Kill Team Tactics: Tyranids

Do you fantasize about devouring whole worlds? When you watch Starship Troopers, do you root for the bugs? Have you ever felt that you’d look fetching in a set of chitinous plates, wielding venomous talons as you bound across the battlefield in a chittering horde? Well then you just might be a Tyranids player at heart. Tyranids bring a number of different bugs from their faction to the table in Kill Team, with different strengths and weaknesses, and they have a way to be active in every phase of the game if you bring Commanders into the mix. While you won’t find any of the really big bugs here, there’s plenty of other stuff to get your big bug fix from.



  • Melee – Tyranids have some very nasty melee threats, and some interesting ways to make sure they make it into combat.
  • Fast – A couple of the main units available to Tyranids have 8″ movement of higher, and make for a very mobile force.
  • Strategic – The Tyranids have access to Tactics that allow a model to act a second time in various phases of the game, which allows for some strategic decision making.
  • Morale – While smaller bugs don’t have high Ld values, Genestealers and bigger bugs like the Lictor and Tyranid Warriors are all Ld 9, and the SYNAPSE rule causes smaller bugs within 12″ to automatically pass all Nerve tests. As long as your big bugs around, with careful play you can ensure that Leadership isn’t an issue for your kill team.
  • Flexible Tyranids can operate as either an elite kill team of large, multi-wound murdermonsters, or as a swarm, giving them a lot of flexibility if you need to shift from a kill one/kill more focus to controlling doors in Arena.


  • Shooting – As Tyranids, you are primarily going to be looking at models that either don’t have guns at all, or have a 4+ BS and very limited range.
  • Psychic Powers – Tyranids don’t get access to psychic powers outside of their Commander options, which means that in most games you won’t have that support. The upside is that the Shadow in the Warp rule can help you defend against psybolts a bit.
  • Armor – While some of the bigger bugs have more wounds, Tyranid armor isn’t great. Most of your models have a 5+ save or worse, and with the exception of Tyrant/Hive Guard, you’re also looking at T4 for most of your larger bugs.

Competitive Rating

Tyranids are one of the top competitive teams. They are able to control the board state with bodies easily, which racks up points in all tournament formats easily.


Tyranids Special Rules

There are a few special rules that are specific to the Tyranids and affect how they play.

Instinctive Behaviour

Unless a model with this rule is within 24″ of a friendly SYNAPSE model, they get -1 to any hit rolls when shooting at a target that isn’t the closest, and -2 to charge rolls if they charge a model that isn’t the closest.


Tyranids models automatically pass Nerve tests while within 12″ of any friendly models with this ability.

Hive Fleet Adaptations

With the release of Kill Team: Elites, Tyranids got access to the ability to designate Hive Fleets for their teams, which give them additional bonuses. The Hive Fleet Adaptations are all pretty good, though most focus on melee combat.

  • Behemoth. You can re-roll charge rolls for models in your kill team. This is a very useful buff for Tyranids, and immediately boosts the effectiveness and reliability of the faction’s melee units. It’s great on Genestealers, Homragaunts, and Lictors, and possibly the strongest Hive Fleet Adaptation overall.
  • Kraken. When a model from this Kill Team advances, roll 3D6 and pick the highest for your Move characteristic. Additionally, if a model in your kill team starts its Movement phase within 1″ of an enemy model but when you pick it to move there are no enemy models within 1″, that model can make a charge attempt instead of falling back or remaining stationary. This is a neat ability. Not so much the advance rolls part, but the charge part means that you can continually re-charge an enemy unit falling back from you, pressing the attack and staying in range. It’s pretty solid, though re-rolling charges is better. (Shane: I prefer Kraken over Behemoth myself, simply for the increased mobility advances.)
  • Leviathan. Roll a D6 each time a model in your kill team loses a wound while it is within 6″ of a friendly SYNAPSE model. On a 6, the damage is ignored and the model doesn’t lose a wound. In additional, while your models are within 6″ of a friendly SYNAPSE model they don’t take a penalty to hit rolls from one flesh wound they’ve suffered. This is a handy way to keep your team on their feet (claws?) for longer, and probably the best defensive boost Tyranids have.
  • Gorgon. You can re-roll hit rolls of 1 in the Fight phase for attacks made by your kill team. This is pretty handy to have active all the time, though probably not as good as Behemoth’s ability to ensure you make it into combat. Still, it’s a strong effect and something that you can easily make use of.
  • Jormungandr. Models in your kill team that can’t FLY are considered to be obscured to enemy models that target them, unless they Advanced or Charged this turn. This is only OK. It’s almost trivially easy to get obscured on most Kill Team maps, so most of the time you won’t really make much use out of this, especially since it doesn’t stack.
  • Hydra. Re-roll hit rolls in the fight phase for attacks made by models in your kill team that target an enemy model within 1″ of another model in your kill team. This is a better re-roll, but much more conditional, requiring a much more swarm-focused approach to make work.
  • Kronos. Re-roll unmodified hit rolls of 1 in the Shooting phase for models in your kill team if they haven’t moved this turn. The only Shooting buff Tyranids get, this is OK at best and generally not something you really want for your kill team – you want to maximize your melee output and this doesn’t help you do that.


