Friday, January 25, 2013

Tyranids in 6th Edition: the Swarm Ascendant!

This is the 3rd and final part of the Tyranid Tactica Guide. Enjoy:


Now that genestealers have lost their glamour, and getting into combat has become much, much harder and much less rewarding, hormagants have stepped up their performance as affordable , expendable melee units.
 They only cost 6 points per model and deliver 3 attacks when charging. Having tervigons buffing them with FNP and fearless, and now you have a swarm that can prove itself a real frustration for your opponent.
 The real downside is that they are no longer getting any true bonus from their fleet rule, meaning that they are extremely slow and will probably take several turns of shooting before reaching the enemy.


 Termagants have always been popular, and an almost mandatory option for the Tyranids.  If not for anything else , a unit of those guys would be included, to accompany a troop Tervigon. And while they are rather weak, and can do little damage without the assistance of larger beasts, they are not to be underestimated.

First of all, when compared to hormagants, termagants are overall a better option,  for the following reasons:

-          Termagants are cheaper, and move at the same speed as hormagants.
-          They have a shooting weapon ( very important )
-          They can be upgraded to carry better weapons and fill more roles .

In fact, while most players include termagants armed with fleshborers, a new, popular option is to arm 20 gants with devourers and put them in a spore.
 This combo provides 60 str4 shots at point blank. However, I am not too fond of this tactic , because of its tremendous cost. 10 points for a termagant is insane , especially considering how fast they die. For 10 points you could take 2 gants instead, and while the amount of firepower is still reduced, you double your models count.  I can’t tell for sure which option is the most successful , but I when it comes to tyranids  I would always choose quantity over quality.


By far my favorite tyranid unit , and perhaps one of my favorite creatures , period. Raveners were always considered to be “ target practice units” for IG artillery and GK Psyflemen alike…and although this very painfully true,  I was always getting the impression that raveners performed  very well for me.  So ,let’s see their best  characteristics, under the scope of 6th edition:

-          -They cost only 35 points without any upgrades.
-         -3 wounds and 5 attacks on the charge, get to re-roll to hit rolls of 1’s.
-          - Beasts , which means that they move 12” and get to reroll their assault move roll, which in essence means that they get a charge move of 8-10 inches , statistically.

This makes their role quite obvious: they are the hunters of the swarm. Their role is to reach the enemy as fast as possible , becoming the center of attention and providing adequate time for the rest of the swarm to move up.
 Nowadays it is easier than ever to deal with raveners, thus making them a choice that you should rarely consider , but one that should definitely be in the back of your mind.

  These guys perform in a similar way to Hormagants, although they seem to be better suited for the role of expendable assault unit.
 First of all , they are definitely faster than Hormagants.  They also carry fleshborers, which is an important detail, and finally they can use the Hammer of Wrath rule, and all that for the same point cost as a Hormagant.
 In fact, the only case where Hormas should be chosen instead of Gargoyles, is when you need more troops, which is rarely a problem for Tyranids anyway.
 Gargoyles can perform well in close combat. However, as  is the case with all of our  smaller creatures, they die very, very easily, thus making them unreliable , at best.


These ugly creatures have become very popular recently. I see them in most tournament lists, and while I was puzzled at first, I finally understood why  they are so attractive.
 First of all , they are very cheap. For 45 points you get a guy with a large blast weapon that will do some damage against light infantry. And they reside in the Heavy Support section, so they get to compete with some “ titans “ of the 40k metagame, such as the Mawloc, the depressed Carnifex and the almost suicidal Tyranofex. Yeap, actually Biovores are somewhat useful after all.
 They come in a nice brood of 3, have a 48” assault , barrage, large blast weapon with a str and ap of 4… not bad for 45 points. And if they miss they target, their shot is not lost, but a unit of 3 spore mines appears…hopefully they enemy won’t escape their damage anyway.
Considering how many players choose to spam troops nowadays, biovores will probably do enough work to justify their points cost almost every time.


 The last unit of this list , and probably one of the least effective anyway. Trygons are durable, leathal, fast moving units that could be easily be one of the best units of our codex. However,  as they stand now, they are still burdened by the same weaknesses they had since their release.  They have to deploy right in the face of the enemy, only to die fast to their low- ap weapons. Plasmas , meltas and lascannons cut through their flesh like a hot knife through butter, and even their 6 wounds and toughness can’t prolong their existence enough to allow them to reach the enemy and do their job. Unlike other suicide units , like genestealers,  raveners or Ymgarls , the Trygon is too expensive to fulfill that role. Besides, Trygons are of no use against flyers and he Overwatch rule is more painful to them that it is for most other units.  A great shame, because  its rules, concept and miniature model are all beautiful.

