I fondly recall my memories of the old Tyranid codex from after the time 6th Edition dropped, what with so many rules and changes introduced so as to make the inter-galactic species a true threat on table-tops again. However, one unit I definitely never got behind was the Tyrannofex, a monster conceived as a heavy ranged unit but one that was unbelievably expensive without the output to match. As some may recall from my Tyranid Predictions article, I could viably see the Tyrannofex' base point cost dropping to around the 180 mark. Suffice it to say, I wasn't far off the mark and I couldn't be happier for it! The actual rules for the Tyrannofex were always strong, being the only monstrous creature in the codex to natively possess a 2+ armour save that was made all the more ridiculous by its great defensive stats. It just needed a significant points drop and I was so surprised to see that the final cost ended up being lower than my already rather outrageous prediction. As you might guess, I am a massive fan of the new look Tyrannofex and to say that it is one of the stronger units in the codex would be a vast understatement.
First up, let us analyze that juicy profile. As I have already mentioned, the Tyrannofex has a 2+ armour save that also happens to be the only one in the codex outside of a random melee-only upgrade for high level character models. This is great for a unit that lacks an invulnerable save, making it relatively safe against massed missile launchers or missile pods, but what truly makes it crazy good is that the Tyrannofex packs a whopping six wounds at Toughness 6. Yes, it has the same defensive stats of a Trygon mixed with a superior 2+ armour save and ends up being a cheaper model overall. While the Trygon obviously brings a lot to the table through Deep Strike and its melee capabilities, a Tyrannofex is nonetheless a hugely cost effective model that is by no means a slacker in terms of damage output. On that note, the Tyrannofex is a decent melee unit with Weapon Skill 3, Strength 6 and three attacks at Initiative 2. These are superior stats to the Tervigon which is rather surprising given the previous codex, though if Crushing Claws are added to the Tervigon than this superiority disappears - a Tyrannofex has no melee weapon options, unlike the vast majority of Tyranid monstrous creatures. Add in natural Fearless as a Tyranid monster into the mix and the Tyrannofex actually makes for a great combo-charge unit alongside a horde unit or other monstrous creature, adding a few extra wounds or damage results where applicable and necessary.
Like most Tyranid monstrous creatures, Instinctive Behaviour isn't a massive issue for a Tyrannofex, especially with Hunt as a Fearless unit is immune to the worst result on the chart. An above average Leadership 8 helps this significantly, though as the Tyrannofex' primary weapon will usually be capped at Strength 6, the cost of failing a test can still be high. Being forced to shoot at the closest enemy unit within a 20" range with the Acid Spray, or an 18" range with the Fleshborer Hive, could very well end up with the Tyrannofex targeting but unable to hurt a vehicle. For this reason, I do recommend keeping a Synapse unit handy as a "just in case" tool, if only because a Tyrannofex will often be supported by other units suffering from Instinctive Behaviour as well. Speaking of the Tyrannofex' ranged arsenal, it really packs a punch against infantry in particular with its stock Acid Spray being the Tyranid equivalent to the flaming Torrent template borne by an Astra Militarum Hellhound. Eldar, Tau, most Necrons, Dark Eldar, Imperial Guard and even non 2+armoured Space Marines will be fearful of a Tyrannofex armed with this weapon, and the great beast can add a secondary template weapon to the mix as well for extra burning goodness. While the other primary weapon options that replace the Acid Spray, the Rupture Cannon and Fleshborer Hive, are subpar at best, the overall capabilities of a Tyrannofex are nonetheless quite significant. It is incredibly tough with one of the best points per wound ratios of the Tyranid monstrous creatures that, when backed with a 2+ armour save, makes it the most durable model in the codex. It slaughters infantry from 20" and closer with ease, and does all the usual monstrous creature stuff that you would expect; smashing vehicles and inflicting instant death on characters are to be expected.