Tyranid Hive Guard
Tyranid Hive Guard. Credit: That Gobbo

Tyranids Weapons

Tyranids are mostly a melee combat force, but they do have some ranged weapon options.

Ranged Weapons

  • Barbed Strangler. One of the Tyranids’ heavier weapons, a 36″ Assault D6 S5 AP-1 D1 gun that can be wielded by Tyranid Warrior Gunners. It’s got solid range and punching power, but being D1 hurts it a bit as an investment. At 3 points, it’s costed pretty fairly, though.
  • Deathspitter. Tyranid Warriors can take these instead of Devourers for 2 points per model and the upgrade to 24″ range and S5 AP-1 is pretty solid. They’re more reliable than Barbed stranglers, even if on the whole they’ll average out to fewer shots, and while the extra 12″ of range is important and helpful, you don’t need gunners to take these. These should be your go to for Warriors.
  • Devourer. An 18″ Assault 3 bolter that can do some work, if only thanks to its weight of fire. It’s decent, but not worth buying for Termagants, who cost almost as much as the gun. It’s free on Tyranid Warriors though, and can do solid work there.
  • Flesh hooks – A gun with some unique abilities that can be thought of as an improved pistol. It’s an Assault 2, AP0 gun that scales off the model’s strength characteristic, has a short 6″ range, and can be fired while the wielder is within 1″ of an enemy model and can target enemy models within 1″ of friendly models. Because it isn’t a pistol, you can still fire it the turn your model is charged, though you cannot fire it the turn your model charges. If you’re clever, there are a good number of ways to take advantage of this weapon’s unique ability. You could get within 6″ of an enemy model to bait a charge, this gives you two shots with flesh hooks on overwatch and then another two shots in the shooting phase of that same turn. You can use it to clear a path through a dense melee combat screen, allowing a friendly model to pile in to reach a model that opponent thought was otherwise safe. They are also free for Warriors, so you want these on every Warrior.
  • Fleshborer – The default gun on Termagants, S4 AP0. Nothing to write home about, and its short range makes it pretty unreliable.
  • Impaler cannon. Not a terribly practical gun, because even though it costs 0 points, it’s only equippable by Hive Guards who cost a staggering 35 points each. That being said, it’s a Heavy 2, S8, -2AP, D3 damage weapon which can be fired at models that are not visible to the bearer (only hitting on a natural 6). Can you say Turn 1, across the map Leader sniping?
  • Spinefists. A pistol that makes the same number of attacks as its bearer, all at S3 AP0 1 damage.
  • Venom Cannon. A costly 4 point upgrade for a Tyranid Warrior Gunner, but it’s a powerful Assault D3, S8, AP-2, D3 damage gun with a whopping 36″ range. If you manage to land a hit (which can be difficult with D3 shots hitting on 4+), then you have good odds at taking the enemy model out of action. This weapon is a necessity on every roster.

Melee Weapons

Most Tyranids melee weapons are free (0 points), and for many of them your choices will just be a matter of optimizing for what you’ll be going up against, though there are a few easy picks to make.

