part of the unit
- Wound allocation is where it gets tricky: this is where Hard to Hit comes into play. 

- Pg 15, Mixed Wounds: "if the Wound pool contains groups of wounds with different Strengths, AP values, or special rules, then each [group] is resolved separately. You as the shooting player get to choose the order in which these groups are resolved. This allows you to place your shots where they'll do the most damage!" 

- Pg 15, Allocate Wounds: "allocate a Wound from the Wound pool to the enemy model closest to the firing unit". Continue allocating wounds... until the Wound pool is empty, or the whole unit has been removed as casualties."

In order for wounds to be allocated to the the Tyrant as the nearest model, the firing player must choose to take Snap Shots with the firing unit(s) rather than firing normally.  Any hits that wound would then be able to be allocated normally to the nearest model.  Obviously, units with the Skyfire special rule can shoot and allocate wounds normally as well.

Otherwise, choosing to shoot normally at the unit results in wound pools that can only be allocated to the Guard. The wounds continue to be allocated to the unit until the pool is empty, or the unit has been removed as casualties.  For "overflow" wounds, once the guard is wiped out, the wounds then transfer to the Tyrant, who simply ignores them since they weren't generated from Snap Shots, effectively emptying the pool; this includes wounds caused by template, blast, and Precision shots.  Although normal To Hit rolls of '6' are considered a Precision Shot, and the firing player can normally choose which model the hits are allocated to, they can't be allocated to the Tyrant, which can only be hit by Snap Shots.
- Pg 63, Precision Shots: "Note that Snap Shots and shots from weapons that scatter, or do not roll to hit can never be Precision Shots."

An alternative, and much more broken interpretation: the wound pools from normal fire *could* be allocated to the Tyrant as the nearest model from normal shooting: like the overflow wounds, they simply wouldn't be able to affect him.  I prefer the first interpretation.

All Look Out Sir rolls, including for Grounding wounds, could be taken by the Guard.

So if you buy into this strategy actually being functional, what does it buy us?  What kind of a list would you build to take advantage of a resilient, but sometimes unable to fire/assault Flyrant that isn't able to maneuver very well on the battlefield?  Are the tradeoffs of +6W worth it for the price in movement, flexibility, and inability to leave the unit once joined?  Is the dakkarant the right build, or is a BS/LW/Hvy Venom loadout better?  With OA?

How about:
Tyrant, wings, 2x TL Dev, Leech/Parox, OA
3x Tyrant Guard w/lash whips
Tyrant, wings, 2x TL Dev, Leech, Parox, OA
3x Tyrant Guard w/lash whips

2x Hive Guard
2x Hive Guard
3x Zoanthropes

6x rippers
6x rippers
10x Termagant
10x Termagant
Tervigon, tox, ag, dom, cat, crushing claws
Tervigon, tox, ag, dom, cat, crushing claws


  1. It's an obvious cheat and not as powerful as it looks like. At our local tourneys Flyrants cannot swoop while accompanied by tyrant guards, so no problems exist:)

    I think it will be wise to consult judges of your local tourneys.

  2. Agreed. Not only is it not as powerful as it seems on paper, it is one of those obvious early edition mistakes that will clear iteself up so fast it isn't worth it.