Monday, April 19, 2010

The Hive Tyrant Dilemma

After making all sorts of lists for Blood Angels, I've encountered one glaring flaw in all of them that I haven't had to deal with as of yet- Hive Tyrants.  I recently bought the new Nid codex (took me a while) and while I was flipping through it and didn't see much I hadn't heard of or seen already, I discovered what nasty things people can do with Tyrants in this new book.  I quickly looked around the internets, hoping desperately that the Tyrants were too expensive to belong in competitive lists, but my worst fears were confirmed:  lots of people bring them, and even if they aren't 'supposed' to belong in competitive lists, my own Blood Angels have almost no answer for these stupid things, making them a huge dilemma for me.

Here's a few of the nasty things people can do with Tyrants, off the top of my head:

-Negate your initiative, so that you strike at I1
-Insta-death your characters pretty easily
-Use Tyrant Guard to make the 'unit majority' infantry, so they can be screened by gaunts and get a cover save
                and (the worst one for me)
-Stack an Alpha with the tyrant and guard, giving the unit 13 total wounds, none of them (really) being capable of insta-dying.  This also means that you have to cause 11 wounds before all the guard are dead (leaving the 'meat' of the unit still alive, and striking first because of the lash whips that negate I).  Yeah it's expensive, but... it's also going to walk through just about any assault unit you can think of, sans 10 TH/SS Termies.

So now that we know the problem, what are some potential solutions, provided your opponent isn't an idiot (as in, a competant general is going to deploy and use the Tyrant in a way that you can't simply ignore it)?

- Counter it with your own uber-assault squad:  This way seems a little dumb to me.  I can't really think of anything in the GAME that could take this unit down without also probably dying a horrible death in return.  I especially can't think of a single viable competitive choice in any army that would do this.

-Shoot it:  This way seems a little better.  The squad has T6, 3+ save (sometimes a 2+ on the Tyrant), and has 13 total wounds (10 if they didn't include an alpha).  Random shots from missile launchers isn't going to get the job done (since they'll just allocate it onto the Tyrant who has a 2+ save), and if you haven't taken care of the gaunt screen, you'll have to shoot, hit, and wound, 26 times with an AP2 or better weapon.  Guard have it a little easier, since they have the luxury of shooting big volumes of high-strength guns at them.  I'm not convinced this is a possiblity for my army, however.  Not without changing the entire makeup of my list.

-Feed it a squad every turn:  Heh, it's kinda sad that it sounds like joking, but I'm not entirely sure this is the worst idea.  If you're guard and you have a big stubborn blob squad, feed the tyrant them, and hope it doesn't chew its way through too quickly.  If you're a small elite army like marines, this is the way of destruction.

So, I can't out-assault the stupid thing, and I can't really afford to let it just chew up a squad every turn.  That leaves shooting, and I'm not really sure that's the option I can go, at least not in the standard way.  I don't think devestator squads are going to fit my build, since I want a super reactive, fast, and versatile force, and devestators don't really fit that description at all.

I was flipping through my army book tonight, wishing in vain that I could come up with something, when it struck me:  Sternguard.

I suppose I should first go through a little thought process on the Honor Guard I've been taking (just a little).  A 5-man honor guard squad with lightning claws, meltas, banner, and a rhino cost close to 310.  They hit a MEQ squad, and it disappears, especially if the librarian is with them providing Preferred Enemy and more power attacks.  It has its uses, but a single stray plasma gun will halve the squad's effeciency, and a couple plasma shots will simply end the 310 point squad.  Not the best buy, likely.  I don't want to go too into it, since this is supposed to be about Tyrants.

SO, 9 Sternguard.  With a rhino, fist, and 9 combi-plasmas, they come out to be like 360 points.  Yikes a little bit, right?  But here's the thing:  they still have the ability to evaporate just about any MEQ squad on the rapid fire with their 'regular' bolt guns, or they can go shoot at a Tyrant with their plasma.  18 shots, 12 hit, 8 wound... only 5 to go (IF they have the Alpha).  I'm sure a melta or two won't be too far behind to help finish the squad.  Tank-shocking through gaunts won't probably be an issue to be able to get past the 'mobile cover' they provide for the Tyrant.

One reason I've never liked plasma is the potential to kill the guy shooting it, wasting models essentially.  I've always thought that a 3+ save coupled with FNP is about ideal for plasma though, since there isn't MUCH risk of the shooter dying.  Lucky for Blood Angels, just about everyone has access to that.

They might seem a little one-dimentional, but I think Sternguard have great potential with Blood Angels.  27 attacks on the charge is still a lot of attacks, and if you combine it with either preferred enemy or furious charge (or both) they're going to do a lot of damage.  All their various special-shot ammo can help me be even more reactive and give me way more options than 'well, I guess I'll assault it'.  They also have a larger model count than the honor guard, making it harder to cripple their effectiveness if a couple of them die. 

This is all just theory-hammer at this point, but I like the idea.  I can pretty easily fit them into my list if I want to (they'd be taking up the Honor Guard points and part of the points for the Baal Predator from my last list.  The other points would likely be devoted to a 3rd priest, to ride with these guys).

What do YOU think?  How would you react if you saw I had that squad in my army?  Would it be cause for rejoicement (is that a word?) or would you fear it?  Is it too many points for one squad to depend on AV11 to get them 'there'?


Chumbalaya said...

I like Sternguard too, but I'd go for combi-meltas for the added versatility. Plasma isn't going to pop armor like melta, and they both do a similar job against Tyrants.

Big bugs are scary, but often they'll be on foot, so your mobility ends up your best weapon against it. I'd just kill the support and hit the death start with a lot of shooting (ACs, LCs, melta) before jumping in with a unit that can protect itself (Storm Shield Vanguard perhaps).

Michael said...

I'm with you on this one. The sternguard are so versatile. The combi-weapons are fantastic, but the special ammo is incredible too. The melta's are good for the big guys, but the poisoned ammo is good for torrenting down big bugs too. 2+ wounding will make them roll lots of dice, and they will fall eventually.

Good article, thanks for posting.

The_King_Elessar said...

I'm also on board with this idea, I think there is a lot of potential for Sternies in BA.

Xaereth said...

I think the main problem with melta vs. plasma in this specific instance is that it isn't going to ruin death star units like plasma would.

I only gave an example with the Tyrant, but other things like Thunder Wolves will MELT from a barrage of 9 combi-plamas. Not so with the meltas- sure, I'll do damage, but I won't wipe the squad off the table. I agree the melta make the squad overall more versatile, but in the end I think plasma do the trick a little bit better.

All that said, I'll probably play a few games with each, and see which I like better. Thanks for the feedback :)

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