5th Ed. Tyranids: Lictors

Well, with the evaluation of the Tyranid troops out of the way, bring on the elites! 

Lictors, the red-headed stepchildren of 4th edition, are back.  Will they finally convince us to sign those adoption papers and take them into our armies like family—or will they continue to be cast aside?  Let’s take a look…

The Good:

These guys came down in points (slightly) and managed to keep most of what made them Lictors from the last edition.  They’re still able to fleet, Hit & Run, frag grenades, +1 to reserve rolls, and–to some extent– their secret deployment and their improved cover saves, plus they benefit from the re-rolls attributed to the new version of scything talons.  Statwise, they managed to get an extra wound, and earned a BS (which wasn’t necessary before, because they had no guns).  Yes, you heard that right—the masters of camouflage and surprise assault earned a tiny assault cannon (as did everything that uses flesh-hooks now). 

They also have a different means of deployment.  Whereas they used to Deepstrike into area terrain, they now deploy like Rambo (from the IG codex) or the Callidus Assassin.  The Rambo comparison is more accurate though, since Lictors can’t assault on the turn they appear.  It does mean that they won’t have to take dangerous terrain tests for deep-striking into difficult terrain though. 

If you’re scratching your head at that last statement, then that probably means you have a good gaming group; however, the spirit of the game and the letter of the rules conflicted with Lictor’s deployment in 4th edition.  Instead of normal deployment, they used to deep strike into area terrain “to represent them leaping out from concealment.”  Rules lawyers types would force their opponents to roll a dangerous terrain check because they were deep striking, despite the fact that the rule was designed to simulate the fact that the monster was always there—just well concealed.

The last benefit I see is that they also picked up a toy after assaulting one too many space marine drop pods: a teleport homer.  It’s not called that in the codex, but it’s the bio-equivalency of one.  Units deep striking within 6” of a Lictor no longer scatter.

The Bad:

So I mentioned that Lictors now have a gun, right?  While it proves to be a miniature version of the assault cannon, it lacks in number of shots and range.  The number of shots isn’t a big deal, but the range is absolutely abysmal (for those that haven’t seen the codex, I’ll give you a hint: it’s shorter than the length of a flamer template).

Additionally, its special “stealth” rule that conveyed an improved cover save has been overwritten by the default stealth rule.  So, while it still retains a modifier, it’s been reduced to +1 to cover.  This likely has to do with the proliferation of 4+ cover saves around the board in 5th edition, but it’s sad to see the unit lose durability—especially since it can’t charge the turn it arrives.

Speaking of which, Lictors were laughed at in the previous codex, due to their lack of survivability.  Maintaining toughness 4, coupled with their lack of invulnerable saves and their new deployment (which prevents them from at least getting into the protection of assault), all continue down the course of dead Lictors.

They also lost their feeder tendrils.  One of the great advantages of using Lictors in the past was they provided a relatively inexpensive way to compliment assaulters by giving them re-rolls to hit.  Not anymore…

The Ugly:

With the downsides boiling down to less survivability, loss of feeder tendrils, and an inability to charge on the turn the appear, my first inclination is to say these guys are done for.  When I compare their new benefits: a better means of deployment, a new rending (albeit) short-ranged gun, teleport homer, an extra wound, I do wonder if they have a purpose in the army though.

Granted, their role of tying up rear guards and assisting in assaults are obsolete (if not, then greatly hampered), but perhaps there’s a new method to the madness?  If that’s the case, the only thing I can come up with is that they’re now expensive homing beacons.  Keeping that in mind, let’s ponder on how we can use that effectively.

Well, clearly, there are a lot of deep-striking options available in the codex that were unheard of previously.  Practically every unit can either deep strike natively, has a cheap upgrade to do so, or can buy a landing spore.  With a Lictor in your army, these not only come out faster, but can hit exactly where you want to.  A couple of ways I can see this being a viable tactic:

  1. Using a lot of landing spores.  Depending upon the model, you could drop these down unerringly to create a wall to shield your deep-striking units from harm.  This is similar to the space marine tactic wherein you use your drop pods to cut the opposing force in two, and then you can choose to fight only half—while the others play with your landing spores.  The difference is that landing spores are tougher, can’t easily be assaulted, and are guaranteed to hit where you want them (when coupled with a Lictor).
  2. Use them in coordination with a Mawloc (or several).  That particular unit drops a str5 ap2 template when it arrives and automatically destroys immobilized vehicles (depending upon how you read the rule).  The key problem is that the Mawloc doesn’t hit its target very often (about 35% of the time).  The Lictor can change all of that.
  3. Deploying behind a low armor vehicle and letting loose with the flesh-hooks.  Granted, this doesn’t make use of the teleport homer, but it’s still a possible use of the unit.

