After last weeks Strategy article on Tyranids, Ghostin asked for a further explanation of the "Pinning/Reserve" topic. As a quick recap:
"...By using Swarm and Waves, you start to force the enemy into a situation where there are too many decisions for them to make. The Gaunts are key to the plan, but not many armies can deal with them quickly enough to counter the threat (Shuriken Catapults and Flamers are the main problems.) This means that they are pinned for the second wave of the really hurty bugs to get into place. So which do they shoot? By Hitting the bigger Nids, they aren't dealing with the Gaunts. By shooting the Gaunts, they aren't dealing with the units which actually kill them It's Win-Win..."
So how to put this into effect? Well, thanks to a bout of Insomnia, I've wrestled with Vassal until a few decent maps came up! Here's a quick walk-through from a recent game.
Mow, these are approximations, and I'll also add that they aren't the complete units which I used- in fact, what's displayed in these pictures is around 1350 points, where this is a strategy I've mainly been using at 1750pts- 2000pts. So please don't theory-hammer it- I haven't put out any specific lists deliberately so far, since I'd like everyone to try out different units and builds, even if we end up using similar stratagems.
So; the Deployment:
I've been getting the initial Swarms as far forward as possible- so Gaunts at the front, Synapse (in the form of Tervigons) behind. Their job is to run as quickly as possible at the enemy, and get into combat whilst in Synapse range. There's no scenery on that map- any deployment will be dependant on the terrain involved, of course. I've also been putting an Armoured Shell Tyrant in the front- he's a pain to take down, enough of a threat to pull fire away from the Gaunts and he gives +1 to reserves as long as he can survive 1 round of shooting. The Stealers are representing whatever bait unit you like- it doesn't need to be much, and often won't work. But now and again, an opponent will attack the bait unit as a major threat, allowing you to dictate their plan.
On to Turn 1:
Essentially, everything runs forward as fast as possible, and charges anything that it can (unlikely this early on, but some players get cocky...) Get into cover if you can- whatever is on the table has to weather 1 turn of shooting, so make sure you don't reserve too much. Keep everything alive as much as possible with psychics but remember- Synapse means that you can't Go To Ground, so never count in bonuses to cover although Night Fight might be active as well....
Then in Turn 2:
The red blobs are Bugs presumed dead. However, with just a 6 inch move, the Bugs are in the enemy deployment zone (I've assumed 5 inch Fleet of Foot moves in Turn 1) and can pin unit in combat. This means that any units which arrive from Reserve- on a 2+ thanks to the Tyrant- don't have to suffer as much fire coming in, meaning that they are far more likely to get into combat. Even better- they will be getting into combat with units which are already engaged, so they will get full Initiative, even if charging through terrain.
This is the crux of the strategy- from Turn 3 onwards, the Nids can simply choose which enemy unit they want to destroy, and devour the opponent piecemeal. Enemy units in combat with Gaunts are no longer a threat, and can simply wait or you to get around to them- so you can shut down 1/3 of the enemy with them. Each unit you kill is yet another one not shooting Nids- the aim is to get to the tipping point around Turn 4, when you need to be winning the battle of attrition.
So what are the problems? Well, an enemy that deploys on the back of the board edge gets an extra turn of shooting, and makes you muck about with Reserves a bit more (you don't want to put your reserves in harms way). However, I'm assuming that when the Nids get into combat with them on Turn 3, rather than 2, they will be winning combat- which means that the enemy run straight off the board edge. If this is your opponents plan, then clever use of terrain is the name of the game.
Problem number 2- you can't suppress the enemy units. This might be a need to take more Gaunts (minimum of 20 in a unit, remember) or a need to mix up the Synapse. Variety is key- having 3 Tervigons makes your opponents target priority fairly simple- shoot the closest one. Taking 2 Tervigons and a Hive Tyrant is trickier- which is the biggest threat in the long run? From a Synapse, perspective, they do the same job.
I'm going to harp on a bout Variety in the list a little more. this really is the key to success, from my games of 6th. Having 3 Trygons means that the enemy can focus on "Trygon" as a threat. Having a Prime, a Trygon and a Mawlock, which is the greatest threat? Killing which one will get hurt the Nids most? From a Bug's perspective, it doesn't matter a damn- all 3 are there to kill things that are already in combat. Copy and Paste army lists are a benefit to your opponent if you take them- so don't take them! Instead, keep a few simple rules for army slection:
1) The Tarpits. What units are going to pin the enemy in combat? It doesn't matter what they are, as long as they can hold up an enemy for multiple rounds of combat. I favour gaunts, but Hormogaunts and Gargoyles are equally valid, and work out slightly cheaper because you aren't relying on Tervigons.
2) The Synapse Web. This needs to stay in place for the Tarpit to work- so make sure you have enough Synapse to pull it off. It doesn't really matter what it is, as long as it is there. Warriors, Tyrants, Tervigons and Zoanthropes are all valid.
3) The Kill Switch. This is mainly the Reserves. The job of these units is to be able to wipe out an enemy in 1 round. It helps if they can survive 1 round of shooting, but Tarpits and Variety also help, so try different units.
4) Support. There are loads of support units in the Codex- use them to keep units alive longer, or increase their effectiveness. This is normally where I finish spending my points.
That's it- hopefully it's a little bit clearer now. All that's left to say is- try it, see if it works for you.
Comments (and questions), as always, are welcome