|Warhammer 40,000/6th Edition Tactics/Tyranids
OMNOMNOMNOM,NEW CODEX IS COMING!
 Why Play Tyranids
Because you're hungry!!
(Cough) From a gameplay perspective, the Tyranid army is a tactically engaging force with a lot of strengths, as well as some weaknesses which must be dealt with in order to make the most of them. The army itself is noted for being able to purchase a variety of deployment options, including manipulation of Reserve Rolls, Mycetic Spores, the ability to reroll the table edge from Outflanking, and other options to complement conventional Deep Strike and Infiltration options; the Tyranids therefore have a degree of flexibility in building a force which operates in a manner besides simply lining their force opposite the opponent's guns. Likewise, they possess a fair amount of support units, capable of either buffing or debuffing units as need be, or otherwise acting as force-multipliers to the army as a whole.
In melee, the Tyranids operate off numerous cheap infantry, complemented by larger (and far pricier) Monstrous Creatures; the former are exceptionally point-efficient at taking out enemy infantry, and when properly supported will defeat almost anything in close-combat on account of their high initiative and mass of Poisoned attacks. The Monsters *can* deal with heavier infantry, but their lack of attacks for their cost generally make them more useful for finishing off vehicles or acting as a living shield to pull attacks away from your swarms. In some cases it is a good idea to make assaults into cover using heavy linebreakers like Trygons since the overwhelming majority of Tyranid units (every Troop Choice in the codex) lack assault grenades. Your units will be Fearless most of the time, a mixed bag: unable to go to ground out of combat, but more importantly, ideal tarpits while in combat. Learning to screen your army and understanding which units to sacrifice to achieve victory is critical.
Tyranid shooting is primarily geared towards anti-infantry, with an abundance of Large Blast and rapid rate-of-fire weapons available to them. However, their anti-tank is either short-ranged, unreliable, of low Strength and AP, or any combination of the three; as a rule, Tyranids shouldn't try to kill vehicles by shooting, so much as disable them and render them vulnerable to being torn apart in melee, with a few exceptions (Zoanthropes and Hive Guard).
It took a while, but the Tyranids did finally receive a brutal, somewhat loathsome FAQ/errata. In it, most rules disputes were decided against the Tyranid army, so Mawloc deepstrikes and Doom of Malantai powers both confer cover saves (and don't harm units in transports), and when an enemy assaults a spore mine, the explosion only hits one squad member, the onslaught power was reduced from allowing fleet units to run and assault to merely allowing running and shooting (although that was its original purpose in all fairness) and the hive tyrant is a mere psychic mastery level one (with the swarmlord being level 2). Fortunately Tyranid close combat weapons do stack, but most things turned out as poorly as the rulings could possibly go for the bugs.
Something to keep in mind is to be prepared to take a lot of casualties against newer armies. That is not to say you are at the bottom of the heap as far as armies go, but yours is not an army that is terribly forgiving of mistakes or mediocre builds.
But in Apocalypse games, things change for the better for you. In Apocalypse, your Titans' main strength is volume of high Strength attacks, both ranged and melee. This makes them geared towards attacking heavy enemy units while they tank shock things not worthy of their attention out of their way. You have a glaring lack of pie plate dropping ability, but the sheer number of regular 40k models you can field will allow you to mop up what your Titans leave behind, and Forge world is slowly but surely taking a lot of old, goofy, and obscure Epic, CCG, and Chapter approved beasties and bringing them into your game.
 Unit Analysis
6th edition for Tyranids, a couple of points that apply to the changes of the race overall.
- Assault: This is the most important aspect of the Tyranids, even more so in the new edition. The addition of random-length charges seriously nerfs most 'Nid units. While the average roll for 2D6 is a 7, you will roll 2's just as often as you'll roll 12's, not move whatsoever in the attempt, and suck on overwatch just for trying. This is extremely unreliable. Not to mention that you lose models from the front. So while Overwatch isn't terribly impressive, it can make you lose a couple models from the front and reduce your charge range. This is even more dangerous when enemy units have models that let them overwatch at full BS or pack flamers in the front. Taking advantage of full cover to deny shooting and moving up as fast as possible are paramount.
- Fleet: Fleet lets you reroll any number of running or charging dice. However, you can't do both running and assaulting at the same time anymore. While the average charging distance is now 13" (adding in the 6" from movement) you can potentially roll 8" and you don't want that. The rerolling helps, but you can't always rely on it. At least in 5th you could always get 13" at least with the running die for a max of 18". Make sure to stay below the average roll so you don't get screwed over. However, despite the increased rarity of an 18" charge, Fleet now increases average speed while outside of assault, allowing you to get across the board faster than before.
- Outflanking: The next nerf hits the Genestealers hardest. You cannot assault in the same turn you have outflanked. This means that that scary unit of 20 Genestealers just got easier to shoot down before they get to your opponent's lines. The best way to take advantage of GS now is by running smaller squads that can still pose a threat if left unattended but are more than likely Distraction Stealers.
- Cover Saves: While cover saves took a nerf by being 5+ most of the time (but now add +2 when going to ground in area terrain), this helps out Monstrous Creatures tremendously. They use the same cover rules as infantry now, and even when outside of area terrain, a mere 25% obscuration provides cover! Trygons and Mawlocs smile at this. Could this be the return of the Nidzilla army? But fearless creatures and monstrous creatures can not go to ground.
- Monstrous Creatures rule: More love for MC's. Now flying MC's can only be shot down when flying on 6's by almost all weapons. They can also perform Vector Strikes which are a nice bonus, and they can Skyfire. They can perform Smash attacks at twice their Strength (max S10) if they halve their base attacks, with rerollable vehicle armor penetration. Perfect for wrecking vehicles. And a Carnifex Brood gets 3 S9 AP- I10 autohits from Hammer of Wrath! More keeps pointing towards bigger Nids helping you out more than before. All MCs also get Fear which doesn't tend to work but is awesome when it does.
- No Retreat: No Retreat wounds from Fearless are now gone, meaning that now hormagaunts can destroy any non-vehicle unit in the game very, very effectively.
*Only Generic Psychic Powers: Unfortunately Tyranids at present cannot swap or exchange psychic powers for any powers within the psychic disciplines; as only librarians and inquisitors may do so; however the upcoming 6th edition codex due early to mid 2014 will hopefully rectify this issue. lolwhat?? Tyranids have access to Biomancy, Telepathy and Telekinesis. Biomancy rocks!
- Poison: New rules for poison let you use your strength if it's better, while gaining a reroll on the wound if your S equals or exceeds the T of the defender. Monstrous creatures can get get toxin sacs for mere pennies and the upgrade is now highly recommended for them.
 HQ Units
- Hive Tyrant: The Hive Tyrant is often regarded as the "leader" of the Hive because they are gigantic monsters with synapse power. Synapse keeps all the little monsters from running around out of your control, therefore the Hive Tyrant is the boss. Unfortunately, Hive Tyrants are very expensive in the 6th edition, clocking in at 1.7x the cost of any no-name Space Marine HQ base but lacking invulnerable saves or the ability to join any squads (Tyrant Guard are a special case, Hive Tyrants are never Independent Characters and cannot leave a unit of Tyrant Guard once they join it) and tend to get focus-fired to death when on their own. Their upgrades are also pretty expensive, but they sport a good range of versatility that can make or break the Tyrant on the battlefield such as wings or toxin sacs.
- Winged Tyrants now count as FMC and can soar above the battlefield raining down death or landing into assaults. A note on the new glancing rules for vehicles; it's quite easy to get to the softer side and rear arcs on most vehicles with the tyrant's newfound mobility, and 12 Twin-Linked Strength 6 shots average 4.5 hull points on AV10 and 3 hull points on AV11. Splendid! In 6th edition, 2+ armor or wings make the Tyrant MUCH more survivable. In assault, due to most power weapons now being AP3, few things will be able to touch your monstrosity with ease while he scythes down the masses. Except, y'know, all those power fists, power axes and power klaws, which remain AP2. In general, one of either upgrade is pretty much mandatory, but which one is a bit harder to decide; Wings gives your army some mobile firepower and anti-air, but Armoured Shell is more useful for granting Old Adversary to a shooty Nid army. Since Nids lack anti-air, Wings are typically the go-to option. With the growing popularity of plasma, 2+ isn't nearly as beast as it seems and you're going to need some Tyrant Guard if your Tyrant walks, which makes the net cost of the unit actually HIGHER than with wings.
