6th Ed Tyranids vs the Las Vegas Open


So... the Las Vegas Open is in the rear view mirror now and I can look back on an extremely fun weekend of gaming... and shenanigans. I elected to take the 6th edition tyranid codex out for a competitive test drive, running with a slightly random but fun Lictor & Mawloc combo. Here's my list:

  • 1 Flyrant (2x twin linked devourers, hive commander)
  • 1 Tyranid Prime (2x bone swords, rending claws... because Wysiwyg)
  • 1 Venomthrope
  • 2 units of 2 Lictors
  • 30 Gaunts with 9 Devourers
  • 12 Termagaunts
  • 1 Tervigon
  • 1 Harpy w/ Venom Cannon
  • 1 Hive Crone
  • 1 Biovore
  • 2 Mawlocs
  • 1 Bastion w/ Comms Relay

For nostalgia reasons I'm in love with Lictors and how sneaky they can be at contesting enemy objectives and generally throwing a wrench in enemy plans. With a 15 point drop from the previous edition, they're a pretty awesome little unit. Better yet, get them in combat or near enemy units and Mawlocs can be played anywhere within 6", even gobbling up the unit fighting the Lictors.

To secure mid/backfield with reliable synapse and increase my ability to survive alpha strike shooting my plan was to deploy the bastion towards center table and get the prime & venomthrope into it and a biovore up on the battlements. This threw a big, hard to kill synapse bubble into my deployment zone and allowed my gaunt units to score home objectives without worrying too much about running off the table. Most units near the bastion would pick up shrouded and be able to use the Bastion's 3+ cover save, giving me a safe spot to start flying MCs on the table.

Game 1 - Patrick Kendall's Imperial Fists - Victory

My first game was a fairly tense match against an Imperial Fists gunline backed by two storm talons, playing emperor's will and crusade with dawn of war deployment. My ace in the hole was my two units of Lictors, able to pop up and contest safe objectives and threaten to beat down scoring units right by them. Another pleasant surprise was the newfound ability of the nid codex to dogfight and win air supremacy. My flyrant took down one stormtalon before getting killed by three snapshotting scout snipers... before that lucky result was immediately evened out by the other talon falling to a lucky pen from my hive crone's tentaclid missiles. My outflanking tervigon was able to stomp on the side of the table and score a couple of objectives while this was going on and my prime and mawlocs beat down drop pods and landspeeder storms appearing in my deployment zone to net me a 8:1 victory.

Game 2 - William Abilez's Taudar - Loss

The mission for game 2 was The Scouring and Purge the Alien, with hammer and anvil deployment. Unfortunately, the combination of deployment and kill points secondary meant this was pretty much unwinnable for a tyranid army. (Reece & Frankie, if you're reading... KP should be Dawn of War to give us a chance!). The only way to win this mission and match up would have been to fly my HQ and flying MCs off the board to try and keep them alive, then swooping onto objectives to contest on turn 5. Unfortunatly, with the table edges flipped around, this wasn't really viable. I elected for a brave (or stupid) rush early game to take out one unit of enemy war walkers, but the sheer volume of taudar shooting was enough to nuke one or more important unit from my list each turn.

William was a good opponent and didn't make any mistakes, but unfortunately this is simply a terrible match up for tyranids and I'm sad to say I couldn't give him a good game. With correct target priority an Eldar player can simply take out your synapse units and let the rest of your army fall apart... and there's nothing you can do to stop it. Hiding from LOS? Eat missile pods. Flying? Skyfire... ouch. Deepstriking into the enemy lines? Ruh ro... Interceptor! Want to contest objectives and win that way? Good luck pinning down the four units of jetbikes planning the same thing...

This game wasn't even close... I was practically tabled apart from one unit of stubborn synapse-less gaunts hanging out in a building when the game ended.

Game 3 - Mikko Carranza's 5th Ed Tyranids - Victory

This was an odd game... I had to face the old Tyranid codex with Mikko taking the Swarmlord, two cheap tervigons and the resulting hordes of termagants they could spawn. Fortunately, I knew Mikko's list inside out and had some evil plans to digest the old school biomass. Knowing that the Swarmlord would spell doom for any of my MCs, I set up a cunning ambush, infiltrating a squad of Lictors where they could get an early charge in my first turn. They managed to lock a squad of gaunts in combat, forcing the swarmlord to walk around them... at which point he got hit by two Mawlocs on turn 2 and finished off by a vector striking harpy. Though it was tricky grinding away at the horde of cheaper, more effective monsters I was able to keep them out of my deployment zone. I scored some objectives of my own and got a Mawloc into Mikko's backfield to an objective, netting me the game.

Both codexes play very differently... while I miss the old book, lists built with the new one do have an advantage with Hive Crones and Harpies providing the ability to influence hard to reach areas of the table.

Game 4 - Jason Hickle's Death Korps of Krieg - Victory

This game was a blast to play... Jason's army was just beautiful, with a Xenos and a Malleus inquisitor leading an army of artillery toting, gas-masked guardsmen in a grim death march towards the enemy lines. One lesson taken away from this was that Thudd Guns are brutal... in one turn a unit of three guns inflicted 23 barrage wounds on my unit of 30 gaunts... even though I had them dispersed carefully at 2" maximum coherency.

