Guest Editorial by Fleet of Claw: Why I love Zoanthropes and You Should Too!


A guest editorial by Fleet of Claw.

Back in the winter of 2011, I returned from a 4 year 40k hiatus. Being a bug player since 3rd edition, I was utterly disgusted when I saw the 5th edition codex and the complete mockery it made of my beloved Tyranids! It wasn’t just the ways in which they were nerfed, but the way that the very heart and soul of the army was snuffed out that disappointed me. My big bugs were fragile and insanely overcosted, my swarms vaporized to fearless wounds, etc. Well thank the Hive Mind I didn’t have to wait long before 6th edition arrived on the scene and magically turned my steaming pile of a codex in to an incredibly competitive one. This, I believe, is in large part due to the new psychic powers that the core rulebook offers us (not that there aren’t other benefits to 6e… good riddance fearless wounds!).

What hasn’t changed from 5th to 6th edition is how crowded our elite slots are with viable competitors. Aside from a few obvious stinkers *cough* lichtors & pyrovores *cough* there are some great options. Today I’m here to tell you why you should heavily consider taking Zoanthropes in at least 1, if not 2 of those slots.

I know what you’re thinking, everyone has Deny the Witch, Eldrad must have cloned himself a billion times and is crawling all over the galaxy, not to mention those pesky Rune Priests. What you need to do before tossing the big brained fellas under the bus is realize that the Zoanthrope’s role has changed. Don’t get me wrong, any gun that can pen a Land Raider on a 3 and blow it up on a 4 is pretty wicked, but when you have to pass a psychic test (potentially on a 3d6 thanks to Runes of Warding), then hit, then pen, then roll damage, Deny the Witch, oops here’s a 4+ shutdown from a Rune Priest… yeah it gets ugly pretty fast. It’s so many freaking dice you have to throw, and the more you have to roll, the more opportunity for failure.

Well forget all that. Gone are the days of short range tank busting, our Zoanthropes have become the ultimate buffers and debuffers. In a brood of 3 Zoanthropes you have very high odds of snagging Endurance and Enfeeble (two incredibly clutch powers), or Telekine dome and Objuration Mechanicum. All of a sudden you have a very durable psychic juggernaut that can force multiply your army in devastating ways and is very tough to take down.

Without delving in to the virtues of all of the powers available to Zoeys, the most obvious are powers like Enfeeble. Think of Enfeeble as a way of effectively Iron Arming your entire army against the target unit. Nothing is more hilarious than watching Paladins get blood misted by gargoyles or gants with two casts of enfeeble.

And let’s face it, the only thing that has made the Swarmlord and his little brother, the Tyrant, even remotely cost effective in 6th edition are the rulebook powers. Right out of the box, these guys don’t require a whole lot of dedicated shooting to blow them off the table. But with powers like Iron Arm, Endurance, Telekine Dome, or Invisibility they become much tougher to take down. So what about that Eldrad or those Rune Priests that everyone is so convinced make Zoeys useless? Any time I see those guys on the table, I’m thanking my lucky stars I have Zoanthropes! Who better to chance a perils to get a critical Endurance or Telekine dome on Swarmy than a 60pt Zoey? In fact, it’s when I’m facing those psychic defenses that I more frustrated to be caught without any floating brains in my list! Without Endurance a Tyrant or Tervigon has to either risk perilsing themselves to death or catch missiles and lances with their face. Well, good sir, I say there is a better option! Brain bug time!

You also can’t forget the other ways in which Zoanthropes contribute. When your Tervigons start going down to heavy firepower, the Tyranid army is a house of cards that can start folding quickly. Zoanthropes, however, help strengthen your synaptic web, keeping your gribblies fearless and in the fight for those critical moments they need to stay on an objective or keep an enemy beatstick tarpitted. And not least of all, Zoanthropes widen the Shadows in the Warp bubble on the table. This is the ultimate “fight fire with fire” when it comes to the likes of Farseers, Rune Priests, and any other enemy psyker.

