Warhammer 40,000/Tactics/Tyranids (9E)

From 1d4chan

This is the current 9th Edition's Tyranid tactics. 8th Edition Tactics are here.

Why Play Tyranids[edit]

Because you like the idea of an alien intelligence hell bent on devouring the galaxy under command of a will humans can't possibly comprehend... or you just like gribly monsters.

The Tyranids are a very varied faction, capable of fielding hordes like the Imperial Guard and fucking up tanks with their own, living tanks. Despite having some of the biggest monsters regularly fielded they're much faster than you'd expect and their melee output is some of the best in the game. There's an insane amount of customization, both in gear and in the monsters available to you that can fill very different roles, and this is further expanded upon thanks to their Hive Fleet and Custom Adaptations.

That's not to say it's all sunshine and roses, gunlines are viable, but you'll probably have to get close, making you more vulnerable to Rapid Fire. They have poor AP and poor armor on average, which is a considerable issue when you're fighting armies with good armor saves (e.g. Space Marines). Most armies need lots of bodies to function effectively, which can make the army one of the more expensive to assemble, paint, and transport and there's very few good all-rounders, not to mention the Forge-World Monsters, which are even more expensive per point. While being flexible on what kind of army to build, you aren't that flexible on the battlefield.

Talking about painting, Tyranids may be tied with Space Marines and Necrons as the easiest army to paint, being overall organic and alien means they are comparatively forgivable for beginners, look good with rather mute base bone or chitin-like colors and you can get great results making extensive use of shades and highbrushing, allowing to mitigate the heavy task of assembling tens of models.

Anyhow, if you like the idea of fielding swarms of small critters backed by giants, then this is the army for you.

Faction Keywords[edit]

Other than the obvious TYRANIDS keyword the other one is <HIVE FLEET>. Every Tyranid unit needs to be assigned a Hive Fleet, either from the established fleets (Behemoth, Kraken, and Leviathan to name a few) or one of your own devising. The abilities in a Tyranid force only affect units from the same <HIVE FLEET>. We assume, in the below Tactics write up, that you will be playing with units all with the same <HIVE FLEET> keyword.

Compared to other armies, the Tyranid named characters are unusual in that you can choose their <HIVE FLEET>.

Special Rules[edit]

No matter what edition of the game, Tyranids have traditionally been defined by three special rules: Synapse, Instinctive Behaviour and Shadow in the Warp. Thankfully the transition to 9th didn't fuck with these rules this time.

  • Instinctive Behaviour: If a <HIVE FLEET> unit with this ability is more than 24" away from a friendly <HIVE FLEET> SYNAPSE unit, then it suffers a penalty to shooting and charging unless the target is the nearest visible and viable unit. If shooting, the penalty is a -1 to hit, and if charging, the unit suffers a -2 penalty to its charge move. Seeing as how a unit cannot be worse off than -1 to hit, this is hardly a detriment now and if you're shooting somebody who already has a negative to hit penalty, it won't bother you at all. Play to the obvious, keep fast units with fast units (Broodlords and Genestealers, for instance) and slower ones with your second wave or artillery units.
  • Shadow in the Warp: Enemy PSYKERS must subtract 1 from any Psychic test they make if they are within 18" of any units with this ability. TYRANID PSYKERS are not affected. With the increased potency and ease of manifesting powers, putting them at a -1 disadvantage makes this an ability worth having. The only downside is it doesn't affect enemy Genestealer Cults.
  • Synapse: <HIVE FLEET> units automatically pass Morale tests if they are within 12" of any friendly <HIVE FLEET> units with this ability. This is a big deal, especially now when losing a single morale test could kill 1/6th to 1/3rd of the unit. Much of the new meta is about killing the enemy army via morale attrition, and the Tyranids raise a middle appendage to such mechanics. Gaunts and other units that work best with a lot of models have more to lose from a bad morale roll and will benefit the most from Morale immunity, especially with the buff to stuff like Blast weapons.
  • Extensions of the Hive Mind: Objective Secured, Tyranid edition.

Warlord Traits[edit]


  • Adaptive Biology: From the end of the first phase in which the Warlord suffers a wound until the end of the battle, the Warlord takes 1 less damage from any attack (to a minimum of 1). Old One Eye has this trait, making him incredibly hard to kill. Stacks well if you plan to continuously use Stratagems to heal your Warlord as well.
  • Alien Cunning: Before the battle begins, you can remove your warlord from the battlefield and deploy him again. Deploy your flyrant first, let your opponent counter deploy his force, then redeploy your warlord at the end to fuck with them. Swarmy comes stock with this. A Flyrant may also be redeployed into reserves with this.
  • Heightened Senses: Warlord never suffers any penalty to their to hit rolls. Pretty trash now that to hit penalties are capped at -1 max. Red Terror comes stock with this one.
  • Synaptic Lynchpin: +6" to Synapse. Pretty skippable, you should just buy more Synapse.
  • Mind Eater: If your warlord kills a character in melee, then they can make an allied unit that is within 3" move (and advance) at the end of the fight phase. This is Deathleaper's trait. Practically made for Broodlords and Genestealers. Do remember that you are moving as if in your Movement Phase, so you can't end up within 1" of an enemy. This is now hilarious on a winged tyrant: jump behind enemy lines, use psychic and shooting to remove screens, charge and eat a character, use mind eater to move back out of reach. This tends to only work on support characters, as most melee focused characters will have a good enough invuln to survive and keep the tyrant trapped behind their lines to be shot to ribbons in the subsequent shooting phase. (That is, if they didn't kill it outright...)
  • Instinctive Killer: At the beginning of the battle, select a unit. Your warlord can re-roll all failed to hit rolls when targeting that unit or any other unit with the same datasheet (target a tactical squad and get the bonus against all tactical squads). Having trouble with spam armies? Not anymore.

Adaptive Physiology[edit]

Instead of a Warlord Trait, a Tyranid army can grant an extra rule to an infantry unit or monster of its choosing. In addition, the Progeny of the Hive Stratagem can, for the low cost of 1 CP, grant a (second) unit in your army an Adaptive Physiology. Sadly, the stratagem can only be used once per battle and no doubling up on bonuses. In practice these are still basically Warlord Traits that can be given to units. According to the FAQ they cannot be given to Named Characters.

  • Enhanced Resistance: When resolving an attack made against the unit with AP -1 or -2, that weapon has AP 0 for the attack. Pretty awesome on a unit of Warriors or Tyrant Guard to make them very immovable, especially if you put them in cover. It's almost like having an Invuln save.
  • Adrenal Webs: When this unit consolidates, it can move up to 2D6”. Has an interesting interaction with the Shrewd Predators Fleet Adaptation, allowing you to move that distance in any direction.
  • Abhorrent Pheromones: –2 Ld to enemy units within 1”. If you're committing to a Leadership bomb then this is the one you want to get. Keep a unit of Ripper Swarms around whatever you put it on so you can use Grizly Feast for -3 to Ld on command.
  • Unnatural Reactions: This unit can Heroically Intervene as if it were a character, and it can move up to 6” when doing so. This is another one you want on either Warriors or Tyrant Guard.
  • Dynamic Camouflage: The user's cover bonus is increased by an additional +1. Excellent on Hive Guard or Warriors to make them almost entirely unmovable in cover or combine with Jormungandr for a 2+ save in the open.
  • Dermic Symbiosis: The model gets a 5+ invulnerable save and is considered to have double the number of wounds left for determining what profile row to use on its damage table. Awesome, this one is flat out better than most of the regular Warlord Traits in the book. Strongly consider this for Exocrines, Tervigons, and the like.
  • Voracious Ammunition: At the end of your shooting phase, pick an enemy unit that lost a model to this unit’s attacks. That unit takes D3 mortal wounds. Excellent for a dakkafex, exocrine, tyrannofex, or flyrant.
  • Accelerated Digestion: At the end of the Fight phase, if this model killed an enemy model, it regains up to 1 lost wound, to a max of 3 per turn. Combine with the regeneration hive fleet trait on any melee monster (especially a Haruspex or Hive Tyrant) for big beasties that just won't go down.
  • Synaptic Enhancement: This model gains Shadow in the Warp and Synapse and gains the SYNAPSE keyword. Perfect for your backline shooters like Exocrines or Tyrannofexes that don't want to deal with instinctive behavior hampering their shooting. Alternatively, give it to a tyranocyte to give synapse to the unit you are deep striking.
  • Murderous Size: Before the battle, pick a melee weapon this model is equipped with. It gets +1 Strength, +1 Damage, and +1 to its AP. Could have been devastating if the Swarmlord could still take it, but the FAQ now forbids it. Still awesome for making a Hive Tyrant, Trygon, or Carnifex a better CC vehicle eater.

Psychic Powers[edit]

The Hive Mind discipline is the only psychic table your Psykers will be rolling on or choosing from. With the Codex, there are now 6 powers plus the automatically known Smite power.


  1. Dominion: WC5, Select a friendly Tyranid unit within 36" of the psyker, until your next Psychic phase they ignore Instinctive Behaviour and automatically pass morale. Very skippable since IB is hardly a detriment now.
  2. The Horror: WC6. A unit within 24" that is visible to the caster subtracts 1 from their to hit rolls and Leadership characteristic. Keep in mind that as of 9th edition it does not stack with similar -1 to hit effects.
  3. Catalyst: WC6. A TYRANID unit within 18" of the caster gets to ignore any wound or mortal wound it takes on a roll of 5+, until the Tyranid player's next psychic phase. Remember that FnP equivalents can be used to nullify mortal wounds.
  4. Onslaught: WC6. An 18" power that allows a TYRANID unit to advance and shoot in the same turn without suffering any penalties to the BS for moving/advancing with Heavy Weapons or Assault weapons. Oh, and they can charge after advancing too!
    • One of the best on here, most effective with Kraken (which has better advance rolls and more reason to advance when possible) and Behemoth (which will appreciate the further boost to its rerollable charges). Just remember that the test for this power comes after you choose to advance, so if you want to play it safe, don't rely on it.
    • Consider casting this with a Maleceptor, as his +1 to Psychic Tests makes this a lot more reliable. Alternatively, if you're trying to get that unit of Gaunts up the table in turn 1, then paired with The Swarmlord you could have your little critters Move as normal (no advance), then have The Swarmlord cast Onslaught on them. If it doesn't go off, you're still able to move them again (instead of shooting) using Hive Commander and so are still able to Charge. If it DOES go off, you can Move AND Advance with Hive Commander (which you do in the shooting phase), and still charge. i.e. No risk of losing your charge.
  5. Paroxysm: WC5. Select an enemy unit within 18" of the Psyker, that unit fights last until your next Psychic phase. If the unit has an ability that allows them to fight first then instead they are considered to not have that ability. Fuck Slaanesh.
  6. Psychic Scream: WC5. The nearest enemy target within 18" suffers D3 mortal wounds. If the target is a psyker, roll 2d6; if the result is higher than their Ld, a randomly chosen psychic power they know is disabled for the rest of the battle. Doesn't have quite the same potential to inflict damage as Smite, but the ability to disable a unit's potential to buff allies or throw around mindbullets of their own more than makes up for it.
    • It's not gonna be easy to use on characters though, so your best targets are probably Thousand Sons, Tzeentch daemons, and Grey Knights (because they deserve even more pain). This can also force your opponent to take the same power on more than one Psyker to try and counteract the disabling effect. Since repeated attempts to manifest a non-smite power more than once per psychic phase aren't allowed, you can weaken your opponent in the psychic phase even if you don't actually manifest this power - either you cripple the other guy's psykers, or you force then to waste a valuable power slot. Either way, you benefit.
Power Manifest Stats
WC Base Res.Barb Neuro Reroll Both
5 83.33% 91.67% 93.98% 98.84%
6 72.22% 83.33% 85.34% 93.98%
7 58.33% 72.22% 72.92% 85.34%

Universal Biomorphs[edit]

  • Adrenal Glands: Adds 1" to the distance the model/unit can move when it advances and/or charges. This is amazing, especially when combined with Onslaught, as the target model can benefit from it on both the advance and the charge for peanuts per model (a measly 1 point for non-monsters, and only 5 points otherwise). Combine with Kraken and movement boosting Stratagems, and that seemingly small bonus can make a big difference; relevant Stratagems include Metabolic Overdrive (which won't stack with Onslaught or allow charging), Overrun, and Opportunistic Advance (which is Kraken only). Obviously, also combines well with the Swarmlord.
  • Toxin Sacs: Wound rolls of 6+ by the model/unit in the Fight phase cause 1 additional Damage. Use on models with low Strength. Situationally useful, but good synergy with wargear, like rending claws which activate on the same condition, and obviously best used against multiwound models like terminators or vehicles since they don't have keyword restrictions on what they hurt. Best, when paired with Gorgon, for its access to Hyper-Toxicity.

Bio-Artefacts (Relics)[edit]


  • Miasma Cannon: Replaces a heavy venom cannon. Compared to the heavy venom cannon, it gains the ability to auto-hit anything within 8", and always wounds non-vehicles on a 2+. Effectively Hive Tyrant only, as it's the only character that can take a venom cannon to start with, and should always be paired with Wings so you can get into auto-hitting range faster.
    • Better than the basic version against T5+ non-vehicles, and of course against anything within 8", but not nearly as good as a Venomthorn Parasite in general, due to the Hive Tyrant's already good BS and the fact that the Venomthorn is like a *1.5 multiplier, which would require at least a T10 target for this to meet or a T18 one to beat, and good luck finding those. Don't take this unless you've already handed out a Venomthorn.
  • Reaper of Obliterax: Replaces a lash whip and bonesword or the monstrous version. Same stats as the normal one, but on a wound roll of 6+ it doubles its damage. With Toxin Sacs on the monstrous version, that's a whopping 7. Because this upgrades a weapon that isn't free, cost matters, but the strength of the underlying weapon really doesn't, since the special ability triggers only when you're definitely wounding regardless of strength. Nevertheless, if you want something dead, use Adrenaline Surge for attacking a second time or Voracious Appetite to increase the chance of dealing high damage.
  • Ymgarl Factor: It's back! at the beginning of each fight phase, randomly gain +1T, +1A, or +1S. The stat returns to normal after the fight phase. Generally not worth it, due to its random nature and the fact that it only last a fight phase - you have only a 2/3 chance of rolling a stat that might help you kill things better in melee, and if you roll strength, it might do nothing at all.
  • Maw Claws of Thyrax: Enhances a model equipped with rending claws or monstrous rending claws. If you slay a model in the fight phase, you can re-roll all failed to-hit rolls in melee for the rest of the game. Because monstrous rending claws are cheaper than rending claws, absolutely superb on a Hive Tyrant. Overkill on a Broodlord, you already hit on 2's so it doesn't provide enough of a boost.
    • RAW, all melee weapons the model is holding get the reroll, not just the Claws. If you want a Smash-Flyrant but don't like Behemoth, bring these instead of the Scythes of Tyran and put Murderous Size on a pair of Scything Talons. S7 is enough for most cases and the added reliability is nice when you inevitably get bracketed.
  • Norn Crown: Models within 30" do not suffer the penalties from Instinctive Behaviour. Probably the weakest choice here, but could be useful if you don't plan on using many Synapse units (e.g. you run Hydra and want to save your Troops slots for more Gaunts). The main value is if you need to space out your giant ranged bugs, but don't want to take penalties when shooting at further targets. The Tyrannofex's rupture cannon, for example, has 48" of range, but he's only BS5+ if he's not in synapse and not targeting the closest unit.

