19 Feb 2014

Tactica Tyranids - Pyrovores

Hey guys, my name is Learn2Eel, and today I'm going to be bringing you another article in the Tyranid Tactica series! In the 5th Edition codex, Pyrovores were regarded as one of - if not the - worst units in the game. Sadly, fortune really hasn't smiled on these maligned beasts in the new codex either. They may seem more effective at first glance, but the loss of a certain unit in the 6th Edition transition has left them in the dark. I hope you enjoy this article!

I'm going to be frank and up front. Don't take this article seriously. We know the rules designers that worked on the Pyrovore didn't take that poor creature seriously either. Though it may seem like I am getting really worked up and going on a rant, I'm just trying to poke fun at the situation, which is that the poor Pyrovore is endangered. Am I a terrible person for doing so? Probably, but at least the call to save the Pyrovore might finally be heard! 



Oh boy. If you thought I was negative with the Haruspex - when really I was just trying to properly convey the issues I and competitive gamers have with it - then you haven't seen anything worthwhile yet. I guess I can confidently say "where do I start?" because it is the honest truth. 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 Pyrovore, ironically, has to bow down to its 5th Edition predecessor. The latter had a delivery system to make the unit actually able to do something in a game. The former does not, and despite the points decrease and stat boost from the previous edition, the Pyrovore is now broken utterly. But this is a bit too theoretical, isn't it? I haven't really explained why the Pyrovore is "broken", nor have I highlighted anything inherently good or bad about it. So, let's have a look at its stats.

The stat-line of the Pyrovore is identical to that of the Biovore, with threes for the most part and a few fours here and there. Its Weapon Skill and Ballistic Skill of 3 are middling, but not too important ultimately. The Pyrovore lacks a Ballistic Skill-based shooting attack and doesn't want to be in combat anyway. Its Initiative value is a pretty terrible two, and with two attacks base, you can kind of see already why a Pyrovore shouldn't really be engaging in close combat. Now we get to the good stuff; Strength and Toughness 4 with three wounds per model makes Pyrovores the equivalent of Warriors in terms of durability. Heck, they even have the 'iconic' 4+ armour save to boot. This isn't too bad, really, as it means a Pyrovore can stand up to quite a bit of punishment from anything that isn't AP4 or Strength 8. Three wounds per model is not to be under-estimated. Now, as Pyrovores aren't Synapse creatures, you can expect their Leadership value to be low. And oh yes, indeed it is, with Leadership 6 being equivalent to that of Hormagaunts and Termagants.

Well, the stat-line isn't too bad, right? It's kind of like a Warrior that isn't nearly as good in combat, and lacks guns entirely. Nor is it a Synapse creature. It doesn't have Shadow in the Warp, and it also doesn't have Leadership 10 by extension. Pyrovores also can't take any upgrades, meaning they are stuck with that they have. They need support from a Synapse creature as their Instinctive Behaviour of Feeding means they can kill each other when in units of more than one. They are pretty terrible in combat with three Strength 4 attacks on the charge at Weapon Skill 3 striking at Initiative 2 - unless they charge through cover, where Initiative 1 takes precedence due to a lack of assault grenades. They also can't go above a unit size total of three. So, ummm.....what do they have over Warriors, exactly? Oh, that's right. They are garbage impersonations of Warriors that don't have the support abilities to rescue them from mediocre at best damage output, and cannot be fielded by themselves with their Feed result. Really. What do Pyrovores get?

I'll tell you. They get a heavy flamer. It's called a Flame Spurt, but really, it's just a heavy flamer. Nice, a cool and strong template weapon! Right? Uh-huh. Now, let me carefully explain why this is one of the worst designs for a unit Games Workshop have ever conjured up, and why it is utterly broken. First up, the Pyrovore's only ranged attack is an 8" long template. That's fine in most cases, where units have transports, the Deep Strike special rule, the Infiltrate special rule, the Outflank special rule, and a bunch of other rules to make up for it. These units have what is called a "delivery system" either optional or innate to the unit. They can reliably get close enough to use the weapon you pay for, the weapon that defines their usage in a game. An example of this would be Wraithguard armed with expensive D-Scythes. On foot, Wraithguard are very tough and thus can survive a withering amount of punishment, but you preferably want them in a transport to "deliver the goods", so to speak. Typically, this involves purchasing a dedicated transport in the form of a Wave Serpent. The Serpent is very fast, durable and can pretty reliably deliver its cargo to where they need to be. Simple, effective. Another example is a squad of Sternguard Veterans armed with combi-flamers. This unit can either opt to take a ground transport, like Eldar - albeit less effective with a lower cost to compensate - or to Deep Strike through the use of a Drop Pod. They can be delivered to their target on the very first turn, unleashing a brutal alpha strike with their flame template weapons. Though these units are good in general, they really aren't that useful when foot-slogging because they are slow, there is no guarantee they will actually get to shoot, and they will just generally be shot before they can do anything.

