5th Ed. Tyranids: Termagants

 Continuing my recent review of units that survived the jump from 4th to 5th edition: Termagants.

The Good

If you’re reading any other blogs about the new codex, undoubtedly you’ve determined the greatest value of a termagant squad is that it allows you to use a Tervigon as a scoring unit.   While the Tervigon certainly helps them out, I’m trying to focus on core differences between the 4th & 5th edition termies themselves.

One good thing is that they’re cheaper than they used to be.  Well, technically they’re the same price, but fleshborers (which were previously an upgrade) now come standard. 

As standard, the only effect on their stat-line is that their leadership went up by a point.  Realistically, this won’t be changing much in the course of the game since, if they’re covered by synapse, their leadership is largely moot (except that they may now start taking one less wound for losing combat).  Either way, the difference between 1 extra point of leadership is largely moot.

Like virtually every other insect, they have access to both furious charge and poisoned weapons.  Unlike most other bugs though, I can forsee purchasing these upgrades for termies (at least those that aren’t going to hang out with Tervigons–since it can convey these abilities to nearby squads).  Actually, I’m talking specifically about the poison–not so much on the furious charge.  Since they’re already initiative 4, they’re already going to get their hits in to the enemy before they die–and since I don’t suspect they’d take out many, I’m not sure it’s worth the extra points for just the charge (especially since I don’t really plan to charge with them anyway).  I do, however, expect them to get into combat–and their ability to have poisoned weapons is like a poor-man’s powerfist.  Granted, they can’t do anything about vehicles, but against monsterous creatures, expendable little units that wound on a 4+ are unbelievable. 

Since most of the guns for bugs have changed (though their names and general idea remains the same), the termies have some slight considerations for shooty upgrades.  Faced with spinefists, devourers, and the return of spike rifles from 2nd edition.  Devourers, which once provided a bounty of low strength shots with rerolls, have been replaced with even more shots at a higher strength–but without the rerolls.  I suspect these will be viable for an occassional smaller squad to pump some shots into the enemy–but you certainly won’t want to run all of your squads with this load-out, as it practically doubles the price per model.  Spike rifles, on the other hand, give you a little extra distance, without the bonus strength or shots for a menial charge.  Again, I don’t see too much need for these, but I could be short-sighted on this.

Another throw-back to 2nd edition is the return of the strangleweb.  Now, termies have access to “special weapons,” like space marines do.  This version provides a seemingly weak option with a template.  Due to the unusual nature of the weapon wounding against strength (symbolizing you trapping your prey in sticky webs), it likely won’t wound much–but it does have the added benefit of causing pinning.  One thing I’d be curious to find out when the English codex comes out is if this forces a check against leadership, or if the failed strength test alone is enough to cause pinning.  I have no real reason to believe the latter, but the idea that you could cause pinning tests to be forced on something other than leadership makes me giddy.  Depending upon how it’s worded, it might even be possibe to pin fearless units!

I’ve intentionally not talked about the spinefist (previously the defacto standard for termagants), because I really feel it fits better below:

The Bad

There’s something fishy here.  Termies come in at exactly the same points cost they did in the previous codex, but their ballistic upgrades are opposite.  For some reason, spinefists are lower strength, no more AP, and are more expensive.  Sure, they grant you re-rolls to hit, but is that really worth extra points considering they’re a weaker weapon? 

Welcome back Hamulator.  It turns out that against toughness  3 (or less) models, the spinefist, with it’s re-rolls to hit, is actually a slightly superior choice.  Granted, we’re talking by minutia… but it does come out statistically better.  Against toughness 4+ (MEQ), the guns are identical.  Considering the proliferation of MEQ, I don’t see why I’d pay more for a gun that is only situationally better against fodder (for those that don’t know, MEQ stands for Marine Equivalancy: meaning toughness 4 with 3+ armor save).

The conspiracy theorist in me makes me wonder if GW assumes that everyone purchased a ton of spine-gaunts last edition, so they wanted to make another variation better this time.  That way, they can sell more models…

On another note, the squad size changed to include both a higher minimum number and a lower maximum number of models (10-30), equating to slightly less versitility.  This isn’t a big downfall though, since smaller squads tend to be killed too easily, and larger squads are both harder to move/keep in cover, and tend to be overkill for whatever their main purpose is.  Again, the conspiracy theorist in me wonders at the numbers.  Granted, they’re now purchasable in nice even amounts, but I miss the old-base four squad sizes of gaunts in the past.