  • Acid maw – A S:User AP-3 D1 weapon and essentially the Tyranid equivalent of a power sword. This is an option for a single Genestealer and a free upgrade at that, so there’s no reason not to take it.
  • Boneswords – An option for Tyranid Warriors, Boneswords give an additional attack and are a S:User AP-2, 1 damage weapon. They’re solid and at 0 points, you’re going to swap these in for scything talons on Tyranid Warriors by default, as the AP bonus is much better than re-rolling hit rolls of 1. All your warriors should have these.
  • Grasping talons – The Lictor’s default weapons are a S:User AP-1, 2 damage weapon that hit hard (S6) and can do some real damage.
  • Lash whip and bonesword – Essentially the same S:User AP-2 1 damage weapon as the boneswords, but trading the extra attack for the ability to fight one last time before being removed from the battlefield. On the whole, this tradeoff isn’t really worth; you can’t really control when you’ll be killed and for Tyranid Warriors the best defense will be a good offense, being the aggressors and taking out targets before they can get you, especially since the lash whip and bonesword cost 1 point.
  • Rending claws – The standard claws on a Genestealer are these S:User AP-1, 1 damage weapons that become AP-4 on a wound roll of 6+. They’re pretty solid and Genestealers have enough base attacks (3) to ensure that you’ll see one or two AP-4 hits per game if you’re getting into combat with them.
  • Scything talons – The default melee weapon on a lot of Tyranids, scything talons are OK. These S:User, AP0 1 damage blades let you re-roll hit rolls of 1 and give you +1 attack if you’re sporting more than one pair.


Tyranids Units

Tyranids have a wide variety of units, giving them both horde melee and shooting options and elite variants of both, though the choices tend to lean heavier toward melee proficiency.


The shooty variety of small swarm bugs in the Tyranid army. Termagants come with a Fleshborer, but can swap that out for a devourer or spinefists. Termagants aren’t very good. They’re 4 points per model for a BS 4+ model with T3 and a 6+ save and a 12″ bolter. The devourer is a huge upgrade on their firepower but at +3 points per model, it’s almost never going to be worth nearly doubling their cost for a unit as squishy as they are.


Tyranid Hormagaunts
Just 48 points worth of Hormagaunts
Credit: Pendulin

The melee variety of swarm bug in the Tyranid army. Generally speaking, Hormagaunts are better than Termagants. This is because they’re better at fighting than Termagants are at shooting, and being in melee combat protects them from being shot at. Starting off at a cheap 4 points each, they can be upgraded with two different options of 1 point wargear: Adrenal Glands and/or Toxin Sacs. Adrenal Glands give them a +1″ to advance and charge rolls, and makes an already fast model (8″ move speed, and a 6″ pile in/consolidate) even faster. Toxin Sacs, on the other hand, bump their melee damage from 1 to 2 on wound rolls of 6+. Given that they only get two attacks, hitting on 4+ with no AP, you’re fairly unlikely to see Toxin Sacs have a large impact in a game unless you are running a Hormagaunt-heavy list. However, when you do land an unsaved 6+ wound roll, the reward of a two-dice injury roll means you’re likely taking their model out of action.


Tyranid Lictor
Tyranid Lictor
Credit: Pendulin

In the right hands, Lictors can be downright terrifying in Kill Team, with a 9″ move and the ability to toss out 3 attacks with grasping claws, a S6 AP-1 2 damage weapon in melee combat. While its 5+ save isn’t much, it’s packing 4 Wounds and its Chameleonic Skin gives it an extra -1 to be hit if it’s already obscured, helping a clever player mask their approach in order to lay down a devastating charge. Lictors can be Combat specialists, and this is a good fit for them; the extra attack is very nasty when applied to their grasping talons. Lictors also come stock with flesh hooks, which due to the model’s strength of 6, makes it a gun that’s easy for your opponent to underestimate.

Tyranid Warrior

Tyranid Warrior
Tyranid Warrior with Venom Cannon
Credit: Pendulin

The stock SYANPSE bugs of the Tyranids kill team and solid all-rounders. Tyranid Warriors are T4 3W models that come with a pair of scything talons and a Devourer, but can be outfitted in a ton of different ways, fashioning them into melee threats or shooting threats as you see fit. And on that note, you’ll pretty much never want to keep them in their default loadout – boneswords are a significant improvement over a single set of scything talons, where the AP-2 benefit is much better than re-rolling hit rolls of 1 (especially if you are already getting that benefit from your Hive Fleet Adaptation). These are the backbone of any team (that isn’t all Lictors of course, haha).


