Hey all, I'm back to give you some fresh insights into the terrifying Tyranids, an army that has under-went some major changes in the new edition of Warhammer 40K. So, let's jump right in with my thoughts on each unit in the Swarm. Consume!
If you want more Tacticas concerning some of the big players in 6th Edition, feel free to let us know which ones you'd like us to do next!
We are open to any and all critiques and suggestions. Thanks again!
Army Wide Special Rules/Army Notes
This is an important section to cover by itself, as the army-wide special rule for Tyranids are highly focal to how the army works. It will chiefly determine what units you purchase and the mixture you go for. It also serves to emphasize the key theme of the book; synergy.
Synapse - A unit with this special rule is Fearless and, to a bug, has Leadership 10. In addition, any Tyranid unit within 12" of a Synapse creature does not need to test for Instinctive Behaviour and gains the Fearless special rule. In a nutshell, you need Synapse so that your hordes don't run away from combat, your monstrous creatures don't derp out, and your mid/long-range ranged units can fire at peak efficiency. On that last note, Hive Guard and Biovores can't fire without Line of Sight if they fail an Instinctive Behaviour test - essentially meaning you want to keep them near a Synapse creature at all times. Despite this, certain units can do fine without Synapse; notably close-combat Carnifexes and Trygons. Keep this in mind during deployment and when positioning those units. For the most part though, you should have a wide range of synapse creatures in your army spread out nicely to ensure your army doesn't collapse upon itself at a moment's notice; whether through some Tyranid Warriors, a Tervigon or a couple of Zoanthropes, always keep multiple Synapse units at hand.
Instinctive Behaviour -This is what any non-Synapse creature suffers (or benefits, in certain cases) from - each unit with this special rule that is not in Synapse range at the start of their movement phase must take a Leadership test or fall prey to their basic survival instincts. For the most part, you don't want that at all - hence the importance of Synapse creatures. There are two kinds of Instinctive Behaviour - the first is Lurk, and is usually given to units with a ranged focus; this forces them to move into the nearest area terrain, and allows them only to shoot at the nearest enemy target. Essentially, they become uncontrollable, and far less useful, units. The other, far more interesting kind of Instinctive Behaviour is Rage - the unit gains the Rage special rule, meaning they become deadlier on the charge, but cannot shoot any ranged weapons they have. Depending on the unit and the situation, this can be far more of a boon than anything else - for an already Fearless Trygon or Carnifex, the benefits are fantastic, and Hormagaunts, if used against a unit they should wipe out, will do well with this too. Again though, mostly you want to avoid Instinctive Behaviour at all costs - a ranged Carnifex with expensive guns never wants to be disallowed from shooting, for example.
Shadow in the Warp - The Tyranid form of psyker defense, and unanimously named the third best psyker defense in the game. Shadow in the Warp forces any enemy Psyker within 12" of a creature with this special rule to take any psychic tests on an extra D6; this usually means 3D6 Psychic tests, often resulting in either Perils of the Warp or a failed psychic test. Obviously, this has many applications with mobile units - such as Shrikes and flying Hive Tyrants - that have the special rule, and allow Tyranids to shut down psykers far better than most other armies. The best trait about Shadow in the Warp is that every single Synapse creature provides it - in fact, the only non-Synapse unit in the codex that has Shadow in the Warp is the Doom of Malan'tai. Obviously, as you need lots of Synapse creatures, this will mean you should always have a very wide bubble of Shadow in the Warp - meaning exploding brains for everyone! Hooray!
Special Characters - Tyranids have several special characters or 'rare' units, most of which crowd into the already congested Elites and HQ slots. Units such as Deathleaper and the Doom of Malan'tai are quite deadly, but provide little in the way of support abilities. The Swarmlord, on the other hand, whilst also exceedingly dangerous, acts as a great force multiplier for your army. Tyranid special characters, aside from Old One Eye (sadly), are all competitive units that have a place in many Tyranid army lists. Most of these units now have their own unique models - the exceptions, currently, are the Parasite of Mortrex, the Doom of Malan'tai, and Ymgarl Genestealers. There are some ways around this - the Doom is easily converted using a Zoanthrope model and spare parts from a Trygon kit, whilst Ymgarl Genestealers can be used with the normal Genestealer models, providing you make sure to indicate somehow that they are Ymgarls. The Parasite is altogher a different prospect, as it would likely require some serious conversion of a Tyranid Shrike. If you can find one, an old school or Forgeworld flying Hive Tyrant would be a great stand in with some conversion work - such as adding in Ripper Swarms to its base. Unlike some codices, you should make the time to study the Tyranid special characters - in particular the Doom of Malan'tai and the Swarmlord.
As a note, every Tyranid HQ choice, with the exception of Tyrant Guard, provides Synapse and Shadow in the Warp. This essentially means that each one provides both a potent psychic defence in an edition that favours psykers, and a Fearless bubble where your other bugs do not need to test for Instinctive Behaviour. This means that each choice base provides great (and essential) support and defensive abilities for your army! Whilst our HQ choices tend to be expensive, they can be kitted out to perform amazing feats on the battlefield.
The Swarmlord - Our primary special character, and one of the most feared units in the entire game, the Swarmlord is a Hive Tyrant with several unique traits that combine to make it a devilishly powerful lord of the swarm. Being the only in-codex Mastery Level 2 psyker, and able to take four psychic powers, the Swarmlord can fit a wide variety of roles; buffing your units and weakening your opponents', or making itself even more incredibly powerful - the choice is yours, his versatility is absolutely delightful in 6th Edition. The Swarmlord is also the undisputed challenge-king; without a doubt, he is the best character-killer in the entire game, particularly when paired up with psychic powers such as Iron Arm, Warp Speed or Invisibility. Draigo, Mephiston, Abaddon and the like will be reeling in fear when they see the Swarmlord approaching.
The Swarmlord, due to a very high price tag and its lack of shooting abilities, is best used in bigger games where its inclusion won't compromise your ability to devastate enemies from range. Unlike Draigo, Mephiston or their equivalents though, the Swarmlord is still very effective in smaller games due to its amazing support abilities; handing out Preferred Enemy and psychic blessings such as Endurance like candy. If you use the Swarmlord, prepare for it to be the target of any sane opponent wanting to keep it away from their battle-lines; to mitigate this, pair it with some Tyrant Guard or perhaps a Tyranid Prime and you will have Warhammer 40K's most devastating melee death-star. The Swarmlord is a great unit that is best served in larger games where its exorbitant cost balances out nicely.
Hive Tyrant - The most commonly seen Tyranid HQ choice (that is taken in the HQ slot), the Hive Tyrant has a lot of customization options and natural abilities that make it a dire threat for your opponent in any stage of the game. However, it pays a heavy toll for those abilities; Hive Tyrants quickly exceed two-hundred points with even the barest of upgrades. As they are a big and obvious target for your opponent, they need protection first and foremost; there are three ways to do this. One is Armoured Shell - a neat +2 armour save, in conjunction with other units. The second is wings - turning the Hive Tyrant into a devastating, but costly, flying monstrous creature. The last is to take Tyrant Guard to ensure its survival until it can close with the enemy. Hive Tyrants, like the Swarmlord, can provide strong offensive and support abilities for your army; they are great close-quarters combatants and have access to a wide range of psychic powers.
Generally, a Hive Tyrant should be equipped based on the rest of your army list; as Tyranids lack anti-air, the most common Hive Tyrant has wings and two twin-linked brain-leech devourers. This gives you a very durable, very dangerous mobile threat that any self-respecting opponent will need to focus on. Again though, you must pay a hefty price to use this. Hive Tyrants, whilst expensive, are very dangerous when equipped for the right situation, and provide a great variety of abilities to support your core army - be aware to protect them as best as possible, as they are a natural points-sink. I would also avoid the Thorax Swarm as a Hive Tyrant, as the extra shooting isn't worth the points when you need to worry about durability far more. A Hive Tyrant is a good choice that shines when used with wings or Tyrant Guard; be very careful not to upgrade any more than is absolutely necessary though, and never leave it alone (unless flying). Costs, sadly, will add up very quickly no matter how you do it.
Tyrant Guard - The wall between a Hive Tyrant and your opponent, Tyrant Guard are an absolute must for the Swarmlord or any foot-slogging Hive Tyrant. They are essentially two-wound mini-monsters with a very high toughness and good armour save, and their offensive abilities, whilst decent already, can be upgraded to frighten units such as Terminators. Generally, in an already points-intensive army, Tyrant Guard don't require upgrades to achieve their true purpose; keeping their quarry alive so that it can perform its duties safely.
With the changes to Characters and Look Out Sir rolls, wound allocation is very much alive - with psychic powers such as Endurance or Iron Arm cast on the unit or the psyker itself, respectively, your HQ unit can become impossibly hard to kill - a Swarmlord with Iron Arm and Endurance paired with a single Tyrant Guard and a Tyranid Prime is sure to draw cries of cheese from your opponent. Keep your Tyrant Guard around for the sole purpose of protecting your Hive Tyrants; that is their core function, and as such, you need not worry about boosting their offensive capabilities. Tyrant Guard are good in the sense that they fulfill a necessary role, that is, protecting your commanders; still, they are quite expensive for what they do.
Tervigon (HQ) - Tervigons are considered by most to be the competitive core of almost any Tyranid army list, and not without good reason. For less than a Hive Tyrant, you get a monster with more wounds, worse close combat abilities by a margin, far better support abilities - particularly for Termagants, and the ability to spawn more Troops choices. That last ability is what makes Tervigons so frightening for any opponent; creating more units on the fly, ones which receive major benefits from a Tervigon, and can claim objectives in an edition dominated by objective-based games, is absolutely nasty. Remembering that the spawning is random and may not always do well, it is still a very good way to dominate objectives. And the best part? Tervigons themselves are unreasonably hard to kill; with six wounds at Toughness six and a +3 armour save, there are few monstrous creatures in the game that can soak up as much damage.
With the way the spawning works, Tervigons and their babies aren't exactly slow either; when you create a unit, you place it within 6" of the Tervigon, then they can move, shoot and assault normally. This effectively gives your hordes a 12" movement followed by being able to tie up dangerous units in combat, all in the early stages of the game. Upgrade Tervigons with Toxin Sacs and Adrenal Glands, and those lowly, free Termagants will be going toe-to-toe with Space Marines, Talos' and even Greater Daemons. The Tervigon itself is no slouch in combat either; give it Crushing Claws and, per the Smash rules, you can put out between three and six S10 attacks each turn. On the topic of its ranged weapon, a Tervigon will either have a gun suited for Overwatch and snap-shots at fliers, or one that blasts infantry apart through sheer numbers of wounds. Usually, I would go with the Cluster Spines, as I feel Stinger Salvos are far too weak to really justify taking them for snap-shot and Overwatch purposes - however, it comes down to preference. With access to psychic powers such as giving Feel No Pain to friendly units, Tervigons are amazing units that will always be a big target for your opponent; learn to protect them whilst moving them up the field, and you will not be disappointed.
