Start Competing: Tyranid Tactics

An article by and    Start Competing Tactics Warhammer 40k        0

Important Note: Games Workshop recently released the Blood of Baal book, which provides several important upgrades for Tyranids. You can read all about how this impacts the army here.

Tyranids are awesome. In a galaxy full of machinations, betrayal, corruption, and a myriad of competing interests you have an entire species dedicated to one purpose. Sure that purpose is the consumption of all alien life, with entire worlds being stripped bare down to their atmosphere to satiate the eternal hunger of intergalactic parasites, but at least they’re all in it together. Tyranids don’t need the temptations of Chaos or ancient Aeldari prophecies to be motivated. They aren’t driven by greed or fear, or belief in a quasi-living psychic corpse god. They just want a snack.

As with all the articles in this series we’re going to focus on the most relevant units and options in the book rather than deep diving into every single thing. That means cutting out some units that don’t see a lot of use or simply aren’t viable, and condensing a few units together instead of having three sections say the same thing about different flavors of Carnifexes. We’ll be following our normal format of starting with some overall strengths and weaknesses, going through army-wide rules and traits, covering the units then finishing up with Relics, Stratagems, powers, warlord traits, and some final thoughts.

Hello everyone! Gunum here invading this Start Competing with my usual flair of “Hey! This might be better than you think.” Throughout the article, I’ll be adding little touches to entries in this write-up, along with maybe some ideas that might make you want to do a little local meta crafting yourself.  As always, I like to point out any suggestions made by me should be taken with a light view of skepticism, but know that the thoughts come from a well-practiced and flushed out place. I have played too many games with Tyranids, as I have quite a collection of them, and I love to use every model… well almost. 

Let’s dive in. 

Before we begin, we’d like to extend our thanks to the amazing work being done at 40KStats, which is a fantastic resource that you should all be checking out.

Army Strengths

  • An iconic force which can cause your opponent to feel GENUINE FEAR when he/she sees 180 Termagants and realizes that’s only a third of your army.  
  • Excellent board control options; give those 180 Termagants a -1 to hit and watch make life even more miserable for your opponent.
  • Flexibility in terms of army options. You like big bugs? Bring big bugs. You like little bugs? Make a carpet of gaunts. Winged bugs? You don’t have to touch the ground. Brain bugs? Zap them with alien mind bullets. Want to deep strike? Tunnel up from the ground, descend from the sky, or just follow a pheromone trail to victory!
  • Very powerful psyker and counter-psyker abilities. 
  • An army that contains no vehicles can be a challenge for certain opponents like Imperial Fists.
  • The ability to unload a massive number of mortal wounds. Between an extensive number of psykers (including Zoanthropes who can do more Smite damage), Stratagems, and spore mines a Tyranid army can drown the enemy in mortal wounds.

With Synapse your army is always fearless, all the time. Bugs don’t have time to run away when there’s so much juicy biomass over there to eat. 

Army Weaknesses

  • A lot of the Relics, Warlord Traits, and Stratagems are underpowered compared to newer releases, with many featuring onerous requirements to activate that other armies don’t deal with. 
  • Melee is harder to use effectiively than ranged combat, and the bulk of Tyranid forces depend on melee to be effective. What ranged combat options do exist are generally short-ranged.
  • Most characters and monsters have damage charts which will degrade over time, and a decent number of your characters are large enough that they can be targeted.
  • Very few re-roll shooting options, outside of building into a specific Hive Fleet.  
  • Slow to play, which can be a problem in ITC formats with a chess clock.

Competitive Rating

Weak 

Tyranids are not a top tier army. From 40KStats we know that only four Tyranid-only armies have finished in the Top 4 of a major event since March. The combination of outdated rules, highly situational abilities with onerous requirements to trigger, heavy reliance on melee, and general lack of ranged anti-tank put them at a distinct disadvantage. The Faction Breakdown Report on 40KStats is not kind to Tyranids, with their depressing 30% mono-faction win rate being the lowest of any faction in the game. If you want to win with Tyranids ally them with Genestealer Cults.

Despite that, as ever with Start Competing our goal is to show you the best strategies available if you want to make Tyranids the focus of your army. While they’re pretty limited, there are some powerful toys in here.

Special Rules

In addition to having the bug equivalent of Objective Secured for troop units, Tyranid armies have several army-wide special rules that are significant. 

Synapse

<HIVE FLEET> units within 12” of a friendly <HIVE FLEET> model with this ability automatically pass Morale tests. The Synapse rule also influences Instinctive Behavior (see below), and there are several abilities and effects that require the presence of a unit with the Synapse ability to function. 

Instinctive Behavior

Unless the unit is within 24” of a friendly <HIVE FLEET> unit with the SYNAPSE ability, you must do the following:

  • Subtract 1 from any hit rolls when shooting any target other than the nearest enemy unit. Per the FAQ this also applies if the unit is within a Fortification. 
  • Subtract 2 from a charge roll if the unit declares a charge against any unit other than the nearest enemy unit.

Instinctive Behavior is significantly less impactful than it’s been in previous editions. You can still freely move and shoot, and with careful positioning, you can mitigate the effect entirely. Certain weapons, such as the acid spray on the Tyrannofex, ignore the hit roll entirely and therefore can allow those units to be used freely. One significant limitation of Instinctive Behavior is that the charge will occur if you declare a charge against multiple units, even if one of those units is the closest. 

Shadow in the Warp

Enemy PSYKERS must subtract 1 from any Psychic tests they make if they are within 18” of a unit with this ability. This does not apply to TYRANID PSYKERS. A -1 penalty to Psychic tests is significant, causing at least a 10% drop in the chances of successfully manifesting the ability. Tyranid armies also have extensive access to units that can perform Deny the Witch tests, as many of the HQ choices are also psykers. 

Death Throes

Many Tyranid MONSTER units have an organic equivalent to the explosion rule for vehicles. If a model with Death Throes is reduced to 0 wounds then, on a die roll of a 6, all units (friend or foe) within 3” take mortal wounds. For most units, the damage is 1d3 mortal wounds, but some of the more enthusiastic units like a Haruspex will deal more.

Hive Fleets

Credit: BuffaloChicken

There are six options for hive fleets. Behemoth is about direct damage, Kraken about movement, Leviathan about synergy, Gorgon about toxins, Jormungandr is for ambushing and tunneling, and Kronos is about murdering psykers with the Shadow in the Warp. Don’t forget about the shooting!  Within competitive play the most common selection by far is Kraken; every single Top 4 list in the last year has used a Kraken detachment. Kraken is also extensively featured in allied lists with Genestealer Cults.

Behemoth

Adaptation – Hyper-Aggression: Re-roll failed charge rolls. Great source of improved reliability, but somewhat weak in comparison to other adaptations. B

Warlord Trait – Monstrous Hunger: Wound rolls of 6+ in the Fight phase inflict 1 additional damage. Basically toxin sacks. C I have always really enjoyed this trait. Especially since it -stacks- with Toxin sacs. +2 Damage on 6’s is a pretty wild ride. 

Relic – Scythes of Tyran: Replaces model’s monstrous scything talons with better ones that can generate additional attacks. Pretty milquetoast. C

Stratagem – Brute Force (1 CP): When a unit completes a charge move, roll a d6 for every model in the charging unit that’s within 1” of an enemy unit. On a roll of 6 (or 2+ for a MONSTER), inflict 1 mortal wound. Since this is per charging model and not enemy model the upside is limited. C

Behemoth doesn’t see much use in competitive play as the benefits aren’t as strong as other hive fleets. The adaptation, trait, Relic, and Stratagem are all pretty mediocre and there’s little reason to choose it over the other options. 

Kraken

Adaptation – Questing Tendrils: When advancing, roll three dice and pick the highest to add to the Move characteristic. Units may also Fall Back and charge in the same turn. An incredibly powerful adaptation that is extensively used. A+

Warlord Trait – One Step Ahead: In each Fight phase pick a friendly KRAKEN unit within 6” of the Warlord. That unit can fight first in the Fight phase, even if it didn’t charge. Unfortunately this pre-dates GW realising that making an opponent fight last is way better than a fight first, but does have a small upside compared to similar effects in that the timing restrictions are pretty broad – as far as we can see, you could wait until your opponent has done fighting with their first charger and then land this on a unit that’s still at full strength. Still pretty tough to use well though.  C+

Relic – Chameleonic Mutation: Forces a -1 penalty on all ranged hit rolls that target the bearer. Great way to improve the survivability of a high-value character, especially as many Tyranid characters can be shot at range. A

Opportunistic Advance (1 CP): Select an Advancing unit when you roll the dice to determine the modifier to the Movement characteristic; double the number and add that total. This means you can potentially see Genestealers move 20” in a single turn before charging. A+

Kraken is unquestionably one of the strongest hive fleet options, and it sees extensive play in competitive lists. The improvement to Advance, ability to Fall Back and charge, useful Relic, and one of the strongest Stratagems available makes this an obvious choice. Nearly every competitive list analyzed utilized Kraken, Genestealers, and The Swarmlord to practically guarantee a first turn charge. 

Leviathan

Adaptation – Synaptic Imperative: Units within 6” of a friendly SYNAPSE unit from the same hive fleet gain a 6+ Feel No Pain roll. This does not work on models affected by the Catalyst psychic power. Takes a little bit of work to set up but you should normally be aiming to have your units in Synapse at all times, so should be active, and is pretty powerful. B+

Warlord Trait – Perfectly Adapted: Once per battle round you can re-roll a single hit roll, wound roll, damage roll, Advance roll, charge roll, or saving throw made for your Warlord. Effectively a free CP to spend each round until your warlord dies. Pretty much always useful, and a nice efficiency choice. B+

Relic – Slayer Sabers: Replaces monstrous boneswords with a weapon that has a chance to kill a wounded but surviving INFANTRY or BIKER model by rolling higher than their remaining wounds on a d3. It’s astoundingly hard to trigger usefully and you should almost never take it. D

Stratagem – War on All Fronts (1 CP): Select an enemy unit within 1” of a LEVIATHAN unit that can FLY and one that cannot; all LEVIATHAN units attacking that unit during the Fight Phase can re-roll hit and wound rolls of 1. Getting all the pieces necessary to make this happen can be pretty complicated, but the result effectively increases the number of attacks by 36%. B- 

Appropriately used Leviathan can be an very effective hive fleet, especially when applied to massive banks of wounds such as a carpet of cheap bugs. The presence of a 6+ Feel No Pain effectively increases the wounds of every force by 20%, and the warlord trait is strong. This trait is also a perfect example of the massive power disparity between new and old books, when you consider that Iron Hands get a 6+ FNP without stipulations in addition to other bonuses. 

