Monday, December 24, 2012

Holiday Hobby Time - WIP Tervigon - Crushing Claws Conversion

Just a quick post - as you've probably read if you follow this blog at all, I'm a big fan of the idea of putting crushing claws on Tervs in 6th; but man I don't like the dinky little derp crushing claw arms the model comes with.  I have however been a big fan of the conversions I've seen using two of the big crab claws - much more menacing!  So I thought I'd give it a go.  I basically cut down the fleshborer hive arms about a half inch and used both the tervigon and carnifex claws.   Lots of work left as I need to fix the magnet angle (hardest part for me - I've never really used magnets before).  Here's a few pics of the process and progress after the jump:

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Tyranid Library: 6th Edition, part 1

I think we're finally at the point where there's enough netwisdom out there for Tyranids in 6th to start compiling a new Tyranid Library article.  This isn't all inclusive obviously - just a compilation of useful articles for the aspiring Tyranid general in 6th edition.  If you've seen other articles that you've found useful or insightful somewhere that you think other 'nid players would benefit from, by all means drop me an email or a comment below.  

Let's start with assault ranges - in case it isn't obvious, Tyranids are an assault army:  so here's a handy table that gauges the probability of failing charges, and most importantly:  how and when to re-roll.  Kudos to Plague Marine over on A Plague Spreads - pity he hasn't been consumed by the hivemind yet ;)

Next up are the always excellent articles from Abusepuppy over on 3++ is the New Black.  Quite simply one of the best competitively-focused Tyranid authors out there, with tons to learn in each article, especially if you are a newer player to Tyranids.  He can assume a certain baseline level of knowledge though, so these are best read with the rulebook next to you if you are a newer player.

Another Tyranid author to pay attention to is Fritz, from Fritz40k.  Fritz is an innovator, and experiments more than most; crucially he doesn't take netwisdom on any unit for granted.  The fact he's experimenting with Mawlocs here is just one great example; and IMO, a Tyranid 'rush' list built around mawlocs, ymgarl, and dual flyrants, maybe a doom is definitely a workable list in 6th - mawlocs still aren't great, but they're just the thing for those pesky clumped infantry and their aegis walls: 

Mike Brandt, over on Whiskey & 40k, has a soft spot for Tyranids and has been beating up on the NOVA crowd with a psychic choir list that he ultimately took to a 5-1 finish at Battle for Salvation.  It deserves mention here both as an example of a "prototypical" psychic choir list and some great play tips, but also because of the innovative Tyranid Psychic Power and Spawn Tracker.  This is a godsend, and an approach I will definitely be copying in every game/tournament going forward.  I'm a pretty big fan of his list too, as I've liked the Swarmlord+Parasite of Mortrex combo for a long time.

Gritts over on Anvil of War has a nifty article covering missions; terse and to the point, but a good read:

No library article seems complete without a shoutout to hyvemynd over on Synaps3, and the reason for inclusion here is this list reflects the 6th edition need for bigger units to survive overwatch, and protecting your warlord:

As far as batreps go, jifel1 over on Knighthammer has been posting his latest list thoughts and batreps, piloting his nids to a very respectable finish at Beakycon.  Definitely worth reading as he faces some rough lists, and does a good job of capturing his thoughts and approaches:

Slowly getting back in the hobby groove...  

Saturday, November 17, 2012

Anti-Procrastination: Building a Light Box

"If you want to make an apple pie, you must first invent the universe" - Carl Sagan

The mindset behind that quote above seems to be a path I take far too often:  I set up pre-conditions, invent needs, and find things that need to be done first before I can start something.  Sadly I even do this with my hobby.  I always want to have the right tool, the right brush, the right material before tackling a project.  Take for instance my desire to post pics of my mighty blue and orange horde.  My gribblies have needed multiple repairs after NOVA 2011 (yeah you read that correctly), plus I need to add static grass/flock to their bases, get the inks and varnish out to add depth, and matte seal them to kill some of the shine.  While my painted hordelings are definitely not what I'd claim on eBay as "pro-painted" (admittedly that's probably a low bar for some, but I like to think I have some sense of honor) - I've definitely considered the pictures I've taken so far to be pretty crappy, and would make my median paint job look far worse than it actually is.  If I'm going to be judged, I'd prefer to be judged fairly - and the ability to take good photographs that duly represent the level of painting have been a pre-requisite.  Until today.

Saturday, October 20, 2012

Eisenhorn's Choice: Alternate Tyranid/Daemon/Cultist Models

Who else is tired of seeing this guy?

This is a bit awkward.  Rather like Eisenhorn's conversion from staunch hardliner to heretical radical, I actively look for alternate models to use. I used to be a stickler for only using Games Workshop figures.  However, a few factors have changed that opinion over the past couple years.  The cost of models for one, my annoyance with similarity, GW's stance on tournaments, and the fact I can't really stand to be in GW stores because of the harassment from the staff - and if that's the only place I have to worry about non-GW models:  It becomes a non-factor.  Add in all the great after-market bits and alternate models out there..  it's a brave, new world for this heretic.  One of the aspects I like most about this hobby is the creativity - and Chaos seems to really bring it out the best in people.  I love seeing the crazy, shocking conversions and paint schemes that look - Just. So. Badass.  But I have one tiny annoyance.  I like a little variety in my army:  shockingly ironic coming from a Tyranid player:  we're rather stuck with a very limited range of models.  While I do use both old and new Tyranid figures for some variety (Emperor knows we need some), I've definitely gone looking for alternate Tyranid models too, but the pickings are pretty slim on the Tyranid side, and here's a couple I've found.  I also came across a few nifty Chaos and possible cultist models that I don't see often.  Definitely inspired by OST's fantastic articles over on Dark Future Games; they really highlight the opportunities to blend GW models with the amazing bits available (he's done two great articles on alternate bits for Chaos marines here and here), and I'd been storing figure lists against the day I finally crack and start building my next army, so I thought I'd share.

