28 Jan 2014

Tactica Tyranids - Tervigon

Hey guys, my name is Learn2Eel, and today I'm going to be bringing you another article in the Tyranid Tactica series! The Tervigon has become an iconic fixture in 5th Edition and 6th Edition Tyranid army lists with the previous codex due to its staggering versatility as a Troops choice monstrous creature that could double as a Warlord. While it has seen reductions in effectiveness, removal of certain abilities and penalties to those remaining, the Tervigon is still a great choice for any Tyranid army list and one that can swing a game in your favour with its potential to spawn scoring bodies. I hope you enjoy this article!



The Tervigon is a dedicated support monster, unlike all of the others in the codex that have differing roles and offensive abilities, and the profile of the beast depicts this. It shares the Toughness 6, 6 wounds and 3+ armour save of a Trygon, but its Strength of 5 and Initiative of 2 mean that its offensive capabilities aren't that great. Weapon Skill and Ballistic Skill 3 are typical of Tyranid monstrous creatures, but with only three attacks, the Tervigon isn't going to do too much in combat. The Initiative boost in the new codex is very handy though, allowing the Tervigon to strike before power fists - though as it is no longer a character, this is almost irrelevant - if it doesn't charge through cover. Having three attacks may be low as well, but Smash doubles the Tervigon up to Strength 10 and sacrifices but a single strike; basically, there's little to no reason not to Smash as a Tervigon once in combat. As middling as its profile might seem in terms of aggression, the Tervigon has a number of characteristics that distinguish it from its kit-sibling the Tyrannofex. The first is Leadership 10 and Synapse that, on a Toughness 6, 6 wound and 3+ armoured model, is really darn good. Shadow in the Warp and its two stock weapons are almost additives at this point, but they are nonetheless useful. The Tervigon is a durable Synapse creature, it provides a nasty anti-psyker bubble, and it is still a monstrous creature that can bring down vehicles and light infantry with ease - albeit slowly.

This is where the Tervigon starts to get really interesting. Its stinger salvo and scything talons leave much to be desired for damage ouput, but the Tervigon is a Mastery Level one psyker. As long as you don't roll up Psychic Scream - which can be swapped out for the very useful Dominion - you will love the extra psychic power in your army, as the Tyranid powers are just so good. Having your Tervigon give a unit of Devourer-armed Termagants Onslaught to run and then shoot with their 18" guns makes them the miniature Dire Avenger rookies, while Catalyst for both the Tervigon and any other unit is delicious. The Tervigon has a lot more to offer though, as it can also be made a scoring unit by taking a brood of thirty Termagants as a single Troops choice. This unlocks one Tervigon as a Troops unit giving you one of the toughest and most flexible scoring units in the game, one that is also easily the best scoring Synapse option you can take. As a Tervigon is not a character, it can't be your Warlord anyway; Termagants are cheap, so taking them in a big brood so they don't easily give away victory points such as First Blood is logical. If it makes a big monster like a Tervigon a Troops choice, you may as well never leave Tervigons as HQ choices, especially with how good Hive Tyrants are. Freeing up your most valuable slots - HQ and Heavy Support for Tyranids - is always a good idea, and the Tervigon just becomes so much better as a Troops choice.

There is more to the Tervigon and the Termagants that change its position in the army list than just a simple force organization switch, and this is what defines the Tervigon even with the changes made to it. A Tervigon has the ability to spawn broods of Termagants, and the way this works is actually rather simple. The Tervigon ends its move, and then it spawns. Before I go on, I have to note that while spawned Termagants losing the ability to charge is a downer, not being able to move actually doesn't make a difference; the Tervigon used to spawn before it moved, so the total distance moved is still the same. This also means now that a Tervigon can spawn a brood on the turn it arrives from reserves, making uses of it with Hive Commander just so much better! Anyway, after it finishes its move, the Tervigon then spawns 3D6 Termagants within 6" with models that can't be placed discarded instead. The brood can do nothing but shoot or run, and is completely as-is for stock Termagants. Any double rolled for spawning means that you can't make further attempts to spawn with that Tervigon, which generally means the first or second spawning will see the Tervigon stop. So that's the basics, but what does it actually mean? Tyranids can freely create extra scoring units, in an edition where five out of six missions in the main rulebook use objectives. Regardless of how expensive a Tervigon may be, or how middling its combat prowess is, that it can create extra scoring units is simply crazy. Your opponent has to dedicate resources to remove those units, especially if the Tervigon isn't the only nearby Synapse creature. Those are extra units that can capture objectives, usually worth three victory points each. This is an ability that is far more valuable in 6th Edition than it was in 5th Edition, and I feel the changes to the Tervigon reflect this.