Gorgon

Adaptation – Adaptive Toxins: Re-roll wound rolls of 1 in the Fight phase. A straight 17% increase in the number of wounds dealt isn’t a bad thing. B+

Warlord Trait – Lethal Miasma: At the end of the Fight phase roll a d6 for each enemy unit within 1” of the Warlord; they take a mortal wound on a 4+. Situational power which requires your opponent to have survived, and will almost never do enough. D

Relic – Hyper-Adaptive Biology: Add 1 to the Toughness characteristic of the bearer from the end of the first phase in which the model suffers any wounds. Other armies get the bonus without enduring such a convoluted requirement, but it does get you to the important T8 break point on a Hive Tyrant which isn’t nothing. C

Stratagem – Hyper Toxicity (1 CP): A unit with the toxin sacs biomorph will cause 1 additional damage on a wound roll of 5+ instead of 6+. The downside to this ability is that you have to field toxin sacs, which are very expensive. C

While the adaptation benefit for Gorgon is solid when used in a melee-oriented army, murdering stuff in assault isn’t a major issue for Tyranids. They suffer from being fragile and needing to quickly get into contact with the enemy. With that in mind, Gorgon doesn’t see much use in competitive play.

Jormungandr

Adaptation – Tunnel Networks: Units always have the benefit of cover for the purposes of shooting attacks, unless the unit Advances, charges, or has the FLY keyword. Bonuses to saving throws are fantastic and while this ability does hamper movement somewhat it works great for units that intend to be stationary or focus on shooting. B+

Warlord Trait – Insidious Threat: Denies the cover bonus to saving throws (but nothing else) for units within 3” of the Warlord. A pretty milquetoast ability given the range and limited utility. C-

Relic – Infrasonic Roar: Enemy units within 6” of the bearer must subtract 1 from their Leadership. Marginal leadership effects are basically never good. F

Stratagem – The Enemy Below (1 CP): You can choose to set up an INFANTRY unit “within tunnels” instead of deploying normally. When you set up a unit of Raveners, Mawloc, Trygon, or a Trygon Prime you can also set up any number of units from the tunnels. They must be wholly within 3” of the burrowing unit and more than 9” away from any enemy units. This is a great way to deploy additional units, assuming you have space. B

Jormungandr’s adaptation would be fantastic if it didn’t force the army to slow down, as improving armour saves is a great way to enhance survivability. That said, like Gorgon and Behemoth there are are other hive fleets that do the same thing and do it better. It is worth noting that, as they are INFANTRY, The Enemy Below can be used to deploy Neurothropes and Zoanthropes in range of the enemy to attack with Smite or Psychic Barrage. 

Jormungandr offers another very powerful plus side, cover to all of your big bugs. There are many ways to play Tyranids, and Jormungandr wants to go the elite route.  Tyranid Warriors, HIve Guard, Tyranofaxs, even Malcereptors and Exocrines love this Hive fleet. It gives our big bugs the option to get down to a 2+ save, as cover is incredibly hard for our biggest bugs to find. It also allows units like Genestealers and Tyranid warriors to get down to a 3+ save at times. Not only that but being able to deliver units that were previously undeliverable, like Pyrovores or a Brood Lord, allows us the options to put unique pressures onto our opponents. 

Hydra

Adaptation – Swarming Instincts: Units targeting enemy units with fewer models re-roll hit rolls in the Fight phase. You’re basically obligated to use large units to get any benefit from this and they’re probably better as Kraken or Leviathan. Also doesn’t work on characters or monsters, which leaves this looking very sad. D

Warlord Trait – Endless Regeneration: At the beginning of each turn roll a die for each wound the Warlord has lost; on a 6+ the Warlord regains a wound. A constantly refreshing 6+ FNP, but has a high probability of never being successful. C

Relic – Slimer Maggot Infestation: Replaces a pair of deathspitters with slimer maggots with a weapon that can re-roll failed wound rolls. Pretty mediocre for a Relic. C-

Stratagem – Endless Swarm (2 CP): Technically this Stratagem applies to everyone, but Hydra gets an advantage in that they can bring back ANY unit with the INFANTRY keyword instead of just Termagants, Hormagaunts, or Gargoyles. This includes Hive Guard, Zoanthropes, and Genestealers. Which would be great if you weren’t forced to pay reinforcement points for them. Paying reinforcement points in the Tyranid codex is bad for two reasons. First, you’re forcing yourself to pay a premium in the form of Command Points for something you could have added for free. Second, it’s entirely possible that you never get to use those reinforcement points depending on the circumstances. While some Stratagems utilize reinforcement points in a logical manner, such as the Assassin Stratagem, this is not the case here. Because of this, you are almost always better off just spending the points up-front on your army. F- 

Hydra’s “amazing” Stratagem (LOL) isn’t remotely offset by the mediocre adaptation, trait, or Relic. In general, the survivability bonus from Leviathan or the speed bonus from Kraken is going to be more useful than the situational benefit of re-rolling hits in the Fight phase against smaller units, and those traits have the advantage of actually applying to one-model units. 

I’d be remiss, if I didn’t write about how to use one of the most interesting, (worst) stratagems in the game. So, HMO! The -coolest- stratagem in the entire book is right here. Why you ask? Because there is no turn limit for when you are able to bring these “reserves” in. Imagine this, dear reader, your brick of 30 hormagaunts, after valiantly and mightily locking down your friends guard shooting line, finally get killed by their pointy sticks. You play the rest of your game, pushing, smiting, and shooting your way to a close game. When suddenly, as if prophesied by some multi-armed prophet, all 30 hooky-gaunts come pouring off your opponents table edge, staring down their objectives and whats left of their guns. You go for the big charge, making it, and now you have a massive grouping of models covering all the objectives in their deployment zone. Then , the game ends before they have a chance to respond, bringing you sweet buggy victory. (This strat is bad, and don’t use it, but you could…..) 

Kronos

Adaptation – Bio Barrage: Re-roll hit rolls of 1 in the Shooting phase if the unit did not move in the preceding Movement phase. Works great on long-range units but kills the mobility of the force. However, almost always the best choice on the units that really want it. A

Warlord Trait – Soul Hunger: Whenever an enemy PSYKER fails a psychic test within 18” of your warlord they take d3 mortal wounds. Against forces with heavy psykers, Kronos will absolutely shut them down, but against other forces this ability is useless. (although an effect this situational doesn’t really work well on a grading scale)

Relic – Balethorn Cannon: Replaces a stranglethorn cannon with a gun that can ignore invulnerable saves. Useful against targets with high invulnerable saves or no armour save like Genestealers or Daemons, but has the perenial problem of situational relic weapons that against anything else you’ve paid points to unlock it for nothing C+

Stratagem – The Deepest Shadow (1 CP): When an enemy PSYKER within 24” of a Kronos unit attempts to manifest a power, you can force them to only roll a single dice. Pretty much the ultimate denial ability, and one of the best strats in the game. Especially funny deployed via a Spore Mine a Biovore has lobbed over. A+

Kronos is a perfect option as a detachment in a souped-up Tyranid list. Fielding a Spearhead of Dakkafexes with a Neurothrope HQ can produce a reliable and devastating amount of firepower, and the mobility deficiencies can easily be offset by fielding other detachments with Kraken troops. Kraken/Kronos is one of the more potent choices for pure Tyranids.

I thoroughly love this hive fleet. The things that you want to take in here are Hive Guard, Biovores, and Cannon-Tyranofexes. These are the units that can benefit a ton from the trait. Not moving is hard for nids, but sometimes you just gotta stand still and shoot some Bugs at people. The lack of re-rolls in the bug book is noticeable, so being able to find units that want to stand still and shoot everyone down is one of the goals here. 

Biomorphs

The majority of Tyranid units have access to several biomorphs which can be used to make units faster, more lethal, or harder to kill. In general, biomorphs are more useful on larger models which can make better use of the bonus; smaller models like Hormagaunts are generally better off without any additions to keep them cheap.

Adrenal glands cost 5 points for MONSTERS and 1 point for everyone else. This biomorph adds 1” to all Advance and charge rolls, making it particularly useful for melee-oriented units like Trygons. Also a must-take on Winged Hive Tyrants to up their charge out of Deep Strike.

Chitin thorns cost 1 point. At the end of every Fight phase, you roll a die for each enemy unit within 1” of any models with chitin thorns; on a 6 they take a mortal wound. Note that this is per unit, not per model, and that having multiple units with chitin thorns around an enemy unit does not provide any additional rolls. Not worth the point.

Enhanced senses cost 10 points and provide a 3+ BS to Carnifexes that are equipped with it. Very useful for Dakkafexes.

Extended carapace costs 2 points per model and provides a 4+ Save characteristic to a Genestealer at the expense of losing Swift and Deadly (their advance and charge ability. Do not buy this.

Spore cysts cost 10 points and cause all ranged attacks to have a -1 to hit penalty against the unit. It does not stack with the Shrouding Spores effect from units like Venomthropes. Also very useful on Dakkafexes. 

Toxin sacs cost between 1 and 8 points depending on the unit. A wound roll of 6+ on a melee attack increases the Damage characteristic by 1. Not worth the points.

Tusks cost 8 points and add 1 to the Attack characteristics of Carnifexes that charged. This is a pretty decent option for melee-oriented Carnifexes (especially ones for Kraken) as you already want to charge a Carnifex to activate the Living Battering Ram ability.

Monstrous Weapon Options

Large models such as Hive Tyrants and Carnifexes have access to a large number of monstrous weapons. These include four melee options and four ranged options. For most of these you can pick two of the same; the exceptions are the two “cannon” options (stranglethorn cannon and heavy venom cannon), which a unit can only have one of total.

Monstrous scything talons cost between 14 and 20 points depending on who wields them and how many are used. They allow the model to re-roll hit rolls of 1, and if more than one pair is used the model gets an extra attack. They hit at the strength of the user, -3 AP, and deal a flat 3 damage each.

