"This isn't a war," said the artilleryman. "It never was a war, any more than there's war between man and ants."
- H.G. Wells, The War of the Worlds
"Imperium has no shortage of deadly enemies but all of them pale in comparison to the Tyranids"
- Spike Spiegel
The Tyranids (often shortened to simply nids) are a race of extragalactic "Alien locust" in Warhammer 40k, that seemingly exist only to devour biomass, evolve into a more perfect species and grow in numbers. They are extremely adaptable, and frequently engineer and modify traits and characteristics in their genome, by devouring other unfortunate species into their own, in order to improve their combat effectiveness and survival. As a result, they are constantly evolving and becoming more dangerous. The Tyranids are most commonly seen in the galaxy in the form of Hive Fleets, large collections of space faring organisms that are capable of transporting and birthing the smaller strains of the species, as they travel from world to world, attack and consume all biomass on/in that planet, leaving it a lifeless rock. Even bacteria and archaea are consumed from the atmosphere. They are probably one of the oldest races when you think about it, and are, together with Orks and Necrons, probably going to win this galactic war. For this reason pretty much every faction in the galaxy sees Tyranids as the ultimate threat and would ally even with their sworn enemies to fight them. Thus the race is called The Great Devourer.
Before they arrived to this galaxy, the Tyranids were probably lying dormant in intergalactic space because there is nothing there to consume (probably). Despite this, they had sentinel organisms, looking constantly for any sign of life in distant galaxies. We actually don't know how many galaxies they have already left bare or why they came to this galaxy. So most facts we have on them are simply not more than speculations. It could be that we have only seen a fraction of their numbers or that their current numbers is all there is. We simply don't know.
Circa 30k, an alien device known as the Pharos sends up a huge quantum energy pulse, effectively signposting the Milky Way as an all-you-can-eat buffet. They set off, taking roughly the next 10,000 years to do so.
The Tyranid species is mentally connected and controlled by the extremely powerful and near godlike HIVE MIND. The Hive Mind is the collective consciousness of the entire Tyranid race, a psychic embodiment of Tyranid instincts and racial imperatives: to devour and evolve. It is so powerful that its mere presence (the Shadow in the Warp) makes even psykers and Chaos shit their metaphysical brains out in terror. The power of the Hive Mind is such that it casts a stifling influence over the Warp in the area, and therefore, warp travel becomes almost impossible. Hence it is that a world that finds itself a target of a Hive Fleet is unable to call for help or receive reinforcements by the time it detects the Hive Fleet's presence. This super consciousness allows their forces to move with a unity of purpose and cohesion that makes them extremely dangerous. The individual intelligence of different strains of the species is variable, however, and many of the smaller species lack the psychic power to communicate over long distances, and so the swarm relies on larger organisms, the so-called "Synapse Creatures", to act as relays and communication nodes in the psychic network (if the Hive Mind is the Internet (Internid), then synapse creatures are ISPs (ISynaPse) and routers (router-warriors)?). Outside of the range of a synapse creature, such as a Tyranid Warrior or a Hive Tyrant, smaller varieties such as those found within the Gaunt genus revert to animalistic behavior. However, certain strains, such as the Genestealer or the Lictor, are designed to be able to spend long periods of time beyond the reach of the Hive Mind, and are consequently considerably more intelligent and autonomous than other Tyranid organisms.