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

Tyranids at NOVA 2012

I had some pretty high hopes for Tyranids at NOVA this year, but it just wasn't to be - there were only three Tyranid players in the GT this year, and none in the Invitational.  Despite an overall lack of experience (one had never been to a tournament, one had never even rolled to see if the game would continue on turn 5 before, etc...) in my opinion, their scores and placing in the end is pretty amazing. I think all three ended the day pleased with how well they did, and one was quite distressed at winning his last game Saturday night as he wasn't able to come back on Sunday.  He actually tried to lose by racing across the table with everything, thinking his opponent would just shoot him down: instead he practically tabled his poor opponent.

So let's talk about the lists themselves for a moment. None approached  'psychic choir' level (22+ powers), with a max of 14 powers in any of the three, so that's one build that didn't even show up.  If possible to do so without being condescending, I would characterize the lists as having indicators of a lack of tuning/playtesting, especially when seen through the lens of needs for 6th: small units of Hormagaunts, Raveners, and Ymgarl, trygons with adrenal (not tox); Doom is risky, and not an indicator of a lack of playtesting etc.., but I don't see the point of having him without a spore pod.  In an overall sense not related to any of these lists, significant for their lack of presence were multiple squads of zoans, gargoyles, devilgants, devilfexes, Primes, or even Harpies (which are surprisingly durable under NOVA FAQ rules of flying MCs can only be hit on a 6, even when Grounded).

Here's the lists and their standings, and a couple (mostly horrible) photos:

List #1 - Peter Thomas:
Ranking      |Name                   |Bracket|Generalship|Appearance|Overall
48              |  Peter Thomas     |     2     |    50.417   |   0.559       |  1.059
Tyrant, armored shell, regen, OA, LW/BS, HVC, Leech, Parox
Tyrant Guard, lash whip, x1
Zoanthrope x3
HGx3 x2
Tervigon, tox, adrenal, dom, cat x2
Warrior, scytal, deathspitter x3; Warrior, scytal venom cannon (4 total)
Termagant x12
Termagant x12
Hormagaunt, ag x14
Trygon x2
The pic up top is from this army

List # 2: Jonathan Tomczak:
Ranking      |Name                   |Bracket|Generalship|Appearance|Overall
117            |Jonathan Tomczak|      7    |   50.487    |   0.000       |  0.500
Tervigon, tox, adrenal, dom, catalyst x3
Termagant x13
Termagant x10 x2
Trygon, adrenal x3

List #3: Nate Berman:

Ranking      |Name                   |Bracket|Generalship|Appearance|Overall
137            |Nathan Berman     |     8     |   33.739   |   0.000       |   0.334
List #2: Nate Berman
Tyrant, wings, 2x TL dev, OA
Tyrant, wings, 2x TL dev
HG x3
Ymgarl x8
Doom, spod
Tervigon, tox, crushing claws, dom, cat, onslaught
Termagant x15
Termagant x13
Ravener, spinefist, x3
Trygon, tox x2
Aegis, quad gun

Conclusions from watching hundreds of games this past weekend:
  • I'm firmly of the opinion that 3 Tervigons are almost a requirement in order to sustain the tarpits needed for the killy things to do their jobs - and still be able to hold or contest objectives and quarters.
  • More than ever, it comes down to generalship, not the list.  While there are definitely bad matchups, this seemed to be an artifact of the inability of many lists to prioritize effectively vs. flyers.  Success vs. many flyer-heavy lists often came down to ignoring the flyers.
  • With the above in mind, there are multiple list possibilities a skilled Tyranid player could be successful with.  Psychic Choir and Nidzilla are both viable, and a Flying Circus may be.

Monday, September 3, 2012

Hobby: NOVA Open Terrain Quick Look

I'd originally tried to post this on Friday evening as a bit of a celebration of the creativity and effort that went into building the terrain at NOVA this year:  I know I was certainly inspired to see it - in fact nearly all of my purchases at the vendors this year were for bits I could use to build terrain much like these pieces.  However, neither my smartstupidphone or Picasa cooperated, and Stelek has since posted many of these here as well, but mostly to complain about how the terrain wasn't fair for both sides.  I could go on for hours about that comment and the thought processes behind it, but it's a waste of my time.  This post isn't about defending the terrain:  it's for those of you who've always wanted to build your own terrain, feast your eyes, your brains, and your creativity.  These shots are the terrain pieces that I found most interesting, well done, or creative, and most of all - inspiring.  Massive kudos to the team, and the NOVA Minister of Terrain.  The last few shots are of battles over the monuments in the narrative - so very rewarding to see people having an absolutely great time, and knowing all that hard work paid off.

