I mean it. Really long. Anywho, here are my impressions of the new 'Nids after a few matches and after a lot of time thinking:
Hive Tyrant: Although his cost has decidedly increased, he remains a fearsome opponent both in CC and at range, depending on what you want out of him. You can give him 2 TL Devourers for pretty cheap, but I'm also really liking the Venom Cannon on him. On the CC front the Lash Whip makes him a beast now, and the amount of upgrades you can give him can turn him into an even bigger powerhouse.
I think what needs to be remembered though is that his upgrades are pricey and you can easily get to 300 points if you aren't careful.
He also brings some great abilities; Hive Commander is a godsend and allows for a very new type of Tyranids army. I don't particularly like the Outflank part (1/3 of the time you end up where you don't want to) but +1 to reserves is great if you're podding, or deep striking fliers. I'm thinking Old Adversary is probably best with a Winged Tyrant (easier to get him into position) who, despite the upped cost, is still pretty effective.
As for his Psychic Powers, Leech Life and Paroxysm come off as the no-brainers. Again, I think Psychic Scream and the Horror are better suited to a winged tyrant who can get into position with greater ease. What needs to be said about Leech Life, though, is that against T4 or higher you'll be lucky to recover a single wound. With a twin-devourer tyrant it won't be awesome either because you'll have to sacrifice shooting one of them, but then again that applies to all of his psychic powers. Also a problem is that if you use a psychic power you won't be able to run, making it that much harder to get into position.
All in all, though, a great model with many interesting possibilities. Just try and keep him cheap!
Tyrant Guard: These boys are pretty straightforward. They keep your Tyrant nice and safe with cover saves and extra wounds I'd say they're only really worth it for a CC/Devourer Tyrant, though. Give one Lash Whips and keep him at the front of the unit so that ICs wanting to assault the squad have to base him first, neutering any high-initiative death dealers.
Tervigon: First thing about him is that his cost is really 210 points for the 10 Termagaunts you'll be adding to your list to make him a Troops choice. If you aren't doing this, permit me to call you insane :p. In all seriousness, though, having a T6 6W MC that can take objectives is better than pretty much any other objective holder out there (except maybe for 10 Wraithguard, but that's double the cost). Oh, did I mention that he can also crap out other scoring units? Yeah, this guy is great, seeing as he also gets a S5 18'' large blast for free and also has synapse. IMO his ability to give FC/Poison attacks to Gaunts is a trap to get you to cluster your gribblies around him; this makes him way too obvious of a target. While you can use this to your advantage, (trying to divert firepower from another squad) in general your Gaunts won't be attacking units. They'll be taking objectives, giving cover to other models, and/or blocking assaults to your heavy hitters.
Oh, and did I mention this guy's psychic powers? Dominate is cool in a pinch, and Catalyst is something that doesn't need much explanation. Onslaught, on the other hand, is one of my favourite powers of the Codex, if not the game. It takes your Trygon (prime) and turn him into even more of a death machine. It resolves the problem with having to choose to run or use a psychic power with your Tyrant. It gets your Hive Guard/Zoanthropes in range a turn earlier. It helps your Tyrannofex get away from assaulting squads that are getting too close. In short, if you take a Tervigon, Onslaught should be looked at right away if you have even a modicum of shooting in your list.
Tyranid Prime: Ridiculously cheap for what he can do (compare him to a SM Captain...I mean really...). Adrenal Glands/Bonesword/Whip. Instant carnage will ensue. Goes great with Warriors but also with Zoanthropes who are podding at some point; granted, he won't give them anything in terms of statline, but he WILL soak up Lascannon/Krak Missile shots directed at your T4 gribblies. With this setup he will also make your opponent think twice about assaulting your 'Thropes. Overall, a fantastic HQ is you want to keep things cheap and have a nasty bodyguard.
Hive Guard: New boys on the block, and popular if the red shirts at Bayshore are to be believed. Ignoring intervening cover is nice and helps take out light to medium armour. That said, I think a unit of 2 will get the job done Part of my rationale for this is that by fielding 2 in a group you're less likely to have your opponent fire at them because of the reduced returns of concentrating on that unit. Combined with onslaught as I mentioned before, these guys will be decent. I'm not a huge fan but they are definitely worth it.