Bigger than Hormagaunts but smaller than Lictors, Genestealers combine some solid speed (8″) with 3 attacks base, the ability to re-roll charges, and a nasty habit of popping off the occasional AP-4 hit. They can be outfitted with scything talons for free on top of their rending claws; this is always the correct play. Likewise, one can have an Acid Maw for free, and that’s also always the right pick. The real questions are whether you should pay the 1 point per model for Toxin Sacs, which will generally get much more use with 4A Genestealers than Hormagaunts (so, yes), and whether to take Extended Carapace (0 pts), which trades the ability to re-roll charges from Swift and Deadly for a 4+ armor save. And generally the answer to that is dependent on whether or not you’re playing with the Hive Fleet Behemoth adaptation and getting the ability elsewhere.

In addition to everything else, Genestealers give you the team’s cheapest LEADER specialist option, at 11 points per model.

Tyrant Guard

The melee-focused Elites choice for Tyranids, the Tyrant Guard combine solid movement (7″) with a pretty beefy body – S5, T5, 3 wounds – and the best armor save in the Tyranids’ faction (3+). They’re pretty nasty in combat, where you can give them Crushing claws, which are functionally power fists (Sx2, AP-3, D3 damage and giving you -1 to hit). Those are pretty solid but at 7 points they make an already very expensive model even more costly.

Tyrant Guard have the Shieldwall ability, which allows them to tank wounds for a friendly COMMANDER within 3″ on a D6 roll of 2+. This is very helpful in Commander games, particularly if you’re bringing the Tyranid Prime, which tends to be a little less resilient than the Broodlord. Outside of Commander, they’re likely dead models, though. They’ve also got the Blind Rampage ability, which gives them WS4+ and 4 Attacks for the rest of the battle if your Commander dies, which is an OK trade if you aren’t running crushing claws but if your commander dies it means you’ve lost the mission most of the time anyways. At 32 points per model and with limited utility outside of Commander, you can skip these guys.

Note that Tyrant Guard aren’t SYNAPSE creatures; in fact they have Instinctive Behaviour and will want a little support from Tyranid Warriors or a Commander to ensure they’re not forced to charge the closest model.

Hive Guard

The shootiest options in the Tyranids’ arsenal, Hive Guard are a great mix of both tough (T5, 4+ save, 3W) and armed with big guns – Impaler Cannons are 36″ Heavy 2, S8, AP-2 D3 Damage guns that can fire at targets that aren’t visible (though they only hit on a 6 if they do). They’re wonderful fits for both the Heavy and Sniper specialisms. The downside is the cost: At 35 points per model, these elite bruisers are going to set you back in a big way, and they may not give you more value than a Tyranid Warrior Gunner.

One thing to note, they have BS3+, so they are your most accurate shooting model. Worth a roster slot in some scenarios.

One thing to look out for is that Hive Guard, like Tyrant guard have the Instinctive Behaviour rule, so will want support for Tyranid Warriors or a Commander.


The fastest model in a Tyranids kill team, Raveners essentially have a Tyranid Warrior statline that trades armor for speed, with a 5+ save and a 12″ movement score. They come with two pairs of Scything talons and 4 attacks base, which makes them solid blenders before changing weapons but tragically, no real ability to capitalize on this with toxin sacs. Instead, they can trade out a pair of scything talons for either rending claws or a gun, and while on the whole you’ll likely get more value out of giving them a devourer for 3 shots instead of giving them a 6th attack, the devourer costs 3 points on Raveners, bringing them up to 18 points per model. That’s still 2 points less than a Tyranid Warrior and probably worth it, but note that Raveners have Instinctive Behaviour and among all Tyranids may be the most likely to outrun your synapse coverage on turns 1-2.

Having a Veteran specialist Ravener is super clutch in that: 1. They won’t worry about Shaken tests if they get out of synapse and 2. The Veteran move tactic puts this model wherever you want.


Tyranid Commanders

Tyranid Kill Teams have access to three Commander options and if you want access to Tyranid psychic powers, then Commanders are your only way of getting that – via The Broodlord, who has access to the Hive Mind Discipline.

Tyranid Prime

A souped-up version of the Tyranid Warrior, the Tyranid Prime is a Swiss Army knife option for your Kill Team Commander slot, able to take a variety of ranged and melee weapons. And at 50 points for his level 1 variant, he’s the cheapest of the Tyranids Commander options. The Tyranid Prime is the only Commander that can take ranged weapons.