 That concludes my list of the best Tyranid units in 6th edition. However, no guide is complete without an explanation of how the various units of our codex work.  The rest of this article will be a short tactica of an exemplary list.

 To begin with , let’s see how a Tyranid tournament list looks like:

Hive Tyrant with Wings, 2 sets of Twin-linked Devourers ( BW), Leech Essence, Paroxysm , Old Adversary- 285pts
Hive Tyrant with Wings, 2 sets of Twin-linked Devourers ( BW), Leech Essence, Paroxysm,- 260pts

Hive Guards x 2- 100pts
Hive Guards x 2-100pts
Zoanthropes x 3-180 pts

Tervigon with Cluster Spines , Adrenal Glands, Toxin Sacs, Catalyst, Dominion – 195
Tervigon with Cluster Spines , Adrenal Glands, Toxin Sacs, Catalyst, Dominion – 195
Tervigon with Cluster Spines , Adrenal Glands, Toxin Sacs, Catalyst, Dominion – 195
Termagants x 10- 50pts
Termagants x 10- 50pts
Termagants x 10-50pts

Heavy Support
Biovores x 2 – 90pts

TOTAL : 1750pts

This is a list composed exclusively of the best Tyranid units only. It is obviously meant for  a more defensive type of play. It is a solid list that is built with an emphasis on the shooting aspect of the game , and resilience.

 First of all, it has 2 Flyrants , which should be enough to wreak havoc to the enemy lines, draw the majority of the enemy’s firepower on them, and generally attempt to kill as many enemy units as possible before dying.

 I have included 4 hive guards in 2 separate units.  Their role is to focus on the enemy transports and light vehicles first,  then move onto flyers and possibly heavy infantry ,susceptible to Instant Death.

 3 Tervigons are more than enough to survive the game. In fact,  if you lose all 3 of them in a game, it probably means that you should reconsider your tactics and army list altogether.

Also, 3 Tervigons will provide a mass of extra troops, so make sure to have a stock of about 75 termagants ( from my experience, I ‘ve found out that there should be about 25 spare gants in your army case for each Tervigon on the table )

 Biovores are there to deal with those pesky players who gather their troops behind Aegis defence lines
 Although each separate unit in the list is quite decent on its own , the true power of this list is that it can spam troop units that can flood the gaming board, claim objectives, and finally, attempt to deal as much damage as possible to the enemy units.  The 3 tervigons alongside the termagants and the elite shooting arsenal make a good core for your force that can prove itself very resilient. Do not play aggressively with this list. Instead, try to use the Mission rules to your advantage. This list excels in missions where several  objectives are included, and can easily give you more victory points by claiming the First Blood and Linebreaker. 

 In addition to the aforementioned advantages of this list, we should include the amount of troop units that can be spawned from such a list. When played correctly, this list should make it throughout the game, with a rather small amount of casualties. Make sure to spawn often, but not too often. Units spawned from Tervigons are really worth it when they will deploy near the enemy, then shoot and assault in the same turn. Avoid spawning from the 1st turn. It's a needless risk. 

 Instead, in your first couple turns of the game you should focus on killing the most dangerous enemy units, isolated small units and possibly those annoying Quad guns and Icarus lascannons. If possible , try to take down those emplaced weapons in the 1st turn , so that the enemy will have little chance to hurt the Flyrants.

 Then, make sure to move in close to the enemy with the whole army, if you see that your enemy outshoots you too much.
 In most cases, however, a more defensive approach should be better, until of course your Flyrants start diving into combat. In other words, supposing that the Tyrants will start assaulting units at the 3rd turn and after, you should calculate your movement phases so that your tervigons will be in a possition to provide termagants that will support the Flyrants, backing them up with numbers so that they wont be all by their own.

Finally , lets not forget about the presence of Psykers in this army list. 8 Psykers are included, giving you access to an incredible amount of bonuses that are much needed by your units. In most cases, you should choose to take psychic powers from the main rulebook, especially for the Flyrants.  For Tervigons , it is not necessary to risk, simply because Catalyst is still an awesome power. For Zoanthropes, the choice depends on your enemy list.

And so, after about 12 Word pages and 5.000 words on Tyranids, their codex, their pros and cons etc, I think that there is not much left to say about Tyranids. I hope that you found this guide informative, understandable and enjoyable to read, and perhaps you found some ideas for your own lists.
 All things considered, Tyranids are not a bad army on its own.  Surprisingly, they perform much better than many other codices, which is impressive, taking into consideration the fact that we lack so many things compared to other armies. Tyranids are a mid- tier army, that can still be used in tournament play, albeit with  lots of luck and good match- ups 
 I would love to read your opinion about our codex, your ideas and tactics. Any comment and criticism about this guide is both desired and appreciated. 

