Tuesday, February 6, 2018

Competitive List Building - Evan's Tyranids 1.2

On our first podcast of 2018, Bryan mentioned an idea I really liked: keeping a changelog of his lists as he begins his Year of the Tyranids (hence the title). As someone with more responsibilities than game time (assuming that's most everyone), I tend to have more lists than games with said lists. My thought in shamelessly stealing Bryan's idea, is to do a bit of a post series documenting this changelog publicly for each army I embark on. I won't inundate these posts with every single list I consider and debate, but just those that actually see the table, and maybe the first thought revision following the last game.

Warzone Atlanta 2017 Army - henceforth referred to as List 0.3

As the first of its kind, this post will also include some backtracking to show where I have come from.
Without getting too into the weeds about the numbering, my thought is major revisions will occur for each event I attend, while minor revisions will be for games in between. For the sake of brevity in this historical look, I'm omitting Index lists (Ver 0.X) and starting with my first Codex list (Ver 1.0):

1.0 - A Valhallan Christmas (RTT) (2-1) List

  • Battalion (Kraken)
    • Flyrant: 2 Devourers, Monstrous Rending Claws, Adrenal Glands, Toxin Sacs (Warlord)
    • Flyrant: 2 Devourers, Monstrous Rending Claws, Adrenal Glands, Toxin Sacs
    • Flyrant: 2 Devourers, Monstrous Rending Claws, Adrenal Glands, Toxin Sacs
    • 18 Genestealers: 4 Acid Maws
    • 22 Hormagaunts: Adrenal Glands
    • 3 Rippers
    • 5 Raveners: Spinefists
    • Carnifex: 4 Devourers, Enhanced Senses, Spore Cysts, Bone Mace Tail
    • Carnifex: 4 Devourers, Enhanced Senses, Spore Cysts, Bone Mace Tail
  • Spearhead (Kronos)
    • Neurothrope
    • Neurothrope 
    • 3 Rippers
    • 4 Hive Guard
    • 2 Biovores
    • 2 Biovores
    • 2 Biovores
  • Fortification Network (Kronos)
    • Sporocyst: 5 Deathspitters

1.1 LVO Practice Game for Phil the Glacial Geek (1-0)

This list was for a battle report with Phil, the Glacial Geek. While designed to be fairly optimized, concessions were made for making sure all models in the list were well painted and WYSIWYG.
  • Battalion (Kraken)
    • Flyrant: 2 Devourers, Monstrous Rending Claws, Adrenal Glands, Toxin Sacs (Warlord)
    • Flyrant: 2 Devourers, Monstrous Rending Claws, Adrenal Glands, Toxin Sacs 
    • 18 16 Genestealers: 4 Acid Maws
    • 22 Hormagaunts: Adrenal Glands
    • 3 Rippers
    • 3 Rippers
    • 5 Raveners: Spinefists Deathspitters
  • Spearhead (Kronos)
    • Neurothrope
    • 4 Hive Guard
    • 2 Biovores
    • 2 Biovores
    • 2 Biovores
  • Fortification Network (Kronos)
    • Sporocyst: 5 Deathspitters 
  • Battalion (Jormungandr)
    • Flyrant: 2 Devourers, Heavy Venom Cannon Monstrous Rending Claws, Adrenal Glands, Toxin Sacs  
    • Neurothrope
    • 10 Termagants: Fleshborers
    • 10 Termagants: Fleshborers
    • 18 Termagants: Devourers
    • Carnifex: 4 Devourers, Enhanced Senses, Spore Cysts, Bone Mace Tail
    • Carnifex: 4 Devourers, Enhanced Senses, Spore Cysts, Bone Mace Tail
* Formatting Key *
Addition: Bold Green Text
Removal: Strikethrough Red Text
Moved: Italic Purple Text 

1.1 Post-Game Analysis and Next Steps

Coming out of the game, I was fairly unimpressed by the Devilgants, continued to be impressed by the Flyrants, and was surprised by the Raveners. My initial thoughts on upgrades for the list were to strip down the Troops to the one Genestealer hit squad and then screening Termagants and some Rippers. I'd also like to get the Hive Guard up to a full squad of six, and get a third Carnifex as well.

