Anti Godzilla Tyranid Army Tactics
1. Introduction and Definitions.
2. Game Points Value and its Importance
3. Identifying the dangers.
4. Dealing with the Dangers
1. Introduction and Definitions:
Before we delve into the realm of anti-Godzilla Tyranid tactics, I have a confession to make: I am a Tyranid player. Not just a 'casual' Tyranid player, but fully devoted, all-out loving Tyranid player with a massive army who has played said army for about 9 years. I have played close to a thousand games with them since I started the hobby, and I have been at and won tournaments with them. I also do not play a Godzilla army, but a rather balanced list which includes Hormogaunts, Genestealers, a few Tyranid Monstrous Creatures (TMC's), Gargoyles, and other models which are not, in this day, seen too often on the tabletop. The reason for the lack of the 'classic' swarm is the incredible effectiveness of the Godzilla army, and I hope that this article, which offers some help in combating such a foe, will help lead to more Tyranid players being forced to take more balanced lists.
I will be talking about how to fight the Godzilla list from the perspective of a fairly shooty army. Close combat armies, my only advice to you is to take out the Genestealers first. If you can do that and have enough numbers left, charge and kill the TMC's. They are pushovers in close combat.
A Godzilla Tyranid army is an army that attempts to fill up as many slots as it possibly can with TMC's. The type of army that is most dangerous is the Godzilla army with mostly shooty TMC's, so that is the type that I will discuss in this article.
A choir Godzilla army is the same as above, except one of the Carnifexes in the Heavy Support slot has been dropped to take 3 Zoanthropes with Psychic scream, and a Hive Tyrant probably has one as well. It is a variation of the Godzilla army that deserves special mention.
2. Game Points Value and its Importance
The fourth edition Tyranid Codex sets a big division between games of less than 1500 pts and more than 1500 pts for Tyranids. Tyranid armies below this mark can not field elite carnifexes, and must only field them in their heavy support slots. Games above this value can field elite Carnifexes. The difference between the point values is the difference between potentially facing eight monstrous creatures and 'only' five monstrous creatures. However, the importance of the point values in a game goes further, as long as one is restricted to one organization chart.
Tyranids have fairly cheap troop choices, which means that they are easily able to take the minimum two and still have lots of points left for TMC's, even at low point value games (like 500 pts). In fact, it's quite easy to make a Tyranid army with two units of Genestealers or Gaunts, a Hive Tyrant and a Carnifex for less than 500 points. Obviously, most other 500 pt armies would have a large amount of trouble dealing with 2 TMC's on the board because most other armies have built-in restrictions on how many high strength weaponry they can field to deal with such creatures. Basically, they can put out more TMC's than the enemy can easily deal with at low point value.
At middle point values, between 1000 and 1499, the opponent may get a bit of a break. At that point value, the TMC-heavy list has already exhausted all of its TMC slots and must start taking other units, which lets the opponent 'catch up' by purchasing more anti-TMC weaponry. This all ends at the 1500 point level, where the Tyranid player can, once again, buy more TMC's.
At extremely high points value games, above 2000 points, the Tyranid player has, once again, run out of slots for his TMC's, whereas most other players can still field more things that are effective. So, at extremely large point-value games with a single organization chart, Tyranids lose some of the shock advantage they had at the lower values.
So, if you have a choice at what points to play against a Godzilla army, I would recommend the 1200-1499 pt range, or the above 2000 pt range. Unfortunately, most tournaments are played in the 1500-2000 point range, where the Tyranids scale up extremely well. They get to field all their TMC's and fill up their troop slots with good troops (usually Genestealers).
3. Identifying the Dangers
It would be nice if one had the ability to prepare for a battle against a Godzilla Tyranid army, but let's assume that you won't. You may meet them at a tournament, where your army is pre-set, or in a pick-up game with a pre-made list, or in a campaign where the list is set too. Whatever the case, I will not discuss army composition to use against Tyranids, but will more generally talk about the elements of an army which could be put to use against elements of the Godzilla army.
To that end, games against Tyranids, and especially Godzilla Tyranids are won and lost on deployment. The most dangerous thing a Tyranid player can do is deploy his TMC's in mutually-supporting positions that are near each other and whose fields of fire easily overlap, in a spot that will guarantee a quick access to the enemy. So, one should endeavor to prevent that as much as possible in deployment.
