Tyranid Unit Tactica - Warhammer 40K Fantasy

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    Tyranid Unit Tactica


    the Hive has evolved.

    So you have watched the various Alien movies, Star Ship Troopers or loved playing the Zerg in Starcraft. Now the thought of unleashing hordes of vicious aliens in Warhammer 40K sounds like fun. It is.

    Why collect a Tyranid army?
    Tyranids are the most alien of the WH 40K races. There is no technology. Everything leaps flaps burrows or scuttles its own way into combat to unleash its bio-organic weaponry. Tyranids are one of the best close combat armies in Warhammer. Every seasoned player knows the perils of a Genestealer brood assaulting their troops.

    The new 4th edition codex all Tyranid creatures and biomorphs have been revamped. Everything is much more effective and there is much more diversity in swarm. The new codex allows a much greater variety in effective armies. You can deploy a carpet of Gaunts, a horde of Genestealers, eight lumbering monstrous creatures and a lot of other combinations.

    Before you rush off and buy your battle force. I should warn you that Tyranids aren’t an army for newbies. Tyranids aren’t as hardy as your standard marines. Most Tyranids are fragile. Heavy bolters easily take down Genestealers, our best troops. Force weapons or mind war can instant kill tyrants. Monstrous Creatures being size 3 are targeted by every lascannon on the board. Fortunately many of are troops are dirt cheap and what we lack in quality can be made up with quantity. A Tyranid army is one of the more expensive armies that GW sells. We are not well serviced for special models so you may have to convert many of the bio-morphs like leaping and winged Warriors & Winged Hive Tyrants.

    This guide is to help newbies with effective army building suggestions, common mistakes and strategies explained. This tactica is compiled from a great variety of sources and my own experience. Like most things on these forums subject to debate. I welcome any constructive comments.

    Basic Tactics
    Genestealers, rending Warriors, rending Raveners and Hive Tyrants are your prime killers. Get them into close combat as soon as possible. Everything else is support to get them into close combat. Getting there mostly intact is the trick. Use cover as much as possible. Sometimes it is best to leave Gaunt broods in the open to avoid congestion. Gaunts also act as a diversion. Close combat blocks line of sight. Use them to tie up units while you move up units behind them.

    Check out the article at http://oz.games-workshop.com/games/40k/tyranids/gaming/tactica/default.htm

    This is probably the most powerful Tyranid power. Everyone facing Tyranids hates this power the most. This is what forces your hordes to relentlessly press on despite being shot to pieces. Raveners and Gargoyles have high leadership and should be OK outside synapse. I strongly recommend that your Gaunts have good synapse coverage. Walking Warriors, Zoanthropes and Walking Tyrants are good for a couple of turns before faster broods get out of synapse range. The problem is the assault range on Hormagaunts can quickly take them out of synapse range. Winged warriors, Winged Tyrant or an infiltrated Broodlord are you only fast synapse choices.

    Instinctive Behaviour
    All broods out of synapse range wanting to move must make an "Instinctive Behaviour" roll at the start of their movement phase. This includes fearless creatures such as Lictors and Carnifexs. If you fail this it will fall back to the nearest synapse creature or board edge. The codex isn’t clear on fearless creatures failing IB. The consensus opinion is that they don’t move. This is a real pain for Lictors, as you can’t make a regroup test if there is any enemy within 6'. If you don’t choose to move non-monstrous creatures can "lurk" giving them a +1 cover save. With either option you can still shoot, fleet and assault.

    There are two exceptions to IB1) rippers are "mindless" and specifically exempt. 2) Genestealers and Biovores outside synapse have "Brood Telepathy" and use the regular troop leadership tests.

    Generally IB isn’t a problem with ld10 creatures, but failures do happen and will be a nuisance.

    There are a few things that you should know about fleet. Firstly it is done in the shooting phase instead of shooting. Some people have mentioned that I should really move the brood their normal movement then do the fleet rolls in the correct phase. I don’t disagreed with them and simply say "that means I will have to move my 40+ models TWICE a turn". Your fleet roll is unaffected by terrain. You get a simple 1D6 roll. Fleet does have two extra advantages. 1) Say you want to move into terrain 5’ away. Rather than do a difficult terrain test and possibly drop short. Do a normal move 5’ next to the terrain and use your fleet roll to enter it. 2) When you deep strike your Gargoyles and Raveners use fleet to spread out or make for cover.

    "As a general rule, about a quarter of the total playing surface should have terrain on it, and there should be a good mixture of types." BGB first line of the "How Much Terrain" section.

    Terrain is one of the largest single factors on the game. Many opponents set up the board with a huge clear area in the centre. Even red shirts and tournament organisers do this. Maybe they want to play Warhammer Fantasy? They get ideal cover for their valuable units and you have to run across a large empty kill zone crossed by several fire lanes. This is a huge disadvantage to swarm armies and probably why Nidzilla armies are more successful. The BGB has some suggestions how to set up terrain. Some people take turns in placing each piece. Be reasonable, if you can’t come to an amiable agreement walk away. If you can’t agree on terrain setup then you certainly aren’t going to enjoy a game against an unreasonable opponent who uses a big advantage to beat you.

    Terrain is either 1) difficult and sometimes dangerous 2) impassable 3) clear. No matter what the size if it is on the board it is terrain. People will dream up all sorts of terrain rules mostly to avoid Lictors. Refer them to the "Terrain Types" section in the BGB. The description on "Area Terrain" is grey and leaves it up to the players to decide. In my opinion anything reasonably big enough for a Lictor to sneak into would be "Area Terrain".

    Ranged Weapon-Symbiotes
    By most armies standards Tyranid weapons are poor. Troop weapons have a 12’ range equal to the rapid-fire range of many enemies. We only have one low AP attack and our awesome venom canon can only glance normal armour. Tyranid firepower can be surprisingly effective. Only three armies have strength 10 weapons. A Carnifex armed with two devourers firing eight, strength six shots with re-rolls to hit and wound is awesome.

    Barbed Strangler - Much improved now it can penetrate armour and cause pinning. It is a good anti troop weapon. The 5’ template can hit a large number of targets.
    NOTE this is just a blast weapon that uses the 5’ template and does NOT get ordinance effects of better armour penetration or –1 on pinning.
    NOTE it is also a simple hit or miss weapon like a missile. It does NOT scatter.
    Devourers - These have an 18’ range and fire living ammunition. There has been much debate about their use. Though expensive devourer equipped Gaunts and Warriors have their supporters. A Tyrant or Dakkafex with two devourers is popular choice. Remember this is AP – so can only inflict glancing hits.
    Deathspitters - Relatively cheap for a blast weapon with reasonable range and nice strength mod. They can cause penetrating hits and the blast template can help against open top vehicles. Since the 4th Ed. rules the small blast template has become unpopular and its assault 1 combined with BS 3 has made them very unpopular. Usually they are only used to fill out Anti-armour Warrior squads.
    Fleshborer - The standard weapon for Termagants and Gargoyles. The strength 4, living ammunition shot is much better for taking down Marines. It can also glance AV 10. Good for keeping those annoying skimmers in check.
    Spinefists - Cheaper than a Fleshborer. It is twin linking making it slightly better at killing low AP troops than a Fleshborer.
    Twin Linked weapons - If you take two of the same weapons they become twin-linked. The excessive cost of twin-linked weapons just isn’t worth its benefits.
    Venom Cannon - The VC is the weapon of choice for Hive tyrants, Carnifexs. It has excellent range and strength and worth its expense. It is our most effective anti tank weapon. Venom cannons can only inflict glancing hits on non-open topped vehicles. This can be frustrating as half the glancing table results are crew stunned or shaken, and many vehicles can ignore it. At least it can’t shoot next turn, move on to the next target.

    Hive Mind Powers
    Catalyst – gives the targeted a brood a strike from the grave. It is used in the assault phase and acts like frag grenades. It is good against high initiative armies like Eldar. This power requires a psychic test. It can still be used with the non-focused warp blast.
    The Horror – before any units can assault the model they must make a leadership roll.
    Psychic Scream – all models within 18’have a –1 to their leadership. This ties in nicely with "The Horror" and when your enemies have to make leadership tests. This can help tip the tide of battle in your favour. Unfortunately there are too many fearless units around that negate this power. There is a army list called "The Psychic Choir" composed of 5 Tyrants and Zoanthropes with Psychic Scream aided with lots of shooting to force morale tests.
    The Shadow in the Warp - Enemy psykers make psychic tests with 3d6 discounting the lowest and perils of the warp are nullified. This is good to slow enemy psykers. However the only race with lots of psykers the Eldar have a power that is the exact opposite. This means they roll 4d6 discard the lowest and the highest and don’t risk perils of the warp. We are still waiting for a FAQ from GW on this.
    Synapse Creature –controls the instinctive behaviour of any brood within 12’. Refer to the instinctive behaviour and Synapse section above.
    Warp Blast – This is the only Tyranid ranged attack with low AP. Refer to the Tyrant & Zoanthrope sections.
    Warp Field - model gains a 2+ save and 6+ invulnerable save. Refer to the Tyrant & Zoanthrope sections

    Biomorph Enhancements & Weapons
    Below is a brief description of most biomorph. Any missing from the list will be properly described with the relevant creature.

