5th Ed. Tyranids: Biovores & Spore Mines

So, my assessment of the Tyranids that survived the transition from 4th to 5th edition is coming to an end, there’re really just two units left to talk about (before we get to the new units altogether): Biovores & Spore Mines.

You’d have thought that I’d learned my lesson about combining multiple units into a single assesment when I tried to tackle the Tyrant and his bodyguards, but as anyone who’s seen my love of Eldar’s swooping hawks can attest, I’m a slow learner.

The Good

First off, you’ll notice the statline has improved for these guys.  a +2 armor save will make for a big difference… I really don’t understand why any unit has a 6+ armor save–as far too many weapons negate that completely.  4+, on the other hand, is certainly respectable.  Sure, it’s nowhere near

as good as power armor, but really–do you think they’d give that to a piece of living artilery?

In addition to the bonus armor, he picked up an extra point of leadership.  Granted, with Brood Telepathy in the last edition, they didn’t really need this… (that’s foreshadowing, in case you hadn’t noticed).

They’re also not limited to 0-1 anymore.  This is really a great change to the army list, in that only special characters (eg. “Uniques”) are limited to 1 per army.  I’ve always thought it was silly to restrict things so harshly–especially when GW is in the business of selling models.  I mean, why restrict someone to buying no more than one of something, if you can just make a simple rule tweak and practically guarantee that someone out there will want 3-6 of them?

Another key improvement is that their weapon can now fire on the move (actually, they may have been able to do that in previous editions, now that I think about it… I can’t see anything in my old codex which prevented them from moving and firing??).  Either way, they’re not  forced to lurk in the back of the army and take pot shots at passersby (as I used to play them).  Coupled with their improved armor save, they can now bring the fight to the enemy (like they did in 2nd edition).

The biggest benefit (in my opinion) to biovores though, is the changes to their friends, the spore mines.  Gone are the options of frag, bio acid, & toxin.  GW had a dream where spore mines of different types were created equal, and now that dream is a reality.  All spore mines provide a relatively low strength large blast with decent AP (hint, if fired at a biovore, they wouldn’t get a save, and it would wound on 4+).  While some people will surely mourn the loss of the anti-armor mines, I’m ectstatic about the new changes. 

During the entire tenure of the 4th ed. bug book, I never once ran biovores because spore mines were lack-luster.  Given that they miss their target the majority of the time (with the rules for firing template weapons), and the less than stellar options available to them–coupled with the competition for FoC slots from the Carnies and Zoanthropes–there really wasn’t a reason to run these critters then.  Now, with the large blast template in my hands, I feel that biovores can take over the world.

I have mentioned that I love large blasts, haven’t I?  Even if you miss something, you still have good odds of hitting it… or hitting SOMETHING.  That blast is bigger than the state of Delaware.  Ok, Delaware isn’t very big, but remember: it’s a frickin’ state!

Ok, enough template talk.  Spore mines can also be purchasd seperately as a fast attack choice (like normal).  Since they deploy before you opponent, you’re unlikely to “hit” anything, but it does open the door for some particular strong (and/or beardy) tricks.  More to come on those later…

The Bad

Ok, so their cost increased by a modest 5 points–that’s nothing to cry about (especially since you don’t have to buy your spore mines… which means they’re actually cheaper now). 

As stated above, the changes to spore mines will likely ruffle a few feathers, but I’d say it’s an insignificant change.  Here’s why I thought the old spore mines sucked:

  • Toxin (4+ to wound anything):  Decent against anything–but better against high toughness models.  The real beef here is that it was too hard to hit with any degree of accuracy, and if you did, it wouldn’t clip many models (especially since you have to center the blast on a model.  Most of the time, I didn’t hit more than 1-2 guys).  These also could harm open topped vehicles–unfortunately there aren’t many of those around.
  • Frag (str/AP of a bolter): Really a bad version of the above.  Toxin mines had better AP, and a better chance to wound against anything T4 or greater.  Hell,that’s most of the things in the game…
  • Bio Acid (2d6+3 AP):  With the dour hit rate of these guys, an average AP of 10 just didn’t cut it for me. 

Someone will surely bring up that spore mines are nerfed in statline–but that’s a joke as well, since spore mines never had a practical need for stats.  Granted, their previous toughness kept them alive slightly longer if an enemy shot at them, but really… how many shots were they shrugging off with toughness 3 and no armor?

So what changes were really of any consequences to these lobbers?  Well, I can only think of one: they lost the “brood telepathy”rule–which means that you’ll have to baby-sit them with a synapse creature to ensure they keep fighting the good fight…

…or will you?