If the game is a low point value game, the enemy has most of his TMC's concentrated in the Heavy Support choices. This means that he will put down almost all of his firepower before you put down the bulk of your army. With some smart placement of your units (placing two tanks on the opposite sides of your deployment zone, for example), you can spread out the enemy TMC's so they are not concentrated in one location. The further away you distract a TMC from your main body of units, the smaller the possibility of that TMC having a meaningful effect on the game.
Alas, this all changes at higher point values, where the TMC's are also fielded as elite slots. In that case, the opponent will field his long-ranged guns on his Heavy TMC's and his shorter range guns on his elite TMC's. So, using deployment to spread out the Heavy Support TMC's will not do much, as a 36" range assault gun (like a Venom Cannon or Barbed Strangler) will still be in range if it's half way across the board, while the elite TMC's get to be deployed after the main body of your army is deployed, so they can be put exactly where they need to go. In other words, don't attempt to trick the Tyranid player at higher point values games into bad deployment by putting a part of your army out in the boonies. You are more likely to make a part of your army not be able to participate in the battle than to prevent one of his TMC's from doing the same. Just deploy as best as you can to maximize your firepower on the approach to your position, to maximize the mutually supporting fire, or to maximize your counter-assault potential.
Once the deployment is done, there are a few things to watch out for:
Flying Hive Tyrants are usually made to take out enemy characters and small squads in a single turn. Try to keep the former away from them, and the latter near them only if you intend to have the small squad all die so that the Tyrant may be left in the open for a shot.
Venom Cannon armed Carnifexes and Hive Tyrants are a danger to your tanks. They may not necessarily destroy the tanks, but the high-strength shot is likely to glance it and cause it to not shoot for a turn, disrupting the tanks' effectiveness. The Venom Cannon can only glance closed-top vehicles.
Barbed stranglers are fielded almost solely on Carnifexes as another weapon to bust tanks. They are inaccurate (miss half the time), but have a str 8 and produce a large blast template which can hurt low-armored infantry.
Twin-Linked Devouerer armed Carnifexes and Hive Tyrants are a menace to infantry within 18". They will make a mess of whatever squad ends up at the other end of their many, many strength 5 or 6 twin-linked shots that re-roll to wound. The shots have no AP value, so their effect on light vehicles isn't quite as nasty since they can't penetrate.
Zoanthropes with Psychic Scream cause problems with leadership at 18", that, when combined with the 18" range of devourers, basically means that the squad that gets shot by the devourers will fall back once it takes its leadership test for 25% casualties. Ignore them if your army is fearless. The Zoanthropes may also get lucky and score an occasional hit on a tank with their Warp blast, or kill some infantry, but that is neither here or there. Their BS 3 is not that impressive.
Genestealers will mess infantry up in close combat with their rending attacks and high initiative. Their fleet rule lets them close in fast, giving them a move+fleet+charge range between 13" and 18". They are not that great against moving vehicles or skimmers, but a stationary vehicle will die to their charge.
Gaunts are usually cheap, expendable fodder used by some of the Godzilla armies merely as a place holder for their two mandatory troop choices, or to flood the field and keep enemy close combat units from engaging their shooty TMC's. They are easy enough to dispatch in close combat in most cases, but their huge numbers tend to make this task take many turns.
Fast element: these things are the likes of Gargoyles and Ravaners, units that can cover lots of distance very quickly to get into close combat. They're usually fragile and will die in a turn or two of assault, but they will prevent your units from shooting in that time. They're usually used to buy time for the rest of the Tyranid army to get into position.
4. Dealing with the Dangers
Having looked at the enemy deployment and identified the things the Tyranid player has brought to the table, it is time to develop a plan to deal with the dangers. For that, we need to first ask ourselves a few questions about the army playing against the Tyranids. For example, an army consisting of mainly fearless models, like some Chaos Cult armies, can more or less ignore the threat caused by the Zoanthropes and their psychic scream. An army that is not effectively fearless, like Marines or IG, must make these its first priority.
Most armies will have to rely on some kind of shooting or target priority (whether in close firefights or close combat) to target the Tyranids. I rank the targets into tiers, mainly associated with their estimated time of arrival to their effective ranges.
