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A General Guide to Tyranids - 2012
Well, first off, welcome to the Hive! May the dice gods look down on you favourably, and may your Hive Fleet prosper and devour all in their path!
For starters, let it be known that this is a guide and summary on Tyranids based on my experiences. I tried to keep this post as objective as possible but there will be places, of course, where my opinions and my experiences will leak out and promote some units or builds and allow for bias.
Also let it be known that even this is but a summary on what the Tyranids are about, what they do, and just general tips and advice on how to go about building your lists and playing with them. A broken down and detailed summary on all the units, items, builds etc. can be found here.
So, let's begin!
The Basics of the Tyranid Race
The first and foremost thing that you need to understand about the Tyranids is that we are a very difficult army to play. To win, just like it says in the fluff, your force needs to act as one big monster, not individual units. Every organism, every brood needs to work in coherency with every other brood in the army, or else it will fall apart. Your oncoming slaughter of the enemy needs to be as one big wave, a hard hitting wave, and often in games you will find that the game will be pretty much decided in turns 2-3, as that is when most of the killing will start. If you annihilate your enemies, you have set yourself up for victory, although if it does not go completely to plan you will have an uphill battle on your hands.
For this to happen, we need to have creatures in our army that direct the swarm for the Hive Mind's will. These are Synapse Creatures. They are very important as if your forces aren't in Synapse range, they won't work in cohesion with each other. We usually need around two in the smaller games, but as we get further up we can end up with four or more. Maintaining your Synapse is crucial if you want your forces to be coordinated.
Although you can go for spamming kinds of lists, we generally need to have balance in order to win - that means, not too many Monstrous Creatures, but we don't need 180 Hormagaunts on our hands either (or do we? Mwuhahahaha ).
Tyranids are one of the most potent anti-infantry forces in Warhammer 40K. Although this is good against armies that field heaps of infantry, it isn't good against MEQ (Marines or Equivalent) armies. We do have methods of dealing with this, and I'll explain this later. So when you are building lists, you do not need to add elements to make your list better at killing infantry, because that is what Tyranids are naturally built to do - devour organic material.
One of the first thing you notice about Tyranids is their variety in model sizes. It goes from the basic Ripper to the Gaunt to the Warrior (or equivalent) to the Carnifex and Hive Tyrant to the Tyrannofex and Tervigon to the towering Trygons, Mawlocs and Harpies. Not only does this add a special element to the Tyranid race creatively, it adds as a tactical advantage. The great thing about having so many different sized units in our army is that it is really easy to reap heaps of cover saves. For example, your Hormagaunts may screen Warriors, who screen a Hive Tyrant. Really, if the enemy tries to shoot anything behind the little guys at the front, you should be able to get a 4+ cover save (unless it is Area of Effect or template). Do this and your army will be much tougher.
Tyranids, although they have a lot of Monstrous Creatures, generally aren't that tough. Most of your guys will be toughness 3 or 4, easily instant death-able. Some creatures in your army (MCs, Hive Guard, etc.) have a toughness of 6, but that is still no match to a lascannon. The general armour saves of your units mean that a lot of weapons will break through your armour. In fact the only way we get decent armour is from Monstrous Creatures, and the kind of weaponry that will be aimed at them will ignore armour anyway.
Another pointer for monstrous creatures is that although a lot of them work best with ranged load-outs (i.e. Carnifex, Hive Tyrant, Harpy) by no means is this meant to mean that they should not charge into assault. The fact that all Tyranid ranged weaponry is classed as assault allows you to shoot up a unit and then assault them to finish them off. This works really well against units of MEQ, such as camping Devastator squads (which can be taken out by Winged Hive Tyrants or Carnifexes in Mycetic Spores).