The Broodlord is an extra nasty Genestealer. He comes with S5 and T5, plus 6 wounds, an 8″ move, and a 4+/5++ save. He’s also the Tyranids’ only PSYKER option and can take the Strategist specialism, making him an extremely attractive Commander option. The downside is that at 131 points for the level 1 variant, he’s not at all cheap.


The Deathleaper is a souped-up Lictor of sorts, added in Kill Team: Elites and designed for killing enemy Commanders. The Deathleaper comes with S6, 6W and 4A, but can only take a single specialism – it has to be a Level 4 Legendary Hunter specialist. That means it can shrug of wounds a little better and can drop in and out of Reserves, a fitting skillset. Unfortunately, it’s pretty bad in Commander missions where the opponent isn’t bringing a Commander. Even when going up against enemy Commanders, its Attacks and weapons aren’t going to be enough to take out heavier targets in a single charge, leaving you with a T4 model that only has a 5+ save. Deathleaper also doesn’t have Synapse. You can skip this one.


Tyranids Tactics

Tyranids got a second set of faction Tactics in their “The Writhing Shadow” boxed set, which featured a squad of genestealers. Otherwise, they didn’t change much in the Kill Team Annual, gaining a single new tactic to compliment their set.

  • Scorch Bugs (1 CP) – Use when a Termagant shoots a fleshborer. It gets +1 to wound rolls until the end of the phase. A nice boost, but it depends on using Termagants, which isn’t so great. B
  • Feeder Tendrils (1 CP) – Use when a GENESTEALER or LICTOR from your kill team takes an enemy Leader out of action in the Fight phase. You get +D3 Command Points. This one is basically free, so there’s no reason not to use it, even if the number of games you’ll actually use it in will be very small. A
  • Caustic Blood (1 CP) – Use when a model from your Kill Team loses a wound in the Fight phase. Roll a D6 for each enemy model within 1″. On a 6, that enemy model takes 1 mortal wound after all its attacks have been resolved. This would be a solid way to punish attackers, but with only a 1/6 chance of going off, it’s just not reliable enough. C
  • Single-Minded Annihilation (1-3 CP) – Use after a model from your kill team shoots in the Shooting phase. You can immediately shoot again with that model. This costs 2 CP if used on a Tyranid Warrior or Ravener, or 3 if used on a Hive Guard. This is incredibly good; double-shooting is almost always a very powerful effect, and it can do some real damage on a Hive Guard, where the Impaler Cannons will do insane damage. Even double shooting a Venom Cannon Warrior can be super good. A
  • Lurk (1 CP) – Use in the Movement phase. Pick a model from your kill team that hasn’t moved – it can’t move but for the rest of the turn, if it’s obscured, enemy units get an extra -1 to hit it. This is a nifty way to protect a unit that needs to sit still for a turn, but probably won’t be something you need to use all that often with Tyranids. B+
  • Hunting Roar (2 CP) – Use when a TYRANID WARRIOR from your kill team finishes a charge within 1″ of an enemy model. You can re-roll failed hit rolls for models from your kill team within 6″ of that warrior for the rest of the Fight phase this turn. This is really good – the full re-rolls are great, and this is really dynamite if you have another model to benefit nearby. A
  • Adrenaline Surge (2 CP) – Use at the end of the Fight phase to have a model on your kill team fight an additional time. This is very strong and something you’ll want to use whenever you need to punch through some extra damage in melee. A
  • Predatory Leap (1 CP) – Before making a charge roll, pick a model from your Kill Team. When it charges, that model counts as having the FLY keyword. This is crazy useful in 3D kill team for making charges that otherwise would require a ton of vertical movement, and equally useful in Arena where it’s easy to clog up doorways and hallways with models to screen you out. With Predatory Leap, you can go right over those.  A
  • Death from Below (1 CP) – Use at the end of the Movement phase to pick up to 3 RAVENER models in your kill team that were set up in Reserves and set them up anywhere on the battlefield more than 5″ away from an enemy unit. This is a solid (and cheap) deep strike ability and given that Raveners have a 12″ Move, something you can use to be a little more conservative with your deployment to stay out of sight before you make your move. B
  • Implant Attack (2 CP) – Use before making an injury roll for an enemy model reduced to 0 wounds in the Fight phase. Add +2 to the Injury roll. This is a great way to add some extra punch to your fighters’ attacks and help avoid a situation where a 1-damage attack against a key enemy doesn’t connect. Especially helpful against marines shrugging off their first mortal wound, who will automatically be taken out of action. A+
  • Metabolic Overdrive (2 CP) – Use in the Movement phase, after making a normal move with a model. That model can make a second normal move, but if you do that model can’t shoot this battle round. Then, roll a D6, and on a 1, that model takes a mortal wound. This is essentially a way to ensure a much longer advance, with some added downside. It’s an expensive Tactic, but it’s particularly interesting on Raveners, who will survive a mortal wound and can use it to move 24″ in a single turn. B
  • Dragged Into the Darkness (2 CP) – Use when you choose a model from your kill team to shoot with. If their target is within 1″ of a Munitorum Crates or Barrels, then wound rolls of 6+ cause a mortal wound, in addition to any other damage. This is one of the odd Tactics tied to specific terrain features, and won’t come up in games that matter. D
  • Rapid Regeneration (2 CP) – Use when a model from your kill team is taken out of action. Roll a D6 and on a 4+ the model is treated as if it had suffered a flesh wound instead. This is incredibly useful, in effect giving you a 4++++ (yes I understand how ridiculous that looks) save for an extra 2 CP. Very useful when you need your model to survive going second in melee, to keep your Commander on the table, or to stick around on an objective. A
  • Legacy of Ymgarl (1 CP) – Use when a GENESTEALER in your kill time fights in the Fight phase. Re-roll failed wound rolls for that model until the end of the phase. A handy boost that works well both with regular Genestealers or, in Commander games, the Patriarch. A
  • Pheromone Trail (1 CP) – Use at the end of the movement phase to set up a unit being held in Reserves within 3″ of a Lictor on your kill team and more than 5″ away from enemy models. An extra way for Tyranids to get a unit deep striking onto the battlefield, and helpful if you wanted an alternative to having to take Raveners to do it. A welcome addition for Tyranid kill teams. A