The normal Tyranid modus operandi is to locate a delicious looking planet, usually by following the psychic emanations of vanguard organisms like the Genestealers, who are sent ahead as scouts to infiltrate and form cults while obtaining genetic information about the local species (hence the name Gene-stealer), drawing the fleet towards a viable target. It is also known that Tyranids are attracted like moths to concentrated sources of psychic energy such as the Astronomicon. The Tyranids are capable of non-Warp-based FTL travel, which they achieve by using gravity to manipulate spacetime and travel extremely quickly towards large gravity wells such as stars, and once they are relatively close, they must rely on STL travel to close the gap with their target. Once they reach the world, infinite swarms of creatures flood down to the surface to overwhelm all resistance and consume the planet's population and resources in a manner reminiscent of a Korean StarCraft champion performing the devastating "Zerg Rush" (Note that the Zerg were supposedly based on Tyranids, which in turn were based on aliens in from movies like Starship Troopers and Alien. All these organisms are based on eusocial Hive insects such as the order Hymenoptera, which includes ants, bees etc.) In the later stages of the invasion, the Fleet manipulates the planet's biosphere and seeds it with aggressive plant life that grows extremely rapidly and assimilate all nutrition/life left on the planet, which is then consumed by the creatures of the swarm and massive feeding tentacles/tubes, dropped by Tyranid bio-ships in low orbit, and hence conveyed to the Hive Fleet as a whole. The fleet literally grows in size and mass, and moves on to the next planet.
This makes the Tyranids a very dangerous foe to fight. Even the Imperial Guard and Orks will find it difficult to beat them in a war of attrition, as individual losses are meaningless to the bugs. As long as they are able to recover the biomass of the dead, it is simply recycled into new warriors and ships. It's worth noting that going against technological species, results in fewer and fewer recycled biomass, so a Hive assaulting a high-tech heavily fortified fortress, loses some of it's total biomass bit-by-bit, but there are only few cases where the Tyranids really bite off more than they can chew. Even a Hive Fleet that has taken terrible losses and is forced to retreat, may soon return to terrorize strong worlds, as capturing and consuming a few poorly defended backwater planets is all that is required for them to replenish their forces. Even Hive Fleets considered defeated by the Imperium, may still be dangerous, as the splinter elements that have survived, may continue to infest worlds in the region. It is worth noting that, in the rare event that two different Tyranid fleets encounter each other, they are apt to attack each other. This is generally believed to be some sort of Darwinian selection mechanism to compare the competitiveness of the traits the individual fleets have accumulated, with the victorious fleet consuming the other, absorbing their best traits, and culturing a deadly hybrid with the best of both worlds.
So far, only fragments of Tyranid Hive Fleets have made it to this galaxy, and they were given monstrous names such as "Behemoth" and "Leviathan" and ate untold numbers of planets before finally being destroyed or stalled. It's also known that these are merely scouting fleets for the unimaginably large swarm that has yet to arrive, still currently in transit from another galaxy (Imperial scholars suppose them to be either en route from a galaxy they successfully scoured of all life, or retreating from some force even nastier than they are). Noted Imperial scholars believe that the only possible plan that stands any chance against the arrival of this force involves giving a melta gun to everyone that has hands and praying to the God-Emperor for the best. They have been expected to arrive on Terra's doorstep any day now for years, being stalled by a force even more malicious then they are: GW's refusal to move the story forward.
And if they intend to retcon the above so that Leviathan is in fact the main force, they can easily write it of as ravings of a crazed Inquisitor.
On the Table
When the 5th edition Codex released, it was met with split opinions, as usual. Some were angry at how overpowered the army looked, citing the facts that the Tervigon could create more units out of thin air using "broken" special rules, that the anti-psyker powers were so broad, and that the Hive Guard and Zoanthropes were so good at tank hunting at a time when tanks were kings.
However, after some time passed, people who decried the cheesy aspects of the army faded from view as people began to realize the army only seemed cheesy on paper, and that, in truth, any cheese the army had was drowned in the army's drawbacks. The Termagants the Tervigon could spawn? Stats like a Guardsmen in close combat, but with half their weapon range and weaker armor. And to get Tervigons to the Troops slot from the HQ slot (where they were practically useless), you had to pay Guardsman prices for a unit of them. In other words, you had to use the "cheesy" special rule or they were overpriced into uselessness.