- With the random psyker powers lists, Christmas came early for the Tyranids, Biomancy basically reads as an excuse to piss into everyone's morning cereal with powers. Things like Endurance you can use to increase the resilience of whatever unit you like, Warp Speed and Iron Arm boost up the Tyrant by huge degrees, Life Leech is an improvement over the old codex power of similar name, and even Haemorrhage and Enfeeble find their uses from time to time. Note that if you Enfeeble an enemy HQ with T4, you can ID him with Strength 6! If you prefer, however, Paroxysm is the only reason to consider not taking them as it is still a fantastic power you are guaranteed to have and it retains its usefulness. The Telekenesis and Telepathy charts also have a few decent powers to use but in most cases you run a risk that not all will benefit you to the same extent as biomancy.
- Tyrant Guard: They're S5, T6 with 2 wounds, 3+ armor, Rending Claws and Scything Talons. If you're planning on footslogging the Swarmlord or an armored shell Tyrant across the board, Tyrant Guard are your means to get them there. They're really handy, but would 3 wounds and/or a 2+ armor save be too much to ask for? They are stated to be pound for pound the most well armoured tyranids, for fucks sake the Hive Mind decided not to give them eyes so the enemy couldn't shoot those and they stole space marine fused ribs and black carapace!
- Tervigon: Tervigons are the bread and butter of the Tyranid codex. While they are listed as an HQ choice, they should always be taken as troops because there's a reason why no other codex can have scoring Monstrous Creatures (hint: it's cheesy). Any competitive list should have at least 4 Troops slots set out for these guys as they are basically the most immovable objects once they plump their fat asses on top of an objective. Tervigons are really simple to use too as besides just keeping them on objectives, all you have to worry about is when to spawn and when you know her time is up. If you care at all about the Tervigon's ability to actually fight in close combat, feel free to throw Scything Talons on it for a dirt cheap 5 pts. 25 pts is a bit steep for Crushing Claws, but at the same time the Tervi's Initiative is going to be 1 whether you take Claws or not (despite any superficial similarities to the Carnifex, the Tervigon does NOT have Living Battering Ram). Also, keep in mind that it's a lot cheaper to take Toxin Sacs and Adrenal Glands on the Tervigon than it is to take it on entire broods of Termagaunts, and that the Tervigon's Toxin Sacs/Adrenal Glands apply to all Termagaunt units with at least one model within 6" of the Tervi due to Brood Progenitor. That said, any termagaunts spawned from the Tervigon will be codex gaunts: Fleshborer, no upgrades. So if you want them to have these upgrades at all, putting them on the 'gon is the only way to get them at all. Brood Progenitor also gives termagaunts within 6" Counter-attack. Downside is that if the enemy is smart enough to aim for the Tervigon with a high strength, AP3 or better weapon and actually pops her, all those gaunts are going to get faceraped by psychic backlash (so weigh the cost/benefits of taking Regeneration on her).
- Tyranid Prime: A beefed up Warrior that's been given a hugely improved statline (including Toughness 5, making it actually useful on any battlefield that includes things like lascannons and krak missiles), is one of only two Independent Characters in the entire Codex, and if it joins a brood of Warriors it can let them use its WS/BS. Unless you just have a fuckload of points to waste on a brood that's going to get focused down by anyone who understands how expensive and fragile Warriors are, though, you're better off using the Prime for Look Out, Sir! shenanigans. For example, attach him to a brood of 3 Carnifexes and use Look Out, Sir! to distribute incoming wounds evenly so their Regeneration has time to heal them back up. He's also the ONLY HQ choice in the Tyranid codex that clocks in at under 160 pts, so if you need to free up more points to cover the board in additional gaunts, he's worth considering. The only downside to him is that there's only one of him - he's what Warriors should be. Awesome, if expensive, weapon biomorph options and high enough toughness to avoid instant death.
- Malanthrope with the new rules, the malanthrope went from nasty in close combat to barely average.110 pts, they can be taken in broods of 1-3. S5 T5 with 4W and I5. toxin sacs, toxic miasma, fleet, move through cover, 3+, synapse and regeneration all included. It also has a unique rule that whenever it kills a unit, all nids in synapse range get preferened enemy that unit type (ex. infantry, MC, jump infantry, etc). Not a bad choice but not a particularly good choice either. Use it in a hormoguant/gargoyle heavy army to kill soemthing quickly and start turning the swarm of generally killing creatures into a unholy wave of destruction
 Special Characters
- The Swarmlord: The ancient unstoppable Swarmlord is a model begging to be a part of a "Deathstar" unit. Reason being that the Swarmlord is massive, devastatingly powerful, unreasonably expensive, possesses a high demand for resources during the game, and has laughably stupid weaknesses for all it took to get the damn thing. The Swarmlord basically reads like a simple flow chart; is he in assault? if no: get into assault, if yes: win assault. Its most glaring weakness is hitting it with six Krak missiles or any equivalent will statistically put it down without a fight since every missile wounds on a 2+ and ignores the damn thing's armor save. However, the Swarmlord is a Psyker (Mastery Level 2) and has several special abilities that buff either himself or nearby units in varying ways. It also gets an invulnerable save in close combat and has a ridiculously high WS. If it is in close combat, it will seriously skullfuck whatever it's fighting. Paroxysm is pretty much the Swarmlord's "I win" button against other close combat monsters, Abaddon won't look so threatening when he has WS1.
- A Swarmlord deathstar, is great. Yes it's expensive, but it buttfucks
everything else in the game anything that isn't Abaddon or Skarbrand and doesn't have shenanigans like Mindshackle Scarabs. The Swarmlord has a huge buff from the new Psychic powers. He gets to roll 4 of them and can use two each turn (protip: roll Biomancy). He can get decent ranged attacks, Iron Arm for increased survivability and hurt, Warp Speed so he can actually get across the table quickly and beat others to the punch in assault, and even has access to the crazy overpowered Warp Charge 2 Telepathy powers, if you're willing to risk rolling on that otherwise meh table in search of treasure. Rolling both Warp Speed and Iron Arm can potentially make him S9 T9 I9 with 8 attacks on the charge, all with his utterly devastating weapons and either Furious Charge or Preferred Enemy from his natural abilities. That is a recipe to crack land raiders and roll through anything the game throws at you.
- The Parasite of Mortrex: Once decried as a gimmicky fail bug the Parasite gains in 6E and it gains hard. It's a flying Warrior, kind of, that spawns 1D6 rippers every time a model it kills fails a Toughness Test. Once you place all six bases, you'll easily be able to see that six ripper bases would never fit inside a Guardsman, but fuck that noise; the description says they all came from eggs put in the Guardsmen by the Parasite. Although it sounds neat, it actually doesn't spawn all that many rippers most of the time, especially against Space Marines and their equivalents. However like tervigons these are basically free models you get to pop out to flood the battlefield, and the Ripper synapse problem is easier to deal with due to the parasites 24" ripper radius. Have the rippers soak up overwatch for allied units and tarpit foes wherever possible.
- With 6E this fucker gained a way to deal with its old nemesis Mr. Hidden power fist, just get into assault and declare a challenge on the dude with the fist (if he's a character anyways), he either accepts and gets scythed down by the Parasite in direct combat, or refuses and doesn't get to do anything for the rest of the fight. The Parasite has Rending Claws, giving him Rending, and Implant Attack, making him suited to deal with armor. Overall the Parasite performs better than in 5E and if you stick it in a swarm of Shrikes or Gargoyles you improve its chances of reaching the target.
The first thing one notices about Tyranid Elites is that every unit is a straightforward purchase. There are no upgrades, biomorphs, or any other upgrades aside from the prospect of purchasing a Mycetic Spore. Tyranids have a lot of Elite options, but many players generally opt for Hive guard or Zoanthroapes as their one stop purchase for reliable ranged anti-vehicle firepower, something not as easily found in the rest of the codex. In the transition from 5E to 6E mech lists took a hit in that glancing hits on vehicles would have off 1 of maybe 2-3 hull points. As a result Tyranids gained a lot of ability to tear mech lists apart with other units and thus Elites are more freeform.