    Acid Maw: allows you a reroll to wound. The benefits of this biomorph don’t justify its high cost. There is case for it this with Tyrants and Broodlords attacking high toughness models.
    Adrenal Glands +Init:This is one of the more popular choices as you can beat the regular Marine or Eldar initiative. It is worth noting that the more you out number the enemy unit effective this becomes.
    init model
    1 Carnifexes, powerfists
    2 Tau troops, Necrons, Orks
    3 Imperial Guard, Ork elite, Tau elite
    4 Marines, Eldar troops, Imperial Guard elite, Necron elite, Tyranid Gaunts
    5 Marine HQ, Eldar HQ, Dark Eldar troops
    6 Necron Wraiths, Eldar Exarch, Lord of Change, Dark Eldar elite
    7 Tyranid Broodlord, Dark Eldar Archon
    10 Models behind cover
    Adrenal Glands +WS: As a rule of thumb if you have equal WS you both hit on 4+. If one unit has a higher WS they hit on 3+. This improves the survivability of Gaunts and Rippers in close combat and lets Warriors hit more often.
    Bio-plasma: gives the model an extra +1 strength attack at double its initiative. It also hits on a flat 4+. This is handy when attacking skimmers, super high WS models or other models with unusual assault modifiers. Bio-Plasma applies out of normal initiative order. On a charge it is possible for it to kill the only model in base contact denying your remaining attacks.
    Enhanced Senses: If you use ranged weapons a must, otherwise a waste.
    Extended Carapace: before you consider buying this check the AP of your enemy. Have a look at the table below. If you can’t beat the weapon your facing EC is a waste of points. In most cases it is pricey but worth the cost.
    AP - lasguns
    AP 6 Orc slugga & shoota
    AP 5 bolters, flamers, Necron gauss flayer, Tau pulse weapons, Eldar shuriken weapons
    AP 4 heavy bolters, heavy flamers, assault cannon, Necron gauss cannon & blaster,
    AP 3 Krak Missiles, Reaper launcher,
    AP 2 Lascannon, plasma weapons, star cannon
    AP 1 Melta weapons
    Feeder Tendrils: Feeder tendrils confer the "Preferred Enemy" rule to ANY brood with a model within 2'. Hitting on a 3+ is a great help for Gargoyle, Gaunt and Ripper broods.
    Flesh Hooks: flesh hooks are the Tyranid equivalent of frag grenades and lets the model cross vertically impassable terrain. Have a look at the catalyst power. It could be cheaper and more versatile.
    Implant Attack: each unsaved wound inflicts an two wounds. Rarely are there enough multiple wound models to justify taking this biomorph. It does turn the model into a very effective hero and demon killer. NOTE that extra wounds DON’T carry over to other models.
    Lash Whip: The whip reduces the number of CC attacks on creatures in base contact by 1. It doesn't reduce the number of attacks below 1. Not many things last that long in combat to justify buying it. I would only equip Tyrant Guards with lash whips on where preventing that extra attack from a powerfist equipped Sargent or Librarian with a force weapon may be critical.
    Leaping: extends the charge range to 12’ and allow your full number of attacks within 3’ of a friendly unit. This is good for crossing the 12’ rapid fire zone and getting into combat a turn quicker. The 3’ reach is handy when models on 40mm are crapped by Gaunts. Refer to the Warrior, Hormagaunt, Ravener and Ripper sections
    Rending Claws: What more can I say, on a hit roll of 6 you automatically wound and ignore normal armour saves. It bypasses the need for WS, strength and armour penetration. This bio-weapon alone will inflict most or your casualties.
    Rending can also be used destroy armour. The rules are slightly different and confuse some people. Firstly to must still make a hit roll. The roll you need varies according to the target. Immobile vehicles are hit automatically, if it moved ≤6’ you need 4+, if it moved >6’ or is a mobile skimmer you need 6+. Dreadnoughts & vehicles with a WS stat use the assault table. Once you hit rending applies to the armour penetration roll. Rending armour is not as effective as infantry units. You will need a large number of attacks to be successful.
    As great as rending is, you are somewhat at the mercy of the dice Gods. I have had 3 Genestealers kill 6 Grey Knights on the charge with no casualties and I had 8 Genestealers kill no one then have 4 die and then fail morale. It is well worth taking on non-monstrous creatures. The only downside to it is those tight arses at GW don’t include enough rending arms on the sprues. You will probably have to steal rending arms from Genestealers to model your Warriors and Raveners.
    Scuttlers: Essentially this buys you an extra 6’ move. This is similar in concept to leaping but requires a bit more tactical thought. It is expensive for Gaunts but can be useful on Genestealers.
    Scything Talons: cheap and gives you an addition attack in CC. This doesn’t increase the number of ranged attacks.
    Symbiote Rippers: This a bit of a gimmick. There are better things to spend your points on.
    Toxic Miasma: Similar to adrenal glands this has two extra benefits.
    1. It stacks with adrenal glands to effectively boost your WS.
    2. Its effects can help any friends attacking the same creature.
    One word of warning – the wording says "creature" attacking or being attacked not "unit" and you might assume it wouldn’t affect Dreadnoughts etc. Best to discus this before the game. I suggest that it only apply to models in the kill zone of the creature.
    Toxin Sacs: On most creatures this is not cost effective. The exception to this is on Tyrants and Broodlords where it halves your failed wounds against Marines and instant kills toughness 3. You don’t want your Broodlord bogged down in a unit of Nurglings or Necron Scarabs.
    Winged: The model moves as jump troops. See the Tyrant and Warrior sections


    Hive Tyrant
    This is one of the Tyranids stand out units and most deadly units in Warhammer. It can take a hell of a beating and rip both troops and tanks to shreds. A Hive Tyrant is an excellent second purchase after a Battle Force box.

    A Tyrant with guards is very hard to take down. This makes him a your most durable synapse option. You will have to move it forward with your army to keep broods in synapse range. As your Tyrant moves up with your army that it is (arguably) the best thing to clean up in CC. Unlike Carnifexes which are viable with stand and shoot tactics. VC armed Tyrants make excellent tank busters. Tyrant Guards are essential for walkers. Use them as extra wounds. Losing a 45 point Guard is much cheaper than a 150+ point Tyrant. They are also very handy in CC.

    The winged Tyrant is an excellent option. The 12’ move gives you a good chance of moving safely between cover. You will probably be assaulting by turn 2. The problem is your will have to convert the model using dragon wings. A complete kit can be can be specially ordered from GW costing you £31 + postage.

    You have a lot of points tied up in one unit. You have to kill 10 standard marines to earn your points back. Don't get tied up in cheap units. Be careful to avoid power fists & force weapons.

    Bad Hive Tyrant Upgrades
    • Acid Maw: This gives you a reroll to wound in your first round of combat. This is costly unless you are fighting very tough critters.
    • Bio-Plasma: Aside from not bypassing saves this has another downside. Bio-Plasma applies out of normal initiative order. On a charge it is possible for it to kill the only model in base contact denying your remaining attacks.
    • Implant Attack: This is expensive and best only used when hunting multi wound creatures.
    • Lash Whip and Bonesword: Usually 6 toughness will protects your tyrant in CC. Your only real danger is power fists. Buying a lash whip sacrifices a weapon slot which would be better used for scything talons to kill the Sargent sooner. The Bonesword catalyst effect could be useful against very high initiative enemies. Fortunately these are very rare.
    • Rending Claws: monstrous creatures ignore armour saves and get 2d6 to penetrate armour. This biomorph only gives you the automatic wound on a to hit roll of 6 and 3d6 + 6 to penetrate armour. It also costs you a precious weapon slot.
    • Symbiote Rippers: just don’t bother

    Recommended Hive Tyrant Upgrades
    • Adrenal Glands +1 I: The base tyrant initiative beats most regular troops. Increasing it helps beat HQ models.
    • Adrenal Glands +1 WS: The base tyrant weapon skill beats most regular troops. Increasing it means you will need a 3+ to hit most HQ models.
    • [B]Enhanced Senses:/B] If you use ranged weapons a very helpful, otherwise a waste.
    • Extended Carapace: This is an expensive upgrade that can be easily bypassed by AP2 weapons. It is good for the hail of small arms fire and up to AP3 weapons. If you face lots of missiles it is excellent. If you face lots of plasma weapons, lascannons and multi-meltas it’s a waste.
    • Flesh Hooks: Are good for a CC Tyrant especially a winged one, but is a poor choice for any other.
    • Toxic Miasma: Similar to adrenal glands this has two extra benefits. 1) You can stack it with adrenal glands to effectively get WS 7. 2) Its effects can help any friends (Tyrant Guard) attacking the same creature.
    • Toxin Sacs: this halves your number of failed wounds against Marines, helps penetrate armour and instant kills toughness 3. Don’t leave home without it.
    • [B]Warp Field: The tyrant gains a 2+ save and 6+ invulnerable save. This is a very pricey upgrade. It is only worth considering when you want a 2+ save on your winged Tyrant.
    • Winged: your tyrant is now moves as jump infantry. This is a very pricey biomorph that is well worth considering. There isn’t a standard model for this guy so you will have to pay £55 + postage for a Forgeworld model or convert one yourself using Elf Dragon wings.

