An Introduction and Words on Winning with Tyranids Part 1


Howdy Faeit212 readers! My name is Reece, or Reecius as I go by on the interwebs here to introduce myself and to talk competitive bugs.

I am one of the owners of a game store in Northern California called Frontline Gaming (come by and say hi if you are in our area!) where we sell discount hobby goodies, have a commission paint studio, twice weekly 30 minute or less podcast (which you can stream on our site every Tuesday and Saturday), and regular video battle reports, and do all sorts of fun stuff. I am an avid 40K player, painter, fluff reader and event organizer (we run the Bay Area Open, Comikaze, and Duelcon as well as the upcoming Las Vegas Open). I love all aspects of the game, but I especially love competitive play, tactics, and list building. I will be writing articles for Faeit212 regularly about those aspects of 40 specifically!

One of the cool things about being a game store owner and having a paint studio is that you have access to LOTS of different armies. Plus, as very active tournament players, our team (Team Zero Comp) loves to get together on a regular basis and try out new lists, tactics and match-ups to always stay on the cutting edge of the competitive 40K scene. My latest army of choice is Nids!

Eldar ready for war.

The Mighty, Mighty Footdar!

Why Nids? Well, I developed a love for playing what conventional 40K wisdom said was “bad.” I took all foot Eldar (The mighty, Mighty Footdar!) to the finals at Adepticon last year just to prove a point as the internet collectively told me they were terrible and I was an idiot for thinking that a list like that could do anything but lose terribly.

Nids similarly get a bad rap at this point in time. Most folks think they are under-powered this edition, but I find it very rewarding to identify the good elements in a “bad” dex and bring them together in a winning combination. Now, just to diffuse any thoughts that I may be implying that I am uniquely capable of doing this because I think I am the universe’s greatest 40K player, that isn’t the case.

Anyone can find a way to win with any codex if they approach it with an open mind and a willingness to learn from their mistakes, be patient and experiment. This article will hopefully encourage others to not slavishly adhere to conventional net-think when it comes to 40K, and find the confidence to follow their own ideas!

So enough of the pump up speech, let’s get down to business.


Nids as a whole have some incredibly good (Hive Guard), and some incredibly bad elements (Pyrovores). The depth in this book is actually much greater than in most codices we have available to us now, it is just not always easy to see because of some of the poorer choices. Identifying the best units for your list strategy is a key to success.

They also have something I absolutely LOVE in an army book, which are synergistic elements. I get a great deal satisfaction from playing lists where units combo off of one another to create entirely new ways to play the army. Nids do this in spades. With units like Tervigons, Hive Tyrants, Hive Guard, Ymgarls, the Doom, etc. you can adapt your army to changing conditions by playing your units in different ways and off of one another.

So, let’s lay some guidelines. I am writing this based on the assumption that you all reading this play book missions or close to it, and that you play against a wide variety of opponents and army types, as you would in a tournament. That in mind, any time I write a list suited for competitive play, I ask myself the following questions:

  1. How do I deal with hordes of infantry?
  2. How do I deal with heavy infantry/Monstrous Creatures?
  3. How do I deal with mech spam?
  4. How do I deal with AV14?
  5. How do I deal with death stars?
  6. How do I deal with fliers?
  7. How do I reliably take and hold at least one more objective than my opponent?

If your list can do all of the above, you are ready for tournament play.

My Bjorn Wolves: The Taima Legion!

My Bjorn Wolves: The Taima Legion!

Now there are two ways that I see to answer the above riddle. You can build an extreme list that dominates one aspect of the game. A good example of this is a SAFH (Shooty Army From Hell) such as my Bjorn, Space Wolf army was (min/maxed for maximum firepower with Bjorn to increase odds of going first for the alpha strike).

This type of army reliably dominates most other lists you will encounter to such a degree that you can ignore some of the questions in the above list. I have found that these armies win through brute force and are very reliable. However, they often have an Achilles heel in the form of a certain type of list they are poorly equipped to deal with. These match-ups can result in situations where you are almost certain to lose or be at a huge disadvantage. For me, this was Battle Wagon Orks, as the massed AV14 plus cover saves meant my huge amount of missiles were largely wasted. The Deff Rollas could destroy masses of my light vehicles in a single movement phase, and the assaulting Orks coming out of them were easily enough to deal with my Min/Maxed foot troops.

What I found was that in a large tournament with numerous rounds of play, the odds of pulling my hard counters (and Battle Wagon Orks weren’t the only one, just the best example) increased to the point that it become a very real liability. My odds of winning an event went down despite the fact that my odds of winning each individual game were very high.

WIP Bugs

WIP Bugs

Nids on the other hand, are extremely flexible when built right. You have speed, fantastic scoring ability, assault power (which is great for taking objectives away from your opponent), immunity to psychology (usually), a wide variety of flexible flexible psychic powers, board control, the ability to threaten your opponent from multiple axis of attack, and an answer for each of the questions I posted above.

In short, a well built Nid list can fight almost any army in the game with good odds of success. The only truly bad match-up I have found with nearly no exceptions for Nids is mech Dark Eldar. Those Venoms are murder. Combo that with an Eldar Farseer using Doom and it is a bad day in the neighborhood for the Bugs.