Psychic Awakening: Blood of Baal

  • Resonance Barb: Psyker only. This model can manifest an additional power per turn and deny an extra power. Also, when you take a psychic test, add 1 to the total. Arguably the best relic for Tyranids flat. Put on a Hive Tyrant and combine with Power of the Hive Mind and Synaptic Channeling to get a quad casting threat with access to the entire psychic school plus their hive fleet power. If you don't want it on a Tyrant, then give it to a Neurothrope. Sure the extra cast is going to be wasted, but their re-roll on Psychic Tests and psychic bonuses make it almost a given that they get their powers off, and on top of this Neurothropes can heal themselves or other Zoanthropes via Smite damage (on top of being more likely to hit 10+ on Smite). Lastly, unlike a Hive Tyrant, a Neurothrope has low enough wounds to not get railed by shooting the turn after it drops in, and it also has a good enough invulnerable save to survive the inevitable sniper fire it will attract.
  • Pathogenesis: Add 8" to the range of the user's ranged weapons, and it can re-roll a single hit and wound when shooting or firing Overwatch. The Dakkatyrant's new best friend.
  • Xenogenic Acid: Replaces a model’s toxin sacs. When you make a melee attack, unmodified wound rolls of 5+ inflict an extra mortal wound on top of other damage. There are better options. It's truly a shame that the Broodlord can't take this because he would murder anything with his 6 attacks that reroll to wound, but we're not space marines so we don't get nice things.
  • The Venomthorn Parasite: Upgrades a stranglethorn cannon or heavy venom cannon. When you shoot the cannon, it always does its maximum number of shots. Way better on a Stranglethorn than HVC, and is another great choice for a ranged Tyrant. Remember that both the weapons that this relic can upgrades have the blast ability, so it would be wasteful to fire your improved gun at hordes all game long.
  • Arachnacyte Gland: Replaces adrenal glands. When you make a charge roll for this model, roll an extra D6 and discard the lowest die. Also, you get +1 to your Advance rolls. Pairs well with Trygon Prime that needs to make that charge out of deep strike, and then you can use the Hive Instinct Stratagem to charge in more units.

Unit Analysis[edit]

Finally, time to get to the gribly beasties.

HQ Units[edit]

  • Broodlord: An old but well-remembered unit makes its reappearance. Like his smaller kin, he has a 5++ invulnerable save, and can both advance and charge in the same turn. With a base move of 8", that means this guy's average threat range is a staggering 19.5", and can be further boosted by taking the Kraken or Behemoth Hive Fleet Adaptations. Your opponent had better avoid setting up on the 24" line! This is further boosted by the fact that he is a Synapse creature, so him and his buddies won't be fucked if you want to charge targets other than the closest unit.
    • Obvious utility, but he's best used with Genestealers to take advantage of his to hit bonus, and they protect him in kind since he can use LoS with them. Pass on Onslaught for his Psychic Power, he'll get more utility out of The Horror (giving a boost to his durability and making it more likely your opponent fails their Morale test), Paroxysm (other durability) or Catalyst (to make sure he and his unit aren't screwed if they're stuck in combt).
  • Hive Tyrant: The Hive Tyrant is the original Tyranid HQ unit and has been a mainstay through every incarnation of the codex. An exceptional anchor for your army, thanks to great movement, melee and ranged tools, not to mention his 18" synapse radius and access to psychic powers. However, any opponent with an ounce of experience knows to target the Tyrant first, so it will draw fire. Always buy Adrenal Glands, other than that, the different styles of builds are broken up below.
    • Dakka'rant: This venerable build is not quite what it used to be. The Deathspitters are a waste of your time - there's nothing they'll excel at killing for their points - and, unfortunately, so is the stranglethorn, which is better than Deathspitters, but not by enough to matter. Instead, you should be looking at either quadruple Devourers, which gets you a whopping 24 shots at S6, or a Heavy Venom Cannon to replace two of the Devourers, for hunting enemy heavies.
    • Melee tyrant: Ignore his "default" loadout; his free melee weapon choice is monstrous rending claws, not monstrous scything talons, which cost as much as lash whip and monstrous bonesword at 15. The claws are easily his most well-rounded melee weapon available, not only due to their cost, but because they re-roll all failed wounds. If you want to spend points on upping his melee, buy him toxin sacs to go with his claws, and get him a pair of Scything Talons instead if you're up against an army that has a majority of models with greater than 1 wound. His other weapon should always be a gun to make sure he has something to do before he gets stuck in, but if you insist on double melee, his two sets of talons are strictly better than talons and boneswords, both for the extra attack and buff; just be aware on how you're spending your points. The more you sink into a Tyrant the less you're likely to get in return, and the more firepower they'll draw from the enemy.
  • Malanthrope: Moved to HQ (again), can't be taken in broods of 3 (again), but is still a synapse creature, and still has the Venomthrope's ability to debuff the to-hit chance of enemies, which works on all units that are not Titanic. Being a character with 9 wounds now means it's harder to hit than ever before, and while it can only use a grasping tail to attack its ability to cause mortal wounds on a 4+ means most foes won't try to engage it in melee in the first place. And any time a model is slain with the Malanthrope 3" away, gains a 6" aura of all units with the same <HIVE FLEET> keyword re-roll 1s to wound. As a result, you can gain re-rolls against every Imperial army just by killing off a Guardsman near it. There are two ways to use them: backfield support and frontline assault:
    • Backfield Support: Malanthropes are great babysitters for backfield artillery units like Exocrines, Biovores, and Tyrannofexes with Rupture Cannons. Their slow speed isn't a factor and the protection they offer is much appreciated. On the other hand, even an assault army can benefit from it quite a bit, the -1 to be hit in the first turn allows you to worry a bit less about how you set a unit of hormagaunts or genestealers as long as you babysit them with a Malanthrope, just remember you can no longer combo the -1 to hit penalties, so don't go with Malanthropes if you're going Venomthropes.
    • Frontline Assault: The kind of support Malanthropes offer is invaluable for your big squads of Stealers and Gaunts where -1 to hit will likely reduce their incoming damage by 25 or 33% depending upon your opponent's BS, and getting up close and personal makes it that much more likely that you'll get to actually capitalize on the Malanthrope's other abilities. The issue of course is keeping up with them; consider using the Metabolic Overdrive stratagem to effectively double their speed.
  • Neurothrope: Shifted to HQ, but otherwise still a bigger, nastier Zoanthrope for all intents and purposes. Basically a psychic battery, the Neurothrope offers a great support role with Zoanthropes, both healing them and also making it more likely they'll be able to use their psychic powers. Strangely, it can cast 2 powers but only knows 1 in addition to Smite, basically forcing it to be a Smite spammer.
    • Consider making this thing your Warlord over units like a Hive Tyrant; they have a nice invulnerable save and few enough wounds that they can reliably hide behind a screen of other nids. Adaptive Biology is a relatively solid choice for the Warlord Trait; not only can you turn it on yourself via Perils, but you can also regenerate the wound you lose to turn it on via Smite.
  • Tervigon: Terrible. It costs as much as a Hive Tyrant with wings, its gun is pretty terrible for the cost and it can't hide behind the Termagants it's supposed to be babysitting, so usually it'll just evaporate in short order to incoming lascannons and hurt those around it. Instead, consider a Neurothrope with Onslaught or Catalyst, if you want Termagant support. Yes, it offers good support for blobs of Termagants, no it isn't worth it for that role, for the cost alone you could get far more Termagants. Yes, it can spawn new Termagants, but they cost reinforcement points and thus it's more like a transport that always kills its passengers when it dies.
Tyranid Prime.jpeg
  • Tyranid Prime: The other INFANTRY Tyranid HQ. Your other characters went way up in price while the Tyranid Prime barely moved, making him the cheaper choice of Synapse in the army, and it's still got the Warrior's share of weapons (except for the Bio-cannons, which it doesn't know how to carry). The to-hit bonus is well worth using if you want to use Warriors, and together he makes for a pretty tough and hard-hitting strike force with them; the Prime buff is price-effective for around 7 warriors (7 warriors + Prime > 12 warriors). Plonk down next to a blob of Deathspitter-Warriors and watch them shoot things to death or plonk him down in the middle of a blob of Bonesword-Warriors and watch them shred. Because +1 to hit has a larger impact the worse the stat it buffs, this means his net impact is usually more felt when used for ranged support than melee support (although he can do both). Also, note that because he doesn't buff himself and carries worse weapons, once he's inside a Warrior blob, he's usually the least useful unit in it.

Special Characters[edit]

Old One Eye.jpeg
  • Old One Eye: Plenty good as a beatstick, but not as good as in 8th. Sure since he's got 9 wounds he's able to hide behind other units, but unfortunately, he's not nearly as good now since to-hit bonuses cap at +1, making it so you cannot buff charging Carnifexes, and Kraken can ensure Carnifex lists always get the benefit of Living Battering Ram. This is the main reason why he's not so good, not to mention you can get two Carnifexes for the cost of this guy, and he'll only be worth it if your Carnifexes are all fielding Crushing Claws. If he's your Warlord, he has to have Adaptive Biology if you don't use an adaptation, which is particularly nice for synergy with his regeneration, making him incredibly hard to kill. If you're still using him anyway, don't forget about the stratagem that lets him fight when he dies, otherwise, he'll go down easy to special characters and you'll wish you brought more Carnifexes or a regular Tyrant instead.
    • May not give +1 to hit on the charge anymore, but will give +1 if you get charged, or in an on-going melee.
      • Now gets a better form of "Look out sir", he can't be targeted with ranged weapons if he's within 3" of any <HIVE FLEET> carnifexes. OOE can stand in front of them, and not be targeted. RAW, this also makes him immune to overwatch when within 3" of a carnifex as well.
The Swarmlord.jpeg
  • Swarmlord: The Biggest Beast with a Beastly Pricetag. He's still the boss for combat, and capable of decking an Imperial Knight in a single round of combat (though statistically unlikely), taking into account damage from the Swarmlord’s 2 psychic abilities. He can grant a nearby unit the ability to move and/or advance during his shooting phase as if it was the movement phase, which is incredibly awesome to have for a choppy army. Remember he only affects one unit with this, so make sure it's a big unit, and combine it with Onslaught to allow shooting or charging without penalties. If the Swarmlord Hive Commanders and Onslaughts himself, his total charge threat range is, on average, a whopping 33"! This does not mean he should run off on his own and get himself shot to death. His place should be with the rest of your army, providing that sweet synapse and psychic powers, all this while launching hormagaunts, carnifexes, and genestealers units at the enemy.
    • He has two weaknesses to be aware of. Annoyingly enough, he doesn't have any kind of AoE re-roll buff, not even anything like the scything talon hit or rending claw wound re-rolls that normal tyrants can get. This makes his damage output somewhat unreliable despite being probably the best single-model melee unit in the codex. As such care should be taken when engaging units with Hit debuffs or high toughness, particularly if said units are also strong in melee (knights, primarchs, etc.). Secondly like the other Hive Tyrants he has 12 wounds, so the enemy can always choose to shoot him, and being stuck footslogging that is not good news if the enemy is aiming all their guns at him (not when we're strangers to that special, but guaranteed scenario). Though you really should have either hidden swarmy or have extremely high threat saturation (you are playing Tyranids after all) to combat this.


Genestealer Brood.jpeg
  • Genestealer Brood: A horrifying troop choice in 8th edition comes back with a whimper in 9th. With a base move of 8", that means they have an impressively long maximum threat range of 26" (average 21.5"), but their mediocre offensive and terrible defensive output means that there are always better options. If you really want to use them, remember they are less glass cannons and more scalpels in that they are likely to cut in, and then be disposed of after one use as the enemy turns all their guns on them. If you really want to use them, consider getting Senses of the Outer Dark to make Overwatch far less deadly (and you can combine that with Adrenal Webs to bypass Overwatch entirely with Consolidation), or charge in your monsters first, and definitely consider running them with a Broodlord to boost them further.
    • Always start them behind obscuring cover. As troops, they can run through breachable cover for a safe turn 1 charge.
    • If you can swing the points and elites slot for it, and for the memes, it might be worth investing in their culty brethren for one simple reason, transports.
    • For 2 extra points, Extended Carapace causes them to lose their ability to advance and then charge, but will also give them a shiny 4+ armour save. Fortunately, Stratagems can compensate for the drop in mobility. With Jormagundr's Hive Fleet Adaptation, they'll have MEQ-tier saves at all times, not to mention access to a potent subterranean deep strike stratagem for advantageous positioning. Stack this with the Adaptive Physiology: Dynamic Camouflage and you can give 20-40 Stealers fucking Terminator-level saves (T4, 2+, 5++). This does sacrifice their main advantage (their speed) in exchange for durability and points, which isn't usually a worth it trade, so do it for the memes, not the competitive power.
    • They absolutely love Kraken's Hive Fleet Adaptation - not only does it let them make the most of their ability to advance and charge in the same turn, the ability to Fall Back and then charge lets them escape from hard-hitting melee units that have the potential to curbstomp them if they get the first swing in (e.g. A Space Marine with double chainswords can really fuck you up).
Hormagaunt Brood.jpeg
  • Hormagaunt Brood: These little murder machines are fast and cheap and all-around fantastic. Their movement stat is a staggering 8" and their Bounding Leap allows them to pile in and consolidate up to 6", making them very fast. Additionally, their talons let them re-roll Hit rolls of 1 and if they're in the numbers you should be fielding them they also re-roll 1s To Wound for good measure, and all that with 2 attacks for each bug. Yikes. Play units of 30 and shove them across the board. Keep your paws off those Adrenal Glands and Toxin Sacs though, as they will increase their cost rather astronomically. Also if you want to deal with any sort of armour, stick with Genestealers over Hormagaunts.
    • Hormagaunts have great synergy with Hydra's Hive Fleet Adaptation; if your Gaunts aren't outnumbering their target in melee, you are doing something horribly wrong.
    • If you want to go hard on all offense, take a detachment filled with these guys all with the Bio-Metallic Cysts and Pack Hunters custom traits. This makes their CC attacks base -2 unless fighting other hordes and can be bumped up to -3 with the Feral Instincts strat. Still ST3, so wounding will be tough, but it makes some people think twice before assaulting into them and gives them way more of a punch.
    • Their main job is tarpitting the enemy with lots of bodies, so consider leviathan to keep them alive.
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  • Ripper Swarms: Hit on 5+ so don't expect much. Are now always burrowers so make use of it to get close to the enemy (or, more likely, objectives). Always remember that these are SWARMS, and hence not INFANTRY. This means they can't pull off some sneaky Secondary Objectives like Deploy Scramblers or Repair Teleport Homer like a Lictor can but they can do / help carry out Linebreaker (with said Lictor), it has upsides as well - many enemy abilities are INFANTRY specific. They also count as Troops so count as Obsec for controlling objectives.
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  • Termagant: Your little dakka bugs, use them to bubble wrap important characters. Always remember that they can mix and match their weapons, so always place a few (like 5 to half of em) Devourers on the unit so it has some decent shooting but also keep enough other weapons along to soak up the damage they will draw if you want to field them offensively. Fleshborers make your gants cheaper however devourers are now only 2 points more for considerably more shots. All comes down to if you want a cheap meatshield unit or a meatshield unit that can contribute with shooting too. In big units of 20+ models, they re-roll 1's To Wound when shooting, so go big.
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  • Tyranid Warrior: Your only Synapse Troops, the 3 wound Warriors keep your swarm together. The Warriors are generally useful all-rounders, but this time it may be in your best interest to give each Warrior a Deathspitter and a pair of Boneswords. This combination gives them a bunch of decent attacks in melee and a nice gun to shoot with. Only go with different equipment if you can't afford this. If you don't have huge threats that the opponent is going to want to gun down, like fully geared out Tyrants, then keep them cheap and use the points for more models or Venomthropes or something. Post Jan 2021 FAQ, naked Warriors are <6 points per wound. As mentioned under the Tyranid Prime entry, they combo well with him and 7 Warriors with a Prime will outperform 12 Warriors, and they're cheaper to boot (although they do die quicker).
    • Obviously, Warriors make excellent babysitters for Gaunts, as they're Synapse and carry melee and ranged weapons, allowing them to supplement the weak melee of Termies and absent ranged of Hormies.
    • With the shift to more objective-focused gameplay in 9th, you might want to consider equipping them with Lash Whips instead of Boneswords. Sure, you forgo the extra attack, but for the same price you can punish chargers trying to push you off an objective, often keeping their ObSec unit from outnumbering yours. It's a good idea to keep the Boneswords on anyone carrying a Biocannon though, since you'll be removing them as casualties last anyway.
    • Can be given 'Enhanced Resistance' adaptive physiology from Blood of Baal instead of a Warlord Trait or with 1CP which will reduce AP-1 and AP-2 shots to AP 0. This can greatly help with their survival.

