Wednesday, January 15, 2014

Tyranid Codex Review : Instinctive Behavior and Synapse

Hey guys, Ron here with my first section review on the new Nid Codex.  Today I am reviewing one of those parts that is receiving a lot of negative attention - Instinctive behavior. Just how bad is it?  How much synapse is enough to counter it?  Will it really make your entire army flee off the table or kill itself?  Did I really just walk into a game store and spend my rent money to buy more Tyranids?  Stay tuned after the jump for FTGT's take.

Like many other Nid players, I was walking around the first day with the Codex like my dog had died. Fortunately, the more I delve into the Codex, the more things I start to notice - and the more optimistic I am about it.  Instinctive behavior is one of those sections of the codex that first upset me, but now I'm warming up to it.  In the 5th edition codex, all non-synapse creatures had one of two static results for being out of synapse at the beginning of the Tyranid player's turn (with the exception of stealers/broodlord).  These effects only take place if a leadership test is failed.  In this edition, all non-synapse creatures roll on one of three different tables with three different results each.  Here is a quick summary for those who don't' have the codex:

Lurk
1-3 Unit immediately falls back
4-5 Unit can move normally (and isn't slowed by difficult terrain!).  Can run, but can only shoot if in cover.
6 Unit follows the 4-5 result and gains stealth.

Hunt
1-3 Goes to ground immediately (fearless models treat this as 4-5)
4-5 Must shoot closest model in line of sight during shooting (can't shoot out of range and/or LoS)
6 Unit follows 4-5 result but gains preferred enemy.

Feed
1-3 Unit hits itself with a number of hits equal to the number of models in the unit, majority strength, ap -.  (single model units treat this as 4-5 ). 
4-5 Cannot shoot or run, must assault nearest unit it can.
6 - Unit follows 4-5 but gains rage.

Keep in mind that there are no other restrictions than what is listed in the tables.  For example Crones (IB: Feed) are not restricted from swooping in the movement phase.  If you swoop you can't assault - getting around the must assault thing.  Mawlocs (IB Feed) can still burrow in the movement phase - also getting around the must assault issue.  Units that follow 4-6 on feed or hunt and must shoot/assault can still move during the movement phase to make the closest model the most advantageous for its forced action.  Even models following IB: Lurk will auto regroup the moment they are in synapse again.  Models following IB: Hunt who go to ground will immediately stand up in synapse.  Models with IB: Feed who are in multi model units and hit themselves will do some damage, but it is ap - so that helps things like multiple carnifex who have good armor saves.  This is a huge step up from the out-of-synapse therefore out-of-control syndrome in 5th.    

So lets look at all the units that fall into each category, and try to summarize the effects that IB has on each.  I have included leadership values, because remember - you have to fail a leadership test before even rolling on these tables.  Even leadership 6 guys will pass 41.7% of the time:

Lurk
-Termagant - Ld 6 so these guys are running if you get 1-3, definitely not good. 
-Lictors - Ld 10 (including deathleaper) so not likely to fail.   
-Venomthropes - Ld 6 - Sure the'll flee on a 1-3, but if the synapse in your main blob is gone, getting cover is your last concern.  Furthermore on a 4-5 they move normally, and ignore difficult terrain.  Should you get a 6, they gain stealth which stacks with their shrouded, giving the venomthrope 4+ cover in the open.  

Hunt
-Gargoyles - Ld 6 going to ground sucks, but won't destroy the unit.  If you are in a mission where fast attack are scoring, this doesn't prevent them from doing so, and their cover save will go up.
-Biovore - Ld 6.  Going to ground would prevent them from firing and suck big time.  Though a 4+ means they are shooting at the nearest thing in 48" so not all bad.  These guys do have assault weapons, and with their range should be in the back with your foot sloggers - so again, if you lose your main blob-synapse you have bigger problems than shooting with biovores.  
-Exocrine - LD 7.  Fearless so it treats 1-3 as 4-5.  Meaning it shoots the nearest thing it can see, and you can move normally to try and optimize what that is.  Also it makes no restriction on what fire mode you choose.
-Harpies - Ld 10! Fearless, treats 1-3 as 4-5.  With massive unrestricted movement these guys could care less about shooting the closest thing.  They can make the closest thing whatever they want.  Let's be honest they aren't failing a ld 10 roll much anyway.
-Tyrannofex - Ld 8, Fearless, treats 1-3 as 4-5.  Fairly high leadership, can move normally to mitigate having to shoot closest thing, and if you have short range weapons (acid spray, fleshborer hive), this is usually your desired target.  It might be more frustrating if you had a rupture cannon and couldn't target what you want - but still manageable. 

Feed
-Hormagaunts - Ld 6, on a 1-3 they are hitting themselves and hurting (20 man squad will do 10 wounds, 8.33 kills (remember ap -)).  Ouch.
-Tyrant Guard - LD 7, likely to be with Tyrant for synapse.  If the tyrant dies they gain rage, FC.  Not overly concerning especially if you only have one model in the unit. 
-Raveners - Ld 6 (red terror boosts it to LD 8), 1-3 will do a few wounds, but raveners are high wounds
-Haruspex - Ld 7, single model so he treats 1-3 as 4-5.  Can move normally in movement to try and optimize what it assaults.
-Pyrovore - Ld 6, not sure if you'll ever take one so you don't really need to worry about IB 
-Carnifex - Ld 7 (old one eye is ld 8), if you only have a 1 man brood, not a big deal.  If you have multiples it's really not that bad.  Three carnifex will do 3 hits, 2.5 wounds, and only have 0.8 unsaved, so not THAT bad.  Old one eye is even less likely to fail, and being one model will have unrestricted movement.  
-Rippers (including sky-slasher) - Ld 5, low models to wound count, so these guys aren't hurting that bad from hitting themselves.
-Mawloc - Ld 8, treats 1-3 as 4-5.  Can still burrow in movement, doesn't test the turn it does terror from the deep, can move normally in movement, decent leadership - overall these guys don't care at all. 
-Trygon - Ld 8, see mawloc description.  Sure it sucks not getting to shoot, but not that big a deal.
-Hive crones - Ld 10! 1-3 treated as 4-5.  With such a high leadership these guys are fine out of synapse, and can swoop to avoid charging.  Not shooting would suck, but again, it's not happening much.

All in all there are two units that really suffer from IB - gaunts and hormagaunts, and mainly due to their scoring nature.  Other than those two - things attacking themselves usually have high wound to model count ratios, and other things running away usually can't score.  So in summary, no I don't think Instinctive behavior is crippling to the Tyranid army (unlike my instinctive behavior to buy plastic crack which is VERY crippling to my bank account).  Can it be rough to a few, very specific units?  Sure - but it comes down to list building and strategy to minimize that risk, and plan accordingly.

Chances are good if you lose all your synapse early, you have too few synapse creatures, or have given your opponent too few other things to shoot at in the earlier rounds.  If you lose your synapse late - you are likely going to lose the game anyway.  Furthermore, most units are not overly impacted by it.  Most MCs, and non-MC units that roll 4+ on the tables, gain more control than they had last edition (sometimes even a buff ).  Don't forget that Synapse range can be reliably extended (primaris power being dominion), and that the fearless special rule is a significant advantage for the Tyranid army - instinctive behavior is our trade off.    

Please feel free to let me know what you think below!  I'd love to hear your opinions and thoughts on the topic.  This book isn't exactly what most Nid players I know were expecting, but I feel like we can make it work - and make it fun.     

-Ron