How to Equip Them
Unlike the previous two unit reviews I have published, the Tyrannofex actually has more options outside of the standard biomorphs list plus one or two tail adaptations - though it is unsurprisingly lacking the latter as per the Tervigon. We'll start with the basic biomorphs and get them out of the way as, realistically, you probably won't be using them on Tyrannofexes anyway. Fleet is useful for reliable Run moves from Adrenal Glands while Furious Charge is decent for a monster that, while not a great combat monster by any means, is likely to be in combat anyway with combo-charges alongside fodder units. This is one upgrade I would take, while Regeneration may actually be worthwhile here. The most expensive biomorph gives the Tyrannofex the most benefits for the cost of any Tyranid unit, after all, as it has by far the highest natural survivability in the codex. While the points cost is high and thus leaves me iffy on a unit that, endemic of the rest of the army, should generally be kept as cheap as possible, it is certainly a decent proposition. I would however avoid Toxin Sacs and Acid Blood as they are most definitely combat centric and a Tyrannofex generally doesn't want to be there; its' main focus is as a gun beast, though it is admittedly a bit more of a generalist than an Exocrine. Still, these are points better saved for other units; of the biomorphs, Adrenal Glands and Regeneration should be considered, but ultimately are hardly necessary.
The Tyrannofex has three primary weapon options and three secondary weapon options, with the former being mandatory and the latter being optional. The standard primary weapon is the Acid Spray and it is easily the best weapon the Tyrannofex has; it is a Strength 6 AP4 Torrent Template. It might lack the AP3 of a Baleflamer as well as the insane movement capabilities of a Heldrake, but it nonetheless annihilates xenos and standard human infantry with impunity. It can be exchanged for a Fleshborer Hive for a tiny points cost, but ultimately the Hive is an inferior paid for "upgrade" over the Acid Spray. Twenty shots at Strength 4 AP5 might sound nice, but a Tyrannofex is only Ballistic Skill 3; when you factor in the 18" range, it is a really limited weapon. Against a standard Tactical Squad, for example, those twenty shots will hit ten times for five wounds and two dead Space Marines. The Acid Spray, on the other hand, with auto-hits and 2s to wound, only needs 6 hits to do as many wounds as the Fleshborer Hive; the Acid Spray becomes far superior once it hits 4+ armoured or worse units. The Fleshborer Hive might look nice, but it is ultimately a rather pointless option as it is a down-grade on the standard option. The Rupture Cannon is significantly more expensive than the Fleshborer Hive and is an anti-tank weapon, but despite the total points cost of the unit armed with one dropping with the new codex, this is still not a worthwhile weapon at all. Two Strength 10 AP4 shots at 48" range isn't bad, but it is far too expensive and unreliable with Ballistic Skill 3 and no form of re-rolls to hit available. Stick with the Acid Spray as Tyranids can get far better anti-tank options elsewhere.
The secondary weapons, the Thorax Swarms, are interesting though; there are three available, and each is a template weapon lacking torrent unlike the Acid Spray. As each has an identical cost and only differentiates in terms of damage output against variable targets, you can freely select one to fit the role of the Tyrannofex; either as a light vehicle hunting generalist or as infantry murderer. I personally prefer the latter role for the most part as the Tyrannofex isn't great against vehicles outside of close combat. This is why I wasn't the biggest fan of the Electroshock Grubs as at the range it works in the Tyrannofex' close combat strikes are preferable anyway. Almost guaranteed hull point damage for the points is nice, but it usually wastes the Acid Spray I find; however, when you also add in that the Electroshock Grubs are Strength 5 and AP5 which gels best with the Acid Spray, it really is a great choice. Of the two remaining, I prefer the Shreddershard Beetles; they might seem the weakest with Strength 3 and AP-, but Rending gives them a lot of utility against more elite units that also meshes well with the AP4 Acid Spray. The Dessicator Larvae are nice, but tend to be inferior against most units than either of the other templates; the Electroshocks mash light infantry better, and the Shreddershards kill elite infantry with greater efficiency. This brings us to two good choices, the Electroshock Grubs and Shreddershard Beetles, and of the two, I am starting to prefer the former. Rending is really nice for hunting 3+ and 2+ armoured units, but pairing Strength 5 and Strength 6 templates up is likely to do as much or more damage anyway. Add in the Haywire effect and permanent AP5 on the Electroshock Grubs and I have changed my tune from release to this Thorax Swarm variety. Ultimately though, both of them are good and worthwhile - if unnecessary and risky due to the short range - options that are never bad because of their low cost.