The Ugly

Despite not having a massive list of positives, my love for biovores has returned.  The list of pros outweigh the cons.  In fact, the only con that really matters is the lack of brood telepathy.  That changes the way the unit will be played. 

Instead of babysitting them with a synapse creature, you can now advance the biovores with the rest of your army.  Most people laugh when they see them, or will want to kill your various big bugs so will ignore them.  Effectively, you’re getting mobile whirlwinds (which are a great unit to begin with) for fewer points–eat your heart out space marines!).

Ok, so they don’t have indirect fire… but since you’re moving forward with the rest of your force, you don’t need it either.

Their key competition have seen better days (Carnificis) or moved on to greener pastures (Zoanthropes), but unfortunately for biovores, there are a couple of new kids on the block: Trygons & Mawlocs.  Because of this, I suspect you won’t see many biovores across the table from you… which is a shame.  They’re a good choice now… it’ll just take a while before the OMGWTFBBQ people of the internet figure it out.

As for spore mines, they’ve confused me a bit.  I really like the new deployment rules, but am unclear as to how they move after they hit–hopefully someone with a codex can clarify this for me.  From what I’m reading, it sounds like they move as a group from the time they land.  I’d much rather prefer them to land and then scatter… otherwise, why buy more than 1 per unit (especially since they’ll blow up everything under the template).

Stelek, over at Yes, The Truth Hurts, has brought up some interesting ideas with spore mines.  Essentially, they’re basic concepts of denial when it comes to setup.  If I see obvious places that my opponent will want to place units, I can put a pod of spore mines there to jam him up.  

CHEESEMONGER ALERT:

Spore mines seem to become particularly nasty when it comes to the mission “Dawn of War.”  Unlike the other two missions, Dawn of War has a restriction that says you can’t deploy within 18″ of an enemy unit.  With three units of spore mines–you can almost guarantee that your opponent will have little (or no) area on his board edge to setup in.  At the very least, you can take away all of the good spots.

Granted, that’s a super competitive way to play these guys, and I hope nobody pulls that on you–but you should be aware that the possibility is out there.  I think that the upcoming Missions book will do away with that nonsense (at least I hope so–or the ‘Nid FAQ will clear this one up for sure).  The mission book will be good for Tyranids though–because I expect relatively few people to use spore mines until then. 

Annihilation (KPs) is just too scarey for most people to handle the choice.  With the thought of a squad of toughness 1 models that setup in my enemy’s deployment zone and are likely to kill each other, why take them?  More people will be prone to try to scare you away with big bugs than spore mines… and I’m inclined to agree with them.

But, they’ll make their appearance at Arctic Apocalypse on Saturday… just you wait and see! 

Images from http://www.spore.com/sporepedia.  Though they aren’t really biovores or spore mines, I figured the play on words, coupled with the creativity of spore players made the image fit nicely for this post.

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3 comments on “5th Ed. Tyranids: Biovores & Spore Mines

  1. Although I have never used biovores, several of my fellow nid players swear by them and love them.

    In our last apocalypse game, we used a ton of spore mines and several biovores to rain down terror and blast templates. I was very impressed with their ability to take out vehicles from behind.

    While I doubt I’ll field any biovores – love my carnies and really want a trygon or two… but I love the idea of buying a bunch of mines to control my opponents deployment.

    How about taking a ton of spore mines and placing them right in the middle of the enemies deployment and then taking outflanking stealers? hmmm I salivate at the idea of just trying this tactic out.

    Hopefull I get my ‘dex tomorrow to find out how all this will really unfold.

    Keep up the great work Rob!

  2. Although I have never used biovores, several of my fellow nid players swear by them and love them.

    In our last apocalypse game, we used a ton of spore mines and several biovores to rain down terror and blast templates. I was very impressed with their ability to take out vehicles from behind.

    While I doubt I’ll field any biovores – love my carnies and really want a trygon or two… but I love the idea of buying a bunch of mines to control my opponents deployment.

    How about taking a ton of spore mines and placing them right in the middle of the enemies deployment and then taking outflanking stealers? hmmm I salivate at the idea of just trying this tactic out.

    Hopefull I get my ‘dex tomorrow to find out how all this will really unfold.

    Keep up the great work Rob!

  3. Biovores couldn't fire and move in their 4th edition codex, the weapon was labeled as a heavy. They are greatly improved and you'd have to write a list around them, but I hope to get some mileage out of them. I should be getting plenty of use out of Spore Mines, however. That deployment denial sounds like fun and would upset the enemy's plans right from the start.

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