  Thank you,
Stefanos Kapetanakis, out.


  1. Not a single breath on Warriors? That's kinda disappointing. In the previous codex, you could dial-a-gaunt to whatever you needed, which was toned back come the release of the current pile we have to work with today. However, Warriors managed to keep that swiss army knife kit and run like Gump with it.

    Sure, Tervigon spam is scary to roll across the table, but Warriors stand tall with the complete weapons table at their disposal. Anything from fire support to annoyingly effective BS/LW + rngd wpn beasts, these puppies have whatever niche you need filled covered. Hell, they can even sprout wings and offer flanking support as Shrikes...

    As for the gants w/ devourerers, they were a blast in the last codex to field. Did they get tabled more often than not? Oh my, yes. Was it worth every penny to see them roll up on a squad of terminators and have a wall of meat fly at them and chortle at the ensuing 1's on armor saves? Indeed! Would I use them in place of another troops choice competitively? Oh hell no. lol The sheer silliness factor is the only reason I have a brood of them in a case somewhere. If I was going to spend the energy on making a Spore though (and I have :P), it wouldn't be for them. It'd be for a full squad of Zoanthropes whose sole purpose in life would be to end the group of Manticores sitting at the back of the table causing problems >.>

    Oh, and my current list:

    Fly tyrant w/ dual ST
    Tyranid Prime w/ Deathspitter

    x2 Termagant broods @ 10 heads a piece
    x2 Tervigons w/ Clusterspines
    x9 Warriors w/ Deathspitters and ST's

    x2 Gargoyle broods @ 20 heads a piece
    x6 Shrikes w/ LW/BS/ST's and Toxin sacs

    x3 Zoanthropes w/ spore
    x3 Hive Guard

    Folks really underestimate the Shrikes, especially when the tyrant is flying right along with them. Neither of which is a good idea to let anywhere near your front lines... I've been dabbling with the idea of dropping a few models here or there to add toxin sacs to the gargoyles, too. Overall, it plays well against old and new armies pretty well. Orcs can be a bit of an issue but, in the end, the Tervigons make that war of attrition easier to manage.

    Unfortunately, if the leaked GW product list is any indication, we won't be seeing our new codex this year :(

    1. The problem with Warriors is that they die far too easily to Instant Death. I have used them too myself, but I have decided that they have many drawbacks that make them inefficient, eventually. T4 and 3Wounds are a blessing in disguise, and every opponent worth his salt will make sure to halt their advance early, at times before warrrios even get to shoot (let alone assaulting). And the problem becomes worse if you consider the fact that every army has access to many high str weapons that can destroy your precious warriors in a single turn. Manticores, Vindicators, GK Psyflemans, Vendettas, Necron Doom Scythe etc etc... all of these units, as well as the random meltagun hit from a sneaky marine, will devastate your unit with horrifying efficiency...
      Their second major flaw is of course their mobility.Since they cant use spores with Tyranid Primes, their main combo has become banned, and thus Warriors have fallen into great misuse. I haven't tried using them alone in Spores, but I am expecting them to die in the same turn they disembark...
      Dont get me wrong, I find it great that you have success with a list that contains Warriors and Shrikes, and I wish you the best results with your games. However, personally, I would not recommend them for competitive play, for the reasons mentioned above.

    2. Of course they get blown apart by S8/mid ap wpns. But at the same time, the number of shots leveled at a threatening brood of warriors is less fire being directed at your monstrous creatures that turn. It's been the same strategy since the Shoot the Big Ones rule hit the table back in 4th Ed Core rules: Give your opponent more high-threat targets than can effectively deal with in a turn and force them to make choices as to what reaches his line. Also, there's nothing really slow about them. Old Thousand Sons w/o a sorcerer were slow, Warriors are just as fast as the rest of the army and with proper screening and/or buffs from the abundance of casters we have on table their survivability is much higher than it used to be. My sole issue I can honestly agree with is the lack of Prime support in a Spore drop but, in most cases a shooty squad of warriors benefits much more readily than a melee one considering they're already WS5 to start with, and a bump to 6 doesn't move the to-hit chart down to a 2+ in 95% of units engaged while BS3 bumped to BS4 is a huge percentage jump. Line that up with a shooty tyrant with a Preffered Enemy buff, and things just get better and better.