Decried as cheese by some, the DoM is something of a gambling model. It can be downright devastating: every shooting phase, including the enemy's, all enemy units within 6" of the DoM must take a leadership test on 3D6. For every point they fail by, the squad takes one wound and the DoM gains a wound up to a maximum of 10! It has a 3+ invulnerable, but it's only T4, so the way to deal with it is usually Instant Death from high S weapons. It should always comes in a spore pod if it's coming at all, so if the Deep Strike scatters off target the DoM will be unlikely to do anything for the entire game. However, sometimes it does wipe out most of a squad, and it is just so cheap and draws so much expensive fire that it really is worth the risk of it not doing anything. May be nice to have up your sleeve in Apocalypse. And yes, he loses his one big weakness if you roll Iron Arm on the Biomancy psyker table: but you'll only get it in 1 game out of 6, so it's probably worth keeping his default pie plate shooting attack for maximum rape. For added carnage take telekinesis primaris power for a shooting attack with his 3D6 leadership ability that gives him more wounds, all in all psychic shriek is better than his normal ability as its minus their leadership, not a leadership test.
Hive Guard are the premier Tyranid armor hunters. For the cost of a Land Speeder, you're getting model with two wounds, T6, and a 4+ save armed with the bastard offspring of a Krak Missile and a Storm Bolter. Firing two BS 4, Strength 8 shots a turn, a unit of three, or even two, of these guys will bust open transports, light skimmers, or even heavier armor should they be able to flank-it (or just glance often enough). Like everything else in the Tyranid codex, it maintains full fire-efficiency on the move. The two drawbacks to this unit are it cannot take a Mycetic Spore, and 24" is a relatively short range for popping light transports. For some unfathomable reason its gun only has AP4, making it useless against single-wound MEQs. However, the Hive Guard does not need line of sight to hit a target, and it does not give a fuck about any intervening cover. Also the gun's special rule allows to to ignore cover saves from night fighting as well as anything attempting to benefit from the new jink rule and anything that popped smoke the turn before. At this point they are pretty much an auto-take
The Lictor gets worse every edition (even 6th). They are ambush units that have lost their ambush ability, and their performance on the table demonstrates how useless that is. Thanks to Stealth, Lictors are sort of kinda decent at surviving shooting, but they're actually rather poor at surviving close combat because they only have T4 and a 5+ save. Rather hilariously, because they enter play by Marbo-Deep Strike, they can be assaulted before they make their own assault, which is pretty much the polar opposite of an ambush. Even better is when the enemy wheels flamers around to their "ambush position" and burns them to a crisp before they make their move. They could be extremely mediocre harassers if they weren't sort of unreliable and gimmicky, also overwatch can ruin their shit even faster now. They are, incidentally, one of the three Tyranid models with frag grenades.
Are you taking Zoanthroapes and are worried about Psychic Hoods? Are you running a dual-winged Tyrant all-spore army, and want to make sure all your forces are in by turn 3? Introducing the new-and-improved Lictor at nearly three times the cost of a normal one. Deathleaper is point-per point the most fragile unit in the codex, partially to compensate for the relative difficulty one can have in killing him. All shooting at him is done as though it were a Night Fight check, with distance halved. Not anymore, he now has a permanent +3 to his cover save (a 4+ even in the open). Unfortunately, the special rules have very situational usage. One allows the Tyranid player to pick an enemy model and lower its leadership by D3, which is useful for negating enemy Psykers, or a Psychic Hood; alternatively, for setting up high-priority enemy models for being Bone-sworded, or negating bonuses from abilities like Rites of Battle. Another rule causes nearby enemies to roll fewer dice while moving through cover, but it's a short-range power. Deathleaper tends to get used mostly in a Reserve Army for his Pheromone Trail, acting as a buffer in anticipation of the Hive Tyrant being shot. From there, he might either act as a minor assassin unit, or continually shuttle back into Reserve, reappearing on the last turn to contest an objective, in a more reliable version of the Swooping Hawk yoyo. Although he's not for many armies, his utility can come into play.
Universally agreed to be the stupidest, most useless, most confusingly detrimental unit in the entire Tyranid codex Barely edging out ahead of Old One Eye for most pointless unit in the codex, the Pyrovore has no idea what the fuck it's supposed to be doing and neither does the guy who designed it. In short, it's a heavy flamer on legs with power weapons that explodes when it gets bumped too hard and bleeds fire acid. It's slow, so it's really best for bracing against assaults; for Tyranid armies based on assault, this is pointless, and for shooting armies, this is also pointless for they compete with Hive Guard. Its close combat abilities are dreadfully menial, so the power weapon attacks are wasted. It has the potential to harm enemies in close combat, but only when it is wounded, which means sacrificing the damn thing is its only positive use. Don't take them; until changes are made the Pyrovores don't stack up against any of the other options.
Venomthropes are a solid choice in 6th edition. All models within 6" of them get a 5+ cover save, and force dangerous terrain checks on assaulting enemies. They're fantastic support units for protecting against gunlines, and they also confer a save to monstrous creatures in a Nidzilla style army, like the Trygon or Tyrannofex or even a fucking Heirophant
(A Heirophant with Warp field and Regeneration and a 5+ cover save is the type of thing that makes most people cry) Why? He still only gets to take one save (the best save available, which in this case is Warp Field at a 3++, he gains nothing from a 5+ cover save because there is no game mechanic that prevents you from taking an invul save In the new Horus Heresy army book, Konrad Curze's batarang attack ignores armour and invuln saves on a 6. That is the only time that a cover save would matter). Units with stealth, such as Rippers and Lictors, can take a 4+ cover save from being near Venomthropes increasing the screening potential of Rippers if they need to advance across open ground. If night fighting is in play, anything near a venomthrope is nearly unkillable with the cover saves they will receive. Venomthropes also have a 2+ poison, but they don't really belong in close combat.
NOTE: Something to consider instead of Venomthropes in your army is the Aegis Defence Line. If you line one up straight across middle of the board, you can give everything behind it a better cover save of 4+, besides Trygons, and barring the oddly angled shot on an MC. It is also cheaper, can't die, doesn't take up a valuable Elites slot, and can sometimes block LoS completely. it works both ways, but that usually isn't a problem since most of our AP values are non-existent anyway. It's a toss-up between the utility of the Venomthropes' defensive grenades versus the cost and reliability of the ADL's cover save.
They're creatures that can, at will, make themselves stronger, thicken their own carapace, or turn their limbs into tentacles via "lol, warpmagic". It's frankly just a gimmicky way of altering the unit's stats from turn to turn. In any case, they're basically genestealers that mutate and hide in terrain for deployment. When they appear from reserves, they pop out of the terrain piece that was marked for them and they can assault afterward (unlike regular genes and as a result one of the only sudden assault unit in the game now). They ambush the way that Lictors ought to, and they wouldn't be a bad choice if the elite slots weren't your best source of anti-tank. Even so, they can really disrupt anything with big weapons that's sitting around in the back *cough*longfangs*cough*. Since they can assault when they come in, and you choose where they're going after both sides deploy, they come in more or less where you want to (unless you play on planet Q-ball, and if so, god help you), can assault with a toughness boost to survive Overwatch fire and not murder things too much on your turn, then clean up on your opponent's turn. Rinse and repeat thereafter. Taking one brood of 6-8 is a decent choice for most players, even with Hive Guard trying to crowd into all three slots, the disruption they give (denying where an opponent can deploy their heavy-weapon infantry in cover) is worth it.
This is another unit that any player would be a fool not to consider investing in. They are arguably some of the best anti-armor units in the game right now, using a S10, AP1, LANCE attack to punch through any heavy armor on the field. They also have a S5, AP3, blast template to throw at Space Marines that get too comfortable with their good saves. A brood of them can lay down touhou esque barrages of firepower with FUCKING MIND BULLETS. Three full broods of them can lay down an truly epic amount of mental dakka that will fuck up the shit of everything and anything in front of them. The only drawback to Zoanthropes is that their attacks are psychic, and that their lance attack is short range, only 18". They can be dropped into play with pods, though. The new Psychic powers allow Zoanthropes to really shine: they are picked individually. A brood of Zoanthropes with Psychic Shriek can function in a similar manner to the Doom, albeit for a higher points cost. Gate of Infinity on one Zoanthrope can get the other two into Lance range on turn 1. It's even possible to have your brood of Zoanthropes spam multiple defensive and support abilities such as Enfeeble and Endurance each turn. Either for their sheer armor crumping mental powers or interesting support abilities, Zoans have been and continue to be fantastic options for any tyranid army.