Lictor Brood: Can no longer assault on the turn it comes in, which is unfortunate. His homing beacon is nice but at best it only works on turn 3 and beyond. Otherwise their potential to survive on the turn they come in has gotten better thanks to the extra wound. The +1 to reserves is not bad either but again, at best it will be relevant on turn 3 – which means you'll go from a natural 3+ to a 2+...but wait...who said your Lictor was guaranteed to come down on turn 2? You probably needed a guy with +1 to reserves already to ensure he came down on the 2nd turn...making his +1 bonus rather redundant. That said, I love his Pheromone trail ability to help coordinate subsequent Mawloc attacks – this is by far my favourite use for him.
Also, if you get a gang of them going they'll be pretty nasty in CC.
Zoanthropes: Went from BS3 S10 AP2 to BS4 S10 AP1 Lance...yeah, I'll take this. A pod is nice but not mandatory if you use Onslaught judiciously – you still have an 18 +D6'' range. These are your tank hunters and it is why your army no longer quivers when facing multi-LR lists. I see at least one brood of these as a staple for many armies.
Venomthropes:Sigh...such great models, but one glaring flaw – the lack of the “Independent Character” rule. He's a big model so you can be sure your opponent will be sending a few >S7 rounds his way and you will fail a cover save soon enough. Might be interesting if you can get creative and completely block LOS to him, but in general you'll be hard pressed to do so.
To make him a bit more survivable, I have a trick that I'm not sure will work rules wise (gotta ponder a bit). 1St: keep him out of Synapse range, but have a Tervigon nearby. When your opponent shoots at him, go to ground to get a 3+ cover save. On your turn he will (probably) fail IB and move towards the enemy; either he walks back into synapse range if you placed things right, or simply use Dominion with a Tervigon to extend your Synapse bubble to 18''. Congrats, he's back in business! Even with that though, I probably won't be taking any.
Pyrovore: Another new model with rules that are a bit...meh. However, the more I think about it, the more I'm thinking of uses for him. Coming out of a Trygon hole is neat, and so is podding him. Again, though, the Tervigon shines through; use Onslaught to give him an extra D6 of movement to extend his threat range considerably. The unpredictability of your run roll plays in your favour, too; you can potentially flame something 20'' away with this and your opponent has to take that into account. (or 14'' if you podded/trygoned him and a Tervigon is close enough). His biggest flaw? Being an Elites choice. There are so many other good choices that I'm not sure if he can compete with them.
Tyranid Warriors: Dang, they score now? Excellent troops with a pretty nasty assault potential if you give them dual swords – even more with the aforementioned Tyranid Prime. Keep 'em cheap, I say, and you'll do fine. The loss of EW is felt the strongest here, but it's not as bad as it may look – your opponent has to choose now where to send him krak missiles/lances/lascannons. At these guys, or at your Mcs that are in his face?
Genestealers: Fleet AND Outflank? Woot! These guys definitely got better, except for the loss of a potential 4+ armour (flamers hurt this unit something fierce). The Broodlord is definitely where it's at – his Hypnotize ability is definitely something that big bad characters will fear. Combine that with Implant attack and you're golden. As an aside the BL can't be singled out, meaning your opponent has to kill a bunch of stealers before getting to him. Otherwise these guys haven't changed too much, but they definitely still have their uses.
Termagaunts: Plenty of interesting options as far as weaponry goes, and not much else has changed. Oh except they make Tervigons troops. This is the main reason for taking them, IMO. If you intend to use them on the offensive they are overshadowed by the next unit...
Hormagaunts: Slightly more expensive than Termies, but so much better as far as assaults go. Give 'em Toxin Sacs and go wild. You still have to be careful about flamers, but you're faster and when you hit something it will hurt quite a bit. You might want to consider Adrenal Glands as well, though, just so you have a chance of glancing most vehicles if the need arises.
Ripper Swarm: Hmm, they don't score and are terribly vulnerable to all manner of templates and S6 weaponry? Their shooting is mediocre at best and their point cost is prohibitive. This is one of the few units I just plain don't like.
Mycetic Spore: Ooooooh yessss. Deep striking 'Nids, baby. It's a shame the Tyrant can't take them but whaddya gonna do. Great with Zoanthropes, as well as Warriors and maybe even Hive Guard. It's also pretty cheap to give them an extra cannon. Gives up a kill point, but that's ok. Definitely golden at deliering anti-tank units. Just not sure what to build it out of!
