Leading up to the release of the new codex, I figured I’d take some time to go over the available options in 5th edition and compare them to how they appear in the previous codex. Each day prior to the new codex launch, I’m gonna jot down some of my thoughts on the units and how they’ve “evolved” since they last attacked a planet near you.
Since one of the least used, but still awesome, units of 4th edition was the ripper swarm, I thought I’d start with those little buggers.
Well, they’re still the cheapest price-per-wound model that Tyranids can buy. Actually, when you change the ratio to price-per-attack, I believe these are the cheapest model ANY army can buy—and that’s saying something. Sure, they have no armor, but these things pump out close combat attacks six times cheaper than a standard marine does.
They still have the option to fly (at a reduced cost), and also have been granted the gift of burrowing: being able to take a cheap upgrade to allow them to deep-strike into enemy territory. Additionally, they have access to upgrades that give them furious charge and/or poisoned attacks.
Lastly, though they still have the option to get guns, but those guns now cost 400% more than they used to! At first I cringed at this, and was going to put it in “the Bad” section, but then I realized that both their ballistic skill and attacks have been raised. So, while I used to pay 4pts per shot (at BS2) for a fully upgraded ripper base, the new version is actually slightly cheaper. So, despite the alarming point difference for the gun itself, I still think it proves to be a solid purchase.
They’re still swarms—so they can’t hold objectives, and they’re still vulnerable to blasts. On top of this, they new rules to synapse mean that if they start failing instinctive behavior tests, they’ll start killing themselves off. With their new lower leadership, this actually becomes a possibility.
They’re small, cheap, deep-strikers that don’t hold board quarters, but compete with FoC slots against other low-point, swarm-type units. When you compare them to, say a termagant, it can be hard to justify the little buggers. Termies don’t take double wounds from blasts, don’t eat themselves, and aren’t insta-gibbed from lascannons (or rather, they are, but it only frags one wound, instead of three).
Flying rippers, while cheaper than they once were, have the same competition from gargoyles. Although they don’t hold objectives like Termies do, they do have some neat special attacks and come in at roughly the same points ratio as the gaunts. Because of this, I don’t forsee too many flying ripper swarms…
All in all, I think the rippers are viable, but to be used as such—they’ll have to be taken with the deep striking option. This way they get right up in the face of the enemy without having to worry about dying on the way in. Their value will be to give your opponent something new to think about that they might not have been expecting.
One particularly nasty combo is the use of ripper swarms with poisoned weapons (4+ to wound) against any high toughness model. Sure, they don’t ignore armor, but that one ability transforms what most people see as a throw-away unit into a Wraithlord-ending monstrocity. Against most armies, I don’t see alot of point to sinking the points in, but against any army which routinely displays units with a toughness higher than 4 (Eldar, Nids, Necrons), I’d throw this ability on in a heartbeat.
Another potential strategy is to use them with the Parasite of Mortrex—since he’ll make them immune to self-inflicted cannibalism, but that theory will have to wait until a later date. Since he’s a new unit, my review of the Parasite won’t come for at least another week. Until then…
Deep strike FTW.
“Jack the Ripper” Picture used from http://onebluebird.blogspot.com/, who probably stole it from somewhere else… damn us bloggers…