As it stands now, gaunts come 12 to a box and squads are (roughly) in units of 10.  This is the classic “why do hotdogs come in packages of 10 but hotdog buns only come in packages of 8” argument all over again.  Weird…

*EDIT* As AbusePuppy stated below, I also missed a major change (nerf) to these guys in my original assessment: they lost the ability to earn “without number.”  Though I haven’t typically used this rule in the past, I can certainly see how amazing it would be in the new 5th edition “capture objectives” mentality.  Putting your termies up front to soak up fire and take forward objectives would be a great strategy–then, even if they die, you can use them to come back on and capture objectives close to your board edge.  Alas though, this strategy is no longer available.  Why do I always have to hear about this stuff after the fact? (I’m sure it has something to do with the fact I was on hiatus when 5th edition was launched, and I’ve only literally played 2 games with my bugs since…

The Ugly

Of course, the real beauty  of termagants is that they allow you to take a monsterous HQ unit and count it as a (scoring) unit of troops.  As an added bonus, the Tervigon and it’s nearby termies are symbiotic by design: the smaller models provide cover and ablative wounds to the larger beast, while the Tervigon provides benefits like furious charge, poisoned weapons, and other assorted nasty effects to the nearby gaunts.  You just have to keep track of the wounds on the Terv, so that it doesn’t accidentally melt your army.

One strategy I want to try is to take the obligatory termagant choices and use them to hold my board quarters.  Then, taking a hive tyrant to give a Tervigon “outflank,” and having him accompany a Trygon into battle.  But those are really strategies for the new units that sort of involve termies as cover…

Ignoring the Trygon, I expect to run units of termagants with as many stranglewebs as I can… and just praying that the English codex comes out with a favorable result on that weapon…

Photo is actually a video still of “A Bug’s Life” by Disney Pixar

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16 comments on “5th Ed. Tyranids: Termagants

  1. You seem to have missed what is by far the most important change to Termagants: They lost Without Number.

    This alone is enough to totally change the way you use them on the battlefield. Of course, With a Tervigon around (something I feel is basically mandatory) it isn’t a fatal loss, but Gaunt squads can no longer be gambled away on a whim.

  2. You seem to have missed what is by far the most important change to Termagants: They lost Without Number.

    This alone is enough to totally change the way you use them on the battlefield. Of course, With a Tervigon around (something I feel is basically mandatory) it isn’t a fatal loss, but Gaunt squads can no longer be gambled away on a whim.

  3. Again an interesting write up of the unit(s).
    As I understand the wording of the strangle web it is just the normal pinning, the only difference being just that you wound against the toughness value. The descriptive text says nothing about an altered pinning. So I might say the english codex won’t say something different.
    And I agree that toxin sacs on termas are quite useful. I think the toxic attacks are better in most cases. In my test-game yesterday all my little bugs got some serious thrashing from space wolves while they didn’t do much damage. Pretty disappointing were the hormagaunts. I thought they would do way more against Marines. So toxin sacs would have helped a lot.

    • Actually, against “normal” targets, I don’t think toxin sacs are very viable (especially on monsterous creatures). Take marines, for example. For an extra point (20% increase in cost), you gain an additional 17% chance to wound. That alone doesn’t pencil out–ignoring the fact that every unit you lose to shooting on the way into assault costs you 20% more as well, but you never get to realize their ability to wound.

      As a result, I think of toxin sacs as situationally useful. They’re great against monsterous creatures, but otherwise, I doubt they’re worth the investment. I’d never run all of my gaunt squads that way, but I could see putting one squad into the mix…

  4. Again an interesting write up of the unit(s).
    As I understand the wording of the strangle web it is just the normal pinning, the only difference being just that you wound against the toughness value. The descriptive text says nothing about an altered pinning. So I might say the english codex won’t say something different.
    And I agree that toxin sacs on termas are quite useful. I think the toxic attacks are better in most cases. In my test-game yesterday all my little bugs got some serious thrashing from space wolves while they didn’t do much damage. Pretty disappointing were the hormagaunts. I thought they would do way more against Marines. So toxin sacs would have helped a lot.