    Common Tyrant Builds

    Swarm Leader - tox, ES, ST, VC - 149 points.
    Add EC if you expect a lot of missile or small arms fire. Miasma is a good buy to help your Tyrant Guards & Gaunts. This guy is hard to kill synapse support, deploy him forward and advance with your Gaunts. It will be turn 3 or 4 before this guy makes combat. The VC will take out light armour and with luck a predator. Many people prefer swapping the ST for a BS or Devourer (or dual devourers). It is highly advisable to give him tyrant guards

    Assassin - wings, toxin sacs, 2 ST, +WS, +init, implant attack, flesh hooks - 178 points.
    Add warp field if you have the points. Use this guy to kill librarians and tough characters. You are relying on a lethal charge attack to kill the victim before he fries your brain. Statistically you can kill greater demons. Its probably best to avoid to avoid C'Tan and Wraithlords as rolling a 6 to wound is highly risky. If you are going to take on high toughness creatures Acid Maw will be a good buy. Toxic Miasma can help in some cases.

    Winged - wings, toxin sacs, 2 ST, +WS, flesh hooks - 151 points.
    Add warp field if you have the points. If you are going to take on Independent Characters add +init. Use this guy to get in fast and smash MEQ units.

    Devourer Tyrants.
    Many people have found that a Devourer equipped Winged Tyrant is more effective at killing Marines. Below are the number of kills for a 6 str, 5 WS and 4BS Tyrant shooting and assaulting marines.
    Dual Dev 5.2
    Dev & ST 4.25
    Dual ST 3.3

    Undoubtably the dual devourer kills more. The problem is that once the marines run off your are left out in the open exposed to all available firepower. You want to stay locked in blocking LOS and preventing your expensive winged Tyrant getting shot. People have commented that a dual devourer winged tyrant doesn’t look that good.

    Tyrant Guard
    These guys are as tough as nails and costs about the same as a fully tooled warrior. They are essential for the survival of any walking Tyrant.

    One very important thing to note is that Tyrants are only Monstrous Creatures NOT Independant Characters. This means that in combat they work like sargents. When you charge you only need the Tyrant Guard in base contact and the Tyrant will still get all its attacks.

    Flesh Hooks are cheap option to move over impassable terrain. You can’t leave the Tyrant so if you give your Tyrant FH I suggest that you give it to your Guards.
    Implant Attack is expensive and Guards don’t normally survive to use it. If you need it put it on your Tyrant.
    Lash Whip. You are forfeiting one rending attack to reduce an attack back. The primary role of the Guard is to protect the Tyrant. I take one guard of each type and remove the unwanted one as the first casualty. I’m not sure if you can mix weapons on guards.

    Hive Tyrant Biomorphs by H0urg1ass

    This awesome guy is the newest addition to the Hive. He is great at unnerving opponents and placing synapse forward, not to mention that he shreds Marines. He will not be infiltrating 1/3 of the time. So I strongly recommend a minimum retinue of 5 or 6 Genestealers. The small brood also makes it easier to infiltrate. Remember his retinue loose special abilities like fleet and scuttle when he is in the brood.
    Suggested biomorphs
    EC, Toxin sacs and Flesh hooks. Add implant attack to kill characters or feeder tendrils to support your Gaunts.
    5 or 6 Genestealers with EC and flesh hooks

    Tyranid Warriors are one of my favourite models. Unfortunately they are not as good as 'stealers or Raveners. In play warriors are slow and don't attract much attention until the reach combat. In escalation missions you DON’T start with Tyrants, Zoanthropes or Flying Warriors. So you will only start with Warriors and a Broodlord for synapse. What this means is that if you want lots of Gaunts you will probably need Warriors. If you don’t have Gaunts Genestealers are far more deadly. In most armies Warriors provide vital synapse support.

    Large Gaunt broods supported by CC Warrior are a nasty combination. Charge a Gaunt brood in. When you take casualties and pile in try to leave a space for exactly one Warrior. On your next turn the Warriors assault. You only want one in base contact. Leaping models only need to be within 3’ of a friendly model. This means that your enemy can only attack using models within 2’ of the Warrior in base contact. Sorry your uber HQ can only hit my 5 pt Gaunts.

    One problem with Warriors is that their escorting Gaunts can easily leave them behind. With leaping Warriors this hasn’t been a big problem on standard tables. Though once a well-timed charge into my Warriors by a Scarab swarm that cost me a large Hormagaunt brood.

    Don’t mix your CC Warriors and shooty Warriors. CC warriors are useless unless in CC and shooty warriors loose effectiveness in CC. Most people only use CC broods.

    Offensive Biomorphs
    The table below shows the chance for one single attack to kill.

    Biomorph Marine Guardsman
    None . . . . 22.3% 38.9%
    Toxin sac . . 24.1% 44.4%
    +WS . . . . . 25.0% 38.9%
    +WS & Toxin 27.8% 44.4%
    Genestealer 25.0% 38.9%

    Adrenal Glands +WS: raises your to hit roll (for marines) to 3+ and reduces HQ hit rolls to 4+. This means that your non-rending attacks have an 8.3% to kill rather than 5.6% to kill. Which is way below the 16.7% of an outright rend. Not as effective as +init as most of you wounds will be inflicted with rending.
    Bio-Plasma: is cheaper and faster than scything talons this gives the warrior an extra +1 strength attack at double its initiative. With toxin sacs you can instant kill toughness 3. With +init this bring its initiative to 10 so you strike simultaneously with models in cover. It also hits on a flat 4+. This can be handy when attacking skimmers, super high WS models or other models with unusual assault modifiers.
    Note: Bio-Plasma applies out of normal initiative order. On a charge it is possible for it to kill the only model in base contact denying your remaining attacks.
    Note: Strictly reading the rules Bio-Plasma gets rending results. The general consensus is that GW stuffed up and it shouldn’t apply in this case. If in doubt ask your opponent before the game.
    Rending: Against marines 2 Scything Talons will have a 33% chance of a kill. With Rending & Scything Talons this jumps to 75% even with the reduced attack. It also allows you to threaten armour. There is no reason not to take it.
    Toxin sacs: directly boosts your chance to wound. It also gives to a chance to wound toughness 8 creatures and improves armour penetration. Toxin sacs are not as effective as either adrenal glands and more is expensive.

    Defensive Biomorphs
    Adrenal Glands +init: lets you beat standard marines an match their leaders. Removing enemies first reduces wounds taken. This is my preferred biomorph after EC.
    Extended Carapace in close combat this gives you about a 25% improvement for about 10% cost. This is worth it purely to save against an AP 5 bolter round. It is cheaper then a Genestealers EC and protects two wounds.
    Flesh Hooks: generally your Gaunts will be in assault first so this is not useful. It may be useful on flying warriors.

    Standard Close Combat Warrior Builds

    Basic Warrior - EC, ST and RC - 27 points
    Leaping Warrior - EC, ST, RC and leaping – 35 points
    Winged Warrior - ST, RC and wings – 38 points

    Most players add Adrenal Glands +init

    Ranged Weapons

    Barbed Strangler – The range, strength and 5’ template make this an excellent anti troop weapon. The low strength makes this unreliable against armour.
    Deathspitter – the strength 6 blast is great for shooting open topped vehicles. It can also instant kill toughness 3. Its big problem is that it is assault 1 so you will only be hitting 50% of the time. The cheap cost makes it a reasonable to twin-link them.

    Devourers – These are good anti troop weapon. The cheap cost makes it a reasonable to twin-link them. The 18’ range can make for some challenging tactical decisions, as at best you are only 2 turns from CC.
    Fleshborer – Better than Spinefists but the12’ range make this a poor choice.
    Spinefists – The12’ range make this a poor choice.
    Venom Cannon –has excellent range and strength and worth its expense. It is most effective against light armour.

    Standard Ranged Warrior Builds

    Ranged Warrior – Toxin sacs, ST, enhanced senses and VC

    Add Extended Carapace if you don't think you can find cover. Many people suggest using rending claws. This is a good idea if you have the spare arms.

    I was using a shooty brood for taking down light armour. In my experience they just don't pull their weight. Shooty warriors just don't make the grade. Consider a Dakkafex (ES & 2 Dev) with 8 twin linked, reroll to wound, strength 6 hits. It costs about the same & comes with 6 toughness & 3+ save. If you must take shooty warriors the BS & 2 Devourers is probably the best option followed by VC & 2 Deathspitters for anti armour.

    Warrior Biomorphs By H0urg1ass


    Lictors are great psychological value. One of their bonuses is the sanity loss and dubious setup decisions they cause opponents. Once your lunch knows you have one he will have to consider it in deployment. Parking a Basilisk behind terrain will now be a problem. Or just let it sit hindering enemy movement and panicking newbies. The +2 to cover saves is great. It can take an incredible amount of firepower to kill. It doesn’t usually kill its points, but it usually saves its points in fire directed at it. I have a full command squad spend 2 rounds rapid firing at one and it was unharmed.

