Tuesday, January 25, 2011

On sportsmanship, Onslaught List Fail, and a Conflict GT list (6th!)

I’d like to take a moment to talk about sportsmanship.  A long time ago (15 years ago) I was a very poor sport.  I used to throw my dice, scream, and in reflection – had to be the least fun player to play against.  I never berated my opponents, but boy did I hate the failed dice rolls that thwarted whatever devious tactical move I was unleashing.  God love the guys that let me keep coming back.  Then I found and fell in love with the Skaven.  Discovering that if I didn’t manage to mangle about half my own army with misfires, explosions, failed castings, brazen cowardice, or other horrendous rat-splatting hijinks, I was doing something wrong and losing because I wasn’t taking the dice-dependent risks that you have to learn to do with good grace.  I found the laughter I’d been missing in my intensity with other army types – every time the dice went south, rats died – often in the most eye-wateringly hilarious ways.  Warpfire thrower or jezzail team explosions, poisoned wind globe scatters and doomwheel lightning frying my own units – my rats died for the glory of the Horned Rat at my own hands.  But it wasn’t my fault – clearly they were untrained morons the other clans slipped into my own ranks as spies, and I was better off they paid for their stupidity in rat-gibs!  The moral here is to find the laughter – and keep in mind one of the most important rules of battle: it’s better to be lucky than good.  Best summarized by the amazing Field Marshal Gebhard L. von Blücher:
Alle Kunst ist umsonst Wenn ein Engel in das Zündloch prunst", which roughly translates as: "All skill is in vain when an angel pisses in the flintlock of your musket"!
On to Onslaught List Fail

 Last night I had the great idea of trying to build a list around the Tyranid psychic power Onslaught.  Great tactical flexibility, yadda yadda.  The idea is to allow a fleet unit to run, shoot, and then charge in the same round.  Fleet units that can shoot include Trygons, Raveners, and Lictors; other fleet units are Stealers and Hormagaunts.  The list dries up pretty quickly after that, and you’re looking at things you would want to both run and shoot; ideally on Turn 1, but also as a general range-extending tactic.  Zoans are at the top of the list, with HGs a close second.  After that are the various dakka-MCs, devilgaunts, and spitter-toting/VC-carrying warriors.  All of that misses the entire point of using Onslaught as a spam tactic: you need at least 3 Tervigons to get the broad impact you really need for it to be a major dynamic in the list.  That’s ~700 points (2 Troops, 1 HQ) from the get-go.  You can scrape that down to 650 by putting 2 in the HQ slot, but you will need the troops.  Lictors whopping 6" range and field positioning makes them rather pointless here, so they’re out – leaving Trygons and Ravs.  For this to be most effective we’re now looking at Trygon Primes (Containment Spines) and Spitter Ravs.  Very pricey:  A unit of 9 Spitter Ravs with rending will run you just over 400 points!  Smaller units lowers the weight of fire needed; bottom line is I think this could be done at the 2500-3000 point level with some scary results, but 2k or less it seems untenable.  Going the other route – just focusing on HG/Zoans is well within the realm of the possible but I don’t know that I’d invest 45 points to do it, especially if it means I don’t get FNP on my cover scrubs.  I do think it may be worth putting Onslaught on one Tervigon if you can scrape up the points: you never know when that extra 6 inches will make a difference (that’s what SHE said! /sigh.  I’ll never grow up). 

And the wall o' text continues...

Found: Conflict GT list of the 6th Place Tyranid finisher!  That’s right: top 10 finish for the 'nids, at a most definitely competitive GT.  6th is a (finally) a respectable finish for nids – with the additional bonus of 7th place also being ‘nids; I haven’t found that list yet though.  Congrats to James and Jay for the solid finishes.  Not all the details unfortunately, but James' rough list outline was posted by Tordeck on the Ordo Malleus forums here:


4 Warriors with guns (assume Spitters, maybe a VC?)
“big” unit of Stealers (guessing 10+)
“small” unit of Termagants (probably the typical 10-gant brood)

Heavy Support:
2 Trygons

Doom in a spod
3 Hive Guard
3 Venomthropes

Total: 1750 points

Very interesting list that breaks the 2-tervigon monobuild and doesn’t spam anything – but brings several different tools to the table.  It does point to the 1-Tervigon + warrior build I think might be key to the current metagame and time-to-play aspects of larger tourneys.  I’m most interested to see how the Venomthropes were played – were they central to a big blob/conga line of the prime+warriors, flanked by HGs/Zoans and screened by the Tervigon+gants?  Generally speaking, that puts Doom and the Stealers as the “fast attack” aspect necessary at the higher levels for disruption, and the Trygons as gun bait and tank wreckers.  


  1. Funnily enough, I had a conversation with my old pal Shiny, a Skaven player of many years' standing, who explains that his Skaven have survived so long for exactly the same reason that they redeemed you; because it's almost impossible not to be amused and surprised by them. He claims that those of us who play reliable, competent armies are somewhat spoiled by them; we become used to our troops probably being able to do things, and thus set ourselves up for disappointment when they don't rather than surprise when they do.

    This is partly why I'm contemplating Orks in 40K, who I think stand somewhere between 'with this army, the game plays you!' and 'basically competent' - the army seems to have its random elements and encourage the taking of chances, but to not be totally at the mercy of mechanics designed to frustrate (I loved building and painting my WFB Orcs, but they weren't at all enjoyable to play - too many games where they never left the proverbial starting blocks).

  2. Shiny is definitely on the same wavelength then; and I empathize on the Ork side: they have their equally fun/frustrating moments. My good friend loved his orks for the same reasons I loved my Skaven, but the animosity thing just wasn't a fun dynamic to me (compared to rats catching fire and running amok through my own lines).

  3. If you have twenty stealers or a pair of Trygon-primes you could make it to 1750; otherwise that list looks a bit short. Still nice to see someone do well with a bug-swarm rather than Nidzilla army.

    To me Onslaught seems more the sort of power to just take once in the army. You might get to use it turn one for that extra push, mostly thought you will fall back on FNP. It is cheaper than buying a pod. I think the main issue is there are so few units that will make much use out of it after turn one.

  4. Must. Not. Download. 6th. Edition.
    Must. Resist.