Friday, August 31, 2012

6e Thru the Lens of a NOVA Judge, Day 2

Well, blogging from the smartphone is about as fun as smashing my thumbs with a hammer, repeatedly so this will be mercifully brief. The bottom line is we are seeing far less drama than at least I expected from the new rules. My gut feeling says the games seem to be playing a little quicker than 5th even with premeasuring and the changes to assault. Maybe a factor of matchups rather than the new rules though. We have a pretty wide range of skill and experience. I was really hoping to see more Tyranids, but there are I think only three, and two are young guys without much experience - one had never had to roll for the game to end or continue on turn 5. What we are seeing is a return of the xenos - with a vengeance. A quarter or more of the armies are Necrons. Roughly 10 Tau players, maybe more. At least that many demon players, and quite a few chaos. Orks and nob bikers are all over. So is Eldrad, but only a handful of Eldar players. Necrons may outnumber GK. Who is doing well? Hard to be sure with only a couple games in, and that wide range of skill and the high number of mirror matches, but the 5 or more flyer Necron/wraithwall lists seem to be a pretty tough matchup for some. Lash can do some rough thigs to the low model count lists, and there are quite a few of those. At any rate, these are just first impressions. Not much useful detail, and probably off by a good margin once we get the actual numbers. In the meantime, this phone blogging business is for the birds. Anyone know a good blogger compatible app for Android?

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

NOVA Plans and the Narrative Campaign Terrain Build

I had an amazing, remember-it-for-a-lifetime experience playing my Nids last year, ending the weekend 4-4, and 64th overall.  Not bad for my first 'big' GT.  I'd looked forward to playing again this year but that ended up not being in the cards for a variety of reasons, but one really big reason sorta stands out.  About 17x24 inches big, give or take.

After last year's NOVA Open the team decided it was going to put together a narrative campaign, and have it be themed in Washington D.C., including terrain based on the monuments and museums of the National Mall.  As you can imagine, this sounded extremely cool at the time.  What followed sometime thereafter was the sort of meeting wherein staff and volunteers were given the opportunity to pick the monument or museum they would build.  Family obligations and all, I missed that meeting.  I'd sent a note to Mike B. saying I'd build one if there was any left.  Silly me...  there was one left.  I think the text of my email went something like, "I said I'd help with terrain but dang, the Jefferson Memorial?  :D  Assuming Mike hasn't confused me with someone else..."  typed with that tense feeling you get driving at night on a narrow, icy road.  It has more pillars than an anime convention has tentacles!  Stairs... a big curvy bit up top - yikes!  You see, I hadn't ever really built serious terrain before.  Making wireframe trees and hanging lichen off them or painting steel wool and crusting it with flock is about as far down the terrain road as I've ever gotten.

What about the NOVA terrain builds, you say?  Surely I could have gotten some help there - those amazing foam cutters, and that so-kickass-words-fail-me Native American museum: those guys are foam-fume sniffing saints in my book.  But work and family priorities won out this year, and to my very great shame I missed the terrain builds - every one.  Family first - gotta keep the priorities straight.  I didn't blog nearly as much as I'd like to: there are a lot of articles floating around in my head that I just wasn't able to get to over the past few months, collating my list of references for the next Tyranid Library articles - but no regrets.  I had an absolute blast building this, and bringing it over to the last staff meeting on Sunday I felt like a proud papa.  This was about the journey more than the destination - but in the end the destination still counts.  It's far from perfect - it's functional, and so far most people can tell what it is supposed to be (/grin).

It's been quite the solo adventure, stretching rusty math skills, learning rudimentary drafting skills I didn't know I had, and just winging it and going by eye when I just couldn't get the measurements to work out.  I've become a regular at Michaels, Jo-Ann Fabrics, and A.C. Moore (by the way, if you're anywhere near the Annapolis/Bowie/Glen Burnie area - A.C. Moore knocks the socks off all the other chain stores), spent hours at the local hobby shop (trains, r/c planes, cars), and have walked every aisle in 6 different Home Depot and Lowe's stores.  I've made some really cool finds for materials and bought plenty of new tools - things I've wanted to get for a long time but just couldn't justify the expense for (hooray - shiny new jigsaw!).

For the tl;dr crowd:  I had a great time building the Jefferson Memorial for the NOVA Open Narrative Campaign.  I'll be a volunteer staffer again, looking forward to a great weekend meeting new people.  Hope to see you there!  Oh, and here are the pics...  direct link is here.


Friday, August 10, 2012

Subterranean Assault Revisited

GW still seems to be scared of Subterranean Assault so I thought I'd take a closer look under 6e.  

I was thinking on making this the next 'Tyranid Library' article, but after iterating through it, decided it more aptly fits (along with Flyrant Kites) under the "stupid Tyranid tricks" category.  Someday I'll get around to tagging my posts..

Bottom Line Up Front: It still isn't anything to base an army around, at best it's a bottom of the tool bag tactic that's more of a low-value insurance policy.  You know, the 15 cents per year on the life insurance policy to cover death by penguin.  It's only available if you use reserves, and in turns 3+, you want the slight advantage of not having your still-hasn't-shown-up non-winged infantry unit walk on from the edge of the board.  Call out the OPP!  That's Over Powered Police, not what you're thinking, SinSynn.