Tyranid Prime - The cheapest HQ available to Tyranids by some margin, the Tyranid Prime is a Warrior on steroids; a Strength, Toughness and Initiative of 5, and better combat abilities in general. The Tyranid Prime is usually used if you are wanting to go for a cost-effective HQ without compromising your options in other force organisation slots. Their basic stat-line and equipment paints a pretty picture when compared to, for example, a Space Marine Captain - they start with better weaponry, are harder to kill in general and are much more important in terms of keeping your army under control. With cheap upgrades that can turn them into a melee powerhouse that can stand toe-to-toe with far more expensive characters in other codices, the Tyranid Prime is a very nasty model that has the benefit of being one of only two true Independent Characters in the codex.
Due to its Toughness 5, three wounds and Look Out Sir!, the Tyranid Prime is a great candidate to attach to a squad that traditionally suffers either from S8 instant-death weapons or being tar-pitted in combat, such as Zoanthropes, Hive Guard and Biovores. It also provides important synapse for the latter of those two units, keeping them firing at full efficiency and keeping your inexpensive Warlord out of the line of fire. If you take a Tyranid Prime, take Toxin Sacs and either a pair of Boneswords or a Bonesword and Lash Whip and leave it at that; it doesn't need anything else to perform as required. Use it well, and it will serve you well - a good choice.
As an aside, some of the best units for a Tyranid Prime to join include; the 'Fexstar' (two Carnifexes with two twin-linked brain-leech devourers each), Warriors (five Warriors either with Deathspitters or Boneswords), Zoanthropes, Hive Guard, Biovores, and even horde units such as Termagants or Hormagaunts.
The Parasite of Mortrex - A unit that has benefited greatly from 6th Edition, the Parasite's character status allows it to challenge and single out those pesky power fists that were usually its bane. With Implant Attack, Rending Claws and a decent stat-line, the Parasite is a good character-assassin that is both mobile and easily protected when paired either with Sky-Slasher Swarms or Gargoyles. The Parasite works well with Rippers as well, keeping them from killing themselves so long as they stay within 24" - though Rippers generally aren't worth the investment anyway. In addition, it can, almost like a Tervigon, create more Ripper Swarms if it kills enemy models or enemy infantry units Outflank; a nasty, if unreliable way of adding more tarpit units to your force.
The biggest hindrance to fielding the Parasite though is its high price-tag; costing as much as a basic Tervigon, you need to ask whether it really is worth the cost. It is far less durable, less offensively potent in certain cases (particularly against vehicles) and doesn't provide scoring units like a Tervigon does. In that sense, whilst I feel you can find better value elsewhere, the Parasite can work if used in an army list that suits it; one that is heavy on Gargoyles, Raveners, flying monstrous creatures and the like, where its speed and situational abilities become more useful. Generally though, whilst a decent unit, you are better served elsewhere.
Example Builds - For your viewing pleasure, I've provided some different builds for each HQ choice when paired with other units.
Hive Tyrant w/ wings, two twin-linked brain-leech devourers - 260
The Swarmlord w/ Tyrant Guard (1), attached Tyranid Prime w/ bonesword and lash-whip, toxin sacs - 445
Hive Tyrant w/ armoured shell, old adversary, two twin-linked brain-leech devourers - 265
Tyranid Prime w/ bonesword and lash-whip, toxin sacs, attached to Zoanthropes (2) - 225
Tervigon w/ crushing claws, cluster spines, catalyst, toxin sacs, adrenal glands - 220
The Parasite of Mortrex attached to Gargoyles (20) w/ toxin sacs - 300
Hey all, I am back and ready to dive right into the Elites section of the Tyranids! I hope this is both entertaining and useful for you, and as always, if you want more Tacticas concerning some of the big players in 6th Edition, or are looking for some great hobby tips, head on to my blog over at;
We are open to any and all critiques and suggestions. Thanks again!
Our Elites slot is home to our widest array of competitive choices, with Hive Guard, Deathleaper, Zoanthropes and others all trying to crowd into your army list. Generally speaking, most Tyranid armies are best served by using their Elites slot to get invaluable ranged anti-tank - of which Hive Guard are the most popular by far, though Zoanthropes are also good for this. Reserve-heavy armies, or those relying on melee or disruption tactics, will find they are best suited to units such as Ymgarl Genestealers or the Doom of Malan'tai. My usual recommendation would be a mix of mostly Hive Guard and some Zoanthropes, with maybe the Doom of Malan'tai or some Ymgarl Genestealers thrown in. Tyranid Elites tend to be the most consistent performers in a Tyranid force.
Hive Guard - With a S8 AP4 Assault 2 24" range gun at BS4 that essentially ignores cover saves, Hive Guard are the premier tank hunters in the codex and pound-for-pound one of the best units in the book. Though their close combat abilities are admittedly mediocre, Hive Guard make up for that by being tough as nails - each one is Toughness 6 with two wounds and a +4 armour save! This gets much better when you look at their special rules though - so long as they don't fail an Instinctive Behaviour test, Hive Guard are able to shoot without requiring Line of Sight; you can hide them in a ruin with no windows and fire at a tank in a forest, ignoring its cover saves! As a rule, Hive Guard ignore cover provided by Jink, Night Fighting, Smoke Launchers and so on; only area terrain works, and only if it actually lies between the Hive Guard and their quarry. My interpretation of this rule is that, for example, if in a forest, the unit has to actually be behind trees the Hive Guard are facing; otherwise they won't get cover. This makes Hive Guard incredibly threatening to vehicles, as well as any Toughness 4 or lower multi-wound model - units that are ironically found in abundance in the Tyranid codex.
Generally speaking, Hive Guard are unlikely to die if you use them in this way, and will require at worst a turn or two to get into position and start firing away. Mech heavy armies rightfully fear Hive Guard, which makes them a great target for them - one that is very hard to shift! The best aspect of this unit is their cost; they are cheap for what they bring, and thus can and should be run in high numbers. Competitive Tyranid armies tend to feature a minimum of six Hive Guard at 1500 points - they are an amazing unit that you should always make room for. A note on unit sizes; three two-strong broods can engage more targets and potentially 'stun' more vehicles each turn, but two broods of three should wreck an AV11 or lower vehicle each turn on average. I suggest trying each kind of build out and working out which works best for you.
Lictors - Despite rocking an awesome model, Lictors are sadly one of the least useful units in the codex, a fact made all the more apparent by the prevalence of Hive Guard and Zoanthropes in the Elites slot. They are very good in combat, and they provide a handy reserves bonus the turn after they arrive - their ability to appear in any terrain anywhere on the board is useful. Unfortunately, they are peppered with drawbacks; without cover saves, they die extremely easily - flamers are their bane, and with the changes to Overwatch, this means they are highly unlikely to ever get into combat. Though their combat abilities are decent, they are not as good as their exorbitant price tag would indicate. They have a mediocre shooting attack and suffer highly from not being able to assault the turn they arrive, leaving them stranded and open to readily available firepower that will most likely wipe them out. Their reserve bonus is also of little use, as it applies after the Lictors arrive; given that you generally want reserves down as quickly as possible, and that they are random, this is not good at all. Though Fleet and Hit and Run can save them if they get into combat with something nasty, generally, the damage will have already been done. They are too expensive and their abilities are mediocre at best - as much as I would love to use them, as their background and models are amazing, they are one of the weakest links in the codex and should be avoided for competitive play. If you are going to use them, deploy them smartly and use them to tie up units such as Devastators for a turn - forcing them to fire at the Lictors or be wiped out is a good way to draw fire off of your more valuable units, even if it is only for a turn.
Deathleaper - Given that I just lambasted Lictors, you would think my opinion of a special character version of them that is more than double the cost would be exceedingly negative. Yeah, well, surprises do happen, as Deathleaper will prove when you employ it. Put simply, like the Parasite, Deathleaper is an expensive unit with very situational abilities; unlike the Parasite, Deathleaper's abilities are far more likely to be of use to you. With Stealth and Shrouded, it has a meaty +4 cover save in the open - making it a lot more durable than a standard Lictor - coupled with its ability to disappear off the table at the end of your movement phase, and reappear without scatter like a Lictor, Deathleaper can be very difficult to get rid of, and one of the best baiting units in the entire game. It reduces the Leadership of an enemy character by D3 before the start of the game - making psykers and Dark Apostles cry - and any enemy infantry unit within 12" of it has to test for both Difficult and Dangerous terrain. Nice!
Unlike Lictors, Deathleaper actually does shine in combat - with an incredible WS9, I7 and 4 S6 attacks that Rend on a +5, Deathleaper is not only far harder to hit for most infantry, it also will kill much more - obviously, it is a phenomenal character killer. Did I mention its shooting attack also rends on a +5, making it a very funny "pop up, blow up a tank, disappear" unit. All this combines to make Deathleaper one of the most versatile and dually situational units in the game, with an almost limitless array of tactical applications - to use it properly requires the deft touch of a highly skilled player, as any wrong move and it will die quickly. I am also quite convinced it is a member of the League of Trolls - headed by Trazyn the Infinite and Tzeentch. The best example of this is to sit on an objective far out of the way of both armies, hiding, and force your opponent to send a nasty unit its way. For example, an opponent deep-strikes a close-combat Terminator squad in to kill it as Deathleaper will likely wipe out a standard Troops choice single-handedly. Deathleaper then disappears, meaning that Terminator squad is forced to foot-slog across the board for the rest of the game. You would be surprised how often something like this will happen. Despite its exorbitant cost, its assortment of abilities make it a deadly tool in the hands of a skilled player; don't use it lightly, but if you get good with it, Deathleaper will be a regular star.
Venomthropes - With cover saves more readily available than ever in 6th Edition, and with a reduction to the cover save it provides, the Venomthrope is no longer as useful a choice as it was; its main purpose to protect your swarms as they moved up. Despite this, it is still a decent unit to employ; it has defensive grenades and lash whips and forces opponents to take dangerous terrain tests when assaulting, meaning that it can hold out in the unfortunate event that it is charged - allowing you to save the day with your other units. Their Poisoned attacks and Toxic Miasma also give them a decent chance of harming their opponents, though Venomthropes should generally keep out of combat. With a Toughness of 4, two wounds and a weak armour save though, they are prime targets for things like missile launchers and Hades Autocannons. Though their innate cover saves help, they aren't exactly hard to kill and as such need to be protected appropriately. Generally speaking, they are there to help protect other units - use them as such, and you won't be disappointed, especially in a game where terrain can be hard to come by. They are a decent unit that, whilst not as effective as they once were, still have a place in a lot of Tyranid armies.