1.2 Gaming Weekend Variations
I hosted a gaming weekend this past weekend and while I initially wanted to get some play tests in with some other armies to broaden my experience, I had also been debating some more divergent ideas for my Nid lists, and ended up playing mostly variations of those. Namely, I was curious about trying out and implementing some ideas from the success of the Flyrant Spam lists that won a UK GT a couple weeks ago, while also balancing out some discussions we've had recently about more swarm style lists.

Over the weekend, I played three games with three (somewhat) different Nid lists. As a result, I don't know that I can really do the changelog approach for each of them. The first list was a fairly straightforward implementation of Flyrant Spam:
  • Battalion (Leviathan)
    • 3x Flyrant: 2 Devourers, Monstrous Rending Claws, Adrenal Glands, Toxin Sacs 
    • 3x 3 Rippers
    • 30 Gargoyles
    • 2x 1 Mucolid
  • Battalion (Leviathan)
    • 2x Flyrant: 2 Devourers, Monstrous Rending Claws, Adrenal Glands, Toxin Sacs 
    • 3x 3 Rippers
    • 3x 1 Mucolid
  • Outrider (Kronos)
    • Flyrant: 2 Devourers, Monstrous Rending Claws, Adrenal Glands, Toxin Sacs, [WARLORD]
    • 8 Meiotic Spores
    • 5x 1 Mucolid
  • 120 Points Reserved
I played Chris with an Alaitoc Battalion in a Warzone Atlanta Mission with this list. We rolled up For Whom the Bell Tolls (modified Kill Points Primary) on Hammer & Anvil Deployment. I had filled up my half of the board in deployment, denying Ranger deployment and deep strikes, and despite getting first turn, hesitated on dropping the Flyrants, which I think ultimately cost me the game. Chris had Ranger screens, which is all the Flyrants would have been getting into turn 1, but they would have then been further into Chris's zone turn 2, which I think would have made the difference. The list was also not designed for the mission pack and bled a ton of points in this mission in particular, as it awards bonus points for each repeated unit killed; the fifth flyrant Chris killed was worth 7 KP. In the end, Chris pulled out a decent victory.

In my second game of the weekend, I was playing Andrew in a NOVA mission with an experimental tertiary that is intended to focus on holding points instead of killing units, as killing units is largely a given in 8th edition. As we played it, the tertiary involves nominating two non-Troop units in your list to be Securing units during mission selection. At the start of each turn, you pick one of these two units to Secure an objective. The unit cannot perform any offensive actions while "Securing" - it can only move. While "Securing," the unit is always an eligible target for shooting / powers / etc., regardless of other rules or even Line of Sight. If at the start of your next turn the nominated unit is within 3" of an objective, you score the Tertiary for the turn.

With the tertiary in mind, I opted for a fairly different list, adding in a handful of units I felt would be particularly good at achieving this mission:
  • Battalion (Kraken)
    • 2x Flyrant: 2 Devourers, Monstrous Rending Claws, Adrenal Glands, Toxin Sacs 
    • 3x 3 Rippers
  • Battalion (Kraken) 
    • Malanthrope
    • Neurothrope
    • Tervigon: Chameleonic Mutation
    • 3 Rippers
    • 2x 25 Termagants: Fleshborers
    • 5 Zoanthropes
    • 25 Gargoyles
  • Spearhead (Kronos)
    • Flyrant: 2 Devourers, Monstrous Rending Claws, Adrenal Glands, Toxin Sacs [WARLORD]
    • Neurothrope
    • 3x 2 Biovores

For the Tertiary, I selected the Tervigon and the Zoanthropes to score, figuring they were just plain durable. Andrew was playing an Ynnari army and selected two Wave Serpents to score his. I ended up only scoring the Tertiary with the Tervigon, who was able to stay out of range of the Dark Reapers for most of the game. Meanwhile, I was pleasantly surprised with the output of the Zoanthropes, who became my main offense in late turns once the Flyrants were shot down by Reapers.

