Guest Editorial by 6th Street Alan: Tyranids Tactica

A Guest Editorial by 6th Street Alan, winner of WargamesCon, TSHFT, and the ETC Singles. -ed

With the emergence of 6th edition like many of us I decided on switching my army type once again. With each new edition I try to mix things up and play something against the meta and against the bandwagon approach.

I felt that Tyranids were an underrated codex when 6th was published and I wanted to show that they were a serious army even in the competitive arena. I think the fact that they cannot ally with anyone is a serious disadvantage but I think you can overcome it with a sound strategic approach. Looking over the codex with 6th edition in mind a few things sprang to notice.  Scoring units and objective missions became a huge part of the game and Tyranids could definitely capitalize on that.

I came up with three ideas for Tyranid competitive play.  The first list that I considered was a Tervigon spam list with 5 Tervigons, Hive Guard, and Trygons. This list was pure horde and through play testing I found out it didn’t pack enough of a punch for my liking.

Then I thought Swarmlord could be a good fit in 6th. He is a beast and does not go down easily. Building a list to take the center of the board with Swarmlord, Hive Guard, Tervigons, a Trygon, and Doom would work well but through play testing I found out it also doesn’t have that punch I was looking for, either. Nor did it have a good chance against a flyer spam list.

Finally I came up with the list I ran at TSHFT:

2 Flyrants (TL Devours) (Hive Commander)

Doom (Pod)

2 Zones (Pod)


Tervigon (3 Powers, Sacs, and Glands)

Tervigon (3 Powers, Sacs, and Glands)



18 Gargoyles (Sacs)



With this new list I have a lot of the big things covered and I pack a serious punch. The list has tons of Shadows to slow down Psykers, the anti-Air with the Flyrants work better than expected, and the troops are reliable.

For psychic powers I roll on Biomancy for the tyrants and Tervigons looking for Iron Arm, Enfeeble, or Endurance mainly. The Zonetropes roll on telepathy looking for a number of different powers depending on the opponent. Shriek is the usual power they go with but Puppet Master and Fear both work well depending on the opponent.

The list is a turn 2 punch since my reserves come out on 2+. I usually only deploy the Mawlocs, Tyrants, Tervigons, and Gargoyles. I leave the Gants in reserve. I try to keep the army away from any serious threats even if I go first since there is no need to risk danger on the seize.

My Turn 1 I go after something weak with both Flyrants in order to seal first blood.  I also try to keep in mind positioning since I know where my Ygmarls are coming in. I try to get the gargoyles as close to that position as possible so they can charge with the Ygmarls absorbing overwatch. Mawlocs burrow turn 1 so that they auto come in turn 2: no need to risk the 2+ if I don’t have to.

Turn 2 I bring in the reserves. Doom’s placement is key since he needs to be 6” from the enemy but also needs to be hidden from strength 8 shooting if possible. Ymgarls pop out and move into position to assault whatever I deem a threat. Zones come in usually at the center of the board or in my opponent’s deployment zone. If I can contest objectives with the sPods I do in order to ensure my opponent has to deal with them at some point. Mawlocs usually stick to the outskirts and try to take out some units with their initial strength 6 ap 2 blast but I rarely ever put them in the middle of my opponent’s army since they will die easily. Tyrands get into the meat of the battle but stay flying and shooting. 1 Tervigon moves up the board spawning and the other sits back and bubbles in the two units of Guants coming in from reserve.

At this point in time if my plan worked out well I have Ygmarls and Gargoyles in combat, doom in the middle of my opponent’s lines, 2 Mawlocs ready to charge something turn 3, and if the Flyrants are still alive it means some serious threats are bombarding my opponent all at the same time. This overwhelming punch has broken most armies so far and many players are caught off guard as well. It’s also a lot of fun to see a plan spring to action and that’s what this army list offers the person playing it.

Now don’t get me wrong, the lists had some serious counters. One of witch is Coteaz in a unit with plasma weapons or lots of firepower. Grey Knight strike squads casting Quake Rift is bad news bears, as well. Eldar psychic defense also posses some serious issues to the list since it relies on psychic powers to keep the big guys alive. However, when going to a tournament we all run the risk of playing against a list that has our number and that’s something even more apparent in 6th edition with the entrance of allies into the game. I really enjoy this Tyranid list and I don’t think TSHFT will be the last event I win with Tyranids.

What doy ou all think of Alan’s list and tactics? – e


About Reecius

The fearless leader of the intrepid group of gamers gone retailers at Frontline Gaming!

