The Tyranids are attacking! Those words have long faded into the halls of memory, just as the Orks are firing for a subsequent release later in the year. Dawn of War 2 references aside, the Tyranid release is sure to be one of the biggest of 6th Edition Warhammer 40000 so far, if not the biggest required before the inevitable release of plastic Sisters of Battle. The sheer amount of units lacking either options to model on them, or unit entries lacking models altogether, is truly astounding. The latter number is six, meaning that GW have to release a minimum of six kits before even considering adding in any new units! Given that each codex so far has had quite a few new units in addition to repackages of older kits, you can reasonably expect Tyranids to be getting quite the massive release. For reference, Space Marines had four new units, or eight if you include the Black Templars; Tau had five new units - if you include the reintroduction of Aun'shi - Eldar had six new units; Chaos Daemons had seven new units; Dark Angels had nine new units - not including the Land Raider Redeemer - and Chaos Space Marines had eight new units. While this doesn't account for dual kits and the like, you can reasonably expect Tyranids to get at least four or five entirely new units, and that is all in addition to rumoured repackages of kits like Genestealers, Tyranid Warriors and a dual-kit for Hive Guard and Tyrant Guard. Did I forget to mention those six units that are completely lacking in models? So yeah, Tyranids are probably going to be the largest release yet.
Now, while I'm super excited to see what Tyranids get on the hobby side of things, what really interests me about this (potential) release is how they will be updated to fit into 6th Edition. As a general result of the meta shift in 6th Edition, and the prevalence of both Tau and Eldar, close-combat oriented armies tend to require a strong mix of both speed and survivability to really worry the static and mobile gunline armies out there. Chaos Daemons have managed to pull this off perfectly, with incredibly fast units such as Screamers, Flesh Hounds, and even Daemonettes or Soul Grinders of Slaanesh able to soak up withering amounts of fire - through toughness or through bodies - and have enough models for a probable turn two charge. Their shooting phase is generally quiet in terms of the units themselves, but the uncontrollable warp storm gives them 'free' shooting attacks or defences at a moment's notice; provided you take Fateweaver, there are few occasions where the negative results will really affect your army. The beauty of the list is synergy, with Heralds providing insane benefits to the lesser daemons, while the Greater Daemons and Daemon Princes punish opponents who don't plan for their psychic or gift-based random benefits. In retrospect, this doesn't seem too dissimilar from Tyranids; both are based heavily on natural synergy, are generally tough to play as a result, and provide a heavy mix of light infantry and tough monsters. Both also lack major ranged options, though while Tyranids don't get the various advantages and disadvantages of the warp storm table, they do get a lot more actual firepower; Biovores, 'Dakkafexes', 'Dakkatyrants', Hive Guard and Zoanthropes are just some examples of great ranged units in the codex.
However, where Tyranids differ from Chaos Daemons is in the general approach of either army. Tyranids do have some of the fastest assault units in the game, with Raveners and flying Hive Tyrants all capable of putting intense early pressure on enemy units. However, neither of these are particularly durable for their high points cost; a general issue with Tyranids across the codex is points imbalances, with only a handful capable of being called appropriately priced or under-costed. Daemons blend durability with speed perfectly, allowing them to compete both at the highest levels of competitive play and in friendly games with equal veracity. Tyranids are generally a much slower force, and their monsters are rarely harder to kill then the psychic terrors sporting Daemonic Gifts that are the Greater Daemons, Daemon Princes or even the naturally rugged Soul Grinders. This is a result not of total wounds or anything like that, but the importance of invulnerable saves with the presence of Tau, and of being able to act as a swooping flying monstrous creature both. They also typically are able to provide strong ranged psychic support, and they mix well with all of the other fast assault units such as the Flesh Hounds and Seekers. Tyranids don't really enjoy such target saturation in terms of fast assault units; all they have to really keep up with the flying Hive Tyrants are Raveners and Gargoyles, and the former is an over-costed and incredibly fragile - in the context of Riptides and Hammerheads with ion cannons. Particularly when most Tyranid players spend much of their points on Tervigons and Termagants as Troops choices, it really reduces the grunt you can give to such a list so that it can make it to combat as quickly and with as few losses as possible.
