The Null Deployment Army Model

Before “Way of Saim-Hann” and all my jetbikes I used to play Space Wolves. Funny right? Could you picture Fritz playing Space Wolves? This was right around the time 3rd was moving over to 4th and I had lots of grey hunters, scouts, long fangs, a land raider, and blood claws with assault packs. Once I really got rolling with my Eldar the Sons of Russ got tucked away in the gaming closet with Space Fleet and Dark Future.

When the new Space Wolf codex dropped I dug out my old army and put together a list. 1750 back in the day quickly dropped down to something like 1680 in the new codex. Now, I knew GW was reducing the cost of models to sell more, to get more on the table, to get us to play Apocalypse one way or the other, but seeing it like this with an army that I used to play day in and out was the first step in a new direction for me.

I knew armies were increasing in side, more bodies, more guns, more vehicles, as I’ve felt this creep first hand with my Saim-Hann still stuck with a 4th ed. codex especially hurting with the cost of wave serpents vs. similar transports like Valks and Razorbacks. Alpha- strike, mass reserves, turn five contesting, etc. – all points on this blog keep my Eldar in the fight, and hopefully yours also…

Rewind to a month or so ago when I had a chance to pick up a massive Tyranid army for a very reasonable price. I wasn’t looking for another army, and I’ve never played Tyranids before, but it was the type of thing that I knew I would kick myself later for if I didn’t snatch it up.

In many ways, this army is the Battle For Salvation’s (the 40K club where I play) Tyranid Army. Some dude started out with it first back at the very start of 4th, then it went to Brother Captain James, followed by Ultrabob, Black-Matt, back to Ultrabob, again to Black-Matt, and now to good old Fritz. Along the way it got a couple of repaints, conversions, and updates. I’m adding my own touches and 5th ed. models to it, and I’m sure a few years from now another proud club member will be fielding it on the table…

So I’m sitting here with this army as a complete n00b. By that I mean I’m not saddled with any of the baggage that long time ‘nid players have from the old codex. I still see cats playing the ‘stealer rush and nidzilla, and the only thing I can say about that, having faced it, and continuing to face it from an Eldar perspective is that X-zilla is dead and buried. I knew I didn’t want to go in that direction.

Time to hit up the internetz and spy on some of the other Tyranid players in my local area to get a base to build on, and what do I see? Tervagons and gaunt farms everywhere the eye can see! The strategy of pooping out as many gaunts as possible each turn seems to be working for them, but what worried me a bit was how some of the other club members had started facing these lists in the local tourney scene and they were really just a paper tiger. Swarm out as many gaunts as you want but when you are facing a crapload of razorback, predator, and land raider spam what happens? Now, I will further admit that it might be the player rather than the list, so what I do is put myself in the game with that list and compare it to some of the best players in our club- Danny Internets, Charlie Wolf, and Iron Ed. These guys bring the pain with their listhammer armies and I just can’t see standing up to that kind of firepower, especially with everything getting cheaper and cheaper in points to the point where 6+ razorbacks, 3 preds, land raiders, and rifleman dreads are the norm. For the first time in a long time I’m afraid of marines, and let’s not even talk about Imperial Guard!

I suited up, put my cup on, and promptly got my balls kicked in a few times. Not getting armor saves on the majority of your army (Tyranids) is the kiss of death with so many template weapons and ways to negate cover saves- either through them or by objective placement. This was the second step, besides, pushing 100+ models across the table gets very tiring…

Time for another way, and for me when the rules of the game chance, you no longer play by the rules is how I look at it- and this is what I mean by that statement. In every game “system” there are two sets of rules- the official game mechanics rules and the rules of a social contract between you and the other player. Obviously if you break the official rules you are a cheater, but what about the social rules? What the other player expects to face besed on experience? Nothing says you have to play by these expectations right?

Each club and gaming community has those unwritten rules- we play at 1500 points as our standard, no “special characters” allowed, we just play for kill points, we use comp because it makes thing fair, etc. These are the rules that I want to chance, or approach from an unexpected angle. Now let’s layer the internet over this social concept idea. Everybody has an opinion on 40K out there- some good, some bad, some you can’t even understand- but what is FACT is that the internet drives the 40K community more than we are all aware of. Say it loud enough and over and over until it becomes canon. Lists take shape, “best” ways to play the game, listhammer. The social contract of 40K says I line up my plastic dudes here, you line yours up there and we play a game. You know where I am coming from and everything is real straight forward. Well, what if I don’t want to play this way? Can the game be played another way?