Dedicated Transport[edit]

  • Tyrannocyte: Fleshy Drop Pods that you can stick either a Monster of your choice (but only if it has 14 max wounds or less - no shoving a Hierodule in there) or up to 20 Infantry models into. The main problem with the Tyrannocyte is its BS of 5+, which means you pay out of your nose for its guns, knowing full well that two thirds of its shots won't do a thing. The Barbed Stranglers are twice as expensive as the Deathspitters, but they also increase accuracy when firing upon larger units. With the crappy base BS, this makes a huge difference. Just make sure you are actually able to fire at a large unit, either by dropping the Tyrannocyte right next to one or by providing synapse support... possibly from inside the Tyrannocyte itself.
    • Being so versatile means lots of odd combos exist beyond just podding the Swarmlord. Any infantry/critter can be housed. Venomthropes, Zoanthropes, Shrikes, Tervigons and many others can be re-positioned. You can also have a small variety of toolbox units and choose which one goes in pods during deployment. Another element could be to pod in a Swarmlord and a Harpy or flying hive tyrant to give vast agility in re-positioning your army.


  • Haruspex: The Haruspex's primary function is infantry chewing and almost everything in its arsenal is meant to help with that... with the sole exception of its ability to hit. Having no native re-roll means you're going to need to support it with the Feeding the Hunger Stratagem and/or Murderous Size along with Prey Sight; if you have no plans on using those with it, then don't bring it at all. This also means you'll likely be limited to 1 Haruspex total, however with the Stratagem and boost it'll easily saw through enough to trigger combat attrition for anyone short of TEQ's, so it can rack up a pretty impressive body count if you send it at the right units. If there is no tough infantry to chew, just throw it at a transport, which it can crack open with the claws. That said, don't expect the Haruspex to kill too much. If the opponent knows about it, he will do his damnedest to shoot it down before it can reach his gunline, which is also great because then he doesn't focus on the rest of your army, and with T8 13 wounds and a 3+, killing it is easier said than done.
    • If you know you're up against a lot of infantry but don't want to rely on breaking them in combat, the points spent on the Haruspex could be put to better use on Tyrants or Carnifexes with guns, or even just Termagant Broods.
  • Hive Guard: Once, the premier transport killers, the Hive Guard are still a fantastic ranged unit. Both their weapons are great at killing vehicles. Best taken as a full unit of 6 with Impaler Cannons as part of a separate Kronos Patrol along side a Neurothrope HQ. While getting re-rolls of 1s to hit due to Kronos you can then cast the Symbiostorm Kronos Psychic power from Blood of Baal to give hit rolls of 6s an additional hit. You can then also use the 'Single Minded Annihilation' strat for fire again. The smaller board and need to control the centre of the board makes these things murder machines.

Both their weapons are great at killing vehicles, but the Impaler Cannon is also great at killing Monsters and hiding in bunkers while doing so, because it doesn't need line of sight. If you don't want to take a Tyrannofex and still want some anti-vehicle firepower, take a unit of these and they'll serve you well. Do note that Impaler Cannons are Heavy, so you'll be at -1 to hit if you move, but with reasonably competent deployment and 36" range on these now, it shouldn't be too much of an issue, and they preserve your firebase vs the inevitable massed lascannon Alpha Strike to which things like Exocrines are unfortunately quite vulnerable. Assuming your table has even halfway decent LOS blocking terrain, a squad of three shouldn't be difficult to stick behind a solid wall or similar, and you can then cheerfully rain salvos on your opponent without fear of retaliation, because you can fire without being fired upon.


Alternately, the Shockcannon is an Assault weapon, so you can move and fire without penalty, albeit at a shorter range. It has the irritating random 1d3 shot thing going on, but with a minimum of three models per unit, you'll probably average out to 2 per. Also, mortal wounds vs vehicles on a 4+ in addition to other damage (and potentially even more on a 6+). Mathematically, a full squad of 6 armed with Shockcannons will average 5.33 extra mortal wounds against any vehicle, which is already enough to out damage a full unit of Impaler Hive Guard and the similarly priced (238 to Shockcannon Guards’ 234) shoot-twice Rupture Cannon Tyrannofex against Land Raiders and the like, not even factoring in the damage that the actual shots do. The only real problem is their short-range, but you can fix that by deepstriking them with the Jormungandr strat/Tyrannocyte.

  • Lictor: A single Lictor isn't particularly scary. It has a scary profile, but a full unit of anything won't be too impressed. Their key advantages come from their cheap cost, popping in midfield to take away Overwatch potential (although that's not so much a big deal anymore), and being able to move in your units with the Pheremone Trail Stratagem. If you don't have a problem with Overwatch already and you don't want to use them as makeshift transport, then don't bring them. Also, make sure to watch out for Heroic Interventions, they aren't that hard to kill and enemy characters can make mincemeat of them.
    • 9th Edition's secondary objectives finally give Lictors a use: as non-CHARACTER INFANTRY units, Lictors can perform the full range of Shadow Ops actions with +2 to saves when in cover and deep strike to boot! Typically you'll want to combo Linebreaker/Engage on all Fronts with either Deploy Scramblers or Repair Teleport Homer to get the most bang for your lil' buckaroo.
    • Seriously, it cannot be overstated just how useful these guys are. So long as your army doesn't bleed secondaries and you have some staying power on objectives, Lictors are game-winners. Take two and call your opponent in the morning.
  • Maleceptor: A giant Zoanthrope stuffed in an oversized Carnifex that doesn't quite fit either role. The Maleceptor has some impressive survivability with T7 W12 3+/4++, but it fundamentally costs enough to buy nearly two Neurothropes, and they can hide behind your army, with a better invuln save and the ability to heal with their Smites. Unfortunately, its unique ability isn't worth it either, the shockwave it has is too short-ranged and mobility isn't one of the Malecepter's strengths. It just isn't very fast (and spamming stratagems to increase its mobility doesn't give a good return) and it can't deep strike. Save yourself the trouble - you have better sources for everything the Maleceptor offers (Synapse and Mortal Wounds spam).
    • There is one and ONLY ONE reason to take a Maleceptor over 3 Zoanthropes... and that's if you're using Jormungandr. With Jormungandr your Maleceptors gain a 2+ save anywhere they go, giving them much better survivability, maximizing your use of your Hive Fleet as well as gaining the Psychic and Synapse support you'll definitely want.
    • There is actually an excellent reason to take a Maleceptor since psychic awakening they have access to one of the best tyranid strats(Encephalic Diffusion) and now in 9th edition, you'll have plenty of CP to use it more than you should. A veteran player will do all he can to destroy your Maleceptor knowing that ability turning your beast into a great distraction carnifex
  • Pyrovore: The formerly worst unit in the whole game, Pryovores are predestined to be shoved into a Tyrannocyte, as their Flamespurt has just high enough range to be used right after disembarking, but that's a lot of points to pay for delivering a maximum of 3 Pyrovores. They're also better in melee than they used to be, and are decently cheap now. Considering how awesome Biovores are now, your Pyrovores will probably still be counts-as-Biovores. If you could legally fit multiple units into a Tyrannocyte, these guys would be a lot better. For now, at the very least they are cheap efficient melee deterrent, with flamer-overwatch, acid blood, and the ability to explode.
    • Jormungandr can pop them out using their hive-fleet specific strategem The Enemy Below as well... but with those 60mm bases (and a Trygon or squad of Raveners as well) you're going to need a lot of real-estate or it's going to be a tight fit.
    • Potentially may get more use now that strategic reserves are a thing.
    • May get more light this edition since now for less points a full squad of pyrovores does more damage to their aimed target (MEQ) than a squad of 3 warriors with deathspitter and boneswords. Just don't make them footslog and they'll surprise you.
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  • Tyrant Guard: Dedicated bodyguards for your Hive Tyrant. These guys can intercept shots meant for your Hive Tyrant, which is great as it keeps your big boss safe that much longer. Keep in mind a Tyrant with Catalyst will be able to take their normal save, followed by Catalyst, and then the Tyrant Guard's save. Should any Tyrant within 6" die regardless, they all gain 1 extra attack the turn after it dies. With crushing claws they become decently scary hitting on 4+ with 3 S10 AP-3 Dd3 attacks each, giving them tank-wrecking power enough to contest with Carnifexes or Hive Guard and making them a veritable threat against elites that don't have good invulnerable saves. This loadout is costly however before even considering adrenal glands/toxin sacs. If you don't intend for them to be used as ablative wounds for a Tyrant, don't bother, they're surprisingly easily killed (unless you're Jormungandr), because aside from wounds, they're actually rather fragile, and don't have very good offense and aren't very fast for their points.
  • Venomthrope: These are mainly used to keep the rest of your swarm safe. Enemy units take a -1 To Hit penalty when shooting at units that hug Venomthropes, so keep them in the middle of your swarm, preferably behind some Monsters, since the Venomthropes aren't characters and so if the opponent can draw line of sight to these rather tall models, he can hit them. Just remember that to hit penalties cap at -1 now, so don't build lists combo'ing them. They can also be useful in monster mashes, you'll just need to bring more of them to get that bonus.
    • Malanthropes also offer a debuff to the enemy, and the choice between Venomthropes and Malanthropes depends on your taste. Malanthropes can survive longer, give re-rolls when they wipe out a unit and are Synapse but their range is minuscule, Venomthropes can be easily shot at, but have higher damage output and longer range in addition to the ability to use the Feeder Tendrils stratagem for farming CPs.
  • Zoanthrope: A great work horse of the Swarm in 9th Edition. With armies becoming more elite and boards smaller their 24" Smite is great for killing high toughness targets and those with invulnerable saves. A unit of 4 or 5 will do an extra D3 damage per smite and a full unit of 6 can do an extra flat 3 damage but be careful blast if you run a full 6. Their 3+ Inv saves and 3 wounds also make them a great screens for incoming high strength shots like Meltas or Lascannons that all armies are packed with these days. They also have the bonus to cast an extra power if you have 4 or more so things like Catalyst to help keep front line bugs survive or Onslaught to help with some shooting.
    • Got bumped up to 50ppm, so now no longer an auto-take.

Special Characters[edit]

  • Deathleaper: Deathleaper remains a character killer, even more so in an edition where characters can no longer hide inside large units to avoid him. Was given a nerf thanks to the new edition capping the to-hit penalty at -1, so now his ssuperior chameleonic skin is only useful if the enemy is under some sort of buff. He kept his save bonus though, so it works real well with Jormungandr to give him a 3+ save in the open. Use him like a Lictor, and if you don't want him for the same reason as them (denying Overwatch and Pheremone Trail) then don't bring him, his It's After Me! Rule doesn't do enough to carry his weight in close combat. Do watch out for "Heroic Intervention" and similar abilities when doing this. Deathleaper won't be tying up much of anything apart from his own innards if a CC monster like Abaddon is within 3" of whatever you want not to shoot.
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  • The Red Terror: A super Ravener to make your other Raveners hit better. If you want to take him, make sure he has some of his buddies with him. Ideally, you want a Trygon Prime to spread Synapse around, the Red Terror, at least 6 Raveners, and something to come out of the Trygon's tunnel to pull this off. If you have all these pieces together, you can do some unspeakable things to your opponent's army with extremely accurate Raveners that don't run ever. He is also the 2nd 3rd cheapest elite slot unit ( lictors pyrovores are cheapest), and his Swallow Whole ability allows him to devour any model, so long as you can roll equal to or greater than that model's maximum wound characteristic with a d6. Since he is so cheap, and a very fast character with deep-strike, you can use him as an assassin to instakill a character or elite infantry model, ignoring any saves or feel-no-pains! Though you want to have 1 CP at hand in case you need to reroll the Swallow. With some luck, he can even swallow an Ad-Mech chicken walker! (Best not to dwell on the logistics of that one...). Just remember that if you fail to swallow the victim whole, you do no damage with those attacks. Also, the way the rule is worded means you always have to roll equal to or above the max number of wounds, not their current wounds so you can't gobble down weakened tanks.