In the last game, I played James and his melee AdMech list. I updated my first Flyrant Spam list based on that first game to have a bit more outside the flyrants:
  • Battalion (Leviathan)
    • 3x Flyrant: 2 Devourers, Monstrous Rending Claws, Adrenal Glands, Toxin Sacs
    • 3x 3 Rippers
    • 21 Gargoyles
    • 2x 1 Mucolid
  • Battalion (Kronos)
    • Flyrant: 2 Devourers, Monstrous Rending Claws, Adrenal Glands, Toxin Sacs [WARLORD]
    • Neurothrope
    • 3 Rippers
    • 14 Termagants: Fleshborers
    • 13 Termagants: Fleshborers
    • 3x 2 Biovores
  • Outrider (Leviathan)
    • 2x Flyrant: 2 Devourers, Monstrous Rending Claws, Adrenal Glands, Toxin Sacs
    • 5 Meiotic Spores
    • 4x 1 Mucolid
We played a Warzone mission (Red Rover II) but were on our NOVA terrain. James's list was mainly created as an attempt to run something other than Kastellan Robots, and in the end he came to the conclusion that it just doesn't work. I got first turn and was able to swarm the board to the point that on his first turn, he could only drop his Scions in his own deployment zone, and then on his second turn there was actually nowhere on the board for him to drop.

I really like the Meiotic Spores for their ability to accent my board control pregame - they give me an "infiltrate" deployment that I believe actually occurs before most others (like Rangers or stratagem based ones). As a result, they limit my opponent's ability to deny my flyrants drop zones.

After a great weekend of gaming, I'll term the first tweak of my list coming out of the weekend as the "official" 1.2 List for my Competitive Tyranids:
  • Battalion (Kraken) (Leviathan)
    • Flyrant: 2 Devourers, Monstrous Rending Claws, Adrenal Glands, Toxin Sacs (Warlord)
    • Flyrant: 2 Devourers, Monstrous Rending Claws, Adrenal Glands, Toxin Sacs 
    • Flyrant: 2 Devourers, Monstrous Rending Claws, Adrenal Glands, Toxin Sacs 
    • 16 Genestealers: 4 Acid Maws
    • 3 Rippers
    • 3 Rippers 
    • 3 Rippers
    • 24 Gargoyles
    • Mucolid
    • Mucolid  
    • 5 Raveners: Deathspitters
  • Spearhead (Kronos)
    • Neurothrope
    • 4 Hive Guard
  • Battalion (Jormungandr) (Kronos)
    • Flyrant: 2 Devourers, Heavy Venom Cannon Monstrous Rending Claws, Adrenal Glands, Toxin Sacs  
    • Neurothrope
    • 10 14 Termagants: Fleshborers
    • 10 14 Termagants: Fleshborers
    • 18 Termagants: Devourers 
    • 3 Rippers
    • 2 Biovores
    • 2 Biovores
    • 2 Biovores
    • Carnifex: 4 Devourers, Enhanced Senses, Spore Cysts, Bone Mace Tail
    • Carnifex: 4 Devourers, Enhanced Senses, Spore Cysts, Bone Mace Tail
  • Outrider (Leviathan)
    • Flyrant: 2 Devourers, Monstrous Rending Claws, Adrenal Glands, Toxin Sacs
    • Flyrant: 2 Devourers, Monstrous Rending Claws, Adrenal Glands, Toxin Sacs
    • 3 Meiotic Spores
    • 3 Meiotic Spores
    • Mucolid
This list is a very minor tweak from my last list, and somewhat depends on how the Meiotic Spores' deployment rules are read and applied. The rule specifically is:
Outriders of the Swarm: During deployment, your Meiotic Spores are not deployed with the rest of your army, but instead are set up in freefall. Once both armies are fully deployed, just before the first battle round begins, you may place this unit anywhere on the battlefield that is more than 12" from any enemy models.
There are a couple points of uncertainty with this rule, which I would want to clarify before taking this list to an event. The first point of uncertainty is how this rule interacts with other rules that allow for "infiltrate" style deployments, such as Eldar Rangers and the Alpha Legion / Stygies / Raven Guard deployment stratagems. The latter all cite "At the start of the first battle round" as the timing for their deployment, which leads me to believe the Meiotics deploy first. If they do not, and it's all simultaneous, the unit is distinctly less interesting to me.

The other point of uncertainty is how this rule works with Matched Play's Tactical Reserves rule, which requires at least half of an army to be set up on the field during deployment. It is unclear whether "before the first battle round begins" is still during deployment or if these units would count against units deployed on the table for the purposes of tactical reserves. My initial reading was that it was in deployment, but my second reading leads me to believe it isn't. If that's the case, I might need to make some more tweaks before my next game.

I hope you enjoyed this elongated exploration on list building and I'm looking forward to tracking this as I go forward with may very likely be my main Tournament army for 2018. I would also love to get your feedback, both on the lists and what you would be interested in seeing as far as these posts go. Lastly, what do you do to tweak and refine your lists?