41 Responses to “Guest Editorial by 6th Street Alan: Tyranids Tactica”

  1. Darthdiggler January 28, 2013 3:46 am #

    Why Mawlocs and not Trygons? The synergy of Mawlocs and Ymgarls. Ymgarls deploy in terrain and the standard counter is to pack a terrain piece tight with bodies to prevent the Ymgarls from being deployed in that terrain piece. Packing bodies together tightly is what the Mawloc was born to attack.

    Also a common tactic when facing two Flyrants is to deploy close together for mutual support. Ymgarls, Doom, and Mawlocs all love it when the enemy is deployed close together and their ability to inflict damage is magnified. Synergy between the Flyrants and these three units is what makes it work.

    • bugsculptor January 28, 2013 11:09 am #

      Personally, I’m a huge fan of Trygons. Now they can deep strike safely into area terrain and pick up cover saves, killing multiple trygons that arrive together is very hard. If someone decides they need to take out the doom arriving at the same time, the Trygons often get to do a lot of damage.

      There’s not many things in the game that an angry Trygon can’t tear up and they’re very reliable at getting charges with fleet.

      Tyranids got a huge boost in 6th edition – I’ve played a load of pick up games and a small store tourney so far, but have yet to lose a game of 6th edition with my bugs! I’m planning to bring them to the BAO to see how far my luck will hold there.

      • Reecius January 28, 2013 11:38 am #

        How many Trygons are you running? My issue is that with 1, he gets smoked so fast I am considering dropping him for a Dakkafex or more Biovores. I think with 2-3 they will have so much more impact due to threat overload.

        • asparagino January 28, 2013 1:56 pm #

          Yeah, it’s got to be at least two or go home, and you need a reserves bonus. Ideally I try and outflank a tervigon, drop the doom w/ psychic shriek and pop two tervigons on the same turn. You can catalyst either the tervigon or any trygon that pops in range and all units can shoot the turn they arrive – trygons try and get in area terrain and pick up rear armour or land speeders, the doom trys to hurt multiple units, force heavy weapons to move before shooting, drop shadows on enemy psykers and take out some elite infantry. The trygon tries to get where it can threaten an objective and spawn to lock up an enemy up to 18″ away in combat on turn 3. At least one flyrant will be in threat range too.

          Most opponents will focus on the doom, which has generally got it’s points back already and one Trygon. On a good day, they’ll kill nothing… average results is the doom dead and one trygon down to 2-3 wounds, which leaves it capable of doing quite a bit of damage still. The good thing is that the tervigon and flyrant fall off the end of the target priority list and are free to wreak havoc on turn 3.

          Maybe I just need better opponents 😉

      • 6thStreetAlan January 28, 2013 12:14 pm #

        Trygons in pairs are awesome! It is supper tough for any army to deal with two on the same turn and they can seriously do work in assault. For me I just felt they are too expensive what they do is awesome but I can get the same effect from other units and ground and pound isn’t always the best approach.

        My Marloc’s do damage and distract the opponent to the degree that I need for other things in the list to do work. I think used correctly they add so much value and even though the Marloc will never be the bringer of rain they are more of a patient tool used against your opponent.

    • 6thStreetAlan January 28, 2013 12:07 pm #

      I could not agree more! This is pretty much my thought pattern.

  2. jy2 January 28, 2013 8:29 am #

    I am finding bugs to be really good in 6th as well. Honestly, I don’t think that we need allies at all. The way tyranids play against flyers is via psychic powers and board control. They still have bad matchups, but many of those matchups that would kill us back in 5th isn’t really so scary anymore now in 6th.

    Are you considering you bugs for the BAO or are you set on your sisters? For me, I’m still undecided between my bugs and my necrons.

    • Reecius January 28, 2013 11:31 am #

      I agree, I am loving playing my bugs this edition. Easily my favorite army to play right now.

    • 6thStreetAlan January 28, 2013 12:15 pm #

      No, I do not think I would consider bugs for BAO.

      1) Entrance of 40k approved items screws nids big time in my opinion. “Sabre Defence Platforms”

      • 6thStreetAlan January 28, 2013 12:19 pm #

        *I wish I could edit posts

        Anyways continuing with my post above since hit submit on accident.

        2) Cutting my Tyranid Strategy to 1750 won’t work. The only Tyranid lists at that level that works in my eyes is a middle of the board Swarmlord list. I just can’t get all the threats I need to overwhelm my opponent so my list and approach would fail.

        I am probably playing Space Wolfs / IG…. I really really want to win the BAO probably more than any other event since ETC.

