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Ok, so I just drifted over from the Tau forum to ask a question. I'm looking at starting a second army, and 'Nids crossed my mind. I want to do a more "hitty" based army (for once I want to do more in my assault phase then Jet Pack as far away from things as possible). I totally love the look of the 'fex, and I was curious, on all the army lists I see people using 'fexes as firebases, do people use them in a more assault centered role ever? I know they are not fast units; my theory was: have fast units rush forward, lock the foe in close combat, have CC centered 'fexes rumbling forward and arrive a turn or two later and finish the combat decisively. Does this make any sense or am I totally off my rocker? I'm not looking for the most competitive list on the face of god's green earth. This would be more of a fun list. Are there any ideas out there for monstrous CC 'Nid list? Thanks in advance for any help I get.
They are not very good in close combat with troops. They're good at killing tanks in melee if they can catch them, but their low initiative and relatively low # of attacks sans expensive upgrades (and even then, not all that many guaranteed) makes them questionable.
Additionally, they are about the only reliable ranged anti-tank in the Tyranid army, so people would rather not waste points on them in roles better fulfilled by other units.
Hive Tyrants and Carnifexes all SHOOT very well ... high strength, typically high # of shots (monstrous creatures shoot two weapons), durable, etc. They are fine in close combat theoretically ... ignore armor saves, high strength, etc., but you don't get nearly the attacks out of them that they output shooting.
The Tyranid army is full of things like rending (genestealers and raveners specifically, warriors with upgrades), which is great against anything and everything in close combat, and is typically loaded up on fast units (raveners are fleet beasts, genestealers are fleet, rending warriors typically are given leaping and so become 12" chargers, etc.). Additionally, Tyranids can field more high potency close combat goodness per point than just about anyone through the use of spinegaunts. 5 points nets you Initiative 4, fearless, fleet twin-linked assault weapon shooting goodness.
You can put a melee fex in there for fluff, and it might occasionally do something as you imply, but I do nothing but laugh at such critters when faced up against them. Hell, if they don't have bonded exoskeleton and are fielding toughness 6, I just kill them with spinegaunts in close combat after a shooting pre-charge. Yeah, that's right.
Good opponents are going to ingore your fex, kill the fast units, and then back away from the fex while shooting it down ... or they'll just swamp it with cheap units that it won't be able to reliably get through. Whatever they feel like, really.
This leads into the other reason most people put guns on their monstrous, outside of maybe flying hive tyrants. Because the MC's are slow, if they are built for melee your opponent can safely ignore them early and kill the fast units trying to tie him up. If your monstrous creatures are shooty, they are EXTREMELY DEADLY ... twinlinked devourer spam from elite fexes and hive tyrants is lethal to all infantry, regardless of type (including terminators/etc.), and venom cannon / barbed strangler spam from heavy support sniperfexes is lethal to all vehicles. Your opponent in this scenario actually has to deal with either your monstrous who are killing his vehicles and gunning his infantry down, or your fast guys who are threatening to tie him up and/or kill him in close combat. That's the synergy and beauty of the Tyranid Army.
All cc = weaker than all ranged or hybrid, in the real today world of 40k for Tyranids.
Nids & Guard
GMail = MVBrandt
This being said, a cc-tooled winged hive tyrant can be an effective build because it has the speed to bring all those lovely attacks to bear. On a straight mathhammer comparison it is less effective at popping marines than a 2 x tl devourer winged hive tyrant, but it may well live longer as close combat will protect it from heavy weapons fire. And it's more effective at popping vehicles since it gets nearly twice as many chances to hit.