Fast Attack[edit]

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  • Gargoyle Brood: Flying Termagants, and like them, squads of 20 or more get to re-roll 1s when shooting so go big if you want them. On the plus side, they can deep strike in, which can be pretty useful for putting 10-30 fast moving (12" base) blobs of dakka harassers into someone's back-line (if they'll fit!) or into the path of a major threat heading towards your back-line. Gargoyles are a good bet for a late-game line breaker VP, or to tie-up fire support units, you know, the usual back-end mischief. It could be better as Gargs only have a single attack each, but Blinding Venom makes them a useful tool against an enemy unit already in combat with another unit. No overwatch, Gargs charge in and even 10 attacks should do at least 1 unsaved wound which is all you need to trigger Blinding Venom, stacking the odds even more in your favour.
  • Mucolid Spore: Beefed up Spore mines. 22 points a pop nets you a T3 W3 6+ Sv spore mine that deals D3 mortal wounds on most results. Decent for trolling flyers, as all mines in this edition have the FLY keyword.
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  • Raveners: Raveners are still cheap, they can still deep strike and attempt to charge that turn, but the real beans of these guys is the sheer number of attacks they put out. With Spinefists and Rending Claws they're putting out EIGHT attacks a turn. EIGHT. Granted the Spinefists are only hitting on 4+ at S3 but the 5 CC attacks are S4 and hitting on 3+ with 6's going right through nearly all armour. Don't bother getting the Scything Talons instead, the extra AP comes in handy so much more than your extra attack and slight re-roll. Marines will have to save a LOT of wounds on 4+ even before the inevitable rends. A full squad of Raveners with claws and Spinefists comes in at around what a Landraider used to be, which isn't bad when they're getting a 4+ in cover vs small arms fire.
    • Comparison with Shrikes - Both move 12" but Raveners don't fly, so Shrikes are slightly better at bouncing around and can charge flying things. Shrikes also have the better save (4+ vs 5+ and being Synaptic they'll never have to worry about morale making half the unit run away, but then again on the other hand Raveners can pop up and try to charge the turn they arrive; at most they'll have to sit for a turn before getting into combat whereas Shrikes are perhaps more likely to get tagged a couple of times on the way in. Shrikes have more flexibility in weapons loadout (no Boneswords for Raveners) and on the whole are probably about 25% better, but they're also costlier. Point for point, 9 Raveners is about 7 Shrikes, at which point the former is somewhat better against infantry while the latter is somewhat better against vehicles. On balance, if you're already taking foot Warriors for combat and are having them pop up with a Trygon, take Raveners to accompany them. If you're fielding neither Warriors or Raveners, the Shrikes are a good compromise between the two.
      • The comparison becomes easier if you're playing Jormungandr - Shrikes have FLY, so they won't benefit from Jormungandr's adaptation. Raveners do, and can also have a unit deepstrike along with them for 1CP.
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  • Sky Slasher Swarms: Skyslashers still aren't good but they're as amusing as hell so that has to count for something. They're Swarms and with the Fly rule they ignore terrain, but they cost more than two gargoyles and won't do nearly as well, so just skip them. Finally get deep strike, but still not worth taking.
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  • Spore Mines: Literal suicide bombs. Purchased units can Deep Strike to act as area denial, and that's pretty much it. Best used with a Stratagem that allows you to deploy them before the game starts to tell infiltrators and first-turn chargers (aside from you) to go fuck themselves. Apart from that they do not award VPs, and cannot claim objectives. In Matched Play, they and Mucolid Spores do not detract from reinforcement points if they're created by other units (e.g. Sporocysts, Biovores, etc.) so you don't have to worry about a Biovore tax.
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  • Shrikes: **Have now become Extinct**They have been taken out of the New Forge world Index as of October 2020 and haven't been added to Legends yet. Good Night Sweet Princes.(Unless they get plastic models and are added to the 9th codex) With 4+ saves so they're carbon copies of warriors plus wings. Sexy as hell, also one of the scariest things a soldier can face. Sure Gargoyles are a lot swarmier and Flyrants and such are bigger and deadlier, but at least you can watch gargoyles drop and monsters stay in the sky or don't come in large numbers. Shrikes are in that perfect combination of deadly and swarmy and flying to be downright terrifying. Since they can obviously FLY, give them double Boneswords and sicc them after enemy fliers, which they are allowed to assault. With AP -2 and a whole bunch of attacks after your shooting, you will put quite a dent into them before they can fly away.
  • Dimachaeron: The Dimachaeron is interesting to say the least. He's sporting 6 attacks that now have the -3 AP they deserve, allowing it to wreck all types of armour, and at S7+1, D3+3 Damage they can tear up vehicles if you really have to wreck some Russes. The update has also made him a lot more durable, since on top of granting psuedo-fly (read: Better Fly), Leaper killer now grants it a 5++, just in case the ability to move 12" horizontally and vertically through models and terrain features when making normal, advance, fall back, or charge moves wasn't enough; so dive right in and pick out the weakest target to take advantage of its Spine-maw. There's no shame in keeping him on the outskirts to pick off somebody before bringing him into the real fighting at the front, it's honestly what you should be doing. You can also use it for higher Wound creatures/characters if you need to, since even models that decrease wounds like Calgar or Abaddon can still fail the test and will be taking extra wounds. Also keep in mind the Spine-Maw ability can be triggered twice by any ability that lets a unit fight twice, such as the Adrenaline Surge stratagem, and if you're using it to hunt characters (or if you fail to kill anything with it the first time) you should definitely consider doing that. One down side however is at 18 wounds he no longer benefits from Obscuring Cover and at T7 he wont be seeing the end of the game so use him as a missile or as a 'Distraction Carnifex'.
    • Ideally you want dive into 2 groups of infantry, use 'Voracious Appetite' for re-roll to wounds on top of your re-rolls to hit, wipe one unit out, use the Spine-Maw Rule on the second unit, then use 'Adrenaline Surge' to fight again, kill the second unit, then use 'Overrun' to run away to safety. You'll then have a 5+ Feel no Pain and a 5+ Invulnerable save for the rest of the game.
    • Use Swarmy's "Hive Commander" on him or the Metabolic Overdrive stratagem and watch your opponent's face as the Big Bad Lictor literally crossed half the board on turn 1.
    • Most monsters benefit hugely from having the "murderous size" adaptive physiology placed on one of their weapons. In the case of Mr. D, it makes his sickle talons S9, Ap-4 and Damage D3+4. Not to be sniffed at.
    • If there's a way to keep him out of LoS, use it, his threat range is colossal, but he doesn't benefit from obscuring. Favor keeping him safe over keeping him close t1.
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  • Mieotic Spores: 8th edition was mean to the spores, and they fare no better in 9th. They no longer produce ordinary spores upon death, and in terms of gameplay, Mieotic Spores are just -1 T, W and Sv Mucolid Spores. These spores were updated in an FAQ to deploy differently to how they're written in the index. Their current iteration deploys like space marine scouts, being set up during deployment 9" from the enemy deployment zone and enemy units. If you get first turn this allows them to move then make a 6" charge (assuming the enemy has deployed along the front of their zone), or just advance and hope to roll a 4+ to get them within 3" (which is quite reliable with kraken). You could also combo that with metabolic overdrive to move + advance, then do it again. But there's a problem. If you go second then they're left sitting exposed in front of the enemy army, and will get shot to pieces before they have a chance to do anything. Sure that's a couple shots not in the direction of the rest of your army, but at 20 points per wound it's not a good return on investment unless you are able to also completely T1 move block an important corridor.


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  • Harpy: Compared to the Crone, the harpy trades flier hunting buffs for more reliable shooting and the ability to carpet bomb your opponent with spore mines. Its decent damage output is hampered by your average tyranid BS, although its Stranglethorn Cannons gain +1 to hit against units of 10 or more models (ideal for an infantry meta, whereas the Heavy Venom Cannons are better suited towards vehicle hunting). The Harpy works best as a backline harasser, helping you deal with those pesky Predators/Basilisk/Onagers. Just be very careful when using the Harpy, they're fragile and will get shot down if focused, so use your ability to charge to your advantage; use it to protect your bae from being shot down by forcing your opponent to fall back with their backline unit (or if you're lucky: units).
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  • Hive Crone: Crones got a bit of a boost in this edition, simply because there's more stuff that can FLY, and their Tentaclids re-roll failed to hit rolls against units with this keyword. The Tentaclids also deal mortal wounds against vehicles on a 4+ and you're going to need those as the damned things are only at Strength 5. Low Toughness and a disappointing save make the Crone a maybe rather than a must, but still- probably worth taking 2 if you want to ruin a Tau player's day. Note that it's about as fragile as the Harpy, so you should make sure there's there's another threat on the board your opponent can't ignore, such as a souped-up Haruspex.

Heavy Support[edit]

  • Biovore: Your living mortars. They don't need to roll to wound, they just skip to rolling Mortal Wounds, for a total average of 1 per hit. If you miss, you get to place a Spore Mine that the opponent has to walk around, due to the magical 1" barrier all models have during the Movement phase, and can optionally charge into to eat the damage (but shouldn't). Sometimes missing with them is better than hitting to create a temporary wall or to get that surround on a transport, so consider moving and using instinctive behavior to drop mines where you want. Not so great against Guard, the Biovores shine against harder units like Land Raiders and Knights, who they wound on 2's, and even if you "miss", the spore mine will not only wound them anyway but can block forward movement if you manage to get two off and space them 4" apart, since they can't move within 1" of enemies. Just spam Biovores and Malanthropes and you win.
    • Consider this: you can't target characters unless they're the closest unit, but you can target (and miss) the unit next to them, then place the Mines as close as possible to said character. If you want to be a troll, move the Biovores first while outside of Synapse, to increase their odds of placing a Spore Mine.
  • Carnifex: The old mainstay with its ups and downs. Currently, it is extremely cheap to field model (as in: you-can-field-a-Carnifex-for-fewer-points-than-a-unit-of-Warriors) with a lot of versatility. Stat-wise it's pretty much a Dreadnought and is far more customizable than the rotting tuna cans. The options given back to the 'Fex can suit them into any role you want. There are multiple ways to take one, but always take the Spore Cysts, so your Carnifex will survive long enough to do some work. As a result, never take Spine Banks. More details follow below, but you should also be avoiding the bio-plasma and the chitin thorns. Here are a few common ways to build a 'Fex:
  • Dakkafex: Ignore the Deathspitters and the Stranglethorn; even if you think you have a use-case for them, you should be looking at a Thornback for that (see below). Take 4 Devourers with Brainleech Worms (7 each) for 24 S6 shots, Enhanced Senses for 25% more shots hitting (usually 16, rather than 12), and, of course, Spore Cysts. While usually not the best idea, the Monstrous Acid Maw could be useful if you don't want your Dakkafex to be completely helpless in melee, especially since the Devourers only have an 18" range.
  • Meleefex: Ignore the Maw. It looks good (and it is), but you've got enough melee weapons already - and the crushing claws, which usually only boost you from wounding on 5+ to wounding on 3+ against enemy heavies, at a relatively severe accuracy penalty (unless you charge, in which case you're fine). Take the Tusks and keep the basic two pairs of monstrous scything talons, Spore Cysts to live long enough to get there. Naturally, you will want adrenal glands and toxin sacs, and you should grab a bone mace tail. Assuming you charge - which you need to - that's A6 WS3+r1 S6 AP-3 D3 (D4 on wound rolls of 6+) and one WS3 S8 AP-1 D1d3 (D1d3+1 on wound rolls of 6+), plus half a mortal wound, which will wreck the majority of heavy infantry or light vehicle/monster opponents, like Rhinos.
  • Hybrid: While it may be tempting to take pure dakka or melee carnifexes, the more optimal loadouts revolve around a mix of the two as they can be far more points efficient in smaller numbers (2-3 ish) by being able to shoot as they stomp towards the nearest tin can, whereas with pure melee, you are risking the carnifex being blown away before it makes back a single point. There are three main builds worth considering. The first is MST, Devourers, and Enhanced Senses, allowing you to advance up the table while picking of light chaff and providing another immediate target your opponent has to deal with. The second is Monstrous Crushing Claws, Devourers, and Enhanced Senses or Tusks, which when paired with OOE, transforms them into tank blenders by now hitting on 3's with 4 Strength 12 attacks on the charge while still contributing in the opening turns of the battle. Additionally, swapping enhanced senses for tusks gives a better chance at wrecking tanks in one go. The third option is MCC, HVC, and Enhanced Senses which featured in the winning Nid list at the London GT in 2018. While not the most optimal choice, especially how the meta has shifted, it can still pack a punch both at range and in combat.
Screamer Killer.jpeg

Screamer Killer: The classic Carnifex, now with its own datasheet. Two pairs of Scything Talons, and a free Bio-Plasmic Scream that's Assault d6, S7 AP-4, and 18" range Blast that gives it something to mess up MEQs as it moves into charging distance, which is boosted by its morale debuff. As one more bonus, they can take Spore Cysts. It doesn't stack with a Venomthrope, but those shouldn't be following Carnifexes into melee to start with.

  • Do consider that Screamer Killers are more expensive than regular Carnifex for the Bio-Plasmic Scream and the special rule, and cannot take a tail nor Tusks. Make sure to use that Bio-Plasmic scream on something if you take it since that's its main draw.

Thornback: A more specialized anti-infantry version of the Dakkafex, the Thornback makes up for its comparative weakness in melee combat with several tricks that will deter assaults on it. Thorned Battering Ram lets it inflict d3 mortal wounds rather than the usual 1 when charging infantry, and the compulsory Chitin Thorns further discourage assault troops. More importantly, its attacks ignore the cover bonus to saves for infantry. It starts with monstrous scything talons, which it can and should swap for a Stranglethorn Cannon (unless you have a specific plan to use Thorned Battering Ram a lot, such as against Tau) to make use of Blast and two Devourers with Brainleech Worms, which it should be swapped for two Deathspitters with Slimer Maggots, as well as buying Enhanced Senses. The lack of Spore Cysts hurts, but it's still decent costwise for typically landing 4 S7 AP-1 D1 and 2.33 S7 AP-1 D2 shots that bypass cover saves on infantry, making it better than a Dakkafex at wiping out TEQs/two-wound models in cover and taking potshots at light vehicles.

Stone Crusher Carnifex.jpeg

Stone-Crusher Carnifex: The tried and true vehicle and Monster Murder-fex. These babies cost a fair shake more than a stock 'fex or Thornback. Like a Thornback, their mortal wounds from charging increase to 1d6 against their chosen target, which for them is vehicles or Monsters. They're also the only breed of 'fex that can't take toxin sacs or adrenal glands, but they come stock with strength 7 instead of 6. It starts with two bio-flails, and you can swap them for wrecker claws. The flails are the cheaper option and turn the stone crusher into something of a whirling dervish of gristle and bone. Eight strength 8 attacks, hitting on 3+ on the charge, at AP -1 and 2 damage are good, but will bounce off antyhing with a decent armour save. The wrecker claws, on the other hand, are legitimately better than crushing claws in every possible respect. The mammoth can openers have the same weapon profile as the claws, but with full re-rolls instead of a -1 to hit, and the damage increases to 5 against vehicles or Monsters.

