Tervigons have been a particularly interesting unit since they were introduced in 5th. Instantly, they were one of the hottest choices in the codex–and with one of the sexiest models. Hopefully I can do some justice in bringing my review of them into the latest version of the rules…
As with the rest of my 6th edition review, if you find something I’ve written in error, please let me know and I’ll change it. Likewise, if you think I’ve missed something significant, speak up and I’ll add that as well. Either way, I’ll credit you with the information.
Where possible, I tried to quote where I got each of the rules with abbreviations. These follow the format (NAME-##) where NAME is the name of the source and ## is the page number. The abbreviations I used for source names are:
- DEX = Tyranid Codex
- RB = 6th Edition Rulebook
- TFAQ = Tyranid FAQ (the theory would be that I might reference other FAQ’s eventually)
Each rule should be on (or about) the page I referenced. Hopefully that helps.
That said, onto the review!
Oddly enough, I like both of these upgrades more than I did in previous iterations. With only three attacks at S5, neither of these seemed particularly impressive. While the stat-line hasn’t changed directly, the advent of the “Smash” rule (RB-42) and the possibility of getting “Iron Arm” in Biomancy make these options more compelling.
- Scything Talons: Again, these don’t do anything different per-se. The key difference here is in the potential damage output, coupled with her being able to challenge/ possibly get Implant Attacks. Add in re-rolls, and this gal could wind up being quite the character killer. Don’t forget that the re-rolls increase the chances of getting precision strikes!
- Crushing Claws: Yes, these are expensive, but they make a compelling argument for vehicle destruction. Tervigons have never been noted for their prowess in opening tin cans, what with their lower strength and amount of attacks. This means that they get the biggest benefit from “Smash” out of the entire codex. First of all, Smash states that if you choose to make a Smash attack “halve its Attacks characteristic.” (RB-42). Due to the fact that you always round up (RB-5), this means she only loses one attack to make a Smash—which doubles her strength neatly to 10. Because rolling to hit vehicles is irrespective of WS, this means that Smashing with a Tervigon is just as effective as with a Tyrant, Swarmlord, or even a Carnifex! Ok, so I’m not sure that you want these to be your front-line tank-hunters still, but this is at least an interesting tidbit.So where do Crushing Claws come in? Well, they give you additional attacks, but don’t actually change your attacks characteristics. Because of the way Smash is worded, the double-strength still applies to these attacks, but they don’t get halfed. As a result, The Tervigon can potentially have the same smashing damage output as three Swarmlords.In short, if you plan to face vehicles, crushing claws are definitely a viable upgrade now.
The following “options” are available to the Tervigons (note: that I’ve moved the review of the additional psychic powers down to the section labeled “Psyker.”)
- Adrenal Glands: Since these grant furious charge and that has changed (RB-37), they no longer benefit from increased initiative. The good news (particularly on smaller units) is that massive numbers of glancing hits will automatically destroy a tank due to the rules on hull points (RB-74).
- Toxin Sacs: Granting poisoned attacks (RB-40), allows you to always wound on a 4+, unless the unit has an equal-to or lower toughness, in which case you get a re-roll. This part is the same as 5th. The big difference is now “ it always wounds on a fixed number (generally shown in brackets), unless a lower result would be required.” For MC’s who have typically high strengths, this means that you still get to wound on your normal strength value vs. toughness (unless you’d be better off with 4+), and you still get your re-roll (if applicable). In short, toxin sacs are a must-buy on Monstrous Creatures.
- Acid Blood: While this ability itself didn’t change, it may prove to be more valuable when assaulting walkers, as they receive a glancing hit on a 4+, since glancing hits are more effective now.