Troops are where you are going to get your swarm on, everything except warriors and rippers can be fielded in absolutely MASSIVE numbers (and even then they just sacrifice quantity for quality). The upgrades for your troops can really have an impact on how they fight but while the upgrade cost is small the bulk order of them can run you a lot of points, almost doubling the point costs of some choices. Everything works best when you keep them within a synapse from something like a Tyrant or Warriors, with Rippers it is absolutely mandatory. Tyranid troops are basically the reason other races have weapons with crap AP values, you will lose them in droves, and yet STILL have enough to bury your enemy in bodies.
- Genestealers - Genestealers are very solid units. They have a 5+ save, which is easily punctured by any Space Marine worth a damn, but their combat ability makes up for that. They can easily shred plenty of enemy units (up to and including Baneblades if you can get to their rear armor) in close combat thanks to rending, high initiative, great weapon skill, and an acceptable number of attacks. However, despite all this, they aren't really the core player of the army. They come with infiltration built in, so their best use is often to keep the enemy bottled up.
A squad or two of flanking Genestealers will cause most players to give pause to spreading out to the edges of the board (Outflanking is nearly worthless in 6th, just Infiltrate them instead). Additionally, you can also upgrade one genestealer to a broodlord, which is essentially a 3 wound, ws7, s/t5 nightmare with close combat oriented psychic powers. Give the Broodlord adrenal glands and it can pop landraiders. All things considered you can't say many bad things about Genestealers. Thankfully, they can be fielded in pretty large numbers, not quite as massive as that of Gaunts, but enough to pretty much swamp anything in front of them. Almost nothing in the game short of AV 14 armor survives more than one turn when faced with a full genestealer brood with a broodlord. In addition, Broodlords with Hypnotic Gaze are now challenge kings. Alternatively, you can give the Broodlord 2 random powers from the Telekinesis discipline, since none of those powers require a roll to hit ignore that, Games Workshop FAQ'd it: Broodlords cannot use psychic shooting attacks due to their BS0, even ones that don't require a roll to hit. Thanks so much guys... The good news is that, if you get lucky, Telekine Dome and Objuration Mechanicum are still good to go because they're not shooting attacks. The former can increase your survivability, and the latter is one of the best solutions Tyranids have to Flyers.
- Hormagaunts - Hormagaunts, due to being cheap and having cheap access to poison, are among the most devastating and effective attackers in the Tyranid army. Per point spent, they deal more damage, survive more wounds, and can even run across the board faster than anything else that can compete with them. Their only major drawback is a stark lack of frag grenades. However, keep them from fighting with inopportune targets and get them Feel No Pain from a Tervigon (or anything that rolled Endurance), and these little bugs will really tear it up on the battlefield. They can also equip adrenal glands to glance tanks and transports to death on the charge. Plus, you can field them in absolutely massive broods, rivaling full sized guard platoons in sheer size. Now get +2 attacks on the charge when outside Synapse with less charging at the nearest enemy when you start to Feed.
- Rippers - Tyranids have numerous traditional weaknesses, one being blast templates. Rippers, being swarms, take double damage from blast templates. Having a toughness of three, they are morbidly weak to Instant Death as well. Their weapon skill is low, their saves are 6+, they can't hold or contest objectives, and they die if they fall out of synapse. To say they at least aren't an actively inhibiting part of any army would be a stretch. Only worth taking if you use the Parasite of Mortrex, since for 277pts or so you give Morty a nice extra 21 wounds, with 36 more attacks on the charge at a 4+ poison. And if your Rippers are running low, just move off into some of your newly spawned Rippers and keep going on. Rippers are almost always delegated to tar pit duty and can excel on that front against anything that isn't S6 or more.
- Termagants - Termagants are pretty much nothing compared to hormagaunts and genestealers. Their guns are short range, their ballistic skill is average, they fight as well as Guardsmen in close combat and their saves are worse. In fact, they cost just as much as a Guardsman does too, and since Termagants can't ride transports there isn't much that can be done with them. However, for every brood of Termagants you have, one Tervigon can be purchased as a troop choice, and Termagants receive all kinds of irrational buffs from being next to a Tervigon. Therefore, despite their mediocre-at-best statline, they are arguably the most competitive Troops choices on the tabletops of sixth edition when paired with the Tervigon. Like Hormagaunts, they can be fielded in numbers so large the gameboard will look like an unending sea of bugs. Give them devourers though, pay a pretty penny to sit them next to a hive tyrant with old adversary, and there is no light infantry sqaud in the game that can withstand a turn of shooting from them.
- Warriors - Warriors are also a solid unit, but they have one problem: Instant Death. They have a 4+ save, three wounds, and a toughness of four, so against small arms fire they're as tough as Terminators. However, hit their squad with a Demolisher cannon and they all evaporate. They have access to weapons that ignore armor saves, have decent guns, have good weapon skill, and overall have some pretty reasonable options. It's just not a good idea to make an entire army composed of Warriors since small numbers and being no-brainer targets will hurt them. Cover can be their friend in 6th and with Primes leading them, at least Str8 won't be such a problem.
 Fast Attack
- Gargoyles - Gaunts with wings, effectively. They are, in quite nearly every way, just Termagants with wings. They have the same stats and the same weapons. However, aside from the 12" movement,
there is one exception there are TWO: gargoyles wound enemies during the to-hit rolls as well as during the to-wound rolls. Every six they roll to hit becomes a wound with armor saves allowed. Another thing, gargoyles have the Hammer of Wrath special of rule and essentially receive a free bonus attack hit at I10 on the charge. ONLY on the charge though. Throw in poison and gargoyles become some savage monstrous creature hunters (great for fucking over other tyranid armies and chaos daemons). Taking HoW into consideration, Gargoyles are incredibly cost efficient models. If you give them both upgrades, you're paying 8 points for: 12 + 2d6 charge, 3 S4 I4 Poisoned attacks, and a S4 AP5 assault weapon. Point for point, superior to even storm boyz. Sadly, they aren't too fantastic against much besides infantry; they are really very average models for survivability and output (see before) If they can't kill or cripple what they charged in the first round, there's not much hope for the unit coming out alive... So while it doesn't hurt to have them around, they also don't always help. They are, however, an excellent unit for a Parasite of Mortrex to join.
- Harpies - Harpies are one of the most heavily affected models in the Tyranid list and in their case it was an actually positive change over. Flying monstrous creatures are not just cool, but until more AA weapons find themselves into the game, they are also very hard to kill. Harpies don't come especially cheap, running a tab not unlike a Tervigon, and are not quite as tough when you actually get a hit on them. However for that price you end up with a pretty heavy gunship, the stock primary gun is a Twin-linked S6 pinning large blast OR for a small cost, a Twin-linked S9 small blast. Tack on another choice between Cluster or Stinger salvo (I recommend cluster as the harpy doesn't have great BS) and you can threaten big chunks of troops at once. After that the Harpy can drop a cluster of Spore mines on an enemy it passes over once per game and finally vector strikes that can be used against light vehicles (including fliers) or just whoever you happen to be running over. All this leads to a very harassy flier with enough pie for everyone. Keep them in the back during deployment though, as they start in Gliding mode and thus can be instagibbed by Str10 Large Blasts, which are mostly short-ranged. Make it a point to stay out of range or LOS of a Quadgun until they can at least Jink. Their extreme mobility and range will get them where they need to be no problem once they're in the air.
- Raveners - Raveners are very similar to Warriors, but they're faster, have higher initiative, have more attacks, and are more fragile. Ultimately they're ok. They aren't as good at fighting as a swarm of Hormagaunts, aren't as tough as Warriors, and get expensive when equipped with ranged weapons, but their Fleet move, 12" movement, and complete immunity to non-mysterious terrain give them a niche to fill. Ideally, they're harassers, designed to make unexpected long range assaults into exposed heavy weapons teams or infantry who think they're safely controlling an objective. The main thing to worry about with them is Instant Death and getting caught in the open. Their 5+ saves mean they won't get armor against the most typical foes, and if you can't clean up that Space Marine with a hidden Power Fist in one round then you'll have some very dead Raveners on your hands.