Now, with what you just learned, how do Pyrovores - equipped with the same kind of weapon - get delivered? They are infantry, meaning they move your typical 6" a turn with perhaps a Run move - thankfully, they aren't Slow and Purposeful for no good reason like some units *cough, Mutilators, cough* I could mention. Ok, that's fine, because they are the same unit type as those Wraithguard with D-Scythes and those Sternguard Veterans with combi-flamers. They have a transport, right? Nope, Tyranids have no transports. Well....that sucks. But surely they can Deep Strike or something like that? Nope, Pyrovores are incapable of deploying in any manner outside of the regular form of deployment - in your deployment zone. So, wait, how do they reliably get close to enemy units to use their template weapons in what has proven to be - ever since its release almost two years ago - a predominantly shooting based edition? That's the question we all want to see answered because, ultimately, the rules designers never worked this one out either. Yes. Pyrovores pay an excessive amount of points - they are more expensive than Warriors which, after my earlier comparison, should come as a shock to any reading this - for a template weapon they are likely to never be able to use. They cannot get into shooting range of a gunline with any kind of protection. They have no way to get close to an enemy unit that itself does not want to be near the Pyrovores. Fire Warrior bases can just laugh at your Pyrovores, sit back at 30", keep moving back 6" a turn, and pelt them to death. It's not too outlandish, after all. Pyrovores just aren't that durable either. And no, I'm not joking. Where a Tyrannofex has its Toughness 6, 6 wounds and 2+ armour save to keep it alive to get into that 20" range for its Acid Spray, Pyrovores get....the same maligned survivability of Warriors. Concentrated fire of any source will remove them quickly, unless they are supported by Venomthropes.....but why anyone would waste Venomthropes to try and make Pyrovores work is beyond my understanding.

So how do you make this unit work? I don't know. I honestly do not know. I don't know what the rules designers were thinking when they made the rules for this unit. I am not even sure I should be "gracing" this unit with a tactics article. Why bother? Clearly, no effort was put into this units' rules, and I frankly find it disgusting after having to endure their abominable rules throughout the entirety of 5th Edition as well. But hey, at least in the 5th Edition codex the Pyrovores could see some kind of use. Yes, as much as them having one less wound, one less attack, a lower Initiative and a slightly higher cost might have made them an even worse unit on their own, the fact they could take a....*drumroll*....transport made up for it entirely. Or at least, made them actually useful in a sense. Take a pair in a Mycetic Spore. Drop them next to a light or medium infantry unit. Toast them. Become a relatively cheap distraction unit from there on that is good at clearing out infantry by running around your opponents deployment zone with two Strength 5 AP4 templates. They were bad for the cost, but at least they could do something. They were worse than useless without that transport, but with it, they actually began to feel kind of like.....a unit. You know, an entity in a rules pamphlet that allows you to use a cool model in games. How cool is that! Using those awesome models in games and having them do something! Well....I don't even want to start down that route.

On the face of it, Pyrovores just do not know what they want to do. They are a short-ranged disruption unit that has no choice but to foot-slog up the board, thus making them almost impossible to use in any kind of worthwhile manner. When you get right down to it, their practically namesake weapon is to blame for this problem. The stats aren't too bad once you get down to it; it's like a Warrior that isn't that good in combat and lacks Synapse. That can be fine, but you would expect such a unit to be a lot cheaper than Warriors to show how Warriors pay for those important Synapse, Shadow in the Warp and extended melee abilities. That would make sense. Heck, the Pyrovore isn't even that bad in combat, just nowhere near as good as those Warriors that they are confusingly more costly than. It has an Acid Maw special rule that allows it to make a single Strength 5 AP2 attack, kind of like a Screamer but without Armourbane. It's not too shabby, but nor is it really that good; low Weapon Skill and Initiative make it doubtful the Pyrovore can either make the attack or hit with it anyway. And these solo attacks are nowhere near as cheap as they are on Screamers who are also Jetbikes and have a useful 'slashing' attack for moving over enemy units. Their Acid Blood can trigger against low Initiative enemies, but with three wounds each, a single Pyrovore should be expected to cause at least one failed Initiative test on a Space Marine unit. It's not great or even good, but it isn't horrible.

