Friday, March 16, 2018

Competitive List Building and Bat Rep - Evan's Tyranids 1.3

Building off my last list-building post, this post is going to go over the changes I made from the last version of my Tyranid list to the one I used last week in a game against James and his Poxwalker bomb list, and review how that game went. This is also likely the final version of the list before the impending March Balance FAQ, which I'm nervous could impact the future of the list.


Since the last update I hadn't played any games, so changes came from discussion, debates with friends, and listening to some podcasts discussing similar lists. Specifically, I listened to the Allies of Convenience coverage of the Caledonian Uprising and Simon Weakly discussed his games and mentioned something I'd overlooked as far as the Mawlocs went that made them feel a little more worthwhile. The updates to the list resulted in version 1.3 of my list:
  • Battalion(Leviathan)
    • 2x Flyrant: 2 Devourers, Monstrous Rending Claws, Adrenal Glands, Toxin Sacs 
    • Flyrant: 2 Devourers, Monstrous Rending Claws, Adrenal Glands, Toxin Sacs 
    • 3x 3 Rippers
    • 2421 Gargoyles
    • 3x 1 Mucolid
    • 2x Mawloc
  • Spearhead(Kronos)
    • Flyrant: 2 4 Devourers, Monstrous Rending Claws, Adrenal Glands, Toxin Sacs  [WARLORD]
    • Neurothrope
    • 2x 14 Termagants: Fleshborers
    • 3 Rippers
    • 3 Meiotic Spores
    • Mucolid
    • 3x 26x 1 Biovore
  • Battalion (Leviathan)
    • 2x Flyrant: 2 Devourers, Monstrous Rending Claws, Adrenal Glands, Toxin Sacs
    • 3x 3 Rippers 
    • 3 Meiotic Spores
    • 1x 3x 1 Mucolid
    • 3x 1 Biovore

* Formatting Key *
Addition: Bold Text
Removal: Strikethrough Text
Moved or changed: Italic Text 

The highlights of the changes are that I'm adding in two Mawlocs and three more Biovores, and dropping a Flyrant and most everything else that isn't a Ripper or Mucolid. The list is up to 30 drops with exactly half deep striking, which feels a bit heavy

Competitively, concerns with the list revolve largely around the fact that it can bleed kill points and, depending on the format, allow for doubling (or even tripling) up on secondaries. For example, looking at the current NOVA missions, the Flyrants are targets for Headhunter, Shoot the Big Ones, and Marked for Death. This means my opponent can achieve all three of their secondaries on the same four models. 

I had a test game using the NOVA missions with James, who brought a Poxwalker-based Chaos soup list. Apologies in advance, we didn't take any pictures of the game as many models were proxied, so wall of text incoming. James' list was:
  • Deathguard Battalion:
    • Typhus
    • Daemon Prince: 2 Talons
    • Noxious Blightbringer
    • Biologis Putrifier
    • 9 Plague Marines: Two Knives
    • 2x 10 Pox Walkers
    • Dreadclaw Drop Pod
  • Daemon Battalion:
    • Daemon Prince of Slaanesh: 2 Talons 
    • Daemon Prince of Tzeentch: 2 Talons
    • 2x 30 Brimstone Horrors
    • 2x 3 Nurglings
  • Chaos Battalion:
    • Thousand Sons Daemon Prince: 2 Talons, Dark Matter Crystal, WARLORD
    • Thousand Sons Daemon Prince: 2 Talons
    • 2x 3 Nurglings
    • 10 Cultists
We rolled up Mission 4 from the NOVA packet, The Relic, on Hammer and Anvil deployment. We both opted to run the progressive Primary mission, scored at the beginning of your player turn from turn 2 onwards. For secondaries, I picked Headhunter, Cull the Hordes (1pt per 20 models killed), and Marked for Death (Marked both Thousand Sons Princes, the Tzeentch Prince, and the Slaanesh Prince). James meanwhile triple-dipped, going for Headhunter, Shoot the Big Ones, and Marked for Death on four of my five Flyrants. For the Tertiary, I nominated two of my Ripper units to score, while James picked a unit of Nurglings and his Dreadclaw.

James was basically able to deploy his entire army before I had to place anything and deployed mostly forward, with Nurglings starting on the Relic and cutting off the midboard. His cultists and one blob of horrors were on the front line, with the horrors strung back toward either back corner, surrounding the characters and one unit of poxwalkers. The other unit of poxwalkers were on the backline and then the Plague Marines in the Dreadclaw, a unit of Nurglings, and a unit of Horrors were deep striking in. Meanwhile I deployed my Mucolids and Biovores to take up my deployment and deny any deep strikes, the Meiotics just back from the front line (thanks to the Nurglings) and my punchy stuff in deep strike.