- Implant Attack: This rule didn’t change itself, but it’s interesting when used in a challenge situation. Most units in the game only have a single wound, so this isn’t typically a great upgrade; however, since the Tervigon was made into a character (not an IC, just a basic character), it can issue challenges. Despite not being a monster in assault, she is relatively resilient). Ignoring armor saves and doing 2-wounds per hit, might help her stand up to some challenges…
- Toxic Miasma: No change here. Still causes a wound on a failed toughness test/armor save for any enemy in base to base. It’s not horrible—especially if you expect to be fighting a horrible, but I can think of a lot of better things to do in the codex with 15 points…
- Regeneration: Again, no change here. Potentially this combines with the Biomancy power “Endurance” to allow you to regenerate twice as fast. You still have to roll 6’s though…
- Cluster Spines: In the previous edition, I considered these a no brainer. You got to replace his stinger salvo (18”, s5 ap4, Assault4) with a 18” s5, ap- large blast. The only upsides to me on the stinger salvo are that it can hit a single target multiple times, and that it has an AP. The downsides are only that it’s less accurate. Granted, you should hit (on average) with two shots per turn, but against most targets, the large blast should hit more targets than that.
- Cluster Spine Pros:
- Increased Hits: Against multiple targets (such as an infantry squad), you’re more likely to hit more models with good placement. Additionally, even if you miss entirely, it’s possible that you hit another target due to the way blasts work.
- Blast Changes: With the changes to blasts, any vehicle touched by the blast is hit at full strength (instead of half strength, as was previously the case)
- Cluster Spine Cons:
- No AP: “upgrading” to Cluster Spines reduces the AP of the attack from AP4 to AP-. As a result, some units will gain a save against the shot. As few models seem to have saves of 4+ (or worse), and the ones that do aren’t typically something to be too worried about, I don’t see this as a big downside. Heck, I thought this was an automatic upgrade in 5th edition, and this rule hasn’t changed…
- Confined Areas: Positioning a large blast in a confined area can be difficult to do without clipping some of your models. Even if you can get them in, it’s risky in that it could deviate and kill your units. Again, this I’m not too concerned about because the only models that fear s5 ap- blasts in the army are chaff (and genestealers). And you can always decide not to shoot.
- Less effective against single targets: If you’re firing at a single target, you’ll be better off firing four shots that hit 50% of the time than a single one that’s more accurate. Again though, what single target are you really going to do much damage to with a couple of s5 AP4 shots?
- No Snapshots: This is the one part that there’s a significant change with this weapon. Since cluster spines use blast markets, they’re restricted from snapshots (RB-13). I know in the one game I’ve used them so far, it made me question the value, because it makes the unit completely unable to fire at flyers or using overwatch to fire at charging units.Then I think about it, and wonder how much damage a few strength 5 shots are going to do to either a flyer or a charging unit. Chances are, not too much, especially considering you’re only hitting on 6’s. Still, it’s something to consider.
A note about Adrenal Glands & Toxin sacs. The Brood Progenitor rules (DEX-52) declare that any termagant squads within 6″ of a Tervigon gain these benefits as well. Naturally, many people tend to throw these in as auto-includes because you can potentially give upgrades to a bunch of units at once for one low flat-fee. I typically don’t subscribe to this theory though because of the down-side of the Brood Progenitor rule. That rule states that when a Tervigon dies, any nearby termagaunt squads suffer 3d6 Str3 AP- hits. In most cases, that will practically destroy any nearby units.
So, it’s a matter of weighing out the pro’s and con’s of this. My theory is that the Tervigon is already a synapse unit, that can produce scoring models, it also has the potential (with psychic powers) to throw out Feel No Pain (or better, given the new psychic decks). In short, it’s going to have a big bullseye on it already. If you keep termagants around it, that’s just one more reason to kill that thing off (since they get free collateral damage out of it).
For that reason, I don’t typically buy either of these upgrades for my tervigons, as I prefer to spawn the gaunts and immediately run them out of the 6″ bubble–so why pay more? The new rules for Toxin sacs might change my mind a bit though…
As a synapse creature, there are a few changes that need to be noted:
- Shadow in the Warp is now about the best psychic defense in the game (only Eldar and Space Wolves have anything to compete with it). The rules for it haven’t changed (people within 12” roll 3D6), but the rules for psychic hoods have. Keep this in mind when playing the game.