Now, don't take this to mean that there aren't Tyranid lists that work at the top level; Tervigon-heavy lists have proven to be 'spoiler-lists' at recent grand tournaments due to the sheer number of scoring units that are quite difficult to remove en-masse they can put out. In an objective-oriented edition where five out of six missions require their use, Tervigons are arguably one of the best value monsters in the game; they can capture objectives, they can poop out units of Termagants, they are decent in combat, and they can be buffed to ridiculous levels with Biomancy. The army is so strong that many top tournament armies struggle to deal with it, simply because it can park itself where it needs to and just soak up so many wounds while eating up all the objective points. There is often a golden rule to Tyranids; you will concede First Blood, but you will have double the objectives of your opponent. This is because the army is one of the few where you can really get away with spending almost all of your points on scoring units and not leave yourself lacking in areas such as anti-tank or anything like that. Still, it goes without saying that such an army really isn't a strong melee army in the context of 6th Edition; it takes advantage of the ridiculousness of Tervigons in an objective-oriented edition more than anything else, though it also bears mentioning that flying Hive Tyrants are quite brutal when used with caution. The problem is for Tyranids that it is too easy for opponents to focus fire down one monster at a time, meaning you need to take lots of them - and other units - to really worry those nasty gunline armies too much. This leaves the codex very much consigned to a mostly mono-build fate, with some variation from a usually strict core. For an army that prizes itself on adaptation and variety as well as synergy, the army simply doesn't encourage mixed army lists at a competitive level; they can work, but generally they are inferior to the 'cookie-cutter' two Flyrants/two-three Tervigons/the Doom of Malan'tai/extras to taste army builds.
My biggest hope when Tyranids are redone is for them to have internal balance - not necessarily external balance - that rivals that found in the Eldar codex. Eldar do have some insanely powerful units, such as Wave Serpents and Wraithknights, but generally most of the codex is on very even terms with each other - even Howling Banshees have a role, as below par as they are. This is what should define Tyranids; every unit needs to have a specific role that can overlap slightly with others, but affords them their own niche so that even if their points costs aren't optimal, they still have a place in any army list. This is the dream I have for Tyranids; for all units, from Pyrovores to Carnifexes and Lictors, to all have an established, unique purpose that only they truly fulfill, or at least give them the tools necessary to perform those roles. In the current codex, for example, Pyrovores are too expensive, slow, fragile and short ranged to be used outside of a Mycetic Spore, while melee Carnifexes are simply inferior in every way to the gargantuan Trygons.
There are many changes that can be expected from the Tyranid codex, and here are some that I personally think will happen, following the trend of 6th Edition.
Shadow in the Warp
What I expect - All Tyranid units within 12" of a Tyranid with this special rule gain +1 to their Deny the Witch rolls.
What I expect - All Tyranid units within 'Synapse range' gain the Fearless special rule and do not need to test for Instinctive Behaviour. each creature with the 'Synapse' special rule has their own individual 'Synapse range', specified in their unit entry. For example, a Tyranid Warrior has a Synapse range of 6", while a Hive Tyrant has a Synapse range of 12". There have been strong rumours that it will also confer Eternal Warrior or something to keep the bugs alive, and personally while I can definitely see that - it would make Warriors/Raveners/etc so much better - it just seems almost too good to be true.
Regeneration will be changed to confer It Will Not Die.
Ravenous Assault or something along those lines could potentially be a new special rule as a mirror to the Eldar's Battle Focus. Given to Raveners, Trygons and maybe - maybe - Hormagaunts, this allows the unit to launch an assault after making a run move. I personally don't expect this one, but it has been a strongly rumoured rule for Raveners and Trygons in particular so I thought I would mention it.