- Shrikes - Winged warriors which cost more and have a weaker armor save, made up for with a much greater mobility. Equip them with any combination of your favorite melee weapons and get these guys into an assault ASAP, get kills, and then onto the next squad before you can shake a ripper at them. They still suffer from anything that can instant death them and cant get a Tyranid prime buddy, unfortunately. If you can manage hopping them from cover to cover running, they won't disappoint you. Overall, a strong contender for a Fast Attack slot on your army.
- Sky-Slashers - Rippers with cute little wings. Not much better then the grounded version, but now with the added weakness of taking dangerous terrain checks if they use their jump move while in terrain! They can, however, use their jump move to assault, which gives them a free I10 hit, in addition to their other attacks for a metric fuck ton of paper cuts on the charge. If they take Adrenal glands, they can glance AV10 rear armor vehicles to death on the charge, with a 12+2d6" threat range. Otherwise, see Rippers, described above.
- Spore Mines - Floating basketballs that explode when they bump into things. Also, they deepstrike before anyone deploys. This makes them pretty much useless, since any enemy with any kind of strategic experience will just tank shock them on the first turn. For their cost they possess the ability to do amazing things but using them is generally an odd and unwieldy experience. Their only real change is that with mech list getting reduced effectiveness there's more footsloggers at the start of the game for them to bump into.
 Heavy Support
- Biovores: A unit to be respected by any footslogger with an armor save of 4+ or worse, Biovores are "mobile" artillery beasts that deliver spore mines directly to the enemy. The mines, when they hit, each create a S4, AP 4, large blast, and when they don't hit they will actually land on the field and remain present until they are shot or wandered into. It's not exactly what one would think of as "heavy" support, but it is probably among the best ranged anti-infantry support in the codex. The only problem is, one has to ask if more anti-infantry is really what one seeks when such is the strength of almost every other unit in the codex. In Apocalypse games, where long ranged ability becomes crucial due to the much larger average board size, they become far more viable as a way to deal with infantry blobs from a distance, though they lack the Dactylis' balls out firepower, they can be fielded in much larger numbers to swamp the battlefield in pieplates and spore mines.
- Carnifex: Carnifexes are expensive, and this is especially true once you start buying upgrades for them. They have four attacks which they can re-roll to hit and a Str9, but their WS is pretty average. They can hold their own against basic squads, but one hidden power fist will ruin their day in a heartbeat (or lack thereof). Even against a five man Space Marine Tac Squad, the Carnifex lacks the attacks and accuracy to clean up its enemies before it gets walloped, and a Krak missile or two to soften the beast up will guarantee its death. The reason for this circumstance is that the Carnifex used to be the go-to unit of the Tyranid codex in 4th edition. However, there is one important thing to consider: nothing dismantles tanks in close combat as well as a Carnifex. It's a poor consolation prize, especially with the new vehicle cracking power of many of the other Tyranid units. Also hilariously the second unit in the codex with access to frag grenades. Toxin Sacs on the Carnifex gives you a rerolls to Wound for pennies. With 2 Twin-Linked Devourers, they become surprisingly powerful at destroying flyers (rerolling to hit), MEQs and TEQs (forcing saves), GEQ ICs (instant death), and even light to medium vehicles (volume of fire) at range. For only 190 points, with the option to be taken in larger broods, this setup rarely disappoints. All in all, Carnifexes have certainly seen some buffs in 6th edition, with the new Monstrous Creature cover rules, the changes to vehicles, and Hammer of Wrath. Still sucks points-wise. Over double what it used to be last codex. 160 points bare bones. Gotta ask, what was Cruddance thinking?!(He wasn't. Duh)
- Mawloc: Effectively a weaker, less accurate Trygon with the ability to cause damage to enemy squads as it enters play. When it Deep Strikes on an enemy unit, *EVERY* model underneath it takes a S6 AP 2 hit, vehicles being hit on the rear; considering the large base size of the Mawloc, one can potentially hit a lot of models; but in practice, between accuracy issues and the cover saves enemies get, it does less damage than one would initially expect. However, the primary use of the Mawloc is for vehicle displacement; any model which isn't killed must be moved to make way for the Mawloc to move through (even fliers), being auto-destroyed should they not be able to escape; while the odds of killing a vehicle in the open with this are relatively minimal, the Mawloc can find use in disrupting vehicle formations, making it easier to rear-shot vehicles, assault them, or pull them off objectives. This makes anti-castling its primary use and it can pop in and then out the very next turn. Overshadowed by the Dactylis in Apocalypse games.
- Trygon: The Trygon is a former Apocalypse heavyweight which has been scaled down for standard 40k games and is the smallest of the bio-titans and the only bio-titan to lack biocannons. An expensive model to be sure, it is still considered one of the highlights of the Tyranid codex. Like most other Tyranid Monstrous Creatures, the 6 Toughness 6 wounds (Formerly Toughness 7 5 wounds back in it's days of being a forge world exclusive, the toughness was probably decreased so that it wouldn't be COMPLETELY immune to S3 weapons like lasguns anymore while it was given another wound to compensate) allow it to take hits like a champ, and its raw statline, Fleet, and dual Scything Talons make it a melee powerhouse. And it has a cute little shooting attack, which it is generally advisable to ignore in favor of Running (cant run & assault so fire away). As a final note, the Trygon itself does not have the option for a Mycetic Spore, but Deep Strikes with the same Scatter-reduction rules built into its cost; whether you consider this an advantage or not depends on your opinion of Spores. Can also leave a hole for 1 unit to deep strike after and can upgrade into a beastly Synapse creature with a hell of a gun on it. Said upgrade also makes it a character (unconfirmed), making it much more survivable against hidden power fists and the like.
- Tyrannofex: A primarily ranged Bio-titan; This unit is of hotly debated usefulness. Scorned by some, and cherished as an unassailable bastion of destruction by others, they are ultimately models that lack a unified purpose. Costing as much or more than a Land Raider, T-Fexes have six wounds, a toughness of six, and a 2+ save, meaning they are all but invulnerable to regular infantry. Their standard build is bristling with anti-infantry weaponry, sporting two flamer templates and a short range large blast, but most people don't feel they particularly need more anti-infantry support from such an expensive unit. What the Tyranids do need is anti-armor, and that is something the Tyrannofex provides, but at considerable cost and with remedial reliability. Fans of the T-Fex insist it is a perfect tool because it draws fire away from your more important units without flinching, while opponents detract that the T-Fex's weakness is being ignored. The model is so costly that one must sacrifice whole broods of other units to field one, so it doesn't always hurt the enemy to just not shoot at the T-Fex. The reason why their use is debated at all is because T-Fexes are the Tyranid codex's only long range anti-armor units, providing a S10, Assault 2 firearm that can reach across the board, letting you crack open Land Raiders from a long distance. Ultimately they are slow, fill a niche by desperation rather than proficiency, and should not be used in games with point limits below 1,500. If titans, superheavy tanks, gargantuan creatures, and stompas are appearing on the board (such as in a game of apocalypse) T-fexes find themselves overshadowed due to the sheer number of biocannon (all of them being S10 AP3 Heavy 3-9 weapons) equipped units that will become available to the tyranids. But they do provide a nice backup to the gargantuan bio-titans. A good use for them in apocalypse is to clear away super-heavy units that would otherwise tie down your Bio-titans or threaten your army while leaving your Apocalypse Bio-titans free to focus on other things. Additionally, they make for excellent Titan finishers. Essentially, treat them as more expendable shadow sword equivalents. For some incomprehensible reason, both the Acid Spray and Rupture cannon are only AP4, making them useless against MEQs, seriously, it's chances of penetrating a land raider's armour is *identical* to it's chances of getting by a marine's armour save, what the fuck? Alternatively, a Tyrannofex can be used as a linebreaker unit, since most power weapons are ap3 now.