Then there were the special powers that supposedly buffed the army. Again, at a first glance, they looked broken. Certain upgrades allowed any unit within 6" of certain models to gain rules like Feel No Pain, Furious Charge, Poison, cover saves, and so on. It sounded like a serious boon, but it had a funny effect. Aside from the fact that most Tyranid models are too expensive unless you capitalize on the bubble-buffs, it also does a horrible thing to your freedom to play the army. Mainly, it forces players to keep all their units bunched up within 6" of a few key models, requiring them to spend the entire game in a rigid formation that can spell disaster for the army when broken. Tyranids already suffered from this problem somewhat due to their synapse rules, but the 6" range on the mandatory buffs only shortened the leash. Not to mention it also made blasts even worse for an army already vulnerable to them.
Tyranids do seriously lack effective long range support as well. While they possess some weapons capable of mincing infantry units, most things with a range over 12" come at a premium. With an army so focused on close combat this shouldn't be such a problem, but synapse and buff leashes actually make it a valid concern. Mainly, the short buff leash pressures a player into a castle formation, but the lack of medium and long ranged weaponry pressures the player to advance the entire castle towards the enemy, which has a way of creating chinks in the formation. And you can't just move a few key units - when a unit moves forward, the model providing the buffs has to follow them, and then the other units relying on the buffs have to follow the model providing the buffs; it just makes the army obscenely inflexible.
Tyranid monstrous creatures, their heavy support, also got drastically nerfed in the 5th edition update. 6th edition rules have mitigated it somewhat, but the supposedly heavy-hitters of the army have limited roles or schizophrenic weapons options. Like the Tyrannofex, for example: with a 2+ save and six wounds at a toughness of six, the damn thing is almost indestructible, but the weapons are short-ranged, and if you buy it an expensive long-range cannon to shoot at tanks, you can't change any of its other short-ranged weapons which are designed to kill infantry. You just can't quite kit your heavy support to do the things you specifically want.
Which brings us to the final problem: on top of mountains of tactical inflexibility, the Tyranids also suffer from the drawback of design inflexibility. Unlike Guardsmen or Space Marines, the Tyranids don't get a lot of options to change the way the army works. When you buy hormagaunts, you get them at face value - you can't equip them with frag grenades, give them pistols, add heavy weapons, or mess with their gear in any way. You can buy them the poison special rule if you want, or maybe the Furious Charge special rule, but those are your two choices. Almost the entire army is that way, which is vastly different than the way they worked in 4th edition. The Carnifex alone lost eighteen weapon and biomorph options between 4th and 5th edition and it doubled in points value. And with no upgrades taken! And for twenty points more, you can get a trygon. Which is better then the carnifex in almost every way. Cept looking good. It's possible that Tyranids are now the least adaptable army in the game.
The last kick in the teeth is that Tyranids are one of the more expensive armies to collect, requiring a larger number of models than most. Their HQ choices, short of the Tyranid Prime, are big monsters which run at prices edging nearer and nearer to $100 each. For the fact that most Tyranid armies will play exactly the same way, having all the same exploitable weaknesses and no unique wargear surprises, it's not a wonder that the army has seen a huge drop in sales since the release of their 5th edition codex. The shorter lesson to take from all this is, if you're thinking about beginning a 40k army, even with how expensive it's all gotten, Tyranids are not the best army to start with.
Now that it's out, it sadly more of the same so far and may in fact have nerfed them FURTHER. Though a few new units did get added, most of which weren't even mentioned since Chapter Approved 2001 (such as the Exocrine and the Haruspex), along with a new FMC called the Crone, also on the plus side, rumour has it that carnifexes are going to be a fair bit cheaper, and can take almost any biomorph, and Flesh Hooks are back but only three units can have them.