Let's check the math, and take a quick look at what SA offers:  After a Trygon emerges from deep strike, you place a base-sized marker - note this is a Trygon base so it's pretty big.  Totally sounds cool, right?!  Think again.  In subsequent turns, Tyranid infantry units without wings can arrive from reserve from this tunnel.  No shrikes!  Place the entire unit so all models are within 6" of the marker and in unit coherency; unit cannot move or assault, but it can run or shoot normally.  No more than one unit can emerge from each tunnel in the same turn.  The FAQ also has some caveats: units that have been allocated as arriving from reserve using deep strike or outflanking may NOT instead choose to use the SA marker.

Thus beginneth the long chain of 'ifs':
- If in the half of your force you're allowed to reserve, you reserve at least one Trygon, and at least one infantry unit...
- if said non-winged infantry unit isn't allocated to arrive via deep strike or outflank
- if the aforementioned Trygon makes its reserve roll to come on the board a turn before the infantry unit(s) on Turn 2 or 3.
- if you somehow manage to fail reserve rolls for the infantry units on turns 2 and 3, (new in 6e!) they automatically come in on turn 4.

In other words:  best case: on turn 3 at the earliest, you can bring on one infantry unit per turn from the place your Trygon emerged on turn 2.  Then on Turn 4, you can bring out one more unit.  Thanks 6e! 

In a desperate attempt to be realistic, I can see it coming up for people using triple Trygon lists, facing some sort of gunline, DoA or maybe daemons where you really wanted to protect your infantry units till the end.  Whether a small unit of warriors or a big horde unit coming out of reserve onto an objective on Turn 4 could be worth doing, especially with the fearless changes.  The challenge is failing the reserve rolls starting on Turn 2.  Could happen, I have the Ordo Inepticus dice to prove it from last year's NOVA.

So for the Hive Fleet Bandwagon folks who've bought your shiny new FMC flyrant and are wondering whether Subterranean Assault is part of the supr sekrit WAAC netlist of tnrayid turnarid toydirnads bugs taktiks, the answer is no, no it isn't.

For you hobby types, if you want a really nifty marker for that once-in-a-lifetime Subterranean Assault, or a great addition to a base or display board:  I really like this one from Ramshackle Games:

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

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Learn to play first - then worry about whose codex is better

Hopefully by now if you're a Tyranid player you've been reading blog after blog, forum after forum, hoping beyond hope that someone, somewhere has unlocked the magic secret of Hivemind domination.  I hope you haven't been holding your breath.  As someone whose rule knowledge at the last NOVA was a source of considerable shame, I urge you not to repeat my mistake as you move forward in the brave new world of sixth edition for Tyranids.  You know, that new edition where we all still have hope, because we can't point to a long string of tournaments that don't have a Tyranid list in the top 4 while blissfully ignoring the dozens of results with 'nids in the top 10, and especially ignoring the smaller tournaments where a Tyranid player did actually win.

Tuesday, July 3, 2012

How sexy is 6e for the hive mind?

 Finally got ahold of the new book yesterday, and have been surfing a lot to cull out different impressions for consolidation.  So far, the consensus in most parts is at least favorable.  Looking through the FAQ:

  • I really dislike the "roll for it" ruling for set value modifiers on both sides of a combat; Lash Whips go last as they are a set value modifier, unless the target also has a set value modifier, then roll to see which is applied first.  Seriously?  /retch
  • No more defensive grenade effects for the Venomthrope's 6" aura - the 'no extra attacks' only applies if charging the Venomthrope Brood itself.  
  • Instinctive Behavior, Feed gaining the Rage ability is a boost.  
  • No Instinctive Behavior tests required for units inside buildings is interesting.
  • ICs still can't join units in a mycetic spore.  Suck.
  • Similarly, Primes still can't get wings.
  • Reserved/outlfanking units still can't use a subterranean assault tunnel.  Why even bother with this ability?  Yeesh.  

Overall the FAQ is more notable for the things it didn't fix, with a couple little nerfs thrown in for good measure.  

On to the bigger and better.  So what kind of lists are we seeing so far?  Nidzilla and flying circus lists seem to be the vogue, and with the new focus on shooting plus the scary new psychic powers, I expect to see  drop lists, even with the only-half reserves rule.  Double-FOC lists are a potential gamebreaker; we can finally take all the elite units we want - but of course, so can everyone else.


