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Hi all here's my 500 point army list that i use to start with. It hasn't been beaten yet.
Broodlord - Extended Carpace, Genestealer Brood Retinue 5
Tyranid Warrior Brood 3 - Enhanced Senses., Toxin Sacs, Scything Talons (x3), Devourer (x2), Venom Cannon
Gaunt Brood 8 - Fleshborer
SpineGaunt Brood 8
Genestealer Brood 6
Ripper Swarm 3 - Leaping, Toxin Sacs
Im new to nids , but my first thoughts are the broodlord is abit expensive for such a small army... and also whenever ive played with ripper swarms they have been utterly useless...so i would scrap these both, and instead get a unit of 10 hormagaunts (with E.C, and T. S) = 130 pts -that way you'll get 20 strengh 3 attacks (their high initiative means they have a pritty good chance of striking first in close combat), and becasue their beasts they should be ace at getting locked in closecombat early on... though my logic is probably totally wrong just wondering how good a broodlord is to play with and if you think he's an essential?
Broodlord is one of my favorite units in the tyranid armylist. They're tough and hit hard enough to make heavy infantry want to rock back in forth in a corner. With infiltrate/outflank the broodlord (and it's genestealer retinue) can come out of the woodworks and manage very early charges. Personally I like EC on the unit as I usually face withering amounts of bolters. Trouble is you might have to keep the squad back in a nasty range of fire for synapse coverage. Though in this points level its going to be less of a problem. Also feeder tendrils make the already absurd amount of hits going into an enemy that much higher.
Rippers are kinda strange to use. I'm used to scarabs myself which are about the same except MUCH faster. Used in the right situation though they can make great mobbers to tie up enemy units. Though I wouldn't use them in anything over 800 or so points.
Oh, and carapace your warriors, they don't take hits well and need the extra protection as they are such an important core of your army.
Thanks for the input peoples.
i love the broodlord + retinue combination. on the games that allow infiltrate, he's a sneaky suprise whilst the hive comes down the centre. When there's no infiltrate, this is where the ripper's come in real handy, as they can help target and tie up the units that would otherwise have some more rounds to shoot.
that's where my gaunt broods also come in handy, as they can act as the meat shield. the rippers fill this role too, but with a little more strength (TS) and leaping, they become, those three bases have 9 wounds and 9 attacks, and they remain effective for the first two wounds.