Monstrous rending claws are free. They hit at the user’s strength, have an AP of -3, and deal 1d3 damage. They allow for failed wound rolls to be re-rolled, and on a wound roll of 6+ they have an AP of -6 and do a flat 3 damage. Being free makes these outrageously good and taking any other melee weapon a really hard sell.

Monstrous boneswords cost 20 points. They use the user’s strength, have an AP of -2, deal 3 damage, and grant an extra attack.

The final melee option is the lash whip and monstrous bonesword which costs 15 points. They hit at the user’s strength, have a -2 AP, and deal a fixed 3 damage. If the bearer dies in the Fight phase before it has attacked then the unit is not removed until after it has made its attacks.

Two deathspitters with slimer maggots cost 14 points. Each of the deathspitters is an Assault 3 weapons with S7, AP -1, and deals 1 damage. The range is 24”, giving them a slight range advantage over devourers. 

Two devourers with brainleech worms cost 14 points. As with deathspitters you buy them in pairs, and each devourer is an Assault 6 weapon with an 18” range and hits at S6 with no AP and 1 damage. Carnifexes carrying four devourers and enhanced senses are very common and colloquially known as “Dakkafexes”. 

A stranglethorn cannon is 25 points and is an Assault D6 weapon that hits at S7 with AP -1 and 2 damage at a range of 36”. Against units with 10 or more models, the cannon provides a +1 bonus to hit. 

The heavy venom cannon is 25 points and is an Assault D3 weapon that hits at S9, AP -2, and does a fixed 3 damage. Its range is 36”, making it one of the longest ranged and hardest hitting weapons available to Tyranids. 

Of the melee options, the most common are scything talons or free rending claws. Rending claws pair well with a ranged weapon like a heavy venom cannon or the devourers to provide a balanced platform. For purely ranged option four devourers with brainleech worms is a very effective combination, providing 24 shots with an 18” range. Even with the improved strength and armour penetration, the benefit of having twice as many shots generally makes the devourers preferable to the deathspitters. 

Units

The following section contains some discussions on some of the more effective units in the Tyranid army list. Any references to percentages of competitive lists are from data collected from all Tyranid lists that were featured in the top 4 of competitive events since March (4 lists total) along with any Top 4 Genestealer Cult list that included a Tyranid detachment since June (15 total).  

Tyranid Units in 2019 Competitive Lists

Unit# Units# Lists% ListsPoints% Points
Grand Total16419100%21949100.00%
Ripper Swarms251579%7573.45%
Broodlord191579%21859.95%
Genestealers271368%586826.73%
The Swarmlord111158%275012.53%
Neurothrope13947%11505.24%
Termagants22737%232010.57%
Zoanthropes15526%19328.80%
Malanthropes5526%7003.19%
Hive Guard4421%10985.00%
Tyranid Prime2211%1510.69%
Old One Eye2211%4001.82%
Carnifexes6211%9224.20%
Venomthropes115%1200.55%
Tyrannofex115%1850.84%
Tyrannocyte115%1000.46%
Tyranid Warriors115%2661.21%
Mawloc115%1040.47%
Lictor215%680.31%
Hormagaunts115%1150.52%
Hive Tyrant215%4081.86%
Biovores315%3501.59%

As you can see the armies were heavily skewed in favor of Ripper Swarms, Broodlords, Genestealers, and The Swarmlord. The majority of lists included all four units in a Kraken battalion, typically in the configuration of two large squads of Genestealers and a minimum sized Ripper Swarm squad. This is a very aggressive combination that allows the player to rapidly advance Genestealers in a first turn charge, often bolstered with Catalyst to improve their survivability. 

Units in Competitive 2019 Tyranid Only Lists

Unit# Units# Lists% ListsPoints% Points
Grand Total594100%7999100.00%
Ripper Swarms74100%2533.16%
Genestealers84100%177622.20%
Broodlord64100%6908.63%
Termagants7375%7329.15%
Neurothrope5375%4505.63%
The Swarmlord2250%5006.25%
Malanthropes2250%2803.50%
Hive Guard2250%5226.53%
Carnifexes6250%92211.53%
Tyrannofex1125%1852.31%
Tyrannocyte1125%1001.25%
Tyranid Warriors1125%2663.33%
Tyranid Prime1125%780.98%
Old One Eye1125%2002.50%
Mawloc1125%1041.30%
Lictor2125%680.85%
Hormagaunts1125%1151.44%
Hive Tyrant2125%4085.10%
Biovores3125%3504.38%

Of all the armies that made it to a Top 4 showing, only four were composed entirely of Tyranids. The distribution of units can be seen above; as with the soup lists all featured Ripper Swarms and Genestealers, but a majority also incorporated Termagants (primarily armed with fleshborers), Broodlords, and Neurothropes.

HQ

Broodlord

Broodlords are by far the most prevalent Tyranid HQ in competitive play, with 79% of every list analyzed including at least one of them. As with all Genestealers Broodlords can Advance and charge in the same turn thanks to its Swift and Deadly ability, meaning its threat range for assault is 8” + 3d6”. Where Broodlords shine is in their ability to boost nearby units. All <HIVE FLEET> Genestealers within 6” get a +1 to hit bonus thanks to the Brood Telepathy ability. They are also psykers and can make one cast and deny attempt per round. Often Broodlords use Catalyst to provide a nearby Genestealer unit with a 5+ Feel No Pain. 

Although tough, they are not invincible. Enemy snipers will go out of their way to target Broodlords and bring them down, as their saves are poor, so it’s important to use proper screening and take advantage of line of sight blockers. Broodlords synergize extremely well with the bonuses provided by Kraken, as the option to roll three dice and pick the highest for Advancing is massive benefit. 

Hive Tyrant

Credit: BuffaloChicken

The iconic Hive Tyrant did not see much use in competitive 40K, with only one list featuring a pair of them. A Hive Tyrant can be extremely flexible. It can replace either pair of monstrous scything talons with any option from the monstrous bio-weapons or monstrous bio-cannons. The combination of monstrous rending claws and a venom cannon can provide a lot of balance and flexibility. Alternatively, you could fit out four devourers and fire 24 shots a turn, or combine the venom cannon and devourers for a dual shooting threat build. Shawn Prosser won 4th place in the Desert Rat GT using a list that included two Hive Tyrants. The first had boneswords and a venom cannon while the second had wings and four devourers.

These big bugs are a blast to run around with. They are a make-your-own murder monster. Currently, playing Nidzilla is a really hard sell thanks to all the high AP in the game. Thankfully, since these guys have a 4++ invuln they are able to weather some shooting as they march up the table. They aren’t the auto-include they were at the start of the edition, but whether by air or by ground, they are a threat that needs to be dealt with. I currently play mine with Wings, a Devourer, and Monstrous Rending Claws.

Wings Note: Poor Hive Tyrants – victims of a nerf that looked necessary at the time but was wildly heavy handed in hindsight. It’s always worth keeping an eye on them nonetheless – they have a great array of abilities, and any sort of point change or buff that makes nids more widely viable will have these back on the table in a heartbeat.

The Swarmlord

The Swarmlord is one of the most popular HQs used in Genestealer-heavy armies. As a Hive Tyrant it’s deadly in close combat, but where The Swarmlord really shines is in its support characteristics. In addition to being a psyker, a Synapse creature with an 18” range, and the Shadow in the Warp ability, The Swarmlord can compel a nearby unit to move again using its Hive Commander ability. In the Shooting phase, a friendly <HIVE FLEET unit> within 6” can move (and Advance) as if it were the Movement phase instead of shooting. This practically guarantees a first turn charge for a Genestealer unit and is one of the reasons The Swarmlord is featured so heavily in competitive play, almost always as KRAKEN. 

Neurothrope

Neurothropes are the third most common HQ seen in competitive lists. Their stats aren’t the best, but at 90 points each they work great as psykers, and their 3++ makes them a pain to shift. They can manifest two powers, deny one, and know one power in addition to Smite. Their Spirit Leech ability allows them to heal a wound on a friendly <HIVE FLEET> ZOANTHROPE within 6” every time they slaw a model using Smite, and their Warp Siphon ability allows nearby ZOANTHROPES to re-roll rolls of 1 when taking Psychic tests. This can provide a significant improvement in the probability of getting off subsequent manifestations of Smite and also minimizes the chances of a Perils of the Warp result.

This is my go-to HQ unit. Being a Zoanthrope himself, he also re-rolls ones for his own spells. Not only that, but making him your warlord allows you a durable hidden unit that is able to rain smites or psychic screams down onto people. Also, due to their durability this makes a great choice for the Norn Crown artifact. 

Tyranid Prime

Tyranid Primes are flexible, low-cost HQ choices that generally don’t see much use in competitive play. They’re toughened warriors who can’t take any fun gun options and can serve as a cheap source of Synapse along with Shadow in the Warp. Their Alpha Warrior ability allows nearby Tyranid Warrior units to add 1 to their hit rolls. Tyranid Primes don’t see much use on account of primarily being a boost to Tyranid Warriors, which compete with cheaper Troop options like Ripper Swarms or melee-oriented threats like Genestealers. Only two competitive lists included a Tyranid Prime, including one list which inexplicably didn’t include any warriors.

Our version of a close-combat bully. Give him a devourer, some rending claws and he can baby sit your back field. Don’t expect this try-hard to carry the day all alone, as he is best taken as an HQ tax filler. I’ve found an interesting build to be putting him in deep strike with some Raveners along with a maxed out squad of Tyranid Warriors equipped with devourers and rending claws. It can be pricey, but having 27 shots pop up hitting on 3’s and a threatening close combat unit that now hits on a 2+, is a tasty threat to present people. 

Old One Eye

Old One Eye is a brutal, single-minded murder machine. For 200 points you get a rampaging Carnifex that moves 9”, has a 3+ WS (but will almost always be on +2 to hit thanks to its abilities), S7, T7, 9 wounds, 5 attacks, and a 3+ save. Fellow Carnifexes around him will get a +1 to hit in the Fight phase thanks to Alpha Leader, and on the charge, Old One Eye himself gets an additional +1 to hit and will deal 1d3 mortal wounds to an enemy on a 4+ thanks to Immortal Battering Ram. Where he’s particularly terrifying is with Berserk Rampage, which deals an additional attack every time a 6+ is made to hit. Thanks to Old One Eye’s bonuses, that’s every result of a 4+ (or 5+ with crushing claws) on the charge. Depending on the target he can either hit with his monstrous crushing claws (S14, -1 to hit) or scything talons (S7, re-roll hits of 1). He also gets an additional 1d3 attacks with a S4 thresher scythe, useful when taking on hordes. Finally, he can use Regeneration to regain one wound each turn.

