Wednesday, December 8, 2010

A Surefire Way to Attract S8 Weapons - A Tyranid Warriors Review

The Hive Mind came to me in my dreams and spoke to me.  It used no language, as such, but its message was clear:

If I didn't get back to posting Tyranid-related stuff, it would open one of its six mouths, and sing the song that ends the Earth.

So I'm taking a break from batch painting the last of my Hormagaunts -- more on that later -- to bring you another Unit Review!

Well, before I can play a game, or even assemble and paint an army, I need to figure out what I'm going to field. So I guess I'll start examining the units one by one and asking:

 - Do I like the unit? That is to say, do I like the aesthetics, background, etc?

 - Do I think it's worth putting into a game, for its point cost?

This installment: the misunderstood Warrior.

Not a basketball player from Golden State.

Are they cool?

This isn't as obvious an answer as with Hormagaunts (puppies) or Genestealers (zombie ninjas).  One the one hand, insofar as all Tyranids are cool, Warriors are cool.  On the other hand, I can't think of why just off the top of my head.  Shall we read some fluff together and ponder?

Here's a sample fluff line:

"They are creatures from the blackest of nightmares, unstoppable killing machines with pulsing ichor for blood, needle-sharp teeth and darkly gleaming eyes that reveal a terrible intelligence at work."

Not bad!  We take unstoppable, in this case, to mean "extremely vulnerable to S8, AP4 or better weapons".   

However I have to say that Tyranid Warriors really are 'cool'.  They are essentially other armies' leaders as a troop choice.  Both in stature and stats, and their description as cunning, dangerous battlefield leaders, they are as impressive as the centrepiece models of other armies.  Sure, they're lacking in crazy wargear options and special rules, but they're also just a 30 point troop model!  With a stat line that rivals a Space Marine Captain's!

They are a great example of what makes Tyranids so cool:  scary, impressive alien monsters that can put the fear in the toughest models of an opposing army.  With a troop choice.  Feel free to point out to an IG player that your Warrior can shred his army leader, and score objectives.  And you have nine of them.

It doesn't hurt that they have a fantastic model, as well.  Good size, good detail, good posing ability, great conversion potential.  Great looking kit.

Overall:  Makes you feel better than everyone else.  Rolex out of ten, or A- in conventional terms.

"I'm quite posh, you see..."

Are They Useful?

Now here we run into a bit of a snag.  Toughness of 4 makes those 3 wounds pretty irrelevant if you couple them with a 4+ armour save and no Eternal Warrior.  There's a lot of S8+ weapons in the game that will kill off your Warriors with Instant Death.

But you all know that, and you didn't come here to get common internet wisdom.  So instead of focusing on the problem, I will continue with my unstoppable optimism and focus on the solution!

So what's good about Tyranid Warriors?

Well, they can all carry power weapons that have a chance to cause ID, and lashwhips that let them always go first.  That, coupled with a pretty impressive stat line, means that if they can get into melee, they can shred a lot of stuff, including power-armoured folk.

They can also carry a few ranged weapons... the Deathspitter's not bad, I suppose... but it's not really good enough to make them a ranged unit unless there's a few of them, and there's a Prime in there.  Even then, that's an expensive option, but also versatile if they've got melee kit as well.  Still, it's like having a bunch of heavy bolters, with less range and AP, but Assault instead of Heavy.  There's potential there.  They can penetrate AV 10, and that's a lot of shots...

So they can wreck stuff in melee, if we can get them there.

Well, can we?

I would suggest that if you want to do a true 'scuttling' army, crawling up the middle of the board, that Warriors aren't a bad choice.  They'll get 4+ cover from the 'gants in front of them, who will get 5+ from the Venomthrope(s).  You can slap FNP on them from the Tervigons if you feel so inclined, and with a Prime in the unit, they've got a few ablative wounds to soak up S8+ hits. If all that can keep them alive to cross the table, they will cause some wreckage on the other end.

Either way, you need one of these in the unit!

Wait a sec, at no point there did I suggest that their 4+ armor save was going to be used.... that means...

What's bad about Tyranid Warriors?

Well, if I'm right about that and their shooting is mediocre, and you need them to get into melee, but they can hide behind other units and use cover/FNP to protect them.... Why not use Shrikes?

If you can keep a screen in front of your Shrikes (you can), the 5+ save/4+ save doesn't matter.  Drop the Deathspitters and they don't even cost more.  I would suggest that Tyranid Shrikes might be a lot more useful than the internet would lead you to believe.

It's Hammer Time!  Mathhammer, that is:

200 pts Shrikes (4 shrikes w/ bonesword + lashwhip, scything talons)
200 pts Terminators (5 Schwarzeneggers w standard powerfist)

Shrikes go first, probably on the charge (jumping over their screen)

16 attacks, hit on 3 = 10.6 hits, call it 11 because I'm feeling lucky today.
Re-roll 1's, 1-2 more hits, call it one
12 hits, wound on 4 = 6 wounds
6 wounds, 5+ save = 4 wounds-ish.

One termy hits back, hits on 4 = 1 hit
1 hit probably = 1 wound, instant death so 1 dead Shrike.  Unit's still useful, and that Termy unit's broken. And once again, if you've got a Swarmlord kicking around somewhere that can drop a USR on them, they'll probably get the whole group.