Zoanthropes - Remember how I said Hive Guard will usually be crowding into most of your Elites slots as you need their anti-tank capabilities? Say hello to their pen-pals, the Zoanthropes - brain-bugs that literally radiate with power. Providing both Synapse and Shadow in the Warp, Zoanthropes are arguably the most versatile unit in the codex. With access to the many rulebook psychic disciplines, as well as their own considerably strong offensive powers, Zoanthropes can have a very unique role in almost any game they play in, based upon the circumstances at hand. Their basic powers are not to be dismissed; Warp Lance is a S10 AP1 Assault 1 18" Lance at BS4, or, as I like to call it, a mind-bullet that turns Land Raiders into barbecued grime, and their other power, a S5 AP3 Assault 1 24" Blast, is a great ability to make Space Marines feel the heat. Packing that much offensive power generally means they want to get up decently close; a Mycetic Spore (covered later) is invaluable in this way. Their other use though, of course, is as support psykers; with each Zoanthrope in a brood (maximum of three) able to switch their powers out for two rolls on the Biomancy, Telekinesis or Telepathy disciplines, this allows for some random, but very diverse play. Interestingly, each Zoanthrope makes this choice individually; one can keep their stock powers, whilst another rolls on Biomancy and potentially gets Endurance, handing out Feel No Pain and It Will Not Die.
As you would expect, their high offensive capabilities at range and strong support abilities come at the cost of durability; though they are Toughness 4, with two wounds and a +3 invulnerable save, they are hardly infallible and easy prey for massed Bolters or Krak Missiles. Due to their reputation and latent powers, they are also a high priority target for any intelligent player. Their frailty becomes even more pronounced in melee, where their low Weapon Skill, Initiative and Attacks means that units such as Tactical Marines can beat them down with little difficulty. As it goes, Zoanthropes require finesse and a good deal of protection - usually through target saturation. An opponent won't focus on your Zoanthropes if a Trygon is barreling towards them, right? Generally, pairs are best advised for Zoanthropes - one is an easy kill point, and three becomes just a little too expensive. When it comes to switching their powers out, you should do it if you feel their offensive powers either aren't needed or you are more worried about certain kinds of enemies or protecting your units - when flyers are in abundance, going for Objuration Mechanicum is always worthwhile. Conversely, getting Endurance on at least one Zoanthrope in a brood is a good way to either keep them alive or boost the survivability of another unit exponentially. Keep them protected at all times, and regardless of how you use them, they shouldn't disappoint. A great unit! As for the Hive Guard and Zoanthrope comparison, generally, Hive Guard are better tank-hunters against anything that isn't AV13 or AV14, as their range and number of shots balance out the higher Strength and AP of the Zoanthropes. However, Zoanthropes are both more multi-purpose and more expensive - and pay for that with relative frailty.
The Doom of Malan'tai - The second special character in the Elites slot, and one that is well famous in tournament and local circles alike. The main reason for this are its special rules; firstly, it regains a wound up to ten for each unsaved wound it causes. Secondly, it has an ability where at the start of either players' shooting phase, any enemy unit within 6" takes a Leadership test on 3D6 - for every point they fail by, they take a wound with no armour saves allowed. It's Strength is always equal to its Wounds value. Lastly, it has a psychic power where the Strength is equal to its wounds, resolved as an AP1 Large Blast. Yeah. This thing is destruction incarnate to foot-slogging armies, forces which are now in abundance due to 6th Edition - the really funny thing is though, this little bug was already considered 'cheese' in a mech-heavy environment. So, what are its drawbacks? A Toughness of 4 and only a +3 invulnerable save means that it suffers the same problem Zoanthropes do - instant-death from readily available Krak Missiles. Generally speaking though, the move to S7 AP2 (Plasma) over Krak Missiles is becoming more and more apparent, and few players bother with Power Fists now due to the challenge rules. And, because it gains wounds so quickly and easily, small arms fire simply doesn't work against it. You must be thinking, well, it has to be incredibly expensive, right? Right? Wrong. This thing is absurdly cheap for what it does, clocking in at under 100 tacos. Point for point, it is by far the deadliest unit in the entire codex.
Despite how incredible it is, there are still a few considerations; one is that, being Infantry, it moves up rather slowly, and thus requires a Mycetic Spore - if you have the Doom of Malan'tai, you should always fork out the small tax to give it the Spore. Always. Not only does it let you come down right in the thick of the enemy lines, it gives you an alpha-strike - they can't kill it before it gets to do some damage! And, given the new FAQ ruling allowing the Doom to deploy 6" out of the Mycetic spore, there is literally no way to get away from it even if the Spore scatters. What you must also be prepared for is for the Doom to do very little in some games; its abilities, especially when paired with deep striking, are innately random and will do little against certain armies (mech/flyer heavy). However, for how little it costs, that possibility should be in the back of your mind - there are many far-reaching reports, and my own personal experience, to prove that it will almost always make up its points cost and be the target of pretty much the entire enemy army - and I am deadly serious. Given that it will likely vaporise half of a unit three times over on its first turn and subsequently reave another with its psychic attack, the Doom will likely be targeted by obscene amounts of firepower - and unless they have lots of S8 shooting, they are unlikely to kill it off. Bam - the rest of your army gets to move up unpunished. This is the beauty of the Doom - it is essentially the ultimate terror weapon and can turn an entire game on its head, despite costing very little. As such, I consider this to be a near must-have for any competitive Tyranid army, especially ones that are reserve-heavy. Cheese incarnate indeed.
Pyrovores - A moving heavy flamer with power weapons attack you say? As Admiral Ackbar famously declared; "It's a trap!". This is probably the best expression to use when describing Pyrovores - units that, like Lictors, have good models and some decent fluff behind them. Unfortunately, they have some relentlessly major drawbacks which conflict with the two main abilities they have. Though they have a heavy flamer, they are only Infantry - they also are relatively easy to kill with Toughness 4, two wounds and a +4 armour save. Their frailty means you need to bubble-wrap them with Termagants or Hormagaunts, which consequently prevents them from firing their only weapon. Though you can purchase a mycetic spore for them, their range and weaponry are both small and not strong enough to justify the extra investment. Overwatch gives them some joy, but most opponents, namely Space Marines, won't mind taking some hits from a heavy flamer. Even more confusing is that they have power weapon attacks - as far as I can tell, these are treated as AP3 - despite having both a low Weapon Skill and only 1 attack each at Initiative 1. Essentially, they pay a mighty tax for abilities which themselves are rendered near useless both by their role in the army and their mediocre stat-line. Have I mentioned yet how Tyranids excel at anti-infantry firepower all the time, regardless of taking Pyrovores?
Despite being an unnaturally aggravating unit to use and justify their high cost in both money and points, Pyrovores can be made to work if you are really dedicated and/or bought the models (which isn't a bad thing, as they are nice to look at). The only real way to use them is in a pair in a Mycetic Spore, and hope to get their flame on against +4 armoured infantry - namely Tau, Eldar, Dark Eldar and so on, of which the Pyrovores may find they aren't completely useless against. The really sad thing though, is that for the exact same points cost, you can get the Doom of Malan'tai in a Mycetic Spore, which is both far deadlier and far harder to kill - opponents can afford to ignore Pyrovores, but not the Doom, or even Ymgarls. Unfortunately, Pyrovores deservedly carry the label of "worst unit in Warhammer 40000" - they are a confused mess that tries to do two things and ultimately fails horrifically at both. Did they have to make it cost a mere five popsickles less than a Hive Guard? Ignore these - there is absolutely no use for Pyrovores even in a semi-competitive scene.
Ymgarl Genestealers - The Tyranid equivalent of bogeymen hiding beneath a child's bed, Ymgarl Genestealers have some interesting unique rules that make them a difficult unit to ignore when writing up an army list. The first one is why they are so respected - and feared - in 6th Edition; they begin the game in Reserves, and once they are available, are placed in a piece of area terrain secretly selected after both sides have deployed. They may then launch an assault on the turn they arrive. This is obviously a massive advantage to have, given the changes to Outflank meaning there are only a handful of units able to charge on the turn they arrive from reserves - essentially a melee alpha-strike that, if played right, ties the unit up and prevents them from being shot at in retaliation! The applications of this are far and wide, with being able to tie up nasty ranged units and destroy them - such as Devastators - or wrecking an otherwise durable vehicle, like a Leman Russ, in combat with their Rending Claws. Generally speaking, Ymgarl Genestealers want to finish their first assault during their opponents turn, even if it can be hard due to their insanely good combat abilities. What say you to each model in the unit having a Space Marine Captain-esque profile for combat purposes, minus an attack and grenades, plus a point of Initiative and Rending weapons? I'm betting - yes, yes indeed!
Their other unique ability ties directly into killing units in the turn that you want - they must 'shift' their forms at the start of each assault phase, regardless of whether they are in combat, and gain either +1 Strength, +1 Toughness or +1 Attack - the entire unit picks the same benefit, and you must change to a different one each turn. With a +4 armour save, the Toughness boost is the best way to severly cripple, but not wipe out, an enemy unit on the turn they arrive and take punishment quite easily. Then, switch to the Strength or Attacks bonus - whichever would be more effective in that situation - and finish off the unit, allowing them to move and charge something else the next turn. Generally speaking, more attacks helps against lower Toughness, high model count units, whilst the extra Strength helps against high Toughness, low model count units. Don't forget your Rending Claws - this can make a big difference when fighting certain units, and paired with +1 Strength or +1 Attack, makes Ymgarls a very serious threat to high Toughness units and vehicles. Of course, for all that gravy, you do have some drawbacks; namely the lack of assault grenades, meaning you will usually strike last on the turn you arrive, and they are rather expensive. Though I think they are priced appropriately for what they do, you need to strike a balance between cost and effectiveness - that usually means taking seven to eight-strong broods, with any less being too few to win combats and any more becoming too much of a point sink. As an alpha-strike unit though, they have few equals, save of course for the Doom of Malan'tai - you can't go wrong with Ymgarls though. Just remember not to use too many of them and thus sacrifice ranged anti-tank through Hive Guard or Zoanthropes.
Example Builds - Though our Elites have no upgrade options, here are some recommended bulds based on unit size for these units;
Hive Guard (3) - 150
Zoanthropes (2) w/ mycetic spore - 180
The Doom of Malan'tai w/ mycetic spore - 130
Ymgarl Genestealers (8) - 184
Howdy guys, I'm back to give you my thoughts on the awesome Tyranid Troops choices! I look forward to seeing how you run your Troops in 6th Edition, and as always, if you want more Tacticas concerning some of the big players in 6th Edition, or are looking for some great hobby tips, head on to my blog over at;
We are open to any and all critiques and suggestions. Thanks again!
