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Nick's 'Nids - A Tyranid Army by Nick Cox

I’ve always been a fan of creepy crawlies so it seemed perfectly natural to be drawn to tyranids when it came to deciding on my latest army. When I put an army together I always like to have a theme in mind. Initially I was drawn to the Alien films but a quick look on Google confirmed my suspicion that it had been done a zillion times before – I like to be at least a little original! Eventually I came across the picture below and that was all the inspiration I needed. A vicious looking warrior caste termite. I really liked the creamy abdomen, orange thorax and the glossy black mandibles. This is how I wanted my ‘nids to be.

Despite the theme being the main element of any army I construct, I also like to take my armies to tournaments and want to be reasonably competitive. I checked over the Warhammer forum for discussion on Tyranid builds and found that ‘Nidzilla was a sure winner, but most players considered it on the ‘beardy’ side. I then came across an alternative build that relied heavily on Warriors – perfect! Rather than going for the tyranid staples of monstrous creatures or surging horde, this build relied on a small number of elite infantry and the thrust seemed to be using them like Space Marines i.e. well armoured and equipped so as to be versatile and dependable.

The army took around 5 months from conception to finish. At the time of writing it has only had one outing at the Pompey Pillage 2008. The army finished mid-table but picked up the players choice for Best Army. What follows are pictures of the finished army, information on how the army plays, how the models/bases were painted and finally future plans.

How the Army Plays:

I have enjoyed some success with the army although it is not a tournament winning build. I have settled on this as a rough list:

1 X Winged Tyrant (the Queen of the Hive) tooled up for combat.

2 X 4 or 5 Warriors with ranged weapons.

10 Genestealers tooled up for combat.

10 Gaunts with devourers

5 Winged Warriors tooled up for combat

4 Winged Ripper Swarms

1 X Carnifex set up as a gun-fex

1 X Carnifex set up as a hybrid combat/dakka fex

2X Zoanthropes

As might be expected the force is designed for close combat. If the Tyrant and Genestealers get in they are the business! Sadly I have not found the Winged Warriors, or indeed the Warriors to be quite as devastating, but importantly they are durable and reliable. These bugs have proved great for holding up the enemy or providing support for the bigger bugs. This is a bit disappointing as they were the original theme and inspiration for the army, but the models are great they look wonderful on the table-top.

The Ripper Swarms are terribly delicate both in game terms and the models! Luckily they look great so the effort was worth it. Under 5th Edition rules I think they will prove to be more useful as they should provide a nice cover save for the Genestealers or Winged Warriors – this the main reason I have invested in them.

The Zoanthropes are wonderful. I am planning on upgrading to three as soon as possible. Their 2+ save is a source of great frustration to the enemy and the Warp Blast is great for taking down enemy vehicles. The Gun-Fex and Tyrant also excel in this field, while the Combat/Dakka Fex is always a source of worry for the enemy as he moves forward supporting his brethren.

Overall I’ve found the build to be varied and fun to play. It can cope in a tournament environment but is never going to enjoy the success of a ‘Nid Zilla list. Maybe things will be different under 5th Edition . . . .

How the army was painted.

Firstly I bagged a few cheap models on ebay to make test models. I decided on using Plasti-kote Terracotta Spray as a primer and base coat. This has to be handled with care as it can spray too thickly, but it gives an excellent start for a natural colour scheme. I then developed a painting recipe that would be applied uniformly to the whole army. This is to make the force as coherent as possible. I knew it was going to be a test of patience as the models are so similar, but with a relatively small number of bugs to deal with I knew it was do-able.

Here are the recipes that I used:

Skin tones: Rough dry brush Bronzed Flesh. Light dry brush Elf flesh. Windsor and Newton Burnt Sienna ink all over. Windsor and Newton Peat Brown ink ONLY in the recesses. Dry brush with Bronzed Flesh and Elf Flesh again. Colour and high-light with as many thin washes of Elf Flesh as necessary. High light with washes of Elf Flesh and a little Skull White.

A close up of the skin tones on one of the Carnifexes.

Carapace/Claw tones: Wash over the terracotta base coat with Burnt Sienna and Peat Brown as before (this helps to keep the theme going). With a crappy old brush Mechrite Red is dappled around the edges to make it look a little rough and organic. Repeat with Mechrite Red and Chaos black (50/50 mix). Repeat with Chaos black. Then my secret ingredient for the glossy black tips – Gallery Glass Window Colour Crystal Clear. This is designed to be painted on glass to create a stained glass finish, but here it gives a thick glossy finish. The problem is that it is designed to peel off, so a couple of final layers of Citadel gloss varnish are needed to seal it in place and make it even shiner.

