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Thread: Tyranid Tactica

  1. #1

    Default Tyranid Tactica

    You guys know the drill! Over the coming month I'm going to be adding more articles as they are finished on my blog, while I spend the next few days setting up each that have already been posted.

    I've added in the Synapse Overview and every unit review so far, with Zoanthropes being the latest. I will update this post each time a new article is added to reflect the progress of the series. Thanks guys! Enjoy the series!
    Last edited by Learn2Eel; 02-10-2014 at 01:33 AM.
    Check out my blog!

  2. #2


    Hey there everyone, I am Learn2Eel and this is going to be the first official Tyranid Tactica article! There has been a lot of heated discussion about this codex ever since its release, and while I could cover that here, I'm going to strictly cover the tactics for each unit in the book. Everyone has a different opinion on the Tyranid Codex, and I feel that isn't really relevant to what I want to talk about. However, if you do have any thoughts on the codex and what could have been changed, or what you like, feel free to leave a comment here! Without further ado, I hope you enjoy the article!

    The Basics of Synapse

    So let's get the facts out of the way immediately.

    Synapse - Units with this special rule generate a 12" Synapse bubble. Any unit within that Synapse bubble, including the unit with the Synapse special rule, is Fearless and doesn't test for Instinctive Behaviour.

    Instinctive Behaviour - Units with this special rule that are not in Synapse range at the start of each of their turns must take a Leadership test. If they pass, nothing happens. If they fail, they need to roll on the appropriate Instinctive Behaviour table to see the result.

    In the 5th Edition codex, Synapse wasn't much of an issue as all of your most valuable units - mostly monstrous creatures - were either Synapse creatures, Fearless or didn't have Instinctive Behaviour. Your cheap, durable Troops choices in the form of Tervigons ensured you had a huge Synapse web, while specialist choices such as Zoanthropes and Trygon Primes provided forward Synapse for more mobile units due to their Deep Strike capabilities. Instinctive Behaviour generally wasn't too punishing, at least in the context of 6th Edition, with units either being forced to move into terrain and act like defensive sentries, or gaining the Rage special rule and thus being more destructive on the charge. It was a big part of the army, but it was more of a bonus than a limitation as you could easily have large Fearless hordes on the cheap.

    Enter the new 6th Edition codex, where Synapse provides the same benefits, but Instinctive Behaviour has been redesigned. An extra form - Hunt - has been added, and now units that fail their Instinctive Behaviour tests have to roll on a corresponding chart to see what happens. Units can now fall back, inflict automatic hits on themselves, or be Pinned - and each of these different results comes from a differing table, and will occur in 50% of failed Instinctive Behaviour rolls. It is now also more limiting with all units, not just Lurkers, being forced to target the nearest unit for the most part. Fearless units such as Carnifexes can suffer big-time due to inflicting Strength 9 hits on themselves, a far-cry from them merely gaining +2 attacks on the charge. With Instinctive Behaviour becoming far more of a downside - as it should be, mind - Synapse is now important than ever for Tyranids.

    The new codex essentially forces you to stock up on Synapse creatures covering every possible phase of your battle plan; Zoanthropes for baby-sitting the backfield, Tervigons for controlling the midfield, and Flying Hive Tyrants or Trygon Primes hitting the front-lines are the common picks. Your Synapse web needs to survive so that your army doesn't completely break down, and while many Synapse units did get cheaper, many have lost deployment options and potential psychic buffs that gave them increased durability. The answer to this is that you can take more of them for less points, but a balance needs to be struck between taking those supporting-Synapse units that won't do much else aside from be Synaptic lynch-pins, such as Warriors, and your more damaging but Synapse-intensive breakers such as Carnifexes.

    This is why I bring a simple rule to every army list with the new Tyranid codex. For each 500 points in my army, I want at least two Synapse creatures. This mitigates the potential for snipers and barrage weapons picking out your Synapse creatures and causing your army to collapse, allowing another Synapse creature to step up and take on the burden of control. Any competitive Tyranid army simply has to have a decent number of Synapse creatures, with me preferring to have at least six Synapse creatures at 1500 to 1850 points limits, the common tournament limits. Where other armies need redundancy in their anti-tank units to handle mechanized army lists, for example, Tyranids need redundancy in their Synapse units so that the army can actually function properly. While this is a limitation unique to Tyranids, there are a lot of upsides; you can field the cheapest Fearless hordes in the game, and much of your army is very cheap for what it does. Just remember that even a mighty Tyrannofex won't be of much use to you if you don't have a Zoanthrope or two guiding it along the path of glory!

    Synapse Creatures

    The necessity of Synapse units is obvious, but just what units bring Synapse in a Tyranid army list? Let's take a look and work out which ones are the most useful in general by noting the traits key to Synapse;

    The Swarmlord - 18" Synapse range, can be boosted through Dominion, foot-slogger.
    Hive Tyrants - 12" Synapse range, can be boosted through Dominion and Norn Crown, option to foot-slog or fly.
    Tyranid Prime - 12" Synapse range, can be boosted through Norn Crown, foot-slogger.
    Tervigon - 12" Synapse range, can be boosted through Dominion and Norn Crown, foot-slogger.

    Warriors - 12" Synapse range, foot-slogger.
    Tervigon - 12" Synapse range, can be boosted through Dominion and Norn Crown, foot-slogger.

    Zoanthropes - 12" Synapse range, can be boosted through Dominion, foot-slogger.

    Fast Attack
    Shrikes - 12" Synapse range, jump infantry.

    Heavy Support
    Trygon Prime - 12" Synapse range, can be boosted through Norn Crown, foot-slogger with access to Deep Strike.

    As you can see, Synapse units can be brought in every slot, and each has their own traits. So how does each actually work in practice?

    The Swarmlord is the most expensive Synapse option, but can guarantee a 24" Synapse range. Ultimately, as a foot-slogger with durability that really isn't that great for the cost, he's not the best Synapse option.

    Hive Tyrants are the cheapest of the monstrous creature Synapse units before upgrades, can easily guarantee a 24" Synapse range through purchase of the Norn Crown and taking the Primaris psychic power Dominion. That you can give them wings and change their unit type to Flying Monstrous Creature means that they only really need Dominion, and this will make them one of your best Synapse units for the cost.

    Tyranid Primes have the sole advantage of being true Independent Characters, allowing them to hide in any unit they please - from Termagant hordes to Carnifex broods. They aren't cost effective compared to Hive Tyrants in any sense, including Synapse, but their ability to hide in any unit they please can be very useful in a nine-strong Carnifex list. They have no mobility boosting options, they can't take Dominion as they aren't psykers, and thus can only boost their Synapse range through purchasing the expensive Norn Crown.

    Tervigons are the mid-point between a base Hive Tyrant and a Trygon Prime as far the cost of generic Synapse monstrous creatures are concerned. Their additional supporting abilities, namely the unique ability to be scoring, as well as generating extra Troops makes them the best value Troop Synapse unit.

    Warriors are over-costed and fragile for the cost, and with no way to boost their Synapse range, their only true use as Synapse platforms is as stock standard broods of three sitting in the backfield.

    Zoanthropes are the cheapest Synapse option in the codex, as they can be taken in units of one. Using line-of-sight blocking terrain and their thin - but tall - model means they can easily be hidden near Exocrines, Tyrannofexes with Rupture Cannons, Biovores and other long to medium range units without fear of being targeted. Outside of Hive Tyrants, they are the best Synapse option in the book as they are also Mastery Level 2 psykers.

    Shrikes are similar to Warriors in that they are over-costed and too fragile to survive sustained fire power which will invariably target them due to being Synapse units, but they do have the benefit of wings. They can thus keep up with Gargoyles, Raveners and other mobile units lacking Synapse.

    Trygon Primes are the most expensive generic Synapse creature, but also the toughest overall and one that can Deep Strike to make up for their 6" move. They are strong generalists with above average shooting and melee capabilities, and are probably your best bet for Synapse outside of Hive Tyrants, Tervigons and Zoanthropes.

    My personal recommendation for any army list, regardless of points, is to use Zoanthropes as your primary Synapse units. This is because they are cheap, can be taken in units of one, and are the easiest to hide. From there, Hive Tyrants are the logical sources of Synapse from your HQ slots, with Flying Hive Tyrants in particular being the most effective HQ option in the book. A single Tervigon is a smart option in any Tyranid list simply because of the extra scoring units they provide, as well as their above-average durability compared to most other Synapse units. Trygon Primes may great Synapse units because they can Deep Strike and thus pop up when your army is about to clash with the opponents in their backfield or the midfield, giving you an extra Synapse unit that can't be killed on the first turn.

    Keeping Synapse Creatures Alive

    Even though I don't recommend using many of these units, I'm going to cover how to keep each individual Synapse unit alive. These units are mandatory to success as Tyranids, so keeping them alive should always be your biggest priority as a Tyranid player.

    The Swarmlord - You need Tyrant Guard for the Swarmlord, regardless of how you feel about his five wounds and 4+ invulnerable save in combat. Grav Guns, Heavy Wraith Cannons, Plasma, massed autocannons/missile pods and so on will still kill him with ease. He's expensive, and adding Tyrant Guard jacks his price up even more, but taking at least two is my recommendation in every scenario. The old shenanigans of taking a Tyranid Prime and one Tyrant Guard simply won't work due to the loss of Iron Arm and the massive points increase of the Prime. Make sure the unit moves from cover to cover, ensure they are supported by ranged elements such as Hive Guard and Exocrines so that they don't get baited by Wraithknights and Riptides.

    Hive Tyrants (walking) - The generally low cost for the abilities of Hive Tyrants means you might be able to get away with no Tyrant Guard, but I still recommend them anyway. Spending about 100 points to add an extra four Toughness 6 wounds with a 3+ armour save is worth it in any scenario, especially now that the survival of your Synapse units is practically mandatory. As with the Swarmlord, make sure to move from cover to cover as Tyranids lack invulnerable saves against ranged attacks outside of Zoanthropes - a monster without cover and no 2+ armour save or an invulnerable save is just asking to die.

    Hive Tyrants (flying) - Flying Hive Tyrants don't need Tyrant Guard - who can't keep up with them - and don't need to rely on rolling up Catalyst despite being "loners". As Flying Monstrous Creatures with Toughness 6, 4 Wounds and a 3+ armour save, they are quite durable and can put out a lot of damage. Keep them supported through mobile ground units such as Gargoyles or other fliers like Crones and Harpies so that they aren't picked off.

    Tyranid Primes - These should be kept in the middle of horde units like Termagants and Hormagaunts thirty-strong so that deep-striking and outflanking units can't pop up behind them and force a lot of saves and look out sirs. Another ideal unit to join is a Carnifex brood of two or three, giving the Tyranid Prime eight to twelve Toughness 6, 3+ armoured ablative wounds. While joining Warriors might seem useful due to their stat boost ability, I don't advise it as Warriors are too fragile to make ideal bodyguards for an expensive Tyranid Prime.

    Tervigons - As a solo monstrous creature with no access to Tyrant Guard, you need to abuse line-of-sight blocking terrain and cover as much as possible with a Tervigon. Hope to roll up Catalyst, and maybe invest in Regeneration. Make sure to keep up a cover save, even if it means not advancing - a Tervigon can happily sit in the back or midfield if it means it survives and poops out additional scoring units that should only take a turn to grab an objective. Keep your opponent under pressure so that the Tervigon is not their priority; use a mix of flying monstrous creatures and aggressive monsters like Carnifexes or Tyrannofexes to flood the board with viable targets.

    Warriors - Given the high cost and low durability per point of Warriors where common Strength 8 weapons are concerned, taking minimal broods of Warriors is ideal as small support units. Take three and hide them in terrain, or move from cover to cover to hide in the midfield. Don't use them aggressively as their damage output is subpar, and making them a target is a mistake.

    Zoanthropes - Use units of one or two Zoanthropes to easily hide in cover, much like minimal Warrior broods. The 3+ invulnerable save reduces the value of just sitting in cover without blocking line of sight, so moving up through open terrain isn't a bad idea. Be aware that they are fragile to massed medium or low Strength shooting due to having only two wounds each, so keep them in the middle of your army, rather than at the front. Hiding a Zoanthrope in a building such as a Bastion is a smart, cheap way to boost your Synapse coverage and protect your valuable Synapse unit.

    Shrikes - Use the mobility of Shrikes to your advantage, as well as three wounds each. Jump from cover to cover as Dangerous Terrain doesn't really faze three-wound models. Keep Shrike units small so that they are less unwieldy and can be hidden from sight.

    Trygon Primes - Always deep strike Trygon Primes - they pay for an ability that is now incredibly rare in a Tyranid list, and can bring out a lot of damage from reserves when upgraded with a Miasma Cannon. If you lose your Synapse early on, having a Trygon Prime deep strike into Synapse range of your forward moving units can be a life-saver.

    Thank you for reading this article, and please leave all feedback in the comments section below! I hope this article was useful in helping you to both understand the usage of Synapse creatures, and determine which ones fit your army list better. Thanks again! Eel out.
    Last edited by Learn2Eel; 02-10-2014 at 01:14 AM.
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  3. #3


    Hey guys, I'm Learn2Eel and today I'm here to talk about the new Tyranid codex! I'm going to be trialling shorter articles focusing on one unit at a time, a content form that should allow me to post up a Tactics article every night. I'm really keen to see the feedback to this type of article, as it is obviously a very big change from the bloated articles of the past. Please let me know if you prefer these smaller single-unit-review articles, or if you want me to continue with the old style! To mark this occasion, who else could I cover but the Swarmlord, the most deadly organism ever conceived by the other-worldly Hive Mind. I hope you enjoy this article!

    The Swarmlord


    The Swarmlord has an upgraded profile over a standard Hive Tyrant, but with only a few changes; it has an extra wound, a higher Initiative by one and a godly Weapon Skill 9 ensuring most enemies will hit it on 5s in combat. To add to that extra wound, the Swarmlord has a 4+ invulnerable save in close combat, giving it slightly above average durability for a foot Hive Tyrant against shooting, and severely boosted durability in combat for a foot Hive Tyrant. There is a stipulation on the invulnerable save in that it only applies to wounds caused by Melee weapons, so it will not apply to effects such as Spore Mine Detonations, Typhus' rot blast and so on. The Initiative boost ensures the Swarmlord will strike before most enemy commanders and units, though of course its lack of flesh hooks or spine banks mean that this it is negligible when charging into combat. For pure combat prowess, though, the Swarmlord is a premier melee unit once it reaches combat. It has five attacks base due to its pair of Bonesabres, AP2 attacks as it has the Smash special rule, and all of its melee attacks cause Instant Death. This makes it a ridiculously good character and monster hunter, one that while perhaps would take two rounds or so to down a Wraithknight, it should destroy most enemies with ease. Opponents to avoid for the Swarmlord are those with a strong Invulnerable save of 4+ or 3+, three or more wounds, and Eternal Warrior, or those that can strike before the Swarmlord and slay it with Instant Death. The prime cases of these are Nurgle Daemon Princes with Bale Swords, Skarbrand, Lord Kaldor Draigo, and the standard Chapter Master build sporting the Shield Eternal. Just be aware that the first two such opponents would fall to the Swarmlord if either of them was part of a combat also involving a Harpy, or if they charged through terrain.