Fortunately... Lictors love artillery. I was able to clear a hole in a blob squad in the first turn, leaving two Lictors to pop up by an objective right in front of Jason's medusa battery. Even though they went to ground during Jason's shooting phase, my flyrant zoomed forward and popped them up with his Synapse bubble to get a charge, while the Mawlocs popped up to eat any units getting close and trying to counter charge. My outflanking tervigon and it's offspring were able to silence the thudd guns while the harpy, crone and flying tyrant won the dogfight with an enemy vulture and avenger strike fighter. To credit the Krieg, Jason fought to the last, clearing one objective of gaunts and robbing me of three battle points late in the game for a 7:1 result.

Game 5 - Cooper Waddell's "Best Tyranids in Vegas" - Loss

With a record of three wins and one loss, I matched up against the other leading Tyranid player in the rankings: Cooper Waddell. This was to be the fight for best Tyranids in the Las Vegas open...

Coopers list was a little more reliable than mine and a little less distracted by shiny Lictors, from memory it was something like this:

  • 2 Flyrants, w/ devourers
  • 2 Hive Crones
  • 2 solitary venomthropes
  • 1 Tervigon
  • 2 Exocrines
  • 1 Big unit of hormagaunts
  • 1 Big unit of gaunts
  • 1 Big unit of gargoyles

However... as threatening as all that was coming towards my smaller army, I spotted the weakness in his list. His only backfield synapse was one tervigon... if I could take out that unit and kill his flyrants, his scoring potential would fall apart. I'd have to use my Mawlocs, Lictors and Harpy to perform an assassination deep in enemy territory... with a little lucky rolling that could work just fine.

With an extra flyrant and crone he had the edge fighting for the skies, which he exploited turn one by flying all his flying MCs onto one flank and blowing away my hive crone with a warp blast (ouch). I responded by downing and killing one of his flyrants, while using my gaunt unit to block overflying vector strikes on my own units. With the tense air battle unfolding on turn one and just one enemy flyrant left to deal with, the game rested on my Mawlocs turning up on turn two to complete my master plan... kill the tervigon in the middle of the enemy backfield.

... unfortunately, they both scattered onto a nearby exocrine, wounding it twice... before exploding by rolling ones on the mishap table. Snake eyes... at a critical point in a game for all the marbles... 300 points of heavy support units killed themselves and conceded two KP in a Big Guns Never Tire mission! I'd been counting on them to be alive and score/contest at the end of the game... agh! I could have been a contender if my dice didn't hate me!

Reeling from my crappy luck I tried to throw everything I had remaining at the tervigon... but two squads of Lictors and an assault from my harpy weren't enough to kill it by the end of the game. In my home deployment zone, my tyranid prime exited the bastion and joined up with a spawned gaunt squad to try and defend my objectives, leading to the dramatic finale of my tournament: Cooper's warlord tyrant decided to charge in and pick up slay the warlord, throwing down a challenge. I accepted, and our warlords proceeded to forge a narrative... a strength 10 smash critically wounded my prime just as he was able to roll a six on a bonesword wound and cause instant death in revenge. With that double KO, Cooper's nids were able to score on most of the objectives and win the game, but it was a fitting way to end a great couple of days of gaming.

Oh yeah.. and beerhammer...

I should also mention the two excellent games of Beerhammer I played against Kevin from the 11th Company and Tyler Mickelson. Tyler managed to beat me solidly in my second game, earning a whopping 6 Victory Points for giving me half a foot long sub when I was desperate to eat after five games in one day. Kevin: I'm pretty sure you beat me fair and square... but it was all worth it to squash that thunderfire techmarine with a falling corona bottle...

So... thoughts on Tyranids

In general, Tyranids have received a boost in tournament play. They can now engage in an air battle and come out on top because the combination of flyrants and hive crones gives both strong anti air shooting, and deterrence with vector strikes. If your opponent does come into range, hive crone vector strikes are devastating for enemy flyers... jumping over an enemy flyer almost always removes it from play. With the 5th edition nid book you had to just get used to flyers buzzing around wherever they wanted to go... no more! All the nid players have been in denial, but 6th edition is flyer edition and we can finally play that game.

Tervigons are still a core unit. They used to be undercosted, but even at 195 points, an outflanking tervigon is a curveball for most armies to keep from contesting or scoring objectives. They also work pretty well holding back field and pooping out more scorers... just be careful someone with good dice doesn't go gunning for them.

Lictors are a lot of fun to play... and I think I'll be keeping them in my list. Being able to pop up by enemy objectives and just go to ground is such a pain in the neck... they may not be every player's ideal unit, but they suit my play style. Combo potential with Mawlocs and hit and run is really fun when you can pull it off...

Mawlocs are a great unit, but if you take them to a tournament you better also take a sense of humour. They are a high risk, high reward unit that can let you down when you need it most. Adam keeps telling me that losing both Mawlocs on turn 2 should only happen once in 36 games... but I've already managed to have it happen twice in 8 games with the new codex. This is why I don't gamble.

Cooper's paired Exocrines are a safer choice than the Mawlocs... throwing out some withering AP2 fire as they bumble up the table and keeping pressure on most armies in the game. Definitely a list to experiment with once you get bored of your Mawlocs killing themselves.

Eldar and Tau are a horrible match up, and one you should expect to lose against unless the mission really gives you an opportunity to win by playing a clever objectives game. With hammer and anvil and kill points... you've got a really rough game on your hands.

In terms of pure ass kicking power from the Swarmlord or hoards of gaunts for holding objectives for reliable board control, the new codex is lagging behind the old one. However with some creativity it is possible to get a really strong list together, one that can both tackle the nastiest bugs the old codex had and get better table control and reach with cheaper flying MCs. Oh yeah... and did I mention that Lictors are awesome? Go Lictors!