        • BBF January 28, 2013 1:23 pm #

          NICE ! I think you are one of the front runners.

      • Black Blow Fly January 28, 2013 6:14 pm #

        FYI – Sabre platforms lost both Interceptor and Sky Fire in the new Aeronautica book… A lot of people are playing it wrong.

        • Reecius January 28, 2013 8:45 pm #

          They didn’t! I was confused on this, too. Check that actual weapon description. It is in there.

  3. bugsculptor January 28, 2013 11:15 am #

    How many Ymgarls are you taking? I don’t think they’re that great a unit in 6th, as even if you get them into one combat they’re probably going to take a couple of casualties and struggle to kill a second enemy unit. Your strategy for absorbing overwatch fire with the gargs probably helps with this though…

    Ymgarls can be really dependent on the terrain layout as well, sometimes there’s just nowhere useful to have them pop out.

    For the cost of 8-9 ymgarls you can pick up another Trygon, which loses no combat effectiveness until it takes it’s last wound.

    • Reecius January 28, 2013 11:36 am #

      I agree with you. I used to ALWAYS take Ymgarls, but now I have dropped them for the Doom in a sPod. I find him to be more reliable. However in Alan’s list, I can see them working because of the threat overload he uses. In my lsits they sort of do their own thing and unsupported, they don’t do as well.

      • 6thStreetAlan January 28, 2013 12:28 pm #

        Yea unsupported they can have issues.

        I have found that with the emergence of 6th edition we see more terrain on the boards and armies are becoming less meched.

        I truly am confused why Ygmarls are even a thought since in my list they are a no brainier and I have only had one game where they didn’t preform so far. That was against Jeremy the DA player at the finals of TShft who was able to hit in run with all 3 units I charged. Dude had some crazy luck!

        They come out and charge something and I can have a tyrant or the gargs absorb the over watch. Against Franky they killed his fire dragons and two units of Dark Eldar Warriors. And one of them survived the whole game!

        To be honest try them out they have not let me down yet but I do base a lot of my movement and deployment on where they are and where I am going to pick the battle. I intentionally put objectives close to where I think there location will be as well. These guys have literally won me games!

        • asparagino January 28, 2013 2:10 pm #

          Yeah, I used to use them a lot in 5th, but I found a couple of things.

          1) they were a little expensive for the punch they have

          2) they force you to nail down your plan a little too soon… you can let yourself be duped by eldrad’s re-deployment or struggle to decide where they need to pop against reserve (daemon, pod etc) or really mobile armies

          3) because of cost you tend to run small units, which can struggle against large enemy units

          4) they can lose guys from striking last if they assault into cover

          5) a lot of tyranid strength comes from everything being T6 MCs… these guys dilute your target saturation

          6) my elites slots are still for hive guard…

          I guess in 6th they’ll kill vehicles more effectively, but I still think I’d be happier with a Trygon most of the time. Trygons can kill unit after unit and are just more resilient.

        • BBF January 28, 2013 2:17 pm #

          I like Raveners are lot better in 6th plus they are a lot more survivable. The super mobility is a big key. They are immune to Overwatch being multi wound and can survive a charge into cover while dishing out the pain. They are superior to genestealers now in every way.

  4. BBF January 28, 2013 1:18 pm #

    All of the Nid lists I see now are 70% the same in terms of overall composition. They have some semi broken stuff now due to how psychic powers work for them in 6th edition.

    • Reecius January 28, 2013 2:16 pm #

      I pretty much ALWAYS see 2 Tevigons and Doom, other than that, I see quite a bit of variety, actually. What are the main things you are seeing?

      • jy2 January 28, 2013 2:20 pm #

        Dual flyrants and dual tervigons, the Doom and gargoyles. Everything is in interchangeable.

        • Reecius January 28, 2013 3:53 pm #

          I am sticking with Swarmy, but yes, I have been seeing tons of Dual Flyrants in HQ.

      • Black Blow Fly January 28, 2013 6:07 pm #

        Here is the core for most lists I see now:

        2x Flyrant (twin-linked devourers)

        2-3x Tervigon
        2-3x termagant brood

        Doom /spore



    • jy2 January 28, 2013 2:19 pm #

      Great hive minds think alike! 😉

      • Black Blow Fly January 28, 2013 6:17 pm #

        Heh… Something in their collective spore methinks. :p

  5. jifel January 28, 2013 2:35 pm #

    Biovores are also starting to look popular! And yeah, Flyrants, Doom, and Tervigons/gants are everywhere. I personally don’t like Gargoyles or Hive Guard, although they are pretty popular. I think I’ll look at Gargs again though. I really like having two Ymgarl squads with the Doom. The minimum 5 man units are actually very versatile at a nice cheap points cost. Yes, throwing them unsupported at Terminators will hurt you, but they should be used to hit Devestators, or vehicles, or small squads. I also love comboing them into a bigger squad, that usually gets any job done.

