Alpha Strike Tyranids; myth or fact? Can you run a viable first turn attack list with bugs? Let’s find out together.
Tyranids are, if anything, versatile. In each of our slots we have choices tailored to certain performance factors. We can gear up for the most unpleasant close combat you have seen since your slumber parties with that weird kid you knew in elementary school who always wanted to pillow fight you. Or, load the guns and empty more S4 shots then a Space Marine can even count. But how do they fare with Alpha Strike?
Alpha Strike has two flavors; Deepstrike in fast and hard or jet across the board into close combat or with long range weapons. Tyranids really can’t perform the latter. With a myriad of 18” weapons and only a few 48” guns it’s not likely we will do much damage on the first turn with just shooting. Even with Biovores we struggle in this regard. So that leaves Deepstriking. Now I have heard it told that Tyranids perform Alpha Strike poorly, but to that I say, “You’re doing it wrong.”
From monsters that don’t mishap and Mycetic Spores that don’t mishap, Tyranids already have a leg up on most armies during the reserves phase. In addition to that, we have special rules that allow us to infiltrate troops that normally can’t. We also get three different ways to increase our reserve rolls; the Hive Tyrant, Swarm Lord, and Lictors can be used in conjunction. Now if you intend on Deepstriking in, you probably wouldn’t take the Swarm Lord since he would have to walk on the board edge. The Lictor only works when he’s on the table but you have to start the game in reserve. That really only leaves the Hive Tyrant with wings. He can Deepstrike and from reserve gives us plus one to our rolls. It’s a shame they took away the ability to stack Hive Commanders. So, instead, turn two you come in on 3+, and turn three you come in on 2+.
Some of my favorite units to Alpha Strike with are; Devourer Gaunts with a Mycetic Spore, these guys drop in and unload 60 S4 shots and can easily wipeout almost any unit you want. Zoanthropes in a Spore can pop any tank and don’t forget about that S5 AP3 small blast template, could be good for taking out a unit of Space Marines. Trygons, Mawlocs, and Primes; do I even need to explain? A six wound MC that can come up anywhere without fail, just don’t hit that board edge, and take any flank it wants is a good unit in my book. I also enjoy using Tervigons and infiltrating. That’s right, you can use Hive Commander and if you take a unit of Gaunts you also get a Tervigon as a troop choice that can now infiltrate.
So why Alpha Strike? You can clearly put together an all Deepstrike list that can hurt anything you want it to, but why do this? Well, sadly Tyranids get hosed pretty hard the first two turns. We have short to midrange shooting and our true strength is in assault. Now, aside from Hormagaunts, we have a long way to walk across the board before we get into combat. Usually we screen meat shields to save us from taking wounds where we don’t want them. But, if we decided to leave our entire army in reserve we can negate up to two turns of enemy shooting. If you reserve your entire army then you clearly get to miss out on turn one of shooting, for our enemies who rely on shooting Nids this is bad for them. Then if you manage to get second initiative then you also get to come in turn two and miss out on all your opponents shooting on that turn as well. Properly run you can avoid two turns of shooting, come in with the majority of your forces and lay down some fast and hardy firepower, and now you are in range for assault. Yes, you will get shot at next turn, but that is one round of shooting verses two and next turn you get to assault. This is an excellent way to deal with massive tank lists or armies that are too fast normally to catch.
Now it’s time for your opinions. How do you guys like your Alpha Strikes? If you know your opponent is Alpha Striking how do you handle it?