    Even with his awesome stats Lictors are very fragile in combat. They are best used to take out armour near terrain. It isn't too hard to pop out behind a Predator and smash its rear or side armour. Especially when you automatically hit because it didn’t move. Don't expect much if you charge even a small marine squad. At best you may tie up a small devastator squad a round or two. Against Eldar, Tau and IG it is a different matter. With a bit of luck you can win combat and force a morale roll. Maybe you can get lucky and kill a commander. Strength 6 instant kills toughness 3.

    Feeder tendrils confer the "Preferred Enemy" rule to ANY brood within 2'. Hitting on a 3+ is a great help for Gargoyle, Gaunt and Ripper broods. You can charge in to help Gaunts win combat, be careful to avoid power fists.

    The hit and run is greatly underestimated. It gives you an extra 3d6’ move at the end of combat. If things are looking bad just bug out. Or use it to help rampage around the enemies’ rear units.

    Don't forget that the reroll on deepstriking helps in escalation missions and spore mine clusters.

    Lictors are high-risk gambles. They occasionally make their points back but how can you estimate the points saved by diverting firepower away from more dangerous units. I always take a Lictor in 1000+pt armies purely for the mayhem it causes. It has a better chance than a Biovore to take out a tank, especially those annoying Whirlwinds & Basilisks.


    Tyranid troops are very effective. Unlike most other armies we complain about having only six troop slots. Maximising the number of broods increases your chances of a good fleet roll; it also provides more targets to confuse your enemy. This must be balanced the fact small broods are easily killed or reduced to an ineffective number. Large broods attract a lot of attention and can be hard to manoeuvre or find cover. For regular Gaunts I recommend broods of 12 to18, for Hormagaunts about 16 to 22. Huge broods of 24+ are a problem.

    Tyranid players endlessly debate about the size of broods and which troop types and biomorphs to use. None of them are really bad though different combinations will be better against different armies. Gaunts give Imperial Guard, Orks and Tau problems, while Genestealers make Marines soil their armour. It usually comes down to the armies you face and personal preference.

    Quote Originally Posted by Hoya4life3381 March 28 2006, 01:19
    The discussion about Hormagaunts has been pretty interesting so far. Having used the maxed out setup back in 3rd edition (only 13 pts then), it has some merit. As stated before, its very dependent on cover and opponent. Maxed-out gaunt against marines is not a very good choice because hitting and wounding marines isn't the problem, its the armor save at the end. Granted, causing more hits and wounds causes more saves, but you modify your rolls on hitting and wounding (hitting on 3+ vs. 4+), but it doesn't modify the final end all armor save.

    The basic efficiency of a 15 point marine can't be matched. For 15 pts, the basic marine is so very well protected and comes with a lethal shooting attack. Trying to match it by matching stats is not effective use of resources. That's why Spinegaunts are so popular. You don't try to kill them as much as saturate them with too many targets to handle. Genestealers perform a "paradigm-shift" on marines by potentially removing all armor and removing rolling to wound to an extent.

    However, maxed Gaunts can be pretty effective against some opponents. The ones I'm thinking of are Eldar and Orks. Its nice to have initiative 5 against Eldar and most Eldar armies lack real crowd control weapons such as heavy bolters. Granted, there are starcannons, but they won't be shooting at your Gaunts Orks also have the same problem to a degree and you can really use the extra help in hitting and wounding them.

    I feel that the basic naked Hormagaunt or the 11 pt + 1 initiative gaunt is best. The +1 initiative gaunt is purely a defensive upgrade. The goal of it is to hopefully clear out one or 2 counter attacks from the kill zone by striking first. However, keep in mind that the extra point adds up pretty quickly, especially over multiple squads. I try to save the points and get Raveners who can easily keep up with hormies and use them to help provide the extra oomph.
    Many people dismiss Gaunts as ineffective. They are easily killed. . They struggle to kill Marines. Their Spinefists and Fleshborers have 12' range. This means that 9 out of 10 enemy units will be rapid firing back. Large broods of Gaunts have problems moving around terrain become strung out. You will only get a few leaders in range to fire. So you are better off taking the fleet roll to get the rest of the brood closer

    So why take them?

    Gaunts are dirt cheap and fast. With fleet of claw and leaping your Hormagaunts can potentially move 24" in a charge. They can be fielded in huge numbers. These are the guys that put the fear of being over run into your opponent. Most armies just can’t shoot enough Gaunts before they are swamped, tying up units and blocking LOS. Gaunts are weak but their numbers slowly grind down their victims. With synapse support they will fight to the last bug. This gives you time and cover to move up your more valuable and deadly broods.

    Quote Originally Posted by Uzi-99 Jan 23 2004, 12:01
    In regular games, they really aren't supposed to kill anything, not even their points worth. The point is to have a huge swarm of cheap Gaunts to follow Your Leaping CC Gaunts and ensure that the enemy stays in CC for long enough to allow your nastier creatures to assault.

    Assault a Wraithlord with 20 Spinegaunts and You can leave it be, the Gaunts won't hurt it but the WL will spend the rest of the game clobbering 5pt Gaunts instead of doing something really useful. Of course, the enemy may send something to help the WL, but then that's another unit that can't effectively deal with the rest of your swarm.
    Gaunts are fast and slow synapse creatures will fall behind or get killed. Particularly Hormagaunts as they charge off. With a 5 leadership you don’t want Gaunts to be making leadership rolls. All Gaunts NEED synapse support. For Hormagaunts I suggest having slightly larger broods. They need the extra numbers to be effective and they can take a few more casualties. When charging leave a trail of them to keep 1 within 12’ of synapse. You will probably pile in out of synapse. They may not win the next combat round but the have stopped the unit shooting and blocked LOS. Next turn you should have Genestealers in charge range or synapse will have moved up. Some people have been mixing in some Raveners in to help win combat. When they fail their morale test for a lost combat the Raveners or a Lictor will probably keep the unit locked in combat blocking LOS.

    In escalation missions you only start with Broodlords and non-winged Warriors for synapse. If you run large numbers of Gaunts this ties you to taking a Broodlord or Leaping Warriors.

    The table below shows the chance for one gaunt to kill.

    Target . . . . . Marine Guardsman
    Combat . . . . . 5.6% . . 16.7%
    Devourer . . . . 10.2% . . 37.0%
    Devourer + tox 18.5% . 50.0%
    Fleshborer . . . 12.5% . 44.4%
    Spinefists . . . . 8.3% . . 37.5%
    As you can see the Fleshborer is probably the most cost effective. I wouldn’t decide which Gaunt to take purely on weapon. With a 12’ range and 6+ save you are not going to win a firefight. Usually they get one shot or fleet roll before charging. Many people strongly advocate Spinegaunts purely to increase Gaunts numbers.

    Spinegaunt: The cheapest gaunt. If you want a swarm army this is the Gaunt for you.

    Termagant: The strength 4, living ammunition shot is most effective for taking down Marines. They can also glance AV 10.

    Devourer Gaunt: The 18’ range these Gaunts will get more than one shot before assault. The strength 2 shots only threaten toughness 3 troops. These are the only Gaunts worth considering adding toxin sacs. The increased cost over normal Gaunts doesn’t justify throwing them into combat. Devourer Gaunts can be used to cheaply hold a flank. They have enough range to be a threat. You can lurk them in cover to deter enemy movement on your flanks. For more fun give them WON so they get an endless supply of pain. However you better have some synapse nearby.

    Due to the low cost of Gaunts bimorphs are extremely expensive. Even the cheapest 1 point biomorph is a 20% cost increase. Before considering any biomorphs remember that your Gaunts are cannon fodder. Keep your Gaunts cheap – the more Gaunts the better. If I haven’t discouraged you refer to the Hormagaunt biomorphs.

    Without Number
    Unless the board is very small you won't get them back in play in time to be useful. Enemies quickly work out that they should avoid killing the last one to delay your reinforcements. Most players prefer to have more models in play rather than extra reinforcements. Keep the brood small to help destroy them and use them for last turn quarter/objective grabs. They can be a real headache for anyone close to your table edge.

    Hormagaunts form a vital part of an overall strategy. Gaunts in add large numbers to your army. While they aren’t that effective they can’t be ignored. Hormagaunts are the first wave of your army. Leaping, WS 4 and scything talons significantly boost their combat effectiveness. Many inexperienced players are surprised when they move 12’, charge 12’ then I mention the 3’ combat range. Even experienced players are nervous about them. With due reason. A mid sized brood can deliver a scary number of attacks. 16+ Gaunts rampaging around threatening to charge the next thing 18’ to 24’ away really puts pressure on someone. For this reason my hormies are usually the first to die. Even though it bugs me losing my hormies all the time they pave the way for my ‘stealers and rending Warriors.

