My thoughts on the new Tyranids, part one

I am going to outline what I think of the new Tyranids in this article. I am going to start writing parts of it now, but I will probably updated and expand on it over the weekend or next week. As class finishes on Wednesday before a week of registration and training, I expect to have some downtime and less time to dedicate to lesson preparation.

I initially wrote the Tyranids off as a failure like Dark Angels on the grounds that the Codex does not address common issues like the general lack of assault grenades or the weakness of some units, while at the same time reducing the power level of the better units. What I failed to grasp is that those thoughts were stemming from the fallacy that the new Codex would play like the old one, relying on Tervigons to fill out the weak Troops choices, while the Hive Guard, Trygons and Flyrants won the game. Add to this the tremendous impact that a loss of synapse can have and I thought this book was dead on arrival. As I realized gradually, the new Bugs simply play a different game to other armies, especially their previous incarnation. Thus they have to be assessed on different factors.

So let’s begin by debunking some of the most common comments I have found online:


This is a remnant of the old Codex, where you could take 3 powers on a Tervigon and 4 on the Swarmlord, thus nearly guaranteeing Iron Arm on them. In essence, this became a crutch to the army and an expensive one at that. As armies began to revolve more and more around a few high toughness monsters, the rest of the army shrunk and thus winning or losing became a matter of keeping a few key models alive long enough, something that was extremely difficult against armies fielding a mass of S7 shots such as Tau or Eldar, as they could wound even the toughest monsters and cause those important grounding checks.
More importantly, reducing the number of smaller troops make them easier to kill and thus deny Tyranids the abilty to score objectives. The fact that the important Hive Guard was never scoring as Elites further increased that weakness. Although Iron Arm, Enfeeble and Endurance were nice powers to have, the other 4 Biomancy powers were stinkers and thus often just wasted points, as the Tervigon have to buy its second and third roll on the chart. The new lore might not have Iron Arm, but Catalyst is a much better Endurance, as it targets two units and the other USRs (Relentless and It Will Not Die) were wasted on most units anyway. Onslaught gives a significant tactical edge by enabling you to gain another d6 inches (often with reroll thanks to fleet) of range to your guns. Flying Tyrants even gain 2d6 extra range and thus often the ability to shoot vehicles in the side or even the back, as they have 360° Line of Sight. Dominion on a Tervigon with Norn Crown gives you a 24 inch Synapse range, thus covering most of your backfield easily. It might also be mandatory for Zoanthropes who failed to roll the 1 for Catalyst. The Horror is another toolbox power that lets you set up attack runs by removing the enemy’s ability to move into your way and more importantly reducing them to Snap Shots. It also eliminates the penalty for charging through difficult terrain, thus mitigating your lack of grenades. Paroxysm also shuts down shooting, whereas a Flying Tyrant with Psychic Scream can do tremendous damage to enemies that have bunched up, a common tactic against Tyranids. Finally, Warp Blast is not that bad, though 2 Warp Charges might reduce its usefulness outside of Zoanthropes, where it still shines due to the number of shots being equal to the number of Zoanthropes in the unit. So in conclusion, this point can be refuted.


Yes, the Tervigon. How often has the Internet lost its marbles over the big bad mummy of the bugs. First, everyone screamed Cheese! Then people complained about the lack of model. Then they attacked GW for suing the third party producers that brought out their own. Now that we have an official model, GW promptly makes it a lot weaker in the rules and everyone is up in arms about it.

Let’s get it straight. The new Tervigon is weaker than the old one. It is more expensive, the range of its Termagant-killing backlash went to 12 inches and it no longer gives them its Adrenal Glands or Toxin Sacs. Finally, the fact that they no longer gain its Ld of 10 weakens the fact that they gain Counterattack as that requires a Leadership test to work. It is also now limited to a single psychic power. And more importantly, it only counts as a Troops choice if you have a unit of 30 Termagants, not the 10 you needed before.