  • For Hive Fleets, Jormungandr are a great choice considering now that they get Land Raider armor against shooting. Kraken are good if you want to use a lot of Melee-fex as a second-wave charging unit. The others benefit them not as much as these two.
  • Exocrine: Tyranids main 'Marine Killer'. Its gun is 36" Heavy 6 S7 AP-3 D2, and if it doesn't move it gets to shoot twice and add 1 to its 4+ hit rolls. Show those Terminators what scary dakka means when you hose them down with acid plasma from 36" away. Best used parked in cover at the rear, beside a Malanthrope, meaning he's safely in synapse range with a synaptic 9 wound character who is unlikely to get sniped while shooting directed at him are -1 to hit, and he has a 2+ save for his 12 T8 wounds. Like the Tyrannofex, Kronos will make sure its shots count. Also even though the Nids now have a real Plasma Cannon, try to avoid long-range shootouts with other Plasma Spam armies. Seriously, don't do it, unless you want Heavy 1d3 or worse for the return fire. Like other long-range artillery, they need meat shields for their survival. Thankfully you now have a Stratagem that helps if you need to move it, by taking away the to hit penalty.
    • Run these guys as Kronos either as a separate Patrol or as the main fleet in smaller games along with a Neurothrope. Use the Neurothrope to cast 'Symbiostorm' from Blood of Baal so hits of 6 count as another hit to go along with the Re-rolls of 1s to hit for Kronos.
    • These guys can also benefit massively from 'Adaptive Physiology' from Blood of Baal. Run with either 'Dermic Symbiosis' for a 5+ invulnerable save and doubling the wounds on the bracketing table so he has to be virtually dead before losing its BS4 and A3. Another choice is 'Voracious Ammunition' which will see any unit that's lost models to your shots take additional D3 mortal wounds if the unit somehow survived. Bye-bye Terminator squad!
    • A good tactic is to keep an Excorine in reserve to prevent it being nuked turn one. It can also help to deploy with better firing lines and using the 'Symbiotic Devastation' strat from Blood of Baal you can have him count as not moved that turn for firing for the +1 to hit and double firing.
  • Mawloc: The new star under 9th. The Terror of the Deep no longer relies on random scatter to go off, meaning it deep strikes in at >1" away from the enemy and 6" away from your other Deep Striking Mawlocs, then it deals d3 mortal wounds to every enemy unit within 2" when it emerges or with the 'Unexpected Incursion' Stat from Blood of Baal it can do D3 +2 mortal wounds. It can't charge the turn it surfaces and don't expect it to do much but a gigantic 125pt gob worm rising right in the enemy ranks works as a neat distraction. You end up with 1 mouth attack which is anti-tank, then 8 anti-infantry attacks from its talons, then 1 anti-infantry attack from the tail, but not on the same turn you sprang up, meaning if you want to do anything with it other than spring it up as a shiny red ball to get shot, you want to be Kraken, so you can Fall Back from the inevitable tarpitting, and still charge.
    • With 9th being more about controlling Primaries in the centre of the board the Mawloc shines at harassing heavy weapons or chaff units in your opponents deployment that are either holding objectives or trying to screen out your secondary objective point machine lictors/rippers. This will force your opponent to keep units back to deal with him they would rather be marching to the middle.
    • One highly overlooked ability of the Mawloc is to block off corridors. The model is on a 120 by 90 mm base. If you deep-strike it into a street or other corridor, the opening would need to be almost ten inches wide for Space Marines to scoot past it (120mm base + 25mm to either side because enemies cannot move within an inch of it + 32mm for the base of the space marine). While it will likely get shot off the board the turn after you set it down, it can easily slow down your opponent getting onto an objective by a turn, and in a game that usually only goes for 5 turns, that can swing the game your way quite a bit.
  • Toxicrene: Nothing is really safe from a Toxicrene. Everything it does re-rolls to Wound, which combined with Strength 7 means that unless you consciously target monsters with it, it will usually wound with all its hits. It has some scary (if low-ranged) shooting and in melee it strikes before everything else and has 6 attacks. The real kicker however is its Hypertoxic Miasma which has a chance of inflicting a mortal wound on every enemy model within 1" of it. Like the Haruspex, this big old hentai monster suffers from not being durable or fast enough to make it into combat, and its degradation chart really hampers it even if he does, and with the new price hike as of 9th edition, it's hard to justify them over a Carnifex. If you are still going to use them, consider putting the "Murderous Size" adaptive physiology on them, since that would make their hentai tentacles Strength 8, AP -3, Damage D3+1. Since they can already re-roll wounds that could make them into a genuine threat to vehicles.
  • Trygon: With three sets of Massive Scything Talons (which have no purpose since you only get one extra attack as per the FAQ) and six attacks, the Trygon is once again a proper murder machine. Its Subterranean Assault ability lets it appear anywhere on the table, more than 9" away from the nearest enemy, at the end of the movement phase, and it can drag along a unit of troops, but they also have to be placed more than 9" away from the nearest enemy, which means assault is a somewhat iffy proposition, even if you plan on spending command points for re-rolls and have Adrenal Glands. If you want to guarantee the charge then place them in a Behemoth detachment. Jormungandr's Stratagem can also open up far more potential for this since it will allow the Trygon to bring along two units instead of one. You don't need to get the charge though, placing the Trygon up sideways, just shy of 12" away from your enemy, means you can place ~25 devilgants able to shoot in the same direction around it. If you do this, you are required to bring a bucket of dice with you.
  • Trygon Prime: A slightly meaner Trygon baws. Wields the Tyranid Matrix of leadership and has the Character keyword, so you can give him relics and warlord traits. Starts equipped with Biostatic Rattle which adds +1 to Morale rolls for any unit taking unsaved wounds from it. Facing off against Leman Russes, Eldar tanks, or other T7 W10+ Sv3+ units? Take a Trygon Prime! Psychic Awakening has a few fun toys for him to play with. Kit it out with Adrenal Glands and Toxin Sacs. Give it the Murderous Size Adaptive Physiology trait. Deep strike 9" away from the target. Spend 1 CP for rolling your charge distance on 3D6-drop the lowest, and then add +1" from your glands. Now that you're in, watch your opponent's eyes well up as you attack with 7 S8 AP-4 D6+1Dmg (D6+2Dmg on wound rolls of 6+), averaging 17 damage. That'll outright kill most things that don't have an invul or a good FnP. If you need more insurance (or if you're dealing with a T8 Repulsor) spend 2 more CP and re-roll all failed wound rolls. Now you're pumping out a whopping 23dmg (19dmg against T8 = dead Repulsor)! If you're worried about taking Overwatch, you can always put the Trygon in a detachment with Senses of the Outer Dark.
  • Tyrannofex: Versatile fire support that might actually be seen with other loadouts than Acid Spray this edition, now that it can move and fire heavy weapons with no penalty, and can shoot twice if it stands still. It also carries a compulsory Stinger Salvo, which combines nicely with the Spray or Hive for clearing out infantry. Unfortunately, it got hit hard by the price hikes, but it can still justify the points put into it, and you can be equip it to deal with a variety of enemies:

The Acid Spray's strength degrades as the Tyrannofex is wounded, but with 7 shots hitting compared to the Hive's usual of 10, better AP and Damage mean that against almost all targets, it's a better gun than the Hive on multi-wound targets or anything with an armor save.

The Fleshborer Hive is better against big hordes that don't rely on saves (like Horrors), and can be buffed with Scorch Bugs to wound MEQs and GEQs on 2s, but it's not useful in remotely as many contexts as the Acid Spray.

The Rupture Cannon costs a lot (it actually went down a lot of points in 9th), driving the dude's cost up, but it will fuck up very heavy targets with 2x3 S10 lascannon-equivalent shots. Taking it with Kronos' adaptation all but guarantees that tanks will die.

Barbed Hierodule.jpeg
  • Barbed Hierodule: After spending most of 8th edition trying and failing to compete against Imperial knights as a Lord of War, the Heirodules have been shuffled over to the Heavy Support and given a bit of a makeover. Both versions got slightly weaker, dropping from 22 to 18 wounds while retaining their T8, the Barbed Hierodule got +1 to their save however, making it one of the only units in the Nid codex with a 2+ save naturally. In addition, their Damage chart has been reworked. They start at a respectful 12" move (8" for Barbed Hierodule), 3+ WS and BS, and drop from there. The improved BS is especially welcome on the Barbed Heirodule's Bio Cannons, which were normalized to deal a flat 2 damage. In addition to being a strong ranged threat, it can hold its own in CC as its talons, strength 10, ap -3, have been changed to deal a flat d3+3 damage and its number of attacks no longer degrade. The real pain, however, comes in the loss of the titanic abilities, including the ability to walk out of combat and still shoot or charge. However, they can now benefit from a MALECEPTOR's -1 to hit aura, Jormungandr, and don't give Titanic kills for the purpose of secondaries, so it's a mixed bag. Overall, if you use it as immobile artillery you have a model that is 105 points more expensive than an Exocrine that fills a similar role. The additional points gives you a extra wounds & mobility, an additional point of strength at the cost of 1 ap, and nothing else. If you play it as a mobile Exocrine that is unkillable and so can bully people in the center of the board, you will find it's true value. Because of it needing to be mobile, and it's want to be durable, Jormungandr is very fun for the 1+ save.
Scythed Hierodule.jpeg
  • Scythed Hierodule: The melee cousin of the Barbed Hierodule. Trades the bio cannons for an extra set of talons and a bio acid spray, and a 3+ save. Stripped down to 18 wounds, but benefits much more from the changes to its Damage Chart. The Bio Acid Spray got a massive ranged buff and a damage nerf, becoming 18", Heavy 3d6, s 6, AP -2, 1 Damage. However, it lost its previous mobility rules, making it less reliable on the charge and slower overall.


  • Sporocyst: Amusing in objective missions, given that it "deploys" anywhere outside 9" of an enemy unit after deployment is finished but before T1 starts - pop the thing on a vacant objective your opponent is likely to try to claim and hurl Mucolid Spore Mines at them when they try. With 12 wounds it's unlikely to evaporate to small arms, and with the ability to deal d3 to d6 mortal wounds, plus a hail of ill-aimed gunfire to back that up, your opponent won't be claiming that objective with a couple of otherwise useless incidental dollies, although like all your big bugs, it will go down in a screaming heap if isolated and eating heavy weapons fire. Left alone they can fill the board with spores. Hope you have enough models!

Lords of War[edit]

Tyranid Hierophant.jpeg
  • Hierophant: Recently changed in the new Imperial Armor Compendium. No longer takes 2060 points to field, meaning you might actually see this model on the table (though its stats have been cut down to match the cost). 34 wounds at T8 with 2+/5++ is still nothing to sneeze at, and is more in line with non-Apocalypse games. Catalyst will still help and so will Symbiostorm. In conjunction with its 12" base (degrading) movement, ability to walk over enemies, and the massive footprint it is a threat anywhere it lays its gaze. It now has BOTH abilities of Hypertoxic Poison Cloud to deal mortal wounds to units in an aura around it and this new version is even better than the previous ability it had. Previously it did a laughable 1 mortal wound if it was injured in CC. Now, every model within engagement range takes a mortal wound on a 5+ which is nutty against huge hordes. More interestingly, the Hierophant's transport rules are a little different: it can hold multiple units of up to 20 INFANTRY, but multi-wound models count as two. Want to move a Prime and 9 Warriors up the table instead of only 6? How about a Neurothrope, 6 Zoanthropes, and 3 Pyrovores? Probably not the best idea, but you can! Unfortunately the degrading stats now affects WS and BS, so you aren't hitting on 3s until it dies like before. The weapons also got worse, but that makes sense since this thing isn't 2000+ points anymore. Frenzied Metabolism gives +1 to wound instead of S20, which helps let it wound most targets on 2s. Gargantuan Scything Talons are now S10 flat damage 6 (on average only 1 less damage than 2d6). Funnily enough, the Bio-Plasma Spray got better, and is now St 7, -3, 1 damage like actual plasma and still of course hits in close combat too. The Lashwhip pods are interesting and now do a flat 10 extra attacks with them at St5 -1, 1 damage. Kind of sucks, but hey, we can now use the big bug again and that previously mentioned toxic cloud helps with the extra attacks anyways. All in all a pretty good update, and it should be fun to see this bug on the table again.

  • Harridan: Also changed in the Imperial Armour Compendium, the Harridan is basically a flying Hierophant. It is armed with two dire bio cannons and a pair of gargantuan scything talons. It lost the ability to do mortal wounds to a unit that it flew over but on the plus side, frenzied metabolism now allows it to add one to wound rolls (at the cost of d3 mortal wounds) instead of d6 strength to its dire bio cannons. Finally, it can also carry 20 gargoyles into battle. Unlike the Hierophant, it does not have a 2+/5++ and simply has a 3+ armor save (also has a -1 to hit modifier if you don't hover). This means the adaptive physiology dermic symbiosis is a must for this big bug in order to keep it alive. Hovering with the Harridan can allow for first turn charges since its move characteristic is 20" when hovering. Unlike the Harrridan in 8th edition, this one packs an actual punch in melee bringing 5 strength 10, ap -3, damage 6 attacks. Overall, a much needed update to keep this bug competitive (and yes, it has been in a tournament winning list).

Hive Fleet Adaptations[edit]

Your Chapter Tactics-equivalents, representing the main 3 Hive Fleets in the fluff (Behemoth, Kraken, and Leviathan) as well as 4 splinters that range from the obscure to the entirely new. Unlike other factions, your choice of Hive Fleet does not limit which special characters you can take. Splinter fleets take the Adaptation of their progenitor, while Hive Fleets not otherwise listed can pick and choose whichever Adaptation they like.



The first wave of Tyranids to be recognized in the galaxy, and the same force that nearly wiped out the Ultramarines.

Hive Fleet Behemoth specializes in pure aggression, overwhelming your enemy with numbers and pure physical power.

  • Hive Fleet Adaptation: Hyper-Aggression: Re-roll failed charges; gives you 8" charges 65.97% of the time and 9" charges 47.84% of the time. Consider taking adrenal glands on deepstriking Trygons, Gargoyles, Hive Tyrants, and Hormagaunts.
  • Warlord Trait: Monstrous Hunger: Any to wound roll of 6 in melee causes one additional damage. Same bonus as toxin sacs, but now stacks when combined with Behemoth's relic.
  • Stratagem: Brute Force (1 CP): Use when a unit charges. Roll a d6 for each model within 1" of an opponent. If the unit is a monster, it causes a mortal wound on a 2+. Otherwise, it causes a mortal wound on a 6. While you'll be lucky to do more than 2 Mortal Wounds with infantry units (don't bother imagining 30 dice from a squad of 30, you are not getting all of them within range) it does stack with the Carnifexes' Living Battering Ram ability. A bit costly for 1 MW, it could also be just what you need to finish off a character with them since ideally you'll take off two wounds, then do 3 Damage with your regular attacks, enough to finish off 5 wound models. The Swarmlord and Adrenal Glands can help with ensuring said charge.
  • Bio-Artefact (Relic): Scythes of Tyran: Replaces a pair of Monstrous Scything Talons. It gains +1S and +1A, and To-Hit rolls of 6+ generate another attack but loses its rerolls of 1. This means they're functionally the same as the stock pair of Monstrous Sything Talons (1/6 chance of extra attack instead of 1/6 chance of reroll) with +1 Strength, which really only makes a difference against T6 and T7. The Scythes are a little more bursty with their damage, with a small chance of dealing 6+ wounds in a single Fight phase. The real selling point of these is that it only eats up one weapon slot, allowing you to have a bit of shooting, or double down on attacks with a pair of boneswords or monstrous rending claws. It does combo well with the Murderous Size adaptive physiology, which will boost the tyrants attacks to strength 8, AP-4 and 4 damage. Making it a much bigger threat to heavy vehicles.
  • Psychic Power: Unstoppable Hunger (WC7): Pick a friendly Behemoth unit within 9”. Until the end of the turn, add 1 to the wound rolls for that unit’s melee attacks. This power is amazing, on Genestealers, your rending claws will trigger on a 5+, while letting your mid-size bugs tackle their MEQ equivalents.
  • Tactics: Here are some tactics that are better off being used in a Behemoth Adaptation than any other.
    • Super-Flyrant Stacking Behemoth's Power, Warlord Trait, and Relic with Monstrous Size on a winged Hive Tyrant makes for an excellent fire magnet that melts heavy armor in close combat. For 205 points (or 225 with HVC) you get a deep-striking, charge-rerolling melee freight train with 5 S8 AP-4 attacks that explode on 6s to hit, wounds T8 on 3+, and deals 6 damage on wound rolls of 5+. Spicy.



Speedy, and sneaky bugs. Hive Fleet Kraken consists of many small but fast moving splinter fleets.

On the tabletop this translates to closing the distance as soon as possible, and its advantages are mostly focused on closing the distance as soon as possible. In theory this is similar to Behemoth, but in practice it's a little more directed, since competitive lists focus more on few Deathstars rather than a nice army-wide buff.