    The Swarmlord is not purely centred around straight offence and defence though, with increased support abilities as compared to regular Hive Tyrants, making it a complete package rather than a one-note character. The Swarmlord has a Psychic Mastery Level of three as opposed to a Hive Tyrants' two, meaning that it has a roughly 50% chance of generating crucial powers such as Catalyst or Onslaught in each game. Mastery Level three when combined with Shadows in the Warp makes the Swarmlord a really good anti-psyker unit, one that will usually Deny the Witch on a 4+ as well as reducing the Leadership of enemy psykers by three within 12". However, one of the real gems for the Swarmlord is the Dominion psychic power, particularly when combined with its innate Warlord Trait. The Swarmlord always has the +6" to Synapse range Warlord Trait, meaning that it confers Synapse to units within 18" at all times. As Synapse is more important than ever with potentially self-destructive Instinctive Behaviour results and having Fearless scoring bodies in an objective-centric edition, this is really invaluable to have. Where the true value of having Mastery Level three shines through is that the Swarmlord can freely take Dominion and still have the two powers that other Hive Tyrants would take, giving the Swarmlord an effective 24" Synapse range if it wants it. This is an under-rated ability of the Swarmlord, and one that makes it a true lynchpin for your force.

    The Swarmlord also provides a +1 bonus to your reserve rolls, which synergizes best with flyer-heavy lists that want to keep the fragile Harpies and Crones in reserve, or with those that are using Trygon Primes and Mawlocs. As the last unit in particular is proving exceptionally popular, including the Swarmlord as your primary commander so as to not worry about taking an Aegis Line may prove worthwhile, consolidating many different abilities into one model. The last notable trait of the Swarmlord is that it can confer a single special rule upon either itself or another friendly unit within 18" at the start of each of its turns. Unlike psychic Blessings and Maledictions, these effects only apply for the duration of that Tyranid turn; something to keep in mind! The free benefits are useful, with a choice between Furious Charge, Monster Hunter and Preferred Enemy; there are no restrictions in terms of conferring the same special rule multiple turns in a row, too. Ideal uses of this include conferring Preferred Enemy on a heavy ranged unit such as an Exocrine or a Tyrannofex with an Acid Spray, or giving Furious Charge to a brood of Hormagaunts that is bereft of Adrenal Glands so that they can harm a Razorback in combat. Monster Hunter on a brood of Hormagaunts with Toxin Sacs can be a truly nasty surprise for any opponent. Giving Preferred Enemy to a recently emerged Mawloc might seem too good to be true, and that is because it is. As the currently active player, you can decide which things come first when multiple rules have the "at the start of the turn" clause, such as the Swarmlord ability or Reserves. However, the Mawloc Terror from the Deep attack is resolved as it arrives from Reserves, so there's no legitimate method of giving it Preferred Enemy for use with that attack from what I can tell.

    Where to Put Them

    The Swarmlord should always be accompanied by a brood of Tyrant Guard, composed of a minimum of two bodyguards. This is because aside from a single extra Toughness 6, 3+ armoured wound, the Swarmlord has no real survivability boosts over a foot Hive Tyrant, a model that will drop quickly to sustained fire against massed Strength 7 and 8 AP4 and AP3 shooting. It is also a much costlier variant of a standard foot Hive Tyrant, so while paying the extra points to protect it does make it a rather huge investment, you need to spend those points so that it isn't a wasted investment. Having a 50% chance to roll Catalyst as one of the Swarmlords' psychic powers is a notable advantage, but one that you still cannot rely on. With no extra mobility options, especially as it lacks Fleet and thus will slow down Tyrant Guard equipped with Adrenal Glands, the Swarmlord needs to be used as the supporting centrepiece of a swarm. While deploying it straight in the centre of a force is probably a bit too obvious and simplistic, it does require added protection from tarpit units to avoid nasty melee encounters with Storm Shield Terminators and so on. It is a unit that should never be sent out alone, as its support abilities are truly what distinguish it from a regular Hive Tyrant; you want to make the most of that guaranteed 18" to 24" Synapse range and the free special rule addition.

    The Swarmlord is a tough competitor in combat, of course, and will be treated as such by a savvy opponent; they won't willingly give you targets to charge, unless they are there to slow you down. You need to play on this by being a part of a very mobile force; one that uses plentiful and cheap Hormagaunt broods should work nicely due to the 13" average movement distance of the little terrors. This will ensure the Swarmlord is not the sole and obvious target for an opponent, but one of many they will have to prioritize to bring down first your Synaptic Web, and then your hard-hitters. Use Mawlocs to scare your opponent and affect their deployment, as spreading their gunline out ensures your critters can strike at and overwhelm individual units. The Mawlocs also gain adverse benefits from that reserve roll bonus provided by the Swarmlord, so they make a natural choice for an army featuring the Tyrantlord of the Swarm. Remembering that the unit lacks invulnerable saves against shooting as well as 2+ armour saves, use cover as much as possible. While blocking line of sight to the unit will be very difficult especially with the much larger new Tyrant Guard models, getting cover saves for the brood is easier than ever with but a part of each models' base counting towards cover for area terrain. The size of each model means that gaining cover saves through Termagants and Hormagaunts is practically impossible, but using a wall of Carnifexes armed with heavy ranged weapons, and a supporting Venomthrope between them and the Swarmlords unit, should prove very effective. If your opponent lacks a proliferation of Ignores Cover weapons, such a formation will prove not only terrifying to face, but incredibly resilient to boot, and one that isn't really slowed by terrain.

    Best Uses

    Despite the Swarmlord lacking increasing mobility over regular foot monstrous creatures, I think it nonetheless belongs in a fast assault army variant first and foremost. This is not only because it can freely give Preferred Enemy to a close-ranged Exocrine, or Furious Charge to a Hormagaunt brood that saves a lot of points on Adrenal Glands, but as it also grants a reserve bonus that is most useful for Mawlocs. These units are at home in a sheer target-overload list that rushes the opponent for the first turn or two until its guns and claws get into range to begin the feast. The Swarmlord should be using these units as both cover and tarpits to protect itself from unwanted threats, like Terminators or Plague Zombie blobs. It can them aim for varying units, even separating from its Tyrant Guard just before declaring charges as both the Swarmlord and a pair of Tyrant Guard can each mop up minimal or weak scoring units with ease. The Swarmlord can be used as a character assassin, but you are generally better off using it to crush particularly nasty units that your Hormagaunts and Termagants have tied up in combat. If you want to engage a unit that sports a particularly nasty melee character or a high Initiative force weapon, be sure to employ a Harpy - they are a cheap investment, after all - so that the Swarmlord can devour it before it strikes.

    To make the most of its psychic potential, I recommend taking Dominion in most games so that you can keep up an almost permanent 24" Synapse bubble, eliminating the need for expensive items such as the Norn Crown on another 'commander' model. Catalyst, Onslaught, Paroxysm and the Horror are all really strong powers for the Swarmlord, and combining the Horror with Shadow in the Warp to pin down psyker units like Grey Knight Strike Squads and Seer Councils that (strangely) lack the Shard of Anaris is awesome. Ideally, you want three of those four powers in any combination, with Dominion thrown in if one of the powers won't be so useful; for example, the Horror taken against an Iyanden Wraith list won't do much of anything. Warp Lance is definitely a decent shooting attack for the Swarmlord, but it eats up two of its three warp charges, and generally you just want the Swarmlord to be making run moves to get as close as possible so that it can get outside the torrent of fire. Psychic Scream really won't work for the Swarmlord, and is the one power I always say to swap out; the ubiquity of destroying a Land Raider at range means that Warp Lance has a place, but I would also generally recommend swapping that out for Dominion against the really nasty gunline lists.

    Hive Progenitor

    The Swarmlord is a primeval creation of the Hive Mind engineered to be the perfect hybrid of warrior and strategist, the apex of the Hive Tyrant organisms. Its genetic template is stored within all Hive Fleets to be spawned as a natural response to heavy opposition. There is little that can stand before the might of the Hive Mind embodied, for the Swarmlord is a peerless curator of galactic annihilation that has honed its skills across countless battlefields. No mere dictator, the Swarmlord will not force the conquered to bow before it, but merely process them as yet more biomass for the Hive Fleets. It is this unknowable alien mind that makes the Swarmlord perhaps the most terrifying villain in the galaxy. It cannot be reasoned with, nor sated. By its will, foes will be slaughtered, worlds will be devoured, and galaxies will be gutted.

    Thank you for reading this article! Please, share your thoughts on the article and the changes I am experimenting with for this series. I am open to any and all feedback! And remember, for any and all discussion on Tyranids and Games Workshop stuff, head on over to +Bell of Lost Souls. Thanks again! Eel out.
    Last edited by Learn2Eel; 02-10-2014 at 01:15 AM.
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  4. #4


    Hey guys, my name is Learn2Eel, and today I'm going to be bringing you another article in the Tyranid Tactica series! Hive Tyrants are the commanders of the swarms, the lynchpin that connects a Tyranid ground invasion force to its brood-mother, the Norn Queen, in the orbiting Hive Fleet. These are the most important creatures in a standard Tyranid army, and great care must be taken so that they survive. For this reason, Hive Tyrants that stalk the earth are protected either through specially engineered protectors, the Tyrant Guard, or adapted wings to allow them to soar above a battlefield and freely prey on the foes they choose. In this article, I will be covering the former Hive Tyrant variety. I hope you enjoy this article!

    Hive Tyrant (Ground)


    The Hive Tyrant sports one of the best overall stat-lines of any Tyranid monstrous creature, allowing it to effectively function as a gun-beast, a melee champion or just a generalist commander. Its Weapon Skill of eight means that all but the most skilled enemy characters will be hit on 3s by a Hive Tyrant - even one such as Abaddon! - while a Ballistic Skill of 4 makes it an above average ranged threat in a Tyranid army. Its Strength and Toughness of six in addition to four wounds are fairly typical of a Tyranid monstrous creature, as is the 3+ armour save. Despite not being an independent character in the traditional sense, a Hive Tyrant is still a tough beast to bring down on an individual basis compared to most other HQ choices in the game - the key is keeping it alive against the high Strength, low AP shooting that will inevitably be directed its way. The lack of an invulnerable save of any kind is a killer though, and one that must be accounted for through extensive use of cover and bodyguard models where applicable.

    A Hive Tyrant is a strong competitor in melee, with Smash granting all of its four base attacks - and potentially up to six on the charge - AP2 and the potential to halve those attacks to two - or three if it has a pair of melee weapons - so that it gains both Strength 10 and Armourbane. With its Initiative of five and high Weapon Skill, a Hive Tyrant is thus a deadly opponent in combat against almost any enemy, particularly when re-rolls to wound and fleet are thrown in through Toxin Sacs and Adrenal Glands, respectively. It can go up to Strength 10 to deal with Wraithknights and Toughness 5 or lower multiple-wound models such as typical HQs, or use its decent amount of Strength 6 attacks to scythe through elite and light enemies alike. Vehicles are no deterrent to a Hive Tyrant with Smash in the mix, though one must be careful of charging an assault walker, such as a Soul Grinder, as such a walker has a good chance of surviving the initial attacks and striking back with deadly blows.

    A Hive Tyrant can exchange its melee weapons for ranged biomorphs if it pleases, and with Ballistic Skill four, the already decently to very effective shooting of Ballistic Skill three Carnifex broods can be improved upon quite impressively. A pair of Brainleech Devourers on a Hive Tyrant can prove devastating to light and medium ground vehicles alike, making it into a premier anti-armour unit that will also put many wounds on monsters and infantry. The more accurate blasts delivered by Heavy Venom Cannons and Stranglethorn Cannons on a Hive Tyrant are also very much worthwhile, being cost-effective and nasty weapon options even on Carnifexes. The Hive Tyrant also brings strong psychic potential to a game, being a Mastery Level two psyker as standard. A walking Hive Tyrant can make effective use of nearly all the Tyranid psychic powers, from Dominion and Catalyst to Paroxysm and Warp Lance. The short range of Psychic Scream and the sluggishness of a foot monstrous creature that could very well be without Fleet makes it the one power I recommend swapping for Dominion in most cases. Otherwise, Hive Tyrants are strong psykers that while not on the same level as the versatile Mastery Level three Farseers, are nonetheless key to an effective Tyranid force by applying important buffs and debuffs as necessary.

    Hive Tyrants also function as key Synapse providers in your army list, being arguably the most cost-effective and survivable - when protected by Tyrant Guard - source of Synapse. Where Zoanthropes have the advantage of low cost, and Tervigons can be taken as scoring units, Hive Tyrants eat up your mandatory HQ selections and are easily the best value choice in their Force Organization slot. Their Synapse range, unlike a Trygon Prime or Tyranid Prime, can be boosted without the addition of a Norn Crown by 6" through the use of the Dominion psychic power, one that is handily the Primaris power in the Tyranid psychic discipline. This makes the Hive Tyrant a reliable source of long-range synapse, as well as a good defensive general through its Shadow in the Warp. The 12" bubble is limited on a walking Hive Tyrant, but it ensures that any close-assault psykers - such as Heralds of Tzeentch in Screamer units or Farseers with the Shard of Anaris in Seer Council units - will struggle to cast their important psychic blessings. That the Hive Tyrant also always has a minimum of 5+ to pass Deny the Witch rolls means that trying to destroy it and any attached Tyrant Guard through witchfire powers, or disable them with maledictions, is not at all guaranteed.

    How to Equip Them

    A foot Hive Tyrant is best served not focusing on melee biomorphs and weapons, as its slow pace even with Adrenal Glands for Fleet will likely see a pure melee unit mostly wasted aside from its psychic and supporting abilities. For this reason, I would advocate taking one or more ranged weapons on the Hive Tyrant; making use of its ability to fire two weapons in a shooting phase due to its monstrous creature profile should not be underestimated. If you want to keep a single melee weapon, I recommend a Lash Whip and Bonesword even if the expenditure is high. This is because Scything Talons and Rending Claws won't really benefit a Hive Tyrant in melee, outside of the former being free to take in pairs and thus grant an extra attack. Besides, the Lash Whip gives the Hive Tyrant a whopping Initiative eight, as well as the potential for Instant Death wounds which can save its bacon against incredibly tough Wraithknights. Be aware though the Lash Whip and Bonesword won't make up for the lack of access to assault grenades for a Hive Tyrant, so be mindful of charging into terrain against units wielding power fists or other monstrous creatures.

