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Part 2: Fleshing Out the Army (07/2005)
In the previous installment of this series, I said that I had purchased two boxes each of Lizardmen Skinks and Sauruses. I had also purchased a Kroxigor figure and had been given a Carnosaur. I mentioned some tentative plans for fleshing out the army, but held off until the new, revised Tyranid codex was released. After months of waiting, the new rules are out, and I’ve finalized my plans.
Upping the Ante
After scribbling down what unit types I liked, I went to the Lizardman section of the Complete Games Workshop Catalog and Hobby Reference, 2004-2005 Edition and picked out models that could represent those units. While I was doing that, I spotted certain Lizardman figures that I liked very much, so I went back to the Tyranid book and picked out units that I could apply those models to. A very circular process, the final result of which was that I had way more units (and models) than I could squeeze into the 2000 point limit I had set for myself.
I angsted about that for a while and tried to cut out elements. At one stage, I compromised at 2500 points, but that didn’t satisfy me for long. So, like many of my other armies, this one grew larger than I had planned, and I had only just started on it. Embarrassing, but there it is. I felt a micro-moment of shame as I was ordering the figures. Then I cackled with evil glee and hit the “Enter” button on my computer to complete the online transaction. Screw the budget! You only live once.
…and the Why
Once I got my sticky hands on the new-and-improved codex, I found a lot of tempting options for what to do with those figures. Some ideas I contemplated:
Option #1: Consider the Skinks as Spinegaunts (a mere 5 points each!) to serve as cannon fodder. In addition, buy 32 more Sauruses (two boxes) and treat them as Hormagaunts, dividing them into four squads of 20 each.I seriously considered Option #1, but realized that in addition to buying still more Saurus models, I would also need a lot of Warriors (or other Synapse critters) to keep all those guys under control. More Warriors = more models to buy and more points to spend. It also occurred to me that if I were my opponent, I’d disregard the Spinegaunts and concentrate my fire on the Hormagaunts. After I killed them, I’d mop up the little guys. I know my Marines wouldn’t sweat Spinegaunts in hand-to-hand combat….
Option #2 would produce an army that would be unbreakable as far as Synapse goes and would be tougher than the Pittsburgh Steelers defensive line: 90 Wounds worth of Warriors that can’t be insta-killed, baby—suck on that! But it would be slow—opponents would invariably concentrate fire on the Hormagaunts first—and it would be dull, dull, DULL to play.
Option #3 would require buying a few Warriors (which I wanted anyway) to keep the Hormies under control, and would be devastating in close-combat. However, it would be expensive points-wise, and every time a Hormagaunt or Genestealer died to shooting, I would silently kick myself for spending so many points on such vulnerable models. On the other hand, the opponent would be presented with a LOT of “high-priority” targets, units they couldn’t afford to ignore—so many, perhaps, that they wouldn’t know what to go after first.
In the end, I went with Option #3. To make that option more viable, I decided to add more “high-priority” units to the army: it’s a strategy I call “Pick How You Want to Die.” Sure, the enemy can devote the majority his firepower to the Hormagaunts—but then the fast-moving Genestealers will get him. If he devotes the majority of his firepower to the ‘Stealers, the ‘Gaunts get him. Given the numbers, resilience, and speed of my Troops, the enemy should not have sufficient firepower to defeat them all. That’s the strategy, anyway.
So what else did I take?
Much as I wanted a Tyrant, however, I was faced with what I see as the big guy’s serious drawback: being so big and bad, it attracts a lot of unwanted enemy attention, usually in the form of missile launchers and lascannons. Ordinarily, I think the Tyrant either needs wings (to quickly get into combat) or be accompanied by Tyrant Guard. I didn’t want to attempt to add wings to my model (I didn’t think it would look right), but, on the other hand, I wasn’t looking forward to paying points for Guards.
I chose to mitigate this problem by giving my Tyrant the Warp Field, which will hopefully enable it to take a pounding from most enemy fire. I also added another, very distracting HQ unit: the Broodlord.
The Broodlord infiltrates, is a bad mofo in close-combat, is a Synapse creature, and comes standard with a Genestealer retinue—hey, I was gonna spend points on ‘Stealers anyway! I chose to assign him ten Genestealers, each with extended carapace; I figure that any opponent with an IQ over 15 will try to kill him and his merry little band before they get into close combat, so the beefed-up armor is well worth the investment.
With his awesome physical stats and weaponry, the Broodlord doesn’t need much upgrading for himself, but feeder tendrils will allow his accompanying retinue to hit on 3+ and the flesh hooks will deal with targets quivering behind cover.
Any Nid army (or proxied Nid army, in my case) has two issues it needs to address: Synapse control and a paucity of shooting attacks. Both can be neatly taken care of with Tyranid Warriors. To maintain Synapse control, I brought eight of them, all with extended carapace to help them survive. To boost my army’s prowess in the Shooting Phase, I gave them enhanced senses and deathspitters, my second-favorite Nid weapon, after venom cannons. Though I designed my Warriors for a support role rather than front-line action, I nevertheless gave them rending claws just in case they get the chance to tear into troops or vehicles.
But once I considered my army as a whole, I saw them as supplementing the Hormagaunts and Genestealers: here was ANOTHER very fast unit that was ferocious in hand-to-hand combat. The enemy could ignore them at their peril. Once I gave them deathspitters, the Raveners could supplement the Warriors in the Shooting Phase—Nids need all the help they can get on that subject. Plus, I found some cool Lizardman models to use for them—more about that in the next installment of this series.
A Tyranid that carries two of the same ranged weapon symbiote counts them as twin-linked.Well, I’d rather be dipped in camel [excrement] than pay 70 points for a twin-linked venom cannon, thank you very much. So instead, I gave each Carni a vc and a barbed strangler. The strangler is not quite as hoopy as the vc, but I chose it because, for a Nid gun, it has excellent range, good Strength (when used by a Carnie) and a great area of effect. I prefer the multiple shots that the vc offers, especially when you consider the mediocre BS of even a senses-enhanced Carnie, but what can you do? Who knows—maybe that pinning ability will actually be a factor in a game one of these days….
I could easily have taken another Carnifex as my third Heavy choice, but having been on the receiving end of Zoanthrope Warp Blasts, I wanted to include at least one Zoat in the army. Turns out I had points for more, and I have a cool idea for figures and “fluff” for them. More about that next time….
Posted July 2005
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