14 Mar 2014

Tactica Tyranids - Spore Mine Clusters

Hey guys, my name is Learn2Eel, and today I'm going to be bringing you another article in the Tyranid Tactica series! Spore Mines are certainly one of the more unique units in the Tyranid codex, lacking any kind of real usability outside of exploding if they make it into combat. They are incredibly one-note and are generally best left for Harpies and Biovores to spawn. I hope you enjoy this article!

Spore Mine Clusters


I have a query for you. Without considering any special rules, would you take a unit where each model has no Weapon Skill, Ballistic Skill, Attacks, ranged weapon or saving throw, and every single other stat is a 1 - including Strength, Toughness, Wounds and Leadership - all for the same cost as a Hormagaunt? If you answered no, then you have the right idea. If you answered yes, well, you probably have your reasons. This is why I find Spore Mines rather intriguing; they really aren't a unit you would go out of your way to include, but are instead perfect as free "reinforcements" when supplied by missed Biovore and Harpy shooting. Their stats are obviously the worst in the game, but that doesn't really make a difference to how you would use them - or at least, most of the stats don't. Being Toughness 1 with no save outside of applicable cover is horrendous and restricts Spore Mine Clusters to only one use outside of being generated by Biovores and Harpies. As you would expect, the special rules do make a difference here. Fearless doesn't matter outside of immunity to Pinning and the inability to voluntarily go to ground, both of which don't really matter anywhere as Spore Mines being shot at even with cover are probably dead anyway when lasguns - yes, lasguns - wound them on 2s.

What you will be interested in, however, are the three other special rules. As the name implies, Spore Mines explode once they get into combat, from little to devastating effect. At the Initiative 10 step of the fight sub-phase, the entire Spore Mine unit is removed from play, placing a large blast over one of them in the process. The Strength of this large blast is equal to four plus the number of Spore Mines in the unit beyond the first, with the Strength value capped at ten. Hits from the large blast Ignore Cover and are AP4, meaning they will utterly annihilate any infantry with a 4+ armour save. Sadly, the maximum unit size of six means the highest Strength you can get to is nine, meaning no Instant Death shenanigans against Toughness 5 monstrous creatures. But hey, they can still harm vehicles and inflict Instant Death on the ever prominent Toughness 4 multiple wound models - mostly found ironically in the Tyranid army. The potential applications of this are pretty high, obviously, though a unit cap of six and their pitiful defensive stats means they usually won't make it into combat with any kind of decent numbers. Generally speaking, the D3 created by missed Harpy or Biovore shooting is most likely to get into combat untouched, especially as they can charge on the turn they "arrive". If you manage to get even two into combat with a vehicle that will take hits on an armour facing of ten then even two Spore Mines can potentially get a penetrating hit through. If you can get six through - remember, walkers are the only vehicles that can Overwatch unless you count the passengers of transports with fire points - then you will see a whopping Strength 9 hit on a vehicle that can lead to some hilarious results, even if the lack of AP2 or AP1 means the damage result isn't modified.

The key to their explosions, of course, is their mobility; their survivability is the worst of any unit in the game, so being able to make it to enemies is understandably difficult. Thankfully, Spore Mines can Deep Strike, giving them the ability to act as ridiculously cheap Deep Striking annoyance units. While they can never be scoring or denial units, not conferring any kind of Victory Points means you can be extremely aggressive with them and not care at all about mishaps - remember, the largest squad of these costs less than a bare-bones ten-strong Termagant unit! They are so cheap that you can throw them into an army list instead of taking a few extra "filler" upgrades and have a little unit that will either distract your opponent ever so slightly or take out the bulk of a medium to light infantry unit. There's literally no reason not to Deep Strike. Unfortunately, there is one last issue for these living bombs to contend with; all of their infantry movement is halved. They move 3" instead of 6" and halve all Run and random charge length distances. Did I mention they should never be deployed on the board? Deep Strike them right next to units, ignore the fact they might mishap and just try and throw a spanner in the works with your sub-50 point unit. Literally, that is the only use to this unit.

