5th Ed. Tyranids: Venomthropes


One of my favorite items in all of 40k is the defensive grenade.  Since my friends love to play assault heavy armies, anything I can do to essentially deny them the charge (or at least the advantage of doing so) is king.  Unfortunately, grenades as a whole seem to be pretty much absent in the 5th edition Tyranid codex.  A couple of models come with offensive grenades, and nobody has the ability to purchase the defensive variety.  While Tervigons can grant counter-attack to nearby Termagants (a bloody cousin to defensive grenades), it seems the only way to grant the ability to the army is to use Venomthropes.

The Good

Aside from the ability to grant defensive grenades to all nearby units, they also convert nearby area into dangerous terrain for enemy infantry units.  This is to represent them choking on poisonous spores emitted by the Venomthrope, which also confer a 5+ cover save to all nearby units.

While not designed for close combat, they do each have two attacks, and lash-whips to ensure that they’ll get to use them before the enemy.  As an added bonus, they’ll wound everything on a 2+ due to their poisoned weapons.  Lastly, for anything that lives through combat and is still in base-to-base, they’ll have to make a Toughness test or take another wound due to Toxic Miasma.

They can also ride to the battle in a mycetic spore (drop pod, to you Space Marine players out there), and can come in squads of up to 3.

The Bad

At toughness four, two wound, and only a 5+ invulnerable, they don’t have the sort of staying power required for a unit that enhances all nearby soldiers.  Granting cover saves to all nearby units will ensure that these guys are shot at before anything else–and with their stats only slightly better than those of a measly gaunt, they’re sure to die quickly. 

In hand to hand, it will strike before the enemy, and will wound everything on 2+, but it can’t handle tanks, and doesn’t have any method to bypass armor.  It would almost have been better to have given it strength 6 than poisoned weapons–but that would’ve fit with the backstory of the model.

They’re also a huge, goofy, and unstable model.  The first two are scientific fact, but as I’ve never seen one in person, the last one might be a little subjective.  For such a frail creature, it will stick out like a sore thumb–so that even if you want to hide it behind other units, it’s unlikely you’ll be able to.  As for it’s general goofiness, well, one might say that’s subjective as well (Jerm, who’s new to the Warhammer39999 team actually like’s the model, but then again, he also likes Ranma…).  All the while, they compete against solid choices for elites slots in the army list, like Zoanthropes and Hive Guard.

Lastly, the conveyance of a 5+ cover save can be seen as marginal at best.  In talking with others about this particular unit, they seem to agree that 4+ cover saves are everywhere in the game; so much so, in fact, that a 5+ cover save would rarely be worth having.  Whether there’s any real truth to that depends on a lot of factors though…

The Ugly

As a unit, I wouldn’t normally consider such a choice.  It isn’t viable in assault and has no shooting attack, so it’s relagated to a supporting role in the cast of bugs.  Effectively, it becomes an upgrade to the nearby units, so I’m forced to ask myself.  Would I pay 55 points for defensive grenades and a 5+ cover save to all units within a 12″ circle for a game?  Looking at it that way, there’s a chance I’ll field one in my army (though I’ll convert up or a proxy a new model, thank you very much).

As stated above, 5th Edition has seen a prevalence of cover returning to the board.  Many players equate this to a rise in 4+ cover saves, and look down their noses at the puny 5+ granted by the Venomthropes.  Granted, some games just give everything a blanket 4+ cover save to avoid confusion, but that’s not actually how the rules are written.  I’d encourage those players to go back through the rulebook (page 21) and re-read the rules on cover.  For example, the following items should give you less than a 4+ cover save:

  • Razor Wire
  • Wire Mesh
  • High Grass
  • Crops
  • Bushes
  • Hedges
  • Fences

It’s certainly worth taking a peek to ensure that you’re playing with the right rules.  Also, how much cover your local meta game may change how viable this particular unit is in your area.  So, one question to ask yourself before running out and buying a bunch of goofy looking models is: just how much cover do you use in your games?  Some gaming groups wind up using tons of it, which can make the board look quite realistic, but also hamper the ability to actually play the game.  Others seem to take a more Warhammer Fantasy approach to things: throwing down a couple of a hills and a block of trees and calling it good.  Big Jim over at Galaxy in Flames refers to this as “NETS” or “Not Enough Terrain Syndrome”.