While Old One Eye is pretty powerful, he’s nowhere near the level of a Smash Captain. Typically OOE takes around three turns to have a greater than 50% chance of killing a Knight. In comparison, a top tier Smash Captain will only take a single round of combat to kill the same target the majority of the time. The best way to optimise Old One Eye is to use the Voracious Appetite stratagem so you can attack effectively with the scything talons, maximising the extra attacks.

Malanthrope (Forgeworld)

Five competitive lists placed while bringing a Malanthrope. Although generally weak and easy to kill, it is featured in competitive play because it has the Shrouding Spores ability which imposes a -1 to hit penalty on all attacks that target <HIVE FLEET> models within 3”. This, combined with its Synapse ability and CHARACTER keyword, makes it great for supporting ranged units. It does not stack with other spore abilities like the cloud from Toxicrenes or the carapace option for Carnifexes. If you do manage to get a Malanthrope near the enemy it has an army-wide bonus called Prey Adaptation. If the last model in an enemy unit is slain within 1” of a Malanthrope in the Fight phase then all <HIVE FLEET> may re-roll hit rolls of 1 against all models that share a Faction keyword with the slain enemy for the rest of the battle. If you wipe you a squadron of Halflings all IMPERIUM units are now taking 17% more hits. This is a pretty risky thing to do, as the Malanthrope is both fragile and expensive, but the upside is huge if you pull it off. 

Oh Malanthropes. The floaty balloon daddies of the bug races. These guys are just amazing go to units that provide a utility that is almost required into the golden days of today’s shooting lists. I cannot take a list without including one of these. Interesting call outs are that this HQ unit can be taken in a unit of up to 3, as well as its ability of -1 to hit applies directly to MONSTERS, as well as to general infantry. Normally only Venomthropes of units of 4 or more are able to provide the -1 to hit to bigger bugs, so having this guy around really can help out.

 

Tervigon

No Tervigon was featured in a top list. The Tervigon is an interesting (read: suboptimal) HQ choice for the Tyranids. Tervigons are purely a durable support roll that is just threatening enough in CC to dissuade light to medium close combat threats from approaching. They cost as much as a tank, have the same toughness and armour save as a tank, and die just as quickly as a tank without an invulnerable save. The primary use of the Tervigon is to support Termagants. The Brood Progenitor ability allows friendly <HIVE FLEET> Termagants within range re-roll hit rolls of 1 when shooting, This is one of the few re-roll bubbles available to Tyranids, even if it is limited to Termagants. The Spawn Termagants ability unsurprisingly allows them to spawn a new unit of 10 Termagants (this will cost you reinforcement points so it is never used, see the Endless Swarm Stratagem entry for why) or refill an existing unit that is within range, but the Tervigon may inexplicably only replace models armed with fleshborers. This means that if you paid the premium for devourers then Tervigons are useless to you, although the vast majority of competitive lists used fleshborers so that isn’t a massive issue.

Troops

Tyranid Warriors

Elite Bulky Lads – Credit: Gunum

These are the “durable” troops, doubling as elite fighters as well as Synapse providers. They’re 20 points each and have Primaris Marine stats with one more wound and one less BS. Given the Space Marine meta, particularly with Primaris models, T4 and a 4+ save isn’t super resilient even with multiple wounds. The only Top 4 army list that contained Tyranid Warriors was Josh McMillan’s entry that won 2nd place in the Battle in the Bush. Josh’s list featured a unit of 9 Tyranid Warriors containing 7 deathspitters and 2 venom cannons, and was part of a Jormungandr detachment. Unfortunately, that list predated the influx of Space Marine armies which has rendered most T4 units pretty fragile.

Genestealers

Credit: Kevin “Beer4TheBeerGod” Genson

Genestealers and Ripper Swarms were found in the vast majority of competitive lists, but for very different reasons. Genestealers are a pure offense. They’re fast, fragile, and incredibly lethal when they manage to get into assault. A max-sized unit of Genestealers will deal 80 attacks, and thanks to the Swift and Deadly rule they can Advance and still charge. A Kraken Genestealer unit supported by The Swarmlord will move an average of 26”, or possibly 31” when Opportunistic Advance is used in the Movement phase, and will flay most things into the ground.

For every four models you use the option to take a free acid maw for additional AP, but the other options are either traps that cost too much or (in the case of Extended Carapace) an incredibly terrible choice that eliminates the only reason to bring Genestealers. So keep them cheap and bring a bunch. Be warned that Genestealers are extremely vulnerable to effects that reduce movement, like Thunderfire Cannons.

Nick Nanavati goes over a really solid understanding of the basics of Tyranid play for Genestealers here, including how to combine Genestealers and The Swarmlord with Overrun and Adrenaline Surge to either avoid combat or tag your enemies. He also goes over a means of using a second screening line of tough, elite units to mitigate the effect.

Termagants

Usually Seen in Groups of Twenty or More – Credit: Gunum

Termagants are a cheap source of disposable firepower. Taken cheap, with just a fleshborer and no biomorphs, they can overwhelm the enemy with bodies and projected beetle bullets. Like Genestealers, they’re usually best taken without any additional toys. Of the 8 lists that used Termagants, only one used a squad equipped with devourers, and no list used biomorphs or spinefists. Their Hail of Living Ammunition ability allows wound rolls of 1 to be re-rolled (a 17% increase in damage) if the unit contains 20 or more models, which is one of the reasons why Termagants are generally taken so cheaply. While devourers have more range and three shots for double the cost of a Termagant armed with a fleshborer, they’ll effectively have half the wounds in a unit that has paper for armour. Termagants can be resurrected using the Endless Swarm Stratagem. 

Ripper Swarms

Ripper Swarms are fantastic objective holders. They’re cheap (33 points for a minimum squad of 3), they have a bunch of wounds, and they can use Burrowers to appear anywhere on the battlefield. And… that’s about it. They’re used in nearly every competitive list specifically because they’re so cheap and easy to field. Note that because Ripper Swarms are a SWARM unit and not INFANTRY they are subject to a myriad of dumb interactions with the terrain rules. They do not receive the benefit of cover from ruins or woods unless 50% of every model is obscured. They aren’t even mentioned in the rules for ruins about scaling walls and traversing through floors and walls of a ruin without impediment, and finally, they gain no benefit from craters or barricades. Keep that in mind when using them, although thankfully they’re low to the ground and likely to be obscured. 

Hormagaunts

Hormagaunts are even more disposable fodder than Termagants. They’re extremely fast, extremely fragile, and serve as mobile roadblocks. Used in squads of 30 so that they survive long enough to have Hungering Swarm re-roll wound rolls of 1 in the Fight phase, they can also use Bounding Leap to pile in and consolidate up to 6” to surround anything that needs to be wrapped up. Their job isn’t to kill things though, their job is to die and get their hooky hugs onto units who don’t want to be touched.  Unfortunately, the significant number of superior Troop options leaves Hormagaunts by the wayside; only a single Top 4 list fielded them. 

This unit when taking in a larger group of 30 models, allows for a grand target to focus some buffs on. Stacking the trifecta of spells onto this big unit of Dominion, Catalyst, and Onslaught as well as being Kraken will give you some real, -REAL- movement. Move 8”, run 3d6 pick highest (6 just cause) double it with Opportunistic Advance to 12, +1 thanks to Adrenal glands, we are now at 21’ move. Now, move them a second time for another 14” of movement with The Swarm Lord and look at your opponent’s face as their board is now covered in these hooky bugs, who are now ready to charge, who are also fearless, who ALSO have a 5+++ save. Gotta go FAST at 35” of movement on turn one, not including the charge that will be coming. Once they do make this fearless charge, we are able to pay 1 CP for Acid Blood that allows each popped bug to possibly do a mortal wound on a 6+. These can be a very cheap unit that can touch the entire battle line with their 6” consolidation. 

Elite

Hive Guard

Hive Guard combines an Aggressor stat line with slightly worse saves and long-range guns. One in four competitive lists featured them, which makes sense given their unique role as long-range anti-tank firepower. Both weapon options were fielded in tournaments. Impaler cannons (48 points per mode) are heavy weapons that ignore line of sight and cover, making them useful for taking out hidden threats like Thunderfire Cannons or enemy vehicles. Shockcannons (39 points per model) are shorter range assault weapons with a haywire effect; against VEHICLE targets they deal extra mortal wounds. As you can see in the image below the additional mortal wounds makes shockcannons better anti-tank weapons when compared to impaler cannons, but spending 234 points for a 12% chance of killing a Repulsor in one turn isn’t going to cut it for competitive play. 

Hive Guard are significantly more effective against lighter armoured threats like Thunderfire Cannons, Eliminators, or other forces that pose a specific threat to key parts of your army. They can also serve as a means to wipe out screens and allow your charging Genestealers or other units to get at the core of your opponent’s army. As a result, Impaler-equipped Kronos Hive Guard are particularly appealing.

Wings Note: The big draw here is that these are by far the best users of Single Minded Annihilation, which is an extremely pushed stratagem cost-wise and the main reason to use these. It makes impaler cannons especially effective as staying out of LOS maximizes the chance of getting multiple turns of goodness from them.

Lictor

For 34 points the Lictor is a fairly cheap way of filling out a brigade, but you don’t get much for those points. In the fluff, it’s a highly lethal ambush predator that’s an absolute terror. In actual 40K it’s likely to get screened out, and even if it does ambush something it will be lucky a single attack through and deal a few points of damage. It does at least have a good chance of charging in the turn it arrives thanks to Hidden Hunter allowing it to re-roll the charge.