So why should it still be considered to be playable? First of all, the old version was ridiculously undercosted. If it pooped out 20 odd gants before menopausing (2 average rolls on 3d6), it had almost made its points back, especially if you consider the free poison and furious charge they got. The Toughness 6, 6 wounds scoring Monstrous Creature was a bonus at that point. I believe that 195 might be a bit overcosted, but still a good deal. What is key is that you need to give it Dominion if it didn’t roll up Catalyst, to give it enough Synapse Range to keep the backfield in check without threatening to wipe out small Termagant units if it went boom.

Moreover, it still gives you the important ability to overwhelm an opponent’s firepower by simply producing more Gants than they can handle. As soon, a single one still has a place in the Tyranid army and a case could be made for two if you plan on swamping the enemy with cheap Zerglings.  However, it is not longer the no-brainer it was before.


My answer to this one is either a cautious ‘Maybe, but do they need them?’ or a more enthusiastic ‘Have you seen how many Monstrous Creatures you can get?’

Sure, an Exocrine is not a Riptide or Wraithknight and Crones can be gunned out of the sky by Quad Guns or just massed bolters. But Tyranids have the tools to increase the survivability of their big hitters with Catalyst or Regeneration on a few key units, while at the same time just bringing a critical mass of heavy units to the table. Venomthropes might also help in that prospect, as not every army, even Tau can spam Ignore Cover at will.

Sure, the Haruspex looks suspect and probably isn’t worth it, but it is a S7 Armourbane MC with T6, W5 and a 3+ that doesn’t cost you a Heavy Support slot. Fast Attack boasts two Flying Monstrous Creatures that might only have Toughness 5 and 5 wounds with Carapace Armour, but allow you to field 3 for a little over 400 points or 450 if you want 3 Crones. Heavy Support offers 6 different MCs, from the cheap and flexible Carnifex to gunbeasts or Trygon close combat monsters. Sure, all of them don’t look like much at first glance when compared to a Riptide or Wraithknight, but quantity is a quality of its own. Gang up two Trygons on a Riptide and one might just make it through the fire to kill it. 3 Carnifexes with Fleet and Furious Charge set you back a mere 405 points and one Heavy Support Slot. Add this to 2 Flyrants and 3 Crones/Harpies and you are looking at 1300 points, still giving you enough points to buy scoring units, but fielding 8 Monstrous Creatures. How many 1750 point armies can reliably stop that every game?


As I said before, mass is a quality that should not be underestimated. Just as many armies cannot gun down 6+ Monstrous Creatures, most of the armies that can cannot generate the volume of fire to put down 100+ Gants. And boy did they got cheap, cheaper than a $1 hooker bot as Bender would put it.

I envision a new Tyranid army to be primarily a board control army that can tie up the enemy in his half and deny him movement through The Horror or simply putting gants and gaunts in his way. Monstrous or Flying Monstrous Creatures can create no-go areas by threatening to annihilate weaker enemy units that go there. Biovores (amazing in this edition) and maybe an Exocrine prevent castling or at least make it a costly option. While cheap critters tie up the enemy elite by simply being to many to kill quickly, the heavy units take out key assets like gun tanks or devastators and then mop up any survivors.

A possible Tyranid list (rough draft): 2000 points

2 Flyrants: Double Devourers with Brainleech Worms. Kill Transports and down flyers

2 Zoanthropes: Extra Synapse or 2 Lances

2*1 Venomthrope: Shields units in turn 1 or at least absorbs fire. More might be good, but Tau and Eldar being able to Ignore Cover on enough units might make them too much of a liability and too expensive. Having 2 in separate units forces the enemy to dedicate a lot of fire to them or risk losing shots to their cover bonuses.

Tervigon: keeps the backline going

30 Termagants: to tie someone up for ages. Watch Dreads or Riptides cry as they stomp two of them per round.

20 Termagants: Spike Rifles. Can stay at range to occupy mid-ground objectives or stall someone.

24 Hormagaunts: no upgrades, as they only need to take long enough to die. They need to be in combat in round 2 to be useful.

20 Gargoyles: same reasoning and decent shooting as they get in position.

1 Harpy: better crowd killing weapons as the Crone, so one of each is useful to stay flexible.

1 Crone: anti-flyer or simply adding mass to the flying menace.

2*3 Biovores: For general nuisance and to cause more pinning checks.