  • Tyrants: were good but overpriced; now they're pretty much worth the cost, with a radically increased level of threat from both OA and mobility.  Flyrants are almost a must-include - but if you thought they attracted enemy fire before, in a 6e shooting-is-more-effective environment, they're gonna die fast.
  • Swarmlord: He'll still be slow, but definitely got much nastier; still expensive, but more more worth it.
  • Primes: still the cost-effective workhorse HQ.
  • Tervigons: not just a baby factory/buffer anymore with the new psychic powers.  Add in crushing claws and almost any of the new psychic powers and they can outperform a Trygon pretty easily.
  • Parasite: just the thing for challenges.  Probably won't be seen very often as everything else is so much better.
  • Tyrant Guard:  Babylon 5 for your tyrant/Swarmlord's survival.  Bonesword boost makes these much more attractive here, especially given the high level of ... interest 'rants are going to attract.
  • Lictors: no real changes
  • Ymgarl: as one of the only units in the game that can assault out of infiltrate/deep strike, and the vehicle assault boosts, their stock went up considerably.  The only downer is there may not be area terrain to jump out of.
  • Pyrovore: not even overwatch can save these, especially with the multi-assault nerf.
  • Hive Guard:  still the darlings of the elite FOC, and even better with PE now affecting shooting.
  • Zoanthropes: improved their stock a bit as now they can shoot or buff..  more experimentation needed here.  Initial reads point to keeping Warp Lance and trade Warp Blast for one new power. What I get for reading forums not the book lol - the new powers are all or none.  Zoans will at least get 2 powers to work with though.  Thanks Josh.
  • Venomthrope: the 6" cover 'zone' is definitely more valuable with the new per-model cover rules.  
  • Termagants: no more fearless wounds mean big units are better; default S4 shooting is good too, even with the 12" range.  Devilgaunts were pretty mean before; with overwatch they are much more useful. 
  • Hormagaunts: it will take big units to even make it into combat; with the infiltrate nerf, I expect to see these a bit more often over genestealers simply due to cost-efficacy.
  • Genestealers: overwatch literally kills glass cannon assault units like 'stealers.  The only benefit here is the Broodlord's psychic abilities make small, naked units with a BL a very viable approach.
  • Tyranid Warriors:  still vulnerable to ID, but lots of potential here, especially out of a spore.
  • Tervigons: see above
  • Rippers: no real changes I can see yet No more Stealth USR, but no difficult terrain rolls either - and no fearless wounds make these a much more viable tar pit
  • Gargoyles: cost-effective, vehicle hit changes + Hammer of Wrath makes these almost a must-include.
  • Shrikes: pricey, but Bonesword changes are definite improvement.  
  • Sky-slasher:  still meh.
  • Spore mines: basically used to prevent infiltrate shenanigans; but no more charge from infiltrate so...
  • Raveners: no movement issues for difficult terrain as beasts is great; but still no grenades.  A plus, but not a huge one.
  • Harpy: massive improvement, d3+1 S5 attacks for a Vector Strike isn't bad; not sure if these can be traded for a Smash attack (d3+1/2 @ S10)?  Can't wait to field test a couple of these.
  • Tyrannofex: much better with PE.
  • Trygon/Trygon Prime: still mean; buffs can make him really mean.
  • Mawloc: still drastically overpriced for what you get.  Buffs can help, but not much.
  • Carnifex: the fexstar got a major boost with 6e; these will be pretty common, and with good reason.
  • Biovore: no major changes here

I hate the idea of including (Imperial) buildings in lists, it seems like a ridiculously un-Tyranid thing to do.  Wonder how long before we start seeing army-specific buildings?

So - my first-glance look through:  it's pretty damn sexy at the moment.

Saturday, June 2, 2012

It was quiet... too quiet

My pastime of surfing around and culling tyranid information from the intarwebz has run into sparse pickings lately - anticipation of 6th edition seems to have sucked the life from a lot of us.  Like we're waiting for the other shoe to fall.  A part of me wonders if we're seeing the beginning of the end for GW.  A loopy price hike that cuts a big chunk of their market off at the knees - coupled with a new release slated to increase the number of models on the table: making the price increase hurt that much more.  GW's fate is hanging on a solid 6th edition release.  There are quite simply too many burgeoning competitors; there is a renaissance in the miniature gaming world by any yardstick.  I encourage you to check out:
Each of which report on new models, new systems, and new terrain on a pretty much daily basis.  You'll see the same renaissance that I do.  There are at least a dozen companies making excellent 28mm terrain.  Dozens of companies offering a range of up to boutique quality miniatures that equal and in many cases surpass GW's.  A deeper look uncovers multiple versions of 40k being built by fans and players that want a streamlined, tactically flexible, and fun experience - and they want to do so in a tournament environment.  The tournament 'scene' is large and growing.  Adepticon, NOVA, the new Indy Open, etc..  - and GW basically turns its back and chooses to no longer support tournaments?  6th edition can't fail, or GW goes down with it.  With that - I have high hopes.  GW hasn't truly failed yet.  Nothing has been perfect: but rather each new edition has been like pizza: even when it's bad, it's still pretty good.

Aside from being all doom and gloom - I've been quietly collecting a model or two here and there, begun work on the Jefferson Memorial for the NOVA Narrative Campaign, and playing Tribes:Ascend every chance I get. Looking forward to seeing many of you at NOVA again this year!

Thursday, May 3, 2012

The State of the Tyranid Meta

Yup.  That's a huge dead crocodile.  And no, that isn't a pack of Grey Knights mugging for the camera, but it seems it might as well be.  I had a sinking feeling while watching people prep their lists for Adepticon, surfing Dakka, Warseer, BOLS, Warpshadow, TheTyranidHive, and other forums along with an ever further-reaching exploration of the 40k blogosphere and finding no references to anyone bringing Tyranids.  Not a big deal - lots of people play who don't blog or post anywhere.  Shock, surprise - no Tyranids at the 40k Championships.  This was after last year's 4th place finish, an 8th place at NOVA, and several strong finishes in many smaller GTs since then.  So what does this mean for the Tyranid metagame?  Sell now because GW will never fix them (before 7th)?  Condemned to share the "we don't even have a real codex" Sisters of Battle category?