Tyranid Shrikes: Hmm, ok, so warriors lose a point of save, are no longer scoring but become jump infantry for 5 points more. If they were simply an option for the scoring Warriors I would be all over these but as it stands...I don't know. For counter-assaults they're pretty nice but I feel these boys are overshadowed by the next unit...having some very mobile synapse is nice, though.
Raveners: Like the Shrike, but better I, an extra attack, costs less and has a bigger potential assault range (thanks to being a beast and having move through cover). You have to babysit these guys with Synapse (unlike the Shrikes) but that shouldn't be too difficult. Give 'em Rending Claws and these guys are leaps and bounds better than Genestealers (minus the scoring part and the BL). These are awesome shock troops for the cost and considering 5 of them with RC is about the same a a Tac Squad, I'm sold. Sold!
Sky-Slasher Swarm: Oh lookie...flying Rippers. Two of these, or a Ravener? Come ooooon.
Gargoyle: Flying Termagaunts. Hmm. Only for a point more, though, and they get a half-assed rending. Seeing as how Termies are for blocking assaults and taking objectives and the Gargoyle can only do one of those things at greater cost, I don't think I'll be taking them. Could be cool for a flying-themed list, I guess.
Harpy: I'm seeing this guy get shit on a lot around the 'net but personally I like it. Twin-linking a blast weapon tends to make it twice as accurate which is huge with the HVC. You'll want to give this thing cover with your other MCs but I think it will be quite good. Pro-tip: have it move out of cover to shoot, and then have a Tervigon use Onslaught on itself (or another shooty MC) to place itself in front of the Harpy to give it cover again and still get a shot off.
Spore Mine Cluster: Well, it's nice that these don't give KPs anymore. They're also great for set-up denial in a Dawn of War game – they'll considerably slow down certain armies by denying them set up on the board. All in all I think these are definitely worth considering.
Carnifex Brood: Hmm...they (nearly) got their cost doubled, and became better in CC for it. Two words: Mycetic Spore. The main problem with Fexes is that they have trouble getting into CC, but with Spores they only suffer one turn of shooting before assaulting something. You'll definitely want some form of reserves bonus if you go this route. If, instead, you want to shoot with this bad boy, dual devourers aren't a bad choice, and the same goes for the HVC. Again, Onslaught makes this guy much better if you go for shootiness. If you take him for CC, I think Adrenal Glands will be necessary – an I4 S10 Carnifex is something no one can ignore. For all the nice things I've said about him, though, I think he is overshadowed by some of the newer choices.
Biovore Brood: While not awful, I can't say I'm in love with this thing. It's better than before, and might serve as decent anti-infantry, but in any game above 1500 I'll probably be maxing out my HS slots and he won't be in there. Prove me wrong!
Trygon: He is...interesting. Onslaught makes him a seductive choice, and he is pretty beastly in CC. You don't really need to babysit him with Synapse IMO, but his shooting does leave a little bit to be desired...
Trygon Prime: Alright, here, I think we have a considerably better unit going on. His shooting attack has some definitive bite to it, and the tunnel he leaves behind is an interesting choice for Zoanthropes and Pyrovores. That said, his tunnel only works for guys who come in from reserves on the subsequent turn...which is something you have no control over because, unlike for IG and Eldar, you can't chose to apply (or not) the +1 reserves bonus from the HT to individual units. Also, only infantry can do this; that means no Raveners, Fexes or things like that. Also he is quite expensive but has the same surivable as his cheaper cousin, the...
Mawloc: Ok, this guy I like. No wasted points on abilities that are too situational and he is perfect for the job. His template is golden against bunched up armies and has a decent chance of damaging vehicles too – also great for getting bozos off objectives. He can also do it multiple times. Hit and Run also means that you can't (reliably) tarpit the loveable bastard so if you try and get smart by piling into him after he deep strikes, you better make sure he dies. To make sure he hits something when he comes out, a Lictor is perfect to coordinate his strikes. Or you can use two Mawlocs. Or you can combine both tactics . Also, this is a good place to use Regenerate, I think. It isn't cheap, but it might give your opponent an extra incentive to focus on him completely. That is one of his hidden strengths – even if he gets shot to holy hell, those are shots that your opponent isn't sending after your slower units. He can also give you some decent anti-vehicle attacks if you don't want to re-burrow after the turn he comes in.