What I expect - Psychic mastery level one, can buy extras up to mastery level three. Gains +1 Initiative, +1 attack, +1 wound. Can buy a 5+ invulnerable save upgrade. Slight points drop. Can take two of the currently "one-only" biomorphs. Wings to be a 40 point upgrade in line with Daemon Princes.
What I expect -
What I expect - Unit type changed to Beasts. Cost 5 points per model, and pay one point each per upgrade for Adrenal Glands and Toxin Sacs.
What I expect - Shots fired at Lictors (including Deathleaper) when they arrive from reserves are snap shots. Reserve bonus applies as soon as they arrive; roll for them first, then roll for other units. 4+ armour save (including Deathleaper), changed to have the Character unit type when they are taken solo. Enemy characters cannot decline challenges issued by Lictors. Points decrease to 45 points per model.
What I expect - Points drop to 25-30 points per model. No more power weapons. Template changed to S5 AP4 Assault 1 Template Torrent.
What I expect - Impaler Cannons changed to have Ignores Cover to remove all the confusion about how Hive Guard ignore certain kinds of cover. 45 points per model. Can take a Skyfire upgrade for 15-20 points per model.
What I expect - Overhaul and points reduction to 40-45 points per model. Provide Shrouded and defensive grenades to Tyranid units within 6". Enemy units trying to assault a Tyranid unit within 6" are treated as changing through difficult terrain.
What I expect - A model obviously, points drop to 35 points, but +2 Toughness. Drop Pods are AV12/12/12 and thus not too easy to kill, the same should be had of a Mycetic Spore so that a single krak missile doesn't gib them instantly. Also, for monstrous creature broods, you take Spores on a 1:1 basis; you treat them as one unit for the purposes of reserves, and the Spores have to be placed within 6" of each other before resolving scatter.
What I expect - 30 points per model, 4+ armour save.
What I expect - 25 points per model, +4 armour save.
What I expect - Same as Rippers (no more dying outside of Synapse range), points drop to about 12-13 points per model.
What I expect - Aside from the new model, a complete overhaul. I'm expecting a stat-line of; WS3 BS3 S6 T6 W5 I5 A3 LD10 3+ I like the rumour that Sonic Shriek and the Spore Mine Cluster will work instead of Vector Striking - which is reserved for flyers and ground vehicles - and aren't one use only. Sonic Shriek reduces the Initiative of the 'Vector Striked' unit to 1, to go hand in hand with the general lack of assault grenades for Tyranids. Spore Mine Cluster is the same as now, dropping D3 S4 AP4 small blasts on the 'Vector Striked' unit. This makes sense to me and would make the Harpy a perfect synergistic choice with assault-based units. Points cost also similar to now, so 160 to 180. May have anti-air weapons, but I would expect those would be reserved for its kit sibling - if it has one.
What I expect - Broods can take Mycetic Spores on a 1:1 basis. Points reduction to 110-120 points per model.
Old One Eye
What I expect - Major points reduction and streamlining with 6th. Has It Will Not Die - Old One Eye can re-roll failed It Will Not Die rolls. Berserk Rampage the same. Alpha Leader the same. Points costaround the 150-170 mark.
What I expect - Points cost reduced to 170, Trygon Prime upgrade is +25 points, can charge after running. Tunnel changed so that it applies on the turn the Trygon arrives from reserves, and also can be used by Beasts (Raveners).
Points cost reduced to 150, Terror from the Deep changed to be S6 AP2 Large Blast Ignores Cover Pinning.
What I expect - Points cost reduced to around the 180 mark.
These are just some of the changes to existing units that I expect we will see in some form or another. Note that I didn't cover all of the units as I am really undecided on how they will be changed. Regardless, Games Workshop have their work cut out for them on this release; it could very well be the defining release for the Swarm! I hope you enjoyed this article!