The core of a Tyranid army, Troops choices are where the majority of your mostly necessary bodies will come from, either in the form of tough Warriors, droves of Hormagaunts and Termagants, amazing Tervigons, or a mixture of all. The most competitive combo usually proves to be Termagants paired with Tervigons, though Hormagaunts are always great, whilst Warriors and the like fit into a wide variety of lists. Usually, you don't want to upgrade your Troops choices that much - though they are generally the best units to give upgrades to. Just don't go overboard and remember that greater numbers usually win with these units.
Tyranid Warriors -Arguably the most famous sub-species of the Tyranid race, Warriors often form the core of a Tyranid army - they are durable, provide decent firepower, and are good in combat. Generally speaking, they are your more expensive - but stronger - utilitarian infantry equivalents to Space Marines, though they are less adaptable to taking out vehicles and will generally fall over in a heap when engaged by a walker. Tyranid Warriors provide a key role by being the only standard Troops choice that provides Synapse and Shadow in the Warp, meaning they play a big part in most armies so that your forces can operate at peak efficiency. They are invaluable in smaller games where their relatively cheap cost compared to other Synapse alternatives comes into play, and larger games where you can't spread out your Synapse coverage as much without them. On top of how this, they come stock with decent anti-infantry guns, and with Scything Talons, a good Weapon Skill and a high number of attacks, Warriors are quite nasty in an assault. In fact, their natural profile is fantastic - though their Ballistic Skill and Armour Save are mediocre, each Warrior has three wounds and Leadership 10, on top of usual Space Marine statistics like Strength, Toughness and Initiative 4. They can be kitted out with lots of different options that either make them nastier shooters or Terminator-hunters in combat alike.
The main detriment to their cause, however, is their cost and vulnerability to instant death - whilst 6th Edition is favouring plasma over krak missiles, they still drop like flies to Hades/Psybolt Autocannons and Leman Russ Battle Tanks, both of which are very common in the game nowadays. They will cease to exist the moment they come up against Tyranid Hive Guard. Their upgrades, whilst great, add up to an already considerably expensive unit that are too easily negated by certain weapons. However, it is not all bad - by the same token, a Warrior will on average die to three plasma hits, whilst two Terminators would die to the same number of shots and cost a lot more points. A Tyranid Warrior is - incredibly - as durable against small arms fire as a Terminator, for cheaper. This means that the meta change does benefit them immensely, though S8 weapons can and will still appear - and Warriors are prime targets for them. Make sure to abuse cover with them as necessary, and be careful where you set them up - they are both great objective holders and grabbers, but should be kitted out accordingly. A brood with a Venom Cannon or two with Deathspitters will provide a nasty defensive unit that is not easily removed, especially in combat. Kit a combat unit out with boneswords or a lash whip and bonesword and move them from cover to cover to grab midfield objectives - almost anything that gets near them will be eviscerated. Even Paladins will be frightened of them!
Generally speaking, you want to minimise the upgrades on Warriors as much as you can though - to ensure they don't die too quickly, you need them in chunky broods of around five or six, which when you add good stuff like Toxin Sacs and Boneswords can quickly turn into a 200+ point investment that disappears the moment a Battle Cannon shows up. Upgrade them as necessary, and they will do fine - it must be noted, however, that an entire army composed of Warriors is not recommended, as it will simply leave you too vulnerable to several kinds of armies, and will have too small a model count to make a big difference. They work well in one or two units, spread for synapse coverage and firepower with a touch of melee danger. They are good in that sense, but you need to make sure to take care of them.
Genestealers - Once one of the deadliest combat units in Warhammer 40000, Genestealers have been hit hard by the changes to Outflank - meaning they can no longer charge out of reserves. Whilst this means that you can't simply abuse them in that way, forcing a worried opponent to bunch up in the middle of the board and thus become easily surrounded, they are still quite capable fighters once they actually get into combat. With a ridiculous Weapon Skill and Initiative paired with a good chunk of Rending attacks, they will make mince meat of almost any equivalently costly unit. There are few Troops choices in the game that carry as much threat as they do up close. But is that all there is to them? Unfortunately, no. With a weak armour save and a middle-of-the-ground Toughness, Genestealers are prime bait for any kind of anti-infantry shooting - even the standard Bolter ignores their armour saves, meaning Genestealers are forced to hug cover as they run forward. Though Move Through Cover and Fleet mitigate this, mobility does become an issue, and actually declaring a charge at the wrong moment can be very costly - with the new Overwatch rules, Genestealers can be gunned down well before they even get close to the enemy. Flamers are, and always have been, their bane - more-so with the Wall of Flame.
So how are Genestealers run in a competitive sense? Most commonly, they are infiltrated into a good position before the game begins, forcing your opponent to focus on them or lose a chunk of their forces, or hiding in a good line-of-sight blocking terrain to minimize their casualties when they move up. As for the actual squad layout, the most common build is as the 'Broodlord Delivery System' - that is, a bare five-strong squad with one upgraded to a Broodlord. The reason for this is the amazing abilities of the Broodlord, particularly in light on 6th Edition - particularly challenges. Broodlords rock a stat-line that would make a Tyranid Prime blush, and they are a paltry sixty poppies - with Rending Claws and a high volume of S5 attacks, they are very adept at killing up close. The best part is their basic psychic power, Hypnotic Gaze - simply put, you and a random opponent in base contact (i.e. a challenge) roll a D6 each and add your respective Leadership values, remembering that a Broodlord is LD10. If the Broodlord rolls equal to or higher than its opponent, that enemy model can't attack at all. See where I am going with this? You can feasibly tarpit a nasty commander such as Draigo and wail on him, causing a wound each turn without even a hint of resistance. Typical squad leaders will usually fall in a heap when a Broodlord is around, and many Commander-level characters stand little chance at defeating it too. And, with access to Biomancy and the like, it can either buff itself even more or provide some great benefits for other units in your army. Simply put, you want a Broodlord - you know you want a character assassin in a squad so small your opponent won't see it coming.
Whilst the Commando style Genestealers are a good and nasty unit that is very cheap, they shouldn't fill up your Troops choices - Termagants, Tervigons and the like should still fill up most of your slots for the purposes of objectives games. Genestealers run in this fashion are there to kill - though they can obviously grab an objective and dissuade melee units from engaging them, it still isn't their best use. For what they cost, Genestealers are fantastic in combat, but lack reliable ways of getting there without suffering significant damage along the way - this means that the best way to use them is as smaller, distraction units that complement your army. I wouldn't usually use them in any other capacity. Always add a Broodlord to these spiny fellas.
Mycetic Spore (Dedicated Transport) - The Tyranid Drop Pod, (no really!) a Mycetic Spore is a cheap-as-chips monstrous creature that will die the second a krak missile hits it. But that isn't why you are here - it deep strikes a friendly unit, such as Termagants or even a lone Carnifex, into the fray with the same scatter reduction rules as a Loyalist Drop Pod. And for that purpose, it is great - not to mention, it can do a little bit of damage on its own, with a decent ranged weapon and lash whips to dissuade potential chargers (want to know what happened to the unlucky Daemon Prince that charged a Mycetic Spore?). Once a unit has dropped down and jumped out within 6" - a very tasty change in the recent FAQs (Doom alert!) - the Mycetic Spore is immobile and can't do anything except shoot at something that gets close to it. It has terrible WS and BS, and generally a terrible stat-line - albeit a high strength - but again, that isn't what you worry about with a Mycetic Spore. It literally pays for itself when Devourer-armed Termagants drop in and wipe out an entire enemy infantry unit, or launches a smiling Carnifex right into the thick of your opponents' backfield.
Mycetic Spores definitely combine well with certain units, particularly ones such as Zoanthropes and the Doom of Malan'tai - the latter of which requires a Mycetic Spore - and as such is well worth the price tag in every game that you use them. As for upgrades, you don't need to worry about them - whilst sticking Cluster Spines on them might be fun, it generally isn't worth upgrading something that is there solely to transport a unit and provide some very light harassment in a tiny radius. You should always consider these when using several units - laughably, they are the only way to make Pyrovores even a slight, miniscule possibility for a semi-competitive army. That is, if you've buried your head up your.......
Tervigon (Troops) - As I mentioned these in the HQ section already, a lot of what I would normally say has already been covered - I advise checking that section to get a more full analysis of a Tervigon in general. However, I will say that they are fantastic support units that, by spawning more Troops choices, are a key choice in almost any competitive Tyranid army. They are extremely durable and are very dangerous in a pinch - give them Toxin Sacs, Adrenal Glands, Crushing Claws and Catalyst and you are set. What I didn't cover before, was that every Termagant brood in the army list allows a Tervigon to be taken as a Troops choice - that cheesy T6 W6 monstrous creature that casts psychic buffs and is very dangerous up close can be a scoring unit? You read right - as a Troops choice, a Tervigon is even more brutal for your opponent to deal with, as it is arguably pound-for-pound one of the toughest scoring units in the game, whilst providing amazing buffs for units around them. It simply makes an already incredible unit that much better, and I thoroughly recommend that you use Tervigons as Troops choices wherever possible. A phenomenal unit, and one that should form the core of your competitive armies in conjunction with Termagants.
Termagants - The Tyranid equivalent of Guardsmen, Termagants are cannon-fodder with decent guns, which, combined with Move Through Cover, make them decent harassment units - they are also great tar-pit units. They are crazily cheap and can be fielded in table-covering hordes, though their use usually involves taking smaller broods. There are two main ways to field them; the first is as minimum sized units to fit Tervigons into your Troops slots; which you would be crazy not to do, frankly. Considering Tervigons spawn more Termagants, you don't need to field those starting on the board in large broods - invest the points elsewhere. When paired with Tervigons, Termagants become brutal combat units against the likes of monstrous creatures and even elite infantry - drowning your opponents in a high number of Initiative 4 poisoned attacks. If you use Termagants with Tervigons, never upgrade them either - their best upgrades to fit the role in a Tervigon-heavy army are actually purchased for a Tervigon, that applies to multiple units and is much cheaper.
The other, and perhaps more popular, use of Termagants is decent sized broods armed with Devourers - S4 AP- Assault 3 18" guns that make even your basic Troops a nightmare for light infantry of any kind. Even Space Marines will feel the heat from the sheer number of shots put out by Devourer-armed Termagants - appropriately abbreviated to 'Devilgants'. They pay for this weaponry though, as each Devilgant costs the same as two basic Termagants. This is where you need to weigh up cost and effectiveness - whilst Devilgants win in most cases, they are very fragile for the cost and become more obvious targets for your opponent. You don't want to tar-pit with Devilgants either, a key role which is often filled by Termagants. Generally speaking, Devilgants should stick to cover - as for delivery, they can also take a Mycetic Spore, which I would recommend as they are quite capable of obliterating entire infantry units in a single salvo at close range.