So, the first thing to deal with, usually through shooting, would be the Tyranid fast element. There will almost always be just one turn of shooting at these guys, maybe two if the Tyranid player goes second. If the fast stuff is not crippled by the beginning of the Tyranid players' second turn, the game is most likely lost. The fast element will engage the front line units, tying up lines of sight and allowing the rest of the Tyranid army to move into position before the fast element gets killed. Note that you should only shoot at the fast element first if they can assault you 2nd turn. If they can't, then shoot the rest of the army. These guys are best dealt with anti-infantry weapons, like heavy bolters.
A flying Hive Tyrant, however, is a tougher nut to crack and requires anti-tank weaponry. He's also almost impossible to kill in just one turn, so I'd recommend just putting a squad that will hold him up for a while in his way. Maybe he'll kill them in his turn and then you can rapid-fire him at close range. Also, even though a flying Tyrant is nasty, he still has to allocate his attacks to one unit at a time. If you have multiple units with a specialist that can harm him, charge the Tyrant with all of them at once. One unit may be crippled, but the others will get their attacks in and hopefully kill him.
The second target to shoot, if one has a non-fearless army, is the Zoanthropes. You need to get rid of those Psychic Screams so that your units don't start falling off the board when the Tyranids get into range. This seriously disrupts your shooting. They are usually in range to do their thing on the 2nd turn and are best if shot at with weapons that are ap 2.
The next target is as important as the Zoanthropes: the Genestealers. The Genestealers will mess your army up if they get to close combat. They are also the ones that protect the shooty TMC's from being assaulted. Shoot them dead, and then you have the advantage in the assault phase. If you have a chance of assaulting a Genestealer in cover, and your troops have frag grenades DO IT! It's the only time you will get to strike at the same initiative as the Genestealers with a charge bonus. The Genestealers are also usually in range to do their thing at the beginning of the Tyranid 3rd turn and are best shot at with heavy bolters and other anti-infantry weapons.
The last target is the TMC's themselves. These guys are fairly resistant to enemy firepower, especially if they are in cover. However, most TMC's (outside of the Flying Hive Tyrant) are pretty bad in close combat. The Dakkafexes, the elite Carnifex with two twin-linked devourers, boasts a mighty WS of 3 with 2 attacks at initiative 1. He would have a hard time killing off a 10-strong IG squad over the course of a whole game in close combat. So, if their close combat screen is gone, try and charge them. It denies them their function-where they could destroy a squad a turn before, they're down to killing one model a turn now. The charge may be tricky to pull off since the 18" devourer range puts most Carnifexes outside of the standard 12" charge radius most units have, but a good use of terrain, or an assault unit, can still get results. The TMC's typically begin unleashing their devourers 2nd turn.
The gaunts are, quite honestly, the smallest worry. They are numerous, but do almost nothing in close combat or shooting, so you should shoot/assault them only after you've dealt with everything else.
Generally speaking, the Tyranid Godzilla army has the biggest problem with non-walker vehicles. They can shake and stun a lot of them, but they have a very hard time actually destroying them with their ranged firepower. If the vehicles move over 6", then even assaults can be for naught since they need 6's to hit in close combat. Skimmers are great for disrupting a Tyranid advance since they can move into path of some of the swarm, denying them the ability to move into the immediate vicinity of the skimmer because of the 1" enemy exclusion zone, while also allowing the units behind the skimmer to shoot. Ground vehicles, alas, do block line of sight, so their best use is to be on the flank of the army and stay out of the line of sight while shooting and/or being used as a distraction.
So, to recap: generally, first turn of shooting should target the fast element, the second turn should target the close combat and fear element, and only then should the player concentrate on the walking TMC's, engaging them in close combat as much as possible. Keep these target priorities in mind when deploying to maximize the firepower you can get in these first two crucial turns.
This guide has, hopefully, give the reader a leg up on dealing with a Tyranid Godzilla army or at least give them some rough guidelines to follow in engaging it. I wish I could say that there is a fool-proof way of defeating the Godzilla army, but there simply isn't. Some armies are better suited to dealing with them, like a mechanized Tau or Eldar force, and the 'classic' Tyranid swarm usually wins against the Godzilla Tyranid swarm too. However most rank-and-file armies, like IG and Space Marines, will have trouble with the huge number of T 6 creatures backed by excellent anti-infantry firepower and great close combat troops. Still, every little bit helps.