Alternate use - As said previously, the secondary weapons are created primarily for anti-infantry. Therefore, make the tyrannofex a complete infantry hunter (Your elite slots should be your anti-vehicle. They do a much better job). Give the Tyrannofex acid spray, cluster spines and Desiccator larvae and go pie/flamer-plating all game long (The Tyrannofex is allowed to shoot ALL three in a single turn, and with 2 of them being flamer templates, your opponents can forget about their cover saves). With a 2+ armor save, T6 and W6, deploy as a line-breaker (which will also qualify this beast to be your DISTRACTION CARNIFEX) and force your opponent to choose between unloading ALL his firepower to kill it, or retreating his units out of cover, which could work well for your other units. And don't forget that it's STILL an MC, so don't be afraid to smash any vehicles unfortunate enough to get within charge range. Give this creature regeneration and it'll survive the whole game.
- Old One Eye: OOE is one of the most tragic models in the codex. It exemplifies everything that is wrong with the new Carnifex pricing and then compounds it to make a model so costly that it hurts the entire army just by being there. The price tag is equivalent to a Land Raider, but OOE is only as tough and as durable as a normal Carnifex. It has a 5+ regeneration ability that lets it recover wounds, but this does not save it from the trick of hitting the beast with a Krak Missile or two before assaulting it with a Power Fist. I can also roll one additional attack for every original attack that hits, but it can't roll new attacks generated from new attacks. Unfortunately it does not out perform a normal Carnifex with crushing claws by much, and it is out performed by Trygons for less cost. In Apocalypse games he becomes even more pointless.
- Stone Crusher Carnifex (Forge World): - your basic fex with 2+ armor, -1A, no talons, AP1 crushing claws and it will not die USR. It's basically the ideal DISTRACTION CARNIFEX. It's absurdly cheap in point cost (but not in real money - this is forge world after all), until you realize that there is no mycetic spore option. Its a realy bad idea to footslog a Carnifex all over the board - not even 2+ and IWND can save him from being shot to death. Stick him behind a mob of gaunts until he gets to the enemy.
 Apocalypse Units
- Heirodule Though it looks like a gigantic gaunt, it's really more like a carnifex on angry, angry steroids; this Bio-titan eats tanks for breakfast and is roughly the Tyranid equivalent of a baseline Stompa or a Warhound class scout titan. It comes in two versions, the melee only version which has four FUCKHUEG scything talons that can carve up vehicles and superheavies in close combat, and has a FUCKHUEG flamer. The ranged version has two FUCKHUEG scything talons and two biocannons (this particular version of the biocannon is S10 AP3 Heavy 6) which means that you can spit out six twinlinked S10 AP3 hits per turn, now despite "only" having AP3, the sheer number of high strength shots will quite regularly defeat AV 14, so you can pop open land raiders and monoliths (the only two units with AV 14 all around), kill baneblades and battlefortresses from the front (though it's still recommended that you go for their side or rear armor,
because you should always try to take the most favorable option possibleattack their weak point for massive damage), take out titans and stompas (Void shields and power fields only have an AV of 12 and collapse if struck with either a glancing or penetrating hit, though only one layer of shielding will be destroyed by a single hit; as for a titan's armor, it's generally identical to a baneblade's, not even a warlord has AV 14 on it's sides or rear), Brass scorpions, and Gargantuan creatures. Overall, a solid choice. In addition, all biotitans can tank shock, but this is generally most useful for the melee Heirodule, as it lets it just plow through a whole army of infantry models to get at the superheavy sitting at the back with a smug smile on it's face. Hilariously, Lysander can beat even the melee version of this in CC, for 1/3 of the points.
- Heirophant Coming in at over one thousand points, the Heirophant is the priciest Tyranid unit in regular scale (or more accurately, not-epic) 40k and is easily one of the priciest units period. But it makes up for that by having two extremely long ranged s10 ap3 (yes, a shot from this is more likely to kill Land Raider than it is a terminator, goo figure) heavy 8 (that is not a typo, it's rate of fire is twice as high than a god damned gatling cannon that spews out hundreds of rounds a second) biocannons, gargantuan creature rules, a metric fuckton of claws, lash-whips, warp-fields, and some of the highest armor saves, toughness, wounds, and strength stats you have ever seen. You thought the four uber-daemons were tough? You haven't seen shit, compared to this beastie those four are nothing. There is not a single non-apocalypse unit in any codex that this thing wouldn't eat for breakfast. No matter what range it fights at, it will fuck something's shit up. Mr.space marine with a hidden power fist doesn't have shit on this guy. It is however, an colossal firemagnet, even if he is nigh on impossible to kill. With regeneration, he is pretty much the ultimate damage sponge, the few things that do hurt him will simply be rolled away. It's debated amongst the Warhammer community of what the psychic power 'Warp Field' does - in the old Codex, when the Heirophant was introduced, Warp Field gave the bearer a 2+ armour and 6+ Invulnerable. In the new book, it gives a 3+ Invulnerable save (but no boost to armour). God help us all if this thing has a 3++. Where it really shines is close combat against other super heavies where it will RIP AND TEAR with wild abandon. Beware taking it against Dark Eldar, massed Poisoned shooting will fuck it's shit right up.
- Harridan the Tyranid's flyer, it is for all intents and purposes, a fucking flying heirodule (with the best of both versions) it has the exact same bio-cannons as a Heirodule (S10 Ap3 Heavy 6) but as a flyer, most things can't hit it, and it can pop open tanks with it's bio-cannons or its claws and is one of the only Tyranid units that can deal with enemy flyers (some people debate that it can actually assault a flyer, tearing it's shit up, and now with sixth edition, it most certainly can!). It can carry One Gargoyle brood, but mainly you want this for the bio-cannons mounted on a extremely difficult to hit platform, though a trio of Harridans shitting out twelve full sized broods of Gargoyles right on top of someone is a hilarious way to drown someone in flyers. Due to its immensely powerful guns, only superheavy fliers have any chance of surviving being shot at by the bio-cannons and even then they're going to take a severe beating to their 1d3 structure points. With its gargoyle broods, it can fulfill three out of four major roles for fliers excellently, air superiority, ground attack, and bombing.
Hydra tanks and Flakkadakka guns will eat it for breakfast however Are only wounding it on a 5+ and cannot pierce it's armour save, and strangely for a Tyranid unit, it's very elite compared to other fliers, very powerful, but also expensive, so the enemy's fliers will probably outnumber your harridans. Escort them with flyrants and harpies, laugh at your enemies feeble attempts at stopping these terrors from tearing them a new asshole. And if you stand still, you can shoot your bio-cannons TWICE, twelve S10 twinlinked shots are going to fuck over anything it comes across. Really the only other flier that can challenge the Harridan is the Manta. Pray you never have to fight a manta, with it's 4++, 10SP, 96 S6 shots, 11 TL S7 AP3 shots, 2 Heavy Railguns and shitload of missiles.
Dominatrix Remember that goofy looking Bio-titan in epic? Well Forgeworld saw fit to create an actually pretty badass looking model. The biggest Synapse creature of them all and probably the biggest fire magnet the Tyranids have to offer. But on the same hand, it's the one thing in your arsenal that's even deadlier than the Heirophant. It can lay down absolute devastation in every phase of the game with it's warp blast emitters, borderline silly amount of bioplasma shots, psychic abilities, and atrociously devastating melee capability while laughing off 90% of the weapons in the game.
- Dactylis The Hive Mind got sick of the bitching about the Tyranid's lack of pieplate dropping ability, so it took some biovores and dumped them in Nuclear Waste. Yes it looks like a flower with a boner on top of it's head, yes it sucks at close combat, but you finally now have some serious ability to instagib blobs at a distance with FUCKHUEG sporemines. You get a large number of rounds to shoot out of the cannon, so it's your call really.
- Exorcine Remember the Hive Guard? Say hello to the Hive Guard's bigger, steroid abusing brother. Essentially the Tyranid's shadowsword equivalent, the Exorcine can shoot an balls out devastating biocannon blast that can blow Titans apart, and if something gets close it can shit out a metric fuck ton of S4 AP 5 hits. It still needs protection from Dreadnought Equivalents who are at the same time too small to be worth firing the main gun at, while being tough enough to walk through it's close in defenses. Where the hell are the models and stats for these things? Forgeworld never made a Dominatrix model! [They were from Armorcast]
Update: Actually, the rules are available, but old as balls and have to be converted by this point. Just Google Lords of Battle rules and you'll find them.
