I specifically chose to play Tyranids since I had never played with a horde army nor had I ever used a monstrous creature. My experience was... poor. Bryce's previous post pretty much sums up my experience. Even before the game I had a strong feeling that Bryce's Imperial Guard would wipe me out. This past summer, with only a couple months experience, I was able to fare relatively well against a Tyranid army that was similar in composition to the one I used last night.
I took away the following from the game:
1.) Space Marines are awesome. The worst armor save in the army is a 4+, for heaven's sake. Only the more elite Tyranid units have a 4+ or better save. Neophyte Marines still have strength 4 and toughness 4. Marines may fall back, but they never run away (unlike those stupid Hormagaunts). Heavy weapons aren't limited to heavy units or HQs; a lowly Space Marine in the basic ten man Tactical Squad can cheaply carry a lascannon and a five man Scout Squad can carry a heavy bolter or missile launcher for a few points.
As I watched my Hormagaunts and Termagants get wiped from the board by weapons that plink off Space Marine armor, and when my entire Warrior Brood was instantly killed by a Manticore's strength 10 AP4 Storm Eagle rockets, I found myself greatly missing my 3+ saves.
2.) Let me get this straight: I have a 205 point monstrous creature who only has a 3+ armor save, no invulnerable save, is very difficult to hide in cover, and can always be picked out as a separate target even if it joins another group? It has a high strength weapon (a Heavy Venom Cannon) but it's a small blast template weapon that is more likely to drift off target than to hit anything? Why am I paying so much for this thing again? Sure the thing's a bear in close combat, but what does it matter when it's forced to march across the board in the face of Krak missiles, lascannons, etc.? Its toughness 6 sounds great, but just like a power-armored Marine the creature will be wounded on a 2+ by any weapon with a strength of 8 or higher. Bryce has generously distributed such weapons throughout his Guard army.
Space Marine HQs, on the other hand, can all be mixed in with another squad (hello meat shield!). Except for Librarians, Space Marine HQs have an Iron Halo (Captains and Chapter Masters) or a Rosarius (Chaplains) that confers a 4+ invulnerable save. Granted most of them only have toughness 4 and can therefore be instantly killed by strength 8+ weapons if they fail a save, but then again unnamed Marine HQs usually cost about half as much as a Hive Tyrant. For only 125 points my Ultramarines can field Chaplain Cassius. Not only does he have a 3+ armor save and a 4+ invulnerable save, but he also has toughness 6 and the Feel No Pain special rule. And his Hellfire rounds will wound anything on a 2+. I'm pretty sure that Cassius would have gotten across the table that night when my Hive Tyrant couldn't. Or, if you have points to spare, you can spend 265 points to field Marneus Calgar; the Ultramarine's answer to the monstrous creature (more on this in a future post).
3.) Monstrous creatures don't really replace armored vehicles. Unless they can shoot directly at the rear of the vehicle, the standard weapons (lasguns, bolters, shootas, etc.) of the troops of most armies won't even go through the armor of a Rhino, let alone that of a Land Raider. However, toughness 6 Hive Tyrants and Carnifexes can be wounded even by a lowly lasgun on a roll of 6. When you have dozens of Guard firing at a Hive Tyrant, the odds are pretty good that a few sixes are going to be rolled. The high point of one of my early games was when a crippled Predator with only a storm bolter still operational finished off a Carnifex.
Additionally, a standard vehicle is guaranteed 12" of movement through clear terrain. It may not be able to fire any of its weapons, but at least you know it can move a certain distance. If a monstrous creature runs, it's a gamble whether it will move only 7", can go a full 12", or is limited to something in between.
If Chaos Daemons can manage to produce a vehicle (the Soul Grinder), then the space-faring Tyranids should be able to make a vehicle.
4.) I will definitely not be doing a horde army after I finish the Ultramarines. Not only am I too slow at painting to complete so many models in a reasonable time, but I just don't have the patience to set up and move dozens upon dozens of figures. A lot of time and care had to go into making sure that I spread the models out as much as possible to reduce the effectiveness of blast templates, which the Imperial Guard has in spades.
More and more it looks like my next army will be some sort of Marine equivalent. I'll be giving Chaos Space Marines/Chaos Legions a close look when their new codex comes out.