  • Hive Fleet Adaptation: Questing Tendrils: Can charge after Falling Back, and rolls 3d6 keep the highest for Advance rolls (average: 4.96", up from the baseline of 3.5"). The correct choice if you go Genestealer heavy, since between this and the Stratagems they can rocket to the opposite side of the board on the first turn. Also good on Carnifexes since you can always trigger Living Battering Ram on your turn. Also very useful for controlling the board, whether it be objective-grabbing or preventing Deep Strikes from fucking your game up. Long range/shooty armies will shed salty biomass when half your army is already within kissing distance by turn 2, eager to give loving hugs with their talons and maws.
  • Warlord Trait: One Step Ahead: In each fight phase, you can pick one friendly Kraken unit within 6" of the warlord. That unit can fight first. If the enemy has charging units or ones with similar abilities, alternate staring with whoever's turn it is. Given that combat selection now starts with whose turn it isn't, this could be key in preventing a specific unit from getting wiped before it can attack.
  • Stratagem: Opportunistic Advance (1 CP): Use in the Movement Phase. Choose a Kraken unit that does not have the Fly keyword. When advancing you can double the number you roll when determining how much to add to the unit's Movement characteristic. Combined with Kraken's adaptation, you have a 70% chance of adding 10+" to your movement. Using this on a sufficiently speedy unit in conjunction with Metabolic Overdrive or Overrun, and you can cover more ground in one turn than some armies can move in an entire battle. The FAQ confirms that this stratagem cannot be used with Hive Commander.
  • Bio-Artefact (Relic): Chameleonic Mutation: Opponent takes a -1 to hit rolls when shooting ranged weapons at this model. To hit debuffs are capped at -1 as of 9th edition, so this isn't that good anymore, skip it and get your to hit debuffs from Venomthropes/Malanthropes.
  • Psychic Power: Synaptic Lure (WC5): Pick an enemy unit. Until the end of the turn, re-roll charge rolls made by friendly Kraken units that target that unit. Oddly it has a range of infinite, so consider throwing it on a backfield Neurothrope you want babysitting your biovores and hiveguard.
  • Tactics: Here are some tactics that are better off being used in a Kraken Adaptation than any other.
    • The Genestealer Slingshot This is a technique made popular on several competitive lists and is used to get a first-turn charge with Genestealers. You will need the Swarmlord, a broodlord, and a large unit of Genestealers all from Hive Fleet Kraken. This technique will also need 2-3 command points, plus potentially more for rerolls for crucial pyschic powers (The Resonance Barb relic can be key in this regard.)
      • First, move and Advance The Swarmlord and Broodlord into the midfield. Then use Metabolic Override to move the Broodlord even further ahead.
      • Secondly, use Opportunistic Advance on the Genestealers, but remember to leave at least one model within 6″ of The Swarmlord. In the following Shooting phase, use The Swarmlord’s Hive Commander ability to allow the Genestealers to move and Advance a second time. At the end ensure that at least one model is within 6″ of the Broodlord for his Brood Telepathy power. Follow this up with Synaptic Lure, Kraken's signature psychic power on your target of choice for re-rolling charge distance. Charge.
      • When the dust settles, your genestealers can have moved up to 40″ in a single turn, and will usually be in position to make a very easy charge.



The poster children, and the largest Hive Fleet ever recorded, Leviathan is built around Synapse and unit synergy.

In practice this means you'll either receive buffs by being near Synapse creatures, or you'll be using their stratagem to combine flying and ground forces to boost your damage output.

  • Hive Fleet Adaptation: Synaptic Imperative: 6++ FNP within 6" of a Synapse creature, provided that the unit in question has not been affected by Catalyst (which overrides this). A backup save with the potential to negate mortal wounds never hurt anyone, and it's less specialised than the other Adaptations so it allows a greater degree of flexibility in your army.
  • Warlord Trait: Perfectly Adapted: Once per battle round, you can re-roll a single to hit, to wound, damage roll, advance roll, charge roll or saving throw roll. Save on that CP.
  • Stratagem: War on All Fronts (1 CP): Use during the Fight phase. Select an enemy unit within 1" of at least one Leviathan unit that can FLY and one unit without Fly. You may re-roll all To Hit and To Wound rolls of 1 against that unit. Hard to pull off, but since Tyranids don't have characters that provide re-rolls to hit or to wound this will be a big help against especially resilient units. At the very least, it'll be more efficient than spending CP for individual re-rolls.
  • Bio-Artefact (Relic): Slayer Sabres: Replaces monstrous boneswords. Same stats, but if it wounds an Infantry or Biker model that is still alive at the end of the fight phase, roll 1d3. If the roll exceeds the model's remaining wound count, it is instantly slain. It's only really useful against exactly 4 or 5 wound models of unit types which rarely have that number, but becomes much more useful against armies with widespread access to FnP equivalents (read: anything related to Nurgle), which are more likely to survive being wounded. Keep in mind you can use the Implant Attack Stratagem with it to make sure your enemy fails the roll (most generic HQ's will be reduced to 1 wound, almost guaranteeing their death). That being said, don't rely on it.
  • Psychic Power: Hive Nexus (WC6): The range of the Synapse ability for anything that has it is increased to 18". Not so great now that Instinctive Behaviour isn't so bad, but you might need it to make sure your gaunts don't run away.
  • Tactics: Here are some tactics that are better off being used in a Leviathan Adaptation than any other.



Digger bugs, best known for hiding beneath the surface of a planet until it's safe to resurface.

In practice this means that they have the greatest resistance against shooting, and the most varied Deep Strike potential.

  • Hive Fleet Adaptation: Tunnel Networks: Non-FLY units always count as being in cover for shooting attacks, but advancing or charging makes this drop until your next Movement phase. Requires a slight drop in mobility to make it work, but it compensates by offering better defence in return. Consider using Trygons alongside Jormagundr's Stratagem to make up for the lost mobility. If you want to be That guy model your army as a bunch of shark fins sticking out of dirt.
  • Warlord Trait: Insidious Threat: Enemies never get the bonus for having cover against the warlord and against friendly units within 3" of him. Not so great, you can use Digestive Denial to take out terrain already and there's better Traits/Adaptations you can get instead.
  • Stratagem: Enemy Below (1 CP): When a single Jormungandr Infantry unit is set up, you can put it underground instead of deploying it normally. Whenever you deploy a Ravener squad, Mawloc, Trygon, or Trygon Prime from underground, said infantry unit can deep strike within 3", but more than 9" of an enemy unit. (this does mean Trygons can now deep strike multiple units at once). Sadly, the distance requirements mean Mawlocs can't both use this and benefit from their gimmick. Notable uses are:
    • Bring a Broodlord along with the Genestealer unit accompanying your Trygon.
    • Drop Pyrovores within their weapon range to torch enemy infantry.
    • Bring Tyrant Guard in with your Raveners (or Trygon) right next to your Swarmlord in a Tyrannocyte to give him protection while he hurls the Raveners/Trygon at the enemy lines.
    • Venomthropes for protection to weather enemy shooting in case of failed charges.
    • Drop Hive Guard with Shockcannons in range of enemy vehicles.
    • Use Raveners as a budget Trygon for deep striking purposes if you want to save slots.
  • Bio-Artefact (Relic): Infrasonic Roar: Monster only. Enemy units within 6" of this model must subtract 1 from LD. Could be good if you want to use Psychic Scream a lot, otherwise meh; the real shame is the type requirement, effectively restricting it to winged Hive Tyrants or Trygon Primes, due to its very low range.
  • Psychic Power: Lurking Maws (WC6): Pick a visible enemy unit. Until end of turn, re-roll hit rolls against that unit from friendly Jormungandr units set up on the battlefield this turn. You cannot cast this in the first battle round. This is another source of total re-rolls, which is something Tyranids have been sorely lacking. Combines well with anything that can come in via Tyrannocyte or Trygon tunnel, but Hiveguard, Shooty warriors, or devourer gaunts all stand out as obvious picks.
  • Tactics: Here are some tactics that are better off being used in a Jormungandr Adaptation than any other.
    • Termagant Bomb: Simple really, a 30-bug group of Termagants equipped with Devourers (maybe only 20-25 of them) appears from a Trygon tunnel, or a nearby Ravener if you're using the Jormungandr Stratagem and want to save points. That's up to 180 S4 shots that will kill any hordes and almost anything else. Best used to clear away bubble wrap for your gribblies to get to the enemies' gooey insides. Somewhat weakened by the nerfs to deep strike, but still a fairly viable strategy. It just isn’t the amazing alpha strike it once was.
    • Ball of Death: After Psychic Awakening, our ability to have a rolling ball of death got better with one simple strategem: Encephalic Diffusion. This combined with Malanthropes makes a ball of monsters and warriors much better and even saves hordes to a degree. Bolter spam is turned into st3 making it 6s to wound against your monsters and 4s against your tiny bugs. Warriors are spared mostly as well. Give them the ignore -1 and -2 adaptation and they get surprisingly tanky having a 3+ in the open. Give them Unyielding Chitin strat and they will be even tougher. Putting Carnifexs or other big monsters known for walking up the board got better with the strat and a Maleceptor isn't a slouch defensively if everything has less strength against it. At the very least, it forces your opponent to focus it down and having a 2+/4++ at t7, -1 to hit and -1 strength will take a lot of shots.



The endless swarm, Hydra is odd in that its targets are other Hive Fleets, seeking to cannibalise them to absorb their genetic memory.

This doesn't have any real advantage in game, as Hydra plays by flooding the board with bodies, and gaining great bonuses while you outnumber the enemy.

  • Hive Fleet Adaptation: Swarming Instincts: Re-roll failed hits in the Fight phase against units that you outnumber. Your Hormagaunt and Gargoyle swarms will thank you for taking this, because why wouldn't they outnumber their targets? Unfortunately this is completely useless on any of your big bugs, and after your horde has been thinned out it can more or less render this adaptation meaningless.
  • Warlord Trait: Endless Regeneration: Roll one dice at the beginning of each of your turns for each wound your warlord has lost. Regain a wound for each 6+. IWND on steroids- with good rolls, your Warlord can completely heal itself every turn. The other good option for keeping your Warlord alive.
  • Stratagem: Endless Swarm (2 CP): All right fine, it can be used by anyone but Hydra gets a special benefit, and they have no unique Stratagem of their own so it's mentioned (and reposted) here. To get to the short end of the stick, it's fucking garbage. Use at the end of the movement phase. Select a destroyed unit of Hydra Infantry. Add an identical unit to your army and set it up as reinforcement wholly 6" of any board edge and more than 9" from an enemy. Sounds great, especially since it can technically bring back an Infantry Warlord that died (like a Prime or Neurothrope), so why does it suck ass? Because the FAQ says this costs reinforcement points.
  • Bio-Artefact (Relic): Slimer Maggot Infestation: Replaces two deathspitters with slimer maggots. Gains the ability to re-roll failed wound rolls. Nice on a dakkatyrant, but it's a shame since Hydra relies more on flooding the board with Gaunts than it does on shooting things.
  • Psychic Power: Death Shriek (WC5): Until your next Psychic phase, when a friendly hydra model that is within 6” of both this psyker and an enemy unit is destroyed, roll a D6. On a 6, the closest enemy unit takes 1 mortal wound. Another way of turning your Gaunts into a blob full of suicide bombers.
  • Tactics: Here are some tactics that are better off being used in a Hydra Adaptation than any other.



This is the Hive Fleet that fell upon the Tau, and failed to wipe them out (though opinions on how good/bad that would be vary wildly).

Gorgon is the Hive Fleet known for the quickest adaptation, but in practice they specialize in poison instead.

  • Hive Fleet Adaptation: Adaptive Toxins: Re-roll wound rolls of 1 in the Fight phase. Great on anything really, but bugs with Scything Talons (big and small) and Toxin Sacs are real nice.
  • Warlord Trait: Lethal Miasma: At the end of the fight phase, roll a dice for each unit within 1". On a 4+, they take a mortal wound. Not so great, there's better sources for Mortal Wounds out there.
  • Stratagem: Hyper-Toxicity (1 CP): In the Fight phase, pick a unit with the Toxin Sacs biomorph. It now triggers its damage bonus on a 5+ instead of a 6+. Works best in big units of Genestealers and Hormagaunts. It should be obvious, but don't use this when you are only wounding on 6+, as a roll of 5 will still fail.
  • Bio-Artefact (Relic): Hyper-Adaptive Biology: After the end of the first phase in which the bearer suffers a wound, the bearer gets +1T for the rest of the battle. Could work well when paired with the Adaptive Biology Warlord Trait if you have a way to live through that one phase, which is the same problem the Trait has. It doesn't help if you get gunned down in one phase.
  • Psychic Power: Poisonous Influence (WC6): Until the start of your next psychic phase, improve the AP on melee weapons for friendly models within 9” of this unit by one. Works great with Hormagaunts so that you can use the Feral Instincts Stratagem to bring them to -2, and then the Aggressive Adaptations Stratagem to further improve them.
  • Tactics: Here are some tactics that are better off being used in a Gorgon Adaptation than any other.



The anti-psyker bugs, Hive Fleet Kronos seems to be the Hive Mind's first attempt at fighting back against Chaos. It travels across the galaxy targetting those areas where the veil between realspace and the warp is at its thinnest, and devours any chaos cults that might be trying to split the veil entirely.

In practice this is the right choice if you expect to be up against a lot of psychic bullshit. The abilities it has are extremely oppressive against Psykers, and they also have some of the best shooting.

  • Hive Fleet Adaptation: Bio-Barrage: Re-roll hit rolls of 1 in the Shooting phase if you didn't move - basically the Cadian Doctrine, but without the ability to use an order to make it apply to melee instead of ranged. Much needed for shooty Nids given their average BS, and the requirement to be stationary doesn't matter as much for Tyrannofexes and Exocrines since you'll probably keep them still anyway. If you want to play Dakkefexes, this isn't a good Adaptation for them considering their main strength is mobility.
  • Warlord Trait: Soul Hunger: When an enemy psyker fails a psychic test within 18" of the Warlord, the psyker takes D3 mortal wounds. What do you know, that just so happens to be the same range that Shadow in the Warp covers. Don't forget to pair it with Kronos's Stratagem if you really want to ruin a psyker's day.
  • Stratagem: The Deepest Shadow (1 CP): When a Psyker within 24" of a Kronos unit tries to manifest a psychic power, it can only roll one die for its psychic test. Makes powers with a Warp Charge of over 6 unusable, and when combined with Shadow in the Warp and the Kronos WT you should be able to shut down Craftworld Eldar and Tzeentch armies easily. Use Biovores to fire spore mines before popping this to really piss off your opponents.
  • Bio-Artefact (Relic): Balethorn Cannon: Replaces a stranglethorn cannon. Identical to the standard version, save for one very important difference - it ignores all invulnerable saves. While that won't affect TEQs too much since they still get a 3+ from their armor, anything whose invuln save is at least as good as its armour save will definitely notice, especially Tzeentch daemons. That said, this is functionally a 25 point Hive Tyrant only gun which is always in direct competition with the Miasma Cannon, so it's best to take it against things that will definitely notice losing their invulnerable saves - in addition to the aforementioned Tzeentch daemons, Harlequins and IG with slabshield Bullgryn and Crusaders are good choices to use this on.
  • Psychic Power: Symbiostorm (WC6): Pick a friendly unit within 12”. Until the end of the turn, when that unit rolls a 6+ to hit with a ranged weapon, you get an additional hit. This combines well with a Tyranid Prime's +1 to hit aura for warriors (and you can even let them shoot twice for 2 CP) or even better with an Exocrine.
  • Tactics: Here are some tactics that are better off being used in a Kronos Adaptation than any other.
    • Kronos Gunline Take 2-3 Neurothropes across 2-3 Kronos detachments. Equip one with the Resonance Barb relic and the Kronos power Symbiostorm. Now load up with 2-3 Exocrines, 3 hive guard units (two of which with Impaler Cannons, and one with Shock Cannnons), and one 3-man unit of Venomthropes. Two Exocrines should be equipped with Dermic Symbiosis for the 5++ and the padded damage table. Try to max out least two of the Hive Guard squads. Use your remaining points to fill out battalions with tyranid primes and as many min. squads of Termas/Hormas/Rippers as you can. The Impaler Hive Guard should immediately be hidden away in LOS blocking cover. Deploy everything else a little tight to maximize the Venomthropes' -1 to hit bubble. Come the Psychic Phase, you should have little trouble casting Symbiostorm with the Neurothropes' +1 to cast and re-rolling 1s. Take turns giving exploding 6s to your Exos and your Guard, as needed. Remember that your shooters shouldn't be doing much moving. You want to keep your re-roll hits of 1 intact. Let your Tyranid Primes, and your squads of little bugs run around to grab objectives and screen. Reserve a good portion of your CPs for giving an Exocrine +1 dmg, for letting an Exocrine move and shoot as if it stood still, and for letting hive guard shoot twice. Send your Shock Cannon Guard at vehicles of any toughness and dump a bucket of MWs on 'em...possibly twice! Get as much out of the Shock Cannons as you can early, because once your enemy sees how dangerous they are to their vehicles, they will mow them down. Nevertheless, you should have no problem wiping out a few vehicles/monsters/flyers (or at least 1 1/2 knights) per turn. What's more, Exocrines and Hive Guard also excel at killing Primaris EQ infantry. Two things to beware of with this play style: 1. Avoid close combat all together, but especially keep your shooters from getting charged. 2. Be prepared to deal with your enemy's backline shooters, specifically ones that don't need LOS. You can bring a Tyrannocyte to drop your Shock Cannon HG behind enemy lines and bid those Thunderfire Cannons, or Night Spinners goodbye.

