Tyranids, Doin Work?

I think we may have finally found a list that works for the poor bugs.

Hey everyone, Reecius here from Frontline Gaming to talk about winning Tyranid combinations. For more great tactics, check out the Tactics Corner of Frontline Gaming!

However, before I jump into the meat of the article, I have to drop a shameless plug. Pre-Orders for our very popular Gaming Mats are up! We have a total of 13 designs now, and they have already started to sell like crazy so don’t wait to get yours. This second run of the product will ship at the end of April/beginning of May. Click here to order your Gaming Mat!

OK, so into the fray!

As most of you know, I (and many others) have been very down on the poor Nids. Their book just failed to hit the mark in a lot of ways. However, as with any codex, dedicated players can and will win with it if they have the diligence to find the right combos within the book.

I am a Tyranid player and InControl (of SC2 fame) on our team is also a dedicated Nid player. We’ve been running the bugs through the paces against every type of army and have found a few combos that when applied correctly, can win a lot of games. They also have the benefit of being one of the better armies in the game to crack the psychic deathstars due to Shadows. However, the Nids still have some crummy match-ups.

Here are the units we’ve been finding to work quite well.



But seriously, these guys are the Bee’s Knees. They provide mobile synapse, needed AA, shadows, speed and decent melee ability. Take 2, always with dual Devourers. Don’t forget to use their precision strikes. Also remember, these guys are squishy, you have to play smart with them.


Crones are excellent. Take 3. Tentaclids are SO good, and the strength 8 Vector Strike is a brutal tool. On their own, Crones are weak, but in a pack of 2-3, with 2 Flyrants you overwhelm your opponent’s ability to deal with all the beasties. The trick is knowing when to play aggressively with them and when to play cagey. They are a finesse unit as are Flyrants.


While they got nerfed in the nuts (ovaries?) far more than was necessary, they are still the best backfield synapse unit Nids have. Zoens die too easily, everything else is played aggresively. A Tervigon is a hard enough target to crack that when the rest of your list is aggressively applying pressure up-field, drops down the target priority list rapidly. Plus, you can always reserve if you need to. She’s guaranteed to produce at least one more troop while also being a scoring unit.


Hit like a wet noodle, dire in droves, but cheap. Dakkagants can be pretty decent but in this list you want points spent on pure kill power or scoring power. That’s it. So, take the obligatory 30 Gants to unlcok the Tervigon as a troop and call it good. Reserve them almost every game. They hang out and play patty cake and then win the game for you while the big bugs dive into the meat grinder and keep the enemy busy.


While a lot of armies ignore cover with some of their mainstay shooting units, not everyone does. Venomethropes REALLY help you to survive heavy shooting, particularly if you are going second. They give up First Blood like no one’s business, but, they are pretty much an auto-include for Nids.


Exocrines are very good. They give yo some mobile AP2, another TMC, and decent durability. We have found them to add a LOT to a Tyranid list and including 1-2 is a solid choice.


He’s so hard to kill that he often gets flat out ignored. A torrent Str6 AP4 flamer is a Xenos killer, and the T-Fex is also decent in assault, too. Plus, more importantly, he is one more T6 TMC moving up the field to apply pressure to the other guy.

What does that leave you with?




Gants x 30









A bit of a spam fest, but with a book like Nids you are almost forced to go this route if you want a list that will win more games than it loses.

Now, there is some flexibility in there. You can mix in Dakkafexes, which are excellent, a Harpy for pseudo Grenades (great when fighting hard hitting fast units like Imperial Knights, Daemons or Wraith Knights) or Biovores for some Barrage love. But, we have found the above list to be fast, durable, applies a lot of pressure, and all around good enough to actually be scary.

So it took a lot of blood, sweat and tears, but I think that is the jam for Nids at this point. With Formations or allowing them to ally with themselves the doors get thrown wide open and Nids become quite powerful, but in a single FOC list, that is the best we’ve put on the table so far.