Commander Tactics

  • Voracious Appetite (2 CP) – Use when a COMMANDER is chosen to fight in the Fight phase. You can re-roll failed wound rolls for that model’s attacks until the end of the phase. This is a really solid way to ensure that a commander’s melee output will max out. Doesn’t do anything for you on Broodlords, but it’s solid on a Tyranid Prime or Deathleaper. B
  • Alpha Warrior (1 CP) – Tyranid Prime Aura Tactic. Use at the start of the Shooting phase to give your Tyranid Prime an aura where, as long as it isn’t shaken, you get +1 to hit rolls for friendly models within 6″ of this model. Useful if you’re going for shooty bugs, and want to surround your Tyranid Prime with Tyranid Warriors holding devourers. A
  • Melt into the Shadows (1 CP) – Deathleaper Tactic. Use at the start of the battle round if the Deathleaper is on the table and not shaken. Until the end of the battle round, the model can’t make charge attempts, but your opp must subtract 1 from hit rolls for attacks that that target the model. Useful if you know you’ll need at least a turn to position your commander for melee combat. B-
  • Terrifying Reputation (1 CP) – Broodlord Aura Tactic. Use at the start of the Movement phase if your kill team has a Broodlord. IF that model isn’t shaken, enemy units within 6″ get -1 to their Leadership. Potentially helpful if it stack iwith multiple things. . A


Tyranids Psychic Powers

Tyranids have access to the Hive Mind Discipline, which has 3 powers. You can full-on ignore Dominion, but Catalyst is solid and the Horror is OK.

  • Dominion (WC 4) – Pick a friendly model within 18″ that has the Instinctive Behaviour ability. Until the start of the next Psychic phase, that model ignores its Instinctive Behaviour ability and automatically passes all Nerve tests. You have to be within Synapse range of the Broolord to use this, and you use it after moving, so this ends up being very limited in its uses. The only real effect this has is making a model auto-pass Nerve tests outside of 12″ away from the caster, though it could also help you make a charge move the following turn if you’re out of range. D
  • Catalyst (WC 5) – Pick a frieindly model within 18″. Until your next Psychic phase, each time that model would lose a wound, roll a D6 and on a 5+ that wound isn’t lost. If it already had a similar ability, you can pick which to use, and re-roll 1s. This is very handy for making your bigger bugs frustratingly difficult to kill. A
  • The Horror (WC 5) – Pick a visible enemy model within 18″. Until the start of the next Psychic phase, that model gets -1 Ld. and -1 to their hit rolls. This can be a decent way to help protect yourself against a key model like a gunner; the Ld modifier is just icing on the cake. B


