Codex Tyranids: The Crusade Rules Review

We’re a few days away from the release of the first Codex of 10th edition, Codex: Tyranids. And as always, we’re following up our more competitively-minded review of the book with our Crusade Rules review. And while our Crusade reviews tend to focus more on the contents and how you can use the new rules to build insane murdermonsters to dominate your local friend group in narrative formats, as the first book of the new edition, this codex will also be setting the tone for what to expect for Crusade in 10th edition as a whole.

Before we dive in, we’d like to thank GW for providing us with a copy of the book for review purposes. Now let’s try and resist to cut and paste great swathes of our 9th ed Codex Tyranids: The Crusade Rules Review for reasons that will quickly become obvious.

Devouring Worlds

The core Crusade mechanic for 10th edition is Devouring Worlds, which returns from the 9th edition book in a new, updated form. The core premise is the same, though: You generate random worlds to devour, representing your hive fleet’s inexorable, all-consuming path across the galaxy, then you devour them over the course of several games, consuming their biomass and using that biomass to improve your roster.

Just like last edition, you can only work on one planet at a time and you start by generating a world which can be either Industrial, Rural, or a Hive World – which you’ll be going after is determined by a d3 roll. The different types mostly just determine how much biomass you’ll earn in the process and how many games are required for advancing each stage in the planet-eating cycle. Where this ruleset diverges from the previous book is that “crushed resistance” is now just a number of games to play. This is a welcome change since that was unnecessarily complicated last edition.

As mentioned previously, world snacking is broken into three stages; Invasion, Predation, and Consumption. These are reached by simply playing games. Each stage gives you a unique requisition that you can use once per world you devour which gives you a bonus for your next battle, and a selection of units that gain bonus XP at that phase.

Lictor. Credit: Pendulin


The Invasion stage is all about focusing on fast moving, sneaky, or swarmy bugs. Endless Multitude, Vanguard Invader and Warlord units get extra XP while in this phase if they end the battle in your opponent’s deployment zone. In addition you get the requisition Vanguard Adaptation which lets you select two Vanguard Invader units (no characters or monsters though) and lets you swap their battle traits for the battle. This is… Interesting? I don’t know the use case but its kinda neat I guess


Predation is a bit more ill defined in what exactly it’s aiming to replicate. The flavor seems to just be “this planet has a lot of bugs on it now” based on the fluff though. Your Biovores, Exocrine, Haruspex, Hive Guard, Hive Tyrant, Pyrovores, Tyrannofex, Tyrant Guard, and Warlord units all get extra XP if they’re on a No Man’s Land objective at the end of the game.
Consumption and you get access to a requisition, Infestation, which gives an Endless Multitude unit the Infiltrators ability. Again, nifty but usually you want these units in range of units to buff them so it’s rare that you’d want to forward deploy them.


Your forces have fully overrun the world and are in the final stages of consuming the world. Unfortunately for this climactic end to a dying world, the rules here are pretty boring. You get the Guard and Consume Requisition which gives a character or monster that didn’t die 5xp and gives the same list of units mentioned in the Predation stage extra XP if they are alive at the end of the battle. Very boring, not much to talk about here.

Genestealers. Credit: Pendulin


So you’ve finished your girl dinner and have some biomass points to show for it. You can now spend these points on upgrades to your order of battle. Most of these let you do requisitions for free/cheaper (The Swarm Grows gives you an extra 100 points to your order of battle, Rare Bioforms lets you use the Renowned Heroes Requisition for cheaper, etc). There’s also Enhanced Organisms which gives a unit in your Order of Battle 5xp (only once per world consumed) and Biological Resources which gives you a free RP. These are mostly boring upgrades to be completely honest, but a neat way to show a hive fleet evolving over time.

Overall the whole devouring world mechanic feels like a step down from its previous iteration. Before it made you really change the way you played your army, albeit in a way that punished you if you didn’t have a large collection of tyranids. Now it’s a vague suggestion of something happening in the background and a lot of the flavor feels lost. Not to mention the fact that this is mostly copy pasted from the previous edition’s mechanics.

