I’ve recently been tinkering with Tyranids, and I’m starting to get the hang of how they play. They are masters of unit debuffs, with a wide range of options for reducing the speed and armor of opposing units. These mechanics serve a number of purposes:
- Reducing speed allows you to block with much greater freedom. Instead of needing high-speed Gargoyle-type units, which are very specialized and niche, you can use the more common Gaunts units to take the shooting hits at a battle.
- Reducing speed also allows your shooting units to become much more effective. Granted, Tyranids don’t have a lot of shooting units to begin with, but with speed reduction, even the vanilla Huntsman (CC) warrior card becomes a solid shooter.
- Reducing armor allows your aforementioned Gaunts to effectively assault a much wider range of opposing units. They usually come with a meager assault value of 2, which doesn’t do a whole lot to vehicles and Space Marines. Reducing the armor of these units will allow you to “trade up” with much greater frequency.
It’s for these reasons that Spore Mines are an invaluable role player in a Tyranids deck. With the command line ability to infiltrate, you will see them very frequently during a game. Unlike other infiltrating units, they will also impact the sector immediately upon arriving, forcing opponents to reassess their strategy.
The tactic ability of Spore Mines also has wide-ranging consequences. With it, each of your units now threatens to take out an opposing attacking unit through counterattack. In addition, the firepower boost can come in handy if you absolutely need to destroy a unit by shooting – for example, against a Planetary Defence Cannon, which is generally immune to Tyranid assaults.
There is some risk, however, to popping the Spore Mines too early and losing the speed debuff for the rest of the battle. It is safer to use towards the end of a battle, when most of your opponent’s units are already locked, or at smaller battles where you can use it safely without worrying about a retaliating shooting attack that you can’t block.
All that to say, Spore Mines are great to debuff speed, but shouldn’t be your only option. I’ve found Ymgarl ‘Stealers and Catalyst Zoanthropes to serve a similar purpose to great effect, and I covered The Red Terror in an earlier SCD. Whatever cards you choose to use, speed debuffs are crucial to effectively taking sectors with Tyranids.
Just remember: deploy your exploding gas bags early and often!