Of course, it isn't all singing and praises for the Tervigon. There are some obvious downsides to this that need to be considered to make the most of the unit and its babies. Firstly, the rule that stops further spawning when a double is rolled means you really should refrain from spawning until your other scoring units have died, typically around turn three to four. This gives the spawned Termagants in both turns another turn at least to try and get to an objective for the fifth game turn, and it also acts as free reinforcements for your army. Spawning early will leave your Termagants out of range to do much, and just make themselves another easy target for opponents. Spawning late affords a higher chance of the Termagants surviving due to casualties for the opponents army. However, I would also recommend keeping the Tervigon away from Termagants. The reason for this is that if the Tervigon dies, all Termagant units within 12" take 3D6 Strength 3 hits that, humorously, allow their paltry 6+ armour saves. The average roll for 3D6 is ten or eleven, and each wounds Termagants on 4s with only a 6+ save to keep them alive. You don't want to risk those odds, so move the Termagants away from the Tervigon if possible. If you need that Synapse bubble, keep them at 18" ranges and take Dominion on the Tervigon. One of the last notes on Tervigons is that they confer Counter Attack to Termagants within 12", supposedly to give you incentive to keep them nearby even with the "explosion". It really is nothing to worry about though, as the Tervigon lost the special rule conferring its Leadership 10 on to Termagant units, meaning they have to take a Leadership test to use that Counter Attack on, you guessed it, Leadership 6. It is merely something to remember rather than something to count on, unfortunately.

How to Equip Them

Tervigons are quite costly stock, regardless of if you factor in the cost of thirty Termagants to make them a Troops choice, so I've found that keeping the upgrades to a minimum with them is ideal. They are equipped with Scything Talons, which can be replaced with Crushing Claws, but I would avoid them. A Tervigon that Smashes loses one attack and gains both Strength 10 and re-rolls to their armour penetration rolls. A Tervigon that doesn't Smash and takes Crushing Claws is Strength 6 with 2D6 roll for armour penetration. Especially as it is a costly upgrade, I would actively avoid them as Smashing negates the point of using them. You can replace the Stinger Salvo with Cluster Spines for a pittance, but I would honestly just leave it be unless you have spare points. It's a small investment for a weapon that can't be snap fired, so it is more of a "if I have the points" upgrade. Otherwise, Tervigons can take the usual Biomorphs, such as Toxin Sacs and Adrenal Glands. I think Tervigons don't really need any Biomorph upgrades actually, especially as they no longer confer those two in particular on to nearby Termagants. Again, saving the points on most of the upgrades may be more prudent, though I would recommend Toxin Sacs just so that the Tervigon can keep enemy monsters at bay if you do want to purchase either of the upgrades. Adrenal Glands are great for the Fleet bonus, but unnecessary on a monster that really shouldn't be acting too aggressively. Regeneration is more worthwhile for a Tervigon than a Hive Tyrant or Carnifex, so it is something to consider, though it is expensive. I'm generally more for spending those points elsewhere, such as on a potentially more useful Bio-Artefact.

That Tervigons now have access to Thorax Biomorphs is really cool, giving them a nice and cheap template weapon that can be surprisingly deadly. Electroshock Grubs have the best overall offensive stats and are a legitimate threat to vehicles - Rhino and Chimera walls beware! - with Haywire, though the Rending provided by Shreddershard Beetles, especially with Shred, is really tasty too. I think if you see more light infantry and vehicles, go for the Electroshock Grubs, but if you see Space Marines and other elite forces, go for the Shreddershard Beetles. The Dessicator Larvae do have Fleshbane, but Strength 5 on the Electroshock Grubs is generally enough to worry most infantry anyway, while the potential for Rending makes the Shreddershard Beetles more enticing. I truly recommend one of these, especially as they cost the same as Toxin Sacs and Adrenal Glands, as they give a typically midfield or backfield baby-sitting monster a pretty potent template weapon. Enemy scoring units can be battered first by a nasty template and charged, or shot and then Overwatched and forced to grind against a monstrous creature in combat. The defensive uses of the Thorax weapons are really nice for a scoring Tervigon, and are generally always worth the points.