Overall, Termagants should always be used in one of two ways; as meat for Tervigons, or as rockin' Devilgants. Each path for this unit is great if used correctly, even if their role changes considerably. When used as large swarms with no upgrades though, you are better off looking at Hormagaunts - provided you aren't fielding Tervigons of course. Termagants aren't naturally a great unit, but when moulded into one of those two themes, they become very effective and dangerous units for a very low cost. Always consider Termagants or Devilgants in your competitive armies.
Hormagaunts - The little critters have undergone some serious changes in 6th Edition. They are almost as quick as they once were, though it is more random than before. Overwatch means opponents can get some extra shots into your hordes, reducing their combat effectiveness, and random charge lengths can leave them stranded due to a bad roll. Cover saves are thankfully far easier to come by, but the biggest change is Fearless; with the removal of No Retreat! wounds, Hormagaunts truly are one of the most cost-effective melee horde units in the entire game. Also, the change to Rage has benefited Hormagaunts greatly; they no longer charge at the nearest enemy unit, but instead gain an incredible +2 attacks on the charge! This means you will need to weigh up whether risking the loss of Fearless is worth the bonus damage they can cause. With Scything Talons, a high Initiative and a sheer number of attacks, Hormagaunts can put the pain on nearly any unit with impunity - Hormagaunts can and should be fielded in absolutely massive broods, fulfilling every players' vision of a far-spread Tyranid horde backed by monsters. Though they lack guns, the sheer speed of Hormagaunts usually compensates for this - they are more expensive than Termagants, but generally much better at what they do.
Hormagaunts have access to a few upgrades, the main one to focus on though is Toxin Sacs; for a paltry cost, you can give each Termagant Poisoned attacks, turning them into literal blenders against anything that isn't a vehicle. A Wraithlord got you down? See how much it likes being hit by sixty or more attacks hitting on 4s with re-rolls of 1s, then wounding on 4s. Hint; that is a very dead Wraithlord. Obviously though, the costs mount up the bigger a unit is; generally speaking, Poison is a fantastic upgrade when preparing for multiple opponents, though Adrenal Glands also have a place due to allowing Hormagaunts to damage the rear armour of most transports. Usually, I wouldn't bother with Adrenal Glands though, as Hive Guard will usually take out said transports before the Hormagaunts get close, and Toxin Sacs are far more useful in general. One of the crippling oversights for Hormagaunt is a stark lack of assault grenades; usually though, Hormagaunts can ignore this if you charge them at the right units. Taking all that in, I would say Hormagaunts are point-for-point the best melee unit in the codex, and our best tarpit outside of Tervigon-spawned Termagants. Take them in broods of 20 or more, and either leave them bare or give them Poison - they will do their job, and do it very well.
Ripper Swarms - Your other tarpit unit, Rippers have lots of wounds and attacks, but are far less effective in combat than Hormagaunts and cost considerably more. Not to mention that Rippers actually die once they fall out of Synapse range - sadly, they are a unit that always needs to be kept in check, which is not always possible. Still, they do have their uses; aside from S6+ weaponry, they are considerably more durable than Hormagaunts, and are likely to hold up most infantry units in combat for a longer period of time, which is important for any Tyranid army. For the record, you should also avoid upgrading them - they are already a lot more expensive than they should be, and the upgrades do little of note to justify their cost. The only potentially useful one, given their role, is the Tunnel Swarm upgrade - the cheapest of the lot. This allows them to Deep Strike, getting close to the enemy much quicker. Of course, this means they are a lot more likely to mishap and either be delayed or die, so you need to be careful if you use this. Still, you should probably just avoid that and run them up the field - they really are there to die, so you may as well let them soak up some firepower. I would usually avoid Rippers, but they are ok once they get into combat; soaking up some worried Devastator fire and assaulting them is sure to give you a smile.
Example Builds - Our Troops choices have multiple builds and options available, and I'll cover some of them here;
Warriors (5) w/ deathspitters, venom cannon - 190
Genestealers (5) w/ Broodlord - 116
Tervigon w/ crushing claws, cluster spines, catalyst, adrenal glands, toxin sacs - 220
Termagants (15) w/ devourers, mycetic spore - 190
Hormagaunts (20) w/ toxin sacs - 160
Are they after you? That's right, it is the Tyranid Fast Attack section with my detailed thoughts on each unit and how they perform in 6th Edition. Don't forget that if you want more Tacticas concerning some of the big players in 6th Edition, or are looking for some great hobby tips, head on to my blog over at;
We are open to any and all critiques and suggestions. Thanks again!
Our Fast Attack choices benefit a lot from upgrades and additional weaponry, particularly in the case of Shrikes, Raveners and Gargoyles. Harpies and the like don't necessarily need upgrades to be effective, though they do have a few options available to them that change their role. Generally speaking, your Fast Attack units are designed either for mobile anti-infantry shooting or fast anti-infantry melee, with little real deviation. Gargoyles are the most cost-effective, though Shrikes and Raveners demand some attention as well. Think about fast moving units in other slots when looking at the Fast Attack section first and foremost.
Tyranid Shrikes - Flying Warriors! With wi...oh never mind. Anyway, Shrikes are essentially Warriors with a weaker armour save, a slightly higher base cost and, as you might have guessed, wings. Shrikes, despite not being a Troops choice, essentially fill the same role as Warriors - providing Synapse and Shadow in the Warp, though they are mobile and thus fit well with other fast-moving elements, such as Gargoyles. Again like Warriors, they can be kitted out for some fast-moving ranged firepower, or hard-hitting melee. The latter one is where Shrikes really shine; with their speed, the inclusion of Hammer of Wrath, and the general lack of AP2 weapons at Initiative, Shrikes equipped with Boneswords are amongst the most devastating close-combat units in the game - at least when used against elite infantry such as Terminators and medium infantry like Space Marines. They even put out enough attacks to wade through hordes with relative ease. They are expensive though, and if you give them other upgrades which dramatically increase their combat effectiveness - such as the effervescent Toxin Sacs and useful Adrenal Glands - each model will cost in excess of 50 coyotes.
Though they will mulch through many similarly-costed units in combat, their durability to points ratio doesn't favour them well - like Warriors, they are Battle Cannon or Missile Launcher bait, and owing to their faster nature, they are far more obvious targets too. Shrikes also fall victim to having a +5 armour save, making them quite vulnerable to massed Bolter fire. As such, they require a great deal of finesse to get into the thick of it; jumping from cover to cover, spreading the wounds with smart wound-allocation, and so on. Be careful when charging into cover though, as both the charge is not guaranteed and Shrikes lack assault grenades, meaning they can be harmed quite badly before they strike. As long as you don't go overboard on upgrades, you won't be too frustrated if they die quickly - target saturation is always a big factor for competitive Tyranid armies, and Shrikes are a great way to add to that if your opponent has even the faintest idea of what they are capable of. Very few jump-infantry units in the game compare in melee, though obviously those units usually are nowhere near as costly. Overall, Shrikes are a very good unit to use, but you really need to be careful with them - make them too obvious a target, or upgrade them too much, and you may find they rarely prove their worth.
Raveners - These are comfortably the fastest non-flying monstrous creature units in the Tyranid codex, being Beasts - they have a 12" movement that is not slowed or harmed by terrain, and have Fleet to boot. They share an almost identical profile to Shrikes - with the key differences being their higher Initiative and Attacks, but the loss of Synapse and Shadow in the Warp. As Beasts, they are more reliable in the movement and assault phase than Shrikes, but lose out on Hammer of Wrath. As well, their inclusion means you may need to find mobile synapse elsewhere; however, Raveners are, strangely, a unit that functions very well outside of Synapse range - with Rage, they don't derp out and instead gain an incredible 6 attacks per model on the charge! Did I mention Raveners come with two sets of Scything Talons, WS5 and I5? As you can likely determine, Raveners are obviously a fast assault unit designed to harass enemy units and give enemy artillery/long-range units, such as Havocs and Devastators, a very serious problem - with the Raveners likely to charge in two turns, those units are forced into either shooting at the Raveners and maybe killing them before they attack or ignoring them to focus on the big beasties, guaranteeing their deaths. Raveners are amazing in this role and should always have their speed exploited as much as possible.
Raveners, however, have some of the same issues as Shrikes; namely, a weak armour save, the lack of assault grenades, and lots of useful upgrades that you need to keep in moderation. Costing the same as a Warrior, Raveners are costly and their upgrades make them considerably more-so. In general, you should take Rending Claws on Raveners - they increase their cost somewhat, but make them a serious threat to light vehicles, monstrous creatures and well armoured opponents, such as Terminators. They are more efficient against almost every unit type, except for hordes, but Raveners shouldn't charge into hordes anyway. You can take guns on Raveners, but it does change their role a bit - don't take Rending Claws and guns, they simply become too much of a points-sink. If you want to take ranged weapons, give them Devourers or Spinefists, the latter of which while less useful on units such as Termagants is far better on Raveners owning to their high number of attacks. A common tactic is giving them Spinefists and Deep Striking out of the ground, surprising your opponent and killing a chunk of infantry. Usually though, I would avoid giving them guns and keep them with Rending Claws - they are at home in combat, and they are safest there as well. Raveners are a good, if expensive (but what isn't in the Tyranid army?) unit that are great diversionary attackers.
Sky-Slasher Swarms - Rippers that have adapted into jump infantry, Sky-Slashers sadly suffer from the same basic issues as Rippers - they are over-costed, they are ineffective, their upgrades are too expensive and provide mediocre boosts, and, laughably, they still die when outside of Synapse. When you consider that Sky-Slashers have wings for the purpose of tarpitting units much quicker, and thus require mobile synapse, you should only ever use them if you have Shrikes or Flying Hive Tyrants handy. Clocking in at one and a half times the cost of a normal Ripper Swarm, Sky-Slashers are decent in the sense that they will get to their quarry much quicker, though, again, you are still paying too much for a very ineffective tar-pit - Hormagaunts are almost as quick, much cheaper, and far better in combat. Much like Rippers, I would usually avoid Sky-Slasher Swarms - however, they do make a decent and fluffy bodyguard for the Parasite of Mortrex.