    Quote Originally Posted by Tojo March 27 2006, 03:48
    Hormagaunts are front line rushers. Their purpose is to engage the enemy quickly, and thus keep them from shooting in that next turn that they might have otherwise. This will save your stealers some fire, and also makes the enemy take a leadership test to shoot them over the hormies. They are very good in an army with a winged tyrant, because they can put a lot of pressure on the enemy very quickly, but they ultimately will not win a game for you by themselves. If you want something that will kill, take stealers, a Broodlord, a MC, or sometimes a Lictor.
    Quote Originally Posted by Marvus March 27 2006, 07:35

    I agree. Hormies are in the army apply immediate pressure and act as a distraction/shield/combatgetinquicklyunit, not as the spearhead of an assault. For the points cost it just isn't worth it. if you spend 4pts on upgrades for a hormie, in a squad of ten that's an extra 40pts! being spent. That could be a Ravener that is just as fast and better in cc. If you do that 3 or four times, that's fair few Raveners that can cause some major pain on the enemy with all their rending attacks on the charge. What I’m trying to say is that if you rely on maxed Gaunts to win the day then you might be hoping for too much. It’d be much more economical to spend the points you save on units like stealers or Raveners, who can add that punch and killing power to the assault.
    Offensive Biomorphs
    The table below shows the chance for one single attack to kill.
    Biomorph Marine Guardsman
    None . . . . 5.6% . . 22.2%
    +WS . . . . 7.4% . . 22.2%
    Toxin sac . . . 8.3% . . 29.6%
    +WS & Toxin 11.1% . 29.6%
    Genestealer 25.0% . 38.9%
    As you can see the most cost effective biomorph is +WS. You are paying 10% more for a 32 % improvement. Now compare them to a Genestealer. For an extra 60% cost you are 455% more deadly. It is a totally different case for guardsmen. The cheaper cost and leaping leave ‘stealers behind in their dust.

    Defensive Biomorphs
    The table below shows the chance for a single Marine or Eldar Guardian attack to kill a Gaunt.
    Attacker Hormagaunt with EC Genestealer + EC
    Marine 27.8% 22.2% 12.5%
    Guardian 20.8% 16.7% 8.3%
    Extended Carapace is giving you about a 20% improvement for 10% cost. However extended carapace won’t stop an AP 5 bolter round. You can also see that for double the cost Genestealers take less than half the wounds.

    The benefits of Adrenal Glands +init are a bit harder to prove. Comparing 12 Hormagaunts charging 8 Marines. (My probability Math gets a bit dodgy here). 12 charging Hormagaunts will attack 36 times and kill 2 marines (I think). 7 Marines & a Sargent (with CCW & pistol) will hit back 9 times killing 2.5 Hormagaunts. With + init only 5 Marines & the Sargent will hit back 7 times killing 1.94 Hormagaunts. With either you are ahead in points killed. The Init group is also winning the combat, but with only a 5% margin.
    In play it doesn’t work this simply. The Marines may be in cover or be spread out so that the rear ones don’t attack. This is where the 3’ combat range from leaping helps. I have killed enough marines so none were left in base contact to attack back. The Marines may have a heavy bolter so locking them in combat was well worth a few Hormagaunts. You will notice that without the charge bonus Hormagaunts will lose to similar points of Marines. You want a high impact charge or some support very quickly. Once you start to outnumber your prey significantly the benefits of +init become much better than the other biomorphs.

    You will notice that I have made numerous comparisons to Genestealers. Many people overload Hormagaunts with biomorphs to make them deadlier. As you can see it isn’t cost effective compared to Genestealers. What you get with Hormagaunts is leaping and numbers.

    Stealers high initiative, weapon skill, good strength and rending claws will shred most units. Now that they have fleet of claw and base 5+ armour save they are an excellent troop choice. Genestealers are awesome in close combat. It is always good to have a brood or two to deal with tough units. Any experienced player knows how deadly Genestealers are. A large brood is deadly making them high priority targets. If you can, split them up into small broods of 6 to 9 so that the enemy will have to spread their attacks or destroy one unit. Careful positioning and timed coordinated assaults are essential.
    NOTE: Genestealers outside synapse range make normal troop morale and pinning tests.

    Biomorph Enhancements
    Like most Tyranid broods quantity is better than quality. I have had my 'stealer broods annihilated by heavy bolters & assault cannon too many times too consider all but the cheapest. Extended carapace is good to get a save against bolters and other AP 5 weapons. It also helps in close combat. People playing Genestealer armies have found scuttle a valuable biomorph.

    Acid Maw: Most of your wounds are inflicted with rending. The likelihood of the extra wounds being negated by armour doesn’t justify its high cost.
    Extended Carapace With a maximum fleet roll the farthest you will ever move & assault is 18'. This means your typical Marine equivalent (MEQ) will get at least 1 round of firing. Do I have to mention, again, bolters are AP5? This makes EC almost mandatory. It also helps your survival in CC.
    Feeder Tendrils On first looks these are pointless with the awesome stats on a 'stealer. However ANY brood with 2' of a model with FT gets preferred enemy. Now think how many times have my stealers been stuck in CC helping 20+ Gaunts? With the right tactics this can be a cheap and deadly biomorph.
    Flesh Hooks For what they give you they are cheap. Don't overlook the fact that you can cross vertically impassible terrain with them. They are useful on a Broodlord retinue. Personally I have never bought them. I usually escort my 'stealers with Gaunts so they get into combat first, and my retinues get shot to pieces, making flesh hooks pointless.
    Implant attack These are worth considering, if you know some smug hero or monstrous creature needs taking down. In practice there aren’t that many multi wound models around to justify this. It is probably best taken on a Tyrant or Broodlord.
    Scything Talons I have never considered ST due to the cost. For the cost of 5 'stealers with EC & ST you can have 6 with just EC. On the charge the ST brood has 20 attacks & the other 18 - little difference. Consider that you take 2 casualties, now both groups get 12 attacks.
    Scuttle This biomorph buys you an extra 6' move. It is a bit pricey, but you have to consider the tactical advantage it gives you. Firstly that’s 6' less ground that you have to cover, usually under fire. When deploying you put you brood in a dubious position. Before you start scuttle them behind cover.

    Quote Originally Posted by rikimaru
    I have used stealers with extended carapice and scuttle since the codex came out, I have had over a dozen battles with them, mostly Marines (Blood angels and wolves) and a couple of Eldar battles. by far the best units have been the stealers, they have really performed amazingly well, compared to 3rd edition with the stupid infiltrate and 5+ save they are so much easier to keep alive and get into CC. If you want to keep them alive I honestly dont think another biomorph fit is an option.

    I simply would not drop either of the biomorphs, the tactical advantage offered by the free move after everyone has deployed is just so valuable, just being able to deploy the stealers near cover and then use the free move to get into the cover for instance, with fleet of claw and extended car its practically guaranteed that the majority of the stealers are going to get into combat even if they are shot at.

    The reduced time exposed to fire and the improved save is a potent combination and when supported by other fast nids such as winged Tyrant and Warriors and Hormies they are nearly impossible to stop getting to the lines of the opponents list.The simple fact is most scenarios are max 24" between armies (with a lot at 18") you can deploy the Stealers at 24" get a free 6"move and if you get 1st turn you get 6" move possible 6"FOC move and that leaves 6" to cover next turn, obviously this has to be done sensibly if you can move within 13" and get into cover it makes more sense than getting into 6" range with no cover and get shot to pieces, but the sheer amount of board the Stealer can cover with scuttle and FOC makes it a formidable weapon and it allows so much flexibilty.

    23 pts may sound a lot but the simple fact that they will get into combat more than makes up for the cost, because as soon as they get into CC they will destroy anything they touch and make the points back, expensive is only relevent if they dont perform, if they get to do what they do best 23 pts is cheap. If one stealer kills two basic marines (which they do in their sleep) they have made the points back, plus they can kill or destroy anything (apart from Monoliths) even Landraiders get scared when they see stealers.

    In 2000pts I always take 3 units of Hormies in units of 10 with they can keep up with the stealers and are the perfect screen for them, I usually try to rush the hormies in and then hit another unit with stealers, this means that the possibilitie for other units shooting my stealers when they win the CC is reduced.

    Thats the only problem with stealers is they are so goddam efficient at killing that you can be left high and dry when you win the CC, this is why support is so important, the combined attack on a lot of fronts with the fast untis makes it less likely that the Stealers will be shot up if they are left standing in the enemy lines after a successful combat.

    Also this is why i never take scything talons, sure it looks attaractive an extra 12 attacks but it can often work against the stealers, its better to have the Stealers stay in CC for a couple of turns and thats where the 4+ is worth it as well, the save in CC as well as against shooting.

    Another thing I do is hit units with stealers and maybe a unit of Hormies or Warriors, this means that even if the opponent removes all the models the stealers kill and this leaves the stealers out of CC the other unit will usually still be in CC with em, meaning no rapid fire etc and the CC usually blocks a lot of LOS to the stealers.

    My list is very very CC orientated and I really think stealers at 23pts a shot only really perform well in this form of list (CC orientated), if your going to take Stealers in a more balanced list, take more Hormies and probaly go for the ext carapice option and use them in a supporting role, coming into CC around the third turn after the enemy has been softned up by shooting and the Hormies are engaged.