The problem is, the Pyrovore is given a weapon that Tyranids don't really dole out outside of expensive monstrous creatures. The idea, obviously, was to have a Tyranid unit that could deliver template weapons on the cheap, at least compared to monstrous creatures - unless you count the Strength 2 Strangleweb for Termagants that is more of a finesse weapon. It's not a bad idea, just one that was executed, well, horribly. Tyranids are based around typing up enemy infantry so that they can't shoot your own units. This is done with horde units of cheap Termagants and Hormagaunts, while monstrous creatures plod up to finish the job in subsequent turns. Now, while Tyranids are evolving more into a ranged army with the new codex, most of their units do still fulfill this role. They are a short to medium ranged army that also does well in assault, similar in a lot of ways to Grey Knights. With that said, what exactly is a Pyrovore supposed to shoot with all that tying-up units in combat going on? Think about it. You use Hormagaunts and Termagants as mobile cover for your other units, including Pyrovores who - with their 4+ armour saves and Toughness 4 - are bait for most heavy weapons. You will sit the Pyrovores behind those units so that they can survive. But wait, those units moving ahead of the Pyrovores will get into combat with other infantry units. When and what is the Pyrovore supposed to shoot? This is why transports and the Deep Strike special rule are in place for similar units to Pyrovores; they allow those units to fire their template weapons without being blocked by friendlies. Pyrovores, though? No such luck. I've already covered the fact that Pyrovores are neither fast or survivable enough to make up for this deficiency, so I won't bother repeating myself.

I will close on this though, because frankly, I could go on and on about just how....infuriating this unit is to me. This is the grand champion of badly designed rules. This is a unit that cannot work in any meaningful sense in a game. This is a unit that was designed to do something, but can't do it and thus has no purpose in any army list that any Tyranid player could take. This is a unit that is, and I dread speak the word, useless. I don't know what else to say, I really don't. I guess the first thing is, why on earth was the Mycetic Spore not at least given a rules representation with a paid for Deep Strike upgrade for applicable units? That would have actually made Pyrovores not only usable, but worthwhile. Sure, they would still be nowhere near as useful as a Tyrannofex that performs the same job and does so much more, but they would be able to drop down and incinerate infantry units in the early stages of the game. Getting rid of Pathfinders and Dark Reapers early on is better than letting them do their dirty work for several turns, after all! But no, a unit that is pretty bad in combat, has no long ranged shooting and only a template weapon to even somewhat attempt to justify being costlier than Warriors who have all of better stats, access to upgrades, bigger potential units, better combat capabilities, better shooting, guns that can shoot more than 8", support abilities with Synapse and a nasty anti-psyker bubble - this is what we get, and we are expected to plonk them on the field and....sit there making frog noises. I'm sorry, but I absolutely cannot stand this. This isn't just a mistake or something to be forgiven, this is two editions in a row of a unit not being worthwhile, and now the introduction of a unique uselessness that I cannot gloss over. Is this fair? In Australia, I have to spend $61 Australian Dollars on one of these models. Is it enough that I ask to be given some usable rules to go along with it? Apparently not! And that's.....I'm done.

This is intended to be more of a light-hearted take on the very poor situation of the Pyrovore, a near-extinct species that is dying out an alarmingly rapid rate. Please, please take the humorous outlook of this article to inspire you to try and help stop the decline of the Pyrovore population. We here at Imperator Guides give our thanks to all those trying to preserve the endangered Pyrovore, and hope that our little friends can finally make it somewhere in the world!