Where to Put Them
Your standard Acid Spray-armed Tyrannofex operates at about the 20" and lower mark in relation to enemy units, using its Torrent template to annihilate infantry not sporting 2+ or 3+ armour with impunity. Its 2+ armour save, Toughness 6 and 6 wounds make it the most survivable monstrous creature in the codex by far, and of the hardier ones that can be found in the game. The only downside is the lack of an invulnerable save or of natural Feel No Pain - though this of course can be randomly obtained through Catalyst - which can only really be mitigated through cover saves and line of sight blocking. Like with the Tervigon, Termagants may not be tall enough to provide intervening cover bonuses to a Tyrannofex, but Hormagaunts and any other models of a similar or larger height are easily capable of doing so. Those two units in particular compliment each other very well, with Tyrannofexes being able to fire their Torrent template over the Hormagaunts and soften up enemy positions for the lesser Troops choice to finish off any stragglers and capture or deny objectives. The Hormagaunts also protect a Tyrannofex from close combat where, while not a bad unit by any means, it definitely isn't as scary as it is in shooting. Still, a 2+ armour save allows it to tank almost anything in close combat, so don't be afraid to get into a melee to support your other units! A Tyrannofex doesn't really benefit from being part of a static list, something to keep in mind when designing your army list.
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.
Tyrannofex - This is without a doubt the best way to run a Tyrannofex in my mind. It doesn't really need any of the combat-centric upgrades, and nor are the other primary weapon options worthwhile over the standard Acid Spray. Enjoy your six wound, Toughness 6, 2+ armoured monster!
Tyrannofex w/ Thorax Swarm Shreddershard Beetles - While the 12" range disparity between the Acid Spray and Thorax Swarms can be a bit disconcerting, the Tyrannofex is ultimately a close range beast and having two nasty infantry-shredding template weapons is always nice. Thorax Swarm upgrades are very cheap and quite nasty, with I feel the Shreddershard Beetles being the best overall. A Tyrannofex can handle vehicles in close combat at the rough range of Electroshock Grubs, while the Rending hits of Shreddershard Beetles offset the AP4 Acid Spray to inflict more potential kills against elite infantry.
Tyrannofex w/ Regeneration - If there is any monstrous creature in the army that should be given Regeneration, it is easily the Tyrannofex. With the highest natural survivability of any Tyranid monstrous creature by far with the 2+ armour save, in addition to an innately low cost for what it does, Regeneration makes more sense here than anywhere else in the codex. While I still prefer keeping a Tyrannofex bare as Regeneration is expensive, that it is likely to restore a wound every two turns on such a tough monster can give many opponents nightmares.
In the waning hours of the red sun’s journey, Space Marine Squad Commodus raised their boltguns as one again to the screaming masses of xenos before them. Marked by their distinctive talons and long surging legs, the Hormagaunts leaped over the wreckage of the Predator ‘Devastator’ with the screech of scale and flesh against steel and battered concrete. The call to arms came not a moment late. “Fire!” The thunder of bolters radiated through the burning city, drowning out even the death shrieks of those Hormagaunts first to die. Feeding themselves to devastation, the xenos advance faltered as blood and limbs exploded across the walls and roads of Tarsis. As dozens fell before the relentless fire of the Space Marines, their resolve emboldened by the teeming corpses before them, the Hormagaunt charge broke as if driven by a sudden cold snap. Fleeing out of sight into the smoke and ashes, the Space Marines lowered their bolters and a cry of victory emerged from a few of their ranks, diminished as they were by the brutal fighting in the earlier hours of the dying day.
Their victory and elation were momentary, though, as the earth began to heave and pulsate like none of the battle brothers had ever felt before. The Space Marines snapped to attention and steeled themselves for another conflict, searching the nearby ruins for the origin of the increasingly vehement pulsing. The ground shook and roiled ever more powerfully, as Squad Commodus whispered quick prayers to the God Emperor of Mankind. It was only as the last of these were uttered that a deafening crash and roar of metal and rock saw the Space Marines wheel in unison to their right, their fearless devotion to humanity a shield they believed could repulse any foe.
It was not long before this truth was dispelled than two were incinerated in an instant by a gout of green liquid, dissolving their armour and flesh in a matter of moments. It was then that a titanic monster surged into view from out of the dust and rubble, thundering into the fore as the Space Marines levelled their boltguns and fired once more. To their dismay and doom, the explosive shells of their weapons merely bounced harmlessly off of the hulking beast, a creature so massive as to dwarf the departed ‘Devastator’ thrice so. It was too late that the remnants of Squad Commodus spied the static forming around the creature’s frontal carapace; in a single sickening instant, a bed of lightning erupted from the monster. The last two remaining members of Squad Commodus could barely draw out their combat blades as the lumbering behemoth smashed into them, crushing them under-foot in an instant. With a triumphant roar, the bestial Tyrannofex wheeled and charged towards the nearby gunfire cloaked by fire.
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.