The Elites Section
The most important section of our codex is not HQ, nor is it the Troops (even though these are necessary to field armies) - it is in fact the Elites section. It is the only place in our entire codex where you will find some decent ranged anti-vehicle organisms. Of this section, there are two choices that most Tyranid generals take. The first is Hive Guard. These are the most important unit in our codex. They have the means to take out enemy transports and lightly armoured tanks, generally those with armour value of equal to or less than 12. Additionally, when they have finished this task, they are awesome at taking out Heavy Infantry, especially those with multiple wounds - Ork Nobz, for example, are the perfect targets of Hive Guard, as their shots ignore the Ork armour and Instant Death the Orks (meaning they are killed regardless of how many wounds they have). They are invaluable to every Tyranid army list. The second choice that people take are Zoanthropes - specifically, Zoanthropes in a Mycetic Spore (because they get shot off if they foot-slog). These guys are the hardcore anti-tank organisms in the Tyranid army, equipped with the means to take on the toughest of tanks and vehicles with their Warp Lances. Land Raiders, Battlewagons, Monoliths and the like will fall as easy prey to these devastating attacks. Once they have done taking out then tanks, they are great MEQ hunters, with their Warp Blasts - perfect Space Marine mince makers. Watch out for enemy psychic hoods though, they will turn the psychic capacity of our prized 'thropes to that of a boiled potato.
The Troops Section
The next thing to do when building an army list is to give yourself potent troops choices. The most competitive of lists go for Tervigon and Termagant combinations, whereas the less competitive lists (which are much more fun to play, in my opinion) go for a well rounded selection of troops. Although I would not recommend taking Termagants without taking a Tervigon, their spots are easily replaced with their close combat brethren - Hormagaunts. These guys, when grouped in broods of 20 and armed with Toxin Sacs, will cut through infantry like a blade through air. Watch out for Ork hordes though - they can be particularly hard to deal with. Warriors are a great choice when equipped with dual boneswords and scything talons, and make for great synaptic conductors and awesome heavy/elite infantry hunters. They can also replace their Scything Talons with Deathspitters to allow them to do something when they come out of their Spore or they are foot-slogging. Watch out for Strength 8 weapons however, because regardless of how many wounds a Warrior has it will still die outright if the weapon is strong enough (Instant Death). Genestealers, when grouped in broods of 10 or more (occasionally with a Broodlord too) and with Toxin Sacs, are absolute ripper shock troops. They harvest pretty much everything on the charge (except tanks and hordes) and are just completely awesome in close combat. However they are not particularly tough - be warned.
The HQ Section
Next off is HQ. Typically, people either field Tyranid Primes in smaller games, and Hive Tyrants in larger games (and Swarmlords in massive games). It would have to be 1/100 times where the Tervigon is a decent and worthwhile HQ choice, and that's only in small, cheesy competitive games. When fielding Primes, I generally suggest putting them in Warrior squads for the bonus he gives them (plus it perfectly suits the fluff). Warriors can be equipped with shooting weapons, and therefore this guy has the option to as well. With him leading the Warrior squad, they will be that much killier in combat. Again, watch out for instant death, and take note that if you do deploy a Prime in a Warrior squad they are not allowed to take Mycetic Spores as well. Now with Hive Tyrants, there are generally two builds to go for - complete combat or complete dakka (I wouldn't recommend you have a combination of both, it's about as useful as a poke in the eye). The typical combat builds feature a Hive Tyrant with wings and two sets of scything talons. The typical dakka Tyrant features one set of twin linked devourers with brainleech worms and a Heavy Venom Cannon, as well as one or two Tyrant Guard (you seriously need these). The generally accepted psychic powers are Paroxysm (my god, my opponents absolutely hate that power, it's hilarious) and Leech Essence (good for regenerating wounds). For the Swarmlord, you generally need two Tyrant Guard as he will be the target for a lot of dakka, so it's essential to keep him covered.
The Fast Attack Section
The Fast Attack section is generally ignored by Tyranid players as their points can usually be better spent elsewhere. The only notable units are Gargoyle broods of 20 that can be used to screen Flyrants (flying Hive Tyrants) and Harpies for their fast elite infantry killing or extra (which can prove very useful), but even then these are not viewed favourably by many Tyranid players. Tyranid Shrikes can be quite nasty but are much too squishy to be really worth it. Raveners can be absolutely devastating, especially with Rending Claws and Scything Talons. Just remember you don't HAVE to Deep Strike them, even though they have the rule. Sky-slasher Ripper Swarms are about as pathetic as normal Rippers, i.e. very pathetic. I'd stay clear of these.