Lictors theoretically proved an alternate deployment path for other deep strikers with the Pheromone Trail Stratagem, which would be great if it weren’t for three significant problems. First, you can’t simply put a unit in reserve. It has to be reserved using something like the Trygon’s ability or the Jormungandr Stratagem. Second, it doesn’t work with the Genestealer Infestation ability. Third, the Endless Swarm Stratagem requires you to pay reinforcement points for the unit that’s being replaced. In other words as cool as Pheromone Trail is, there’s no real way to use it

Zoanthropes

Zoanthropes are a high-quality unit that’s featured extensively in competitive lists. They offer two major advantages. First, they’re psykers that get a massive boost to Smite in the form of extra range and additional damage based on the number of models in the unit. We’ve done the math and the benefit of getting a unit to 4 Zoanthropes is significant. Second, three Zoanthrope units can work together to unleash Psychic Barrage for 1 CP. This Stratagem produces an effect where every model within 3” of a target point takes 3d3 mortal wounds if they roll a 4+ (modified for CHARACTERS and larger units). This makes them a key offensive unit, and a Leviathan detachment of a Neurothrope and three units of four Zoanthropes is a very lethal combination. Four of the nineteen lists analyzed included that combination; three as Leviathan and one as Kraken.

The Rest

  • Venomthropes: Only one list included Venomthropes, which have nearly the same effect as a Malanthrope (they cannot protect MONSTERS unless they have three or more models in the unit) without any of the protection for being a CHARACTER or the army-wide bonus if a unit is murdered near them. They’re also not as tough and lack the Synapse and Shadow in the Warp benefits of Tyranid HQs. They do have is a greater area of effect (6” per model instead of 3” for a Malanthrope), are cheaper in terms of points, but this doesn’t add up – without any character protection, they’re far too easy to kill.
  • Tyrant Guard: Tyrant Guard seem like a challenge to use effectively. They’re dedicated assault units which can be used to protect a Hive Tyrant like The Swarmlord, but they cost a lot of points.
  • Deathleaper: Deathleaper suffers from all of the issues associated with Lictors, but costs even more to have those problems. Deathleaper lacks the offensive capability to be a real threat to a character, and any opponent worth facing is going to screen their units anyway.
  • Pyrovores: Tyranids don’t lack for units with close-ranged shooting, and the combination of low toughness and poor armour save makes these units easy targets.
  • Haruspex: Unquestionably one of the most disgusting models Games Workshop has ever made, the Haruspex is a tank-sized (T8/3+) melee-oriented unit which has a frustratingly bad WS (4+). It can either have 4d3 attacks against light targets or 4 double-strength attacks for larger threats, but when half your attacks miss it’s not worth the effort.

He’s Really Trying to Diet – Credit: Gunum

  • Maleceptor: Maleceptors are an odd breed. They’re a melee-oriented psyker Synapse creature with no ranged ability but a decent toughness, 12 wounds, and a 4+ invulnerable save. At 160 points they’re certainly not cheap. They only have 3 attacks that hit on a 4+, so they seem like a hybrid unit that’s okay at several things but not great at anything.

Credit: BuffaloChicken

The Hear Me Out unit of the entire book. I absolutely love this unit. It’s a psyker, it has an Invulnerable save of a 4+ and it has a 1d6 damage close combat weapon. The thing that makes the Maleceptor unique, is that it can give up its psychic phase to do a mortal wound to every enemy unit within 6” on a roll of a 2+. On a roll of a 6+ that very same unit takes 3 mortal wounds instead. A Carnifex can be a distraction, but it can be torn down by shooting or close combat weapons. The Malceeptor can stay in combat and continually dish out mortal wounds, as well as really hit whoever steps up to it with its -3 AP 1d6 damage attacks. This is the unit that I would not recommend that you bring to any real event you go to, though I definitely feel it should not be written off. 

Fast Attack

Credit: BuffaloChicken

None of the Tyranid Fast Attack choices were used in any competitive list.

  • Gargoyles: Gargoyles are Termagants that can fly and deep strike. For these abilities, they cost 50% more and lack Objective Secured, which might explain why they aren’t more popular.
  • Raveners: Deep-striking lightly armoured assault units that can be screened out and easily gunned down with a counter-attacking Stratagem like Auspex Scan aren’t a major threat in 8th Edition.
  • The Red Terror: The Red Terror suffers from the same problem as Deathleaper and any number of other deep-striking, easily screened, poorly conceived units which are impractical in competitive play.
  • Mucolid Spores, Spore Mines, Meiotic Spores (Forgeworld): One would think that Spore Mines see more play. They’re inexpensive, the Living Bomb rule means they don’t count in any way for victory points if they die, and they can serve as cheap blockers or screeners that they opponent has to deal with if they don’t want to take mortal wounds. Spore Mines (10 points each) will deal an average of 1 wound per hit, while Mucolid Spores (20 points each) and Meiotic Spores (18 points each) will average 1.9 wounds per hit. Meiotic Spores can be deployed anywhere outside of 9” away from the enemy deployment zone, making them potential screeners and blockers as well.
  • Dimachaeron (Forgeworld): Possibly one of the fastest ground units in the game, with a 12″ move and the ability to ignore vertical distance with the Leaper-killer ability and its platform hoofs. It’s extremely nasty in assault, and when it kills an INFANTRY model it gets a 5+ invulnerable. Very much a glass cannon with a 200 point price tag.

Definitely Lifts – Credit: Gunum

  • Sky Slasher Swarm (Forgeworld): They cost more in dollars than they do in points, and aside from screening they don’t seem to have a purpose. Maybe if they were Troops.
  • Shrike (Forgeworld): Warriors with wings, meaning all of the vulnerability and none of the Objective Secured.

Heavy Support

Carnifexes, Screamer-Killers, Thornbacks, Stone-Crusher (Forgeworld)

Carnifexes

Carnifexes. Photo: That Gobbo

The concept of the “Distraction Carnifex” doesn’t hold the impact that it used to. Carnifexes in 8th Edition lacks the toughness, wounds, and saves to survive in a meta full of T8/3+ targets. The cheapest Carnifex you can buy is 82 points. For that price, you get 5 attacks that hit on 3s with S6, AP -3, 3 damage attacks. The challenge is finding a balance between cost and utility. Do you get an extra attack for 8 points? What about adrenal glands for 5? What about another attack with a bone mace for 2 or thresher scythe for 8? What about spore cysts for 10 points so you are -1 to hit? The Carnifex is an incredibly flexible kit but it’s very easy to fall into the trap of giving them every possible upgrade. 

Six Carnifex units were featured in a total of two competitive lists, and every single one of them was a “Dakkafex” configuration with two pairs of devourers, enhanced senses, and spore cysts. In that configuration they’re fairly terrifying, getting 24 S6 shots hitting with a 3+ for 115 points. With Pathogenic Slime those shots are all 2 damage each. While the iconic Tyranid Carnifex is a charging ball of alien malice intent on crushing all before it, what actually works in 8th Edition is something closer to a highly mobile organic bullet hose.

There are four alternate Datasheets that are separate from the core Carnifex. The Screamer-Killer costs 105 points but comes with an 18” assault weapon, and it’s nastier in morale. The Thornback is 103 points for a hybrid combination of melee and ranged that isn’t good. The Stone-Crusher starts at 100 points for a dedicated melee build which takes on VEHICLE or (lol) BUILDING units with 4 attacks hitting on 4+ (no bonus for charging) at S12, AP -3, and 1d6 damage that re-roll failed hit and wound rolls. For 7 points more the Stone Crusher can lose the re-roll to hit vehicles to instead deal a S6, AP -1, 2 damage attack against every model within 2” along with three more S12 attacks. 

Assuming you want to pay $90 for a 100 point model, the Stone-Crusher is a pretty viable threat. It will be even more devastating when boosted by Old One-Eye, who’s bonus of +1 to hit will increase the probability of a Stone-Crusher hitting the target from 75% to 89%. 

Biovores

Biovores are Tyranid artillery that launch Spore Mines up to 48” away, even against hidden targets. Each 50 point until gets a single shot per turn; on a hit they deal a single mortal wound on a 2-5 and 1d3 mortal wounds on a 6. On a miss, a single Spore Mine unit is created within 6” of the target and at least 3” away from any enemy models. This poses a dual-threat, as those Spore Mines can now block movement and require the opponent to deal with them. They;re also extremely annoying as Kronos, as they can be used to trigger The Deepest Shadow. Josh McMillan’s 2nd place army at the Battle of the Bush included 7 Biovores in a Kronos detachment.

Tyrannofex

Definitely Brings the Big Gun – Credit: Gunum

There’s only one example of a Tyrannofex being used in a top 4 list, but it offers a lot of potentials. The Tyrannofex is a big, nasty bug that has the toughness of a tank and an 18” auto-hitting acid spray attack that allows it to completely ignore Instinctive Behavior. When stationary it can shoot twice, and so long as it doesn’t advance, it suffers no penalties for firing heavy weapons. Deploy it with a Tyrannocyte and you have a very, very nasty threat that will force your opponent to react. Another option is to keep it in the backline with the rupture cannon, which when stationary will give the Tyrannofex 6 S10 AP-3 D1d6 shots at BS 4+. This version would require synapse support and would work well with the Kronos or Leviathan Hive Fleet adaptations. Neither option is particularly cheap and clocks in between 184 and 208 points.

Exocrine

Credit: BuffaloChicken

Although it was not included in any competitive lists, the Exocrine is a nasty threat and is priced to mvoe. When stationary it can fire its bio-plasmic cannon 12 times, hit on 3s, and potentially annihilate swaths of Primaris marines with S7 D2 shots. Unlike the Tyrannofex, the Exocrine needs Synapse support to ensure maximum effectiveness. The stationary nature of the monster, combined with the need for a Synapse creature nearby, synergize well with the Kronos and Leviathan Hive Fleet adaptations. It isn’t currently seeing play, but is one of the units in the book that’s in the weird position of only needing it to be slightly better overall to suddenly be great.

Mawloc

The Mawloc is an interesting creature. For 104 points you can have a dedicated melee unit which can appear anywhere on the battlefield that’s at least 1” away from the enemy but cannot charge on the turn you do so. Any units that are within 2” of the Mawloc when it appears, take as many as 3 mortal wounds, and if the player wishes at the beginning of any their Movement phases the Mawloc can burrow back into the ground and pop out on a later turn. This could potentially be used to secure an objective in a late turn or provide all sorts of other shenanigans. Only one Top 4 list included a Mawloc, but they’re extremely cheap for how disruptive they can be, and used to be a fixture of competitive lists before the book took a round of nerfs.