Custom Adaptations[edit]


Build-a-bug. There's many Tyranid Hive Fleets that are distinctly separated from the main Hive Fleets, and also include oddities like Tiamat, a Hive Fleet that landed on a planet and chose to start building there for some reason, as well as Ouroboris, a Hive Fleet that specializes in aerial assaults so thick with bodies they blot out a planet's sun(s).

Like several armies before them, the Psychic Awakening expansion offers the Tyranids the ability to create bespoke Hive Fleet Adaptations by combining any two of the rules listed below. Keep in mind that unlike other races with similar custom traits, tyranids don't get to choose a main strain to be a successor of, so while choosing your custom adaptations lets you tailor your hive fleet to fit your army, you don't get access to hive fleet specific stratagems or psi powers.

  • Adaptive Exoskeleton: 6++ for gaunts, gants, and gargs. You could just go with Leviathan for better version of this.
  • Bestial Nature: +2 attacks to models with a damage table and on the last row. A bit iffy, since they'll be hitting worse, but at least it helps keep up their damage output.
  • Bio-metallic Cysts: Improves AP of all Scything Talon weapons by one, but thanks to the FAQ it doesn't improve massive scything talons and monstrous scything talons.
  • Bio-sphere Consumption: 6+ ranged FnP for Monsters in the first turn, or who have not moved in the movement phase.
  • Cranial Channeling: Once per turn, when a psychic test is taken for a model with this adaptation, you may re-roll the result. This one's utter bullshit, the FAQ clarifies that it's once per turn for a single psyker unit in the army. Skip.
  • Feeding Frenzy: 6" pile-in. Better than you might think because the range for units that can fight has gone down to half an inch (so no more attacking over your own ranks of gaunts), and anything that lets you get more attacks in is good.
  • Horror From Beyond: -1 LD to enemy units within 3" of Monsters. Garbage, when will GW learn that low range -LD auras don't work?
  • Hypermetabolic Acceleration: Re-roll Advance rolls. Just take Kraken instead.
  • Membranous Mobility: -1 to hit against your units with fly in melee. Not so great now that to hit penalties cap at -1.
  • Metamorphic Regrowth: Regain 1 lost wound at the beginning of each turn. Great adaptation for monster heavy armies. Makes Old One Eye virtually immortal, especially if he's your warlord.
  • Morphic Sinews: MONSTER Models do not suffer the penalty for shooting heavy weapons in combat, or advancing and shooting assault weapons. Surprisingly good, as it makes up for lack of range.
  • Pack Hunters: -1 AP to melee weapons when you fight units with fewer models. Like with Hydra, you need to plan around losing models and losing this benefit. Make sure you either go big with your units or don't bother.
  • Prey Sight +1 to hit rolls for Monsters that charged, are charged or heroically intervened. Keep in mind that you cannot get more than a +1 to hit bonus, so this will not normally benefit any models like Carnifexes who already get a bonus for charging.
  • Senses of the Outer Dark: FnP 4+ against enemy Overwatch. Cuts 50% of all overwatch damage taken. Fuck. The. Tau. That's pretty damn good, and it's even better now that Overwatch has become a stratagem that other armies need to pay for.
  • Shrewd Predators: Consolidation moves can be made wherever you want as long as there aren't enemy models within 3. In practice this could allow you to consolidate back into cover or towards a different unit you want to charge.
  • Sporemist Spines: can advance when falling back.
  • Synaptic Augmentation: If a unit is within 6" of a Synapse creature, it may re-roll 1 hit roll when chosen to shoot or fight. Works best on MSU and monster heavy lists. A bit better now that your to hit bonuses are capped at +1, so take this if you want to run Carnifex squads.


As of the latest FAQ, these only work with <Hive Fleet> detachments, not any Tyranid detachment, meaning they do not synergise with Genestealer Cults in any way. In most cases, these were worded to say <Hive Fleet> anyways.

  • Adrenaline Surge (3 CP): Use during the end of the Fight phase. Select a Tyranid unit that has already fought, that unit may fight again. Crazy good, crazy expensive. You can kill a unit, consolidate 3" into another unit, then attack that unit, or combine it with the overrun stratagem. Just be aware that whatever you consolidate into will be allowed to attack you first.
  • Bounty of the Hive Fleet (1 CP/3 CP): Mandatory bonus relic stratagem.
  • Caustic Blood (1 CP): At the start of the Fight phase, select a unit. Whenever a model from that unit dies, the enemy which inflicted the killing blow takes a mortal wound on a 6+. Your 30+ model Gaunt blobs were going to take losses anyway, so why not make them into potential suicide bombs? Elite armies such as Adeptus Custodes, Grey Knights and Harlequins hate this considering their low model count.
  • Death Frenzy (2 CP): Use when a Character dies, that unit can immediately fight as if it was the Fight phase, or shoot as if it was the Shooting phase. A last fuck-you attack sounds nice but do mind of its cost and that anything with a damage chart has to use the bottom. This is for your low health broodlords: throw them at characters, monsters, and vehicles you need killed before they die, 12 attacks at S5 AP-3 Dd3 hitting on 2's with re-rolls to wound will end things, especially if they have no invuln. Also if you are going to use Old One Eye for some reason, always save enough to use this on him because he has no damage chart.
  • Digestive Denial (2 CP): Use after deployment but before the first turn starts. Choose a piece of terrain other than a fortification. Units fully within or on this piece of terrain do not gain any bonus to their saving throws for being in cover. Situational, but can really fuck campy armies in their holy passage.
  • Endless Swarm (2 CP): Fucking garbage. Use at the end of the movement phase. Select a destroyed unit of Termagants, Hormagaunts, Gargoyles, or Hydra Infantry. Add an identical unit to your army and set it up as reinforcement wholly 6" of any board edge and more than 9" from an enemy. Technically any Hive Fleet can use this Stratagem, but only Hydra can apply it to non-Gaunt infantry like Warriors or Venomthropes. And there's nothing that explicitly says that this can't bring back the Tyranid Prime or Neurothrope you made your Warlord since they're Infantry too, so why does it suck ass? Because the FAQ says this costs reinforcement points.
  • Feeder Tendrils (1 CP): When a Genestealer, Lictor, Venomthrope, or Toxicrene kills a Character in the Fight Phase, gain D3 CP. At the very least, this is effectively free since gaining 1 CP will still be enough to negate the cost of using the Stratagem in the first place. More often, it'll let you turn opposing characters into an opportunity for bonus CP. According to the FAQ, if one of the above brings a character to 1 wound and you use the Implant Attack Stratagem (below) to finish them off, you can then use Feeder Tendrils to get the CP.
  • Grisly Feast (1 CP): Use this stratagem in the morale phase. Select a unit of Ripper Swarms or Haruspex from your army. Your opponent must add 1 to any morale tests taken for enemy units that are within 6" of that unit. Very situational, keep in mind a natural 1 still auto-passes the test regardless.
  • Implant Attack (1 CP): select a model that is still alive after being wounded by a Tyranid unit in the fight phase. Roll a D6 for each enemy model that was wounded, on a 2+ the unit suffers a mortal wound. Sounds bad until a situation arises where a nasty opposing character survives a Fight phase with 1 wound left. As clarified in the FAQ, if this kills a character then you may use Feeder Tendrils (above) to regain the CP.
  • Invisible Hunter (1 CP): use during the movement phase. select a Lictor from your army within 1" of an enemy unit, that model can fall back, shoot, and charge in this turn.
  • Metabolic Overdrive (1 CP): Use during the movement phase. Pick a Tyranid unit that has moved, that unit can move again (but it cannot advance twice, thanks FAQ). However, roll a D6 for every model in the unit; on a 1 that unit suffers a mortal wound. Additionally, the affected unit cannot shoot or charge for the turn. A small price to pay for giving a unit a second (or if you're also going to use Hive Commander or Overrun, third) movement phase for your turn.
    • It cannot be underestimated how useful this is, You can turn the Maleceptor into a psychic missile, send Venomthropes to shroud a unit in the frontline, use it to deliver an emergency Synapse (use the Maleceptor and you can do both this and the above) and any other kind of crazy things you can pull off.
  • Overrun (1 CP): Use after your unit killed an enemy in the Fight phase. As long as they are not within 3" of an enemy model, they can move (and Advance) again but cannot go within 1" of an enemy model. The term 'Fast Food' has never been so literal. Has interesting usage when combined with Adrenaline Surge, as fighting again includes pile in and consolidate moves. Obliterate the screen, advance to the backline and touch all their tanks for 4 command points total.
  • Pathogenic Slime (2 CP): In the Shooting phase, select a Tyranid Monster. Its shooting attacks now deal 1 extra damage. Your Deathspitters with Slimer Maggots are now souped-up Autocannons. The new and improved Devourers look even scarier now. Put this on a Symbiostorm Exocrine as Kronos and watch 12 shots turn into 14+ hits (because extra hits are triggering on 5+) that all do flat damage 3. Really good against the new marine updates and all of the 3 wound models out there now.
  • Pheromone Trail (1 CP): Use when a Tyranid Infantry unit from your army is set up on the battlefield as reinforcements if there is already a Lictor from your army on the battlefield. You can set up the unit wholly within 6" of the Lictor and more than 9" from any enemy models rather than following the normal rules for setting up the unit. It can be quite challenging to place 30 Hormagaunts within 3" of a Trygon and still leave both units with that 9" charge, so this helps in those niche cases.
  • Power of the Hive Mind (1 CP): Use at the end of the psychic phase. A Tyranid Psyker that manifested a power can attempt to manifest one additional psychic power this turn. Helpful.
  • Psychic Barrage (1 CP): Use when a Zoanthrope unit of at least 3 models is within 6" of 2 other such units. None of them make any psychic tests; instead, select a point within 18" of the Zoanthrope units that is visible to all of them. For all units (friend and foe) within 3" of that point, roll a d6 (subtracting 1 if it's a Character and adding 1 if it's a unit with at least 10 models). On a 4+, the affected unit suffers 3d3 mortal wounds. A cousin of the Space Marine/CSM Linebreaker Bombardment, this trades the potential for more mortal wounds from casting Smite from each individual Zoanthrope brood for an AOE effect and greater reliability (since it's a Stratagem effect, it can't fail to go off, trigger Perils, or get denied). But do mind the risk of friendly fire. Or don’t, you have enough bodies.
  • Rapid Regeneration (2 CP): Use at end of your movement phase. A targeted Tyranid model regains d3 lost wounds. Gives the Swarmlord and other big things the boost they need to move them up a bracket on the damage table. With natural CP regen and Feeder Tendrils you could potentially use this every turn.
  • Scorch Bugs (1 CP): Use when a Tyranid unit from your army is select to attack in the Shooting phase. You can add 1 to all wound rolls made for that unit's fleshborer or fleshborer hive attacks. Tyrannofexes are going to wound MEQs and GEQs at 2+ with 40 shots. Ouch.
  • Single-minded Annihilation (2 CP): Use at the end of the shooting phase. A Tyranid Infantry unit can shoot again. Did someone say 180-shot-devilgaunts? Or use this on your Hive Guard to destroy another vehicle you don't like.
  • Sporefield (3 CP): Use after both armies deploy but before the battle begins. Add up to two units of Spore mines to your army as reinforcements and set them up anywhere on the battlefield more than 12" from enemy models. The FAQ says you have to pay reinforcement points for this, so why use it? Well, if you are going second this allows you to set up two lines of 9 spore mines each about 15"-17" away from your battle lines, and each unit when carefully positioned covers an area of about 18" x 34" of tactical reserve denial. Just make sure you also bring something else to spend those 180 reinforcement points on in case your opponent is not going heavy on the reserves (read: playing CSM). Perhaps a unit of 22 Devilgants to Endless Swarm behind enemy lines.
  • Voracious Appetite (1 CP): Use in the fight phase when a Tyranid monster or character from your army is chosen to attack. You can re-roll all failed wound rolls for that model until the end of the phase. Wanna put the hurt on that land raider? Drop this on ol' Swarmy and watch the tears flow.
  • Call the Brood (3 CP): At the end of the movement phase, add a new unit of up to 5 Genestealers, wholly within 6" of a Broodlord or infestation node but more than 9" from any enemy model. Yes, you have to pay the reinforcement points for these too.