The Heavy Support section
Heavy Support can work a real charm for Tyranid armies. I would advise a Biovore brood (generally 2-3) and 1-2 Trygons (make one a Prime). The Biovores are excellent horde disrupters, their weapon means a they ignore armour except on MEQs and have 4s to wound. They can also pin the enemy down too, which is really helpful when trying to deal with masses of infantry. The Trygons are great... as fire magnets. Their size means they are going to take more guns than you can shake a Leman Russ at, so do not expect them to survive. Their distractions mean that the rest of the army will be relatively undisturbed. If the enemy is dumb enough to let them get into combat with you, they can pack a punch. Just don't go charging into hordes. Trygon Primes are great for maintaining Synapse and have better guns than the Trygon. In regards to how you deploy them it is really up to you - some people like to send them on foot, some people like to deep strike. I find that generally deep strike works much better.
- Any Elite choice that isn't Hive Guard or Zoanthropes (or Doom of Malan'tai or Deathleaper in some situations, see next dot point). You're simply making life harder for yourself.
- Special characters, except for the Swarmlord. There are much better options out there that you could have. The Doom of Malan'tai in a Mycetic Spore can work well depending on your situation and the tactical ability of both you and your opponent. The Deathleaper may also come in handy if you are coming up against anything that the Deathleaper is best suited to kill.
- The majority of the Fast Attack section. Granted, it does come in handy when fielding a Winged Tyrant or Parasite of Mortrex (Gargoyle Cover) or you particularly need some more anti-tank coverage (Harpies) but only field them when you feel necessary.
- Carnifexes got completely nerfed in this edition of Tyranids, something which I am quite sad about. There are few builds that are actually viable for it now - it's simply too slow. The best we can do is send them down in a Spore with two pairs of Twin Linked Devourers with Brainleech worms. Even then, they will serve but a momentary distraction for an intelligent enemy.
- Ripper Swarms... I don't even want to say how much I detest these... things. Nothing makes them good. Then again you may have miraculously good luck with them, so as much as I hate to say it, try them out, see what works for you.
Things to look out for
- High Strength weapons make mincemeat of most of our guys, watch out.
- Squads designed to be absolutely ultra killy - Nobz with a Pain Boy and armed with Power Klawz laugh in the face of our monstrous creatures. They are bait for combat MCs. DO NOT charge them into those units, or else you will be very disappointed.
- Ork Hordes - yes, specifically Ork hordes. They get 3 attacks each normally, and if there are 30 of them then regardless if you get the charge, your Hormagaunts are dead.
- Force Weapons, typically wielded by Grey Knights. Do not approach these with your big guys, take them out at range if possible and then only close on them if you have to with your smaller dudes.
I am always here to help, so if you have any unanswered questions or just need some advice, post up a thread here or PM and I'll be glad to help.
Last edited by Warlord Vrrmik; April 20th, 2012 at 03:13.
But I am greatly disappointed you favor Trygons so strongly that Tyrannofexes don't even get a mention. In my book, Tyrannofexes are just as much a requirement as hive guard, termagants, and tervigons.
40K is a shooting game. 'nids need all the guns they can possibly bring, especially ones capable of popping heavy armour. The Tfex is virtually mandatory in every list. Take two if you can afford them!
This is also why I prefer dakkafexes over Trygons. "Intelligent" opponents, as you say, don't actually care about Trygons. They show up, growl real scary-like, then are killed.
Dakkafexes on foot can shoot from the top of the game, and don't necessarily draw much attention to themselves. And they can reinforce action taken by your swarm when it gets stuck in.
Dakkafexes in spores cost less than a Trygon Prime -- and only 30 pts more than a base Trygon -- and you get 18 S6 shots out those two units, 12 of which are twin-linked. Even if both units get killed, they will have at least done something other than look cool before being killed. Another bonus: Two MCs take up more space than one, even when it is a Trygon. Thus the dakkafex/spore combo is a superior screening device to the Trygon.
IMHO, the Trygon is easily the most overrated unit in the codex.
Also worth mentioning: the deathleaper. Even though he takes up a precious Elites slot, it can be worth it. If you face a lot of psykers -- e.g., space wolves -- the deathleaper can be a lifesaver. If you face a lot of missile batteries -- e.g., space wolf long fangs -- again, the deathleaper can be a lifesaver. If nothing else, he'll suck up one full turn of shooting from the missile dudes. And if they fail to spot him -- or you get good cover save rolls -- then the 'leaper will slaughter them dead. Admittedly, he won't fit into every list, but he's definitely worth consideration.
ninjabackhand: point and click, again, really? even after i give you an military term "shock tactic" you still call it point and click.