The Rest

Credit: BuffaloChicken

 

  • Toxicrene: If the Toxicrene could charge after Advancing, or had the Shrouding Spores ability of the Venomthropes and Malanthropes, it would downright terrifying. Toxicrenes are close-ranged monsters with the resiliency of a dreadnought and the ability to put out an immense quantity of attacks. When it gets sufficiently close to the enemy it can deal up 6+1d6 S7 AP-2 D1d3 attacks over the shooting and melee phase that all re-roll wounds. The problem is that at 140 points it’s a massive target that isn’t likely to survive long enough to be a threat. That’s why it’s not featured in any competitive lists.
  • Trygon, Trygon Prime: The fact that the Trygon isn’t featured in any competitive lists isn’t a function of the model’s availability; Trygons are provided in nearly every Tyranid bundle box set that Games Workshop sells. Perhaps it’s their expense at 150 points, combined with their fragility at only T6 with 12 wounds. Or maybe it’s because a deep striking assault unit with only a 28% chance of getting a charge off isn’t nearly the threat that Games Workshop thinks it is. If your list includes large numbers of shooting infantry like Termagants then using a Trygon or Trygon Prime to bring them to the battle might be worth considering. The Trygon Prime costs about 30 points more than a regular Trygon but brings its own Synapse and Shadow in the Warp effects.

Dedicated Transport

Tyrannocyte

Doom Balloons! – Credit: Gunum

For 100 points you can transport a unit of up to 20 INFANTRY or a single MONSTER with up to 14 wounds, and deep strike them onto the board. It’s a shame that only a single unit can be dropped; I’d love to see a Tyrannocyte drop 12 Zoanthropes and a Neurothrope all at once. The Tyrannocyte also brings five guns, but with a BS of 5+ the cheapest option of deathspitters is probably the best. The Maleceptor or acid spray equipped Tyrannofex seem particularly well suited for the Tyrannocyte. 

The Rest

Credit: BuffaloChicken

None of the remaining choices saw any presence in competitive play. 

Harpy and Hive Crone

Tyranid Flyers move fast but don’t get the -1 to hit penalty that other, equivalently fast but not as maneuverable flyers get. The Harpy is a dedicated ranged attack platform, able to shoot a pair of venom or stranglethorn cannons and drop up to three Spore Mines on units it flew over. The Hive Crone is an anti-air platform with a drool cannon that automatically hits its target and tentaclids which deal mortal wounds on a wound roll of 4+. At 143 points each they’re not prohibitively expensive but also not as effective as some of the other options. 

Sporocyst

Sporocysts are a Fortification that’s not a BUILDING (sorry Imperial Fists) that’s an immobile Tyrannocyte without the ability to bring friends. Instead it sits around resonating the Synapse ability of a unit within 12” (if you put two Sporocysts within 12” of each other and walk a Synapse creature by one of them they’ll permanently have the Synapse ability), spawning three Spore Mines each turn, and taking potshots at nearby units with its 15 deathspitter shots and the occasional spore node attack. At 104 points it could technically make its points back if allowed to survive for four turns.

Sporocysts are inevitably what happens when your Tyrannocyte breaks at the tentacles and you’re sick of fixing it.

Barbed Hierodule (Forgeworld)

The Barbed Hierodule is roughly the equivalent of an Imperial Knight with a better gun (12 battlecannon shots at BS 4+) and no invulnerable save. It’s too stupid to go anywhere on its own and requires Synapse supervision to avoid Instinctive Behavior penalties. In Apocalypse the Barbed Hierodule has less offensive power than a Knight but is 10 PL cheaper; it’s very difficult to kill with its 5 wounds.

 

Big Body, Terrible Eyesight. – Credit: Gunum

Scythed Hierodule (Forgeworld)

Where the Barbed Hierodule shoots guns the Scythed Hierodule spits acid and charges things. The Scythed Hierodule is not terribly priced at 410 points given that it has 8 attacks scything talon attacks at S10, has a Movement characteristic of 12”, is guaranteed to Advance an additional 6”, charges on a 3d6 (discard lowest), and can benefit from having a friendly Malanthrope around. Like the Barbed variant, it suffers from Instinctive Behaviour. In Apocalypse, it’s a (relatively) cheap Mauler which doesn’t hit as hard as a Knight but has a lot of wounds and plenty of movement. 

Harridan (Forgeworld)

The Harridan is a titanic flying transport, which is unfortunate because for 762 points the only thing it can transport are Gargoyles. It’s pretty tough and has a bunch of wounds, but with only 12 battle cannon shots or 5 attacks, it’s extremely mediocre. In Apocalypse, the Harridan is essentially a flying Knight that’s worse in an assault. 

Here be Dragons! – Credit: Gunum

Hierophant Bio-titan (Forgeworld)

You’re not going to spend 2,060 points to bring this overpriced monstrosity to 40K, so let’s talk about Apocalypse instead. The Hierophant is a NIGHTMARE in Apocalypse, with an incredible 3+ save, and an insane number of attacks. It’s pretty nasty at range, but in the assault, it will get 24 attacks to essentially slaughter anything nearby.  Better yet, every time it takes a blast market it has a chance to splash FLAMING BLOOD on nearby foes. Unfortunately, all that power comes at a price; the Bio-Titan is as expensive as a Reaver Titan and has one third the wounds. The difference is that the Hierophant saves every blast marker on a 3+ while the Reiver has a 5+ save. 

Stratagems, Traits, and Relics

Stratagems

Psychic Barrage (1 CP) – This requires three units of Zoanthropes that each contain at least three models, with one unit being within 6” of the other two. In exchange for all three units not being permitted to take any Psychic tests you select a point within 18” of and visible to all three units and then roll a d6 for each unit (friendly or enemy) within 3” of that point. The result of the die roll is modified with a +1 if the unit contains 10 or more models, and modified with a -1 if the unit is a CHARACTER. On a 4+ that unit suffers 3d3 mortal wounds. Against castles and other high value threats this power can be murder. A

Caustic Blood (1 CP) – At the start of the Fight phase you can choose a unit and, every time a model dies, on a roll of a 6 the enemy unit that killed the model takes a mortal wound. The typical exchange range for CP to mortal wounds is 1 CP for 1d3 mortal wounds, so you’ll need to expect at least 12 models to die to get your point’s worth. More useful for larger units. C

Rapid Regeneration (2 CP) – Select a unit at the end of the Movement phase to regain d3 wounds. Useful but very expensive for potentially only 1 wound. C-

Scorch Bugs (1 CP) – Add 1 to the wound roll for a unit making attacks in the Shooting phase with fleshborers or fleshborer hives. This is particularly nasty when applied to a unit of 30 Termagants, who also get to re-roll wound rolls of 1. B+

Feeder Tendrils (1 CP) – When a Genestealer, Lictor, Toxicrene, or Venomthrope kills a CHARACTER in the Fight phase you can gain 1d3 Command Points. Genestealers are great and everybody loves free Command Points, and there’s no downside to having this. B+

Implant Attack (1 CP) – After a TYRANIDS unit fights in the Fight phase you can use this stratagem to roll a dice for every non-VEHICLE model that was wounded but not slain. On a 2+ the model suffers a mortal wound. If you have an enemy unit that has 1 wound left this is a great way to finish it off, or if you’re attacking multiple units, but it won’t come up that often. C

Bounty of the Hive Fleet (1/3 CP) – Standard extra Relic ability. Tyranids have some pretty weak relics so this is actively worse than it normally is. B

Metabolic Overdrive (1 CP) – After moving in the Movement phase a unit can make a second move (including Advancing), but you must roll a die and every result of 1 inflicts a mortal wound. That unit may not shoot or make a charge move. Note that if you already Advanced that phase you do not roll the die again.

Consider using this for units that need to get closer. Things like the Malcereptor or even a Dimachaeron would love to get within charge range a turn sooner.

Single-Minded Annihilation (2 CP) – Select a TYRANIDS INFANTRY unit to shoot twice. Very nasty when applied to a unit of 30 Termagants or maxed out Hive Guard. A

Grisly Feats (1 CP) – Enemy units within 6” of a selected unit of Ripper Swarms or Haruspex must add 1 to any Morale tests. Generally you want your Ripper Swarms away from the enemy, and Morale in general isn’t really that nasty. D

Pathogenic Slime (2 CP) – Used at the start of the Shooting phase, this enables a TYRANID MONSTER unit gets a +1 to damage for all attacks. Potentially devastating when applied to high volume weapons like a Carnifex equipped with four devourers and brainleech worms or a Tyrannofex spitting Acid Spray. B+

Sporefield (3 CP) – Add up to two units of Spore mines to your army as reinforcements and set them up anywhere on the battlefield that is more than 12” from the enemy. Per the FAQ you have to pay reinforcements points for these models, which means this Stratagem is mostly useless. You are almost always better off just spending the points up-front on your army, especially given the exorbitant CP cost. F-

Invisible Hunter (1 CP) – Select a LICTOR in the Movement phase; it can Fall Back, shoot, and charge that turn. Lictors aren’t terribly powerful, but I guess this would be of use if you weren’t Kraken. D+

Power of the Hive Mind (1 CP) – At the end of the Psychic phase, select a PSYKER from your army that already manifested a power to manifest an additional one. This is mostly applicable to Hive Tyrants and The Swarmlord as every other Tyranid psyker only knows one power, but your Broodlord can use it to throw a Smite as well. B+

Pheromone Trail (1 CP) – If a LICTOR is already on the battlefield then when you set up a TYRANIDS INFANTRY unit on the battlefield as reinforcements it can be set up wholly within 6” of the Lictor and more than 9” away from any enemy models. Useful for bringing another unit into the field, as Lictors are extremely inexpensive at 34 points. Note that you cannot just put a unit in reserve to deploy via this Stratagem; it has to be in reserve from a different ability. Per the FAQ you can deploy the Lictor and the unit in the same turn; just deploy the Lictor first. The FAQ also states that it can’t work with the Genestealer Infestation ability, or with unit abilities that generate more units. It could work with Endless Swarm if reinforcement points weren’t a huge trap (as discussed). B- ( D- )

Death Frenzy (2 CP) – When a TYRANIDS CHARACTER is slain you can either shoot as if it were your Shooting phase or fight as if it were you Fight phase. The FAQ requires that you treat the model as having only one wound left, so it’s not the greatest option. B

This is made for Broodlords, without a doubt. Get those murder machines where they need to be, watch them die, then kill whoever dared touch your living blender. 