Note that copious amounts of Poisoned weapons are the bane of bio-titans (note that the FAQ says that super heavy creatures are only poisoned on a 6 rather a 4 or less, so it's not that bad), so armies like the Dark Eldar who typically spontaneously explode in apocalypse games are actually a legitimate threat to your units. Be wary of this, and unless you are confident that your smaller units are the real punch of your army, and not the bio-titans, be prepared to sacrifice other Tyranid units to keep your Bio-titans safe from poison. As for fliers, in friendly games you can ask for your winged units to count as fliers in Apocalypse games, so that your Harridans won't be so lonely up there. Flier rules greatly improve ranged Shrikes, Gargoyles, and Harpies, giving them badly needed ability to avoid being shot at by most units while also providing much needed low(ish) cost support against enemy fliers, sky-slashers are still garbage though.
 Dedicated Transport
- The Mycetic Spore: Essentially the Tyranid equivalent to a Space Marine drop pod (except they can't carry independent characters or be dropped empty according to the FAQ), they're a way to drop a brood behind that defensive assault line standing in cover. They are best used to carry Zoanthropes or the Doom of Malan'tai near to something that needs destroying or soul-sucking. (Also they are monstrous creatures, so drop that pod next to a claimed objective and watch your opponent ignore them in favor of the unit inside. Then, end of the game, when they think they hold the objective, point out how the drop pod is contesting it)
 Building Your Army
The central power of Tyranids this edition is in swarms of units. Among the best performers for the army are Hormagaunts and the swarm-producing Tervigon, but Termagants armed with Devourers (termed Devilgaunts by many in the community) aren't half bad either with a bit of cover. Thanks to Warriors being troops, it is possible to build an army with an elite focus as well, but the Tyranids don't take to such list building strategies as well as certain other armies do. This is mainly because hidden powerfists will put an end to Warriors in an eyeblink, preventing them from making safe assaults into any Space Marine unit toting one.
Unfortunately, armies with a great deal of attention to monstrous creatures will often find themselves fragile and horrifically outnumbered. A bit of number crunching reveals that, per point spent, a carnifex is not all that much more durable than a bunch of hormagaunts in cover, meaning that small arms are no less effective against them and heavy weapons are an unnecessary Achilles heel. Some of the newer monstrous creatures with six wounds, such as the Trygon, keep it together better but just can't do everything the army needs thanks to their high cost and few numbers.
- General List Building - For the most part, Tyranids have very few options to choose from once they have selected the models they wish to use. For example, Hormagaunts have only two biomorph options: adrenal glands and toxin sacs, and the same is more or less the case for Termagants, Gargoyles, Trygons, Mawlocs, and several others (plus or minus one or two biomorphs). The strong point of the army is not in mutable units or myriad alterable roles this edition. Hence, the following is a list of the three most common biomorphs and their most prominent uses:
- Adrenal Glands - This biomorph grants Furious Charge to the model it is equipped to. Its foremost use is increasing strength to better damage vehicles,
but it also proves helpful for getting the first strike in melees new edition Furious Charge only boosts strength, though Genestealers and Hormagaunts will still usually go first against most targets; while marginally less useful against infantry than Toxin Sacs, when the two are used alongside each other, basic Tyranid infantry become among the deadliest anti-infantry in the game (for a price, that is: it is often better to choose one biomorph or the other).
- Toxin Sacs - Toxin Sacs cause the model's close combat attacks to be inflicted with a 4+ Poison, which is quite potent against enemy infantry and monstrous creatures. They are offered to all Tyranid monstrous creatures and change them from a 2+ wounding to a 2+ with a re-roll. However, they have the tendency to be very useful on infantry units, such as Hormagaunts, and when taken on a Tervigon the 4+ poison bonus is granted to all Termagants within 6" of the beast.
- Regeneration - Typically expensive, this biomorph allows a model to roll one die for each wound it has currently sustained. On each roll of 6, a wound is recovered up to the model's maximum. Though available to Carnifexes, Hive Tyrants, and Harpies, it is a choice that is most useful to six-wound models like Trygons or Tervigons. When placed on a Tyrannofex, the model becomes pointless to shoot at; after all the work it takes to wound one, it's completely demoralizing to watch it just recover the damage. However, it is usually quite costly to be putting on any model without crucial importance to the army as a whole. It is rather cheap on Tyranid Primes, though, and not so bad on Harpies, either.
- Harpies - Harpies are flying Monstrous Creatures. At first glance, they're expensive and fragile since Strength 10 weapons can instant-kill them, and they only have a 4+ save. To make the Harpy worth the investment, a Tyranid player must provide it with cover and provide enough immediate threats to make targeting the Harpy itself a less demanding proposition.
- Role: The Harpy shoots, providing ranged support to the Tyranid army. Armed with its choice of Stinger Salvo or Cluster Spines and Stranglethorn Cannon or Heavy Venom Cannon, it can be tailored against infantry or modest tank suppression, typically preventing enemy armor from firing by scoring stunned and shaken results. Although they are not geared for close-combat, Harpies can provide secondary melee support if desired on account of being one of the few Tyranid models with Assault Grenades and on account of their special rule which halves the initiative of enemy units they charge. Although this secondary role is more situational (Tyranid models as a rule have some of the highest initiative-values in the game), against similarly high-initiative enemies like Eldar Harlequins, the results can be meaningful if properly pulled off.
- Purchasing Harpies: At lower-point levels, the Harpy isn't needed since the Elite anti-tank options are generally sufficient for dealing with enemy armor; at higher point-levels, more durable anti-tank firepower can be had in the Heavy Support slots. What Harpies do is allow Tyranids a degree of flexibility, allowing them to more freely choose alternative slots in the Heavy Support or Elite slots.
- Hive Guard and Zoanthropes - The two foremost solutions to armored vehicles in the Tyranid codex, these models must appear in every Tyranid list that expects to encounter tanks or armored transports - and let's face it, tanks and armored transports are in almost every serious army list out there in 5th edition. One is better for busting transports while the other handles heavy armor as if it were blasting retarded, wingless goslings with a twelve gauge shotgun; one shooting phase, one kill tends to be the normal for a full unit of either model. Hive Guard and Zoanthropes are completely in their own league as far as anti-armor power is concerned, outclassing everything else in the codex by embarrassing miles. Zoanthropes do have some trouble dealing with Psychic Hoods, but that aside, it is usually wise to figure how many points are going to be spent on Hive Guard and Zoanthropes before adding any more units to the list.
- Tervigons and Termagants - The two models really must be addressed together when list building because one is as good as useless without the other in most cases. The Tervigon, which spawns 3D6 Termagants at the beginning of each phase until it rolls doubles, provides buffs to all gaunts within 6" of it. The buffs include Furious Charge and poison if adrenal glands and toxin sacs are equipped to the Tervigon respectively, and all gaunts within 6" of the Tervigon always have Counter-attack. The only drawback is that, should the Tervigon die, nearby gaunts can take damage, but thanks to six wounds, a toughness of six, and a relatively non-threatening profile, Tervigons don't go down all that commonly. Tervigons can also purchase a psychic ability to give an entire unit Feel No Pain, so in short summation, one Tervigon turns a unit of sniveling, weakling Termagants into a unit of half-decent combatants. Furthermore, whenever Termagants are purchased, a Tervigon can be included as a Troops selection, so there's honestly very little reason to ever take one without the other.
- Role: Both models are Troops first, meaning they are best used to jealously hold objectives. A Tervigon can often be difficult to shake from a position it takes up, especially if it can find cover somehow, and as long as the Tervigon can continue to pump Termagants out onto the battlefield, there's never a shortage of bodies to claim ground. Unfortunately, neither unit boasts much overt power in general. Tervigons have a shooting attack, but it's mild due to modest ballistic skill, and the same is true of Termagants. Also, despite potential boosts from Furious Charge, poison, and Counter-attack, Termagants are still not really all that great at fighting. They can lash out opportunistically, but the buffs merely make them worth the effort, and returns diminish sharply in turns following a charge.