Honestly - it means whatever the hell you want it to - and that includes not giving up or thinking they simply aren't competitive.  Nick over at The Brown Paintbrush beats massive face with his 'nids (except vs. Dark Eldar - haha).  I've seen him play and finish in the top slots in just about every venue, no matter what army he brings.  Aaron, aka Hyvemynd, from Synaps3 makes some great points over on Terminus Est that I'll recopy here as it captures an absolutely critical part of the hobby, especially in that weird crossover zone that includes the 'net:

We play who we can when we can.  Internet readers may judge the people we play, but at the end of the day, they are real people.  Real people who collect armies they like because of personal reasons since not everyone strives to build an optimized spam list.  Real people who may play once a week or once a month and who make real mistakes.  These people make up a vast majority of the tournament attendees.  Only a few cities and clubs support a player base that would provide us with games the internet would approve of as competitive.
My city (Rochester NY) is interesting because we're home to 2 of the 2011 ETC team (Shaun, Jay).  We're also home of DaBoyz who are mainly a comp club.  Something interesting happens as a result.  We have 2 players who almost always place above our ETC heroes that most of the country haven't heard of because they don't travel to many big events and don't speak out online.  Oh yeah, and they ALWAYS play compy lists with no spam.
On of them ("Courtney") took Best General at last year's ATC out of 70 players, beating out Darkwynn, Ben M., Goatboy, Sparks, and all the other 40k celebs.  He even gave TPM his only loss of the event.  This was a no-comp event and he did it with an Eldar list without any unit duplication except two units of guardians.
The other player I mentioned has won our local annual invitational two years in a row with diversified Nids including warriors, lictors, and shrikes.
Optimizing and spamming up a list can get you so far, but it's also my belief that the final evolution of the competitive gamer is competitive mastery of diverse and balanced lists. 
First - some mad kudos to Aaron for laying down some truth.  The above links are hardly the only ones with similar stories.  With as much objectivity as I can muster as a Tyranid-focused blog, it remains clear that it's possible to play and win with Tyranids in any sized venue.  It's also clear that it really isn't easy.  There simply aren't many first order optimal strategies for less experienced players to fall back on.  I've seen numerous variations of the basic theme that Tyranids are a thinking army - in a nutshell, it takes an inordinate amount of thought, pre-planning, and precise movement execution to be successful.  Just like any other army, and the player on the other side of the table matters more than his list or codex, any day of the week.

Saturday, April 14, 2012

Tyranids Counts-as Necrons?

I know many of you have seen the superlative Tyracrons from Musings of a Metal Mind, a Necron counts-as Tyranid army.  I'll blame this amazing example of the hobby as the germ for the idea, but after reading and watching batreps on how the Necron codex and its units work, I've lately been captured by an idea.  I think it might be possible to build a "Tyranid" army using the Necron codex that would allow you to field Tyranid-like abilities consistent with the fluff and maybe more effective than the Tyranid codex.  I should probably have another pint and chalk it up to wishful thinking, but I thought I'd put the ideas down here and see what you all think.  Pretty sure the biggest challenges are in the vehicle/TLoS department/modeling for advantage.  Note the unit comparison below aren't 1:1 analogues that translate directly across FOC slots, but are just general ability comparisons.

Tyrant/Tyranid Prime, Tyrant Guard - can be accommodated for with different Overlord/Destroyer Lord or C'Tan Shard combinations pretty easily (although C'Tan isn't HQ)
Tervigon HQ - no real analogue in the HQ slot

Lictors, Ymgarl - Flayed Ones and Canoptek Wraiths both fill these roles pretty well.
Pyrovore - these even suck in the Necron codex ;)
Venomthrope - no real analogue
Hive Guard - while an absolutely key elite slot in the Tyranid codex, the closest match here is probably the Necron Destroyer
Zoanthrope - not a clear match here for a key fluff Tyranid unit

Tyranid Warriors - Immortals, Lychguards, Deathmarks
Genestealers - Flayed Ones or Wraiths
Hormagaunts - Flayed Ones?
Termagaunts - Necron Warriors
Tervigon - Canoptek Spyder perhaps?  Trying to parallel the troops and spawn functions ends up with a transport, probably the Ghost Ark
Rippers - One word: Scarabs

Fast Attack
Gargoyles - Canoptek Wraiths
Raveners - Canoptek Wraiths or Tomb Blades
Shrikes - Necron Destroyers, Tomb Blades, Triarch Praetorians
Harpy - Doom Scythe, maybe a Night Scythe?
Rippers - Scarabs

Heavy Support
Trygon/Mawloc - it's an absolute crime the Tomb Stalker didn't make it into the Codex; a Triarch Stalker is the next best bet; maybe Canoptek Sypder, from the deep strike/tunnel aspect, maybe a Monolith
Carnifex - maybe the Canoptek Spyder or Triarch Stalker
Biovore - no real analogue here
Tyrannofex - Doomsday Ark, Annihilation Barge, maybe a Monolith

This is my first attempt to get my thoughts down on paper - definitely haven't really researched the idea with any depth, or done any meaningful size comparisons, let alone thought it through to the point of trying to build an FOC-compliant Necron force using the matching models above.  Without going down that road to really check, I think this might be do-able though.  I think avoiding the big vehicles like Arks and Monoliths, and maybe even the Command Barges might be necessary to avoid TLoS issues.  Just some musings on a Saturday afternoon...