Sample Tyranids Kill Teams

Shane’s 125pt Kraken Team

Hive Fleet: Kraken


  • Leader – Warrior (venom cannon, hooks, boneswords)
  • Comms – Warrior (deathspitter, hooks, boneswords, adrenal glands)
  • Combat – Warrior (deathspitter, hooks, boneswords, adrenal glands)
  • Veteran – Ravener


  • Hormagaunt
  • Hormagaunt
  • Hormagaunt
  • Hormagaunt
  • Hormagaunt
  • Hormagaunt
  • Hormagaunt
  • Hormagaunt
  • Hormagaunt
  • Hormagaunt

125pts base force. Hormagaunts swarm the field and claim objectives, the Warriors hold it together as your SYNAPSE providers, and the Ravener is there for disruption.

There is still spaces on a roster to add in more flex picks after this as well since this is 14 models of a 20 model roster.


Oops, All Lictors!

Hive Fleet: Jormungandr. Each member of your Kill Team is obscured so long as they don’t advance/charge, and your opponent suffers a -2 penalty to hit on all their shooting attacks due to their Chameleonic Skin. As a bonus, pop Lurk for 1CP to bump that penalty to -3 to hit.


  • Leader – Lictor
  • Combat – Lictor
  • Comms – Lictor
  • Veteran – Lictor


  • If you’re playing at 100 points, then four Lictors is your entire list. If you’re playing 125 points, then you can either add a fifth Lictor or keep your team at four and start the game with an additional 2 CP for popping Lurk every turn.

Tyranid Lictors
Four models, sixteen wounds, enemies have a -2 hit penalty in shooting – Bring it on.
Credit: Pendulin

To be clear this is a gimmick team, and here’s the gimmick: Move to objectives without advancing (your 9″ move speed should get you there quickly), then just sit there. The Lictor stands on a base large enough to make contesting the objective difficult for your opponent, so just deny it. Don’t advance, and only charge if you need to. This forces your opponent to choose: either shoot you with a punishing -2 penalty to hit, or charge you. If they shoot you, they’ll probably miss. If they charge you, then you get to fire overwatch with two shots of Flesh Hooks, then shoot them with Flesh Hooks in the Shooting Phase that same turn, pop Single-Minded Annihilation for yet another round of shooting with Flesh Hooks. After six shots of Flesh Hooks, if they’re still alive then your Lictor enters the Fight Phase where it’s even more lethal.

If you want to make this list a little more practical, then Hive Fleet Behemoth is a decent choice to let you re-roll all your charges. This will let you play more aggressively. Additionally, at cost of dropping a single Lictor from your team, you can toss in five Hormagaunts with Adrenal Glands for holding objectives. This frees up your Lictors to get up in your opponent’s face.


Playing Tyranids

Tyranids are an aggressive team with a focus on board control. Due to how squishy your gaunts are, typically you want to swarm objectives (trying to stay more than 2″ away to prevent extra shot targets.) You can’t effectively try to trade shots with a true shooting team so using melee to hide from shooting is usually a valid tactic, in addition to the fact that you can fire Flesh Hooks in combat to continue to mess with your opponents plans. Having models setup to charge into ongoing combats to prevent your opponent from falling back is a critical skill to master.

In Arena matches, you can easily plug up hallways/doors with gaunts. Also can use Predatory Leap to charge models past where your opponent is blocking doors/hallways. (Which can be super clutch.)

In ITC style format, you should be able to hold more objectives easily and score positional secondaries. For kill/kill more, you need to try and swarm models you want to kill, while trying to hide from your opponent to prevent them from killing you.

Playing against Tyranids

Taking out the Synapse models can throw a wrench into a Tyranid player’s plan. Typically they are fairly easy to deal damage to, so you can try and shoot your way through the Tyranid team. Just make sure to prioritize your targets accordingly so once the Warriors go down you can take advantage of being able to force smaller bugs to target the closest model or incur major penalties.


Final Thoughts

Hopefully that gives you everything you need to get started building and fielding Tyranids kill teams. As always, if you have any questions or feedback, drop us a note in the comments below or email us at