24 Mar 2014

Tactica Tyranids - Biovores

Hey guys, my name is Learn2Eel, and today I'm going to be bringing you another article in the Tyranid Tactica series! Biovores are the closest analogy to artillery in the Tyranid army, bombarding enemy positions from afar and out of sight. Their deadly payload is actually a cluster of Spore Mines propelled at ridiculous speeds by various muscle spasms in the Biovore itself. The changes to this mechanic and the Spore Mines themselves serve to make the Biovore a very interesting unit, even before you consider the positive buffs it otherwise received. Though its role in a vehicle-heavy 5th Edition meta was limited, 6th Edition breathed new life into this unit, and the new codex only serves to improve on what was already a great unit in the Heavy Support slot. I hope you enjoy this article!



When you buy a model for use in games such as Warhammer 40000, you expect them to be....perhaps not worthwhile, necessarily, but at least have a use. To have a point. To have some kind of purpose. And ultimately, this is where the 6th Edition Pyro....

Oh, right, sorry. This is the Biovore Tactica! Where are my manners? Yes, the names may be similar, the models may be trying too hard to mimic their spiritual frog lieges, but by the Emperor are Biovores just so darn good. It reminds me of an exchange I used to have with my nephew. "What's that, uncle?" "Why, that is a Biovore, dear nephew." "It's so fat and ugly..." "The beauty is on the inside. Remember?" "Yeah, yeah....say, what's that over there? It looks kind similar." "That is the Pyrovore, nephew. You must never use that." Ah, please, forgive that lapse. In any case, yes, Biovores are the good twin, the one that doesn't hide in alleyways and conceal a flamethrower in their tattered leather jacket. In fact, they are easily one of the best value units in the codex not only in regards to their abilities, but the context of 6th Edition where so many players are favouring less vehicles and more infantry. 5th Edition wasn't exactly kind to Biovores even if they were a good unit in certain circumstances simply because vehicles and mechanical transports were the name of the game for the most part, leaving Biovores as almost completely null in many engagements. They didn't exactly fit the bill of an all-rounder choice, especially with the great value Trygons of the time that were so nasty with their Fleet and ridiculous number of attacks.

I've covered the changes in 6th Edition that make Biovores so much better even without their own rule changes, so I won't go into major detail on that front. Instead, I'll just quickly reiterate why Biovores really launched into a whole new level of competitive usage due to the edition switch; the changes to Barrage rules making them more dangerous, as well as transports being less favourable with less forgiving rules and an inability to capture objectives when embarked. Enemies have to go out in the open, giving the anti-infantry specialist Biovore a new lease on life with something to shoot at. Enter the new codex, and Biovores have managed to improve even more on their previous incarnation, with an extra wound, attack and point of initiative to give them a better rounded stat line. This makes them harder to remove for opponents while also making them less of a push-over in close combat if something manages to corner them.

However, the biggest change here comes from the reworked Spore Mines that they fire. Clusters of Spore Mines are an interesting but ultimately limited unit because they are incapable of really reaching any unit to force detonation, but Biovores provide a creative solution to this issue. Each time they miss with one of their shots - and yes, a unit of two or more Biovores is still only treated as missing once for this rule - D3 Spore Mines are created. This is a bit more limited than before, but now the Spore Mines can actually be controlled when they are placed. In fact, they can charge on the turn they are "created", leading to some hilarity with multiple charging units. Miss that Fire Warrior squad that is about to face a charge from your Hormagaunt brood? Force them either to Overwatch the nasty Strength 4 minimum AP4 large blast-providing Spore Mines and face the full wrath of the Hormagaunts, or take on the Hormagaunts and eat up that delicious explosion. Just being able to charge an infantry unit and potentially get even one Spore Mine into combat with a Toughness 3 and 4+ armoured infantry unit can pay dividends, often killing more than any single Biovore shot ever could with assumed cover.

I dreamed a dream where this model was the Biovoooore!
Even without these changes, however, the Biovore would still be a stellar unit as I have already mentioned. They have three Toughness 4 wounds with a 4+ armour save, identical to Tyranid Warriors, but they have the advantage of freely being able to hide behind terrain without wasting many of their talents. They can beat off very light resistance in combat and synergize well with minor scoring Warrior squads in the backfield. The rest of their stats aren't that great with mostly threes and twos across the board, but for a unit that will rarely see combat and is likely to be firing without line of sight anyway, most of these don't really matter. Then, of course, you get to its cannon; a 48" ranged gun that shoots a Strength 4 AP4 Large Blast with the Barrage special rule. When these miss, they create the aforementioned Spore Mines, meaning that even their inaccurate shooting can play in your favour.

Their only real issue, unless you count the multiple barrage rules as an issue, is their Leadership 6 and Instinctive Behaviour Hunt; a failed Instinctive Behaviour test will see a 50% chance for the Biovores to Fall Back, effective immediately. For a unit that is only there to shoot and will get blown to pieces if they run back into line of sight of enemy units, this is obviously a horrible result; try to pair Biovores up either with solo Zoanthropes or minimalist Warrior broods to safe-guard them. Going back a bit, though, the multiple barrage rules are a bit punishing, especially with how inaccurate a unit that is either Ballistic Skill 3 or firing out of sight. The first shot missing will still spawn Spore Mines, but if you, for example, hit with the first shot but miss with the second shot, you won't get the Spore Mines. It's sad, especially if the entire unit misses, but ultimately this really isn't that much of a negative to weigh out just how good this unit is. All they need is a Synapse unit and some terrain to hide in, and they will always prove a valuable addition.