- Fearless, which is granted to anyone within 12” of synapse,has the same upside as it used to, but the downside of taking excess wounds when losing combat is gone. Indeed, the only downside I can find for fearless is that you can’t choose to fail a morale test when you’re up against a model you can’t hurt (RB-35). Since that already existed in the previous edition, this is a clear buff to ‘Nidz as a whole.Edit: theGravemind also pointed out that going to ground can’t be performed by fearless units (which is anything in synapse range now), so that’s definitely something to consider when you’re placing your synapse around the board. I think it peculiar that synpase is now in two ways considered a detriment (going to ground, and IB). Someone should do a post on whether Synpase is necessary (or even valuable) to the Tyranid force in 6th edition.
- Instinctive Behavior used to be something you really didn’t want to happen. This was particularly true of those units that would FEED. Since feeding simply gives the unit Rage (RB-41), feeding units are now completely under your control. You can move and run them as you see fit, but just can’t fire their guns (but they couldn’t fire in the previous edition either). Lurk however, is unaffected by the new rules edition. This is definitely something to keep in mind when you position your units with synapse.
Since rule changes for synapse got better in many regards and didn’t become worse in any way, synapse is a great set of rules for us in this edition.
Deny the witch is a new ability that gives anyone targeted by a psychic power the ability to ignore it on a 6+. Enemy psykers can improve this to 5+, or 4+ if they’re of a higher mastery level than you are (which isn’t hard, considering most Tyranids are mastery level 1). Psychic hoods (for defense) no longer can nullify all of your powers, but do allow their bearer to dispel if you target his friendly units within 6” of him—so keep that in mind.
New psychic powers/abilities have been classified into several categories: Blessing, Conjuration, Malediction, & Witchfire (which have several categories) (RB-69). The categories themselves are pretty much clarification, and don’t have much real bearing on the Tyranids—except to say that Broodlords won’t be able to use any Witchfire powers (because they have no BS). One thing to note is that if you arrive from reserve on a turn you can’t use Blessings, Conjurations, or Maledictions (RB-67-68).
Tyranid Psykers have access to the Biomancy, Telekinesis and Telepathy special powers decks (RB418-423). Doing so, however, will force to you “unlearn” all of the powers the unit already knows. At first glance, Biomancy seems like the best fit for the army. Telepathy also looks good, but the two best powers are only usable by the Swarmlord (since they’re Warp Charge 2) (RB-66).
Enough of the generic stuff. The question here is whether you should keep the existing abilities, or switch them out for new ones. This is a fairly hard call, because both options are quite viable.
In my experience, the typical loadout for a Tervigon’s psychic powers in 5th was just to purchase Catalyst and call it a day. During every turn, you’d pick a particularly juicy target of your enemy and give it FNP. Dominion, the native power that he comes with, was rarely used. Still, guaranteed Feel No Pain is a solid choice.
The other option seems to be to go all out and buy both extra psychic powers (Catalyst & Onslaught) and exchanging them out for some of the fancy new powers. Let’s look at the breakdown of each of the available options:
- Good: Iron Arm / Warp Speed – both of which can make her far more effective in assault. Enfeeble is amazing, and Endurance is a solid upgrade to Catalyst.
- Fair: Life Leech. This allows you to heal wounds back on your critter (which is far more potent when used in conjunction with Iron Arm). This is effectively the Hive Tyrant power “Leech Essence,” which is reasonably good, but not amazing. It does provide the army with a way to get an AP2 attack though–so it’s not to be scoffed at. Smite also fits into this category it’s got multiple shots and a great AP, but poor STR/BS/range.
- Poor: Haemorrhage – this power seems good in that it can do automatic wounds with no armor saves allowed–and can even hop to multiple models. The problem is that it’s only theoretically powerful. First you’ll have to roll to hit (50%), then the target will most likely be randomized due to the way focused witchfire attacks work (RB-69), then that target has to fail a toughness test (most likely toughness 4+, so another 33%), meaning you have a 1/6 chance of doing a wound with this (assuming you pass your psychic test and the enemy fails it’s ‘deny the witch’ save, of course). Yes, it ignores both armor and cover saves, and it has the potential to jump to another model (assuming the first model is outright slain–not just wounded). In short, it’s just bad odds…
- Good: Telekine Dome – who doesn’t want a 5+ invulnerable save? The redirecting wounds thing is cute, but it’s icing on the cake really. Objuration Mechanicum is also good as it reduces the effectiveness of an enemy target (they have to reroll 6’s to hit/to wound) and it gives the ‘Nidz a way to deal with flyers.