Magilla Gurilla from www.tabletopwar.net had a good post on his old blog about how much terrain you should be using.  The official suggestion from the rulebook (page 88) is: “about a quarter of the total playing surface should have terrain on it.”  With that much terrain, it  will likely be hard to ensure your units will consistently be able to stay in cover.  Keep in mind that the rules on monstrous creatures and cover require that at least half of the model be in cover to benefit from the save (unlike normal models which benefit from cover saves if any part of them is obscured).  If you’re playing with many MCs, or using routinely sparse battlegrounds, this may be a good selling point for using Venomthropes.

I don’t expect many players to use them in landing spores (though the fact that his cover save is extended to the spore itself could be a neat trick, and he could benefit from hiding behind one just like the Doom of Malan’tai does).  I do expect them to be taken in small broods (less than 3), and likely not multiple broods in a force.  Whatever the case, they’re going to be best used behind an advancing wall of chitin.  This will be to ensure whatever is in front of them is granting the ‘thrope a 4+ cover save, while benefiting from the surrounding spores for it’s own 5+ save.    This forces your opponent to fire at the creatures in the front with a bad cover save, or to try to take out the save-generator in the back–who should have slightly more survivability afforded by his friends.  In essence, to be successful, he’ll have to have a symbiotic relationship with surrounding units and cover.

The one time I used one of these in a game, I deployed him badly and he didn’t make much difference.  He did ultimately help keep a Tervigon alive against entire too many scatter lasers though, and since there were so many other juicy targets, he was largely ignored for the entire game.   One of these days, I’ll have to do a battle report for that game…

Until then, I encourage everyone to convert up a Venomthrope of their own, and try it out.  Feel free to even use bits from the existing model, but please don’t play with that goofy thing straight out of the box…

Venom picture from http://www.scifi.co.uk/, but I’m quite certain it’s really owned by http://marvel.com/.

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12 comments on “5th Ed. Tyranids: Venomthropes

  1. I'd like to rebut your statements about the v-thrope model. Goofy or not is debatable, but physically, it's not a huge or tippy model at all. In fact, the old Zoanthrope models are quite a bit worse. You should probably reserve judgement until you see one in person. They are actually a bit smaller and lighter than you'd expect. As long as you use a rearward hole on the terminator base to center the mass over the middle of the base, the venomthrope is actually very stable.

    • That’s really good feedback. About how tall is the model?

      I still don’t intend on buying one for cosmetic issues alone, but I’m glad
      to hear they don’t have weird tipping issues like GW has been known for in
      the past.

  2. I'm getting my new Tyranid codex tomorrow (courier delivery permitting), and haven't played a game with the new nids (or old nids actually) yet.While the Venomthrope (I'm not liking the name) seems like if it does anything useful enough to justify it's points and force organisation slot, it'll be a target worth (easily) killing, I'd just like to say something about 5+ saves…I don't play a lot of games, but I've played quite a few over the years with my ork horde, and a kustom force field which provides a 5+ cover save to units within 6″ has proven incredibly useful.Everywhere I look on the internet I see that everyone assumes everything has a 4+ cover save all the time, but with large mobs I find that it's not easy to get everyone (or even half the unit) in cover, or even desirable.Manoeverability is so important (and with an ork horde pretty hard to get). Being able to run around between cover, and not getting slowed down by difficult terrain rolls, is something I'd probably have to do even without a kustom force field. The force field though improves the survivability of my mobs by a 3rd! And the killa kans by even more!The mek who carries it can join a unit and be pretty safe, so it's not very easy to compare him to an easily tarteged venomthrope, but I'm a big fan of a 5+ save for a large number of models when the alternative is either no save at all or a 4+ save but being stuck in some ruins out of charge range for the entire game.