    I take 30 plus stealers and a Broodlord with retinue, but this only works in a list that is geared to total support of the stealer component and thats how my list is tailored.

    It seems however that your wanting to keep the stealers, but are you keeping the fexes? because they are a big points sink, which I firmly believe is better spent on fast units to support the Stealers, my advice is to take at least 3 units of hormies and think about other untis to support them, my list is in the tyranid army list section, take a look it may give you some ideas, I am currently testing a 4 devorer winged tyrant and it works well, I am not saying use a list like mine but I will say that I have not played a game yet where the stealers have taken significant casualties from shooting, so use the basic speed set up but maybe with some shooting (if you prefer shooty) with maybe shooty Warriors and a single Carnie with a devourer tyrant, may offer you some options.

    Edit, one last point you mentioned the Hormies outrunning the Stealers, well I have found that with scuttle and the FOC move of the stealers, this really does not happen, they tend to hit the lines together in the second turn most games in a nice front of death.

    Rippers are great "tar pit" unit. They are the cheapest cost per wound unit. They move and assault 6’, which is slow, compared to your fleeting broods. You can overcome this with flying but it doubles their cost. Leaping is a good option and the 3' combat range helps in crowded fights.

    Offensive Biomorphs
    The table below shows the chance for one single attack to kill.
    Biomorph Marine Guardsman
    None 5.6% 16.7%
    +WS 5.6% 22.2%
    Toxin sac 8.3% 22.2%
    +WS & Toxin 8.3% 29.6%
    Spinefists 6.1% 27.8%
    Spinefists & Tox 9.3% 37.0%
    Gaunt 5.6% 16.7%
    Hormagaunt 5.6% 22.2%
    As you can see they compare identically to Gaunts in combat. Toxin sacs are the most effective biomorph raising your chances to kill a marine by 51%. Spinefists push ahead due to the benefits of twin linking. Spinefists and ES almost double your number of charge attacks for only 2 points. For 16 points each charging would get 7 strength 4 attacks, enough to seriously threaten AV 10. In practice they only give you one round of fire before charging in.

    Defensive Biomorphs
    The table below shows the chance for a single Marine or Imperial Guard attack to kill a Ripper.
    Attacker Marine Guardsman
    Base 37.0% 20.8%
    EC 29.6% 16.7%
    WS 27.7% 20.8%
    EC & WS 22.2% 16.7%

    As you can see extended carapace is most cost effective with both. Keep in mind that it is protecting 3 wounds. It won’t help you against AP 5 weapons. In small numbers they will hopefully be overlooked due to the bigger threats around. The advantage of +WS is that they help against powerfists (and kill Guardsmen). Strength 6 weapons kill them instantly. It is possible for a Veteran Sargent with a powerfist to instant kill 3 bases. Avoid Grey Knights and Terminators like poison.

    None of the Ripper biomorphs really stand out except leaping. The chief benefit of rippers is cheap cost per wound. Against IG and Tau they can be a big threat. Their slow initiative against Marines really just makes them canon fodder.

    Rippers are handy to escort your slow creatures. Leaping Rippers can help a Carnifex catch their prey or screen it from suicidal terminators. They can have the same initiative as a fex which helps avoid casualties being removed from base contact of the ‘fex. They also add large numbers to your Warriors combat resolution.

    They do have some tactical uses. Placing a cheap 30 points ripper swarm during deployment tells an enemy nothing. You can place them far forward to push enemy deployment back or use it to bluff where the rest of your army will deploy. Being mindless a cheap brood of rippers can sit by themselves and threaten enemy movement through its charge radius. Remember that they are size 1 so you can't draw line of sight through size 2 terrain. They can not capture quarters. Adding a shooty Ravener for support will make taking the flank, objective or quarter a serious commitment. Not bad nuisance value for about 80 points.

    Fast Attack

    The new Ravener model is great and the stats are great, except the 5+ save makes them fragile, 40 points is expensive and they are vulnerable to instant kill outside synapse. I treat them as fragile turbocharged stealers. You will have to carefully use cover getting into charge range. Their mobility will give you some options to assist an assault or maybe rend a tank. It is best to time your charge to assist another brood or to make a distraction. Raveners aren’t commonly fielded. Many opponents are suddenly surprised when a small brood charges 12’ and mauls half a tactical squad. It is usually best to field in as small broods as possible, since their fragility against bolters and the like means that a brood of 2-3 will be almost as easily wiped out as a brood of one. A brood of one will often slip under the radar. It is also easy to find cover for one model. Even 12 Gaunts look more threatening. Single Raveners can contest quarters, claim objectives and threaten a flank. The problem with single Ravener is that it isn’t that effective reducing it to nuisance value.

    The Scything Talon & Rending Claw combination is the best CC weapon choice.
    Deathspitter: You can lurk in terrain and use the 24’ range and 5 strength blast to harass anything. Or try to sneak into a rear position and shoot weak armour.
    Devourer: This weapon makes full use of the Raveners 3 attacks. 6 strength 3 shots with rerolls to wound are a real threat to enemy troops. You will probably only use it once before charging into combat. Still it is the best ranged weapon.
    Spinefists: The range of this only makes it a threat to low AP troops.
    You can mix ranged weapons amongst the brood or have no range weapons. You could give a Devourer to one and take the casualties on the cheap ones.

    Gargoyles are a special breed of gaunt. They come with flying, fleshborers and bioplasma. The wings and fleet make these guys the fastest non-vehicle unit in Warhammer. Initially I thought that they would play like Hormagaunts. A volley of 14 fleshborers followed by 14 strength 4, bioplasma shots then 28 normal hits will even hurt marines. The flesh borers and bioplasma adds a lot more versatility to them. They have strength 4 attacks so can glance AV10 armour.

    Another big advantage is leadership 10. This means they don’t need synapse, opening up more tactical options. A brood of Gargoyle can be left on a flank to clean up lone units (snipers) holding quarters or remove infiltrators. You can use their speed to race around and threaten rear units or light armour. Bioplasma hits on a straight 4+ roll. This means you have a much better chance to hit skimmers. You can also threaten high WS units and strange units like Necron Flayed Ones that may need a 6 to be hit.

    Their big downside is that you only get two models per blister. When you consider that you need about 14 to make a decent brood they become extremely pricey to buy. Consider are they going to be better than the two Carnifexes I could have bought? On the practical side they are a problem to pack and moving them around on the flying bases is a big pain.

    Spore Mine Clusters
    Spore mine clusters differ from Biovore launched mines in that they arrive using the deep strike rules. This means that you can drop them in some choke point or on an objective rather than having to target something. They are cheap compared to the cost of a Biovore. Refer to the Biovore section for more information.

    Heavy Support


    A VC armed Carnifex is the only long range, strength 10 weapon in the Tyranid army. Few things in Warhammer can match its 10 strength. It is the best heavy tank destroyer in the Tyranid army. Zoanthropes have a short range, one shot warp blast. However from turn 1 a Gunfex is blasting away with two or three shots. It also has the advantage of size 3 so it can shot over most terrain. The Barbed Strangler can kill large numbers of troops. The best way for a ‘fex to make back its points is with a ranged weapon.

    Carnifexs are slow moving creatures that can be easily outmanoeuvred. CC Carnifexs will need some faster friends to catch its prey. CC Carnifexs have a low number of high strength attacks. Be careful to avoid being caught in tarpit units. You will only have a couple of rounds of combat to get its points back. March by the quickest route to its prey. It is a tough model that can take a lot of fire. It is far better at taking hits than the rest of your army. When is does catch something its in for a lot of pain.

    Bad Carnifex Upgrades
    • Acid Maw: This gives you re-rolls for you first round of combat. This won’t be that useful unless you are fighting super tough critters. Carnifexs aren’t the best at this.
    • Bio-Plasma: Aside from not bypassing saves this has another downside. Bio-Plasma applies out of normal initiative order. On a charge it is possible for it to kill the only model in base contact denying your remaining attacks.
    • Crushing Claws: take up a spot that Scything Talons would normally take and replace the Carnifexs 2 base attacks with 1d6 attacks. You are paying 17 points more than Scything Talons getting on average 3.5 attacks compared to a flat 3 attacks. You also have a one third chance of having fewer attacks than you would have with scything talons.
    • Implant Attack: Your ‘fex is already instant killing anything toughness 4 or less. You are doing something desperate if you are hunting super tough characters.
    • Lash Whip: Usually the Carnifexs 6 toughness will protect it. Your only real danger is a Sargent with a power fist. Buying a lash whip sacrifices a weapon slot which would be better used for scything talons to kill the Sargent sooner.
    • Regeneration: this is an extremely expensive bio-morph, which doesn’t work reliably. If you really want regeneration have a look at "Old One Eye".
    • Rending Claws: monstrous creatures ignore armour saves and get 2d6 to penetrate armour. 3d6 + 9 to penetrate armour. This is over kill and wastes a weapon slot.
    • Spore Cysts: Not only can you damage yourself firing it, it can explode and damage your ‘fex. This is worst than useless.
    • Symbiote Rippers: With Thornback this will give you a 3 to 1 mod against 7 models. The chances of this being useful are extremely rare. See Thornback.
    • Thornback: When you win combat this will usually be a -1 or -2 morale modifier. Winning combat against fearless units gives you extra hits, unfortunately they still make armour saves. Winning combat against Dreadnoughts will give you an extra glancing hit. The benefits of this biomorph are worth it.
    • Toxin Sacs (+1 Strength): The only thing you gain is: 1) instant kill toughness 5, which is kind of rare, 2) a better chance to take down super tough critters, not recommended 3) a better chance of taking down a Monolith. Versus any other vehicle, a 9+2D6 penetration roll should be more than sufficient to destroy it.
    • Tusked: This only gives you one more attack on the charge. And it costs more than scything talons.
    • Twin Linked weapons: If you take two of the same weapons they become twin-linked. The excessive cost in both points and weapon slots of twin-linked weapons just isn’t worth its benefits. Weapons that are already twin lined are assumed to double the number of shots.