Oh, I guess I had better address their other unique special rule, one that can potentially be hilarious for all players if you decide to take it as the rules are written. When Pyrovores are killed by Instant Death wounds, they "explode", for lack of a better term. Basically, you resolve the effects as per a vehicle explosion, with units within D6" suffering a number of hits for each model in the radius at a respectable Strength 3. At Toughness 4, this means Strength 8 wounds will kill them instantly. So, I have one thing to say. Pyrovores, that are supposed to be hiding behind your Hormagaunts and Termagants, can blow up and kill them? Well, I guess if you face a power fist, dying hurts your opponents models....I guess. Whatever. What you will be interested in is the nuclear aspect of this explosion. Yeah. This is down to poor wording of the rules, but as it is, when Pyrovores are killed by instant death weapons, they hit everything on the board. I'm not going to quote the rule because that would be illegal, but basically, every unit - no telling of which units specifically - suffers hits equivalent to the number of models within that D6" inch range. So say when a Pyrovore explodes there are six Termagants within 3", this would mean every unit on the board, rules as written, would suffer six Strength 3 AP- hits. Cool, right? Well, not really, not aside from just the sheer hilarity that the idea of "Nuclear Pyrovores" exists. Even if you want to play it that way, it won't help you as a Tyranid player. Strength 3 cannot harm vehicles of any kind. Guess which army solely lacks vehicles? Yep, Tyranids hate "Nuclear Pyrovores" more than any other army. The irony is just so....so....so delicious.          

Where to Put Them

You want Pyrovores in cover to make up for the fact that they only have a 4+ armour save with Toughness 4, making them missile pod and autocannon bait. Heck, any kind of heavy weapon is going to do a lot of damage to these guys. Of course, unlike Biovores, Pyrovores are exclusively a short ranged unit and thus won't be doing anything useful by just sitting in your deployment zone, hiding out of sight. No, they have heavy flamers that are all they really have to do damage, unless you count their lonely Acid Maw attack. These things are as slow as any Infantry model without Fleet, and don't even have Move Through Cover to speed up their cover-camping advance. So, realistically, you have to use them defensively - which doesn't really make sense, when you think about it. Keep them near some kind of valuable objective camper in your deployment zone, such as a small brood of Warriors. Alternatively, they can be used to ward off pesky infantry units that can threaten your Exocrines and Biovores up close. Deploy Biovores in terrain near this unit and keep them out of sight until they can shoot something or at least, well, block them with their bodies.

Best Uses

There's only one legitimate way to use Pyrovores in the new codex. Sit them behind some kind of terrain in Synapse range of a Zoanthrope so that they don't eat themselves, and near another typical backfield unit - such as Warriors that also eliminate the need for a Zoanthrope - like Biovores for them to guard. When enemies close in, jump the Pyrovores out and unleash two heavy flamers. From there, hope they get charged so that they can do some Overwatch with their heavy flamers. No, really. Did you expect anything else? I guess you can put them behind an Aegis Defence Line and man a Quad Gun with their mediocre Ballistic Skill and decent defensive abilities, but that is really about the extent of effective usage for these poor sods.

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.

Pyrovores (2) - If you are going to take Pyrovores, you should take them in pairs. One is easy First Blood for any Barrage or ignores line of sight weapon, two is a bit of a pain to remove and a nastier defensive unit without being too expensive. 

Wall of Flame

Did you honestly expect me to write a fluff section about Pyrovores? I mean, I would like to, sure, but I honestly don't have anything to work with. Yeah, they get one tiny little paragraph to explain their odd physical traits. No mystery, no important battles, no reference to what species they originally appeared against or were developed to fight. What is there to write about that wouldn't just be some kind of reprint of what you get in the codex? Well, as you know, Warhammer 40000 is a "beer and pretzels" game that should be played to heavy metal music of some kind. If I'm going to give Pyrovores their due, I have to do it in the correct manner. So, without further ado, I give you; Pyrovores.

"Sarge, what's that big frog thing walking towards us!"
"What the hell kind of crap are you talking about, Copley?"
"There, over there! In that hazy smoke! I think it's some kind of warning!"
"Smoke is never a warning, idiot, dark portents come in storms!"
"Well, what do we do about the damned frog with a....a...."
"Is that a gun on its back?"
"A....uh.....yes Sarge!"

"I thought the bugs were smarter than that! Why have a gun on its back that points straight upwards, it can barely shoot anything around it, let alone in front of it!"
"Maybe it thinks we're aircraft sir! Should we shoot it!"
"Well, it does smell like one of the bunker bathrooms...."

*intake of breath*
"It's spitting pus! It's spitting green pus!"

"One sec, Sarge, I think I want to give it a pat!"

"What's it going to do, bleed on me?"
"Why can't they conscript warriors that know how to follow orders? Apparently telling them is half the battle!"
"Dang it all Sarge, it's not like it is going to start shooting fire at....uh.....AAAAAAAHHHHH!"

"I'll be damned. Fall back, squad, fall back!"

"But sir, what about the fire frog?"
"Ignore it! It is slow and probably stupid too! Run!"

*grunting and panting*
"Are we away, yet?"
"I still smell a toilet, Guardsman. Back in line."

