Sunday, January 30, 2011

2 Part Tactica: 20 Genestealers and the "Passive Assault"

As you've probably noticed, all my recent lists have large units of genestealers.  This is outside the norm of what we're seeing on forums and in the blogosphere, so here a breakdown of how I make it work.

***Disclaimer:  I set this photo shoot up as a sample scenario, it's not from a batrep.  In reality, there will be a lot more factors and a lot more movement, so take it with a grain of salt and apply it where you can in real games.  Also, this was laid out on a 25% terrain coverage table with several types and levels of terrain.  I assure you all models are in 2" coherency for all moves.  The genestealers are a tad outside 18" to start.***

Here's a sample pitched battle deployment against CSM:

Note that when using this 20 genestealer unit (usually with toxin sacs) I almost always infiltrate them.  The unit is too expensive and vital to my playstyle to risk not coming in until late game.  I know some people get sqeamish about taking first turn casualties.  We'll look at this closer from the chaos standpoint.

More than 50% of the 20 genestealers in cover from these units...
And these units...
And these units can't see a majority either.

So a majority of the stealers are in cover from each firing angle, and they are in range of the tervigon for synapse and catalyst.  So I give them FnP and move them up.
If you look closely, they are spread out and extended in two points to threaten several units and help me control the center of the board.  They also string back to the tervigon for synapse.

Still in cover...
And from here...
They should be drawing a lot of fire, but cover and FnP should negate around 75% of the small arms fire.  If they start taking heavy weapons fire, that's less going into your hive guard and tervigon.

My next turn, I shift to focus on one assault and set up the "passive assault".  I have been using this tactic, but didn't see it named and broken down until Ben "Spacecurves" wrote the article for BoLS.  Basically you want to assault in a way that minimizes first round casualties so your unit doesn't free itself to get shot next turn.  It can also be used to pull scoring units away from objectives.

As you can see, I redirect towards a single unit, with very few genestealers that will actually attack.
I assault into cover, but it's a 5 man unit and I have FnP so casualties should be minimal.
Defenders react and we exchange blows.  The goal here is draw combat, lose by a little and rely on synapse and FnP to mitigate casualties, or win by only 1 or 2 so the target unit doesn't break.
Then, we pile in and a lot of genestealers get in attack range.  Now, I assaulted the unit furthest from his reinforcements.  I can't get shot as we're locked in combat.  I'm higher initiative and with poison and rending, I should wipe out his unit and be able to assault again during my next turn.

So there it is.  I hope this helps with in-game execution.  20 genestealers with cover and FnP are extremely resilient if they're fearless.  They are a large enough unit to threaten multiple units in a MSU match up.  They can often hit too hard and get shot down after they hit home, so use the passive assault to keep them locked in combat during your opponent's shooting phases.


  1. Beautiful. From the many batreps I've seen/read, one of the key skills for a Tyranid player is mastering individual model placement for effective unit maneuver. Now if I can just figure out how to translate the above for a unit of 4-6 warriors =p

  2. Looks great in theory:) May I translate this article in russian for my readers?

  3. Wow..I am yet again amazed. I was about to quit Nids because of constantly losing with them until you told me to try out the 20 stealer brood. After that I have made Nids my primary army! That's a lot considering I have a fully mechanized Vet IG Mech army and DA army :)

    Thanks a lot of the strat. I've been using them to great effect but never in the way you just suggested with attacking into a squad that's small to minimize casualties and keep yourself safe from the next round of combat. You sir are a genius. Mind if I link back here from my blog?

  4. I've always said genestealers are the only troop worth taking in the new codex. They have always been and with the problems presented now with elites I think they are even better. They need to be fielded in large units to be effective as you are doing.


  5. I'm sure it's not.

    As per my mission statement, my goal is to show tyranids can compete. I have about a 4:1 win/loss ratio with my bugs and I'm trying to share tips and tricks with others.

  6. Hi Synapse3. Just a question about the passive assault tactic. As shown in your picture, Do we assault with 2 genestealers? From what i know if the unit can't reach the other unit the assault cannot be initiated. Is it like that or as long as the model can reach the other model the assault can be initiated and for those who can't reach will just move 6 inches. Thanks . BTW i am a gamer in the phil too and i share the same Gaming Club with Ian ( He told me about your site to learn nids)

  7. @ Soon_J ~ In a perfect world, this tactic works best if you only have 1 genestealer in assault range. Possibly more scaled up to counter the assault prowess of the unit you are assaulting.

    The key is not failing your assault move distance. Technically assaulting into terrain can fail if you roll triple 1's, move-through-cover should safely yeild 4-5" so that's the goal range I try to eyeball when setting up the move. The max coherency of 2" between genestealers is more important as that will prevent too many stealers from getting into conribution range and steamrolling the unit you are assaulting.

  8. @hyv3mynd
    Oh. So let me just tell you what I understand
    1 Move and run with my Stealers and provide cover and if i can FNP
    2 1 Will be in assault range and charge. Pile in moves after the combat is resolved
    3 His units are wiped out on his turn
    4 I repeat step2

    Thanks for your help.

  9. That's the plan. The dice ultimately make or break the tactic.

  10. Great blog. I'm building a tyranid army for my wife, but I think I have to take a few games with it. This gave me so much information for my BA-army. I'm in a habit of slaying the enemy before assaulting and then I get shot. I think my army works pretty much the same as yours. Thank you, I'll be watching you.