  6. vybert January 29, 2013 11:26 am #

    Big fan of the biovore. I’m glad to see them getting more love this edition now that things tend not be mech’d up as much. I will add that the reason you see the same core in most ‘nid lists is because we only have a few tools in a big messy toolbox that are viable in a competitive environment; Dakkaflyrants, Tervigons, Hive Guard, Doom, Gaunts and Gargoyles. Even then, these aren’t overpowering, they are just good solid choices that complement the current meta well. I used to run Hormagaunts, stealers, Carnifexen, and Warriors/Shrikes through fourth and even 5th, but the dex, 6th, and meta just make them autolose now. ‘Nids truly need a revamp for more internal balance in the dex.

    • Reecius January 29, 2013 10:00 pm #

      Yeah, biovores are awesome. Swarmy is solid, too, I prefer him to the flyrany, myself. Nids do need an overhaul to regain internal balance, but they are competitive, in my mind.

  7. Vemlin January 29, 2013 12:01 pm #

    Awesome list! I’ll be trying this out tonight against either Imperial Guard or CSM. We’ll see how it goes.

    Which Ymargl power do you guys generally use on the charge? I used Str. last time and definitely should have used the attacks against a big pack of zombies.

    • Reecius January 29, 2013 9:57 pm #

      If I charge into cover: toughness. If I charge in the open, almost aowsys the extra attack to increase tends.

      • Vemlin January 30, 2013 10:47 am #

        The list ended up working really well; I destroyed my friend’s CSM/IG!

        I didn’t have any great spots for the Mawlocs as his zombies were so close to the table edge I didn’t want to risk the mishap. I ended up using the blast on plague marines twice and it didn’t do much (scatter wasn’t ideal either time), but they did soak up a ton of fire and the 2nd one was able to contest an objective.

        Fun list!

  8. fleetofclaw January 29, 2013 10:58 pm #

    Yup, Nids are bomb in 6e. Frankly I’m of the opinion that the core of 2 Flyrants, 2 Tervigons, Doom, and a few Zoans are money, it’s hard to screw up the rest as long as you know how to play the army, use its synergies, and don’t take the handful of terrible units lurking in the Codex.

    • Reecius January 30, 2013 10:39 am #

      I’m starting to think I may be one of the only folks who prefers Swarmy to the Flyrant! haha

  9. Konfa January 30, 2013 4:02 am #

    Alan, is this your 3rd win with Nids since 6th, or third win overall in 6th?

    Either way, congrats!

  10. vybert January 30, 2013 1:35 pm #

    Swarmlord is a solid choice Reece, he just isn’t as versatile as the dakkaflyrant in an all comers environment. …and he’s way expensive once you slap a few ablative red shirts to him. I love me some Swarmlord, though, for taking out enemy deathstars and controlling the center of the board.

    I’ve recently been playing with the Malanthrope to try and break up that core selection a bit(BAO is letting FW in so I’m checking him out). For 110pts hes like a mini Trygon. 4 Smashes on the charge, fleet, AND synapse all in one bloated package :).

    • Reecius January 30, 2013 1:44 pm #

      Yeah, I like Swarmy for said reasons, too. Plus he is a force multiplier with all of his buffing abilities.

      The Flyrant is more versatile but he is also a lot squishier and a lot less powerful in combat. A lot of it I think comes down to preference.

      I like Malanthropes, too. They also give preferred enemy after destroying a unit, which is really good for mid to late game.

      • Vemlin February 4, 2013 4:58 pm #

        If you can somehow roll IA and Gate for Swarmie he becomes well worth the points 🙂

        • Reecius February 5, 2013 10:39 am #

          Yeah, I was wondering about Gate too, I think it could really help to get him up field, but it is not reliable to count on it.

          • Vemlin February 5, 2013 11:31 am

            Well you roll on Bio until you get IA then spend the rest of your rolls on Telekenis and hope to get Gate.

          • Reecius February 5, 2013 12:33 pm

            For sure, it is great if you get it, but the odds are against you. I would say it probably isn’t a reliable tactic, but awesome when it does work out.

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