A close up of one of the Carnifex Carapaces

Veins/Tubes/Toxin Sac/ Adrenal Glands: Treat exactly as skin tones. Finish with a thin layer of Rotting Flesh. Then high-light with Rotting Flesh with Skull White (50/50 mix). Wash with Windsor and Newton Apple Green ink. Repeat the two layers of Rotting flesh. Finally to make it look slimy and organic a layer of Citadel Gloss is painted over the top.

Finally the bits of the model that have not had some gloss varnish are given some Citadel Matt to give protection and help contrast the shiny bits.

Now, the number of layers may surprise some people here. I would estimate there are between 12 and 15 layers at any one point on the skin and maybe up to 20 on the brightest high-lights. It takes ages but this is the only way to get really good depth of colour and smooth transitions. The paint MUST be very thin or it will become a mess very quickly. Such are the sacrifices one must make for the Hive Mind!

The bases

I’ve had quite a few positive comments about the bases of the ‘Nids. These are quite complex so need a bit of explaining.

Firstly I scavenged all sorts of ‘industrial junk’. On the bases you will find things such as: bits of sprue; chopped up McDonalds coffee stirrers; parts of an old plastic tank; City of Death bits; strings from an old guitar; wire mesh etc. Almost anything can be used with a bit of imagination.

I wanted some larger pieces of junk and also some Tyranid bio-structures for the bases. The items on sale from various retailers can quickly get very expensive, so a cheap alternative was in order. I got hold of some thickened liquid latex (ebay is a good source) to make moulds of the items I wanted to use often.

This sounds hard but it dead simple once you know how. Simply paint this in layers gradually over a few days on the item you want to reproduce. After around 15 layers have been painted simply peel off and, voila, you have a latex mould of that item.

Once you have the moulds it is relatively cheap to cast them in plaster, although I prefer to use Herculite or Alpha K. These materials are not as easy to paint as plastic or metal so I recommend coating with a layer of PVA glue first. Once this is on you can paint as normal

The various bits of junk and plaster were stuck on the bases with glue. The rest of the base was then covered with PVA and a few pieces of coarse grit were sprinkled on. This was followed by fine sand. Anything non-organic was then painted black while the organic stuff was painted in the same way as the tyranid models to keep a consistent theme.

Non-organic material was first dry brushed Astronomican gray and then metal bits where drybrushed with a mix of Astronomican gray and Boltgun metal. To make the rust Scorched Brown was dappled on and high-lighted with a little Macharius Solar Orange. I also applied some Rust from – this is a special set that allows you to make real rust on your models. The picture below shows the effects that can be achieved.

In some places I drilled out the Plaster from the organic items as I wanted the effect of tyranids bursting forth from the egg cases. This was quite hard work but well worth the effort. In the pictures below some Rippers are bursting from a Winged Ripper’s base, while a Winged Warrior perches on the case of hatching warrior about to be added to its brood.

Future Plans

I’m happy with this army and it will be my 40K force of choice for some time. The Hive Mind is always evolving however, and there are many worlds to be infested. I am planning on adding models to the army so that I can play it as both a Horde list and a Nidzilla list in the future. I’ve also got my eye on making it up to at least 3K in case I get the chance to play some Apocalypse at some point.

In the short-term I plan to add more Winged Warriors and Rippers. I haven’t found them to be hugely useful on the battlefield, but I’m a big fan of the models and the flying theme. A third Zoanthrope is also a must. Finally a small brood of Raveners are in the offing, although these might not get a look in as my fast attack slots are being used up already.

Longer term (and with 5th Edition in mind) I want to add a couple of much larger broods of gaunts. Probably one with Flesh Borers and a Hormagaunt brood to replace or compliment the very expensive Genestealers. For Nidzilla flavour I want to add a standard Tyrant model to go with my ‘Queen’ model (her mate), I am also planning on converting a Carnifex into a Trygon. Finally as a side project (given enough time!) I am planning to cast and paint more Egg sacs and Capillary Tubes to make scenery items for the army – they will have to be tall and densely packed so my bugs can hide behind them!