Thursday, February 5, 2015

Chasing the Lictor

Hey everyone, BeeCee here. Let’s talk Tyranids, specifically army composition.

If you remember, a while back, Sean Nayden took the 40k world by storm by winning the 11th Company GT with a unique list featuring Deathleaper’s Assassin brood, MSU genestealers, and mawlocs. As you can imagine, Lictors have been difficult to come by ever since. Ebay, once the home of misfit lictors, is now devoid of them unless you want to drop full retail on a used model. It’s a brave new world ladies!

Any Tyranid forum is filled with posts titled “What other rubbish units are really good,” “Searching for hidden gems in the Tyranid codex,” etc. This, my friends, is the wrong focus for our list building and frankly one of the main issues we deal with as Tyranid players: distractions.

What do I mean about distractions? A good friend of mine was a CSM player when he first started 40k and bought all the shiny cool units. He had defilers, forgefiends, terminators, etc. The problem is he was getting killed on the table; he had allowed the shiny model syndrome to distract him from building an effective list.

So you are thinking, enough blathering BC, get to your point. Ok, I hear you loud and clear. Here is my point and a question to think about when you build a list: Do you know what your list needs? Specifically, what unit function is lacking in your current list that is preventing you from winning more games? Sure it’s easy to just think “I need to add more killy!” and call it a day. I have sad news for you friends, if you are playing Tyranids you likely aren't tabling many people. So you need to think harder than just “add more killy.”

Don’t fall into this trap, don’t “Chase the Lictor” and arbitrarily place a unit that someone else has success with into your list and expect it to have the same results. Of course, the caveat to this is playtesting; if you are just playtesting by all means place anything and EVERYTHING in your lists. Learn the units, know the units, trust the units.

Understanding the needs of your list is easier said than done because if you've mismanaged the assets you already have in your list, it can feel like those units under-perform. So with that in mind, here are a few tips to help get you on the right path.

Let's spend time and understand our lists. Instead of looking to find a way to make genestealers work en masse, spend time understanding what your particular Tyranid list needs.  Really spend the time to break things down. If you really want to get good with bugs notice the little things like, "hey, when I take 13 gargoyles instead of 10, the units seems to live longer, not just because it has 3 more bodies but because it takes dedicated fire from 3 units instead of 2 to wipe it out."

Play 5-10 games with your list before you make changes, take notes, understand that you are a human being and make mistakes before you make a change to a unit that may be under-performing because you are misusing it.

When you make changes to your list, don't throw the baby out with the bathwater. Find your core army and build around it, completely changing your list to "chase the Lictor" is only going to lead to a lot of frustration as you have to change playstyles to adjust to the random selections of units you are throwing in your lists to create some magic combo.

Take the time to understand odds and probability. Yes in the terms of one game, you can beat the odds and roll hot but you need to have an understanding of the odds in order to make sound decisions. Do you know how many Tyrants or Dakkafexes it takes to remove an AV12 3HP vehicle? If you don’t, I suggest you learn the averages to get a benchmark.

Understand the ramifications of your decisions on the battlefield. When you put fire on a Wave Serpent to force it to jink, don't be surprised that it targets one of your FMCs the next turn because it's snap shooting anyways.

Warhammer 40k, like anything, requires practice and thought to become a good player. Taking the time to understand exactly how your army performs will go a long way in improving your play.
If you want some further reading by some folks who can put things more eloquently than I, check out Nick Nanavati's post "Getting serious about getting good" on Torrent of fire. It has inspired me on a personal level to really dig deep and stick with my bugs even when the temptation to play other armies arises. Not that I won't play another army also, I just want to make sure the Tyranids are always forefront in my thoughts.

As always, please post any comments good or bad below, I love to hear the feedback!