Somewhere along the lines I just started reserving everything in my Saim-Hann warhost to cut down on a turn or two of shooting for my opponent, and to prevent being alpha-striked which seems to be the way the game is going. I may still get blasted off the table, but at least I can get some shots in or set up skimmer walls, everything I talk about on the blog here. Even now in tournaments when I reserve everything people either seem to panic and freak out, or look at me like I’m completely nuts. What if I could build on that only be all on top of my opponent by turn two?

Enter Tyranids as the first codex that can really pull off the game model that I’m going to present and want to exploit. Blood Angels and I’m sure the releases after that will follow with the same build possibility. Other codexes can attempt to do it, but there are fundamental design handicaps that fully prevent it. Now to the heart of the article- I’m going to summarize as best I can this model opening it up for comments and trail with your own army. Now obviously I can’t cover everything so fill in the gaps to make it work. I’m also going to cover the concept from an Eldar and generic marine perspective even if it doesn’t 100% work in the next few posts, but best case scenario first so it is easiest to see…

I want you to completely rebuild your army list and forget about deployment zones- every table edge and empty spot on the table is your deployment zone. Forget about lining up like its WW I, time to move into WW2 Blitzkrieg! Other players have built their army (social contract) to work in their deployment zone lining up, moving and shooting. I want you to smash that conceptual model in their face and hit them from everywhere- game over by turn three!

Here is my presentation of the model:

Group One: Spearhead.
These are the guys that do start in your deployment zone (Yes I just said not to have any!) and get deployed as far forward and to the center as possible. In my ‘nid list it is done by carnifexes and tyrannofexes. Their job is to march forward shooting, running, etc. to get to the center of the table as fast as they can.

Group Two: Outflankers.
This is the bulk of my army- genestealers, a huge gaunt swarm with hive commander, etc. that are going to come in off the edges. One or two don’t work- delivering six huge units will.

Group Three: Center Smashers.
The final group are infiltrator, deepstrikers, and pop in guys like lictors, and raveners who support the second group till the first arrives.

First, second, third group, got it- now the plan.

In a tournament setting, and now especially that I have posed it all here to see, I have to assume my opponent is going to look at my list and know what I am going to do. You guys previously running those ‘stealer shock lists ruined it for me! Now as soon as guys see genestealers they thing genestealer = outflank. What do you do against an outflanking army? Pull back to the center of the table and fire away as the incoming flankers advance. If my opponent does this then it is the same as me just running across the board and that’s not going to work. Allowing them to do this, especially if you only have one or two outflankers means all of their army is shooting at those two units- that is the first reason why you need 8+ units able to bypass the normal deployment zone plus a way to tack on a +1 to reserves so most stuff comes on the table. Hive commander, Swarmy the Swarmlord, Deathleaper, Lictors, all help with this, indeed helping to make the idea completely viable.

You need a way to keep your opponent in place so your outflankers can hit them, and this is done though objective placement and group two/three in the model list. With as many objectives as I can deploy they are going 12.” away from the table edge. If my opponent tries to hold them I’m assaulting the turn my stuff enters, if they pull back then…

…my second group pops up in the center and starts attacking all from there while the third group continues to advance putting pressure on my opponent to expand back out to the table sides so they aren’t assaulted by carnifexes and tyrannofexes. Imagine the idea of a wagon train suddenly attacked in all directions and they pull close together. As soon as this happens my guys start popping up in the center of their circle while a huge anvil like battering ram is running right at them. My artistic MS paint map below sums the idea up…

THAT is where I am heading and where I want to be playing the game while my opponents are still stuck in a warhammer fantasy type model.

Now, I’ll be expanding in more bits and details with Tyranids over on my Tyranid blog, while adapting the model for my Eldar and other armies here on this blog. Unfortunately for now Necrons need not apply till they get a new ‘dex. This idea might be an option for other codex armies, but for Tyranids and Blood Angels I can’t really see any other way to play them. Doing so is like going back to running a 4th edition infantry army vs. 5th edition mech gunline armies…

Comments, feedback, flames on the Null Deployment Model? What do YOU think about building an army to bypass deployment? Especially hand for those tournaments that have wacky deployment parameters. Good model plan or just too risky for your tastes?