    On the subject of ranged weapons, I generally recommend one of the longer ranged guns if you don't purchase Adrenal Glands for both the Hive Tyrant and its Tyrant Guard brood. If you aren't sold on potentially running one inch a turn due to the lack of a re-roll, then a Stranglethorn Cannon or a Heavy Venom Cannon is a very smart purchase for the points. Be aware that adding a Stranglethorn to a list involving Mawlocs, Biovores and Harpies might be overkill, whereas Heavy Venom Cannons are probably the more generalist weapon that helps address the general lack of high Strength shooting across the codex. If you want to just run up into range and take Adrenal Glands for the entire unit, I recommend two pairs of Brain-Leech Devourers just for the sheer devastation they bring, as well as the potential for them to glance fliers and ground flying monsters. The Thorax Biomorphs are interesting, but I think they are better served on a flying Hive Tyrant due to their lack of Torrent. Consider them more for a defensive Hive Tyrant sitting in the backfield, one that can use a Rending template - for example - to ward off assaults from high value melee units. The Tail Biomorphs, while a nice inclusion to the codex, are more point-fillers than anything else. Still, adding an extra Strength 6 attack for a few extra points might be ok - if it weren't for the fact you can get an extra Strength 6 attack for free by keeping the stock Scything Talons.

    The Bio-Artefacts are options to consider, certainly, though the high cost of most of them generally has me avoiding them outside of specific cases. The Reaper of Obliterax, for example, really isn't that useful on a Hive Tyrant that can purchase Toxin Sacs and a Lash Whip and Bonesword for less points and have most of the same benefits, plus a few extras. The Ymgarl Factor isn't really that noteworthy for the points for any monster I feel, even though having a turn where a Hive Tyrant need not worry about AP3 force weapons - Draigo ahoy! - is kind of funny. The Maw Claws of Thyrax are cheap, though they are better served for a flying Hive Tyrant as you want the Preferred Enemy bonus as early as possible. The Miasma Cannon is really interesting for either Hive Tyrant variant, with 36" small blast or a template weapon, both with good profiles. I feel a flying Hive Tyrant may make better use of it as an AP4 template with Poisoned (2+) is quite nasty, though it is otherwise an appropriately costed ranged addition to a ground Hive Tyrant. I feel that Brain-Leech Devourers and the one-only cannons are generally more useful though. The Norn Crown is there for a Hive Tyrant that either hopes to roll up two good powers, or always wants to take Dominion to essentially guarantee a 24" Synapse range, making it the equivalent of the Swarmlord. The potential for a 30" Synapse range due to one of the Tyranid Warlord Traits is humorous, but in the context of a Tyranid force, more Synapse creatures is better than a few with larger radii. The Norn Crown is hardly inexpensive either, so I would generally be more suited to taking an extra Zoanthrope for similar points.

    The three optional ability purchases for a Hive Tyrant serve to further distinguish them from those in other Hive Fleets and personalize them more, but I tend to recommend only one. Indescribable Horror might be cheap, but when you consider that a Hive Tyrant and its Tyrant Guard will smash units prone to Fear in the first place, while units it really wants Indescribable Horror to work against are immune to Fear anyway, it just isn't worth the extras. Old Adversary is nice, but the high Weapon Skill of the Hive Tyrant coupled with cheaper Toxin Sacs is more preferable to me, especially as it too does not affect ranged attacks. Hive Commander is the gem of these abilities, conferring Outflank to a single Troops choice with no restrictions. You essentially pay a small tax to provide an extra deployment option for units such as Devourer-armed Termagants, Tervigons that are now able to spawn when they arrive, and even small units of Warriors armed to shoot at the rear armour of vehicles. This is a great ability and one that I recommend for competitive Tyranid lists, if only to give you more options in an already restricted army in terms of deployment.

    Where to Put Them

    For a walking Hive Tyrant, the first step is to take a brood of Tyrant Guard as its protectors. If you want your Hive Tyrant to survive the shooting-oriented 6th Edition tournament lists, this is not negotiable. I recommend two as each Tyrant Guard costs the same as a Zoanthrope and has good offensive and defensive stats; the ablative wounds alone are well worth the investment. Keeping your Synapse creatures alive is so pivotal, especially as a Hive Tyrant is likely to be your Warlord. Provided you use cover and line of sight blocking terrain as much as possible, your Hive Tyrant and its pair of Tyrant Guards should survive a hailstorm of fire with their Toughness 6, 3+ armour saves, applicable cover saves and eight wounds to chug through. The size of each model in the unit does make hiding incredibly difficult depending on how large terrain on your local gaming boards is, but blocking line of sight to your Hive Tyrant even at the cost of the Tyrant Guard should be possible.

    With easily accessed Dominion, the potential for Synaptic Lynchpin and a purchasable Norn Crown, Hive Tyrants are effective sources of Synapse, and as one of your most durable generators of Synapse, keeping them in the centre of your force is ideal. As with the Swarmlord, having a line of Carnifexes backed by a Venomthrope brood that is itself supported by the Hive Tyrant and Tyrant Guard makes for a really nasty anvil and, if you give the Hive Tyrant a cannon of some form, one that does quite a bit of damage as it advances. Obviously, bunching up like this could be suicidal against some enemies, like Heldrakes and Wraithguard with D-Scythes, so don't be afraid to spread out and have your Venomthropes cover the more damaging Carnifex units if necessary. Hive Tyrants need to be in a position where they affect as many units as possible with both their psychic powers and Synapse, so I do usually recommend the core of an army to serve as meat-shields and be buffed in turn by the Hive Tyrant. A more defensive Tyranid list may want to drop the Tyrant Guard if there is sufficient terrain to block a Hive Tyrant from sight, using it as a strong counter-assault unit with two pairs of Brain-Leech Devourers when enemies close in. Such a build though I feel might be a waste of the Hive Tyrants' close range potential, especially as many opposing lists aren't really based around assault.

    Best Uses

    A foot Hive Tyrant belongs in almost any army list, not only because - unlike the Swarmlord - it can take Adrenal Glands and thus have Fleet alongside its Tyrant Guard, but as it has access to long ranged guns. It can form a tough anchor for any Tyranid force, one that both plays hard to get with Slay the Warlord, and is a key Synapse creature that can easily boost its' bubble up to 18". When deployed in a hidden position and moving up with tarpit Termagant or Hormagaunt units to disbar flyers like Heldrakes and Daemon Princes from landing near the Hive Tyrant, this is a unit that can be really effective whether it makes it to assault or not. If the Tyrant Guard die, but the Hive Tyrant survives the game, it will have been worthwhile because that would signify an opponent has dedicated quite a few resources to their destruction. Safeguarding your Warlord victory point is always handy. Use the Hive Tyrant less as a straight offensive unit such as a Tyrannofex and more of a supporter that moves quickly to get into position early on, and from there, directs its swarm through a Synapse bubble and - hopefully - psychic buffs like Catalyst and Onslaught.

    Recommended Builds

    These are a few example builds for the unit that I feel can fit into a number of competitive Tyranid lists. I'll list some thoughts on each build and what kind of lists they fit better in.

    Hive Tyrant - Hive Commander, Miasma Cannon, Stranglethorn Cannon - Put this guy with two Tyrant Guard protectors and have him as the central Synapse unit in your main advancing force. Advance with two accurate 36" ranged blast templates that murder light to medium infantry, as well as any psychic power buffs you can get for your nearby Tyranids. Hive Commander is here to Outflank a Troops choice, like a Tervigon or a decently sized Warrior unit. This is a durable as heck Warlord, Synapse node and psychic unit that is nasty in combat and can do a lot of damage at range.

    Hive Tyrant - Adrenal Glands, Lash Whip and Bonesword, Toxin Sacs - This is your stock standard melee Hive Tyrant build; cheapish, nasty and overall efficient. Place it with two Tyrant Guard who also have Adrenal Glands and use them as a melee hammer unit. The Hive Tyrant alone is nasty as heck, able to easily take on Wraithknights and emerge victorious. As long as it doesn't charge through cover, it can also make short work of Nemesis Dreadknights.

    Lord of the Hive

    There are countless species that comprise each of the Hive Fleets, their physiology a result of genetic tailoring rather than natural birth. While each Hive Fleet bears their own unique adaptations, all Hive Fleets share many traits and species, and one that is now recognized as the forebear of planetary extinction is the fearsome Hive Tyrant. These loathsome monsters are the culmination of countless years of conquest, able to adapt against opposing strategies and outsmart the galaxies' most intelligent commanders. They are masters of warfare, skilled not just in controlling a battlefield with their mind, but wracking the foe with psychic barrages and their own substantial combat prowess. These leader-bests are the heralds of the Hive Mind, and to challenge one is to invoke the wrath of a Swarm.

    Thank you for reading this article! Please, share your thoughts on the article and the changes I am experimenting with for this series. I am open to any and all feedback! And remember, for any and all discussion on Tyranids and Games Workshop stuff, head on over to +Bell of Lost Souls. Thanks again! Eel out.
    Last edited by Learn2Eel; 02-17-2014 at 03:41 AM.
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  5. #5


    Hey guys, my name is Learn2Eel, and today I'm going to be bringing you another article in the Tyranid Tactica series! Hive Tyrants are the commanders of the swarms, the lynchpin that connects a Tyranid ground invasion force to its brood-mother, the Norn Queen, in the orbiting Hive Fleet. These are the most important creatures in a standard Tyranid army, and great care must be taken so that they survive. For this reason, Hive Tyrants that stalk the earth are protected either through specially engineered protectors, the Tyrant Guard, or adapted wings to allow them to soar above a battlefield and freely prey on the foes they choose. In this article, I will be covering the latter Hive Tyrant variety. I hope you enjoy this article!

    Hive Tyrant (Flying)

    How to Equip Them

    The first obvious step to taking a flying Hive Tyrant is to give it wings; this is a significantly cheaper upgrade than it used to be in the 5th Edition codex even when factoring in the massive advantages it brings with 6th Edition. It is also slightly cheaper than the equivalent upgrade for other monstrous creatures, such as Daemon Princes, which is certainly nice. Realistically, this is probably the best upgrade you could ever take for a Hive Tyrant, as it not only gives them incredible mobility which in turn makes their Synapse and psychic powers far more effective, but the capability to take on enemy fliers. Outside of Crones and monsters armed with a pair of brain-leech devourers, Tyranids don't really have any effective anti-air units. Throwing a Hive Tyrant with wings and a pair of brain-leech devourers into any army list will give them a unit that can annihilate any flyer in the game in one or two salvos if it goes for the more vulnerable side or rear armour. That is also now Ballistic Skill four just makes it a far better deal than it used to be, especially as such a build ends up being much less expensive, with psychic mastery level two thrown in to seal the deal.

    Wings make purely assault Hive Tyrants more viable due to the significant mobility boost, even if they can't really work with Tyrant Guard - though you can still take a unit of them to run as a separate melee unit. Being a flying unit gives them a lot more overall survivability, and they should be launching assaults by turn two at the latest. As such, taking a pair of Scything Talons in addition to a Lash Whip and Bonesword will give you a relatively cheap and very dangerous melee Hive Tyrant that is its own delivery system. Throw Adrenal Glands and maybe Toxin Sacs into the mix, and you will have a Hive Tyrant with Fleet on top of its wings, six Strength 7 AP2 attacks on the charge at Initiative 8 - if it doesn't charge into terrain - and instant death on to wound rolls of a 6. This is at a comparable cost to Old One Eye, and certainly is a more viable choice because of how quick and durable it is against most ground weaponry. Unlike ground Hive Tyrants, you can choose your battles most of the time with a flying Hive Tyrant due to the 24" normal and 2D6" Run moves, followed by Fleet charges. Unless you are grounded in a precarious position, you should almost never get into combats you don't want to - say, against a Screamerstar. If you want to go a melee flying Hive Tyrant, this is definitely what I would recommend; the lash whip and bonesword, maybe the Maw Claws of Thyrax - if not, just a stock set of Scything Talons - and Adrenal Glands. Toxin Sacs are good value, but optional, as Fleet is what you really want for a dedicated assault unit. Such a Hive Tyrant will want Paroxysm in particular; against a pesky Wraithknight, for example, lowering its Weapon Skill even by one will force it to hit the Hive Tyrant on 5s in close combat!

    For a more balanced Hive Tyrant that splits melee and ranged power, the lash whip and bonesword - or Maw Claws - replacement for one of the Scything Talon sets is mandatory if you want to get any kind of boost to its melee power. Just one set of Scything Talons will do absolutely nothing for a Hive Tyrant, so paying a decent amount of points to take a Lash Whip and Bonesword really isn't a bad idea. From there, with one ranged weapon in mind, the Miasma Cannon is a good bet for its nasty Poisoned (2+) AP4 template in particular on a flying monster, while Thorax Biomorphs - particularly the Shreddershard Beetles - are pretty darn nasty and cheap. The Heavy Venom Cannon is a very nice all-rounder choice, able to put a dent in any vehicle with a bit of luck, while the Stranglethorn Cannon is absolutely brutal against light to medium infantry. Each of the weapon options are nice, so I would base them off what you need more of; lacking Exocrines and Hive Guard, I would be more inclined to take the Heavy Venom Cannon. If Biovores and Harpies aren't present, then a Stranglethorn Cannon could be more useful. The Miasma Cannon is definitely a specialist infantry killer with variable ranges, but one that I would include even with Biovores and Harpies present, just because the AP4 means it will murder Fire Warriors, Dire Avengers and Necron Warriors which are some of the most common infantry around.

    When trying to build a purely ranged Hive Tyrant, the best overall build tends to be a pair of twin-linked brain leech devourers just because they are so darn cheap for what they do. That they cost the same for a Ballistic Skill three, non-Skyfire Carnifex as they do for a Ballistic Skill four, Skyfire Hive Tyrant is just crazy good, especially as they are a fantastic deal even on Carnifexes! Putting out twelve Strength 6 shots that hit on 3s with re-rolls to hit will, on average, wreck a three hull point, AV11 vehicle. This includes Rhinos, Stormtalons, Dark Talons, Ravagers that have not Jinked and especially more lightly armoured vehicles like Land Speeders and Venoms. It will also strip off one or two hull points from an AV12 vehicle each time they are fired, which is definitely nothing to sneeze at when facing down Stormravens or Wave Serpents. Use the fantastic mobility of Hive Tyrants to get to the rear armour of Heldrakes, Vendettas and Wave Serpents to destroy them with ease. Though that is the best generalist build, one that also puts so many wounds on monsters and infantry alike, mixing one of the heavy cannons with a thorax biomorph is also something to consider. With a Stranglethorn Cannon and a Miasma Cannon, a Hive Tyrant can fly around from long range, being a pest as it drops a Strength 6 AP5 Pinning Large Blast in addition to a Poisoned (2+) Small Blast, all at 36". A nice alternative at short range would be to take a Miasma Cannon and a Thorax Swarm, preferably with Sheddershard Beetles, to drop first a Poisoned (2+) AP4 template, then a Strength 3 Rending template with re-rolls to wound. No cover saves for you, infantry blobs! This build is nice, but you do need to be aware that strictly short ranged Hive Tyrants can be neutered by a proliferation of Skyfire or even a single infantry unit camping on an objective with the random Skyfire benefit. Getting in rapid fire range of one or more units significantly increases the odds of taking grounding tests, so I do recommend the brain-leech devourers - even over melee and other ranged builds - to be a medium ranged threat that gets in range on turn one and does the most damage.