Gargoyles - Very cost-effective flying Termagants - notice a theme going here? - that do combat far better than their scuttling ilk, due to their melee attacks causing an auto-wound on every to hit roll of a six. Being only a measly potato more than a standard Termagant, Gargoyles gain the very huge benefits of being Jump Infantry - they are twice as quick as Termagants and are thus far better at closing with the enemy quickly to provide decent anti-infantry firepower, or even charge certain units. Sadly, they do lose Move Through Cover, meaning they are susceptible to Dangerous Terrain tests. Still, they make up for it in yet another way - their upgrades, including Adrenal Glands and Toxin Sacs, are as cheap as they are for Termagants, or half as expensive as Hormagaunts get them for. Given their mobility and pseudo-Fantasy poison rule, Gargoyles make for great melee units - unlike Termagants, they neither benefit from nor need the support abilities of a Tervigon to do their job well. Twenty Gargoyles with both Adrenal Glands and Toxin Sacs will cost significantly less than twenty Hormagaunts upgraded similarly - though Gargoyles aren't Troops, they still fulfill the same basic role almost as well, if not better, for the points.
There are few negatives to taking Gargoyles - mostly, they are yet another cheap horde unit, but the one that is by far the most cost-effective. About the only consideration is what units to run them with - like anything in the Tyranid army, they are not designed to operate alone, as you want to keep them near Synapse creatures as normal. This is where Flying Hive Tyrants, Harpies, the Parasite of Mortrex and Shrikes come into play - three of the four units benefit the Gargoyles immensely, though the Gargoyles themselves prove to be excellent foils for those units too. The Parasite, for example, gets to join up with a very nasty unit that can soak up a lot of wounds. The flying monstrous creatures get bubble-wrap and mobile cover, with Shrikes enjoying the particular benefits of the latter. Overall, there is very little one can say against Gargoyles - they are a great unit that is almost imperative in an army list with other winged monsters. Take two broods of twenty, upgraded decently, and they will commonly be at the top of your MVP list.
Harpy - The only other flying monstrous creature Tyranids have access to, the Harpy suffers the unfortunate restriction of not being able to target flyers with any weaponry of real note - a S5 Vector Strike and four S5 shots simply do not cut it against most fliers in the game. If you are worried about anti-air, always go for a Flying Hive Tyrant with two twin-linked brain-leech devourers. Always. Now, onto what the Harpy does well - it is death incarnate to most infantry in the game, usually firing a S6 Pinning Large Blast, a S5 Large Blast, and firing a once-per-game D3 S4 AP4 large blasts. Put simply, it will obliterate hordes and blob-guard whilst putting on enough wounds to give even Space Marines a serious headache. It also has a S5 AP3 vector strike that ignores cover, which is best used against certain enemies - particularly those poor, poor Space Marines. Being a flying monstrous creature, it is hard as hell to shoot down, and it is exceedingly quick, compensating for the mediocre range of its weaponry. Due to being a monster, it can also in a pinch charge an enemy vehicle or even an isolated unit, such as a Long Fang squad, and tear them to shreds - obviously though, gliding at the wrong moment can leave a Harpy dangerously exposed to a counter-attack. As good as its anti-infantry firepower is, it is sadly very fragile as far as Tyranid monstrous creatures go - a Toughness of 5, four wounds and only a +4 armour save make it mince meat for Autocannons, particularly Hydras, that are in abundance in the current meta. Given their high cost, Harpies are a risky unit to use - they will lose any aerial duel, and be high priority targets for foot-slogging army lists.
The Harpy does have access to upgrades - Adrenal Glands, Toxin Sacs and Regeneration, though a Harpy typically requires none of these as its combat abilities don't need improvement - it is supposed to shoot anyway - and Regeneration, whilst cheaper for a Harpy, is still too random to justify its expense. It can swap out its two ranged weapons for alternates that make it more useful against ground vehicles, though I believe you should give these a miss as the Harpy does not do anti-tank particularly well at all, especially for the cost. At least when used solely as an anti-infantry platform, the Harpy shines - it can put out a lot of hurt very quickly, and in this way, it combines very well with Gargoyles and Flying Hive Tyrants for cover and target saturation. Whilst I find they are decent units, they are definitely over-costed, and as I have made clear before, Tyranids have anti-infantry firepower in abundance by taking any kind of basic army. They are best used only if you plan on using other flying units, as they are too fragile to justify their cost if used alone. A note I will make is their Sonic Screech ability - it halves the Initiative of enemy units in an assault for the first round. This works well with other units, though with readily available cover and the high Initiative of most Tyranids anyway, it isn't all that much of a boon. As far as the actual model goes, I would recommend purchasing a Trygon kit and getting your hands on a set of Flying Hive Tyrant wings - if that proves too costly, try getting a set of organic-looking wings elsewhere, either from Forge World or Games Workshop. It would require a lot of conversion work, but I would say it will be worth it if you do it correctly - just keep in mind that an actual Harpy model may very well be released in the coming year.
Spore Mine Cluster - Living bombs that explode the second any enemy unit gets within 2" of them, Spore Mine Clusters are a bit of an odd duck out - they deep-strike on to the board before any units are deployed, and if any of them scatter into impassable terrain or off the board, the entire unit dies. Once they've landed, each Spore Mine in the cluster is treated as an individual Spore Mine during the game. You can't even control them once the game starts - they drift D6" in a random direction at the start of each turn, and are removed if they move into impassable terrain or off the board. They aren't cheap either - at least, not per model, as their squad sizes are very small as far as Tyranids go. Once something does touch them or get too close, they do quite a bit of damage - you centre a S4 AP4 large blast over the Spore Mine, hitting anything nearby. Not bad at all. You might be thinking that against armies with light infantry, such as Tau or Eldar, these can be a great scare tactic - unfortunately, because they deploy before every other unit does, a smart opponent can simply ignore them, or, even better, tank shock them with vehicles and watch them combust harmlessly. As such, their best use is to attempt to deep-strike them onto an objective that is out of the way - they will literally die the second they are shot by anything, with one Toughness 1 wound and no saves each. I don't rate them personally, and the points are far better off invested elsewhere, but for laughs, why not?
Example Builds - Here are some good or decent ways to run our much loved Fast Attack choices;
Shrikes (6) w/ lash whip and bonesword - 300
Raveners (6) w/ rending claws - 210
Gargoyles (20) w/ adrenal glands, toxin sacs - 160
Raveners (6) w/ spinefists - 210
Hey all, I'm back to review the final section of the codex; our monstrous heavy support options! I hope that you find these insights useful on the 6th Edition battlefield, and as always, if you want more Tacticas concerning some of the big players in 6th Edition, or are looking for some great hobby tips, head on to my blog over at;
We are open to any and all critiques and suggestions. Thanks again!
The source of most of our monstrous creatures - all designed for varying kinds of destruction - the heavy support slot holds the distinction of five out of the six units offered being a big nasty bug. Typically, you should avoid Carnifexes and Old One Eye - the former only works when built a certain way, and the latter is far too inefficient. Trygons and Biovores tend to be the best available choices and are quite suited to 6th Edition play, whilst Mawlocs and Tyrannofexes tend to strike a middle ground in terms of cost-effectiveness. Upgrades aren't necessary or even possible on most of the units here, and frankly you usually want a higher quantity of these monsters for target saturation purposes. If you want a line-breaker, look no further than the Trygon.
Carnifex - One of the most well known Tyranid organisms, the Carnifex is a living tank used for the sole purpose of battering enemy fortifications and tanks, whilst scything through infantry with ease - at least, that's how it works in the background. The sad and painful truth is that a Carnifex is an over-costed monstrous creature that needs to be turned into a gun platform to be anywhere near viable. Despite being close-combat oriented, it has a mediocre WS and an Initiative of 1 - that last one means that, for the most part, it will be striking at the same time as power fists and meltabomb; meaning it will get chomped very quickly by most units. Even krak-grenade toting Space Marines will give it a lot to think about. Though its battering ram rule does make it Initiative 3 on the charge, the prevalence of cover, and the fact that most enemies are Initiative 4 or higher anyway, doesn't help all that much - even with frag spines (assault grenades), a Carnifex still can't single out power fists in a unit and will surely be walloped. The biggest problem the Carnifex faces is the competition within the codex - for only a small investment, you can get yourself a Trygon that is literally twice as effective in combat, and much faster to boot. You might think, well, a Carnifex can take a Mycetic Spore and a Trygon can't, but Trygons can deep-strike with the same scatter-reduction rules that a Mycetic Spore comes with. Essentially, a Carnifex pays for abilities that are greatly inferior to that of the Trygon.
So what else can a Carnifex do aside from being a mediocre combat monster? Well, the good news is that against walkers, tanks and skimmers (but not fliers), a Carnifex can quite capably destroy them with little difficulty - S9 base, including Hammer of Wrath, plus its re-rolls to hit due to Scything Talons make it a fantastic wrecking ball against heavily armoured vehicles. Don't waste them on transports and the like - you have Hive Guard for that. Even then, a Carnifex isn't quick enough to really justify being used in that way. Don't give it the melee-oriented upgrades - Adrenal Glands and Toxin Sacs are virtually useless on a model with S9, and Crushing Claws are too expensive on a model that both struggles to hit and doesn't usually need to Smash anyway. Regeneration and Bio Plasma are too expensive for what they give you - Bio Plasma is essentially a Plasma Cannon with a third of the range, meaning it can scatter onto friendly forces quite easily, and Regeneration is too random and expensive to use. Seriously though, why does Regeneration cost as much on a 4 wound monstrous creature as it does on a 6 wound monstrous creature with the same Toughness and armour save!? The Carnifex, like the Pyrovore, will simply leave you scratching your head, especially when put next to a Trygon - there is simply no reason for it to be over-costed the way it is given its mediocre profile.
If you want to use the awesome looking Carnifex, you should be happy to find that there is a way to run them that is very much worthwhile - replace both their scything talons with the lauded pair of twin-linked brain-leech devourers. This build is commonly labelled the 'Dakkafex' - putting out 12 S6 twin-linked shots a turn, a Dakkafex is a serious threat to transports, infantry, and even fliers, all at a decent price. Though I would still say it is over-costed, it at least will help out your army quite a bit, especially if you are using Zoanthropes or Ymgarls instead of Hive Guard. Even then, a mech-heavy meta can lead to a mixture of Hive Guard and Dakkafexes - durable anti-tank platforms that will regularly pull their weight. I wouldn't bother with any of the other ranged weapons, as they are all out-performed by the brain-leech devourers. One thing to consider when using a Dakkafex is whether you want to shell out and grab it a Mycetic Spore, or run it in a pair. A very common unit for a Tyranid Prime to join is a 'Fexstar' consisting of two or three Dakkafexes, providing both an insanely durable gun platform and a unit few enemies would want to get close to. Everyone loves wound allocation shenanigans! However, the lone Dakkafex in a Spore combines really well with other deep-striking units, such as the Doom of Malan'tai or Zoanthropes. Either way you go is costly, but they are both effective in 6th Edition and well worth your consideration. If you aren't using Carnifexes in either of those builds though, you will likely be disappointed.
