A Tyranid Warrior (Tyranicus gladius) is a type of Tyranid that fills a leadership and heavy-assault role. Warriors are usually deployed at the earlier stages of planetary consumption. As they are synapse creatures, they spread out the synaptic web and guide the lower forms of gaunts in battle. They are also potent foes on the battlefield as they can carry many different biomorphs and weapon-symbiotes and their genus is used as a template to create various elite creatures of the Tyrannic host.
Even the smallest gathering, patrol or raiding party of the Tyranids will most likely be led by a Warrior in order to guide the lesser beasts and keep them connected to the Hive Mind. They are usually armed with Deathspitters for range while they can choose a selection of Lash Whips, Boneswords or the good-ole Scything Talons. Think of them as a combination of an elite sergeant and a living walkie-takie. The munitorum would love these...
On the Tabletop
It is not an easy life for a Warrior as everyone, their grandma, and their grandma's cat all know the most important rule when fighting Tyranids: take out the synapse creatures. Being the most common synapse creatures, Warriors tend to be targeted first and foremost (unless a rampaging Hive Tyrant or Carnifex is presenting an imminent threat). Because of this most games will see Warriors bear a great deal of heavy weapons fire and be turned into creamed goo before too long.
In early editions, particularly 2nd, these things were fucking boss. They could easily match Terminator durability since there was more wargear they could get, and they had much greater flexibility, too, due to how the rules were. You could very easily make a Warrior that was a close-combat death machine, ranged killer, or even a mid-level psychic powerhouse. Or all three in the same unit. In early editions, they could pack on extended carapace or even Warp Field for a good armor save; you could make them winged or leaping; and with the huge number of attacks they had, great stat-line, and tons of upgrades, they were a literal swiss-army commander, one that was extremely popular for newcomers. One might even say they approached pornographic levels of awesome. Sadly the recent edition changes, from about 5th onwards, just turned this mainstay unit into swiss cheese.
Now in 8th and pre-codex 9th Edition, Warriors are once again one of the best units in the Tyranid army, with a HUGE price reduction- as cheap as 19 points per Warrior. Warriors are respectably durable with T4 and 3 wounds each, and the removal of instant death also means it's basically impossible to shoot them down in one hit (except with heavy weapons that would be better used on the plethora of 8+ wound monsters Tyranids can also field). While the new equipment table is reduced from past editions, they still have everything they need to fulfill pretty much every role on the battlefield: shock trooper, heavy support (now a brood of 9 can have 3 heavy weapons) or simply utility synapse. With a Prime around (also priced down) they even get +1 to hit both in close combat and in ranged. This is a huge bonus, considering the already good WS/decent BS stats of the Warriors. 3+ to hit and 3 attacks mean pain in close combat, and even with average 4+ BS the fact that all weapons they can have have 3 shots per gun makes sure a rain of death comes to the enemy. Their ideal loadout is double boneswords and a deathspitter as this gives them 4 attacks at strength 4 AP-2 in CC and 3 strength 5 AP-1 shots at range, making an excellent unit that can cause hurt to the enemies of the Hive Mind wherever the warriors happen to be standing. Long story short, 8th edition Warriors are veritable beasts that represent the fluff as well as possible: they are powerful, resilient creatures that will make the enemy shiver in fear.
With the changes to 10th edition the Warriors got absolutely gutted. Losing massive swathes of upgrades to the point where it feels like a return to the days of 3rd edition, the Warriors have been split into two different units: one with ranged weapons and one with melee weapons only. They have identical stat lines: T5, W3 and a 4+ save lets them deal with most basic infantry weapons fine, and it's only the heavier stuff you need to worry about. 6" is not particularly zippy, but their OC of 2 means that any five man unit with OC1 will lose out against them. LD 7+ might not seem as much, but because of their Synapse they roll on 3d6. They're also your cheapest unit with Shadow in the Warp for when things get dire, so keep this in mind.