That last point there doesn’t sit well with me because it’s only two shots, with a relatively low ballistic skill.  The odds of even glancing an AV10 vehicle with that strategy are shaky at best  As a whole, the gun doesn’t do much for me.  Ignoring the low ballistic skill, the range alone is enough to kill the gun.  Consider that if you’re using a Lictor, you probably want to assault something with it, and that it’s maximum range for assault and shooting are the same.  This means that anything you kill during the shooting phase won’t be there for the assault.  Crafty opponents can use this to their advantage by removing casualties from the front of the unit—which could push you out of charge range.

My final beef with the new rules here is that I can’t see anywhere that it says you can split them out into lone-units as you could in previous editions.  Though you can still buy them in squads of 1-3, they don’t seem to have the ability to deploy separately.  This is horrible—and seemingly a rule that was overlooked for both them and the Zoanthropes (and maybe even the new Carnifex as well).  I have to hope that this is just the sort of thing that caused them to call off sending out early copies of the codex because they needed to fix things like this before sending them out.  If not, heaven help us.  Why do I need to have a squad of 3 teleport homers running around the board?

My overall opinion, is that the red-headed step-child from 4th edition still isn’t welcome into the house.  Sure, we’ll let them play in the yard sometimes when the family comes over for Thanksgiving dinner, but I can’t see them ever getting a place at the table…

Cat picture stolen from http://icanhascheezeburger.com.  Clear Lictor image borrowed (with love) from http://album.warpshadow.com/, specifically Hive Fleet Hécatonchires.  If you haven’t already perused this site, you really should.  The creativity and painting skill of the hives there are astounding.

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10 comments on “5th Ed. Tyranids: Lictors

  1. A couple things:

    -I don’t think Flesh Hooks give you the frag grenade effect anymore. They’re just a shooting attack now. They are also AP -, which means -1 on the vehicle damage chart- that, moreso than the 6″ range (because you can show up exactly where you want to be, remember) is their big killer.

    -You don’t want to deploy Lictors alone for the most part, anyways; their weakness last edition was that they were not enough to kill anything on their own, resulting in a Lictor killing two Marines and then being pounded to death by the rest of the squad. Buying them in groups means you have more killyness and more wounds to soak fire to make sure that Pheremone Trail gets to do its thing.

    A much better choice than the unfortunately-poor Lictor (I would honestly say he got worse from last edition, which is sad) is the Death Leaper character. He does what a Lictor does (pheremones, etc), but also brings a number of other tricks to the table.

    First off, you have to check Night Fighting to shoot him (possibly with half distance? My German is a bit rusty), giving him a lot better survivability against cross-table fire than the standard Lictor. Secondly, he penalizes the Ld value of one IC until he’s killed (even if he’s not on-table)- this is critical for ‘Nids in order to shut down psykers, and especially Psychic Hoods, in order to force through their powers like Warp Lance and Catalyst. Finally, his ability to jump back into reserve makes him more mobile and more survivable than a standard Lictor, which can easily get caught in a bad situation with no means of escape.

    Overall, despite being a little more than the cost of two normal Lictors, I think Death Leaper is a far, far better choice. He’s even worth not taking Hive Guard/Zoanthropes in that slot.

    • I pulled the “frag grenades” effect from flesh-hooks from the generic translated version under the Lictor paragraph, but in parsing through the literal German codex, I don’t see where it says that. I’ve forwarded the request to a more fluent German friend to either confirm or deny the presence of the grenades.

      The AP – equallying a -1 on the vehicle damage chart, I was unaware of before. It’s good to know though. Thanks for enlightening me.

      As for the Deathleaper… I agree that he provides a myraid of other rules that may be beneficial, but I opted to omit him from this write-up based upon the fact that I’m really just going over the old units. I’ll do a write-up on the new units when I finish with these.

      As always, thanks for your input: it’s really helpful. And thanks for stopping by!

      • Well, my German connection confirmed the grenades: “creatures armed with flesh hooks always strike in I order if they attack units in cover.” Since the option is gone from virtually every unit in the codex though (and the two units that retain it can’t charge on the turn they enter the board), it’s likely not to make a big difference though…

  2. A couple things:

    -I don’t think Flesh Hooks give you the frag grenade effect anymore. They’re just a shooting attack now. They are also AP -, which means -1 on the vehicle damage chart- that, moreso than the 6″ range (because you can show up exactly where you want to be, remember) is their big killer.

    -You don’t want to deploy Lictors alone for the most part, anyways; their weakness last edition was that they were not enough to kill anything on their own, resulting in a Lictor killing two Marines and then being pounded to death by the rest of the squad. Buying them in groups means you have more killyness and more wounds to soak fire to make sure that Pheremone Trail gets to do its thing.