- Equipping Gaunts: Gaunts may have numerous potential weapons, but only two are worthy of consideration: fleshborers and devourers. Spinefists, the third mainstay in the cold, are not more efficient at shooting than fleshborers, and because they are more expensive they are not to be minded for any reason. One in every ten Termagants can also take a S2 flamer that attacks enemy strength rather than toughness, but the cost of the gun is twice the base worth of a Termagant, so no luck there. Then there are also spike rifles, which are just spinefists with longer range, no AP, no twin-linking, and the same cost. In contrast, devourers boast Assault 3, S4, and a leadership lowering special rule, all of which can be very potent at an expense of high fragility per point to the equipped models. Lastly, fleshborers are a cheap option that keeps Termagants expendable while still allowing them to pack a bit of punch against the rear armor of transports.
- Role: (The following calculations assume the purchase of Adrenal Glands; an upgrade which is highly recommended)
It slices, dices, and fries small infantry units, and a majority of vehicles. Even against enemy vehicles attaining Cruising Speed, the Trygon's weight of attacks and Scything Talons provides an almost 50-50 chance of killing any rear-AV 10 vehicle (the vast majority of vehicles in 40k); these odds correspondingly increase against slower vehicles. It has lost killing abililty, since Furious Charge doesn't boost initiative now, but can still fuck shit up in CC. The Trygon is now king amoung Nids at busting vehicles: on the charge with Rage it has 8 attacks as S7, and with Smash has 4 attacks on the charge, but attacks at strength 10, re-rolls all failed to hits and armor penetration rolls, and adds +1 on the vehicle damage chart. Those Monoliths don't know what hit them. Be it for a Tyranid Reserve army, or a horde, the Trygon acts as a linebreaker for the rest of the army.
- Drawbacks: In most games, it will be impossible to find cover for the Trygon on account of its height. Compounded with its lack of an Invulnerable save and huge threat potential, it will be a high-priority target; a single Trygon emerging unsupported will die. The rules for Trygon Tunnels are near-worthless: Reserve-based armies generally wish to arrive at once rather than simply running into the slaughter piecemeal, and most Tyranid infantry units can purchase Mycetic spores for marginal costs. An useful, yet expensive tactic for the use of Trygon Tunnel is playing a deep-striking Trygon with an unit of 20-30 Termagant with Devourer to shoot 60-90 S4 shots to enemy infantry, thought there could be several problems with it (for example, Termagant coming in play before the Trygon).
Finally, the Trygon itself is not ideal for taking on heavy transports like Land Raiders, both on account of unreliability (the odds of destroying or immobilizing a cruising Land Raider are about 30%) The Trygon now has above an 75% chance to wreck/explode a Land Raider (thanks to Smash), although such vehicles are often carrying the very units designed to destroy big monsters. This means that the Trygon works better with armies using Zoanthroapes as their primary anti-tank. As with other Tyranid Monstrous Creatures, the Trygon must be screened against assassin-type units, primary examples including Genestealer teams or the Librarian Furioso.
- Upgrades: Adrenal Glands are a good choice for the Trygon. Being Fleet allows the Trygon more opportunity to fully take advantage of Furious Charge, and the extra point of Strength makes it more adept at taking out enemy vehicles. For the cost of two Termagants, it's a steal. For a fair increase in points, one can optionally upgrade the Trygon to a Prime. Aside from buffing its Leadership (useful mostly for surviving against enemy Boneswords/Neural Shredders/similar threats), and upping the range and output of its Bio-electric Pulse to something slightly more formidable (though still not preferable for use compared to an assault), it most importantly makes the Trygon count as a Synapse Creature. Depending on the build involved, having a Prime Deep Strike can make it a good "relay point" for armies relying on rapidly advancing into the enemy lines, or a way to deliver Shadow of the Warp into the enemy lines. Regeneration is alright due to the Trygon's high wound count, but not necessary.
Toxin sacs should always be avoided since 4+ poison is statistically less powerful against nearly anything the Trygon might be fighting, barring other monstrous creatures With the 6th edition rules, a Trygon now rolls to wound normally with poison (4+ at worst) and gains re-rolls if its strength is equal or better than the targets toughness. This makes toxin sacs a cheap and effective upgrade for the Trygon.
Tyranids unfortunately cannot exchange any of their psychic powers for any of those listed under the psychic disciplines. With their existing powers, tyranids still follow the uses and limitations of powers (as per pg66-69) in the 6th edition Warhammer 40k rulebook.
The Tervigon gets Dominion for free, and can have its use in some builds, allowing your units to have a longer effective operational range. As a rule though, it gets overshadowed by the other two powers. Onslaught allows the unit to Run and subsequently shoot, extending the effective threat range of many units as well as making it easier to attain sideshots on enemy armor, or maintain fire suppression as the Tyranid swarm advances on enemy tanklines. This ability can also turn the Tyrannofex into a fairly useful unit for softening up infantry in cover prior to your units assaulting, assuming there aren't better targets to shoot. However, as a Psychic Shooting Attack, it precludes the Tervigon itself from firing, or declaring an assault. Catalyst tends to be more popular on its ability to bestow Feel No Pain to a nearby unit. This can make otherwise vulnerable Monstrous Creatures more durable than before, lending itself to a Nidzilla build, while Tervigons as an HQ choice can make a convincing argument for Genestealer-based armies; a 5+ save and Feel No Pain are functionally equivalent to a 3+ armor save in melee, making a Genestealer unit that much deadlier in melee, or harder to dislodge from cover (very few cover-busting weapons are Strength 8 after all.)..
- Protecting Monstrous Creatures:
Monstrous Creatures have less wounds than a horde of gaunts, but are only one model. This makes them more vulnerable to single shot weapons, but less vulnerable to pie plates. In 6th edition, they can get cover saves far easier than in 5th. If they are touching area terrain, they get a save(either 4+ or 5+). If there is a unit between them and the unit shooting them, they get a 5+. If they are at least 25% obscured by anything, they get a 5+. A wall of gaunts is all that is needed to shield them. Be careful in how the gaunts are positioned, however, so that you don't slow the Monstrous Creature. Hormagaunts are ideal for this, because they run a rerollable 3d6, picking the highest. Gargoyles are good as well, with their 12" movement. Keep the gaunts in front and shield the Monstrous Creature, then charge with them in a manner that leaves an opening for the Monstrous Creature to get in as well. Since most Tyranid ranged weapons have low AP, you will get far more cover saves from this than your opponent's units will. Tervigons can do this without even trying, since they spawn their own gaunt meatshields. If you are playing a "Nidzilla" army without many gaunts, venomthropes can provide a similar effect: just be careful to keep them alive.
6th edition is filled with Flyers. Stormravens, Stormtalons(aka flying potatoes), Doom Scythes, Burna-Bommaz, Vendettas and many others 1)arrive from reserve 2)can move up to 36" 3)require snapfiring to hit 4)can't be assaulted. The following strategies are of use against Flyers:
- Devourer: The Devourer can glance Flyers to death. Devilgaunts fire it S4 Assault 3. A mob of them are sure to hit the flyer; however this only works against AV10.
- Dakkafex/Tyrant: This is probably your best option straight-up, as of FAQ 1.1. Monstrous Creatures fire S6 Assault 6 Twin-linked per Devourer, and so can even glance a Stormraven with some luck. The Twin-linked is great when snap firing. The big weakness of the Devourer is the 18" range, and the fact that S6 isn't very effective against a Stormraven or a cheap Vendetta.
For some weird reasons Flyrant can not shoot on flyers at full BS. WTF Games Workshop? WTF? (FAQ 1.2 Swooping FMC can now opt to Skyfire)
- Impaler Cannon: S8 Assault 2 24" Ignores Line of Sight is a good deal. These can easily get glances on Flyers: if you can hit them. That's the problem: you only get 6 shots per Elite slot, per turn. Only one hits on average, and even that will only cause damage half the time against some of the heavier Flyers.
- Vector Strike: This is the other tool in the Flying Hive Tyrant's arsenal: D3+1 attacks that automatically hit the side armor. This seems to be how Games Workshop wants Tyranid players to deal with Flyers. Unfortunately, these attacks are only at S6(or S5 in the case of the Harpy). It is still worth the attempt in many situations, however. It is statistically likely for this to at least do something.
- Objuration Mechanicum: This Psychic Power is a 24" Haywire Malediction that also messes with To Hit rolls. You will most often get a glance with this: it is probably the most reliable method for killing Flyers as Tyranids. Getting it, however, is not reliable at all, given that it is a randomly generated Psychic Power.