Hormagaunts. Credit: Rockfish
Hormagaunts. Credit: Rockfish


If you’ve played games using the Leviathan Crusade rules you’ll be familiar with Agendas, the returning mechanic from 9th edition for gaining XP during your games. Here the Tyranids have their own set of faction-specific Agendas and we hope you liked the Agendas from last edition because they’re almost all exactly the same. Infest Prey World has you try and get Endless Multitude units in all four table quarters for biomass and into your opponent’s deployment zone for XP (this is the only agenda thats changed from its 9th iteration). If you take Hunt and Slay your opponent selects five units for you to destroy and gives you xp for each one you kill and bonus biomass if you can take out two or more. Tyrannoform the Prey World is your classic “do activity enough times” Agenda. You set up markers each time you do the activity which has to be 12” from other markers and get biomass the more times you do it as well as XP for the units that do it. Last up is Tyranid Attack which just asks you to table your opponent. If you’re successful all surviving units get XP, you get a healthy amount of Biomass, and the game counts as two games for your devoured worlds mechanic.


Similarly, Tyranids get their own set of Requisitions in the 10th edition codex to match their new mechanics for devouring worlds. Much like everything else in this Crusade section, they’ve updated the old rules to work in 10th with one very special exception.

  • Consume to Survive – This Requisition is brand new and interesting as it increases the cost of using Increase Supply Limit from 1 Req to 2 Req as your Hive Fleet is a little too busy hunting for more Prey Worlds to devour instead of spawning more Overlords. As noted before, you can use 2 Biomass points on The Swarm Grows to increase your Supply Limit by 100 points to help out here.
  • Respawn Warrior Organisms – for 1 Req you can replace an existing unit’s Battle Traits with brand new ones. Handy for any future Crusade books that get released. Keep in mind, if the unit has a Battle Scar, you can’t use this Req.
  • An Intellect Vast and Cold – 1 Req lets you have one additional Agenda for your next battle, one of which must be from this book.
  • Synaptic BioRegenesis – 2 Req to switch out a Synapse unit from your Order of Battle with a brand new Synapse unit that will have the same XP and appropriate number of Battle Traits. Perfect to replace a Battle Scarred unit of Zoanthropes with a fresh batch or switch out your Hive Tyrant for a Winged Hive Tyrant assuming you have the points to spare.
  • Adapted Physiology – Lets you switch out Crusade Relics on your Tyranid Characters for 2 Req.

Battle Traits

Beanith: Apparently it is poor form to just say “refer to our 9th edition review here” and call the next few sections done. That and the Editors have discovered my latest hidey hole and are holding my prototype Gregbot body pillows hostage… Don’t get me wrong though, while the Battle Traits haven’t changed much at all, each one is a great upgrade to have.

TheChirurgeon: It *is* bad form. Stop doing that.

Tyranid Units (non Synapse units)

  • Strength born of hunger – +1 Strength to every melee weapon in the unit.
  • Enhanced Senses – The unit’s melee attacks can ignore all or any modifications to hit or wound rolls and their ranged attacks ignore cover.
  • Instinctive Autonomy – The unit counts as being within 6” of a Synapse unit’s ability up to 18” away.
  • Ranged Resistance – Plus one to your Armour Saving throws against any Ranged attacks.
  • Fleet of Claw – Reroll Advance and Charge Rolls.
  • Onslaught Killers – +1 to hit with Melee attacks on the turn that you charged with this unit.

Synapse Units

  • Unfathomable Terror – few small changes, at the end of your movement phase, select an enemy unit within 6” to take a Leadership test with a -1 penalty. If they fail they can’t Advance and suffer -2 to their Movement.
  • Psychic Shadow – This one gives you the benefit of Cover and a 5+ Feel No Pain against Mortal Wounds from any ranged Psychic Attacks.
  • Psionic Resonance – Something new for a change, once per battle you can use a Stratagem for 0 CP on this unit even if it has already been used this phase.
  • Alien Resilience – The unit regains 1 wound in your Command Phase.
  • Armoured Biomorph – The unit gets +1 Toughness
  • Psychic Aberration – Lastly you can tell another unit within 12” that is Battle-shocked to stop messing around, pull your socks up and get stuck back in. The unit stops being Battle-shocked.

TheChirurgeon: If there’s a place where I’m most disappointed, it’s here – I was hoping for something more like the skill trees from the Leviathan Campaign supplement. These are fine, and designed to fit the 10th edition rules. They’re also A Lot, and you’ll quickly end up with some insanely good units doing this.