  3. That's really good feedback. About how tall is the model?I still don't intend on buying one for cosmetic issues alone, but I'm gladto hear they don't have weird tipping issues like GW has been known for inthe past.

  4. Personally, I love the model and can't wait to get mine (sadly my LGS store sold out of them before I could get my hand on one).I've used him in 2 games. From my experience, the ability to remove the +1A charge bonus in a 12″ radius is definitely worth 55pts.Now add that every enemy model assaulting must also take a dangerous terrain check is just icing on top of the cake. It makes your opponent do a double take when about to assault with high pts value units like terminators.Against hordes, these are a must as a few guys will die in the charge.I've also noticed that most people tend to ignore him in the shooting phase in favor of other “juicier” or higher threat targets on the table. So he does have a pretty good survival rate – at least mine do.

  5. 1 unit of 1!And now that I think about it, he's hasn't died in a game yet.Though he did take a wound in my last game on the last turn (stupid bolter on Rhino!).

  6. 2 points.1. All those fexs, tyrants (sans guards), giant sand worms, gaunt factories will love the 5+ save.2. Those gaunts standing right there in front of your venomthrope, yhea them, just gave it a 4+ save.

  7. So I played a small 1500 pts game last night vs my friends Demons.First off, I didn't bother to tailor my list to his army, which is just one of the factors in why I lost the game – but mostly it was due to 3 solid rounds of really, really, REALLY bad dice rolls.But I digress, the point of my post is to reiterate how useful and awesome the Venomthrope really is.In my game, he not only earned his points back, he outshone most of my units in the game (hey, I did say I had terrible dice rolls). Here's what happened:1. Helped my Tervigon save against 3 S8 wounds while standing in the open thanks to his noxious cloud power.2. Would have killed a plague bearer on their charge with Dangerous check were it not for their stupid invulnerable save!3. Also prevented said Plague Bearers to gain +1A on their charge into my gaunts. Thereby allowing me to tie them up for another round (this was a very good thing at the time).So yeah, for 55 pts, he's definitely a shining star that can really buff your units and battle line up if properly deployed.I usually put mine near my tervigon and gaunts. Thereby making it really nasty to assault my main line as the Gaunts will usually get counter attack, and toxin on the defence while my opponent loses his assault attack bonus.Against huge units, the dangerous terrain check is just an awesome added benefit that really messes with your opponents mind (I'm all about psychological warfare).And if/when my gaunts do get a charge, they get +1A for charging, have furious charge and toxin from the Tervigon so now get a W reroll against most things.Venomthropes, don't leave the hive ship without 'em!PS. He didn't get shot at or charged once in the entire game.

  8. One thing a lot of people seem to forget: S4 with Poisoned 2+ means he rerolls wounds against everything but Plague Marines and up. It's not a lot, but how many times has your Hive Tyrant rolled a 1 when trying to squash a Guardsman? Not a problem with this dude.Venny loves having a Tyranid Prime to tag along and soak up some of his S8 wounds for him- you'll probably end up detaching him by turn 3 or so, but by then he's done his job,I think the 5+ cover is best used with a horde advancing across the field. (Why these guys get Mycetic Spores and Old One Eye, Tyrants, and Tervigons don't…) He gives your front rank of Gaunts/whatever a 5+ save to add to the FNP they should also have, making your swarm surprisingly resilient. For comedy value, Rippers in his area benefit from a 4+, although that still doesn't make them worth taking.

  9. They're a little shorter than the Zoanthrope, but they aren't nearly as top-heavy, as the vents are the only parts that come up that high. Their body being one piece is a big help, too, as the old zoe was a PITA 2-piece affair that required that required a pin. If you imagine a smaller zoanthrope with tentacles, you're on the right track. After assembling both, from a logistical perspective, the venomthrope is the better model. Whether you prefer the look of the zoanthrope or not, though, is certainly a judgement call. I personally only use zoanthropes, because I'm not particularly crazy about the v-thrope rules(I'm usually able to generate my own 4+ save with proper unit placement).

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