The unit with ranged bio-weapons clocks in at 70 points per trio, and comes with a Devourer and Bio-Wepaons standard. This can be exchanged for either a pair of Spinefists or a Deathspitter. All three weapons are useful against light infantry, and lack the AP necessary to deal with MEQs. The same goes for their melee weapon: Bio-Weapons possess a cool A5 S5 AP-1 D1 at WS3+, so while hitting and wounding won't be a problem most of the time, they fall short against armored enemies. The biggest change to these Warriors is that for the first time the unit can use both a Venom Cannon and a Barbed Strangler at the same time, and if you run this unit double size you can even have two of each in your six man, 18 wound, 140 point squad. This betrays their true use: a Barbed Strangler is a D6+1 Blast weapon with great range and decent strength you can make a notable dent in enemy infantry blobs. The Venom Cannon is a D3 Blast weapon, which while lacking the AP and damage to take out tanks on its own can soften up or finish off such targets with a good roll. Pair this with Synapse and you realize that the Warriors are not meant to finish enemies off by themselves but instead dent and soften up enemies for your smaller critters to finish off. With their cheap cost and Synapse they are ideal for running close to your basic infantry, supporting them so that they can finish the job. The Warriors' special ability lets them Fall Back, shoot and charge in the same turn, picking at whatever unit you need them at the moment.
The melee Warriors got the shaft. They have no options whatsoever, so no Scything Talons for sheer quantity, no Rending Claws to deal with tough enemies, no Boneswords, no Adrenal Glands or Toxin Sacks, no nothing. Instead getting a souped up version of the Bio-Weapons used by the ranged Warriors, now with 6 twin-linked AP-2 attacks. The AP-2 really helps against tougher targets, and while they still lack the damage output to shred MEQs they will eat ligther infantry for breakfast. They also have a new ability that lets them either re-roll To Hit rolls of 1 or re-roll their own saving rolls of 1, depending on which you choose at the start of the fight phase. At 90 points per 3 they are 30 a pop, which can be either a blessing or redundant based on what ranged options you pick.
Also, for some reason they are they only Tyranid unit in both the entire Tyranids and Genestealer Cult army lists to not have the Great Devourer keyword. It remains to be seen how this will impact them in the long run, or if it'll be patched out very soon.
Shrikes (Tyranicus gladius avius) are a winged adaptation of the Warrior bioform. Just when you thought regular Warriors were bad enough, well they can fly now.
Fulfilling similar battlefield roles and allowing Synaptic coverage to extend to the fast-moving elements of the swarm, such as Gargoyles and Harpies which might otherwise outrun those Synapse Creatures incapable of flight and be separated from the Hive Mind.
While sacrificing some of the protection of their chitin carapace for the ability of flight, few enemies expect an assault of creatures as large as Tyranid Warriors from the skies which begs the question on what counts as "too large"? Anyways, this allows Shrikes to perform surprise attacks with great speed and efficiency, the element of surprise making up for their relative lack of protection.
Their speed and mobility as well as their large selection of biomorphs make them exceptionally flexible, allowing them to fulfill many battlefield roles from surprise assaults directed at the weakest elements of the enemy force, to filling gaps in the synaptic web at a moment's notice.
These flappy meat grinders have the same statline (right down to their 4+ save, something they missed out on in previous editions) and options of their terrestrial cousins, but with more mobility and the keyword FLY that allows them to fall back and still shoot, giving them more mileage out of their guns and solid mobility. They still have no official GW conversion kit so you’d best get to chopping those Gargoyle’s wings off...
Please note that as of pre-Codex 9th Edition, Shrikes are not currently available in the Tyranid Army list because GW can't be bothered to make a sprue for them.
While 10th Edition gave a bit of hope by including a Tyranid Prime with wings, the released datacards for the Prime didn't make any reference to the Shrikes, instead letting the Prime join a flock of Gargoyles so the wings don't feel so superfluous.