This article is running a bit long due to my introduction (which will be absent from subsequent articles) so we will close this article temporarily. In my next article we will dig into an actual list and talk in-depth about why each unit is in it, what they add to it, and how they can combo with the other units in the list to create a flexible and powerful army that is also a great deal of fun to play.


About Reecius

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

11 Responses to “An Introduction and Words on Winning with Tyranids Part 1”

  1. BBF February 28, 2013 7:49 am #

    I love bugz and enjoyed playing them in the last edition when they were truly a challenge. I went 5-1-1 at WGC with my Hive which I am very proud.

    • Reecius February 28, 2013 9:29 am #

      That is excellent! Bugs are very rewarding to play, I am very much enjoying mine.

  2. Roxor08 February 28, 2013 9:56 am #

    Super excited to read the following articles! I <3 Nids and ALWAYS love to read others thoughts and ideas.

    Unfortunately, as of now, Tyranid (competitive) lists typically lack variety – You can always expect to see the same backbone. While Tyranids are a flexible army the builds are not.

    I'm interested to read what your thoughts are moving forward!

    • Reecius February 28, 2013 10:31 am #

      Glad you liked it! And I actually have seen a lot of variety in Nid builds, surprisingly so. Hopefully I can show that to everyone else, too. Some elements are common, to be sure, though.

  3. Altahyr February 28, 2013 2:29 pm #

    I follow this blog from the old continent and I’m glad of seeing the opinions of other players about tyranids, especially if they are good gamers.

    For my part I am also a competitive player, I play Tyranids for many years and I think this army still has good potential. And of course it is always a pleasure to play my bugs !

    I concede that many lists have a similar frame and it is often a few units and the way to play which vary, but what is clear to me and make the difference is the adaptability of the army.

    Recently another good bugsplayer suggested me to try the harpies by 2 or 3 in conjunction with winged princes. I think the concept is interesting and I will soon begin my tests. On your side what are your current competitive builds ?

    You spoke about Eldar as nemesis and I totally agree with that. But what do you think about the new Dark Angel (full Ravenwing) ? I had a game vs that two weeks ago and I was really surprised by the aggressiveness of this army. I lost miserably with the feeling of having missed something. I am still pondering about how to counter this type of ultra aggressive lists, but I have hard time.


    • Reecius February 28, 2013 9:47 pm #

      Harpies, huh? I have not seen them used well at all, so far. They die so easily to AA fire.

      There are a lot of good Nid builds right now, actually, and I will dig into the details in the next article. There are actually more than a lot of folks think, the bugs have a surprising amount of depth to them.

      What lists are you seeing in your area?

      • bugsculptor March 1, 2013 2:54 pm #

        I suspect maxing on harpies and flyrants would give enough flying MC target saturation against aegis lines that it might start to work, depending on the matchup.

        Providing people aren’t running forgeworld toys, then running into one or two flyers and a single quad gun isn’t really going to hurt too bad. A quad gun will more than likely put four wounds on a harpy, but it can still jink to get a 5+ save.

        In fighting back against 5 MCs the enemy flyers and anti-air would have to prioritise the flyrants that could actually skyfire back at them, which might leave the harpies alive and free to be vector striking jerks late game.

        There are some pretty nasty problems with harpies though, like failed grounding tests insta-deathing them…. sigh. It’s probably more of a fun gimmick list than a reliable tournament strategy.

  4. Adam February 28, 2013 4:10 pm #

    Step 1: Deploy Tyranids
    Step 2: Put Tyrands back in bag
    Step 3: Deploy real army

    The confusion will totally throw them off their game! 🙂

    Seriously though, i’m glad you wrote this, nids need love too!

    • Reecius February 28, 2013 9:48 pm #

      Haha, yes, that would throw some folks! They are actually quite good though, and have more going on than at first is evident.

  5. mike March 3, 2013 1:36 pm #

    @altahyr is this bug player of which you speak james ramsey who is an excellent nid player, by any chance?
    i heard him extolling the virtues recently too.

    reecius harpies do die easily to aa fire but they are still flying mcs and who would shoot harpies if 2 flyrants on the table.
    harpies can lay down some serious template pain too, when combined with vector strike and preferred enemy if a flyrant is nearby they can annihilate infantry units of any type.
    worth a try methinks.

  6. Altahyr March 4, 2013 4:54 am #

    Yes I said harpie ! Mike and bugsculptor have already anwsered: the goal is to put a lot of priority threats on the table for the harpies go into secondary threat. (flyrant + manant’ai + ymgarl tervigon).

    As forge world units are banned in tournaments (in my area: Switzerland and France), in general there arent enough AA firepower to slay all those flyers quickly.
    In V6 harpies are far more better than in V5: more difficult to kill, faster and deadlier. Bombing spore mine and 24PS movement, vector strike (3 harpies mean 3D3+3 hit, ouch !), the ability to override the protection of the Aegis defense line with any weapon, … There are many nasty combo.

Leave a Reply