Old One Eye - A long ode to a forgotten era wherein the combat Carnifex was viable, Old One Eye is one of the most painfully over-costed units in the entire codex - and much like the rest of the Tyranid range, he sports an awesome model too! Why do the mediocre or bad units have to have the best models? Anyway, Old One Eye is a grossly expensive unit that is essentially a Carnifex upgraded with Crushing Claws, a better version of Regeneration, and a cool ability that gives it some potential bonus attacks, all at S10. Strangely, Old One Eye also lets every Tyranid within 12" can use Old One Eye's Leadership of 8 for any Morale or Leadership tests they are required to make - generally speaking, this is situational at best as most Tyranids that would benefit from it should be in Synapse range and thus be Fearless anyway. Aside from that, well, that really is all there is that makes Old One Eye unique - it is essentially a much costlier version of a unit for few gains based upon a unit that was already too expensive for what it does. If that doesn't give you the best indication of how I feel about Old One Eye, consider this; for a mere twenty paddles more, you can grab the Swarmlord.
How does Old One Eye compare to the Swarmlord? Here; the Swarmlord has more wounds, provides Synapse in a larger than normal bubble, provides Shadow in the Warp, has an invulnerable save in close combat, has a ridiculously higher Weapon Skill, has a far higher Initiative, has a higher Leadership, is a Mastery Level 2 psyker, it can make itself even more powerful or buff friendly units, hands out Preferred Enemy or Furious Charge like candy, forces opponents to re-roll successful invulnerable saves, always inflicts instant death, and can be hidden by bodyguards. What does Old One Eye get? A higher Strength and the chance of a few bonus attacks and Regenerating wounds. Here's a tip; the Swarmlord wins by a country mile. Don't bother with Old One Eye, unless you really like the model or don't care about competitive play. I've yet to meet someone that doesn't like Old One Eye, but he is nothing but a sad joke, and it really pains me to say it. If it weren't for Pyrovores or perhaps Lictors, Old One Eye would be the worst unit in the codex, period, to be brutally honest.
Biovores - Artillery! FIRE! Ahem, Biovores are one of two long-range shooty units in the codex, providing some nasty anti-infantry firepower - they launch Spore Mines, as discussed earlier. A S4 AP4 large blast using the Barrage rules is nothing to sneeze at - particularly because of the AP4 and Barrage rules. So on top of wiping out Tau, Eldar and the like, the Barrage rules make cover a pain for those units to come by, and also allow for 'sniping' - with wounds allocated from the centre of the hole, some decent scatter rolls can lead to units being neutered. Your oncoming Trygons worried about the plasma gun and missile launcher at the back of that Tacitcal Squad? Hit them with a Biovore, and as long as you get it where you want, you should kill both of them with no difficulty. All of a sudden, that Trygon which was likely going to lose several wounds to that Tactical Squad from shooting can move up and charge with not a care in the world. What about that nasty Necron Lord with Mindshackle Scarabs daring your Hive Tyrant to get in to the unit. Give him some Spore Mine love - with a bit of luck, the Lord will be done and dusted, literally. It is in this way that Biovores are so useful in almost every single game you will play in 6th Edition - even Space Marines will suffer when Biovores are around, due to the large amount of wounds they can dish out. They aren't really costly either, costing - I don't whether this is sad or humorous - as much as a Pyrovore for oh so much more.
So what do you need to worry about with Biovores? Well, they have essentially the same exact sta-line as a Pyrovore, and are thus easily instant-killed by weapons such as missile launchers, or brought down with massed fire. Unlike Pyrovores, Biovores neither need to be close or, provided they don't fail an Instinctive Behaviour test, need Line of Sight to shoot their quarry - hide them in your backfield with some kind of Synapse creature plonked on a nearby objective, and they will do just fine. Also, if their shot scatters off and hits nothing, you get a free Spore Mine! Hooray! Yet another reason you shouldn't bother with Spore Mine Clusters. Keeping on the Biovores, as long as you protect them adequately and keep them away from concentrated shooting and melee units, they will work out very well - a great unit overall.
Trygon - Ask yourself a question; do you want a melee powerhouse of a monstrous creature that acts as both the perfect line-breaker and will scare the pants off of any opponent, all for a very efficient price? If you answered yes, say hello to the Trygon! (If you answered no....seriously?) A Trygon is a dedicated combat unit that has very reliable ways of getting there - namely, it is very tough, quick due to Fleet, and can even deep-strike without fear of mishaps, except for scattering off the board. With a Toughness of six, six wounds and a +3 armour save, the Trygon is a tough as nails monster, one that usually suffers from being too big a target for your opponent and too hard to obscure - fortunately, the 6th Edition cover rules means that a Trygon can simply be touching a part of area terrain and gain a meaty cover save, all the while still maintaining a very high speed! It has a shooting attack to help it out on the way, which is nothing shabby - S5 AP5 Assault 6 at 12", decent for light vehicles and weaker infantry. Generally though, what you really want to know are its combat abilities - it has an incredible six Weapon Skill 5 attacks at S6 I4 base, re-rolling all failed to hit rolls! You guessed it - this will run rampant through Infantry of nearly any kind, especially standard Terminators. And against vehicles, it puts out three or more Smash attacks that are unlikely to miss, meaning that almost any unit in the game is literally screwed if this thing gets close. Of course, any opponent - even those who don't know what a Trygon does - will prioritize its immediate death due to how big and scary it is, not to mention how quickly it moves.
These things are absolutely fantastic as linebreakers, notably because they can both soak up the damage and deal it out in amazing quantitites. Their speed and reliable deep-striking means they have multiple viable ways of getting to the enemy, though generally speaking I would advise running them up the field - whilst they may get shot down this way, they provide an incredible threat for your opponent and will boost your target saturation immensely. Your Tervigons and Hive Tyrants should be able to move up untouched if the Trygon does its job and you use cover smartly. If it does make it, prepare to wreak some joyous carnage. Ultimately, how you deploy them should be situational - in certain cases, deep-striking them in conjunction with other reserved units can provide a very nasty selection of threats that emerge all at once, forcing your opponent to literally turn and fire at the nearest units in a haze of confusion. Trygons also benefit your Reserves - any reserved Infantry can emerge the turn after a Trygon has deep-struck from where it emerged - placing them within 6", and letting them shoot as normal. This is definitely useful, but not all that great. As far as Instinctive Behaviour goes, Trygons also benefit immensely from being naturally Fearless and having Rage - no-one wants a Trygon charging them, let alone one with eight attacks! As such, you generally don't need to worry if a Trygon gets out of Synapse range, which is likely to happen anyway due to their speed.
As far as upgrades go, Trygons can take Adrenal Glands, Toxin Sacs and Regeneration - the first and third generally aren't all that great on a Trygon, as the Smash rule compensates for the Strength bonus applied by Furious Charge, and Regeneration is still too unreliable to justify the cost. However, Toxin Sacs are absolutely brutal on a Trygon - essentially guaranteeing it will kill whatever it hits, and making it far deadlier against other monstrous creatures. Talos' and Wraithlords won't be smiling if you hit them on 3s with re-rolls, then wound them on 4s, ignoring their armour. Want to know what happens with a Raging Trygon with Toxin Sacs? Here's a hint - that is almost an entire Tactical Squad gone in one round. If you want to spend any more points on a Trygon - remembering that they are expensive - take Toxin Sacs. The other upgrade that you should consider is turning the Trygon into a Trygon Prime - it's shooting attack gains double the amount of shots, it becomes a Synapse and Shadow in the Warp-generating creature, and it becomes a character. Whilst the upgrade is expensive, it is worthwhile most of the time - usually though, taking a Prime upgrade should be based on the rest of your army. If you are low on mobile Synapse, a Prime becomes invaluable - similarly, the extra shots make it a deadly alpha-strike unit against vehicles, deep-striking behind a tank and promptly destroying it. Being a character both works for and against you; it can single out power fists and the like and kill them before they can hurt it, but in turn, it can be tarpitted for an extra turn, meaning it will likely emerge at the end of your assault phase and thus be shot by your opponent immediately. It also isn't nice to be locked in a challenge with someone like Draigo and be unable to kill some Paladins before the Trygon Prime bites it, though Shadow in the Warp works wonders in mitigating Force Weapons. Either way, whichever kind of Trygon you choose, you really can't go wrong - they are a great unit that, whilst costly, I feel has a justified points cost and will regularly shine. This is what a close-combat Carnifex wishes it could be like.
Mawloc - The kit-broodling to a Trygon, the Mawloc is very much a unit based around disruption and terror-tactics rather than straight out aggression like a Trygon - though obviously a Trygon can be used in this role as well. Generally speaking, a Mawloc does disruption better than a Trygon, and a Trygon is a better line-breaker than a Mawloc. Essentially, when a Mawloc emerges from Reserves, it scatters but isn't moved away if it hits friendly or enemy units. Instead, you get to place a large blast marker over the centre point of where the Mawloc is emerging - all models touched suffer a S6 AP2 hit that strikes vehicles on their rear armour. Any surviving models are moved out of the way so the Mawloc can be placed, staying 1" away from it as normal, with vehicles keeping their previous facing - any models that can't get out of the way are destroyed! Obviously, this attack does some great things; namely, it will kill almost the entirety of most squads it hits and it has a decent chance of severely damaging most vehicles, as well as moving enemy units into better positions for your other units to attack them. This also serves as a great way of breaking up 'castle' formations, which Tyranids typically struggle to deal with. A Mawloc that, with some good scatter dice, emerges in a congested position, can do some amazing damage. We haven't even touched the best part of this attack - the Mawloc can Burrow on its next turn and do it again the turn after, meaning it can perform this attack a maximum of three times in each game. Due to the randomness of the attack, especially given that it doesn't ignore cover saves, this may not be all that great, as it really is the Mawloc's defining feature, but when it hits, it will usually do enough damage that you won't mind its usual inaccuracy. Some other cool stuff to note is that it has Hit and Run and gets Rage like a Trygon when it fails an Instinctive Behaviour test, giving it some extra punch and the welcome ability to get out of unwanted combats.
Like a Trygon, a Mawloc has six Toughness six wounds and a +3 armour save, though the price of its special attack is that it lacks any ranged weapons and is much weaker in combat. Even though it is still a monstrous creature, it only has three WS3 attacks at Initiative 4, making it much less of a threat in combat - however, it is still perfectly capable of tieing up ranged units, such as Tactical Marines, and slowly chomping through them, or destroying vehicles somewhat reliably. Mawlocs don't really benefit from the upgrades either. It is also quite a bit cheaper than a Trygon, but generally speaking, Trygons work better in most Tyranid armies - given that all-reserve army lists are no longer possible with the Swarm, Trygons are very important as line-breaker units that give an army a lot of target saturation. Mawlocs simply can't fulfill the same role, their only real saving grace being that they too are big, scary and durable - though you will usually want them burrowed for their special attack anyway. Typically, the best way to deploy a Mawloc is not by deep-striking them - deploy them normally, as they can Burrow on the first turn and thus be guaranteed to emerge on the second turn, rather than having to roll for reserves. This also can help your army out, as an opponent may focus on them to hopefully stop them from doing their attack. Just don't leave them out in the open and they can feasibly soak up some wounds that you don't want going on your other units. Mawlocs, obviously, work better in reserve-heavy armies. For the most part, I can't say much against Mawlocs, though they are generally outperformed by Trygons, so whilst I would usually give them a miss, they are a very decent option.