Battle Scars

Battle Scars also return, as a way to show the damage units have sustained over the course of their battles. These are also very similar to the 9th edition Codex Scars (only with 10th edition rules updates), but for the most part Battle Scars are an “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it” mechanic in Crusade.

Tyranid Units (non Synapse units)

  • Uncontrollable – Unit is never considered to be within range of a Synapse unit.
  • By Instinct Alone – Unit cannot be targeted with stratagems.
  • Mindless Focus – Unit will always shoot at the closest eligible enemy unit.
  • Bestial Rage – Rawr, if the unit chooses to charge, they must include the closest eligible enemy unit as a target of the charge
  • Generate a Battle Scar from the main Crusade Rules

Synapse Units

Not a lot to discuss here, some of these Battle Scars will of course cripple your brainier bugs so you may want to burn the RP needed to remove the Battle Scar or just completely replace the unit. As always, the same names as 9th but slightly different effects in 10th.

  • Neural Dissonance – the unit cannot benefit from Stratagems or Detachment rules that require Synapse
  • Synaptic Delay – Reduces their Synapse Aura to 3”
  • Lobe Impairment – Completely removes the Synapse ability from the unit.
  • Casts no Shadow – Fairly amusing, this unit is also now hit when you use the Shadow in the Warp ability.
  • Generate a Battle Scar from the main Crusade Rules… zzzzzzzzz

Crusade Relics

All of the fun toys are technically still here; the bad news is we have them at home in their no-frills no brand name version that your mother will swear is just the same.

Artificer Relics/Neurotyrants upgrades

  • Spirit-leech Cortex – They took the old Spirit-leech Cortex and accidentally dialled it up to 11… and then they made sure you couldn’t give it to anyone too useful by restricting to pretty much the Neurotyrant. For every wound caused by a Psychic Attack, you will regain 1 lost wound and add +1 Strength to your melee weapons. The old one capped out to a maximum of +3 wounds and +3 Strength. The new toy is missing this limiter which I was incredibly excited about until Mildnorman reminded me that Norn Emissary isn’t a character and a Neurotyrant being able to wound on a 2+ in melee isn’t great when you’re still using an AP 0 weapon.
  • Balemind Membrane – This relic is a better option but again limited to a character with Psychic weapons. It gives them full rerolls to hit and wound. This would have been amazing on say a Broodlord but their Hypnotic Gaze doesn’t count.

Antiquity Relics

  • Mortrexite Implant Attack – Your melee weapons gain [Devastating Wounds] and every model destroyed by those attacks will allow you to add additional Ripper Swarms to any nearby Ripper Swarm unit with 12”
  • Slayer Sabres – This one adds the possibility of extra damage caused to a melee weapon of your choice… assuming the choice is for a Monster Character. After resolving the unit’s fight, roll a d6 and on a 2+ you will cause an extra D3 mortal wounds to one enemy unit that you hit. If they have the Psyker keyword, boost that damage to D6+1 mortal wounds.

Legendary Relic

  • The Norn Crown – Finally the Norn Crown returns and again it’s something you probably want to dump on your Neurotyrant as it’s a great tool to have for your army but it’s not as fun as a Vortex Grenade. It allows to you use Shadow in the Warp twice per battle as well as increasing the Synapse range abilities of all friendly units to 9”.

Neurolictor. Credit: Pendulin

Final Thoughts

Beanith: Much like the tiny Natalie Imbruglia, I’m torn. On the one hand I do like that we’ve held onto one of the more thematic crusade rules set after they let someone from the Match Play team run a few balance passes over them to tone down some of the crazier shenanigans that you got from 9th Ed… but on the other hand, it’s money for old rope, lazy and almost insulting.

It will be interesting to see if this happens with every new codex. Will they keep the fun thematic ones like the T’au Empire expansion, the Drukhari monopoly or for those currently playing on hard mode, the Votann Kindred Assets?

Will they replace the Grey Knight system with something other than “free daemon for the other team so I have an excuse to use my daemon hunting powers”? The Ork Crusade rules also could do with a new system. I really hope the Space Marine codex has something a bit more special beyond stuffing spare characters into dreadnoughts.

That said, I’m happy they did keep the cool rules but I’m also disappointed for the same reason too.