Overrun (1 CP) – After a unit destroys a unit in the Fight phase and there are no other enemy units within 3”, the unit can choose to move and Advance instead of consolidating. Great way to increase mobility and avoid getting caught in the open after a unit has been eliminated. A

Voracious Appetite (1 CP) – When a MONSTER or CHARACTER unit is chosen to attack in the Fight phase you can re-roll all failed wound rolls. Tyranids have a lot of really great melee units with a lot of attacks and this power can be a significant benefit. A

Call the Brood (3 CP) – Add a new unit of up to 5 Genestealers to your army and set them up wholly within 6” of a Broodlord or infestation node and more than 9” from enemy models. 3 CP to summon 60 points of models that you have to pay for anyway is a complete joke. F-

Adrenaline Surge (3 CP) – You can fight a second time with a unit at the end of the Fight phase. Not as great as other Stratagems that let you immediately fight again, like the Imperial Knight version, but still strong. Useful when combined with Overrun to wrap units, even if they can’t be attacked since you didn’t charge them. A

Endless Swarm (2 CP) – Recycle a unit of Termagants, Hormagaunts, Gargoyles, or any HYDRA INFANTRY and set it up as reinforcements wholly within 6” of any board edge and more than 9” away from any enemy models. It can be combined with Pheromone Trail for extra shenanigans. It would be a fantastic power that can change the course of a game, but you have to pay reinforcement points for an ability other forces effectively get for free. Paying reinforcement points in the Tyranid codex is bad for two reasons. First, you’re forcing yourself to pay a premium in the form of Command Points for something you could have added for free. Second, it’s entirely possible that you never get to use those reinforcement points depending on the circumstances. While some Stratagems utilize reinforcement points in a logical manner, such as the Assassin Stratagem, this is not the case here. Because of this, you are almost always better off just spending the points up-front on your army. F-

Digestive Denial (2 CP) – Select a piece of terrain (not a FORTIFICATION) after deployment but before the first battle round. Units within or on the terrain do not gain any bonus to their saving throws for being in cover. Situationally useful but expensive. C+

Psychic Powers

Dominion (WC 5) – A friendly unit within 36” with Instinctive Behaviour ignores the ability and automatically passes Morale tests. Useful when needed, but the consequences of Instinctive Behavior aren’t that terrible and you’ll likely want Synapse coverage for any critical units anyway. C

Catalyst (WC 6) – A friendly unit within 18” of the psyker gains a 5+ Feel No Pain. This is effectively a 40% increase in the number of wounds of the target unit and is phenomenal for hard hitting units like Genestealers. A

The Horror (WC 6) – A visible enemy unit within 24” gains a -1 to hit rolls and their Leadership characteristic. Useful against high threat units and targets. B+

Onslaught (WC 6) – Onslaught has two effects. First, a friendly unit within 18” can shoot (even if it Advanced) without penalties. The unit can move and fire heavy weapons without a penalty, and it can Advance and fire assault weapons without a penalty, but it cannot Advance and fire heavy weapons. The unit is not treated as having remained stationary. The second effect is that the unit can Advance and still charge, dramatically increasing the maneuverability of an assaulting force and alleviating one of Tyranid’s biggest problems – or it would if most armies weren’t already KRAKEN. B+

Paroxysm (WC 5) – An enemy unit within 18” of the psyker cannot fight in the Fight phase until all other units have done so. If the unit has a “fight first” ability then it instead counts as having lost that. Very situational power which against certain armies is useless. C-

Psychic Scream (WC 5) – A Smite equivalent power which has the same warp charge as Smite but will do 1d3 damage regardless of the result of the Psychic test and has a bonus ability against psykers. If the psyker is affected by the power roll two dice; if the result is higher than the target’s Leadership characteristic then it permanently loses a randomly determined psychic power. This is a great ability which complements Smite very well. A- 

Warlord Traits

Alien Cunning – At the start of the first battle round you can remove your Warlord from the battlefield and set them up again. Honestly, a pretty trash ability given that other factions can move multiple units. D

Heightened Senses – Your Warlord never suffers any penalties to their hit rolls. This basically translates to your warhead being able to Advance and fire assault weapons without penalty, and is also nasty against flyers or certain units. If you want your Hive Tyrant to be festooned with guns this isn’t the worst choice, but it’s not the best either. C+

Synaptic Lynchpin – Add 6” to the range of the Warlord’s Synapse ability. Useful for a back-line Synapse warlord who might want to cover some shooting Carnifexes. B

Mind Eater – Every time the Warlord slays a CHARACTER in the Fight phase a friendly unit within 3” can move (and Advance) as if it were the Movement phase. This is so highly situational as to be basically useless. E

Instinctive Killer – At the beginning of the battle before the first turn, choose an enemy unit. The Warlord can re-roll all failed hit rolls for attacks that target that unit or any unit with the same datasheet. This applies to both melee and shooting. Not exactly the most amazing power but useful against armies that field a lot of the same unit like Intercessors. B-

Adaptive Biology – From the end of the first phase in which this Warlord suffers any wounds, when inflicting damage on the Warlord reduce the damage of all attacks by 1 to a minimum of 1. This means that if you kill the Warlord in a single phase this ability doesn’t apply. C+

Relics

The Ymgarl Factor – At the beginning of each Fight phase the model gains either +1 Strength, +1 Attack, or +1 Toughness at randon for that phase. Applied to a generic HQ like a Broodlord it can provide a nasty boost in assault, although it would be nice if it lasted longer or wasn’t random. C-

The Reaper of Obliterax – Modifies a lash whip and bonesword (or monstrous bonesword) to inflict double damage on a wound roll of 6+. The monstrous bonesword option at least has a Damage characteristic of 3 so it could put on some hurt, but a 17% trigger probability is pretty terrible. C

I love this artifact on a Flyrant. Give the Flyrant Toxin Sacs for the +1 damage and you’re looking at 7 damage flat. When it spikes, the look your on your opponent’s face as their Eldar flyer takes that kinda damage, is well worth it. 

The Maw-Claws of Thyrax – A model with rending claws or monstrous claws can re-roll hit failed hit rolls in all subsequent Fight phases after it has slain an enemy model in the Fight phase. Once again we see a highly situational benefit which has an onerous requirement that most other armies don’t need to get their abilities to work. D

The Norn Crown – Friendly <HIVE FLEET> units within 30” do not suffer penalties for hit rolls or charge rolls from Instinctive Behaviour if they’re within 30” of the bearer. A solid way to eliminate the impact of Instinctive Behaviour over a massive area. A

The Miasma Cannon – Replaces a heavy venom cannon with a profile that automatically hits targets if the unit is within 8” and wounds non-VEHICLE units on a 2+. A brutal option which works well when given to a Hive Tyrant with wings. B+

Mechanics and Methods

Genestealer Slingshot

This approach is commonly used to achieve a turn 1 charge for a squad of Genestealers. You can find a visual explanation of the approach in this video with Nick Nanavati, or you can read along. For this method you will require The Swarmlord, a Broodlord, 2-3 Command Points, and a large unit of Genestealers. All of these units must be Hive Fleet Kraken. The Catalyst power is also extremely helpful. The approach for this is as follows:

  1. Move and Advance The Swarmlord and Broodlord.
  2. Use Metabolic Override to move the Broodlord even further ahead. Note that you do not re-roll the Advance die when moving a second time; you use the modified Movement characteristic of the unit from the first time it Advanced.
  3. Use Opportunistic Advance on the Genestealers, ensuring that their movement ends with one model within 6″ of The Swarmlord.
  4. Optionally, apply Catalyst on the Genestealers to improve their survival.
  5. In the Shooting phase, use The Swarmlord’s Hive Commander ability to allow the Genestealers to move and Advance a second time. If needed apply Opportunistic Advance a second time to move even further. At the end ensure that at least one model is within 6″ of the Broodlord for his Brood Telepathy power.
  6. Charge.

This results in your Genestealers moving as much as 40″ in a single turn.

Tag! You’re Dead!

This approach can be used on any unit, but it’s particularly viable on Genestealers after they’ve been slingshotted. Genestealers are fragile and vulnerable to the weight of fire that an opponent can unleash after they’ve wiped away a screening unit. This method allows them to either run and hide from the reprisal, or better yet tag multiple opponents and prevent them from shooting. This method requires between 1 and 5 Command Points and careful positioning of an assaulting unit. The preferred Hive Fleet for this method is Kraken. Nick Nanavati also discusses this technique in the video linked above. This is the method:

  1. Attack a unit that will be wiped out, ensuring that at the end of the Fight phase there is no model within 3″ of your unit.
  2. Use the Overrun Stratagem for 1 CP to either escape to cover or move forward to be 1″ away from another enemy model. If necessary apply Opportunistic Advance to move even further for 1 CP.
  3. If moving forward, spend an additional 3 CP to activate Adrenaline Surge and fight again. The unit may now move 3″ forward and tag another enemy force.

If the unit you applied this method to charged this turn then they may only attack the units they tagged if they declared them as a target of their charge. You may still come within 1″ of them, and ideally surround one model with three of your own models to prevent Falling Back. Note that this approach is completely ineffective against units that can fly, as they will simply escape and then slaughter you.

Termagant Bomb

This technique was more popular before the nerfs to deep strike, but is intended to be effective against screens and horde targets. It requires a unit of up to 30 Termagants armed with Devourers, a Trygon (or equivalent unit and the Jormungandr Stratagem), and 2 Command Points. If you aren’t using a Trygon then Jormungandr is the required Hive Fleet, otherwise Jormungandr is still useful for the cover bonus. You can also upgrade to a Trygon Prime and use the Leviathan adaptation to apply a 6+ Feel No Pain. This method requires the use of Single-minded Annihilation so it’s not used if you also have Hive Guard which you would want to shoot twice.