- Fair: Gate of Infinity allows you to redeploy around the battlefield, which could be good but you still can’t assault. Since it’s a blessing you can redeploy before you spawn babies–so you could use this as a last minute dash to score objectives? Assail is cute at best–the only thing it has going for it is Strikedown, which forces non MC/vehicles hit by it to move as if in difficult terrain and half their initiative until the end of the next turn. (RB-43). There is potential here to reduce the initiative of units when you charge them to allow you to strike first. Most effective Tyranid asasult units already have a very high (or very low) initiative though, so I’m not sure how effective this can be… The good thing about this is that it’s a beam attack so you don’t have to roll to hit, and you’ll hit everything in an 18″ line. S’not bad…
- Poor: Crush extends range to smash vehicles, generally provide a 45% chance to gain a S6-8 attack at 18″. It also has a 28% chance of being completely inneffective (s5 or lower). In short, does provide some ranged anti-tank, but that role should really be left to your hive guard/zoanthropes (or MC’s in assault). Shockwave is also underwhelming as it really only is a (very small) chance to cause a pinning test.
- Good: Terrify has the ability to remove fearless from a unit–that alone is great… but this also requires them to make a morale check.
- Fair: There are a couple here. Dominate generally isn’t–well, dominating–because they have to fail a leadership test, but it has great effect when they do. Puppet Master (And I’m being kind) It does give you access to enemy weapons, but remember that focused witchfires only let you pick the gun it’s shooting 28% of the time. (RB-69). Psychic Shriek is also good, being a targeted version of the Doom’s power.
- Poor: Mental Fortitude (since ‘Nidz already don’t fall back when in Synapse)
If you can agree with my subjective assessments, Biomancy is the clear winner here with 6/7 powers being at least “good.” Remember though, that you don’t have to put all of your eggs in one basket. Once you get the power(s) that you want in Biomancy, feel free to move to another discipline.
So, the root of it boils down to whether you want to pay the standard cost and have Feel No Pain, guaranteed, or do you pay 30 points more for your Tervigon for three rolls on a table (effectively giving you a 50% chance to get Endurance?). Both are good options, but I can certainly see times where I’d want to go both ways. More than likely, it will depend upon which other psykers I have in my army, and how many other copies of FNP I can throw out…
(Just a) Character:
One thing I didn’t initially realize is that Tervigons are listed as characters in the back of the rulebook (RB-413). Note: they’re not Independent Characters, just the run-of-the-mill variety. Still, this grants many of the same benefits (essentially all of the same, except a reduced functionality “Look Out, Sir” and an inability to join/leave a squad):
- Look Out Sir (no effect, since the Tervigon can’t join a unit)
- Precision Shots allow you to assign the hits from shooting attacks that roll natural 6’s. This will let us pick out models like special/heavy weapons, as well as characters (who still get to Look Out Sir). Note: these can’t be used for snapshots. (RB-63)
- Precision Strikes allow you to assign the hits from assault attacks that roll natural 6’s. This will let us pick out models like special/heavy weapons, as well as characters (who still get to Look Out Sir). (RB-63)
- Challenges are a new way to snipe enemy commanders in a unit. When you charge, your characters can issue challenges to another unit, in which any other character can choose whether or not to accept. If they accept, only they can strike each other (and Look Out Sir goes by the wayside). If they decline, they can’t fight at all during the combat. This works great for high toughness characters, as they can choose to punk “hidden powerfists” and the like before they get a chance to strike back. (RB-64)
This really seems like a hidden gem in the codex. Really, this gives you precision strikes, precision shots (assuming you don’t “upgrade” to cluster spines, of course), and the ability to challenge. Obviously, I think challenges is the biggest deal of the lot…
MC’s had a lot of changes in the new edition. Their new special rules include Fear, Hammer of Wrath, Move through Cover, Relentless and Smash (RB-48). I’ll go over each briefly below:
- Fear causes a test at the start of assault, which can potentially make the opponent fight at WS1 for the combat round. It sounds good, but requires them to fail a leadership test first, so it likely won’t happen that often. When it does, it will make most of your units more durable as well as more accurate in combat. It’s a small plus, but it’s a positive change.