The Bio-Artefacts are a bit more useful for a Tervigon than a Hive Tyrant due to the former having a more restricted weapon arsenal to choose from. The Miasma Cannon is a great purchase for a Tervigon, especially for a solo Tervigon used as a scoring unit. The Miasma Cannon gives the Tervigon a nice, if inaccurate, long ranged weapon, but the real value comes in its Poisoned (2+) AP4 template. Combine this with a Thorax Biomorph and a Tervigon camping on a midfield objective can literally shred through any infantry unit that tries to pry the objective away from it, turning into a psychic Tyrannofex. The Norn Crown is nice, especially for a solo Troop Tervigon that will likely be one of your main Synapse creatures, though I'm more a proponent of the Norn Crown going on a Hive Tyrant backed by two to three Tyrant Guard. You want the Norn Crown on your most durable Synapse creature, and that particular Hive Tyrant build takes the cake - however, the Tervigon would definitely be second on that list. A Tervigon lacks both the mobility and the melee prowess to make the most out of the Maw Claws of Thyrax or the Reaper of Obliterax, even with Adrenal Glands, so I would reserve those for another "commander". The Ymgarl Factor does give some nice boosts to a Tervigon, but it is really expensive on an already very costly model and the buffs really don't match the cost, so I would leave it at home.

Where to Put Them

Unless you take the Miasma Cannon - which is unreliable at such ranges anyway - Tervigons are pretty much non-existent when it comes to long range presence. They are psychic support monsters that provide additional scoring units and can themselves take objectives, so they are naturally short ranged. They are a big juicy target for any opponent because they can make extra Troops choices in an almost entirely objective-dominated edition as well as being scoring themselves, so protecting them is always going to be tough. They don't have great combat stats, and even when given the Miasma Cannon and a Thorax Biomorph, they don't put out that much damage at close ranges either. When I say they are a support monster first and foremost, I really mean it. You want them hiding in terrain, sitting on an objective where the simple fact that they are a monstrous creature will make them immune to most typical clearing units designed to hunt Troops choices. Keep to cover to soak up tonnes of damage with their six Toughness 6 wounds and meaty 3+ armour save, and potential for defensive psychic powers such as Catalyst. They are an important Synapse creature because they can take Dominion, they have a large base and they are expensive, so keeping them off the front-lines is ideal where they can freely use a 12" to 18" Synapse range to keep the more aggressive units in check.

All the psychic powers except for Warp Lance - which they cannot use - and Psychic Scream work great for a typically midfield-camping Tervigon, while they become a really tough unit to shift if they themselves have Catalyst. Ruins and buildings will be its best bet for hiding, though its large size means fully hiding will be almost impossible. Use its spawned Termagant broods as distractions and tarpits to protect it from Balesword-armed Daemon Princes of Nurgle, or Wraithknights that can pile the wounds on them with ease. Always keep up a cover save and utilize Venomthropes if possible; Tervigons may have two more wounds than a Carnifex, but they can still fall to an average round of shooting from any competitive force. Don't be afraid to keep them as your backfield objective holder if necessary; it will take a lot to shift them if they are hiding behind a building in your backfield, and opponents likely will be forced to try. I've found Tervigons do make great support combat units when combined with a Termagant brood or Hormagaunt brood, but beware that they don't perish themselves, especially with failed charges. Its death can result in all nearby Termagant broods exploding! Make sure to keep a Zoanthrope nearby for cheap Synapse support in case the Tervigon dies.