Psychic Awakening: Blood of Baal

  • Aggressive Adaptation (1 CP): Use in the Fight phase, when an attack from a <Hive Fleet> model in your army destroys an enemy unit. Until the end of the battle, improve the AP of that model’s unit’s melee weapons by 1 (can only be used once per unit). You can only use this on a unit once. An absolute steal for what it does and it stacks wonderfully with the combat bonuses your Hive Fleet Adaptations get you. Don't plan around using this on Carnifex lists though, they already have plenty of AP. When you want to use it on larger units, make sure to soften the target up first, and if you have something like Hormagaunts, and a Carnifex in combat with an enemy unit, make sure to use the Carnifex first so that the Hormagaunts can use this Stratagem. Also keep in mind this can also be activated if you destroy an enemy unit with ranged attacks.
  • Buried Threats (1 CP): Use in the Movement phase, when a RIPPERS unit is set up with the Burrowers ability. For as long as it remains stationary, units shooting ranged weapons against it get -1 to hit. Just remember the max debuff you can give hit rolls is -1, so it doesn't stack with similar effects.
  • Encephalic Diffusion (2 CP): Use at the start of the turn and pick a MALECEPTOR model in your army. For the rest of the turn when someone makes a ranged attack against a friendly unit within 6” of that Maleceptor, subtract 1 from the weapon’s Strength characteristic to a minimum of 1. Better than you might think given the abundance of S4 weapons and your T7+ monsters.
  • Feeding the Hunger (1 CP): Use in the Fight phase when a HARUSPEX unit is picked to fight. For the rest of the phase, it can re-roll hit rolls. Worth noting that total re-rolls (not just 1's to hit) are very rare for Tyranid's and well worth the 1 CP tax.
  • Feral Instincts (1 CP): Use in the Fight phase. Pick a HORMAGAUNTS unit and for the rest of the phase, its melee weapons get +1 AP. Stacks great with Aggressive Adaptation, either being used with it, or being used to gain it.
  • Grasping Tendrils (1 CP): Use in the opponent’s movement phase, when an enemy unit without a minimum move characteristic is within 1" of a TOXICRENE unit and attempts to fall back. Roll a D6 and add 1 if the unit is an Infantry unit. On a 3+, it can’t fall back this turn. Not only does this prevent your food from getting away, but it also means you can't be shot.
  • Hive Instinct (1 CP): Use in the Charge phase and pick an enemy unit within 1” of a <Hive Fleet> Synapse unit in your army. Until the end of the phase, when a charge roll is made by a friendly <Hive Fleet> unit that targets that enemy unit, roll an extra D6 for the charge roll and drop the lowest result. The first model you move as part of the charge has to end up within 1” of that specific enemy unit otherwise the charge fails and no units move. A natural pairing is to combine the Arachnacyte Gland relic (preferably on a Trygon Prime or a Flyrant) and this stratagem. The relic-bearer deep strikes in and declares a charge first. If they succeed, then you use the stratagem and help other nearby units get stuck in. In the case of the Trygon Prime, that is most likely whatever accompanied it in its tunnel.
  • Hunter’s Drive (1 CP): Use in your Charge Phase and pick a <Hive Fleet> unit in your army. Until the end of the phase, when that unit declares a charge that targets a unit that lost any models to ranged attacks made by <Hive Fleet> SYNAPSE models this turn, roll an extra D6 and discard the lowest die when making the charge roll. The first model you move when charging has to end up within 1” of that unit or else the charge fails and no models in the charging unit move. Like Hive Instinct, only you don't need to charge first. Practically made for Hive Tyrants that have some decent form of shooting.
  • Progeny of the Hive (1 CP): Use before the battle to give a Tyranids Infantry unit or one Monster in your army an Adaptive Physiology. You can’t pick a unit that already has an Adaptive Physiology and you can only use this once per battle. Basically allows you to apply a Warlord Trait to an entire unit.
  • Psychic Fissure (2 CP): Use at the start of your opponent’s Psychic phase. For the rest of the phase, if an enemy psyker takes a psychic test within 12” of a <Hive Fleet> Synapse unit from your army and fails the test, they take D3 mortal wounds. This syncs quite nicely with the Kronos-specific warlord trait, and will make psychic heavy armies extremely wary around you. No one wants to take 2D3 mortal wounds to the face, or 3D3 if they roll perils on a snake-eyes!
  • Savage Distraction (1 CP): Use in the Fight phase, when an enemy unit is killed by a model in a <Hive Fleet> unit from your army. In your opponent’s next Shooting phase, when an enemy unit within 6” of that <Hive Fleet> unit fires a ranged weapon, they get -1 to hit. Unfortunately 9th caps to hit penalties at -1 so don't count on combo'ing it.
  • Skyswarm Fusillade (1 CP): Use this Stratagem in your Shooting phase. Pick a GARGOYLES unit in your army. For the rest of the phase fleshborers in that unit become type Pistol 1. In practical terms you can use this to help you finish off an enemy unit in close combat, and then possibly get Aggressive Adaptations out of it.
  • Surprise Ambush (1 CP): Use in the Charge phase. Pick a LICTOR that’s entirely on/within a terrain feature or set up this turn using Hidden Hunter. Until the end of the turn, it can’t be Overwatched and add +1 to its Charge rolls. Turning off Overwatch is a big deal, especially against shooting heavy lists like Tau and Iron Hands. While a Lictor may not survive to make its points back, the ability to help another unit get stuck in should more than balance the cost. Also applies to Deathleaper as he unsurprisingly has the LICTOR keyword.
  • Symbiotic Devastation (1 CP): Use at the start of the Shooting phase. Pick an EXOCRINE. Until the end of the phase, it’s counted as not having moved. The FAQ clarifies that this does not allow an Exocrine to advance and shoot, still useful to get in range or line of sight.
  • Synaptic Channeling (1 CP): Use in your Psychic phase. Pick a <Hive Fleet> Psyker unit in your army. Until the end of the phase, it knows all the powers known by friendly <Hive Fleet> Psyker units that are on the battlefield.
  • Unexpected Incursion (1 CP): Use in the Movement phase, when a MAWLOC model is set up using the Terror from the Deep ability. When determining the Mortal Wounds from the Terror of the Deep ability, add 2 to the rolls. Pretty much a go-to if you're using a Mawloc.
  • Unyielding Chitin (1 CP): Use in the Charge phase or your opponent’s Shooting phase when someone shoots at a TYRANID PRIME or TYRANID WARRIORS unit from your army. For the rest of the phase, reduce the damage characteristic of incoming ranged attacks by 1, to a minimum of 1. Extremely helpful given the amount of multi-damage weapons (and random damage weapons) that will be pointed at them.


Expand for some simple tips.

Purge the Enemy

- Assassinate

Really depends on the army you're facing. That goes for a lot of these obviously, but assassinate is a trap in a lot of cases. For example, if you're facing Death Guard and they bring 8 characters, it is awfully tempting to take assassinate, but those characters are tough to kill and usually hiding behind even tougher vehicles and infantry. Take this against daemons and characters that are meant to be thrown in your face.

- Bring it Down

If they bring tons of vehicles or monsters, yeah sure. Nids do well at bringing these units down for the most part.

- Titan Slayers

Kind of the same thing. If facing knights, yeah take this. If not, well then don't.

- Slay the Warlord

See Assassinate. The tournament book version of this secondary can be good if facing someone like Mortarion and you can kill him in the first turn, but otherwise you'll take this if you have no other choice.

-Mental Interrogation

We have tons of psykers and a lot of them want to be in people's faces so this could be good. Really depends on if the enemy can block it with Deny the Witch. Psychic ritual could be better if they can.

-Psychic Ritual

Really good for nids. We take the middle of the board really well and throw enough units at the other side that the middle is usually left untouched for us to cast this for 3 turns.

-Abhor the Witch

Not recommended. We have some of the best psychic powers in the game and you really want to use them.
No Mercy, No Respite

- Thin their Ranks

Sure, that could be good. We kill hordes just as well as other armies, so if your enemy brought a horde, this could be good.

- Attrition

This is tougher for nids. We give a lot of kills which makes it tougher to kill more of the enemy and get the points.

- While We Stand, We Fight

This one can be built towards pretty easily. If you take hordes and hordes and then a few expensive units, this could be an easy 15 points. Broodlords are expensive in points and easy to hide. If taking a bunch of big, easy to kill monsters then don't take this. Keep in mind that Barbed Hierodules are also near impossible to kill.

- First Strike

Just like Slay the Warlord, take this if there are no other good options.
Battlefield Supremacy

- Engage on All Fronts

Nids are built for this with the amount of cheap deepstriking units we have and of course the speed of our movement. Rippers and single model lictors

- Linebreaker

Kind of the same as engage on all fronts. Just choose which one is easier for you.

- Domination

Depends more on the mission. Choose if there are less objectives and the enemy can't hold as well as you like against Custodes. Aside from that, it's probably easier to do the others.
Shadow Operations

- Raise the Banners High

This is a no brainer for nids. MSU infantry units like Lictors and 10 model Termagant units can pick this up easily. Better when there are a lot of objectives on the board.

-Investigate Sites

If going for Psychic ritual, you probably have something else with your psyker that can complete this one alongside it. It's a good idea.

- Repair Teleportation Homer

This is a really good one for nids because of Lictors, but they have to survive for a turn.

-Deploy Scramblers

This is free with just a unit of termagants and 2 units of lictors. Free points has never been easier.

Keep in mind that there is a whole other tournament book the GW came out with where many of these secondaries are different. These tips are based on the stock ones from the BRB, but nids do really well with the other book secondaries too.


General Tactics

  • Shooty Shooty, Smitey Smitey: With 9th edition being about controlling objectives rather that wiping out your opponent armies have becoming more elite with more Invulnerable saves, higher toughness and more wounds. This along with a smaller board has massively helped Tyranids.
    • Shooty Shooty - Run a Kronos Patrol led by a Neurothrope with Symbiostorm along with 6 Hive Guard with Impaler Cannons and 2 Exocrines. Kronos will give you Re-rolling 1s to hit and Symbiostorm will give you 6s to hit counting as an extra hit. The Hive Guards, hiding behind cover, will put out 12 S8 AP-2 with D3 damage which will hurt most things. You can also add 'Single Minded Annihilation' strat to shoot again which will wipe most things out. Exocrines are Tyranids main marine killers. With 12 S7 AP-3 D2 each if they don't move and hitting on 3s they have some very consistent damage. They also have the 'Symbiotic Devastation' strat from Blood of Baal so they can count as not moving if you need to reposition. Don't be afraid to use your big guns to clear weak chaff units to either get them off scoring points or to free up your Thropes to smite the juice targets hidden behind. Remember 9th is about outscoring not out surviving.
    • Smitey Smitey - Run 2x Broods of 5 Zoanthropes (to avoid blast) led by a Neurothrope from Hive Fleet Leviathan. Use these as Smiting batteries to move up the field doing mortal wounds to anything in their path ignoring all those Invulnerable Saves and high toughness's. Use their own 3+ Invulnerable save, Leviathan Feel no pains and the Neurothropes healing to make them incredibly annoying to kill and use them to screen your guns and soak up all the Melta, Lascannon, plasma fire your opponent puts outs while moving up the field. Support them with some smaller 10x Gaunt troops units to take and hold primary points then use Lictors and Rippers to grab you Secondaries.
  • 100pts for 30 Scoring Points: Take a Lictor (or 2) and some Rippers and take Deploy Scramblers / Teleport Homer and Line Breaker Secondaries. It should be easy to use a small 10 gaunt brood to deploy scramblers in your Deployment zone and the Centre of the board, then deep strike lictors into your Opponents deployment zone in cover and deploy the final Scrambler for 15points or start the teleport homer as Lictors count as non-character infantry. With -1 to hit, +3 save or 4+ Inv and 4 wounds (and a 6+ Leviathan Feel no pain) it means your opponent will have to concentrate a lot of resources into removing them and not anything else in your army. Deep strike some cheap Rippers or another Lictor in to get 'Line Breaker' and you should be netting 25-30 points with less than 100pts of models.
  • Synapse and you: When choosing synapse units for your army, it's worth considering where they are going to be placed and what role they will fill. If you want an Exocrine providing fire support while your Broodlord and a unit of Genestealers advance, then having a cheap synapse unit (such as a Malanthrope or a bare bones unit of warriors) to babysit him will help keep him on target. Conversely, if you want a fast moving core of Hormagaunts to advance on the enemy, relying on a slow moving unit of Zoanthropes for synapse is asking for trouble. Walking Hive Tyrants, the Swarmlord, Broodlords, Maleceptors, and Trygon Primes can all keep pace with your basic assault units like Hormagaunts and Genestealers. If you intend to run fast units (12" move or higher), such as Raveners, Harpies, Crones, Gargoyles, or Sky-slashers, then adding Shrikes or a winged Hive Tyrant will help you keep up. If you intend to invest in Biovores, Exocrines, Hive Guards, or a Tyrannofex, consider taking a Tervigon (with associated termagant screen), a Malanthrope, or a unit of Zoanthropes. Warriors and Tyranid Primes are your flexible option. Equip them as required, but don't go overboard.
    • Don't forget the penalties for being outside of synapse aren't terrifying anymore. Your guys will still run faster than a Slaaneshi daemon high on crack, so you can get around the targeting restrictions with careful unit placement - and some units, like Biovores or, if you're feeling silly, Lictors or Pyrovores, don't have a practical reason to care about Synapse.
  • Mortal Wound Spam: Tyranids have a ridiculous number of units that can cause mortal wounds either directly or indirectly. Zoanthropes with Smite, Biovores with spore mines (and the spore mines themselves), Mawlocs, Maleceptors, Venomthropes and Toxicrenes with their miasma, Pyrovores when they die, Harpies dropping spore mines, Hive Guard with shock cannons, Hive Crones with tentaclids, and a Carnifex on the charge, and the death spasms of almost all your monstrous creatures can all pile on mortal wounds. Keep these in mind when facing high durability units.
  • Brood Brothers: With the ability to add a detachment of Guards if you ally with GSC a whole new age of sweet, stinky cheese has come upon the bugs. Get an auxiliary detachment or a supreme command detachment if you want your CPs, fill it with two Magos and an Iconbearer then use a spearhead detachment for the Guard (for the Leman Russes with Objective Secured) and another 'specialist' detachment for the Tyranids. Use the Guards for ranged and mobile anti-armor or character assassination, It's a shame they can't take a Doctrine if taken this way, but hey- you can still legally take a Baneblade with your 'Nids.
  • Anti-Psyker: It cannot be underestimated how hard Nids shut down Psyker-heavy armies. Shadow in the Warp makes their powers harder to cast and Psychic Scream can force opponents to double-up on a power on different units just to make sure you don't completely make a power unusable and can make one power Psykers literally useless. Kronos turns this up a notch with its Warlord Trait and Stratagem. The Stratagem makes any WC7 power impossible to cast without a +2 bonus at minimum (poor, poor Farseers), and the Warlord Trait means that any casters get the equivalent of Perils upon any failed psychic test. It's a niche protection to be sure, but an important one considering the smite-spam meta. Just remember that Shadow in the warp doesn't work on the opponnent's deny ability, it's a different test to take.
  • Threat Saturation: Tyranids' main playing style involves LOTS AND LOTS OF SHIT, you should be throwing so much shit that your opponent has no way to deal with them all at once (or at least think they can't). Do they shoot those Carnifexes advancing and threatening to charge? Or the Trygon Prime that just popped out with a brood of Genestealers about to slice his face off? Or maybe the Gaunts that just sprinted from halfway across the board that can tie up their artillery in the next turn? Or... "shit", they say as a Mawloc appears inside their deathstar or the wall of Spore Mines that they ignored is getting a bit too close. Remember the quote how if they militarised every Imperial citizen and if every shot that they make are kill shots then they still wouldn't have enough to kill the Tyranids? Apply that to your battle-plan and harvest those biomass!

Specific Strategies

  • Harlequins

The Deepest Shadow 9th Editions starting 12 command points has seen the laughing gods servants becoming the big bad with their insane strats and Psychic Powers making them fast, invincible and constantly running in and out of combat but Tyranids are probably their worse match up.

Running a Patrol of Kronos or your Swarm as Kronos gives you access to the Kronos Strat 'The Deepest Shadow'. This means any psyker within 24" of a Kronos UNIT can only roll psychic tests on ONE D6. Placing a Kronos Rippers at the front of your deployment and using this Strat will help prevent the Shadowseer getting off Twilight pathway (wc6) which means they can move again leading to the massive First Turn Alpha strike Harlequins do. If they try it and fail, it can leave their bikes in the open. It also helps stop Fog of dreams (wc6) -1 to shooting on a unit and flat out prevents Veil of Tears (wc7) -1 shoot against a unit, Shard of Light (wc7) D3 mortals and Webway Dance (wc7) 6+ Feel No Pain. This strat along with Shadow of the Warp when they get close will seriously mess up their day. If you opponent gets desperate you can also use 'Psychic Fissure' from Blood of Baal so that if a Psyker fails a Psychic Test they take D3 mortal wounds. A long with a Zoanthrope / Neurothrope heavy army which ignores their 3+/4+ Invulnerable with their smites. Try to have some Gaunts as meat shields to protect your thropes turn one with Leviathans Feel no Pains and maybe Catalyst. Add some high volumes of fire from double shooting Hive Guards who don't need line of sight (all without the -minuses to hit) and a Mawloc or 2 for 'Unexpected Incursion' on their troops holding points and the army quicks disappears.