Conventional, internet-list wisdom says the following are must haves for competitive lists (more or less in this order):
- 2+ Tervigons (as troops, so loads of termagants go hand-in-hand with these)
- Doom of Malan'tai
- Hive Guard
- Flyrants with dual devourers
Starting from the bottom, I cannot argue with Flyrants; they are beastly on the board, a huge distraction, deadly in shooting and combat, and awesome minis. The concerns with Flyrants are that, they usually die by Turn 3 or 4, so will give up Slay The Warlord, and might be most effective in pairs, which then checks in over 500 points.
Hive Guard are certainly good, there's no denying they're not much to dislike about Assault 2, S8 no line of sight needing shots. And BS4 is a nice change. That said, as an old Tyranid player, I am not a huge fan of the fluff, so I've dragged my heels putting my 4 together.
Doom of Malan'tai, in a spore, is just a bad time. He can absorb an ungodly amount of fire power and generally is one of those units that can dictate your opponent's actions when he comes in. Nothing not to like about him other than being a one trick pony (an admittedly damn good trick).
Tervigons, like the rest of this list, are unarguably powerful and vital to most lists. The conventional wisdom is to take more than one to offset bad luck and spawning out turn one. This allows you to have more predictable results from these guys. They can be pretty cheap for a 6W T6 MC, and with Crushing Claws, they can be the combat monsters Carnifexes should be. They can also be Troops and so, are scoring (These gals love The Relic missions). The only real downside is you need an absolute ton of termagants; 10 to make the tervigon troops (though you should just about never run only 10 termagants unless they're just being used as a tax to make your Tervigon a Troop Choice) and on average ~23 for spawning. So to run 2 you should have a minimum of 70 termagants.
Now, when I compare the "must-haves" with my own model and fluff preferences, that's where I have the resistance to a full on "net-list." My Favorites are:
- Hive Tyrants
With the exception of the Zoanthropes, I partly like these four because of their combat potential. In 3rd Edition, when I really got into playing the bugs, my Tyrant was a blender, with two sets of Scything Talons (+2A). The Trygons are the updated version of that Tyrant, and the model is just awesome.
For me, Hormagaunts are the epitome of the Tyranid swarm, and I love the idea of just a carpet of these scythed demons running toward the defenders. Unfortunately, between the debuffs to Assault in 6th, and the high price of their upgrades, they're not all that valuable as something other than fast meat shields (3D6 rerollable runs make them reliably fast). In the end, Gargoyles end up filling their role better in this edition, with wings making them faster and cheaper upgrades making them more viable combat units. Plus having flying stands means they can provide cover to your towering MCs where Hormagaunts arguably would not (the whole "firing over" thing in the rules for intervening units is troublesome).
I like Zoanthropes in part because the models are cool, and part because I think they are a great translation of fluff to rules, and they're pretty darn flexible with the option to trade powers or keep the Warp Lance if they need to pop some AV14.
Now, taking my preferences, collection, probable mission-types, and desired balance of competitive and fluffy into account, I'm having a hard time making up my mind.
I figure HQ is a good place to start. I have a Flyrant and Swarmlord ready to go, and I like both choices. The Swarmlord is a beefed up version of my 3rd Ed. Tyrant, and the Flyrant is powerful and my only real answer for flyers. With that in mind, dropping Swarmy for a second flyrant could be a good idea. My one concern is that Flyrants and Swarmy are major bullet magnets, and need to move forward toward enemy lines. A Tyranid Prime, while less impressive in dealing damage, fulfills three roles - backfield synapse, a somewhat safer choice to deny Slay the Warlord, and a savings of 150+ points. For now, I'm leaning toward Swarmy and a Flyrant, though it's the most points expensive option.
Next up is Troops. Now I will start with the giant Caveat that I only have one Tervigon, and while I can't deny the value of having a second, I don't think bringing a second would be feasible this year (namely, I don't have enough Termagants or time to paint enough). To make her troops, I have a brood of 15-20 Devilgants (devourer wielding termagants) who will ride in my one Mycetic Spore. These guys will drop down near something valuable and drown it in S4 shots. 20 will put out 60 shots, and with Preferred Enemy from Swarmy or Old Adversary, should average 3 dead terminators, ~7 dead marines, and a lot of dead anything else. Rolling that many dice tends to have a psychological effect on people that demands attention.
After this is where I start to get in trouble. We all know, in 6th Edition, you always need more troops. I like my Hormagaunts, so will take a brood of 15-20, but I can't trust them to capture objectives since they're liable to assault something more to tie it up than to kill it. Keeping them vanilla keeps their points low, while giving them Toxin Sacs makes them a bit more of a threat. Other options are either not very valuable to me in that they don't have a defined role other than "objective camp." A small brood of termagants for cheap could fill that role if there's room.
Back up to Elites, I'm opting to take 2-3 Zoanthropes rather than Hive Guard because of their flexibility. I'm on the fence about whether to put them in a spore or to walk them and plan on playtesting both.
For Fast Attack, my only real desire from this slot is 15-20 Gargoyles if I have the points.
Finally, in Heavy Support, I have a good bit of debate. Three Biovores could cause some serious damage on a gunline (read: Tau) army. The concern with them is most of the rest of my army will be moving forward, leaving them a little exposed and possibly out of Synapse. Mawlocs or Trygons fit my theme a little better as offensive juggernauts, but are pretty pricey. I've actually never played with Mawlocs, but I like their gimmick. That said, it is still a gimmick and can be unpredictable and maybe not worth 340 points (for a pair). Trygons are more of a known commodity for me, and I love them, but they're the most expensive option.
I really haven't come to any solid conclusions yet. I need to play test some things, and others are likely to be dictated by just how much I can actually finish in the next 4 weeks. If I had to choose right now, my list would look like this:
Swarmlord (Warlord): 1 Tyrant Guard
Flyrant: 2xTL Devourers
2 Zoanthropes: Mycetic Spore
Tervigon: Adrenal Glands, Toxin Sacs, Catalyst
20 Devilgants: Mycetic Spore
20 Hormagaunts: Toxin Sacs
15 Gargoyles: Toxin Sacs, Adrenal Glands
This army has a bit more troops than in my first list, with the Hormagaunts and camping Termagants boosts. I also added the Gargoyles, giving me some more numbers and some fast movers to cause problems. I dropped the Crushing Claws from the Tervigon since, in this incarnation, she will be dedicated slightly more to backfield presence, and while they're awesome, they're also the same cost as 5 Termagants. I'm a little concerned that a single Mawloc will be less effective, and that 2 Zoans will lack the critical mass of psychic nastyness that 3 would have. Depending on how they playtest, I could swap in the Doom, since he's good, but then would feel obligated to give the Tervigon her can openers back.
So, you brave few who made it this far, what do you think? Am I mad, or just a little stubborn and dumb? Also, do you disagree with any of my assessments? Anything I glossed over and you want to know why? Ask away!