    Recommended Carnifex Upgrades
    • Adrenal Glands +1 I: Two initiative is pretty poor but it beats powerfists. On average you are going to take a few powerfist hits before you kill the last marine. If you expect to get into CC with powerfists this is a good biomorph.
    • Adrenal Glands +1 WS: This is the best CC biomorph for a Carnifex. WS 4 greatly improves you survivability in combat. Combined with your 6 toughness you can survive many rounds.
    • Bonded Exoskeleton (+1 Toughness): This makes you immune to strength 3 attacks. The best answer to Howling Banshees. Otherwise it only affects strength 5 through 8 attacks. There is a large range of weapons this affects notably the ubiquitous power fist and plasma gun.
    • Enhanced Senses: If you use ranged weapons a must, otherwise a waste.
    • Extended Carapace (2+ Save): This is a very expensive upgrade that can be easily bypassed by AP2 weapons. It is good for the hail of small arms fire and up to AP3 weapons (missiles). If you face lots of missiles it is excellent. If you usually face lots of plasma weapons, lascannons and multi-meltas it’s a waste.
    • Flesh Hooks: Are good for a CC Carnifex but are a poor choice for any other type of Carnifex
    • Reinforced Chitin (+1 Wound): This is a cheap guaranteed extra wound.
    • Spine Banks: are a cheap upgrade to flesh hooks. Being twin-linked you don’t really need ES, but it does help. It can be used on light vehicles or softening troops before the charge. Be careful you may run into situations where a successful Spine Bank shot ends up killing the only enemy model in charge range.
    • Tail Weapon: Mace. This is a cheap extra attack when fighting more than four models. When you charge it is highly unlikely to get five models in base contact, unless the enemy has counter charge. It is worth noting that it says more than four at the beginning of the assault. So if you reduce the enemy before init 1 you still get your tail attack/s
    • Tail-Weapon: Scythe. Not as cheap as the mace, but better if you are seriously outnumbered and it still ignores saves.
    • Toxic Miasma: Similar to adrenal glands this has two extra benefits. 1) You can stack it with adrenal glands to effectively getting WS5. 2) Its effects can help any friends attacking the same creature. One word of warning – the wording says "creature" attacking or being attacked not "unit" and you might assume it wouldn’t affect Dreadnoughts etc. Best to discus this before the game.
    Equipping the CC Carnifex
    Equipping the elite CC ‘fex with two ST and +WS is the sensible starting option. This leaves 9 points to spend. The only two useful options are Toxic Miasma or Adrenal Glands +Init. My preference would be for toxic miasma to get a 3+ to hit marines. Flesh Hooks are too cheap to pass up for the only time you will be at init 10.

    Elite CC ‘fex
    2 x Scything talons, Adrenal Glands +WS & +init & flesh hooks - 112 points
    2 x Scything talons, Adrenal Glands +WS, toxic miasma & flesh hooks - 114 points

    If you want to upgrade it into a heavy support ‘fex buy all the CC upgrades. Reinforced chitin and tail mace are cheap for the extra 20 points. Depending on your opponents it may be worth buying EC or BE. Spending more on a CC fex is not recommended. One variant is to swap a ST & FH for ES, Devourer & spine banks. This gives you two or three rounds of decent support fire. I wouldn’t equip a VC or BS as they are expensive and useless once you get into close combat.
    Many people equip a CC Carnifex with every biomorph available. H0urglass mentions his "Baitfex" strategy. The idea is that if you are going to take hits its best that a tough ‘fex take them. This can be an effective tactic, though I doubt that experienced players will fall for it. I should again recommend against CC ‘fexs. They are slow and unlikely to earn their points. If you want a combat monster consider a flying Tyrant.

    Heavy Support CC ‘fex
    2 x Scything talons, Adrenal Glands +WS & +init, toxic miasma, tail: mace, reinforced chitin & flesh hooks - 140 points
    Scything talons, Adrenal Glands +WS & +init, toxic miasma, tail: mace, reinforced chitin, enhanced senses, devourer and spine banks - 154 points
    Scything talons, Crushing Claws, Adrenal Glands +WS & +init, toxic miasma, tail: mace, reinforced chitin, flesh hooks, bonded exoskeleton, extended carapace & regeneration - 232 points
    Scything talons, Adrenal Glands +WS & +init, toxic miasma, tail: mace, reinforced chitin, enhanced senses, devourer, spine banks, bonded exoskeleton, extended carapace & regeneration - 229 points

    Equipping ranged Carnifex
    The base elite Carnifex starting equipped with ES leaves you 21 points to spend. The only sensible weapons you can afford are two dual devourers. The Dakkafex is cheap and versatile. 8 twin linked, strength 6, reroll to wound shots is nasty. Add to that its 3+ save, toughness 6 and 4 wounds. This guy is effective against marines, skimmers and with a bit of luck dreadnoughts. Carnifexes can only be taken as elite choices in 1500+ point armies. If you have a HS slot free upgrading your Dakkafex by adding spine banks, reinforced chitin or mace tail.

    Elite "Dakkafex"
    2 x Devourer and Enhanced Senses - 113 points

    Heavy Support "Dakkafex"
    2 x Devourer, Enhanced Senses, rinforced chitin, spine banks - 133 points

    Heavy Support ranged Carnifex
    The Gunfex is going to use its range to sit at the rear of the board (preferably in cover) or move to hold an adjacent quarter and blast heavy armour. As the Gunfex will specialise in shooting it will be a waste to add any CC biomorphs. The only time you might need them is when holding a flank. Usually if your Gunfex is in close combat things have gone horribly wrong. That’s not to say that they are useless in CC, it can take a long time for a marine to wound toughness 6.

    As this is a long range Gunfex start with enhanced senses and a venom cannon. As it will usually be at extreme range the only other weapon worth considering is a barbed strangler. This can penetrate armour and kill troops increasing the Carnifexs versatility. Reinforced Chitin gives you a 25% increase in wounds for a 10% cost. At this range only long range anti-tank weapons can reach you, chiefly missiles and lascannons. Missiles are easily stopped with extended carapace. In practice most people use lascannons. Neither BE or EC will help. If you expect to get attacked in CC adrenal glands +WS & a tail weapon: mace is cheap insurance.

    Heavy Support ranged "Gunfex"
    Enhanced Senses, Venom Canon, Barbed Strangler & Reinforced Chitin - 163 points
    Enhanced Senses, Venom Canon, Barbed Strangler & Reinforced Chitin, Adrenal Glands +WS, Tail: mace - 172 points

    Carnifex Biomorphs by H0urg1ass

    Warp Blast is the Tyranids most powerful ranged attack. The AP 3 blast can decimate Marines and the focused blast can penetrate heavy armour, unlike a venom cannon. Warp field makes them hard to kill particularly when synapse prevents instant kills. Their slow speed, low BS and short range are big negatives. It is hard to compare warp blast with two VC shots at 36’ range or a Dakkafex with 8 strength 6 shots. Three Zoanthropes cost about the same as one Gunfex but can potentially kill a lot more Marines.

    Zoanthropes can have two psychic powers. This greatly improves their usefulness. They are cheap durable backup synapse. They can be helpful when deploying. Heavy Support units are usually placed first. Opponents frequently place a lone armour unit forward to push back your deployment; essentially adding an extra 6’ to move or denying you deployment in a piece of terrain. Zoanthropes are deployed independently as one unit. This means you can place up to three models forward to push back deployment options of your prey.

    Don’t expect much of a lone Zoanthrope. In practice warp blast won’t be in range the first turn or two, then it may only get two or three shots. Zoanthropes attract fire when everything else gets tied up in CC. It may be useful to throw them into CC to help with its toxic miasma and with its 2+ save it can survive a long time.

    There are significant changes to Biovores in the 4th edition codex.
    Biovores can not fire independently. Broods must be deployed together. This means it can be tricky getting all models behind cover.