    The Bio-Artefacts share most of the same qualities on a walking Hive Tyrant, save that they are generally a bit more valuable to a flying Hive Tyrant as their mobility means they are more likely to get the most use out of them. The Miasma Cannon, for example, is far nastier as a template weapon than a small blast, so a flying Hive Tyrant really wants it. The Maw Claws are exponentially better for a flying Hive Tyrant as it can reliably get that Preferred Enemy bonus by turn two, and they are a worthwhile replacement for a set of (useless) Scything Talons. The Norn Crown may be more useful here than for a walking Hive Tyrant simply because a flying Hive Tyrant is more likely to be out of range of friendly units even with Dominion thrown in, though I still believe it is unnecessary - just take more Zoanthropes instead! I'm not a fan of the Ymgarl Factor, but the more assault phases you can get, the better, so it probably is a handier addition for this Hive Tyrant. The Reaper of Obliterax is in a similar boat, not really being a worthwhile use of the points especially as a few upgrades around a lash whip and bonesword will do the same or better, but it is undeniably stronger on a faster model.

    Where to Put Them

    There are a few rule clarifications regarding flying monstrous creatures that many players continue to forget, even almost a full year and a half since 6th Edition released. The first is that wings on a monster do not count towards line of sight, which means that the small body of a Hive Tyrant can be easily hidden behind a decently sized ruin despite its comparatively massive wings. The second is that flying monsters use the exact same cover rules as ground monstrous creatures, with the additional option to Evade, granting it the Jink rule at the cost of snap firing its guns. Even when swooping, a flying monstrous creature with its base touching or in terrain will benefit from any applicable cover save provided by that piece of terrain. That a swooping flying monstrous creature never takes dangerous terrain tests, is never slowed by terrain, and benefits from terrain the same as any other monster, there is literally no reason not to finish their moves in cover. Even when arriving from reserve, or moving closer to an enemy unit, unless you want to charge a unit in that turn, finishing in cover is always recommended. That you have a 24" move distance and a possible 2D6" run just makes it easier to get into terrain, while the 12" minimum move should help you get into more clustered terrain pieces. As Hive Tyrants lack invulnerable saves, keeping to cover is essential as many Skyfire weapons will ignore their 3+ armour save. It goes without saying that Vector Strikes will offer you no defence, so try to plan for this by staying about 32" away from an opponents' board edge in the case of a Heldrake - it has to fly over you to Vector Strike with only a 36" move - which does suck. For other flying monstrous creatures, abuse their 90 degree maximum turn for Swooping and taking off and fly behind them; a Hive Tyrant equipped with two ranged weapons, unlike most flying monstrous creatures, won't care too much if it can't vector strike!

    A common mistake made when using flying monstrous creatures is over-aggressiveness with them due to snap-shots from ground units being a requirement to hit them, as well as their 24" move and 2D6" run move. Once a Hive Tyrant is the target of focused shooting, it will have to take a grounding test for - on average - any unit that can put out six or more shots at it. Fire Warriors with their 15" rapid fire guns, a Land Raider Crusader, a small unit of Dire Avengers, an Annihilation Barge and so on will all statistically force a grounding test with an effective range of 24" to 30" when their own movement is taken into account. A failed grounding test is an almost guaranteed wound for a Toughness 6 model lacking an invulnerable save, and from there, potent anti tank or massed high Strength shooting - missile launchers, missile pods, lascannons, plasma guns, Bio-Plasmic Cannons and so on - will put the Hive Tyrant down very quickly. This ties into keeping to cover as much as possible; even though most weapons that do hit you will probably just be small arms fire, you want to be in cover for that inevitable failed grounding test. While cover saves are not allowed against that particular wound, they are against most shots that will subsequently target the Hive Tyrant. This can and will save your Hive Tyrant, so never go without terrain unless you have no choice. Even with the Evade rule, I still recommend sticking to terrain as you will likely want to get back in the sky and thus shoot your opponent, so minimizing the necessity of Evading is always handy - it is a last resort. To avoid getting shot at by an unnecessarily high amount of units, try to block line of sight wherever possible through the use of terrain. Don't always move 24" on the first turn unless you can get behind sight blocking terrain; even moving 12" should get your 18" brain-leech devourers in range, or heck, your 36" range guns can shoot regardless. Don't move flat out forward unless you are preparing for a fast assault and putting pressure on an opponents' heavy hitters, like Broadsides and Devastators, alongside other flyers such as Crones.

    Best Uses

    Much like a walking Hive Tyrant, its flying counter-part is suited to pretty much any army list you can imagine, though its mere inclusion is enough to justify a "flying circus". A flying Hive Tyrant brings Synapse, two very valuable psychic powers and a decently durable warlord choice to a Tyranid force. It is incredibly fast and, depending on the amount of Skyfire weapons in an opponents force, either quite a bit less or almost as durable as a Hive Tyrant with two Tyrant Guard on foot. It can be tailored for melee and ranged warfare - or do a decent mix of both - and has great stats that make it mostly immune to psychic attacks and characteristic tests. It is a great generalist that competes very well with flying monstrous creatures from any army because of its effectiveness and cost, as well as immunity to conventional instant death. When you take a flying Hive Tyrant or two, Crones and Harpies will crow and shriek - respectively - with joy, as sending up to five rather cheap and very damaging flying monsters at any opponent is likely to unnerve them, especially when they take up just over half of a 1500 point army list! They thus make flyer-spam supported by fast assault - namely Hormagaunts, Gargoyles and Mawlocs - lists far more viable with mobile Synapse generators. They work best for any kind of fast Tyranid army as they themselves are the quickest Synapse units in the codex.

    The minimum 12" movement doesn't lend itself too well to a slower, Exocrine and Hive Guard themed list even when Dominion is thrown, so those are where the foot Hive Tyrant wins out for the most part. Where the ground Hive Tyrant is the more supportive type, the flying Hive Tyrant is definitely the one for aggressive builds; used smartly with terrain and controlled aggression, a flying Hive Tyrant is a devastating generalist that counters flyers, psykers and ground vehicles better than any other in the codex. In fact, its 24" move coupled with Shadow in the Warp makes it one of the prime counters to psychic-blessing reliant builds for Tyranids, such as dual Farseer Eldar or Screamerstars. I see the best use of the flying Hive Tyrant to be equipped with two brain-leech devourers, as they are the most cost effective weapon option and the biggest threat to vehicles - particularly flyers - and being an aggressive unit that hugs cover and uses its 24" move to hide as much as possible. It is an easy source of First Blood through its twelve Strength 6 shots with an effective range of 42", and is durable enough provided it isn't moved into the line of fire of many enemy units. Try to increase its Synapse bubble through Dominion to benefit your Gargoyles and other flyers if possible, and cast psychic buffs and maledictions as necessary.

    Recommended Builds

    These are a few example builds for the unit that I feel can fit into a number of competitive Tyranid lists. I'll list some thoughts on each build and what kind of lists they fit better in.

    Hive Tyrant - Two Twin-linked Brain Leech Devourers, Wings - This is your cookie-cutter flying Hive Tyrant, but also unarguably the best - plus an upgrade or two perhaps. They provide twelve twin-linked Strength 6 shots that hit on 4s naturally, meaning they can tear apart light vehicles, flyers, light infantry and medium armoured monstrous creatures with ease. They are still a good melee unit, especially as an incredibly mobile flying monstrous creature, while providing Synapse and great psychic powers. This is a generalist, and the best of the bunch.

    Hive Tyrant - Miasma Cannon, Thorax Swarm with Shreddershard Beetles, Wings - This build isn't capable of really handling enemy flyers and flying monstrous creatures, but it sure does devastate infantry. A Strength 3 Rending template with re-rolls to wound paired up with a Poisoned (+2) AP4 template, what's not to like? It isn't too expensive either, only a handful of points more than the other, and it just annihilates infantry like few other monsters in the codex - shaded only perhaps by the Tyrannofex.

    Hive Tyrant - Adrenal Glands, Lash Whip and Bonesword, Toxin Sacs, Wings - This is of course identical to the melee Hive Tyrant build I suggested for walking variations, but with wings added in. The option for Tyrant Guard as early bodyguards is cool, but unnecessary and costly. This build uses its insane speed and natural durability to pick its targets and mash them with Poisoned attacks with the potential for Instant Death at Initiative 8. Fleet on a Flying Monstrous Creature is nuts, and means it can run incredibly quickly. And with six attacks on the charge, it packs a wallop!

    Thank you for reading this article! Please, share your thoughts on the article and the changes I am experimenting with for this series. I am open to any and all feedback! And remember, for any and all discussion on Tyranids and Games Workshop stuff, head on over to +Bell of Lost Souls. Thanks again! Eel out.
    Last edited by Learn2Eel; 02-17-2014 at 03:40 AM.
    Check out my blog!

  6. #6


    Hey guys, my name is Learn2Eel, and today I'm going to be bringing you another article in the Tyranid Tactica series! Tyrant Guard have adopted the bio traits of Space Marines, sacrificing eyes and other important facial features so as to not compromise what is a near impenetrable armoured shell. These monstrous guardians serve as the protectors of a Hive Fleets' Hive Tyrants, perhaps the most important synaptic links to a Norn Queen in a swarm. As massive as the one they protect, and adapted with weapons to crush any foe, the Tyrant Guard are a truly fearsome sight. Led by a Hive Tyrant, these simple creatures become ferocious defenders unparalleled. I hope you enjoy this article!

    Tyrant Guard


    Tyrant Guard stalk the line between monstrous creature and infantry more than perhaps any other model in the game, especially owing to their crazy large models. Their background depicts them as engineered solely for defending the crucial Hive Tyrants, and their stats really do reflect this. With Toughness 6, two wounds each and a 3+ armour save, they are easily the most durable unit in the codex that isn't a monstrous creature. Being wounded on 6s by bolters and 5s by pulse rifles makes a huge difference, especially as Tyrant Guard provide ablative wounds against that massed small arms fire. I stop short of saying they are the perfect bodyguards though, as the lack of Tyranid transports, inability to deep strike and no option to get wings like certain Hive Tyrant builds limits their mobility quite a bit. The lack of invulnerable saves forces them to rely on cover, as they will always be an obvious target by protecting what will likely be the Warlord creature. Still, they are worthwhile alone for the ablative wounds they provide to a Hive Tyrant, and they are absolutely mandatory for the Swarmlord, meaning they always have a place. They do manage quite well on the other side of the spectrum too, with a good Weapon Skill five, three attacks base when counting their two melee weapon sets, solid Initiative four, and a very decent Strength five. They come equipped with Rending Claws and Scything Talons, the latter of which can be swapped out for much nastier - but costly - weapon options like Crushing Claws. Even stock Tyrant Guard are quite nasty, tanking wounds in combat against Strength four and lower opponents - they can't be targeted by krak grenades, importantly - while mashing up with a good number of Rending attacks each that also double as AP5 non-Rending wounds. Bare Tyrant Guard are mini meat grinders against chaff and tarpit units, while they are also quite threatening to monsters, light vehicles and elite infantry due to Rending.

    Tyrant Guard can become doubly effective in combat through the cheap Toxin Sacs upgrade allowing them to take on something like a C'tan that absolutely despises poison. Of course, Tyrant Guard are only Toughness 6 with no invulnerable save, so they will drop quickly to monsters if they aren't baby-sitting a nasty melee Hive Tyrant. If you can get the monster to charge into cover, or the Tyrant Guard are equipped with lash whips and boneswords and aren't suffering Initiative penalties, it could lead to some....hilarity. Get a single 6 to wound against a Wraithknight from your lash whip and bonesword equipped Tyrant Guard and laugh at how your bodyguards slew a (metaphorical) titan. The other biomorph available to them is Adrenal Glands, one that I always recommend not because it grants Furious Charge - which is invalidated by equally priced Toxin Sacs - but because it gives out Fleet. Give Adrenal Glands to a Hive Tyrant and its Tyrant Guard and you can have a big nasty mini-deathstar with Fleet. Nice! Now, provided your Hive Tyrant doesn't get sniped out or killed first by some unfathomably cruel turn of fate, your Tyrant Guard will never actually have to worry about their feeding Instinctive Behaviour. If they do however, it really isn't nice - they can eat each other! There is an upswing to this though; for the rest of the game after their leader has bit the bullet, the Tyrant Guard get both Furious Charge and Rage. As your Tyrant Guard will likely have Adrenal Glands anyway, Furious Charge isn't that big a boon, but Rage is pretty darn nasty. Without Toxin Sacs or a weapon upgrade, each Tyrant Guard would have five attacks at Strength 6 with Rending on the charge. Ouch! They thus become a pretty scary proposition for your opponent provided they are kept within Synapse range of a backup unit such as a Zoanthrope, able to maul most infantry units and non-walker vehicles. It becomes so much worse if they actually do have Toxin Sacs, Adrenal Glands, Crushing Claws or Lash Whips and Boneswords; something tells me no one wants to see mini Carnifexes with five Strength 7 AP2 Armourbane attacks each on the charge surprising them with their smaller bulk.

    But wait a second, how does a Hive Tyrant - which isn't an independent character - join a Tyrant Guard unit? Why am I imposing a rhetorical question this far into the review? Firstly, Tyrant Guard have the Shieldwall special rule, allowing one Hive Tyrant - or the Swarmlord - to join the unit. Only one Hive Tyrant may be attached, no more, no less. One shall be the number that can be attached, and the number that can be attached can be one. Two cannot be attached, nor can zero, except if you can then proceed to one. Four is right out. Once the.....wait, what was I talking about? Oh, the Hive Tyrant or Swarmlord automatically pass Look Out Sirs when attached to the unit, something along those lines, eh. Not enough pins or bits for me to be interested, though I guess ignoring sniping shenanigans with barrage weapons is somewhat* nice. But secondly, it was because they told me to! But really, they make fantastic bodyguards, crystal skulls or not.

    *"Somewhat" may or may not be disingenuous. Please refer to the terminology "somewhat" as "incredibly" for future reference.

    How to Equip Them

    With a modest points drop and no significant changes in effectiveness, Tyrant Guard have three main permutations available. The first and certainly viable option is to keep them standard; unlike those they protect, they come not with two pairs of Scything Talons, but one pair in addition to Rending Claws. This means that they still benefit from a base three attacks each and four on the charge, with AP5 melee attacks that can potentially cut through armour with AP2 or +D3 to armour penetration. With a base Strength 5, Weapon Skill 5 and Initiative 4, this makes them very decent melee combatants, even if most of their 'grunt' comes from how tough they are. With Rending Claws and Adrenal Glands, Tyrant Guard can potentially get penetrating hits on AV14 vehicles, though this of course relies on a lot of luck. I like keeping Tyrant Guard bare on the weapon front simply because you want to keep those ablative wounds cheap. From experience, you don't plan on Tyrant Guard actually surviving, especially as Tyranids now only really have randomly generated Catalyst to protect them in terms of psychic powers. You pay those points for two Toughness 6, 3+ armoured wounds per model, something that is well worth the price to protect a far more important - and deadlier - Hive Tyrant. Rending Claws allow them to cut through chaff with ease and provide a decent threat against heavier armoured enemies, allowing them to hide behind that crazy good Toughness value.