Dead termies.  Really, Shrikes/Warriors are great for taking down anything but MCs and Vehicles, and we have other ways to deal with those.  Frankly if I were expecting MCs, I would be taking swarms of poisoned Hormies instead.

The results are the same if you can get the Warriors into melee, but I think you're more likely to get the Shrikes to their targets, and they can leap-frog over their screen unit.

Overall:  Either way they're impressive, but the ones that can fly are better.  Experimental Aircraft out of ten, or B- in conventional terms.

Conclusion: Will I Use Them?

Yes.  Not always, but yes.

You see, even the regular Warriors have to be dealt with.  Tuck them back there behind the gants and Tervigons, and you have a credible threat.  I mentioned before that I feel that part of the strategy with 'Nids is forcing your opponent to make bad decisions regarding what they can target, and you can make that Warrior unit pretty resilient if you want too (feel free to Mathhammer yourselves).  

Those missile launchers shooting at your Warriors, hitting on 3, wounding on 2, with a 4+ cover save followed by FNP (if you have a Prime)?  Let 'em.  

That's a lot of dice to get through and cause a wound on your Prime or kill a Warrior, and a lot of missile launchers that aren't shooting Frag missiles at your 'gaunts, 'gants or 'stealers.  That Instant Death vulnerability might not be as big a deal as the internet makes it to be.

Plus they're cool, and that's what matters.


How to paint good looking Tyranids faster by cheating at painting!


I want to put together an 80's movie montage for painting my Termagants


  1. The Final Countdown for your montage.

  2. Of course, if you look at the Shrikes then you may well consider Raveners too. They don't get the boneswords or lash whips but they're a little bit cheaper, if I recall, and have more attacks and 'cos they're beasts have the same threat range [am I correct? I don't have the codex to hand]

    Personally I don't run them but when I think about the options of more Warriors, or Shrikes I can't help but look at them. What I do like is how you are embracing variety. All too many people want to Spam 'nids but that makes your opponents decision making easy. Variety makes it harder.

    The first rule always used to be for killing the Synapse but I've never come across a situation where someone has done that, in fact my nephew was using his multi-melta on my son's brood of Hormagaunts but he's 9 so you can't rationalise his tactics.

  3. Funny you should mention it, I've got the Zoanthropes who do the research here at Men With Toy Soldiers working out ways to use Raveners at this very moment!

    They actually, as far as I understand, have a larger threat range than Shrikes. They're Beasts, and thus have Fleet, so their threat range is 19-24", whereas the Shrikes are 18" always (jump infantry, no fleet).

    My initial impression is that the fact that Shrikes can jump over terrain and other units might make it easier to simultaneously protect them and apply that 18" threat range. If you wanted, they could actually hide behind your Tervs and Swarmlord/Tyrant while the swarm scuttled up the table. I don't think many enemies are going to be devoting firepower to the Shrikes with that setup. I also read a battle report of someone who said he just hid them behind a piece of scenery near the middle of the table, and they threatened a 36" bubble on the field -- he said that his Shrikes were his tournament MVP.

    Raveners are intriguing, but I need to do some ponderin' on how I can actually deliver that stat line across the field, and whether it's worth losing the multi-attack power weapon equipped unit. I want to make them work though, because I think they have one of the better models in the range, and would look awesome next to my Trygon :)

    Anyways, thanks! I'm trying very hard to provide something a bit different than all the netlists out there, so variety is, indeed, the point!

  4. Interesting read, though you don't get FnP from instant death weapons I'm afriad so krak missiles would nuke Warriors - cover save being the only form of save they will get.

  5. @Mercer

    Absolutely, but that's what the Prime's for.

    You can still wipe them off the board if you fire 3 long fang squads at them, but you can say that about a lot of things. Point is they need to be dealt with, and if it keeps the guns away from your Trygons, Zoeys, Venomthropes, Hormagaunts... Well, they're not perfect, and I prefer the Shrikes, but I think they've got some potential.

    Thanks for the comment!

  6. Excellent post.
    I have only run warriors a couple of times, and find that yes, they need protection.

    While I have not had the pleasure of actually reaching enemy lines with least they draw a lot of attention from other players.

    Which has helped me take objectives, and win games...

    A question;
    What do you do for wings for your shirkes, and how do you mount them?

    Dave Pak

  7. @Dave:

    I haven't had a chance to convert up Shrikes just yet, I'm still building the swarm :)

    I've seen conversions that use Gargoyle wings, and they don't look awful, but they are definitely undersized.

    I'm still not 100% sure what to do about the wings: I would love to get wings that are large enough, but folded, so that the model isn't the size of something like a Demon Prince, but in the end I'll probably go with Gargoyle wings just due to cost effectiveness and ease of transport (6 Shrikes with big wings would be a nightmare).

    In terms of mounting them, I think the only real option is to pin them under the second armor plate on the Warrior's back. If you use some of the extra armor plates out of the genestealer or warrior kits, you can cover the mount up quite nicely without doing too much sculpting. I would be inclined as well to pin them such that they are removable for transport and storage.

    I'm going to playtest them thoroughly with proxied warriors prior to going to all that trouble, though!

    Thanks for stopping by!