"Hey Sarge, ever heard of that thing before?"
"No, and we shoul..."

"Maybe we should name it! All those other garrisons get to, so why can't we?"

"Sarge, we're all going to die anyway. We're in the Imperial Guard, Emperor be praised. We're paid to do that."

"I'm thinking the Fire Frog. Yeah, that sounds nice."
"What kind of a name is that?"
"No really, Sarge. Fire Frog! Kind of catchy no? They can market that everywhere!"

"Just think about it for a sec! Fire Frog....brought to you by..."
"That's a stupid name! You may as well just call it a....a....Pyrovore, or something else just as stupid. Hell, those Cadian dogs got away with calling that gun thing a Tyrannofex. Who honestly cares? It is just a name!"

"But I liked Fire Frog...."
"Well you can go and give your nice little Fire Frog a kiss, because it's still....uh....chasing us."
"Oh no, should we shoot it?"
"I guess. Or do you want to try and give it a hug like Copley?"
"Poor Fire Frog."
"Who cares!? FIRE!"

*repeated blasts*
"It's dead."
"Are you sure?"
"Uh, Sarge, it's glowing."
"Oh yeah, what's that all about?"
"I don't know, it is your Pyrovore after all."
"Fire Frog! No....Pyro....Ah, just shut up Guardsman!"
"Ummm, hate to disturb you two, but this thing is glowing something really bright."
"Oh to the pits with you, it is probably just a...."

The Last Words of Squad Stupidious, Vaporised by a Nuclear Blast caused by an Unknown Tyranid Organism - Field Reports label this beast as a "Pyrovore"

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 have loved all of your articles. And this one was very much worth the read...well...kinda. Its good you did not put the story first...

    Overall, I'm thinking first to how some players are disappointed about the nids' codex, but then I go back into the fluff and see where Tyranids always attack as huge hordes and hordes, with isolated synapse creatures lumbering around within them (for ground units) or hordes of flying bugs that can chase down jet bikes and speeders. I think that is often overlooked, that they have their own play style, and are not supposed to be the equivalent of eldar or demons or marines. They are supposed to overwhelm and consume the opponent. The best game lists will likely be those that rely on an older three-wave strategy - up-front units that provide cover saves to the hordes at first, fast horde units that assault or pin the enemy main body, and lightly slower but key units that arrive to tip the battle and mop up any survivors. Interestingly too is that Tyranid upgrade e-product that has tyranid-specific missions that seemingly give the bugs advantages. Alas, the poor Pyrovore, maybe those models will go on clearance first....

    1. Yeah the "story" was just something off the top of my head that I put down to illustrate the silliness of the unit. It just doesn't seem like GW - at least the rules designers, anyway - give two hoots about Pyrovores.

      I wasn't really concerned with how competitive Tyranids would be when they were released, my criticisms were pretty much all geared at the lack of options, the shoddy internal balance and the fact that some units with broken rules were not fixed at all, i.e. the Trygon hole. When you compare the Tyranid codex to the Space Marine or Eldar codex in terms of design, it just doesn't match up whatsoever, regardless of how well it might do in any given scenario.

  2. The blast rule is different in french, only the models within 6 inches take a hit which is much more logical. But even with that pyrovores suck. Can they use the trygon tunnel? Even if they can, that's highly unreliable though

    1. I'm amazed GW haven't released an FAQ to address it. I mean, no-one in their right minds would play it that way as it is obviously a typo, but it's still a bemusing situation.

      Yes, Pyrovores can indeed use the Trygon tunnel. Unfortunately, as the Trygon Tunnel itself is broken, I didn't really see a point in mentioning it. You have to Deep Strike the Trygon on turn 2 and hope the Pyrovores don't come on, then you have to make sure the Pyrovores are the only unit in reserve that wants to use the tunnel with the one-unit-per-turn restriction. Ugh.

      I just don't see how any rules designer could fairly leave Pyrovores - or Rippers/Sky-Slashers, in fact - in their current state. It begs the question; is GW not wanting to sell some parts of their model range?

  3. I am not saying that Prometheum Relay Pipes make Pyrovores awesome, but they do provide cover and they do add 12" to their range by making them torrent weapons. So with a bit of strategic terrain placement at the beginning of the game you can greatly improve the performance of your pyrovores.

  4. I find it absolutely hilarious that you couldn't find any artwork of these poor things. I've seen the codex black and white derp but that's about it.