Tyrannofex: Ok, so, if you want something that will just not die, you call in this bugger. Give him a Rupture Cannon and enjoy shooting vehicles all day long. I'm not convinced of his usefulness (you'll need to babysit him with a Synapse creature or fail ~2 IB tests a game) because of his BS3, but the fact is that he will survive the large majority of your games. Regen can be added as an extra “go to hell” and although I don't personally like him, I'm sure others will make use of him.
Alright, onto the special characters:
The Swarmlord: Uh oh. You know something's gonna be bad when there's “The” beforehand. This guy is the ultimate badass. The Pwninator. Chuck Norris if he took steroids since he was in the womb. Chuck Norris if his mom took steroids while she was pregnant with him. Marneus Calgar got beat down by the Swarmlord, too. Awful internet memes aside, he is awesome. He'll beat down pretty much any big CC unit (including Ghaz and friends) and he also has great synergy with the rest of the army. Swarm Leader is a nice touch, making him a force multiplier on top of other things. Stick him with a couple Tyrant Guard and have fun casting Onslaught on him so he can use his powers while still advancing at top speed. Give him FNP for the hell of it too. This guy will tackle pretty much anything that is thrown his way and will come out laughing. The downside? Sloooow. Onslaught helps with this but you can bet your opponent will be launching all of his heavy weapons at him ASAP. Life Leech becomes more attractive for the Swarmlord, but the key to delivering him (other than what I've said) is to give your opponent more immediate threats. His +1 to reserves goes hand in hand with Mawlocs, Trygons and Podding 'Thropes (and other beasties) so build your army around this! If you have a couple Mawlocs, a couple Zoanthropes and some Tervigons bringing up the rear ON TOP of the Swarmlord and friends your opponent is going to be in a huge bind. What does he shoot? Seeing as he also has to do 9 wounds against T6 with a 4+ cover save to stop your Swarmlord (who can heal himself) he definitely won't be easy to eliminate.
The Parasite of Mortrex: A cute flying HQ choice with some interesting abilities at a decent cost. Realistically though, Rippers are crap and your opponent will simply choose not to outflank if you field this guy. He's nice in CC but lack of IC status and T4...yeah, he won't survive all that long against an army with even a bit of >S7 shooting (pretty much anything except Necrons, really).
Ymgarl Genestealers: I can see these guys becoming popular (indeed, every game I've had against the new Nids has included them) but I don't particularly like them; the lack of a broodlord hurts them a lot. Yes, their ability to pop out of terrain is nice but in a vehicle-heavy environment you're going to do what, exactly? I realize that not everyone gets a bunch of vehicles but all this means is that these Genestealers will do best against armies that have already had trouble adapting to 5th ed. They also compete with other Elites choices, such as...
Deathleaper: Another favourite of mine. He is your anti-psyker defence, and he also neuters psychic hoods. Facing a Canoness with the Book of St Lucius? Don't care He slows you down if you're moving in terrain near him. He also has all of the other Lictor fun stuff, on top making you shoot him with halved Night Fight range. For 140 points he's amazing. You can also have him jump around the board if you want, which is great if he gets caught in a CC battle he can't win. I can't see a Tyranids army that doesn't benefit from this guy.
The Doom of Malan'Tai: Rounding out the models starting with “The”, this is another fantastic bugger. When podded, the amount of damage he can put out is frightening; it's better if he is coordinated with a Lictor but it shouldn't be necessary thanks to how accurate the pods are. He has a great synergy when used with Mawlocs; they can help bunch up survivors of their deep striking and if you elect to bring in the Doom after such an event you can be pretty sure you'll have a unit or two within 6”. So after he sucks out some souls he can launch a template of doom at something and he is healed by how many wounds he inflicts. A few things to notice; his Spirit Leech happens on your opponent's turn, too. That means that if he's gearing up for an assault you'll get at least one last leech on whatever he's going to attack you with. He's another candidate for setting up with a Tyranid Prime – it will be much harder to cause ID and once again, this guy is no slouch in CC and combined with the Doom, who has a potential 3 S10 attacks, you could very possibly win combat. Love. This. Guy.
Old One Eye: I get why they put this guy in, but he's super expensive and can't take a landing spore. Thanks to his regen, your opponents have to go all or nothing on this guy, but otherwise I can't say I like him much more than a regular Carnifex yet he costs 100 points more. Definitely not as good as a Mawloc in my eyes, either.