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

Primer Therapy Redux

After a solid afternoon of exploration at Home Depot, Lowe's, Michael's, and the local hobby store (trains, model rockets, r/c cars...), I found a few primers to bring home and try.  The first purchase was a big bottle of cheap white Gesso from Michael's, then I discovered Kilz has odor-free spray primer for ~$5, and regular stinky primer for ~$4.  Went to Home Depot and picked up a can of Rustoleum after reading OST's recent article over on Dark Future Games, looking at his comments about spraying from a distance.  Even though I've had issues with it before - increasing my suspicions that the problem is more me than the paint...   Then at Lowe's I found a can of cheap Valspar with a funky lid for about $5.  Laden with loot I descended to the garage for a trying evening of experimentation, which would ultimately culminate in a long, drawn out post with lots of pics that showcased my poor photography and hamfisted painting skills.  But...

Saturday, March 17, 2012

Primer Therapy

Yes - that is a play on Primal Therapy - as I've about reached my wits' end trying to find a white primer that I'm happy with.  I've tried several brands, and none seem to be working out.  Which leads me to believe that with only one common denominator, I'm probably at least a part of the problem. Frustratingly, I'm hardly a beginner at painting; or more accurately, I'm hardly a beginner at priming with roughly 80% of my models being primed (and nothing else /snicker).   I have no problems with black primer, using alternately, GW, Krylon, and Tamiya - and had flawless results with each.  No pooling, smooth finish, etc...   I only have those issues with white. I've tried GW, Tamiya, Krylon, RustOleum, and about four others I've thrown out and don't remember.  I've read forums and blogs and more forums and a few more blogs without really finding a solid answer - clearly what works for us as painters is our personal preferences.  In this case, my preference is for a primer that doesn't pool in recesses, doesn't craze on flat areas, and doesn't pebble on raised areas.  Every single primer I've tried does at least one of these.  Adding to the fun is all white primer is not the same color white, making color matching rough at best.  Alright - enough ranting.  Let's talk symptoms of this disease I'm calling primer rage.

Here's my typical priming MO:  I typically wash whatever I'm priming with dishsoap/water and let it dry for at least a couple days, often a week or more.  I spray in a 2-car garage with the garage door open for ventilation, on flattened cardboard or laid-out newspaper.  Shake the can for whatever the label says (1 minute or more typically), then spray in short, controlled bursts starting almost off-model, going across the model, and stopping at the edge of/just outside the spray zone; repeat.  Depending again on the label, I spray between 6-8" and 10-12" away from the models.  I almost always prime multiple models (hello, Tyranid player) at once, keeping them ~4" apart.

The pic at the top of the article is my most recent attempt at the long hoped-for but never-delivered Mycetic Spore wannabe above.  Note the pooling, crazing, and spotty coverage; clearly it isn't done, but after noting the pooling and crazing, I stopped.  It's a tough item to prime, composed of very slick, almost oily, plastic - this is my second attempt - the first was with Krylon, which covered adequately with only a little pooling, but flaked off from very light handling.   Stripped it with Simple Green, and prep washed it very well, ran some fine grain sandpaper over it, and tried a special fine coverage primer (Zinsser BIN Ultimate Stain Blocker) intended to "block water, fire, and smoke stains, sap streaks, and greasy spots, and ideal for 'hard to paint objects' like arts and crafts, wicker, porous wood, spackled areas etc..."  The results as you can see, are less than spectacular.  The frustrating bit is I was priming an old resin Armorcast Exocrine - and it came out the same way: very heavy pooling in flat/depressions, and either no coverage at all in fine detail areas, or it buried them under a pool or very thick layer.  Which makes me believe it isn't the texture/material or material.  I let the paint dry and dumped it right into my Simple Green vat where it soaks as I type this.

Honestly debating switching to a light grey primer - but with the bulk of my tyranid 'core' elements painted with a white base, the color value of new units will be noticeably darker.  Plus the white base lets me do things with blended acrylics that take multiple layers to achieve on a dark primer.  At any rate - if you have any thoughts, ideas, or been able to successfully paint Plasma Hatchers - please drop me a line or two below.  Thanks!

Friday, March 2, 2012

Curse you Blogger! & Old Stuff Day
Loved this pic; I think it captures both the futile "Get off my lawn!" rage I have at Blogger for not updating any of the links on other blogs that link to mine for my recent post, and of course, for the Old Stuff concept.

For Old Stuff day: the question of which post(s) I'm most proud of is relatively easy.  My two reviews of NOVA this year were tough to write, and in writing them I both matured (well.. a little bit) as a gamer and a blogger, having to own up to my mistakes, face my critics, and doing my best to write an impartial review, especially as a member of the tournament staff.  So here they are:

The fanboy unleashed and repentant:

The impartial review:
What mattered most to me on this post was TheKingElessar's comment about it being a fair attempt at constructive criticism and fairly written.  TKE has a razor sharp wit and isn't afraid to use it, and the brains to back it up; coming from him I took it as rare and solid praise.

After that - the post I think may deserve a bit more attention addresses something I hold as a core guiding principle -  the importance of creativity and imagination in our lives:

My most popular posts this year (all time at least) are these - and I haven't the faintest what it is about the first one that gets people here - I'm guessing the pic of Darth Vader with a Tabasco bottle may have something to do with it - but welcome anyway!
Tyranid Library article 3, now with updated links:
Tyranids vs. Stelek's litmus test:
And the post I suspect many have found to be useful, given where I've seen it crossposted:

At any rate - my reflection this year is one of bemused frustration.  There have been some killer ups, and pretty rough downs.  Really good times, and days where I haven't left the easy chair in a fugue.  Through it all, I have to smile a little bit.  Starting in a very unfocused way, with only ~65 total posts, closing on 25,000 hits after a little under two years isn't bad.  Thanks for sharing in the journey.  Now get down to your FLGS and pick up those new Tyrannofex/Tervigon and Hive Tyrant models!