    Of course, if you really want those AP2 attacks that also crunch heavy vehicles, Tyrant Guard now have access to Crushing Claws. These are Unwieldy, give the Tyrant Guard AP2 attacks, a minor Strength boost and the Armourbane special rule. With four Strength 6 Armourbane attacks on the charge at AP2 per model, even a pair of Tyrant Guard can pretty reliably get two or three damage results against a Land Raider or Monolith, with each also getting a nifty +1 roll on the damage chart. This is a pretty costly upgrade though, but one that is quite tasty; ignoring 2+ armour saves comes naturally to a Hive Tyrant, but giving it to the Tyrant Guard bodyguards can make for a Terminator-mashing unit. It does conflict with what a Hive Tyrant brings to a unit though, especially as Unwieldy means that the Tyrant Guard lose a big advantage they have against power fists and power axes. I think that while Crushing Claws are a neat upgrade, they are probably unnecessary for Tyrant Guard unless you are running them with a Hive Tyrant separate from the unit. The Hive Tyrant alone can bring you those Smash attacks and cut through vehicles, and it is also prudent to note that Rending Claws on Strength 5 bodies should be handy enough. However, a point of note in regards to Unwieldy is that Tyrant Guard, like Hive Tyrants, lack access to both Flesh Hooks and Spine Banks. This means that if the unit charges into cover, they will be striking at the Initiative one step regardless, so it does give Crushing Claws a very nice advantage over the Lash Whip and Bonesword.

    Speaking of the dreaded pairing, yes, Tyrant Guard now combine the Lash Whip and Bonesword rather than being limited to only one of the two at a time. The changes to lash whips make them far less desirable than they were, as previously they mitigated the lack of assault grenades as well as evening the playing field against high Initiative opponents. They allowed Hive Tyrants to deal with Black Mace equipped Daemon Princes, even if the Hive Tyrant itself would perish. They allowed the unit to combat someone like Mephiston with some degree of success, especially with a Hive Tyrant hiding behind a 2+ armour save. Now, they merely provide a +3 Initiative bonus to the wielder, boosting Tyrant Guard up to a whopping Initiative seven. While this is really cool, it is nowhere near as ubiquitous as the old incarnation; a flat reduction to Initiative one for all enemies in base contact completely mitigated the lack of assault grenades. Now, it is useless when charging into terrain, and still not as useful for the Hive Tyrant itself against Initiative five or higher opponents. The Bonesword also saw a few big changes, the first of which is that it no longer flatly ignores armour saves, but is instead AP3. This means that Tyrant Guard can't just scythe through Terminators, which is fair enough; though of course as they keep their Rending Claws, they can still use those to cut through 2+ armour saves. The more interesting change is that 6s to wound with boneswords now inflict instant death, rather than the "one leadership test for all wounds inflicted by boneswords in that phase" which was limiting and not that great against the usual Leadership 9 and 10 characters and monsters. This makes Tyrant Guard far scarier against Wraithknights, for example, but less threatening to Riptides and Dreadknights who can hide behind their 2+ armour saves against the AP3 wounds.

    I personally prefer keeping Tyrant Guard stock with weapon options as, again, they are there to "die" rather than actually fight. If they make it into combat, master present or not, then that is merely a bonus. Besides, each put outs four Strength 5 Rending attacks at Initiative four with Weapon Skill five anyway. That's generally enough to beat down Tactical Marines who, laughably, cannot use their krak grenades against the Toughness 6 mini monsters, and most other infantry. If you do want to upgrade them, I tend to prefer Crushing Claws as when the cards are down and terrain is prevalent, the claws give Tyrant Guard the biggest offensive boost overall with guaranteed AP2, +1 Strength and Armourbane. Lash Whips and Boneswords are certainly nasty for 3+ armoured bodies, characters and monsters, but once you negate the lash whip bonus, I don't think they are as valuable. Again, four Strength 6 AP2 attacks rolling 2D6 for armour penetration can deal with almost all conventional units, vehicular or not, which is far better for using a lord-less unit of Tyrant Guard. If you want the best bodyguards, keep them cheap with their stock equipment. If you want a stand-alone unit, take Crushing Claws as it will make your Tyrant Guard a viable threat against any unit lacking lots of high Strength AP3 or AP2 attacks. The Lash Whip and Bonesword have their uses if you want to keep the Tyrant Guard with a Hive Tyrant, but I would still prefer the Crushing Claws if you want to spend those points to upgrade the Tyrant Guard.

    The two other options available to Tyrant Guard that fit regardless of your weapon choices are Adrenal Glands and Toxin Sacs. In the previous codex, Tyrant Guard couldn't even take either of these biomorphs due to the lacking options for the model. Now generally speaking, Toxin Sacs give you the best offensive output; permanently having Poisoned (4+) attacks, especially with a good Strength of five, is always preferable to one round of Strength 6 attacks. Tyrant Guard using their Rending Claws, for example, will wound a Wraithknight on 4s with 6s ignoring its armour, while they would only wound on 6s - as well as ignoring armour - if they took Adrenal Glands. Similarly, they would wound on 2s against Space Marines with the Adrenal Glands for one round, but the Toxin Sacs would let them wound on 3s with re-rolls in every round. It's a wash, really, but it misses the true point of Adrenal Glands for the new codex. Now that they confer Fleet, Adrenal Glands have sky-rocketed into usefulness, giving a much needed speed boost for any Tyranid ground unit that lacks the special rule innately. For a unit entirely lacking ranged weapons - aside from potentially the Hive Tyrant - Adrenal Glands are almost a must-buy for Tyrant Guard, not so much that they reach combat, but to guarantee the Hive Tyrant does. Each model in a unit has to have Fleet for the unit to reap the benefits, so paying a small tax to give two or three Tyrant Guard as well as a Hive Tyrant Fleet is well worth your time. Neither upgrade is strictly necessary, but both are very useful; Toxin Sacs suffer a bit because, again, Tyrant Guard aren't really there for their damage output. Adrenal Glands, on the other hand, are always useful no matter the opponent. Just remember that giving Adrenal Glands to Tyrant Guard protecting the Swarmlord isn't really worthwhile as the Swarmlord itself lacks both Fleet and the option to take Adrenal Glands.

    Where to Put Them

    As any Tyranid player will tell you, terrain is your friend. I must sound like a broken record only four unit reviews into the Tactica series, but it really needs to be said. Tyrant Guard lack Move Through Cover, which can be very annoying when you are trying to move from cover to cover to make up for their lack of invulnerable saves. Handily, this is only an issue when their leader beast is detached or dead, so it isn't something to worry about; Move Through Cover applies if only one model in the unit has it, and as Hive Tyrants do, your Tyrant Guard and their quarry can move through terrain without issue. On top of rolling 3D6 choose the highest for movement and ignoring any kind of dangerous terrain test, giving Adrenal Glands to the Tyrant Guard and Hive Tyrant for Fleet will lead to a pretty mobile unit, one that will lose about 3" on your very fast Hormagaunt broods each turn. This all boils down to three short and simple words that you must live by to be a successful Hive Lord; keep to cover! Don't be a dolt, abuse line of sight blocking terrain and actually move into terrain at all costs. Lacking invulnerable saves means you can't get away with plonking up the field or deep striking anywhere you please much like Riptides or Legion of the Damned, and no 2+ armour on any model in the unit against shooting is a downer that really forces you to hide and slow down. Assuming you play on a standard game board, this won't be an issue. If you play against an Imperial Guard or Tau player who insists they should have all the terrain in their deployment zone to make the game "cinematic", shake their hand and slap them twice - once for their lack of ingenuity, twice for thinking a massacre is any sort of fun for both players.

    So with that out of the way, there are two places to put Tyrant Guard. The first and most obvious is attached to a Hive Tyrant - or the Swarmlord - and slogging it up the field (though that of course is also disingenuous as they will always slog up the field with no deep striking) used as ablative wounds for an important Synapse creature. The Hive Tyrant or Swarmlord will typically want to be near the middle of the army and backed by Venomthropes and covering models such as Hormagaunts and Carnifexes to stay alive. With Venomthropes, a wall of monsters and two or more Tyrant Guard, the Hive Tyrant will be ridiculously hard to remove which is pretty much all you could want. Attaching a flying Hive Tyrant is viable as well, using the Tyrant Guard as early bodyguards and then detaching for both units to assault different targets, for example. The other use for Tyrant Guard is to detach the Hive Tyrant early on, or not join them at all. This plays on the relatively cost effective models themselves as an entirely distinct unit. A brood of two armed with Crushing Claws is not much more expensive than a Carnifex, but has almost double the damage output in melee and the same survivability - save that the damage output is halved after two wounds are suffered. All in all, they really aren't a bad deal, especially as their Toughness 6 and two wounds each mean that opponents will actually have to target them with some serious firepower to remove them. Even one Tyrant Guard can easily mop up an entire Fire Warrior team, Overwatch not withstanding. Of course, I think at that point I probably would still prefer a Carnifex, or even a Zoanthrope for the Synapse and psychic support role. I want Tyrant Guard to protect my valuable Hive Tyrant and even act as cover for Venomthropes, though using them as a separate unit can be kind of funny.

    Best Uses

    I'm sold on Tyrant Guard, especially with the points drop, but only when properly attached to a footslogging Hive Tyrant. A winged Hive Tyrant armed with two brain leech devourers really wants to be heading up the field early on to make use of its medium ranged weapons, while a flying Hive Tyrant with a Heavy Venom Cannon or another long ranged weapon may as well just drop the wings. I don't see the Swarmlord as being as valuable as a significantly cheap foot Hive Tyrant armed with a long ranged bio-cannon or two - such as a Stranglethorn Cannon and Miasma Cannon combo - while a melee Hive Tyrant is generally better suited to taking wings. The Tyrant Guard are there to keep the Hive Tyrant alive, not to actually kill stuff, as you always have to expect to lose models when foot-slogging - something only Tyranids know all too well, especially now that we don't have access to Gate of Infinity or Mycetic Spores. This is why I recommend keeping the Tyrant Guard stock, save for Adrenal Glands; they really don't need the extras, so make sure your Hive Tyrant also takes Adrenal Glands if you want the very handy Fleet bonus. Keep to cover, use Hormagaunts and Termagants as mobile tarpits and blockers, use other monsters to interdict and provide cover saves, and don't be afraid to move through terrain as it doesn't really slow the unit down that much.

    Recommended Builds

    These are a few example builds for the unit that I feel can fit into a number of competitive Tyranid lists. I'll list some thoughts on each build and what kind of lists they fit better in.

    Tyrant Guard (2) - Adrenal Glands - Yes, this is simple and short. However, as bodyguards for a melee Hive Tyrant also equipped with Adrenal Glands, Tyrant Guard literally need no other upgrades. Fleet on a unit comprising of eight Toughness 6 wounds and great melee capabilities is all you need.

    Tyrant Guard (2) - Crushing Claws - If you want some bodyguards for a flying Hive Tyrant early on that transition into a solo melee unit, Crushing Claws make them incredibly nasty against almost anything. They can pulverise all kinds of infantry and vehicles, and they aren't too expensive either.

    Living Shields

    Bound by instinct and the will of a galactic entity to protect and serve the whims of a Hive Tyrant above all else, Tyrant Guard are defenders of a different kind. They are not valiant in sacrifice or strong in courage. They are creatures purged of all thought by a single overriding purpose; to stand as a wall of flesh and bone between the Tyrant Lords of the Swarm and those foolish enough to challenge them. They do not hesitate, and they do not falter, for such actions are as alien to them as the many Tyranids sub-species are to the known galaxy. They stand vigil even as their body is wracked by a torrent of destruction, for they feel nothing and know only to guard their masters. Strong and incredibly resilient, they are a shield against any foe, fighting with an impossible ferocity that only multiplies with the fall of the Hive Tyrants they defend.

    Thank you for reading this article! Please, share your thoughts on the article and the changes I am experimenting with for this series. I am open to any and all feedback! And remember, for any and all discussion on Tyranids and Games Workshop stuff, head on over to +Bell of Lost Souls. Thanks again! Eel out.
    Last edited by Learn2Eel; 02-17-2014 at 03:38 AM.
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  7. #7


    Hey guys, my name is Learn2Eel, and today I'm going to be bringing you another article in the Tyranid Tactica series! One of the iconic hold-overs from 3rd Edition Tyranids, Old One Eye has taken up a new role in the HQ slot, something that will definitely interest those aiming for a themed force involving massed Carnifexes. A tough nut to crack and one that can absolutely slaughter most anything that gets in its path, Old One Eye is one of two HQ choices that doesn't bring that pivotal Synapse to the table. Whether or not the classic bug strikes your fancy may very well be based upon this fact, so always make sure you have lots of other Synapse creatures if you bring the wounded beast of Calth to battle. I hope you enjoy this article!

    Old One Eye


    Balking at Old One Eyes profile at first glance is actually not that uncommon, even despite lacking some of the crazy stats we've seen for characters such as Skarbrand or Kaldor Draigo. It is one of the few native Strength 10 units in the game, meaning that its standard attacks will inflict instant death on Toughness 5 or lower models. Armed with Crushing Claws, Old One Eye literally never needs to Smash; it is already Strength 10, it gets Armourbane from the claws, and it even ignores Unwieldy because it is a monstrous creature. To put this into perspective, Old One Eye has five base attacks when counting its two melee weapons - it has a pair of Scything Talons it will never use - and six on the charge. It also does D3 Hammer of Wrath hits at Strength 10. Basically, any character that can't kill it before it strikes and lacks Eternal Warrior or Toughness 6, or any vehicle that gets in its way, your opponent may as well just slap those models off the table. Old One Eye, even with a pretty mediocre and disappointing Weapon Skill three, will just annihilate them with no difficulty whatsoever. Weapon Skill seven isn't too common for most armies, so Old One Eye will usually hit on 4s. I dread what would happen if a Daemon Prince that either fluffs its rolls or is, for some reason, not equipped with a Bale Sword or daemon weapon, goes up against Old One Eye. The result should be characterized with a suitable "splich" sound. Old One Eye may as well be the Tyranid equivalent of a freight train at full speed. Spartan Assault Tanks? One round is all Old One Eye needs.