They are a weird one as they do present a nifty little tactical option, but the reality is that one split-firing Broadside Battlesuit will statistically kill an entire unit of these things in one round of shooting, leaving maybe one alive out of six if they don't have cover saves. They die so easily that they can't really be considered a proper distraction unit, especially as they are unlikely to do anything on the turn they arrived plus the one after due to their halved movement and charge distances. Even if they manage to Deep Strike 2" away from a Necron Warrior unit, those Necrons can just move 6" away and shoot at something else. An 8" gap here will mean that the Spore Mines will have to roll a 10 on their 2D6 random charge length to reach the Necron Warriors. Not that great, is it? This is why I think you should just leave Spore Mines alone, except to keep some handy if you are using Biovores and Harpies. Those two units will miss - though the latter will do so very rarely - and when they do, having those Spore Mine models handy can lead to some really funny and even game-breaking moments as you end up killing the unit you thought would escape harm. If they weren't so fragile and slow even with Deep Strike, these might have a place, but as it is, those Fast Attack slots are really valuable - especially with the new Skyblight Swarm dataslate - and I recommend filling them with something else. Take these only if you have a spare slot and nowhere to spend upgrade points on.

Best Uses

Undeniably the only real way to use Spore Mine Clusters as their own unit is to Deep Strike them. Leaving them in your backfield with the intention of scaring opponents away from an objective won't work as they are Toughness 1 models with a single wound per model and no save, other than applicable cover. Any kind of shooting will kill them pretty much instantly and even the most paltry shooting will have absolutely no difficulty getting rid of these things, especially as they are Fearless and thus cannot go to ground for boosted cover saves. By the same token, you can't try and move them up the field to be used as a distraction unit as even the most wasteful shooting from a pitiful ranged unit will get rid of them before they ever get close enough to do anything. Remember, Spore Mines are slow, incredibly so. Deep Strike them. The tactical possibilities you get from Deep Striking them are great and all, but hey, you can actually get a unit that does something. Isn't that marvelous?

Six Deep Striking Spore Mines are a ridiculously cheap sub-50 point unit that will more than likely be ignored if you play an aggressive Tyranid list as, generally, an opponent will have far more pressing issues to deal with from your other units. If they somehow get targeted by Interceptor fire, they've already done their job. They will die, but that will be a unit or emplacement that can't shoot at your other units in the shooting phase - you know, the ones that cost more than a third of a century. If they get shot on the opponents' turn instead, the same logic applies as it is less stuff shooting at your valuable units. If they charge a unit alongside another Tyranid unit and you resolve the Spore Mines first, you can play some good mind games with Overwatch. Sure, they have a maximum charge range of 6", but potentially forcing your opponent to risk sacrificing Overwatch against the other unit or just resolve it against the Spore Mines is a victory in every way. Heck, if they get into combat, they will pay for themselves instantly. In reality, this is a unit that is less than 50 points for six models that will either force your opponent to shoot at them, or get into combat and literally make mince meat of an infantry unit. Not bad at all!

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.

Spore Mine Clusters (6) - Spore Mines are ludicrously cheap but also easily the most fragile unit in the game, meaning that you need to take a maximum sized unit if you have any hopes of them at least doing something in a game. Whether they eat a round of Overwatch fire so another unit can charge unharmed, take Interceptor shooting to spare your main forces or somehow make a charge, they are so cheap as a tiny little annoyance unit that can pulverize 4+ armoured infantry units with ease. 

Mindless Artillery

As Tyranid organisms and pods rain from the skies, millions of lesser creatures descend almost unbeknownst to the defenders of a world. These seemingly harmless beings drift aimlessly around their point of impact, grouping together as if driven by a distinct gestalt consciousness from the Hive Mind. It is only when the foolish or unwary close with these creatures that their true purpose becomes all too clear; they are living bombs, exploding in a detonation of volatile toxins and acid. Many of them famously guard the gestation pools, the hidden feeding grounds of a Swarm ready to be delivered to the lingering Hive Fleet. Though they are seemingly utterly mindless, they are clear and effective in their lone purpose.

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 think I would contemplate the usage of the spore mines vs vehicles when shot out of a biovore and a subsequent miss - that's a S4-6 mine attaching itself to the rear of the vehicle ( dreadnoughts the exception of course), with a strong possibility of a glance or penetrating hit , since in assaults that floating beach ball will attack the rear armor.

    1. I'm going to be covering Spore Mines generated by Biovores in the Biovore Tactica.

  2. I love Biovores. I am so happy that they are in the new formations. It frees up my Heavy Slots for my Dakkafexes.

  3. Where does it say that spore mines can assault the turn they come into play? I've seen no such rule in the tyranid codex.

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