I'm going to discuss Cypher and Tyranids.
CypherI had a game using Cypher yesterday... He is crazy good for Chaos Space Marines (obvious) ! Cypher can boost a squad of Chaos Space Marines to a higher level, which is what you really want. I attached him to a squad of Berserkers in a rhino and outflanked them. This tactic works a lot better with a shootier unit such as Chosen, Havocs or Plague Marines but still it did quite well. If you're willing to pay the points this could work very well with a squad of terminators in a dedicated land raider. I used the unit to distract my opponent and didn't disembark them since it was versus Mechdar. The rhino was in cover and sucked up a lot of shots for a couple turns then I moved and flat out back into my deployment zone to entice the eldar to come closer... Which they did (much to their chagrin, heh). This is basically the same exact tactic for Chosen from the previous codex since they used to have Infiltrate... However Cypher adds some longevity to the attached unit since he is Shrouded and has ATSKNF (And They Shall Know No Fear) and can Hit and Run. This unit can be a real thorn in the side for eldar and Tau. Cypher even managed to strip a hull point from a Wave Serpent the turn his unit arrived... You can't knock a BS10 plasma pistol. I'll definitely be using him so more!
TyranidsWell the new book is out and they lost most everything that made them competitive in sixth edition... Basically this is a dairy free codex—there is no cheese. So it's time to start trying new things which can be exciting if you're willing to spend the time and take a chance on new things. A lot of people are saying the codex is the worst ever which sounds exactly like when the fifth edition codex was released. The big question is Can we prove the Internet wrong ?
I played Tyranids for over a year towards the end of fifth edition and did okay. While I never won a tournament with them I always placed high and could consistently beat the big three from one edition back—Grey Knights, Imperial Guard and Space Wolves. I finished with a 5-1-1 record at WarGamesCon two years ago and my only loss was to the captain of the American ETC team (footdar). I then shelved the army and started to play Necrons. Therefore I'm in somewhat of a unique position since I did not play Tyranids in sixth edition... I have more of an open mind rather than being frustrated, which is a good thing in my mind. I did win several tournaments with Necrons so I should be very honest... It's going to be a big challenge to design a really competitive Tyranid army. Challenges can be fun though and playing Tyranids in fifth edition made me overall a much better tactical player.
The First Step
Before I attempt to design an army list I think the first step is to develop a strict set of specifications focusing on what you want to accomplish. Tyranids have always been strong in melee and we can still take that for granted.The primary goal is to design a list that can beat the top tier armies:
Chaos Daemons tend to be highly mobile, highly psychic and are strong in melee. Eldar tend to be highly mobile, highly psychic and strong in shooting. Tau tend to have limited mobility and are very strong in shooting. Let's make a list of the common elements we have to counter:
Daemons are the only melee-centric army of the three and this can actually be exploited by Tyranids since the Bugs are also melee-centric... Daemonic Instability is their proverbial Achilles' Heel if you can take advantage.
Shadows in the Warp is still one of the best deterrents to enemy Psykers plus the -d3 is across the board for all leadership tests... That's definitely one of the really good things in the new codex.
Board control is one tactic to limit your opponent's mobility... Which Tyranids can do well since they are by their very definition a horde army. There is a point reduction for gants and I think the best approach is no upgrades for the fodder to take advantage - better to spend the saved points elsewhere.
If you can design a list that consistently beats the top three then it should also be able to handle all the rest.
Interestedly enough I have seen a good number of discussions how to build a competitive Tyranid army—some of the elements from fifth edition Tyranids have cropped up again such as using Venomthropes. While both eldar and Tau can bypass cover saves this is not the case for most armies and eldar are mostly limited to the Serpent Shield. The main point is we can look back one edition to see what might be useful again.
I will refrain from using massive fortifications or Lords of War to build my first list. The army must be fundamentally sound at the most basic level and not rely upon gimmicks to win. If you must resort to gimmicks you won't really learn anything truly useful at this point. If (and when) Escalation and Stronghold Assault gain some acceptance at major events then I'll come back and take a closer look at super heavies and fortifications... For now it's just the bare bones codex.