    With no ranged weapons to speak of and almost identical durability to a standard Carnifex, Old One Eye really has to prove its point in melee to be valuable. With its incredibly damaging attacks, all it needs is another little edge. This comes in the form of generating extra attacks for every hit in its first wave of attacks - you don't count the extra attacks for this rule - giving Old One Eye a potential twelve attacks on the charge, all at Strength 10 AP2. Of course, a significant amount of luck is required for that, but it essentially guarantees that anything that can't kill Old One Eye first and also lacks Eternal Warrior is going to get squished. Amusingly, Old One Eye also gets an extra tail attack at Strength 4, AP4 with Rending, which is something to remember more than anything else. So does Old One Eye do anything other than kill things so hard that they die to death? Fortunately, it does; it makes up for its lack of Synapse by conferring its Leadership 8 to friendly units within a 12" bubble. This is really handy if you are deprived of Synapse creatures, meaning even your basic Hormagaunts and Termagants will fail their Instinctive Behaviour tests less than 50% of the time. However, it still doesn't make up for the risks inherent with Instinctive Behaviour, especially as Leadership 8 isn't that great. You still need those Synapse creatures, so taking Zoanthropes, Trygon Primes and Tervigons is still as mandatory as otherwise. Hilariously, you may not care if Old One Eye itself fails an Instinctive Behaviour test, so long as it happens near an enemy unit or two. There aren't too many units in the game that will actually stop the beast in close combat, and none that can afford a walloping. And if Old One Eye gets Rage? Oh dear....

    So with no ranged weapons to speak of and the same defensive stats as a Carnifex - Toughness 6, 4 wounds and a 3+ armour save - Old One Eye obviously has a bit of a hill to climb to reach combat. It can't join units - though it is a character - and it doesn't have any helpful special rules like Shrouding. What it relies on is its stock Regeneration, allowing it to regrow a wound on each of its friendly turns on a 4+. Additionally, its Warlord Trait affords it Feel No Pain on the turn after it takes an unsaved wound. Realistically, any competitive army list nowadays can easily deal with four Toughness 6, 3+ armoured wounds in one shooting phase, so having Old One Eye rely on Regeneration and a "delayed" Feel No Pain isn't really ideal for an expensive commander model. This is why I recommend not using it as a Warlord, just because it will forfeit that point much easier than you would hope. It might lose out on the Warlord Trait, but its better than having a Leadership 8 Warlord that lacks Synapse and is pretty darn easily killed. The amusing truth is that unless you take a Tervigon as your other HQ choice, Old One Eye will never be the Warlord anyway in an army with two HQs. Its Leadership 8 is the lowest of all the potential Warlord choices in the army, and Tervigons are not characters and thus cannot be the Warlord.

    Where to Put Them

    Old One Eye is a challenge to use because it is neither an independent character or naturally part of a brood. It has the same defensive stats as a Carnifex with Regeneration and the sixth Tyranid Warlord trait, which doesn't lend itself well to a HQ choice that may be a Warlord. With the terrain placement rules, try to have a big terrain piece on the edge of your deployment zone, then litter the middle of the board as much as possible. This should give Old One Eye some breathing room to move up; as it uses the standard Carnifex model, or the old Finecast model, it isn't too big of a target and thus can be hidden far easier than a Tervigon or Haruspex. Its Initiative of 2 means that charging into and out of terrain really isn't that big of a deal unless the opposing unit has power fists, so generally, not too bad at all. Its model is small enough to get a 5+ cover save from intervening Hormagaunt broods, especially with varying heights on terrain, so make the most of this as much as you can. Aim Old One Eye for highly valuable and durable vehicles, such as Ghost Arks and Land Raiders, or even go straight for units that are tied up by your more mobile infantry broods. Its offensive capabilities are naturally suited to taking on vehicles above all else, while characters lacking Eternal Warrior are also easy prey - Old One Eye can issue challenges after all! Combo-charging Old One Eye with a Harpy can be quite brutal, meaning enemies won't strike before it so that it can benefit from its extra attacks to slaughter units.

    Best Uses

    Old One Eye strikes me as wanting to be a fire magnet, but not exactly having the durability to be a great one. It will smash any vehicle and unit lacking power weapons it comes across into pulp, while many monstrous creatures would be best served trying to avoid it. But, it is still 'only' Toughness 6 with four wounds and a 3+ armour save. A pair of Riptides backed by Markerlight support will make short work of Old One Eye in one round of shooting. A squad or two Dire Avengers firing at their 18" range after or before Battle Focus moves will statistically put the beast down if it lacks a cover save. A volley from two to four grav guns will slaughter the monster of Calth. This is just reality; it is as easy to kill as a Carnifex in one round of shooting, but that is what you can try to exploit. Restrict as much shooting at Old One Eye as possible, and this will allow it to gain its Feel No Pain trait and make use of Regeneration. I would avoid making it a Warlord as it is one of the most easily handled Warlords that Tyranid players have access to, though it is probably the most damaging. Try to keep it backing a swarm of Hormagaunts, using them as cover and moving through terrain if possible. If nearby Synapse creatures are eliminated, Old One Eye's Alpha Leader special rule will come into play until another Synapse creature can move into range. One turn of Leadership 8 for a bunch of units should be just fine for their Instinctive Behaviour tests. From there, aim for the nasty units, or even just ten-strong Tactical Marines and other such bulky scoring units; getting Old One Eye, even unsupported, into such a unit will pretty much confirm its end. It will maul any typical scoring unit, so use that to your advantage to clear objectives - having Old One Eye sit on an objective in the midfield in cover is sure to frighten your opponents!

    Legend of Calth

    Many great horror stories owe their numerous credits to the monsters they invent, a creature so terrifying and disabling that it seems nothing can stop them. This is true horror, where individuals feel helpless in the face of fear, swallowed by dread. While Old One Eye may not be at home in such a setting, it nonetheless defies belief with its seeming immortality. A protagonist may feel they have put the beast down, but only to their demise does it lead as Old One Eye rises again. As it terrorized Calth from beyond its frozen grave, so too has this monstrous Carnifex sowed destruction throughout many worlds, striking from all angles unbeknown to its prey. An alpha organism of the Swarm, Old One Eye is a bestial creature that very much fits the legend. Death has claimed it countless times, but yet it never ceases to consume and annihilate all in its path.

    Thank you for reading this article! Please, share your thoughts on the article and the changes I am experimenting with for this series. I am open to any and all feedback! And remember, for any and all discussion on Tyranids and Games Workshop stuff, head on over to +Bell of Lost Souls. Thanks again! Eel out.
    Last edited by Learn2Eel; 02-10-2014 at 01:22 AM.
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  8. #8


    Hey guys, my name is Learn2Eel, and today I'm going to be bringing you another article in the Tyranid Tactica series! The Tervigon has become an iconic fixture in 5th Edition and 6th Edition Tyranid army lists with the previous codex due to its staggering versatility as a Troops choice monstrous creature that could double as a Warlord. While it has seen reductions in effectiveness, removal of certain abilities and penalties to those remaining, the Tervigon is still a great choice for any Tyranid army list and one that can swing a game in your favour with its potential to spawn scoring bodies. I hope you enjoy this article!



    The Tervigon is a dedicated support monster, unlike all of the others in the codex that have differing roles and offensive abilities, and the profile of the beast depicts this. It shares the Toughness 6, 6 wounds and 3+ armour save of a Trygon, but its Strength of 5 and Initiative of 2 mean that its offensive capabilities aren't that great. Weapon Skill and Ballistic Skill 3 are typical of Tyranid monstrous creatures, but with only three attacks, the Tervigon isn't going to do too much in combat. The Initiative boost in the new codex is very handy though, allowing the Tervigon to strike before power fists - though as it is no longer a character, this is almost irrelevant - if it doesn't charge through cover. Having three attacks may be low as well, but Smash doubles the Tervigon up to Strength 10 and sacrifices but a single strike; basically, there's little to no reason not to Smash as a Tervigon once in combat. As middling as its profile might seem in terms of aggression, the Tervigon has a number of characteristics that distinguish it from its kit-sibling the Tyrannofex. The first is Leadership 10 and Synapse that, on a Toughness 6, 6 wound and 3+ armoured model, is really darn good. Shadow in the Warp and its two stock weapons are almost additives at this point, but they are nonetheless useful. The Tervigon is a durable Synapse creature, it provides a nasty anti-psyker bubble, and it is still a monstrous creature that can bring down vehicles and light infantry with ease - albeit slowly.

    This is where the Tervigon starts to get really interesting. Its stinger salvo and scything talons leave much to be desired for damage ouput, but the Tervigon is a Mastery Level one psyker. As long as you don't roll up Psychic Scream - which can be swapped out for the very useful Dominion - you will love the extra psychic power in your army, as the Tyranid powers are just so good. Having your Tervigon give a unit of Devourer-armed Termagants Onslaught to run and then shoot with their 18" guns makes them the miniature Dire Avenger rookies, while Catalyst for both the Tervigon and any other unit is delicious. The Tervigon has a lot more to offer though, as it can also be made a scoring unit by taking a brood of thirty Termagants as a single Troops choice. This unlocks one Tervigon as a Troops unit giving you one of the toughest and most flexible scoring units in the game, one that is also easily the best scoring Synapse option you can take. As a Tervigon is not a character, it can't be your Warlord anyway; Termagants are cheap, so taking them in a big brood so they don't easily give away victory points such as First Blood is logical. If it makes a big monster like a Tervigon a Troops choice, you may as well never leave Tervigons as HQ choices, especially with how good Hive Tyrants are. Freeing up your most valuable slots - HQ and Heavy Support for Tyranids - is always a good idea, and the Tervigon just becomes so much better as a Troops choice.

    There is more to the Tervigon and the Termagants that change its position in the army list than just a simple force organization switch, and this is what defines the Tervigon even with the changes made to it. A Tervigon has the ability to spawn broods of Termagants, and the way this works is actually rather simple. The Tervigon ends its move, and then it spawns. Before I go on, I have to note that while spawned Termagants losing the ability to charge is a downer, not being able to move actually doesn't make a difference; the Tervigon used to spawn before it moved, so the total distance moved is still the same. This also means now that a Tervigon can spawn a brood on the turn it arrives from reserves, making uses of it with Hive Commander just so much better! Anyway, after it finishes its move, the Tervigon then spawns 3D6 Termagants within 6" with models that can't be placed discarded instead. The brood can do nothing but shoot or run, and is completely as-is for stock Termagants. Any double rolled for spawning means that you can't make further attempts to spawn with that Tervigon, which generally means the first or second spawning will see the Tervigon stop. So that's the basics, but what does it actually mean? Tyranids can freely create extra scoring units, in an edition where five out of six missions in the main rulebook use objectives. Regardless of how expensive a Tervigon may be, or how middling its combat prowess is, that it can create extra scoring units is simply crazy. Your opponent has to dedicate resources to remove those units, especially if the Tervigon isn't the only nearby Synapse creature. Those are extra units that can capture objectives, usually worth three victory points each. This is an ability that is far more valuable in 6th Edition than it was in 5th Edition, and I feel the changes to the Tervigon reflect this.

    Of course, it isn't all singing and praises for the Tervigon. There are some obvious downsides to this that need to be considered to make the most of the unit and its babies. Firstly, the rule that stops further spawning when a double is rolled means you really should refrain from spawning until your other scoring units have died, typically around turn three to four. This gives the spawned Termagants in both turns another turn at least to try and get to an objective for the fifth game turn, and it also acts as free reinforcements for your army. Spawning early will leave your Termagants out of range to do much, and just make themselves another easy target for opponents. Spawning late affords a higher chance of the Termagants surviving due to casualties for the opponents army. However, I would also recommend keeping the Tervigon away from Termagants. The reason for this is that if the Tervigon dies, all Termagant units within 12" take 3D6 Strength 3 hits that, humorously, allow their paltry 6+ armour saves. The average roll for 3D6 is ten or eleven, and each wounds Termagants on 4s with only a 6+ save to keep them alive. You don't want to risk those odds, so move the Termagants away from the Tervigon if possible. If you need that Synapse bubble, keep them at 18" ranges and take Dominion on the Tervigon. One of the last notes on Tervigons is that they confer Counter Attack to Termagants within 12", supposedly to give you incentive to keep them nearby even with the "explosion". It really is nothing to worry about though, as the Tervigon lost the special rule conferring its Leadership 10 on to Termagant units, meaning they have to take a Leadership test to use that Counter Attack on, you guessed it, Leadership 6. It is merely something to remember rather than something to count on, unfortunately.

    How to Equip Them

    Tervigons are quite costly stock, regardless of if you factor in the cost of thirty Termagants to make them a Troops choice, so I've found that keeping the upgrades to a minimum with them is ideal. They are equipped with Scything Talons, which can be replaced with Crushing Claws, but I would avoid them. A Tervigon that Smashes loses one attack and gains both Strength 10 and re-rolls to their armour penetration rolls. A Tervigon that doesn't Smash and takes Crushing Claws is Strength 6 with 2D6 roll for armour penetration. Especially as it is a costly upgrade, I would actively avoid them as Smashing negates the point of using them. You can replace the Stinger Salvo with Cluster Spines for a pittance, but I would honestly just leave it be unless you have spare points. It's a small investment for a weapon that can't be snap fired, so it is more of a "if I have the points" upgrade. Otherwise, Tervigons can take the usual Biomorphs, such as Toxin Sacs and Adrenal Glands. I think Tervigons don't really need any Biomorph upgrades actually, especially as they no longer confer those two in particular on to nearby Termagants. Again, saving the points on most of the upgrades may be more prudent, though I would recommend Toxin Sacs just so that the Tervigon can keep enemy monsters at bay if you do want to purchase either of the upgrades. Adrenal Glands are great for the Fleet bonus, but unnecessary on a monster that really shouldn't be acting too aggressively. Regeneration is more worthwhile for a Tervigon than a Hive Tyrant or Carnifex, so it is something to consider, though it is expensive. I'm generally more for spending those points elsewhere, such as on a potentially more useful Bio-Artefact.

    That Tervigons now have access to Thorax Biomorphs is really cool, giving them a nice and cheap template weapon that can be surprisingly deadly. Electroshock Grubs have the best overall offensive stats and are a legitimate threat to vehicles - Rhino and Chimera walls beware! - with Haywire, though the Rending provided by Shreddershard Beetles, especially with Shred, is really tasty too. I think if you see more light infantry and vehicles, go for the Electroshock Grubs, but if you see Space Marines and other elite forces, go for the Shreddershard Beetles. The Dessicator Larvae do have Fleshbane, but Strength 5 on the Electroshock Grubs is generally enough to worry most infantry anyway, while the potential for Rending makes the Shreddershard Beetles more enticing. I truly recommend one of these, especially as they cost the same as Toxin Sacs and Adrenal Glands, as they give a typically midfield or backfield baby-sitting monster a pretty potent template weapon. Enemy scoring units can be battered first by a nasty template and charged, or shot and then Overwatched and forced to grind against a monstrous creature in combat. The defensive uses of the Thorax weapons are really nice for a scoring Tervigon, and are generally always worth the points.

    The Bio-Artefacts are a bit more useful for a Tervigon than a Hive Tyrant due to the former having a more restricted weapon arsenal to choose from. The Miasma Cannon is a great purchase for a Tervigon, especially for a solo Tervigon used as a scoring unit. The Miasma Cannon gives the Tervigon a nice, if inaccurate, long ranged weapon, but the real value comes in its Poisoned (2+) AP4 template. Combine this with a Thorax Biomorph and a Tervigon camping on a midfield objective can literally shred through any infantry unit that tries to pry the objective away from it, turning into a psychic Tyrannofex. The Norn Crown is nice, especially for a solo Troop Tervigon that will likely be one of your main Synapse creatures, though I'm more a proponent of the Norn Crown going on a Hive Tyrant backed by two to three Tyrant Guard. You want the Norn Crown on your most durable Synapse creature, and that particular Hive Tyrant build takes the cake - however, the Tervigon would definitely be second on that list. A Tervigon lacks both the mobility and the melee prowess to make the most out of the Maw Claws of Thyrax or the Reaper of Obliterax, even with Adrenal Glands, so I would reserve those for another "commander". The Ymgarl Factor does give some nice boosts to a Tervigon, but it is really expensive on an already very costly model and the buffs really don't match the cost, so I would leave it at home.