RIP Warhammer 40,000: 21 Sep 1998 - 24 May 2014
Great job Warlord-you have covered everything that's popular and useful. I would just like to fill in a few unit gaps for those of us who are saddled with models we find are supposedly of no use in fifth ed 40k.
I'm a classic Tyranid player (since Rogue Trader) and have a lot of redundant models that I can still get some use out of after years of experiencing the many changes to our swarms. Here are my own personal suggestions for those units that the Warlord intentionally left out due to their terminal inefficiency in serious games. I would only recommend these if you cannot take what advice Warlord Vrrmik has to offer due to personal considerations or you have a good sense of humour and infinite patience.
Tunnelling Rippers. These are a wonderful distraction or even as a screen for your W1 gribblies. They do take up valuable Troop slots but with up to nine bases in a Swarm, you have the potential to throw any enemy into disarray.
Spore Mine clusters instead of Biovores. They're cheap, annoying, dangerous and leave you with Heavy Support room for more Monstrous Creatures. I've cleared MEQ squads from whole table quarters with these.
Close combat Carnifex. I have six old Screamer-Killer models, and even though they are expensive in points, they are still considered a danger by many in such numbers, in a manner similar to a Kan or Dread wall. They can make I4 on the charge and have what is effectively an Assault Heavy Plasma that doesn't Get Hot. I don't care if they have BS2 when they're throwing S7 blasts about before the Assault.
The Lictor is still handy against Imperial Guard and Eldar heavy weapon teams. The Pheromone Trail helps bring in any reserves and if you ask nicely, your opponent may even allow you to field it as the Deathleaper, should you want to do so.
Finally if you can't be bothered with or afford a Tervigon, Mycetic Termagants are often a bit of fun. The pod can provide some cover and the Spore's ranged attack can add useful extra wounds in the shooting phase. This method of delivery also gets them closer to objectives without taking too many casualties. The points spent on the pod are often what you would lose to enemy fire anyway.
You may notice that many of these units are pure distractions and you might feel that you can't afford to throw units away without some form of recompense for the points you've lost. My reply would be that we do have quite a weak Army that demands the opportunity to close with the enemy as rapidly as possible with the minimum of casualties more than any other 40k race. If I have to discard up to half of my force to get the rest onto the enemy and/or the objectives by turn three, then I will. I'm prepared to make sacrifices, which many younger and less experienced players aren't because of the fundamentally competitive nature of Warhammer 40,000.
Last edited by adamwelton; April 10th, 2012 at 19:04.
Give a man a gun and he can rob a bank. Give a man a bank and he can rob the world.
Yeah there were some holes in that article, but thanks to both of you, we now have a more complete article.
By the way I wrote this post way back in December it was just that I was recently asked to create a separate post for it so it could be stickied. At that time I hadn't discovered the Tyrannofex
Nice work! Great to see some extra input!
I wouldn't have bothered if you hadn't started it all off and missed what I still have in my inventory. I just want to knock someone out when players half my age start gobbing off from the safety of their PC three thousand miles away about Tervigon spam being the only Tyranid list that anyone should ever take, and you should die horribly if you don't.
Thanks for taking the time to punt your choices out and being good enough to have regard for others.
Give a man a gun and he can rob a bank. Give a man a bank and he can rob the world.
Alright guys, I updated the post. I thought it was looking a bit shabby for a few reasons. Firstly it was completely unappealing - the wall of text and lack of headings, sub-headings and paragraphing made it a pain to read. And secondly, some of the information was out-dated or simply not there, so I edited the actual information in the post, without regurgitating what you guys have said in your posts.
Hope that makes is a little better for all of us.
Looks really good. The two supplements to the original article make it sound more complete.
Keep it up you three! Tagged you all in the thread and repped you all where I could.
Trust me, you want to mince the GK's? Take Stealers, and swarm on the table from the sides, he's either got to be careful where he places those precious force weapons, or be prepared to suffer great pain. 3 attacks on the charge multiplied by 20 = Guaranteed dead Knights of silvery cheese.
The only member on the entire forum who does what I do, and I haven't even spoken to him.
Rep for you my son. I couldn't be happier.
Give a man a gun and he can rob a bank. Give a man a bank and he can rob the world.
who's that? You didn't quote anyone... hehe.