    Biovores have brood telepathy like stealers. With leadership 5 it is very easy to fail a morale test. One tactic is to hide a lone Biovore in cover in your starting quarter. One Biovore has the about the same annoyance value as three. The advantage is that one will never need to make a morale test since it will be dead when it (the unit) gets below 25% strength.
    They can hold table quarters. Normally you will have to be very lucky for them to make their points back. However in "Cleanse" missions there must be NO scoring units in the quarter. Your prey will have a difficult time not only getting into your quarter but also removing some creature in the most obnoxious location.

    Spore mines can make good tank killers. Vehicles are fairly large and there is a good chance that you can hit their rear or side armour. This goes up significanly with clusters of two or three. If you totally miss with a cluster you place the secondary mines in base contact with the ranging shot. This gives you an extra 1' reach to contact something.

    Biovores launch spore mines are as barrage weapons. You select an enemy model within range and roll the scatter dice. This also means that they can force a pinning test. The major advantage Biovores have over regular barrages is that missed spore mines hang around. This really bugs some players, make them spread out their models, hampering their movement and forceing target priority rolls.

    Spore Mines
    Spore mines are a mindless creature that semi randomly floats around until it detonates. In your movement phase roll the scatter dice and move 1-6’ in that direction. On a hit you choose the movement direction. Spore mines are the only models in Warhammer 40k that can move closer than 1’ to an enemy model. They are detonated by a synapse creature with 24’, making contact with an enemy model or an enemy model shooting within 2’. It is possible for a cunning enemy to move 2’ away and shoot without any danger, as the blast radius is only 1.5’. He could come unstuck if there is more than one spore mine in the cluster.

    ALL spore mines use the SMALL BLAST template. In my experience you will get about 1 hit and 2 partials on an average hit.
    • Bio-Acid is best against MEQ troops though the strength is weak. The 2D6 + 3 penetration gives you a 50% to penetrate AV10.
    • Frag is best against troop-heavy IG and Eldar Guardians.
    • Toxin is useful against Tau & IG Storm Troopers, high toughness Chaos and Necron models. Toxin mines can devastate Eldar & Orks. The automatic hit (or 2) on open-topped vehicles is priceless!
    Note: The Tyranid codex says a toxin spore mine inflicts 1 automatic hit, then the BGB says open topped vehicles are venerable to blasts and each hit counts as two with a +1 on the roll. We are still waiting for a FAQ from GW on this.

    What to buy when getting started
    My first recommendation is get the codex. Then look at the battleforce box it contains: 3 Warriors, 8 Genestealers, 8 Hormagaunts, 8 Gaunts, a Carnifex and 3 ripper swarms. This gives you a good core list and saves you money, a rare thing from GW. This army will be just over 500 points.

    After buying the battleforce your first problem is having only one fragile synapse brood. The cheapest choice in points and cash is a Zoanthrope. This guy will also give you warp blast. His problem is that he is slow and it is very likely that your Hormagaunts will charge out of synapse range. Another synapse option is a Broodlord and retinue of 5 to 11 Genestealers. He is a combat monster with infiltrate. His downside is that 1/3 of the time the scenario won't allow infiltrate and his brood looses fleet of claw. Most popular synapse choice is a Hive Tyrant.

    Next problem is that you don't have enough Gaunts to make an effective brood. If you are going to use Gaunts at all you will have to buy another box. 16 Hormagaunts and 16 regular Gaunts is a good number.

    At this point you will have about 750 points to play with. The major Tyranid strength is in numbers. Take the bare minimum upgrades so you can have more critters. I suggest making all your warriors leaping with rending claws and scything talons. You won't have enough rending claws. Ask to proxy some other weapon (blutac is your friend). Most players will give newbies a bit of leeway on rules.

    I recommend playing a few games to get the feel of your new army. Don't be disheartened if you lose a lot. Playing Tyranids successfully for newbies will be hard. You can loose up to a 2/3 of your force getting into close combat. This is why synapse coverage is vital. However once you get 3 warriors, 5 Genestealers, a Broodlord or a Tyrant into close combat you will smash things.

    Once you have an idea what works for you these are the common army themes

    The Swarm
    Lots and lots of Gaunts with support. It is fun when deploying this to see the look on your opponent’s face when he has placed all his units and you still have another 50 more models to place. The huge numbers of Gaunts just overwhelm the enemy, they just can't shoot that many before they are up to their eyeballs in Gaunts. Next Genestealers are sweeping through his army. The only downside is moving 90+ models every turn makes games last a long time. Also it will take many days to paint your army.

    The Balanced List
    This army will have a good mix of various broods to handle different threats. There will be a couple of gaunt broods, 1 or 2 Genestealers, a Tyrant or Carnifex for anti tank support, maybe Lictor or Broodlord, what ever suits your tastes.

    The 'Nidzilla list
    You can now have 8 monstrous creatures in a list, 9 if you count the Red terror. No one can deny the amount of fire power it takes to kill a Tyrant or Carnifex. This swarm overloads the anti tank weaponry in an army. In addition to pumping out a large amount of firepower.

    Godzilla Tactica by |Longinus

    The Fast Assualt
    This is designed to get into assault as fast as possible. It will be lead by a Winged Tyrant and/or a Broodlord and will typically have winged Warriors, Raveners, Hormaguants & Gargoyles.

    The Vanguard Fleet
    Warp-capable scout-drones range ahead of the main fleet searching for suitable planets. Upon discovery they seed the world with vanguard organisms such as Genestealers, Lictors, Warriors and various Gaunt species. Raveners are a Warriors subspecies. Gargoyles are a Gaunt species. Rippers are the larval forms of many species. Should the world prove fruitful they will summon the Hive Fleet.

    The Genestealer Infestation
    Wrecked space hulks are seeded with pockets of Genestealers. Anything investigating the hulk will be infected with the Genestealer genetic corruption. When the host reaches an inhabited world it will form a Genestealer cult of hybridised slaves. This is an all Genestealer army with a Broodlord leader.

    I have included at lot probabilies in this tactica to demonstrate the effectiveness of various weapons and biomorphs. I in no way want to encourage the most mathmatically optimised fleet. The best advice I got was at my last con. We where both doing below average in overall points. The other player said that he was glad he wasn't up with the leaders, they are no fun to play.


    Go forth and feed the Hive hungers

    Last edited by Zerling; October 14th, 2006 at 03:01. Reason: Added GW FAQ and HS Dakkafex

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    I will probably be doing some minor editting over next few days. Eventually I will find out how to put tabs in. For now I'm back to painting my new 'Fex.

    Hope this is helpfull
    Last edited by Zerling; April 10th, 2006 at 02:49.

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    Senior Member PoptartsNinja's Avatar
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    It'd probably be a good idea to not state exactly what the biomorph upgrades do (I'm pretty sure that's against forum rules), and instead get right to talking about what situations they're useful in.

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    Quote Originally Posted by PoptartsNinja
    It'd probably be a good idea to not state exactly what the biomorph upgrades do (I'm pretty sure that's against forum rules), and instead get right to talking about what situations they're useful in.
    It says on the games-workshop website wat all the biomorphs do under 'Know your foe'.

    And all the powers can be found on the reference sheet.

    Nice Tactia :yes:
    "They are coming! I feel them scratching inside my mind, scratching, screaming, running, so many - so, so many voices. They're coming for us - flesh, body and soul!"

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    Quote Originally Posted by w00kie
    It says on the games-workshop website wat all the biomorphs do under 'Know your foe'.

    And all the powers can be found on the reference sheet.

    Nice Tactia :yes:
    Ah, nevermind then. I was just trying to look out for a good tactica writer.

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    Senior Member Hivefleet Hades's Avatar
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    im not to sure but i would relook at the bio plasma rules...any causalty to a bio plasma attack, counts toward the combat resoloution, hence the Hivetyrant still gets its full number of attacks against the unit, it was like this in 3rd ed and explained more clearer...i cant see the rules for bio plasma changing much or otherwise it would make bioplasma prety useless.
    Army of the heavens, my army waits in hell
    To battle on the earth, for all the souls who fell

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    Quote Originally Posted by Hivefleet Hades
    im not to sure but i would relook at the bio plasma rules...any causalty to a bio plasma attack, counts toward the combat resoloution, hence the Hivetyrant still gets its full number of attacks against the unit, it was like this in 3rd ed and explained more clearer...i cant see the rules for bio plasma changing much or otherwise it would make bioplasma prety useless.
    It is quite common on the charge to be in base contact with only one model. If that model is removed the brood is no longer engaged. Only engaged models can attack. As casualties are removed in initiative order you won't get your later attacks. Read the "Who can fight" section of the BGB.

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    Senior Member Hivefleet Hades's Avatar
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    I just looked up at the new codex...and i gues as things stand your right zerling, in 3rd ed..there was a passage of text that explained that if bio plasma killed a model..you still got your reg attacks against that model and unit...But still it could be an oversight by Gw in the new codex, they have been known to make mistakes, but yup as things look, even bio plasma has been nerfed
    Army of the heavens, my army waits in hell
    To battle on the earth, for all the souls who fell

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    Wow!!! Great job Zerling. You clearly put a great deal of thought and time into this post. This is a great starting point for new Nid players and should save them some time.

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