    Where to Put Them

    Unless you take the Miasma Cannon - which is unreliable at such ranges anyway - Tervigons are pretty much non-existent when it comes to long range presence. They are psychic support monsters that provide additional scoring units and can themselves take objectives, so they are naturally short ranged. They are a big juicy target for any opponent because they can make extra Troops choices in an almost entirely objective-dominated edition as well as being scoring themselves, so protecting them is always going to be tough. They don't have great combat stats, and even when given the Miasma Cannon and a Thorax Biomorph, they don't put out that much damage at close ranges either. When I say they are a support monster first and foremost, I really mean it. You want them hiding in terrain, sitting on an objective where the simple fact that they are a monstrous creature will make them immune to most typical clearing units designed to hunt Troops choices. Keep to cover to soak up tonnes of damage with their six Toughness 6 wounds and meaty 3+ armour save, and potential for defensive psychic powers such as Catalyst. They are an important Synapse creature because they can take Dominion, they have a large base and they are expensive, so keeping them off the front-lines is ideal where they can freely use a 12" to 18" Synapse range to keep the more aggressive units in check.

    All the psychic powers except for Warp Lance - which they cannot use - and Psychic Scream work great for a typically midfield-camping Tervigon, while they become a really tough unit to shift if they themselves have Catalyst. Ruins and buildings will be its best bet for hiding, though its large size means fully hiding will be almost impossible. Use its spawned Termagant broods as distractions and tarpits to protect it from Balesword-armed Daemon Princes of Nurgle, or Wraithknights that can pile the wounds on them with ease. Always keep up a cover save and utilize Venomthropes if possible; Tervigons may have two more wounds than a Carnifex, but they can still fall to an average round of shooting from any competitive force. Don't be afraid to keep them as your backfield objective holder if necessary; it will take a lot to shift them if they are hiding behind a building in your backfield, and opponents likely will be forced to try. I've found Tervigons do make great support combat units when combined with a Termagant brood or Hormagaunt brood, but beware that they don't perish themselves, especially with failed charges. Its death can result in all nearby Termagant broods exploding! Make sure to keep a Zoanthrope nearby for cheap Synapse support in case the Tervigon dies.

    Best Uses

    Keep the Tervigon bare if you want, or give it both the Miasma Cannon and one of the Thorax Biomorphs. The two template weapons allow it to absolutely shred infantry blobs that can tarpit the lowly Weapon Skill 3, Attacks 3 Tervigon, while its Smash attacks can punch through nearby tanks and skimmers and overpower most walkers. Move the Tervigon up into the midfield, preferably on an objective, and start spawning around turn three or four. Keep to cover and try to set up in a big piece of terrain with walls blocking sight to the Tervigon. Use Dominion in a Synapse-light army list, or use one of the blessings and maledictions to your advantage - never keep Psychic Scream. As it moves up, fire the Miasma Cannon at any bunched up infantry unit in sight if you can, otherwise, just Run into position as quickly as possible. Waiting behind cover to make a last turn objective grab for one that is in the open is also ideal, and something that a Toughness 6, 6 wound monster is pretty darn good at doing, especially if it has those two templates. The Tervigon should use screens of Hormagaunts if nothing else so as to not risk blowing up all the Termagants in your army, though if there is plentiful cover around then screening units won't be necessary. If you are facing the dreaded flying monstrous creatures that can slaughter your poor Tervigon in combat, then bubble-wrapping - surrounding its base with closely spaced models - it with Termagants is ideal, as such armies tend to lack the ranged power to really deal with a Tervigon in shooting. Try to keep a Zoanthrope or other Synapse unit nearby for when the Tervigon likely dies, as it will be a prime target for an opponent and will probably be close to other non-Synapse units. The Tervigon itself shouldn't need too much baby-sitting, but having a wall of Carnifexes or other high pressure units to keep enemies off of its back is preferable.

    HQ or Troop?

    There are a few key differences between the HQ and Troop version that really should be noted here. The first is that a HQ Tervigon cannot be the Warlord as it is not a character - something that needs an FAQ update for certain - and it has no other benefits to speak of. A Troop Tervigon becomes a fully scoring unit and does not take up one of two HQ slots, instead taking up one of six Troop slots, but requires a brood of 30 Termagants to make it a Troops choice. Ultimately, a scoring monstrous creature is completely unique to Tyranids - until you bring up the new Adeptus Mechanicus lists in the Horus Heresy series done by Forge World - and it is incredibly valuable no matter how you slice it. Paying the price to make one a Troops choice is always worthwhile, I feel, and frees up your HQ slots for the infinitely valuable Hive Tyrants. So my answer to this question is a definite "Troops choice first, HQ second" with the HQ option only if you can't fit in any Termagants to an army list.

    Recommended Builds

    These are a few example builds for the unit that I feel can fit into a number of competitive Tyranid lists. I'll list some thoughts on each build and what kind of lists they fit better in.

    Tervigon - Miasma Cannon, Thorax Swarm with Shreddershard Beetles - This is what I like to call the "super Tervigon", one that provides light long ranged firepower as it advances but, once it closes, can annihilate infantry with its two template weapons. Throw in one of those as an Overwatch weapon and you have yourself a really nasty mid-table unit that isn't too much more expensive than a stock Tervigon.

    Tervigon - No, I'm serious. Tervigons are one of the units in the book that I would be happy to leave stock, simply because you get all you need and want in the base cost. It's a tough, scoring monstrous creature that provides Synapse, a psychic power and some decent melee damage output. That's all you really need.

    Brood Progenitor

    Tyranids are a conglomerate of many radically different species, bound together by a single conscience; a Hive Mind, a voice that spans the eons and stars. All are created to fulfill a purpose in battle, perfection embodied in their role. As a Carnifex smashes through a tank, the Hormagaunt swarms devour the entails. Where Hormagaunts lay eggs to which other Hormagaunts are born to fight, wave after wave in an unending torrent of bodies, Termagants reproduce using a far different method. Their progenitor is not one of their own kind sent to die, but a massive, lumbering beast that is both a Synpatic link to the Hive Fleets and a mental chain to its Termagant children. The Tervigon, a gruesome birthing monster, keeps its own brood in incubation, ready to spring forth into battle with but a mothers' call. This cruel, alien representation of the bond between mother and child is yet another twisted reminder of how unutterably void of humanity the Tyranids are. As its children tear your flesh from bone, so too does the mother clamber over to feast.....

    Thank you for reading this article! Please, share your thoughts on the article and the changes I am experimenting with for this series. I am open to any and all feedback! And remember, for any and all discussion on Tyranids and Games Workshop stuff, head on over to +Bell of Lost Souls. Thanks again! Eel out.
    Last edited by Learn2Eel; 02-17-2014 at 03:36 AM.
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  9. #9


    Hey guys, my name is Learn2Eel, and today I'm going to be bringing you another article in the Tyranid Tactica series! Tyranid Primes are the only fully fledged Independent Character in the Tyranid codex, and while they are generally over-costed - especially when compared to Hive Tyrants - being able to hide in a brood of Carnifexes while providing Synapse is just awesome. In fact, Primes will see use in competitive lists for this reason alone, their damage output and durability be damned! I hope you enjoy this article!

    Tyranid Prime


    The Tyranid Prime is unique among the species as a true Independent Character, something that not even Hive Tyrants can lay claim to. This allows the Prime to join any unit from Hormagaunt broods to Carnifex units, and even the Tyrant Guard defenders of Hive Tyrants. This is what defines their use in the army as, when compared to a Hive Tyrant, they are actually too expensive for what they would otherwise bring to the table. They can never match a Tyrant for damage output or versatility, so focusing solely on their Independent Character status is the key to using them effectively. The Prime does have the best stats of any Tyranid that is not a monstrous creature, however. Its Weapon Skill 6 and Ballistic Skill 4 are well above average for most Tyranids, albeit only slightly above the Warrior beasts they evolved from. With Strength and Toughness 5, they can tank those nasty Strength 8 weapons that Warriors fear above else, being far more resistant to Instant Death. They have a good Initiative 5 and a pretty crazy four attacks that, with their offensive stats, makes them more than comparable to Space Marine Captains in close combat. Where Primes do fall down on that front is expensive melee weapon options, lack of proper durability-boosting wargear, no invulnerable saves, and no real guaranteed way to make combat. They cannot take wings for some strange reason - I'll touch on this later - and there are no dedicated transports in the codex. As a melee beast, their profile and melee weapon options tend to be used more defensively to add somewhat to an already strong melee units' damage output, or to protect a ranged unit from assaults by non-dedicated melee units. They can bring Barbed Strangles, Venom Cannons and even the really nasty Miasma Cannon to bear on the ranged front, and their Ballistic Skill four makes them one of the most effective users of these blast weapons.

    Of course, that isn't all a Tyranid Prime offers, something that may be obvious due to its place in the HQ slot. It is both a Synapse creature and confers Shadow in the Warp, giving you another potent anti-psyker bubble, and more absolutely necessary Synapse. That the Prime is an Independent Character serves to make it one of the most potentially tough sources of Synapse in the army, able to hide in broods of Carnifexes, the vacated Tyrant Guard meant to protect a flying Hive Tyrant, or even broods of Termagants. The ablative wounds are mostly unique for this particular Synapse creature, and as it can also be your Warlord, it is a smart choice in many games just because you can protect it than for any other particular reason. The Prime also has an extra special rule that is an attempt to make joining Warriors and Shrikes more enticing, as either unit when led by a Prime can use its Weapon Skill and Ballistic Skill instead of their own. Warriors, even with a Prime tanking wounds behind its 3+ armour save, can't really guarantee making combat, so the Weapon Skill bonus isn't too important. The Ballistic Skill bonus, on the other hand, really helps for the Devourers and Deathspitters in the unit, while any Barbed Strangles or Venom Cannons will be slightly happier with 1" less scatter. It actually makes Warriors into a decent shooting unit, though one that is still over-costed for the damage it puts out - especially when you consider the price of the Prime. When it comes to Shrikes, though, unless you want to neuter them then never attach a Prime to Shrikes. A Prime cannot take wings or any kind of biomorph that changes its unit type to Jump Infantry, meaning that joining Shrikes would slow them down to the same pace as Warriors - effectively becoming Warriors with 5+ armour saves. This is one of the stranger oversights in the codex, and one that you should probably try to forget.

    How to Equip Them

    This is really dependent on what kind of units you want your Tyranid Prime to join. If it is going to be baby-sitting a brood of Biovores, for example, you can leave it stock as it will be wanting to hide out of sight along with the living artillery. If it is going to attach to a brood of Carnifexes armed with two pairs of brain-leech devourers each, then giving it a Miasma Cannon to extend the maximum range of the unit for resolving damage and no other upgrades is handy enough. For the most part, I avoid the melee biomorphs and standard biomorphs on a Tyranid Prime because they are quite expensive stock and don't really need the upgrades. Tyranid Primes have no reliable way of reaching combat, especially as they will actively slow down broods of Hormagaunts for example - lacking Bounding Leap - and so I don't really think the melee weapons are that worthwhile. If you want to use one, go for a set of Rending Claws to replace their Scything Talons and that really should be it. They don't make much use of the Maw Claws of Thyrax because they are not monstrous creatures and thus lack Smash, meaning they have to contend with its rather measly AP5, and they also cannot guarantee early combats. The Reaper of Obliterax is more useful for a Tyranid Prime than something like a Tervigon, especially as lacking Smash and being Strength 5 base makes the +1 Strength bonus more useful. Still, I think it is too expensive to really be justified, and you are probably better off with just a Lash Whip and Bonesword and Toxin Sacs combo. Giving the Norn Crown to a Tyranid Prime can be a huge help to make up for their inability to take Dominion as they are not psykers, but I recommend only giving it to a Prime that is either hiding with Biovores or is attached to a brood of two to three Carnifexes. A slightly cheaper but less effective alternative to the aforementioned Miasma Cannon for a Tyranid Prime is either a Barbed Strangler or Venom Cannon, and while they do have their uses, I still prefer the Miasma Cannon due to the small points difference.

    Where to Put Them

    The defining trait of Tyranid Primes is that they are Independent Characters; it is not their boosted profile over a standard Warrior, or their access to Tyranid Bio-Artefacts. They are the only true Independent Character in the entire codex, and as a Synapse creature additionally, there is never any reason to leave them alone. As I've already repeated myself countless times on moving through cover with certain units and using line of sight blocking terrain - and I'll cover each unit on that anyway - I'll instead talk about which units are best suited to being led by a Prime. Synapse comes at more of a premium in this codex than it used to mostly due to the Tervigon change and removal of Mycetic Spores making Zoanthropes and Warriors more restricted for deployment options, and Synapse is also more important than ever. This is why unless you are taking some kind of hugely expensive Tyranid deathstar with a kitted out Hive Tyrant or Swarmlord, two to three Tyrant Guard and a Tyranid Prime, you generally don't want to join up with Tyrant Guard. It's just a waste of their Synapse potential, really, unless it is a flying Hive Tyrant that detaches from the unit early on and has the Tyranid Prime being the actual Warlord. That is a smart and safe use of your resources, and should protect the Prime - and Warlord point - quite well.

    But really, the best unit to join to are Carnifex broods. They are big models, they are scary as heck, they do so much damage in shooting and combat, and they are very tough in broods as monstrous creatures. They literally make the best bodyguards for a Tyranid Prime, even if they don't really fit that role in the fluff. With its Look Out Sir rolls, a Prime attached to a brood of Carnifexes can make the most of wound allocation shenanigans by standing at the front or the side of a unit. Carnifexes with double brain-leech devourers are ideal, providing a lumbering torrent of destruction that doubles as a sentry to the Prime. Such a units' only real weakness is a lack of Synapse, so attaching a Prime to the unit is just about the perfect solution. Other good choices are Termagant broods for massed, cheap ablative wounds and Biovores for having a Synapse unit nearby so they can hide and shoot without succumbing to Instinctive Behaviour. Hormagaunts are handy, but attaching a Prime to them negates their pivotal Bounding Leap rule, somewhat neutering their speed. As such, I tend to recommend against attaching a Prime to them. Hive Guard could use the mid-range Synapse if Zoanthropes aren't present, but a Prime's weapon options don't really gel with them, and they are one of few units that won't really benefit from a wound tank. Venomthropes and Zoanthropes are all ideally suited to a Prime, making use of its 3+ armour save and Toughness 5 - for instant death purposes, as it will actually be Toughness 4 due to majority Toughness rules - though Zoanthropes with their 3+ invulnerable saves don't need it as much. Warriors are of course an obvious choice, and using the Prime to soak up Strength 8 shots is ideal; just be careful not to throw it away, as losing the Prime is going to hurt more than losing a single Warrior at a time.