Tyrannofex - A Tyranid Tyrannosaurus Rex? Sadly, no. It is a fat, ugly mass bristling with guns, and also holds the distinction of being the most insanely durable monstrous creature in a standard Warhammer 40000 codex; a Tyrannofex has Toughness 6, 6 wounds and a +2 armour save. Problem Missile Launchers? These things are nearly impossible to kill, and are one of the few units where Regeneration may not be such a bad idea, mostly because of how laughably hard it is to kill them conventionally. Lets look at some of their other stats; like a Tervigon, they are kind of weak in combat, though they do have a higher Strength value - unfortunately, unlike a Tervigon, they can't take Crushing Claws to take full advantage of the Smash rules. They also are Initiative 1, making them prey to Initiative tests that can kill them, such as Jaws of the World Wolf. They also aren't a synapse creature, and suffer from Lurk - which can be bad considering their weapons are medium to short range. So what makes a Tyrannofex tick? For starters, they come with Cluster Spines or a Stinger Salvo, a Thorax Swarm, and an Acid Spray. That equates to either a S5 AP- large blast or a S5 AP4 Assault 4 gun, a flamer template with different firing modes selected before the game - the best of which always wounds non-vehicle units on a +2 - and a second flamer template that essentially has the Torrent rule, resolved at S6 AP4. This makes them unparalleled infantry hunters, at least as far as Tyranid monstrous creatures go. However, they can also switch the Acid Spray out for one of two weapon options - the Rupture Cannon, or the Fleshborer Hive. The latter is terrible and should be avoided - except for conversion opportunities, notably to give a Flying Hive Tyrant a pair of twin-linked brain-leech devourers. The former is an interesting if unappealing option that is the only long-range anti-tank weapon in the entire Tyranid army - it is considered by many for that reason alone, and not because of its effectiveness. Two S10 AP4 shots at 48" hitting on 4s sounds neat, but really isn't all that great in practice - half will hit on average, and with no damage modifiers, you are unlikely to destroy a vehicle, with no guarantee of even penetrating it. It is too unreliable, especially given that it is actually a paid upgrade.
For the most part, I would always keep a Tyrannofex kitted out this way, as its anti-tank form is too unreliable for the cost - Cluster Spines, Thorax Swarm with Dessicator Larvae, and the Acid Spray. That gives you some ridiculous anti-infantry firepower that, with some luck, can wipe out entire Tactical Squads in one go quite feasibly. If you do want its anti-tank firepower, give it the Stinger Salvo, Thorax Swarm with Electroshock Grubs, and the Rupture Cannon. Regardless of how you equip it though, be mindful of the sobering fact that a Tyrannofex is ludicrously expensive - weighing in at the same cost as most Land Raiders. I don't feel it is worth it, giving the recent turn towards massed plasma weaponry that essentially make light work of a Tyrannofex. However, it is still a decent option to consider, as it can undoubtedly soak up ridiculous amounts of firepower - it will make Long Fangs cry, for sure. Even Grey Knights will struggle with it, especially if a Shadow in the Warp creature is nearby. I would reserve these for bigger games, where they aren't so much of a points-sink. As far as a line-breaker goes, they are good, but outperformed again by Trygons.
Example Builds - Though our heavy support options tend to have only a few viable builds each, here are some for your consideration;
Carnifex w/ two twin-linked brain-leech devourers, mycetic spore - 230
Biovores (2) - 90
Trygon w/ toxin sacs - 210
Tyrannofex w/ cluster spines, thorax swarm with dessicator larvae, acid spray - 250
Carnifexes (2) w/ two twin-linked brain-leech devourers - 380
Learn2Eel here, back for the final section of this long (winded) review and Tactica. I thank you all for your support and contributions to this Tactica and its development, and I hope it has been as fulfilling for you as it has been for me. And, if you want more Tacticas concerning some of the big players in 6th Edition, or are looking for some great hobby tips, head on to my blog over at;
We are open to any and all critiques and suggestions. Thanks again!
Final Thoughts and Summary
Codex: Tyranids is a much maligned book, notably for how much the army struggled to deal with mechanized forces in 5th Edition, as well as the general over-costing of many units and terribly confused rules of others. Thankfully, 6th Edition breathed new life into the Swarm in countless ways - with foot-slogging armies becoming more common-place, the changes to Barrage weapons, the loss of No Retreat! wounds, more easily hit vehicles in combat, an influx of cover saves and better Feel No Pain for monstrous creatures, hull points on vehicles, flying monstrous creatures and so much more. Hive Tyrants with wings are now premier transport and light flier hunters, and benefit greatly from the new psychic powers - particularly Iron Arm, Warp Speed and Endurance from Biomancy. Biovores are highly effective 'sniper' units, effectively neutralizing units relying on special or heavy weapons to deal with monstrous creatures. Zoanthropes are amongst the most versatile units in the codex, with access to so many new random psychic powers that each brood member can select individually - support and damage go hand in hand with the brain bugs! And with the new editions' focus on objectives, Tervigons paired with Termagants are now some of the best Troops choices you can find in any army when they work in unison - creating fast moving hordes that can all score objectives, backed by a relentlessly durable monster that can capture objectives as well! Hormagaunts, with Fearless no longer causing extra wounds in a lost combat, truly are amongst the most cost-effective melee horde units in the game, using their speed and numbers to overwhelm any foe. Harpies, now that they too can fly, are enjoying a new lease on life - even if they still aren't the best choice, they are no longer so easily killed. It all paints a bright picture for Tyranids.
Of course, there are the downsides too - with the changes to Fleet and assaulting out of reserves, Genestealers, Hormagaunts, Trygons and the like have suffered either minor or severe penalties - with Genestealers in particular now unable to pull off their only reliable means of getting into combat without suffering too many casualties. Tyrannofexes armed with Rupture Cannons are much less likely to wreck vehicles now, with the changes to the damage chart. Overwatch puts a serious dent in many of our assault units, and the introduction of random charge distances can be a major crippling factor for our already fragile melee units. Like with any player, it is necessary to take the bad with the good - as the mantra of our species, Hive Commanders need to adapt to these new circumstances, the conditions of war. As it is, our unique units are, perhaps surprisingly, enjoying a new lease on life - Deathleaper and Ymgarl Genestealers are now amongst the ultimate disruption units in the game, whilst the Doom of Malan'tai is even stronger than ever; if that was even possible! The Parasite of Mortrex has gained much due to the character and challenge rules - it can now Look Out Sir! wounds that would normally kill it instantly, and singling out a hidden power fist works in the Parasite's favour now. In particular, the Swarmlord has now earned the title of most deadly character-killer in the game - few can hope to even match the Swarmlord in a challenge, and when equipped with the new psychic disciplines, such as Biomancy or Telepathy, there is little hope of stopping it. Warriors too are clawing their way back into competitive armies, with the gradual meta shift towards plasma becoming more and more evident - instant death may no longer be as crippling an issue for so many of our multi-wound T4 models as it was before. Overall, I think the 6th Edition changes have given Tyranids a very welcome boost - many more units are now being seen in competitive armies, even if there have been some notable sacrifices, such as Genestealers. Of course though, the Broodlord has something to say about that - few codices can claim to have a character assassin of the quality and cost of a Broodlord.
But what about the codex internally? How has the meta shift affected the themes underlining the units? Not much has truly changed there - synergy is still the most important facet of the Tyranid army, with more and more tantalising combinations discovered every day. Tervigons and Termagants are enjoying a renaissance of sorts, with objective games now the norm. Conversely, Gargoyles paired with Harpies or Flying Hive Tyrants are even more dangerous than ever. Combined assaults consisting of Hormagaunts and Trygons will still devastate any foe when used smartly, whilst Hive Guard and Zoanthropes are even more deadly at dispatching vehicles and heavy infantry alike in unison - though Deny the Witch is now a cause for concern with Zoanthropes. All units should still be considered firstly for their role in the army, not their cost-effectiveness or immediate profile - hence why a Mawloc or Deathleaper may become so much more useful when paired with the Doom of Malan'tai, Genestealers and their ilk, rather than a Trygon or the Swarmlord. Fast moving armies need multiple threats of similar speeds to execute combined assaults and provide too many targets for opponents to adequately deal with. The Doom of Malan'tai, though a fantastic suicide unit, will need some support, especially if the drop doesn't go well. And yes, Nidzilla is indeed back - with cover saves far easier to come by, the new monster benefits, and the edition shift away from missile launchers and the like, Warriors and the rest should work better than ever.
The theme still holds true to this day though, no matter what unit you select - synergy above all else, it is why each unit must have a specific goal, and each unit must work together to achieve those goals. Sacrificial units are common in a Tyranid army, and every skirmish must be approached delicately with a considered, calm mind. Despite the many improvements Tyranids have gained overall, they are still a challenging army to master and not for beginners - they require not only an acute tactical mind, but also a strong army list made by an eye that can see beyond the efficiency of one unit, but look at how it correlates with other choices in the army. Trygons truly are the most cost-effective monstrous creature in the Heavy Support section, but will they work in every kind of army list? This is a question you must ask yourself when considering what units to select, and knowing how to use them is imperative. A Hive Tyrant with wings is deadly and fast, but should you be overly aggressive with it or let it skirt the flanks of your opponent? As with the race itself, a good Tyranid player will have to adapt to every situation on the fly - having a preset strategy in mind rarely works in today's game, particularly an army with as many in-built deficiencies and applications as Tyranids. Still, if you are willing to dedicate the ample time and money required to effectively do Tyranids justice, you will find they are a highly rewarding army that punishes mistakes and poor list-building whilst praising tactical nous and a notion of units working in perfect unison. No other codex quite approaches Tyranids in terms of a unified army, all forces synchronized to destruction and death. Nothing is as frightening - and unexpected, given their poor reputation - as a Swarm guided by a strong commander, consuming all before them with hordes ripping into infantry, monstrous creatures obliterating enemy positions and Hive Guard or Zoanthropes devastating vehicles from afar. Whether through the psychic choir, the monstrous horde, the unending tide, or an effective mixture - the choice is yours.
Create. Evolve. Consume.