    A much better choice than the unfortunately-poor Lictor (I would honestly say he got worse from last edition, which is sad) is the Death Leaper character. He does what a Lictor does (pheremones, etc), but also brings a number of other tricks to the table.

    First off, you have to check Night Fighting to shoot him (possibly with half distance? My German is a bit rusty), giving him a lot better survivability against cross-table fire than the standard Lictor. Secondly, he penalizes the Ld value of one IC until he’s killed (even if he’s not on-table)- this is critical for ‘Nids in order to shut down psykers, and especially Psychic Hoods, in order to force through their powers like Warp Lance and Catalyst. Finally, his ability to jump back into reserve makes him more mobile and more survivable than a standard Lictor, which can easily get caught in a bad situation with no means of escape.

    Overall, despite being a little more than the cost of two normal Lictors, I think Death Leaper is a far, far better choice. He’s even worth not taking Hive Guard/Zoanthropes in that slot.

    • I pulled the “frag grenades” effect from flesh-hooks from the generic translated version under the Lictor paragraph, but in parsing through the literal German codex, I don’t see where it says that. I’ve forwarded the request to a more fluent German friend to either confirm or deny the presence of the grenades.

      The AP – equallying a -1 on the vehicle damage chart, I was unaware of before. It’s good to know though. Thanks for enlightening me.

      As for the Deathleaper… I agree that he provides a myraid of other rules that may be beneficial, but I opted to omit him from this write-up based upon the fact that I’m really just going over the old units. I’ll do a write-up on the new units when I finish with these.

      As always, thanks for your input: it’s really helpful. And thanks for stopping by!

      • Well, my German connection confirmed the grenades: “creatures armed with flesh hooks always strike in I order if they attack units in cover.” Since the option is gone from virtually every unit in the codex though (and the two units that retain it can’t charge on the turn they enter the board), it’s likely not to make a big difference though…

  3. Indeed, I stand corrected; I dug up a more recent version of the translation and apparently they do count as frags. That’s something, I suppose.

  4. Indeed, I stand corrected; I dug up a more recent version of the translation and apparently they do count as frags. That’s something, I suppose.

  5. this nex codex is in line with the guard. their tanks operate in units, just as space marine landspeeders do and tau peranahs or ork killerkans. you have to remember that vehicles have major drawbacks to. yes i can take 9 russ's but if 1 get imobolized then the unit cant go anywhere… or the imobolized one gets auto distroyed! nids… now whats a nid tank? well, we know the answer dont we… its a carni! and there is no reason that a carni can not come in a brood! before you could take 3 good carnis as ur heavies. now you can take 9, but in units of 3. i think this is better. yes all of them must be the same, but then every brood would be spawned the same anyway. have you ever played with ur nids and not got ur carni into combat cos they are slow and people pick them off? ZAP says the las cannon… well know you have 3 to kill in the unit, and be smart… keep a venom thrope brood about and bam, constant cover save of 5+, not great, but better than nothing right? carnies in the open with an effective 5+ cover on the go, 12 wounds in the unit, dont complain. yes they got rid of the split units, but they are a BROOD! u cant split a brood or termigaunts down can you? no? so why phropes or lictors? as with lictors… 3 wounds, great! i love that! stealth still… thats a +2 cover save in a bunker i beleive, a 4+ in woods or light cover, 3+ in ruins… if your behind a model and someone shoots you in this addition… you get a 4+ cover save from that… its a power armour save for a lictor! be smart, use your abilities correctly. pop up in cover and wait till your next turn. target small units or supporting units. you want to distract something, use them, with 3 wounds each a brood of 3 has NINE! how much fire power does it take to shift a unit of marines now days? think of them as your shock units. if they are out of line of site then tey will be a great unit to have pop up the arse of a unit. use your 3D6 move through cover to get close next turn and then run D6, you have fleet remember. kill something and then guess what… you have hit and run, so fall back into your cover again and you'll do fine. be smart and lictors are just as useful as before. if you can not adapt to a new codex then im sorry, but your a bad player and a bad tactition! ah… and one more thing… your pheramones trail (+1 to resurve rolls) works in conjunction with a hive tyrants hive command ability (if you take it) so thats +2 to reserves. meaning on turn 2, anything in reserve comes on on a roll of 2 or more! only ur lictor needs to be on the table, hive command works as long as the tyrant it alive… so even if its in reserve itself, it adds 1 to the roll! just like an autarch for the elder.

  6. Yeah, you do bring up a fair amount of good points. It's just that Igot set in my ways from the past three editions of being able to splitmy units up and run them around. I'll adapt though…. :)Thanks for stopping by and taking the time to write-up such a detailedassessment!

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