    Best Uses

    I feel the best application of a Tyranid Prime is to attach to a Carnifex brood armed with dual brain-leech devourers, while the Prime itself wields a Miasma Cannon and little else - none of the other upgrades are really necessary. The Prime confers Synapse to a unit that can kill itself without, a unit that also happens to be one of the deadliest and most expensive in the codex. The Prime gains protection from the Carnifexes, each model having four Toughness 6, 3+ armoured wounds. The Miasma Cannon eliminates the need for a Stranglethorn Cannon or Heavy Venom Cannon on one of the Carnifexes so that their "maximum range" for wounds isn't capped at 18". The Prime gives the three monstrous creatures more potential for wound allocation shenanigans, using its 2+ Look Out Sir roll when attached to the unit to spread the wounds around even more in different phases. It can take a wound or two, then Look Out Sir on to the closest Carnifex. On the next turn, it can swap the positioning of the models around and do the same thing, meaning it will take far more effort on the opponents' end to drop any single model in the unit, thus keeping their damage output at maximum for longer. As the Carnifexes will be heading up the midfield and will typically be supported by Hormagaunt, Termagant or Gargoyle broods, the Prime can use the Carnifexes as a "slingshot" unit to attach to the rear of one of those broods just before they declare a charge. Other good uses of the Prime are to join small to medium broods of Warriors to give them a damage boost with its Alpha Warrior special rule, though I feel Biovores - due to the lack of Synapse creatures with long ranged shooting - and Venomthropes - who otherwise drop too easily to Smart Missile Systems - could use the Tyranid Primes' unique abilities more.

    Recommended Builds

    These are a few example builds for the unit that I feel can fit into a number of competitive Tyranid lists. I'll list some thoughts on each build and what kind of lists they fit better in.

    Tyranid Prime - Adrenal Glands, Flesh Hooks, Lash Whip and Bonesword, Toxin Sacs - This is what you can safely call a "baby Tyrant". Join it up to a brood of two or three melee Carnifexes all with Adrenal Glands and watch the carnage unfold; replace the Devourer with the Lash Whip and Bonesword and keep the Scything Talons. This gives the Prime six Strength 6, Initiative 8 attacks on the charge at AP3 with the potential for Instant Death. Yes, this means it can slaughter most 3+ armoured monstrous creatures on the charge, and yes, it will scythe through almost anything. And hey, it has bloody Carnifexes as bodyguards! Oh, and assault grenades always win.

    Tyranid Prime - Miasma Cannon - A nice long ranged small blast weapon on a Prime keeps it as cheap as you want while it actually does something. This should be attached to ranged Carnifexes armed with brain leech devourers; the 36" range of the Miasma Cannon is used to extend the maximum range of the unit for allocating wounds.

    Alpha Organisms

    The Hive Fleets constituting the greater Tyranid race base their incredible feats of destruction around their unmatched adaptability. Where other species can adapt their weapons, armour and other such technologies to combat specific threats over a period of a few months or years, the Tyranids can create entirely new sub-species designed to counter-act each unique foe they face. The very flesh of their own established bio-organisms can be mutated either in spawning pools or on the battlefields themselves to counter and destroy new strategies and opponents. Warriors embody these principles of the Tyranids more than any other sub-species - even the great Hive Tyrants - as they can adapt weapons of all kinds, wings, bounding legs, enhanced armour plating and numberless other adaptations. At the apex of the Warrior strain is the Tyranid Prime, the most vicious, intelligent and physically adept Tyranid creature not of the monstrous or gargantuan creature designation. It is a slayer of champions, a commander of numberless organisms, a well that devours psychic energy, and a direct link to the Norn Queen. Their very presence drives the lesser Warrior creatures to even more terrifying acts of ferocity, and few can stand before the relentless assault of an elite creature designed purely for combat and slaughter.

    Thank you for reading this article! Please, share your thoughts on the article and the changes I am experimenting with for this series. I am open to any and all feedback! And remember, for any and all discussion on Tyranids and Games Workshop stuff, head on over to +Bell of Lost Souls. Thanks again! Eel out.
    Last edited by Learn2Eel; 02-17-2014 at 03:35 AM.
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  10. #10


    Hey guys, my name is Learn2Eel, and today I'm going to be bringing you another article in the Tyranid Tactica series! Lictors are among the galaxy's most feared predators, and no single beast has ever inspired as much fear as the legendary Deathleaper. A creature that is the stuff of horror tales in every civilization, Deathleaper alone was responsible for the breakdown in leadership on Saint Caspelan, leading to its downfall at the hands of the Swarm. I hope you enjoy this article!



    The Deathleaper shares most of its profile with standard Lictors, as one would expect from what used to be a standalone variant in the same Elites slot. The amount of special rules on offer is truly spectacular, though the stats aren't too much different from a Lictor. Strength 6 with five attacks base due to wielding two melee weapons gives Deathleaper quite a bit of offensive grunt, especially when its Rending Claws are factored in. Whereas a regular Lictor is only Weapon Skill 6, Deathleaper brings a crazy Weapon Skill 9 - the same as the Swarmlord - to the table, hitting almost any unit in the game on 3s and forcing most units to hit back on 5s. This, alongside its Initiative of 7 and assault grenades through flesh hooks are the only real defences Deathleaper has in combat; it is built to shred medium to light characters before they can attack, while regular infantry struggle to even hit it. The reason for this is that Deathleaper can only hide behind a paltry 5+ armour save, Toughness 4 and three wounds when in combat. Simply put, it is too fragile to go up against really nasty combat characters, while monstrous creatures and walkers will squish it with little difficulty. Deathleaper is best used as a bully against important support characters like Ethereals, Farseers and Chaplains, as it is a bit too fragile and doesn't do enough damage to take on most dedicated combat characters. The Deathleaper, with its flesh hooks, also has an extra little shooting attack at Strength 6 with no AP - nor Rending, sadly - that isn't likely to do much with Ballistic Skill 3.

    Where Deathleaper starts to get interesting - as standard Lictors do - is in the plethora of special rules. It can Infiltrate, Outflank or Deep Strike without scattering, dependent on what suits your needs more. For both reaching and escaping combats of all kinds, favourable or not, Deathleaper has Fleet and Hit and Run. It causes Fear which generally won't make a difference as it is already Weapon Skill 9 and most characters it will really want it against are already Fearless or have And They Shall Know Fear. It has Move Through Cover and Stealth, generally leading to a 4+ cover save in area terrain and a 3+ in ruins, while having better chances of not being slowed by impeding cover. It is Very Bulky for the purposes of the experimental R'Varna rules, and it shares the same no-scattering on Deep Strike for friendly units arriving within 6" a turn after Deathleaper itself Deep Strikes on the board. Deathleaper adds two extra unique special rules to the mix though, the first of which is what makes it such a nasty counter to Ethereals, Dark Apostles and psykers of all kinds. Before the game starts, you get to nominate a single enemy character and reduce its Leadership by D3. For an Ethereal where Tau units use his Leadership instead of their own, for example, this can be a really funny way to win games through morale by combining Deathleaper with multiple sources of Pinning - such as Stranglethorn Cannons on Harpies. This penalty applies until Deathleaper is slain, and given that its next special rules makes it very difficult to shift from shooting, killing the Deathleaper is easier said than done if you use it with caution.

    All shots taken at the Deathleaper are Snap Shots, meaning blast and template weapons of all kinds cannot attempt to target it. Heck, even Tau Markerlights really aren't that scary when they themselves have to snap shoot to get tokens on the Deathleaper. Provided you don't think this is some kind of god mode cheat allowing you to run the special Lictor out in the open, you can keep the assassin alive for quite some time. Against Tau, staying out of range of smart missile systems by hiding in your own terrain piece, but reducing the Leadership of an Ethereal or allied Farseer is not a bad use of the Deathleaper. If it means keeping the expensive critter alive, then it isn't exactly a waste. From there, Deathleaper has the usual trappings of a special character; a preset Warlord trait giving it extra victory points for slaying opposing independent characters and the Character classification. Deathleaper can challenge opponents and vie for extra victory points, while its Leadership 10 makes it an automatic Warlord choice if taken alongside Old One Eye. On that subject, those two share one unique trait that reduces their value as HQ choices. Indeed, the Deathleaper lacks Synapse and suffers from Instinctive Behaviour of the lurking variety, and while it is Leadership 10, the lack of Fearless means it is not immune to simply falling back. Failing at a crucial time can see the Deathleaper running out into the open against your whim, and promptly getting lit up by massed bolter fire that coincidentally ignores its armour saves. This is why it is best used as a forward disruption unit that will get in Synapse range of a Flying Hive Tyrant or Trygon Prime - that benefits greatly from the Deathleapers' Chameleonic Skin - on the second and third turn.

    Where to Put Them

    Provided you aren't staring down a bunch of Smart Missile Systems equipped on Broadside Battlesuits and Tau vehicles - the most common of which is the Skyray - or even opposing Hive Guard armed with Impaler Cannons, then Deathleaper can be deployed pretty aggressively. I'm favouring Infiltrate for Lictors and Deathleaper now that they aren't forced to Deep Strike as it synergizes better with any Trygons, Mawlocs and Trygon Primes in the list. Those love to have no-scatter Deep Strike, and they are only likely to benefit from Deathleapers' Chameleonic Skin if it is deployed on the board for turn one instead of coming from reserves. The reason for this is that Chameleonic Skin doesn't apply on the turn Deathleaper arrives, so unless you are counting on rolling "badly" for reserves on the second turn, I would want to Infiltrate Deathleaper for such purposes. Otherwise, no scatter Deep Strike is perfectly viable to guarantee the Deathleapers' survival for a turn, allowing you to deal with such units that could threaten it. Trying to Infiltrate within 12" is nice, but don't do it if there are mobile assault units - like Assault Marines - that can jump next to Deathleaper from 12" away, line of sight blocking cover be darned, as they will force enough wounds on Deathleaper to beat it in combat.

    The two lucky charms for Deathleaper in such situations are forcing opponents to Snap Shoot it as well as Hit and Run. The former means shooting, particularly by templates that are a Lictors' bane, is almost non-existent against the Deathleaper unless it is in high mass, while the latter allows the Deathleaper to escape combats as necessary. Try not to get bogged down in combat, and always issue challenges so that Deathleaper can either force an opponent to sacrifice the champion either through losing their attacks or actually facing Deathleaper. Against Chaos Space Marines, for example, this can be abused due to their Champion of Chaos special rule forcing them to issue and accept challenges. In a typical round of combat, the Deathleaper will shred through an Aspiring Champion and other Sergeant-equivalent characters, so using this as a defence against all the attacks from a unit is practically mandatory. Using Deathleaper as a road-block unit against low-model heavy hitters such as Devastators is also nice; the Deathleaper can tie them up if it manages to get close and either proceed to kill the squad or Hit and Run out to hunt another unit while a Hormagaunt brood charges the weakened Devastators. Deathleaper is quick with Fleet and Move Through Cover as well its special deployment options, so charging in the second player turn or on the second game turn should be expected unless you are up against a serious gunline and no guarantee of reaching them. There is literally no reason not to keep Deathleaper to cover as, once opponents manage to hit - and twenty shots from ten Tactical Marines rapid-firing will get at least three hits - its 5+ armour save may as well be non-existent. It is barely slowed by terrain and it has assault grenades on top of Stealth; heck, it even has Fleet! Stick to cover and show those fools the meaning of terror.

    Best Uses

    Don't take Deathleaper as your Warlord unless you are set on a Vanguard themed Tyranid force. The reason for this is that its Warlord Trait isn't too crash hot - it specifies independent characters, not standard characters, and many independent characters can give it a run for its money - and it is very fragile against certain armies. A unit of three Broadsides within 30" of Deathleaper stand a very strong chance of putting it down in one shooting phase with their twelve twin-linked Strength 5, AP5 shots that ignore both cover and line of sight. A unit of three Hive Guard will average one hit against the Deathleaper and, unless they get incredibly unlucky, end its reign of terror with that lone hit. While Deathleaper is very difficult to kill conventionally, what with it easily able to hide due to Infiltrate, no scatter Deep Striking, hiding in reserve, forcing Snap Shots at it, Hit and Run as well as Weapon Skill 9, you can't afford to let enemies get a hold of it. Massed shots and close combat attacks will put it down in no time; even a single unit of Fire Warriors affected by an Ethereal's extra pulse shot power can do the trick with a bit of luck. While Deathleaper is easier to protect than some other HQ choices - such as a Tervigon - against standard "fire down the line" shooting, like any predator, once it is caught it can fall over very quickly. Besides, Deathleaper is not a Synapse creature, which is not something you really want on a HQ choice especially, doubly so if it is your only HQ choice. Against Tau, mechanized Eldar and other Tyranids, I recommend hiding the Deathleaper in reserves and hiding it in your backfield to penalize the Leadership of important enemy psykers and Ethereals. Against a-typical gunlines and foot-based lists, on the other hand, Deathleaper is a powerful tool in the right hands. Abusing cover and intervening terrain, Deathleaper can pretty safely make it into combat and proceed to take out those heavy weapon team-equivalent units, or hunt fragile independent characters such as Lord Commissars and Sorcerers.

    Shade of Saint Caspelan

    Tyranids are often described as mindless beasts driven by instinct and a greater will to ferociously assault and devour any position that impedes the process of galactic annihilation, but nothing could be further from the truth. The creation of many differing sub-species and the supreme tactical acumen of the Swarmlord and its Hive Tyrant descendants is proof enough of this, but the truest example of this comes from the legendary Lictor beast that terrorized the populace of Saint Caspelan long before its fall to Hive Fleet Leviathan. Like any other Lictor, it recognized the chain of command and struck in the nightly hours against veteran sergeants, commissars and generals. But where this mysterious beast truly earned its status as one of the most fearsome predators in the galaxy is when it identified the planets' spiritual leader as the catalyst for worldwide morale. Any lesser being would have simply slain this man and seen the populace embittered and driven by his sacrifice against the impending doom. Instead, the Lictor struck home against the leader, again and again massacring his guardians and colleagues, but escaping into the night instead of finishing the job. Driven mad by the gruesome murder of all those around him, each time spared to an unknown purpose by an inhuman monster, the man spread his fear and dissolution of faith across the world. The survivors of the horrific events of Saint Caspelan blamed this Lictor, this Deathleaper, an assassin that lived in the shadows as if it was born in their embrace, for the ease to which Hive Fleet Leviathan consumed their world.

    Thank you for reading this article! Please, share your thoughts on the article and the changes I am experimenting with for this series. I am open to any and all feedback! And remember, for any and all discussion on Tyranids and Games Workshop stuff, head on over to +Bell of Lost Souls. Thanks again! Eel out.
    Last edited by Learn2Eel; 02-10-2014 at 01:25 AM.
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