Best Uses

Keep the Tervigon bare if you want, or give it both the Miasma Cannon and one of the Thorax Biomorphs. The two template weapons allow it to absolutely shred infantry blobs that can tarpit the lowly Weapon Skill 3, Attacks 3 Tervigon, while its Smash attacks can punch through nearby tanks and skimmers and overpower most walkers. Move the Tervigon up into the midfield, preferably on an objective, and start spawning around turn three or four. Keep to cover and try to set up in a big piece of terrain with walls blocking sight to the Tervigon. Use Dominion in a Synapse-light army list, or use one of the blessings and maledictions to your advantage - never keep Psychic Scream. As it moves up, fire the Miasma Cannon at any bunched up infantry unit in sight if you can, otherwise, just Run into position as quickly as possible. Waiting behind cover to make a last turn objective grab for one that is in the open is also ideal, and something that a Toughness 6, 6 wound monster is pretty darn good at doing, especially if it has those two templates. The Tervigon should use screens of Hormagaunts if nothing else so as to not risk blowing up all the Termagants in your army, though if there is plentiful cover around then screening units won't be necessary. If you are facing the dreaded flying monstrous creatures that can slaughter your poor Tervigon in combat, then bubble-wrapping - surrounding its base with closely spaced models - it with Termagants is ideal, as such armies tend to lack the ranged power to really deal with a Tervigon in shooting. Try to keep a Zoanthrope or other Synapse unit nearby for when the Tervigon likely dies, as it will be a prime target for an opponent and will probably be close to other non-Synapse units. The Tervigon itself shouldn't need too much baby-sitting, but having a wall of Carnifexes or other high pressure units to keep enemies off of its back is preferable.

HQ or Troop?

There are a few key differences between the HQ and Troop version that really should be noted here. The first is that a HQ Tervigon cannot be the Warlord as it is not a character - something that needs an FAQ update for certain - and it has no other benefits to speak of. A Troop Tervigon becomes a fully scoring unit and does not take up one of two HQ slots, instead taking up one of six Troop slots, but requires a brood of 30 Termagants to make it a Troops choice. Ultimately, a scoring monstrous creature is completely unique to Tyranids - until you bring up the new Adeptus Mechanicus lists in the Horus Heresy series done by Forge World - and it is incredibly valuable no matter how you slice it. Paying the price to make one a Troops choice is always worthwhile, I feel, and frees up your HQ slots for the infinitely valuable Hive Tyrants. So my answer to this question is a definite "Troops choice first, HQ second" with the HQ option only if you can't fit in any Termagants to an army list.

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.

Tervigon - Miasma Cannon, Thorax Swarm with Shreddershard Beetles - This is what I like to call the "super Tervigon", one that provides light long ranged firepower as it advances but, once it closes, can annihilate infantry with its two template weapons. Throw in one of those as an Overwatch weapon and you have yourself a really nasty mid-table unit that isn't too much more expensive than a stock Tervigon.

Tervigon - No, I'm serious. Tervigons are one of the units in the book that I would be happy to leave stock, simply because you get all you need and want in the base cost. It's a tough, scoring monstrous creature that provides Synapse, a psychic power and some decent melee damage output. That's all you really need.

Brood Progenitor

Tyranids are a conglomerate of many radically different species, bound together by a single conscience; a Hive Mind, a voice that spans the eons and stars. All are created to fulfill a purpose in battle, perfection embodied in their role. As a Carnifex smashes through a tank, the Hormagaunt swarms devour the entails. Where Hormagaunts lay eggs to which other Hormagaunts are born to fight, wave after wave in an unending torrent of bodies, Termagants reproduce using a far different method. Their progenitor is not one of their own kind sent to die, but a massive, lumbering beast that is both a Synpatic link to the Hive Fleets and a mental chain to its Termagant children. The Tervigon, a gruesome birthing monster, keeps its own brood in incubation, ready to spring forth into battle with but a mothers' call. This cruel, alien representation of the bond between mother and child is yet another twisted reminder of how unutterably void of humanity the Tyranids are. As its children tear your flesh from bone, so too does the mother clamber over to feast.....

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 comment:

  1. I feel Adrenal Glands would be good on an outflanking Troop Tervigon.

    Biomorph changes kinda drive me up the wall each new book because I tend to try and keep my models WYSIWYG... argh I put the AG's on them and I dont want to pry them off xD. I subtly change models to show they are poisonous since I hate those fidly toxin sacs, and I get nailed there again because it looks like my Tervis have tail weapons now lol...