Thursday, March 1, 2012

Complaining about GW: Is this thing even on?

Having read a few articles about this snazzy new internet thing and social media, I thought I'd take a look at some of tools we have available to get an idea of what these tools would be telling Games Workshop if they were to bother.  Based on the blogs I read, most of them I consider 'mainstream' blogs for the more competitive side of the hobby, my distillation of the dozens of posts were,while mostly positive, many had a strong negative undercurrent.  Nobody is really going to complain about new models after all - especially when for the most part, they look as good as these do (sorry t-wolves, 'nids won the swimsuit and dinner gown competition).  But lots of speculation about the lawsuits, negativity about the size, the two-year delayed release, and GW's staccato business model in general.  So what does all that noise amount to through the lens of a social media analytic?

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Report from the Bandwagon: New Models - Same Complaints

In case you've been under a rock and hiding from the 40k blog/forum-o-sphere, GW will be releasing new Tyranid models in March. I could hardly call myself a 'tyranid blogger' if I didn't make some sort of obligatory post about the new models as it will definitely impact the greater 'meta' of the tyranid game.  Not a big impact mind you - first and foremost, tervigons and tyrannofexes use the big oval 120mm base.  Nice to have some official sizing [insert rant about the lack of GW customer service that made this more of a surprise than it should have been here].  Aside from the base size and bulk of the new models, the rest of the impact is probably pretty nil, except to point out that the thousands of players who have scratch-built tervigons and tfexes may buy one or two, but most won't bother, or may buy bits from ebay or elsewhere to trick their scratch-built models up to size spec.  I'll be buying three simply because I haven't gotten around to scratch-building any tfexes and will use one as a reference model for my other tervigons in tournament play to manage 'modeling for advantage' issues.  The next impact to the meta is a probably small influx of new players: with a mostly complete line, the new models will certainly attract some new tyranid players who avoided starting tyranids simply because the price of entry was scratch-building a minimum of two tervigons.  From a competitive standpoint, that's pretty much it.  Which brings up the last line of the title:  same complaints:

Sunday, January 29, 2012

Xenos and Chaos on top at Throne of Skulls?

Stats borrowed from Claws and Fists' excellent post and recap here:

Oh the fun you can have with metrics.  From an average score standpoint: Xenos own 4 of the top 5 slots.  Xenos and Chaos own 7 of the top 10.  But soft scores count: "you also get points based on how many of your opponents nominated you as their favourite opponent of the weekend" - with that taken into account, it's possible to infer that Xenos and Chaos players are more fun to play against.  SinSynn should have a field day with this one.  I'll give the Imperial sc.. uhm.. players a break and make the disclaimer that this was only one tournament, and won't try to make a grand claim that it's a result of finally getting to play against a more diverse field, instead of the usual higher volume of Imperials.  An opportunity for a higher number of people to play armies they enjoy playing, vs. those they play simply to win with.  For ToS, 73 of 128 players were Imperial, just shy of 60% so not a huge disparity.  One could argue that this is 'working as intended' going back to Jervis' WD article about the format encouraging diversity by scoring by codex rather than straight up ranking.  Probably the most interesting metric of all?  Zero Sisters of Battle.  How's that White Dwarf codex plan working GW?

Are You Pondering What I'm Pondering?

Inspired only slightly by Nurglitch's erudite pontifications to post this as a non-sequitur to a Tyranid blog.  For good measure, I'll own up to definitely being inspired by Pinky's non-sequiturs to Brain's AYPWIP question.

I wonder sometimes how to explain the importance of imagination to my kids, family, and friends.  Well - how important is it?  To me, imagination is the best possible weapon against a small, narrow mind.  If you're reading this, I can guess you've probably encountered them somewhere in your life's journeys.  In practical terms, your imagination is your mind's ability to grasp the realm of the possible.  To see a thing and think it through, to understand its implications, uses, and potentials.  More importantly, to create something altogether new and previously unseen.  Imagination's counterbalance, wisdom, is what you've learned works, and what doesn't - usually through trial and error.  Together these make up our mental bandwidth to process the world - and they govern our ability to not only survive, but to make our life better, be happy, get richer, get more stuff, find that special other person - whatever your goals happen to be.  Whether consciously defined or not, goals are the product of our imagination.  In the same sense however, we are fettered by the bounds of our imagination, a prison we cannot see until we look through the lens of another's imagination, and grow richer for it.  The serenity of balance is simply to imagine at all, and confident use of wisdom to test the products of our imagination.  I pity those who only live in the 'real'  world.

Realizing I've not been posting much lately - which in turn makes me realize that colocating all of my hobby stuff with my computer probably wasn't the smartest move.  Add in an impertinent girl-child who refuses to play Super Dungeon Explore until I get the figures painted in all their chibi goodness and I've not been doing much more than reading a lot of blogs, playing Orcs Must Die (such a great game!), and working on non-Tyranid figures not enough to get a game in yet.  If only my imagination weren't an utter slave to my short attention span.