- Hammer of Wrath allows you to get a free AP –, Initiative 10, hit on the turn you charge at your base strength (assuming you didn’t multi-assault). Some people are touting this as a big improvement, but it seems rather minor to me as well because it doesn’t ignore armor. A free hit at high initiative is nothing to scoff at though.
- Move through Cover is something they had in the last edition, but it’s changed a bit. Whereas it previously just allowed you to roll an extra dice and pick the highest (which it still does), it now makes you immune to dangerous terrain tests as well. I’m a big fan of this change.
- Relentless just allows him to move and shoot with heavy weapons and they can charge in the same turn that they fired them. This rule has no practical value in the Tyranid codex, as every weapon is already an Assault weapon.
- Smash (verses vehicles) allows you to half of your attacks characteristic (rounding up) to strike at double your strength, and allows you to re-roll your armor penetration. Against other targets, smash counts as AP2. In total this is a mixed blessing. Essentially, they already had AP2 (although now, AP2 grants +1 to the damage roll vs. vehicles, so that’s a plus). The question winds up being if it’s better to strike half as much for twice as much strength. I haven’t done the math myself, but I’m going to guess this is going to be a slight improvement to most MC’s, as they only half their Attacks characteristic—not their total number of attacks, so things like crushing claws might prove to be a huge advantage in this edition.
They also aren’t affected by cover like they were in the previous edition as they now can receive a save for standing in area terrain, or if only 25% of the model is obscured (RB-18). This is a huge benefit to all big bugs. Some people will point out that cover saves have moved from 4+ to 5+ as a whole, but I don’t agree with them, this really only affected forests and area terrain (as well as cover granted from standing behind other units), but ruins, ruined fortifications (and presumably buildings) still all grant 4+. Additionally, nothing in the book prevents MC’s from going to ground for another +1 cover save (except, of course, if they’re in Synapse range, and therefore, fearless).
Like in the previous edition, they can still fire two weapons each shooting phases , of course each has to be fired at the same target (RB-48).
In total, I think MC’s got better with the new edition.
Since her appearance in the 5th edition codex, the Tervigon has always been a staple in the Tyranid lists. The new 6th edition rulebook only serves to reinforce that). These are such great choices, that any list without them is really doing itself a disservice.
For those that do choose to run them, I see the following as “must have” upgrades:
- Psychic Power: Catalyst – Feel no Pain is such a great ability, you’ll want it on everything you can muster. Even if you decide to swap your powers out for the new disciplines, you want to buy this for an extra roll on the chart.
- Toxin Sacs – All monstrous creatures should take these. With a lower base strength, it isn’t quite as good for the Tervigon as it is for other MC’s, but when you consider that she also gifts this to nearby termagants, it’s even better (though I’ll leave it up to you whether you should actually have termagants nearby).
- Scything Talons – You’re already paying a premium for this unit, 5 extra points won’t kill you. Having this upgrade is undoubtedly better than throwing another termagant (or half a spore mine) into your list.
There are also a few upgrades that are situationally better. They’re good choices, but I don’t think they’re necessarily auto-includes in every list:
- Cluster Spines – Despite having more negative points than downsides in my argument above, I think these are solid choices, and I intend to take this upgrade every time. I can see why others might not agree though, so I’m putting them in the “situationally better” category.
- Psychic Power: Onslaught – I really don’t think this power is great, but if you plan on switching out for Biomancy, I’d recommend you purchase all three to increase your odds of getting the good ones.
- Adrenal Glands – Typically I think there are better ways to spend your points than giving yourself one extra strength on the turn your charge. If you’re the sort that wants to surround your broodmothers with termagants, it might be worth the extra investment.
- Implant Attack – No, she’s not a close combat monster, but she’ll inevitably find herself in them for most games. I’m recommending you throw challenges around like they’re going out of style–which means that you’ll face some nasty IC’s from time to time. This will allow you to whittle them down faster.
- Crushing Claws – Yes, they’re 25 points, but they practically double your damage output vs. vehicles. Smash will also grant you Instant Death against most of your opponents. Definitely worth considering…
Next on the list: Tyranid Primes.