Also Zoanthropes are incredibly survivable given their point cost. On average it takes over 13, strength 8 shots from a BS 4 opponent to take out a brood of 3, making them a tough nut to crack! What’s more, you can still cast maledictions and blessings while in combat, so they can tarpit a unit and still dish out powers.

At the end of the day, Tyranid psychic power has become its own bizarro mini-game before the first shot is fired; roll 18 billion dice and see what you get. Sometimes you come up big and sometimes you come up short. With Zoanthropes you get that many more chances to get the critical powers you need to keep your big bugs alive and your food a tasty pile of quivering goo. Regardless, they provide a durable lynchpin to keep your swarms fearless and rolling forward so they can properly enjoy their meal.

Happy snacking.


About Reecius

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

9 Responses to “Guest Editorial by Fleet of Claw: Why I love Zoanthropes and You Should Too!”

  1. Mike Earley March 25, 2013 3:48 am

    Absolutely, I love the zoanthropes, and agree that their book powers are awful, replace them!

    One recent trick I stumbled over and hadn’t really thought about before is Enfeeble + Haemhorrage. I had double-enfeebled a unit of sanguinary guard and Dante, so they were down to t2. Having nothing else to do with my other zoanthrope, I cast haemhorrage on the same unit–and realized the awesomeness of it! Yeah, the whole unit was wiped in a series of die rolls. It was nasty stuff.

    • jy2
      jy2 March 25, 2013 8:00 am

      Yeah, it can be an also combo. One of my opponents cast Enfeeble and Haemorrhage on my chaos zombies. I was fortunate to pass my very first test, but this combo is a great way to thin a horde.

      • fleetofclaw March 25, 2013 9:15 am

        I stumbled on the double enfeeble (or 1 enfeeble on a T3 unit) + haemho situation too but it’s not reliable enough to plan around it. Even at T2, that’s a 1/3 chance of saving and stopping the power in its tracks. In most cases that’s 2 or 3 dead T2 dudes… pretty underwhelming. Thankfully being at T2 is awesome for all other stuff to beat up the target, but 3 casts so haemho can kill 2-3 models is pretty weak. I haven’t had a situation where haemho hit a T1 unit yet thought… hmmmm.

        But in a situation like yours, Mike, where you had a Zoey with nothing better to do, it has the chance of being awesome! You just can’t count on it.

  2. xzandrate March 25, 2013 4:40 am

    I have to agree, Zoanthropes and Biovores are the new hidden gems, and if you use them in concert, it’s terrible. Double Enfeebled Grey Knights die just as quickly to the raining terror of Str 4 templates.

    • fleetofclaw March 25, 2013 9:24 am

      I love Biovores now too! Having a long range turn 1 is great! Only annoying part is usually by Turn 3 I’m knee deep in my opponents deployment zone and the number of safe targets dwindles quickly, especially if I have Ymgarls running around back there. But at 45 points a pop Biovores are a bargain for that long range, early game threat.

      • Reecius
        Reecius March 25, 2013 6:29 pm

        Yes, and don’t forget to give them preferred enemy if you need to! It can really boost their damage output.

  3. Cameron March 25, 2013 5:17 am

    I really need to try these out

    • Reecius
      Reecius March 25, 2013 6:28 pm

      They rock! All of the types of power are really good with them, too. I prefer Telekinesis myself, but Biomancy and Telepathy are great, too.

  4. mike March 30, 2013 12:39 am

    I play double zoanthropes and I’m a huge fan.
    It is worth mentioning psychic scream as a unit clearing power from drop pods.. Great for targeting weaker troop units as back up for the doom. It also a power that terrifies more expensive units as 1 bad roll and your unit goes poof. No cover no armour is great. Another component I’m a big fan of is iron arm on zoans. Immune to instant death and high average toughness makes them very irritating. And if you get them to s7 they become really good at breaking tanks.
    Go zoey.. The swiss army knife of the codex. Offensive defensive or shooty as is your want.