Where to Put Them

Biovores, as the Tyranid analogy to Whirlwinds and Thunderfire Cannons, belongs behind the front-lines and in cover. With the Barrage special rule and a 48" range on their gun, there is literally no reason to not be deploying in a hidden area, whether in the back corner of your deployment zone or in the middle of an open terrain piece. Keep them out of sight, and keep them in cover. Their three Toughness 4 wounds with a 4+ armour save are certainly decent against small arms fire, but with only a maximum of three models in a unit, they can't really afford to get in the sights of massed infantry. Avoiding high Strength weapons is also wise by abusing terrain as, of course, they lack invulnerable saves and Eternal Warrior - issues endemic to all multiple wound models in the Tyranid army.

A 48" range may not be able to cover the entirety of a standard 6x4 gaming board, but the threat of up to three Strength 4 AP4 Barrage Large Blasts from a unit of Biovores gives them a huge threat zone regardless. Infantry of all kinds, even the Toughness 4 and 3+ armoured kind, are unlikely to invite direct attacks from Biovores if they can avoid it. So, let us recap on what we learned over the past month that I have been reviewing the Hive Mind's children. Keep to cover, stay out of sight when possible. Cover is your friend, so don't waste it. Any terrain you can find in the backfield may as well be labelled "Biovore Paradise". Be sure that if you are taking Biovores that you also take a small brood of Warriors with either a Barbed Strangler or Venom Cannon to provide backfield Synapse and a home-field scoring unit.

Best Uses

Oh Gods, why have you forsaken me!?
Unsurprisingly, Biovores are pretty narrow in their effective uses. Strength 4 can't do much at all to vehicles, even with always hitting side armour; you might be able to strip a hull point off here or there, but the natural inaccuracy of these weapons makes it incredibly unreliable. They are there to shoot infantry from afar while hiding out of sight, or at least staying in cover. They are rather pathetic in combat as well by ranking even worse than Tactical Marines, their only saving grace being that they have three wounds per model. The role that Biovores fill is infantry suppression, using the Barrage rules and a Strength 4 AP4 ranged profile to destroy light and medium infantry that have a 4+ or worse armour save. Barrage ignores cover saves provided by intervening models, only allowing them if the model itself has Stealth or Shrouded, or is actually standing in a terrain piece. Pair this up with wounds being allocated from the centre hole of each large blast, and you can use these to try and snipe out special or heavy weapon carriers in squads, or even characters like Sergeants and Ethereals.

In general, you have yourself a ranged weapon with a very long range that doesn't need line of sight to fire - though doesn't benefit from the Biovore's Ballistic Skill for scatter purposes if this is done - that is death to Toughness 4 or lower and 4+ armoured or lower infantry models. Add in Pinning to lock down units and prevent enemy units from firing at full Ballistic Skill against our other units and despite how narrow the role of Biovores is, you won't regret using them. Squads of Fire Warriors, clusters of Ork Boyz and other such units are their preferred targets, while tougher units such as Wraithguard and Terminators are less invisting as choices.

Recommended Builds

These are a few example builds for the unit that I feel can fit into a number of competitive Tyranid lists. I'll list some thoughts on each build and what kind of lists they fit better in.

Biovores (3) - Biovores are one of the most cost-effective units in the Tyranid codex, with identical durability against ranged attacks compared to Tyranid Warriors that is combined with a devastating anti-infantry shooting attack. The 48" range and Barrage special rule allow you to hide these models pretty easily, so taking a maximum sized squad is hardly an issue at any point.

Biovores (2) - As with units of three Biovores, a pair of these nasty artillery beasts is great value for points, especially at less than a triple digit figure. A pair is less intensive on points - even though Biovores are inexpensive for what they bring - and also less punishing on the player if they fail a Synapse test or have no viable targets to shoot.

Bloated Death

As Imperial positions prepare to repel another Tyranid wave, they will often spot large, plodding beasts off in the distance, advancing seemingly independent of the rest of a Swarm. To mistake these for harmless Synapse nodes or some kind of defensive beast is a mistake that few live to repeat, not once they are disintegrated by blasts from the creatures. These are Biovores, constructs of the Hive Mind that are created to bombard enemy positions from afar, a task that they perform with inscrutable efficiency. Whether they merely suppress enemy positions and prevent them from advancing or firing back at other encroaching Tyranids, or annihilate them in a hail of venomous death, Biovores are among the most dangerous bio-organisms devised by the alien Hive Mind. Much like the dreaded Nebelwerfers made infamous by the shrill shrieking of their shells' descent, the terror evoked by the mere presence of these gun beasts can break even the hardiest of soldiers' resolve.

Thank you for reading this article! Please, share your thoughts on the article and the changes I am experimenting with for this series. I am open to any and all feedback! And remember, for any and all discussion on Tyranids and Games Workshop stuff, head on over to +Bell of Lost Souls. Thanks again! Eel out. 


  1. I called GW...they told me d3 (spore burst) per model (biovore) in unit. If it is only 1d3 per unit, then the only reason you are bringing more in a unit is if you hit. And if you hit, then role scatter for the next template, most likely you miss because the template is too big (unless you roll a hit again). I need a FAQ on this one.

    1. Unfortunately, even with a GW call the rules as written state that it is 1D3 per unit, not per Biovore. Games Workshop need to release an official FAQ for the new Tyranid codex to clear up issues such as these.

    2. If true, and the burst is d3 per unit (not model), then there would be no way of getting a ST10 damage for the blast besides the buying a unit of them via Fast Attack/Deep stirke.

    3. The thing is, the actual Spore Mine unit is capped at six models or a Strength 9 blast anyway. I'm assuming the Strength 10 cap was put there as a just in case for any zany rules that might pop up as a result of Apocalypse or the new Dataslates.