...And virtually everything the Tyranids needed to stay competitive was either removed or nerfed to uselessness. On the downside, Tyranids no longer have Mycetic Spores, the Doom of Malan'tai, Ymgarl Genestealers or the Parasite of Mortrex (GW lost a pissing contest with Chapterhouse Studios, with the
rather iffy completely grounded in US trademark law ruling that GeeDubs didn't have the IP right to the models ChapterHouse was producing, and now they're taking it out on us because "fuck balance and competition" apparently). They even lost the ability to use psychic powers from the Biomancy table along with their Hive Mind powers being nerfed. Why GW thought that the most underpowered army needed even MORE nerfing will remain a mystery (But odds are that Cruddace had something to do with it). A perfect example of unnecessary nerfing is the tyranid prime; it was rarely fielded in 5th edition, and the 6th edition codex inexplicably increased its cost by over 56%. At any rate, it looks like the Tyranids will soon be joining the Sisters in GW Hell, rather ironic as they were once under the axe along with Squats. Keep in mind that GW stocks were already dropping due to the financial disasters that were 6th ed Apocalypse, Strong Hold Assault, and Escalation, but we're not kidding when we say, that, THE NEW CODEX WAS SO BAD THAT EVEN THEIR STOCKS PLUMMETED BY 23%! Looks like there were more Tyranid players than everyone thought, not everyone plays Space Marines (although to tell the truth, CNN Money reports show that actually the entire market was hit by a worldwide crash, Tyranid nerfs may just have aggravated the situation). Meanwhile in Warhammer Fantasy there's 3 armies which are at least one edition behind in updates (with Dwarfs updated in Febuary 2014). Along with the announcement was plans to close many GW stores, including their headquarters in Germany... yeah, this might be the beginning of the end.
BUT NO! WE SHALL NOT FAIL, IT IS THE ENEMY WHO WILL GET TASTED AND EATEN! Ahem, GeeDubs has released some Dataslate formations which allow you to
buff your Tyranid armies to make them quite competitive, ignore the force organisation chart to spam flying monstrous creatures and overwhelm an opponents anti air defenses because the flyer rules are an even larger catastrafuck than the tyranid codex. Expect discussions and rage about allowing these dataslates for tournaments.(of course any of these arguments and complaints are founded on stupidity. This is a game not designed for hardcore competition. If you want that then play warmashit)**SSSS rippaaaahhhssss will be put in crudfacessss bedssss for what he hasssss done to ussssss**
7th Edition and White Dwarf updates
Geedubs seems to have finally noticed how badly nerfed tyranids have been during the last editions so they took opportunity to get your money by releasing new waves of tyranid units supported by White Dwarf updates, expect huge amounts of Skub and tactics for your space dinobugs.
Things started poorly with a pair of monstrous creatures who really didn't bring anything new to the table. The Toxicrene was fine on paper, bringing Poisoned 2+ Instant-Death-on-a-6 attacks, but as yet another flootslogging MC it had trouble catching the things it WANTED to kill. The Maleceptor was just overcosted, overcomplicated, and underpowered hunk of plastic that would be lucky to kill more than 20 points worth of models in a given turn. What was the final nail for both, however, was their armor save; the difference between a 3+ armor save and a 4+ armor save (which the two MCs had) meant that they were now vulnerable to a LOT more weapons than other Tyranid MCs (who at least warranted ordinance-grade weapons to deal with their toughness + armor).
But then things got interesting. The Mycetic Spores came back, under the name of "Tyrannocytes", and they were well worth the wait! Alongside the new spores were a Tyranid "fortification" (that is, a Heavy Support that didn't take up a force org. slot) that could boost synapse range and drop spore mines around, and a new super-sized Muceloid Spore Mine that could assault fliers. Soon afterward came the Doom of Malan'tai in a new body: the Neurothrope! While slightly nerfed -- his signature "fuck you" bubble is now a psychic power rather than just free damage -- it's far from unusable and can even be put in a squadron to make Look Out Sir rolls!