1 Tyrannofex with Acid Spray and Shreddershard Beetles: Double templates, one with Torrent on a 6W body with a 2+.

As you can see, this list as over a 100 small bodies to get in the way of things and 4 flyers to do the heavy lifting.



This will simply fold to Imperial Guard tanks or Long Fangs with 15 Missile Launchers, but it should be fun against armies trying to spam S7 shots.

Tyranid Prime: Bone Sword and Lash Whip, Rending Claws, Flesh Hooks

2 Venomthropes

2 Venomthrophes

2 Venomthropes

5 Tyranid Warriors: Rending Claws

5 Tyranid Warriors: Rending Claws

5 Tyranid Warriors: Rending Claws

5 Tyranid Warriors: Rending Claws

5 Tyranid Warriors: Rending Claws

5 Tyranid Warriors: Rending Claws

5 Raveners: Rending Claws

5 Raveners: Rending Claws

5 Raveners: Rending Claws

That’s 46 Tyranid Warrior Genus models and 6 mobile Cover Save enhancers. Or in other words, exactly 150 wounds in 2000 points. Having Adrenal Glands would have been nice, but at 5 points a pop, that would end up costing me 150 points without adding wounds to the army. As I said on top, if someone has sufficient S8+ guns, this will go down faster than a freshman on prom night, but otherwise it might just bury the opponent under a metric tonne of Rending WS5+ attacks.


Ever tempted to go all in? This list only features the minimum two Troops choices, but cheats by having one of them spawn additional ones, as well as actually not being a true Troops choice, but a disguised HQ choice for maximum rock and roll. The Tervigon is key to keeping the list going, so if it stops spawning or is killed early on, you might be in for a rough ride. On the other hand, you have 10 Monstrous Creatures, 5 of which fly and 4 of the others having fleet, so you should be getting in like Flynn and start pounding people to jelly.

2 Flyrants: Double Devourers with Brainleech Worms.


30 Termagants

2*1 Venomthrope


Hive Crone

Hive Crone

Tyrannofex: Acid Spray, Shreddershard Beetles

2 Carnifexes: Adrenal Glands

Trygon Prime


This list is a test to see if Genestealers might be worth it in this ruleset, by trying to use a maximum of Broodlords to pin down the enemy. In addition, I added some biovores to cause even more pinning tests. Of course, if your enemy is fearless, this might not be that great of a tactic, but Eldar and Tau, the current top dogs, certainly don’t like massed -2 Ld Pinning tests. Deathleaper is here to take out enemy leaders that can spread their Ld or just generally harm enemy HQs.

Hive Tyrant: Twin-linked Devourer with Brainleech Worms, Stranglethorn Cannon (barrage = pinning)


2 Zoanthropes

1 Venomthrope


30 Termagants

20 Termagants

5 Genestealers plus Broodlord

5 Genestealers plus Broodlord

5 Genestealers plus Broodlord

Hive Crone

Harpy (another Barrage weapon)

6 Spore Mines

3 Biovores

3 Biovores

1 Tyrannofex: Acid Spray and Shreddershard Beetles


2 thoughts on “My thoughts on the new Tyranids, part one

  1. Christian says:

    Having you admitting a misjudgement on a 40k topic is a new on to me. Ha, surprises still happen.

    To point out, that the investment in Biomancy levels – just in order to receive Iron Arm for sure – was rather unprofitable and is now gone, was my thought, too. The Hive Powers are really nice.
    The FNP spell comes in handy and even it has just a 6″ range makes it no underspell. I guess a Flyrant is to find at the frontline anyway and therefore can position itself easily where FNP is needed most. And a Warp Zap on a mission objective sitting Tervigon is nice, too. I like those spells.

    I didn’t read the same forums like you, but the most common whining still is about them Tyranid Warriors (T4 W3 for too many points), no? May you’d like to adress that certain unit either to disprove or certify the commotion?

    • That was part of the whining too. I must admit I find them to expensive once you add in some Boneswords or better guns, but it is true that the general shift to autocannons has made them slightly better. Not sure where I would include them though. Maybe in a Monsters Ball army to shepherd the lower leadership monsters to the front.

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