TheChirurgeon: The biggest thing I’m interested in here is what it tells us about the shape of 10th Edition Crusade. And with this it looks like that will be… “mostly the same as 9th edition Crusade, with some updates.” That’s… not terrible, but it’s not what I was hoping for, either. The Tyranid Crusade rules aren’t bad – I like the progressive process of devouring a planet – but they also tend to be a little more complex (in bad ways) than I’d like, and they also introduce a planet-based mechanic that doesn’t make a lot of sense in larger, map-based campaigns and doesn’t interact in any way with the other 3-5 factions out there with planet-based campaigns, such as the T’au or Genestealer Cults.

In terms of the updates, that’s fine. I was hoping for skill trees. I don’t think the world devouring mechanic is bad per se and I don’t mind that they just did updates – a lot of work went into the 9th edition mechanics and throwing all of that out wouldn’t have made much sense, and I don’t think it’s necessarily what players would have wanted anyways. That said, I do think the larger Crusade Rules framework needed more of a rework in 10th edition, with its focus on fewer upgrade options and swapping out detachments.

Norman: I think I’m a bit more bummed about all this than Beanith is. We were pretty hot on Devouring Worlds last edition for a few reasons; it made you play the game differently, it made your crusade roster development vastly more unique than other players, and it was flavorful as hell. While still flavorful and admittedly less obtrusive, it feels like a whole lot of work for very boring pay off now. With the staged changes being just extra XP and a once per planet requisition, it doesn’t really change how you organise your Order of Battle or play games.

The whole book feels like they went line by line and just adjusted each section to account for the rules changes in 10th, but they didn’t account for the overall context in which you’d be playing games. Spirit Leech Casket is a great example of this. In its old iteration it was a consideration where you’d pop that kind of relic, now it’s got one place it can go and it doesn’t do anything except heal really. The Balemind Membrane also smacks of this feeling. There is not a single character who has a Psychic weapon that rolls to hit who can take this artifact, and yet it provides rerolls. These can be found across the book, and while it doesn’t break anything it feels like there wasn’t a lot of love or care put into it. Hopefully the more grievous mechanics get a look (for the love of god change grey knights) but for now settle in for reruns.


The Big List of Differences from 9th

  • Crushed resistance becomes “Battle Points”
  • Custom strats per stage are gone, instead replaced by new requisitions.
  • You no longer have units that gain 0 XP for battles depending on stage, instead there are just units who gain bonus XP for doing specific things
  • Swarmnode Biogenesis upgrade is gone since its covered by Rare Biomorphs (which gives an enhancement now)
  • Infest Prey World Agenda now scores at the end of the game, and just gives a point for each quarter your in
  • Adapted Physiology requisition now costs 2 RP and lets you swap out a crusade relic you have for another one
  • Fleet of Claw Battle Trait is now just reroll charges.
  • Unfathomable Terror Battle Trait now changed to keying off a leadership test at -1 (instead of a competing roll) and reduces movement by 2 (instead of halving it)
  • Psychic Shadow Now gives a 5+++ and cover against psychic attacks
  • First new thing in the book! Psionic Resonance battle trait gives you a free strat similar to hive tyrant ability (replaces lingering presence)
  • Psychic aberration Completely changed, now unbattleshocks something
  • Non synapse battle scar table no longer excludes genestealers for some reason
  • Uncontrollable battle scar now makes it so you can no longer be considered in synapse range
  • By Instinct Alone now makes it so you can’t be targeted by stratagems
  • Neural Dissonance changed to “This unit cannot benefit from any stratagems or detachment rules that require the synapse keyword”
  • Synaptic Decay now just reduces the range of synapse by 3”
  • Casts No Shadow now has the unit be affected by the Shadow in the Warp ability
  • Psychic Fortitudes are gone, as to be expected
  • Spirit Leech Cortex now keys off a psychic attack instead of psychic powers
  • Balemind Membrane: now makes psychic attacks reroll hits and wounds instead of undeniable powers
  • Mortrex Implant Attack replaced by Mortrexite Implant Attack (not sure why) now gives dev wounds instead of +1 ap and 1 mw on a 6
  • Slayer Sabres can now go on any monster character instead of just ones with boneswords which means…. No change. Loses rerolls against psychers and stopping psychic powers. MW inflicted changed to d3 on a 2+ or d6+1 into psychers
  • The Norn Crown changed to letting you use Shadow in the Warp twice and now increases synapse range to 9” (since synaptic link range worked differently)


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