  1. Pop out Trygon with a sufficient distance that all of the Termagants can deploy around the base of the Trygon without coming too close to the enemy.
  2. Distribute all of the Termagants around the Trygon, remembering to stay completely within 3″ of the base and also trying to keep every model within range of the enemy.
  3. Apply the Single-minded Annihilation Stratagem for 2 CP to double the number of shots.
  4. Fire up to 180 S4 shots at something you want dead.

Tastes Like Burning!

Who doesn’t like dropping acid? This method requires a Tyrannofex equipped with acid spray, a Tyrannocyte (deathspitter option is fine), and optionally 2 Command Points. It’s particularly nasty against multi-wound units like Primaris Marines. In a dream world Tyrannocytes would get the same benefit as Drop Pods and be able to deploy on the first turn. Hive Fleet is less important than with other methods.

  1. Deploy the Tyrannofex inside the Tyrannocyte.
  2. When appropriate, drop the Tyrannocyte within 24″ of the enemy and with enough room to deploy the Tyrannofex.
  3. Disembark the Tyrannofex (remember that disembarking does not require the unit to be wholly within 3″ of the transport).
  4. If needed, during the Shooting phase apply Pathogenic Slime for 2CP and deluge your enemy with 2d6 blasts of armour-eating goodness.
  5. Hope your opponent doesn’t kill the Tyrannofex so it can fire twice next time.

Army Lists

Michael Duke’s Triumph at MOAB List

Michael won third place at Triumph at MOAB fields a variety of Tyranid units. The Genestealers provide a massive threat of a turn 1 charge which can blend anything they get stuck in with, the Tyrannofex can drop in with the Tyrannocyte to shower something in acid on turn 2, and 5 Carnifexes armed with four devourers each provide a total of 120 S6 AP0 D1 shots hitting on a 3+. This list also includes a healthy number of objective sitters in the form of Ripper Swarms and Termagants. The end result is a very aggressive, very dangerous list which can assault you on multiple fronts and leave you questioning what needs to die first.

Michael Duke's Triumph at MOAB List - Click to Expand
++ Battalion Detachment +5CP (Hive Fleet Kraken) [70 PL, 1,002 pts]++
HQ: Broodlord [8 PL, 115pts] HQ: The Swarmlord [15 PL, 250pts] Troops: Genestealers [16 PL, 192pts]: 4x Acid Maw, 16x Genestealer: 16x Rending Claws, 16x Scything Talons
Troops: Termagants [6 PL, 80pts], 20x Termagant (Fleshborer)
Troops: Termagants [6 PL, 80pts], 20x Termagant (Fleshborer)
HS: Tyrannofex [11 PL, 185pts]: Acid Spray, Stinger Salvo, Toxin Sacs
DT: Tyrannocyte [8 PL, 100pts]: 5x Deathspitter

++ Battalion Detachment +5CP (Hive Fleet Kraken) [55 PL, 998 pts] ++
HQ: Broodlord [8 PL, 115pts]: The Ymgarl Factor, Warlord
HQ: Old One Eye [10 PL, 200pts] Troops: Ripper Swarms [2 PL, 33pts]: 3x Ripper Swarm
Troops: Ripper Swarms [2 PL, 33pts]: 3x Ripper Swarm
Troops: Termagants [3 PL, 40pts], 10x Termagant (Fleshborer)
HS: Carnifexes [6 PL, 117pts], Carnifex: Bone Mace, Enhanced Senses, Spore Cysts, 2x, Two Devourers with Brainleech Worms
HS: Carnifexes [12 PL, 230pts], Carnifex: Enhanced Senses, Spore Cysts, 2x Two Devourers with Brainleech Worms, Carnifex: Enhanced Senses, Spore Cysts, 2x Two Devourers with Brainleech Worms
HS: Carnifexes [12 PL, 230pts], Carnifex: Enhanced Senses, Spore Cysts, 2x Two Devourers with Brainleech Worms, Carnifex: Enhanced Senses, Spore Cysts, 2x Two Devourers with Brainleech Worms

++ Total: [125 PL, 2,000 pts, 13 CP] ++

Josh McMillan’s Battle in the Bush List

Josh won second place in the Battle in the Bush using a great example of a list that features multiple hive fleets. It includes the classic Kraken Genestealer Battalion with a Broodlord and The Swarmlord, and couples it with a Biovore artillery detachment which can unleash 7 spore mines per turn at any target in range regardless of cover. Additional mortal wounds arrive in the form of a Mawloc which can also provide a route for deep striking units via Jormungandr’s The Enemy Below Stratagem. Josh’s list is unique in that it contains several units that no other competitive list utilized such as Biovores, a Mawloc, Tyranid Prime, and Tyranid Warriors.

Michael Duke's Triumph at MOAB List - Click to Expand
++ Battalion Detachment +5CP (Hive Fleet Jormungandr) [47 PL, 753 pts] ++
HQ: Neurothrope [4 PL, 90pts] HQ: Tyranid Prime [6 PL, 78pts]: Adrenal Glands, Deathspitter, Rending Claws
Troops: Hormagaunts [9 PL, 115pts]: 23x Hormagaunt
Troops: Termagants [9 PL, 100pts]: 25x Termagant (Fleshborer)
Troops: Tyranid Warriors [13 PL, 266pts] 7x Tyranid Warrior (Adrenal Glands, Deathspitter, Rending Claws), 2x Tyranid Warrior (Bio-cannon): Adrenal Glands, Rending Claws, Venom Cannon
HS: Mawloc [6 PL, 104pts]: Prehensile Pincer Tail

++ Battalion Detachment +5CP (Hive Fleet Kraken) [57 PL, 782 pts] ++
HQ: Broodlord [8 PL, 115pts]: Chameleonic Mutation
HQ: The Swarmlord [15 PL, 250pts]+ Troops +
Troops: Genestealers [16 PL, 192pts]: 4x Acid Maw, 16x Genestealer: 16x Rending Claws, 16x Scything Talons
Troops: Genestealers [16 PL, 192pts]: 4x Acid Maw, 16x Genestealer: 16x Rending Claws, 16x Scything Talons
Troops: Ripper Swarms [2 PL, 33pts]: 3x Ripper Swarm

++ Spearhead Detachment +1CP (Hive Fleet Kronos) [22 PL, 465 pts] ++ 
HQ: Broodlord [8 PL, 115pts]: Warlord
HS: Biovores [6 PL, 150pts]: 3x Biovore
HS: Biovores [2 PL, 50pts]: Biovore
HS: Biovores [6 PL, 150pts]: 3x Biovore

++ Total: [126 PL, 2,000 pts, 14 CP] ++

Gunum’s Hear Me Out List

Check it out! I can’t be a part of a write up without providing some inspiration with a list that may be a bit off the wall! This was a list I took to The Renegade Open last year. I wanted to bring something that was fast, provided a lot of threats that needed to be dealt with, and also looked awesome! The list played like it was waves of threats. The Hormagaunts, (read Hooky-gaunts) running up the table along with their big brothers, the Dimachaerons.  Flanked finally, by the Zoanthropes providing psyker buffs and defense. I was able to deploy just about everything around the Malanthrope, providing quite the cool visual of all these giant monsters being all stacked up together. This list didn’t bleed secondaries as bad as you would think, as Renegade used its own secondaries and primaries for their events until recently.

The things I loved about this list was double advancing Dima’s up the table to tear some things in half. Also, having a literal wall of smites was a very handy thing to have in the pocket as well. I used the Hive Tyrant as a distraction Carnifex, providing something in my list to be shot instead of my Dimas or the Maleceptors.

The biggest thing I realized playing this, was just how -BAD- (read Bad) Dimachaerons are. These models are as tall as an Imperial Knight Castellan, but are only T6 and do not have an invulnerable unless they can kill a unit in close combat. I found a deep appreciation for the Maleceptor and it’s invulnerable save. Not only that but its special ability to be able to hit every unit within 6 inches for a mortal wound was an absolute blast when you do it three times, hitting some units more than once.

If you want to try out a list with a lot of staying power, a lot of cool looking models, and get a real feel of what Tyranids can bring to the table, give this list a shot and let me know what you think!

Gunum's Hear Me Out List - Click to Expand
++ Outrider Detachment +1CP (Hive Fleet Kraken) [35 PL, 740pts] ++
HQ: Malanthropes [5 PL, 140pts]: Malanthrope
FA: Dimachaeron [10 PL, 200pts] FA: Dimachaeron [10 PL, 200pts] FA: Dimachaeron [10 PL, 200pts]

++ Battalion Detachment +5CP (Hive Fleet Kraken) [46 PL, 821pts] ++
HQ + Hive Tyrant [11 PL, 204pts]: Chameleonic Mutation, Monstrous Rending Claws, Two Devourers with Brainleech Worms, Warlord, Wings, Warlord
Neurothrope [4 PL, 90pts] Troops: Hormagaunts [6 PL, 100pts]: 20x Hormagaunt
Troops: Ripper Swarms [2 PL, 33pts]: 3x Ripper Swarm
Troops: Termagants [3 PL, 40pts] 10x Termagant (Fleshborer)
Elites: Maleceptor [9 PL, 160pts]: Massive Scything Talons
Elites: Maleceptor [9 PL, 160pts]: Massive Scything Talons
Elites: Lictor [2 PL, 34pts]

++ Vanguard Detachment +1CP (Hive Fleet Kraken) [24 PL, 439pts] ++
HQ: Tyranid Prime [6 PL, 79pts]: Adrenal Glands, Devourer, Flesh Hooks, Lash Whip and Bonesword
Elites: Zoanthropes [6 PL, 120pts]: 3x Zoanthrope
Elites: Zoanthropes [6 PL, 120pts]: 3x Zoanthrope
Elites: Zoanthropes [6 PL, 120pts]: 3x Zoanthrope

++ Total: [105 PL, 2,000 pts, 10 CP] ++

Conclusions

Credit: BuffaloChicken

Hopefully, this article is useful and provides some insight into your friendly neighborhood planet-eating alien horde. While not the most competitive army in 8th Edition (technically the least), there are more than a few fun configurations and options available. Gunum: I’ll always make sure to tell you about them! The good news is that if you really want to be competitive you can always take your bugs and add some allies which have repeatedly had solid showings even in this post-Marine meta. If you have any questions or comments, drop us a line in the comments below or shoot us an email at contact@goonhammer.com.

 

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