James had first turn and pushed forward, dropping the second unit of horrors in, and putting Cloud of Flies and The Dead Walk Again stratagems on the center unit of poxwalkers, making sure to get almost every one of his models within 7" of that unit. In my turn I dropped everything but the rippers in. The Gargoyles used the Metabolic Overdrive stratagem to jump forward and hug James' front line. The flyrants then used their psychics and shooting to kill off the cultists and the Nurglings, with one flyrant making a charge into the Cultists and a unit of horrors, which tagged into the Gargoyles, resulting in a handful of kills on either side, all of which became poxwalkers.

In the second turn, James scored four points on the Primary by holding both of his objectives and the Relic, and shuffled up a little, with Daemon princes largely surrounding one Mawloc that dropped in his backfield. The poxwalkers again got their stratagems and buffing powers cast on them and the scrum in the middle continued with a couple casualties on either side again becoming walking dead. In my turn two, the gargoyles and Flyrant who were bogged down with horrors dropped back to get shots on the growing poxwalker blob, while the other four flyrants moved up. My Tertiary scoring Rippers dropped into my backfield and started scoring their points. The flyrants used their psychics, shooting, and combat to kill about 20 of one horror unit, ensuring the last portion would go poof to morale unless James spent the CP to save them. As much as possible I targeted down poxwalkers specifically, to keep the growing tide in check.

In turn three, the Poxwalker tide finally broke upon the midfield, with the screens largely used up and taken out. The plague marines dropped in the backfield and lined up for a charge and grenade bombing run on one flyrant, and the princes moved up to threaten the flyrants stuck into the middle scrum. Then James' dice went pretty stone cold and he failed all but two of his powers. Most of the casters were also in range of my Kronos Warlord, so took a handful of mortal wounds, with Typhus taking himself down to a single wound between perils and failing both his casts. The plague marines made their charge, but without most of their buffs, only managed a handful of wounds. Meanwhile the princes charged some flyrants, failing to kill one and losing a Prince to an interrupt.

In my turn, the Warlord flyrant swooped over next to Typhus and another flyrant fell back from the plague marines. Psychics and shooting saw Typhus fall and a bunch of wounds put onto the Warlord Tzeentch prince. I also was able to clear off one of James' backfield objectives, jumping on it with the three remaining Gargoyles who had fallen back again. Combat then saw another Daemon prince die, with the wounded Flyrant being taken down as well while the scrum in the middle over the relic continued.

Turn four saw more Princes being taken down, including the Warlord Prince, who had failed to kill off the Flyrant in his backfield on the charge. The scrum in the middle continued through turn five, though with no other remaining infantry (or Command Points to boost their bubble) and no more buffs coming their way the poxwalkers quickly began to wane, down to just a handful by my turn 5.

We called the game after the top of turn five, seeing as the remaining punch and mobility was gone from James' list. Tallying up the kills, I had managed to take down somewhere in the order of 150 infantry models, and kept James from ever really crossing the midline of the table. I had actually burrowed one Mawloc on my turn 2, and never brought it back

The final tally was a 34 to 18 victory for my bugs. I had scored 14 on the Primary (2, 2, 4, 6) to James' 12 (4, 4, 2, 2). I maxed my secondaries (12) while James had only killed a single Flyrant, with the two Mawlocs also scoring him a point each, for 5 points total. On the Tertiary, I also maxed, with 8 points, scoring 2 a turn from turn two on, while James only scored a single point.

The list itself performed a bit better than I had hoped, though in hindsight this was a somewhat favorable matchup; James' list lacked any ranged threat that could even come close to my backfield given the deployment, leaving the Biovores and Rippers scoring me Tertiary points completely unmolested. The added 3 Biovores upped my board control and splashed even more mortal wounds here and there. The Mawlocs, despite forgetting to bring one back, did their job fairly well. I'm not sure I like the two of them over another Flyrant, but one of them did manage to wound a few characters and deviate the Daemon princes, who had to deal with the T6 12W in their backfield.

Overall, I'm very happy with how the list is shaping up, and would be happy to take it to Warzone: Atomic Empire in May. That said, we're looking at the promised game-balance errata from GW to be released in about a week or so (guessing after Adepticon) and there's really no telling how that will impact my list, though I'm definitely worried. Flyrant spam has long been reviled, even when it wasn't that good, and now it's won a large GT (in the UK) and started showing its colors in RTTs, and so, I'm nervous about the fate of my list.

Thank you for sticking with me through this wall of text, and I hope you enjoyed the game recap and bit of list breakdown. I will definitely be revisiting this topic in a few weeks once we have the FAQ updates in hand and have had a little time to process them. On that note, what are your expectations for the FAQ? Let me know with a comment below.