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"You are one ugly motherfucker."

– Major Alan Schaefer to his Yautja adversary.

"Rule of thumb. Cthulhu lookin' xenos are superior to non-Cthulhu lookin' xenos..."

– The Russian Badger in his video on Space Hulk Deathwing. Heavy Flamer Heresy..

Do you remember Predator? The invisible alien hunter stalking its prey? Think that, but twice as big, and compensating for the lack of a death laser and technology with even more claws and a face full of tentacles that would make Cthulhu blush. Congratulations, you've pictured a Lictor (Tyranicus chameleo), and no, it's not a nice chap.



Lictors are a vanguard organism of the Tyranid Hive fleets, who roam ahead to seek out life bearing planets before inviting everyone else over for dinner. They specialize in espionage; the feeder tendrils a Lictor has instead of a mouth allow it to suck the brain of an unfortunate victim out of their skull, before digesting the memories and using the information to sabotage infrastructure on the planet. In addition to this, they possess chameleonic skin, granting them the ability to match the colour and texture of any given surface like a cuttlefish, and a set of claws/Grasping Talons and flesh hooks (harpoons, but mounted in the chest) for when stabbing becomes a greater priority than brain sucking. Interestingly, they are considered a highly specialized strain of Tyranid Warrior.

Once the 'Nids are planetside, Lictors serve an additional purpose. A Lictor exudes a pheromone trail that other Tyranids are instinctively drawn to. The greater the concentration of prey around the Lictor, the stronger the pheromone emission. This helps to coordinate the swarm, drawing more of the invaders to the largest populations. Once battle begins, Lictors tend to break cover to assassinate enemy leaders, before slinking back into the shadows.

Lictors also spearhead assassination and terror campaigns ahead of a main swarm assault, targeting enemy leadership and sowing fear. Interestingly, this tactic is yielding diminishing returns as the galaxy has a higher general readiness of late, and has resulted in the use of a less subtle variation of the lictor: the Dimachaeron.

The last thing to mention about Lictors is they have an exceptionally weird name for what they are. "Lictor" is not a random word but is the name the Romans used for the body guards to consul and praetors. Again: A lictor is the name of a body guard, not a stealthy assassin. Why game workshop and the Imperium decided to dub these creatures 'lictor' is unexplained outside of the ironic factor. (As an alternative take, Lictors were only bodyguards in the symbolic sense, as occasions when they used their power to meet out capital punishment are non-existent in the sources. What is more relevant is that they always preceeded the magistrate (and occasional priest) they were supposed to be protecting, pushing aside the crowd and heralding to the Romans that a dignitary was on his way. This fits the description of a vanguard organism that paves the way for the arrival of the main Tyranid host rather nicely.)


In previous editions, Lictors had to be assigned to a specific piece of terrain marked on a pre-drawn map, from which it could jump out IF the enemy got close. Since this was stupidly impractical, the rule was replaced with Deep Strike. No lessons seem to have been learnt though, as the more recently (re)introduced Ymgarl Genestealers deploy using the exact same, discarded rule.

The current codex includes a special character based on a Lictor: Deathleaper. Essentially a powered-up version of a regular Lictor, Deathleaper also has a set of special rules designed to weaken the leadership capability of enemy characters (more often than not, their Warlord), and to make it easier for it to disengage and attack new targets.

Overall Lictors are less and less popular as the years go on, mostly because they're fragile and can no longer assault out of reserve. However, recent tournament wins with lists containing Lictors, Mawlocs and spore mine clusters have illustrated that their S6 and high WS with Rending are not to be underestimated.

However, the rise of Kill Team as a fully supported Specialist Game has given the Lictor a new lease on life on the tabletop. In fact, it could be argued that Kill Team is the game that the Lictor was always meant for both in crunch and fluff. With the focus on terrain and small troop numbers, the Lictor really comes into its own as the stalking movie monster it was always meant to be.


Tyrannic Bio-Organisms
Leader Organisms: Broodlord - Hive Tyrant - Norn Queen
Swarmlord - Tyranid Warrior
Small Creatures: Gargoyle - Genestealer - Hormagaunt - Ripper - Termagant
Medium Size
Biovore - Hive Guard - Lictor - Neurothrope - Pyrovore
Ravener - Tyrant Guard - Venomthrope - Zoanthrope
Monstrous Creatures: Carnifex - Dimachaeron - Exocrine - Haruspex - Malanthrope
Maleceptor - Mawloc - Tervigon - Toxicrene - Trygon - Tyrannofex
Gargantuan Creatures: Cerebore - Dactylis - Hierodule - Malefactor - Nautiloid - Viragon
Flying Creatures: Harpy - Harridan - Hive Crone - Mucolid Spore
Spaceborne Creatures: Tyrannocyte - Mycetic Spore - Ether-Swimming Brood
Bio-Titans: Dominatrix - Hierophant - Hydraphant - Viciator
Floral Structures: Capillary Tower - Reclamation Pool
Other Organisms: Bio-Weapons - Cortex Leech - Meiotic Spore
Spore Mine - Sporocyst - Zoats
Unique Creatures: Deathleaper - Laius Horror - Old One-Eye - The Red Terror
Auxiliaries: Genestealer Cult