7th Edition, DLC and
The most unexpected announcements came from GW around Fall 2014, coinciding with the coming of The End Times: New models for the Tyranids.The first pack that was announced was a Dual Kit for the Maleceptor\Toxicrene. While the Maleceptor proved to be unpopular within minutes of having its rules announced in White Dwarf as it was an overpriced drain of warp charges, the Tocxicrene proved to fare a bit better, as the copious amount of poison and Instant Death on a 6 to-wound using said poison made it a menace against Monstrous Creatures (though its intended targets, the Riptide and Wraithknight, merely scoffed at it because they're jumping monstrous creatures, and thus able to kite it like a toy).The second release proved to be the most popular by far: The return of Mycetic Spores (now Tyrannocytes), the living fortifications known as Sporocysts, and new Mucolid Spores that not only assault flyers, but are also the cheapest troop choices, making starting an army of Tyranids a much simpler task. While the Tyrannocyte proved an incredible weapon that made several units (including the infamous Pyrovore) suck slightly less, that power came with a hefty price tag (for a Transport, not as a Monstrous Creature), and Sporocysts are completely immobile and are equally pricey in exchange for synapse bonuses and the ability to spam spore mines. Needless to say, people actually thanked GeeDubs for this rare show of intelligence.The third release gave new Sprues for the Zoanthrope/Venomthrope as a multi-part kit with a new set of rules for the Zoanthropes: The Neurothrope, a sergeant that gave the brood a new power that could potentially give them more Warp Charges to spend on Warp Lance. Not bad, but the new sprue was still welcome.After these releases, it became clear as to why the Nids got new shit: promotions for a new Campaign called Shield of Baal, which involves Nids chomping through a system near the territory of the Blood Angels, meaning that Dante has to call all the successor chapters to stop the mob. He had to take help from Anrakyr to save even part of the system.This now concludes the awesome part of all things Tyranid. If you look at the gallery below the Cutenids, you will require a mind scrubbing and be lobotomized into a servitor. No exceptions.Of course you now have players mocking Nids as being a DLC faction.
- Tyranid Bio-Weapons
- Hive Tyrant
- Hive Fleet
- Tyranid RPG
- Hive Fleet Nidhoggr
- /tg/'s homebrew modifications that make 5E nids get awesome
- Another /tg/brew 'Nid modificaton, now based on 7E and made into fully blown codex
- Genestealer Cult
- Unlike other 40k factions there is not clear Warhammer Fantasy counter part for the Tyranids. They seem to combine the Skaven and Ogre Kingdoms for tactics and lean closer to the Ogres for motivation, namely eat it all.
- Phyrexia, a faction/category from Magic: the Gathering with some similar fluff
- Slivers a creature type from M:TG that bares some similarities with 'nids.
|Leader Organisms:||Broodlord - Hive Tyrant - Swarmlord - Tyranid Warrior|
|Small Creatures:||Gargoyle - Genestealer - Hormagaunt - Ripper - Termagaunt|
| 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|
|Bio-Titans:||Dominatrix - Hierophant - Hydraphant - Viciator|
|Other Organisms:|| Bio-Weapons - Cortex Leech - Mieotic Spore - Mucolid Spore |
Mycetic Spore - Spore Mine - Sporocyst - Tyrannocyte - Zoats
Thus far the Cutenids. From down here there be many promotions. Abandon all hope ye who enter here.
Eldrad leaves no woman unsatisfied.
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|Playable Factions in Warhammer 40,000|
|Imperium:||Adeptus Custodes - Adeptus Mechanicus - Imperial Guard - Imperial Knights - Space Marines|
|Officio Assassinorum - Inquisition - Deathwatch - Grey Knights - Sisters of Battle|
|Sisters of Silence - Squats - Militarum Tempestus|
|Chaos:||Chaos Daemons - Chaos Space Marines - Lost and the Damned - Renegade Knights|
|Xenos:||Dark Eldar - Eldar - Eldar Corsairs - Harlequins - Ynnari|
|Genestealer Cults - Tyranids|
|Necrons - Orks - Tau|