Warrior Primes are an upgrade to the regular Tyranid Warrior. Due to a horrible case of Pretend (And looking almost exactly like a normal Warrior), there have been numerous misreports and misidentification within the Guard. This means that they usually prioritize the big, scary bugs over the smaller and much more intelligent Warrior Primes, you know, the creatures that is actually more dangerous than the Carnifex around the corner. Whether it is Just As Planned in accordance to the Hive Mind or the Imperial Guard is that incompetent in information gathering is unknown. But what is known is that it has cost more than one Imperial officer his rank and countless men their lives. To be fair to the Guard, the Warrior Prime has only been categorized in recent times as a different and dangerous threat. The Warrior Primes have been identified and reported to exist amongst the ranks of the various Hive Fleets, though many Imperial savants and Adeptus Mechanicus Magos Biologis are quick to point out that this is less likely to be because they are a recent evolution and more likely because they simply blend in with the other standard Tyranid Warriors.
Primes are also being encountered in greater and greater numbers within Hive Fleet Dagon, perhaps as a direct response to the constantly evolving tactics of Imperial forces and the Hive Fleet’s need to deal with the elevated Deathwatch presence in the Orpheus Salient after several costly encounters.
In military function, Tyranid Warrior Primes take on the role of junior officers within a Tyranid swarm. Much in the same way as a Hive Tyrant might lead a full host of Tyranids, a Warrior Prime will oversee a smaller section of the battlefield or direct a smaller strike force of warriors. When close to a more powerful synapse creature they will defer their control. However, should they find themselves alone, they can easily bind together those Tyranid creatures nearby into an effective fighting force and carry on with little trouble. In this way, a Tyranid Warrior Prime is just as capable of directing a swarm as a Hive Tyrant and many an Imperial officer has suffered as a result of underestimating their ability to project the Hive Mind and lead lesser Tyranid creatures. If Hive Tyrants are the generals of an invasion swarm, Primes are their captains.
On the Tabletop
Primes clock in at 100 points bare, which is five times the cost of a normal Warrior. In return you get a significantly beefier profile: it has a 3+ save, its WS, BS, S, T, A and LD are all improved by one and it has double the wounds. It also grants the Alpha Warrior ability, giving +1 to To Hit rolls to all Warriors and Shrikes within 6". Shrikes likely won't benefit much due to their 12” movement, but Warriors, who have the same movement speed as the Prime, most certainly do. WS3+/BS4+ are not bad, but the +1 will really help to make your medium bugs even deadlier. Pack your Prime in with some normal Warriors (because as a 6 wound Character it can't be targeted unless it's the closest model) and go to town. A problem that the Prime has however is that it's slow, limited to only 6" movement. You could pack it into a Tyrannocyte... But since the Tyrannocyte can only carry one unit that’s really a waste of a transport that can carry a 20-strong unit of baby bugs or a Monster as big as a Tyrannofex. Really it’s best just to have it footslog with some Warriors, handing out synapse to your little guys and +1 to hit to its lower ranked brethren on the way up the table.
- In previous editions, they were the only 'nid IC, and with synapse, which made them an excellent babysitter for other (non-warrior) squads. This is less true now, but they can still serve as babysitters to units that need synapse or as utility HQ adds for rounding out force orgs.
Tied with Deathleaper for the cheapest Character in your army, the Winged Tyranid Prime is quite useful. Double the Wounds of a base Warrior, half the OC and twice the Movement at 12" flying, the Prime can be used as an assassin unit if there's plenty of cover for you to hide behind. Alterantively it can be used to buff one of your units of Warriors or a flock of Gargoyles, but those are less supported by its ability. And a useful one it is: all weapons in that unit (but NOT the Prime itself) gained Sustained Hits 1 for some extra damage. It is not slouch in its own right: A6 S6 WS2+ D2 is a decently beefy statline, but it is once again hampered by its AP of -1. Most notable is its Death Blow ability: if it dies in melee without having fought on a 4+ it doesn't die, fight, then dies anyway. Not the most useful gimmick since it relies on you losing, and it might have been better if the Prime didn't have this since it would make him cheaper. So depending on what you're facing fly him alone for an assassination unit (don't make him a Warlord in this case, because he WILL die from return fire!) or slap him into a unit of melee Warriors to deal out even more pain.