    • Actually, against “normal” targets, I don’t think toxin sacs are very viable (especially on monsterous creatures). Take marines, for example. For an extra point (20% increase in cost), you gain an additional 17% chance to wound. That alone doesn’t pencil out–ignoring the fact that every unit you lose to shooting on the way into assault costs you 20% more as well, but you never get to realize their ability to wound.

      As a result, I think of toxin sacs as situationally useful. They’re great against monsterous creatures, but otherwise, I doubt they’re worth the investment. I’d never run all of my gaunt squads that way, but I could see putting one squad into the mix…

  5. I haven’t read the codex yet, but from what I’ve seen in some rumours threads I still see two major downgrades (nerfs). First, I think that our beloved gaunts have lost their fleet hability. Second, fleshborers have also lost their “re-roll-to-wound” hability. So one point less for losing so many abilities and options is a really high prize in my opinion. Comparing this with a 6 point cost ork boy who has better WS and T and doesn’t need synapse and has furious charge and better weapons (shoota, slugga and choppa) and more options and can include a noble and… is definitely a bad joke

    • I agree whole-heartedly with what you’re saying there, Jusahn. If you compare them straight across, an ork boy is superior to a termagant. The problem is that Orks don’t have access to toughness 6, 6wound creatures galore, nor do they have a means to make more orks on the fly (*cough Tervigon*).

      Each unit doesn’t have to be balanced against every other unit in the game (to do so would be impossible). What has to be done is that the relative strength of each army needs to be balanced against the others. The question is whether the low amounts of ‘nid anti-mech is overcome by the cheapness of their hordes, or the power of their monstrous creatures.

      Thanks for stopping by.

  6. I haven’t read the codex yet, but from what I’ve seen in some rumours threads I still see two major downgrades (nerfs). First, I think that our beloved gaunts have lost their fleet hability. Second, fleshborers have also lost their “re-roll-to-wound” hability. So one point less for losing so many abilities and options is a really high prize in my opinion. Comparing this with a 6 point cost ork boy who has better WS and T and doesn’t need synapse and has furious charge and better weapons (shoota, slugga and choppa) and more options and can include a noble and… is definitely a bad joke

    • I agree whole-heartedly with what you’re saying there, Jusahn. If you compare them straight across, an ork boy is superior to a termagant. The problem is that Orks don’t have access to toughness 6, 6wound creatures galore, nor do they have a means to make more orks on the fly (*cough Tervigon*).

      Each unit doesn’t have to be balanced against every other unit in the game (to do so would be impossible). What has to be done is that the relative strength of each army needs to be balanced against the others. The question is whether the low amounts of ‘nid anti-mech is overcome by the cheapness of their hordes, or the power of their monstrous creatures.

      Thanks for stopping by.

  7. What is a Tervigon haven’t seen the codex so got no clue what it is but sounds important.

    On the spike-rifles the most important consideration when thinking about taking them is:
    how many bolters do my enemy have. The extra range might prove decisive. Ok not with the 3+ arour save but you could do a lot more at 18′ then if your brood is ripped to pieces with rapid fire no save wounds at 12′. Not an Army based on Riflegunts but a brood firing into a tactical or combat squad at the right time… especially with without number gone.

    • I haven’t yet got to my review of them–but essentially they’re monstrous creatures that make/protect termagants and can count as troops… There’s a bunch more they can do as well. Probably the coolest new unit in the codex!

  8. What is a Tervigon haven’t seen the codex so got no clue what it is but sounds important.

    On the spike-rifles the most important consideration when thinking about taking them is:
    how many bolters do my enemy have. The extra range might prove decisive. Ok not with the 3+ arour save but you could do a lot more at 18′ then if your brood is ripped to pieces with rapid fire no save wounds at 12′. Not an Army based on Riflegunts but a brood firing into a tactical or combat squad at the right time… especially with without number gone.

    • I haven’t yet got to my review of them–but essentially they’re monstrous creatures that make/protect termagants and can count as troops… There’s a bunch more they can do as well. Probably the coolest new unit in the codex!

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