What Nid lists have been working for you all?


About Reecius

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

42 Responses to “Tyranids, Doin Work?”

  1. N.I.B. March 26, 2014 12:59 am #

    Flyrant – Hive Commander


    Tervigon – Miasma Cannon, Shreddershard (outflanking)
    Gants x 30
    Gants x 30



    Comms Relay

  2. Austin March 26, 2014 2:13 am #

    I love playing against Nids, and I hope this inspires ppl to give them a try!
    One question though, am I seeing this right that the only things that score are the Tervigon and 1 unit of gants? I get that it can spawn more, and the likeliness of all the troops dying is probably slim with all the MCs to deal with but have you guys found this to be a weak point of the list?

    • Reecius March 26, 2014 10:41 am #

      It kind of is a weak point, but honestly, not really. You have 2, very durable troops and they will often not get shot as they are not threatening. You only need 1 objective to win a game, after all.

  3. Evan S March 26, 2014 3:16 am #

    I have been leaving on more troops, but from a painting perspective, I could be convinced to leave a tervigon and tax at home.

    2x Terv + tax

    Also looking at dropping one terv and tax for warriors and biovores to run the artillery node.

    • Reecius March 26, 2014 10:42 am #

      Living artillery is the business! I love that formation and that is how I will be building my Nids.

  4. BeeCee March 26, 2014 5:29 am #

    30 gaunts
    20 gaunts
    15 hormagaunts
    2x venomthrope

    I started hormagaunts in the list because they were painted. became kind of partial to a small group of them, can reserve them and use them to run like crazy to an objective. or just mindlessly throw them in somethings way to get a turn of tarpit.

    • Reecius March 26, 2014 3:41 pm #

      I have painted Hormagants too, and would like to use them but they just don’t hit hard at all.

      • BeeCee March 27, 2014 7:13 am #

        I agree with you sir! it was for a tourney and the army needed to be completely painted for said tourney. Comprimises had to be made!

        • Reecius March 27, 2014 3:14 pm #

          Haha, I know that story all too well!

  5. RyanL March 26, 2014 5:41 am #

    I’m putting together a retro tyranid swarm (1st – 3rd ed models) and it makes me cringe to see that my swarm contains zero of the suggested units! At the very least my opponents will be surprised to see multiple units of Warriors and Genestealers, plus hiding my brood of 3 Screamer Killers is a lot easier than the new Carnifex, since they’re half the size!

    Watching the Chaos/Knights bat-rep, unfortunately, other than the Cultists, it seems like my CSM army lacks all the “good” units too! Damn, I have a skill for collecting the bad stuff! 🙂

    Any suggestions of a forum etc. to get help with army building? I do ok with what I have locally, but think I’d get stomped anywhere else!

    • Smellofwetdog March 26, 2014 7:28 am #

      I was mildly surprised upon the Tyranid release there wasn’t a painfully obviously overpowered new model GW was trying to sell millions of that jumped out from that book. Now unfortunately I realize instead of making a couple models OP they just made all the other units terrible compared to the new ones. Ultimately they’re still getting their $400 bucks per release or whatever they calculate for, but instead of a sundae with cherry on top they gave us a shit sandwich no bread.

      I’m surprised because after all our complaining GW does want to stay in business and does know how to sell plastic, even with rules, it just worked to our detriment in the case of Tyranids.

      Of the MC kits that weren’t redone:

      HT: – Probably because they raped us with every object in the hotel room and this one woulda been the lamp… just too far really

      Tervigon/Tyrannofex: Still viable but not too many people ran Tyrannofexes so maybe we can sell some more of these to people who don’t know how magnets work. (I’m looking at you ICP).

      Mawloc/Trygon: Again still viable but now he randomly kills himself, oops! How stupid I mean cinematic…

      • Jonas March 26, 2014 7:53 am #

        Mawloc and Trygon do not kill themselves, since they are single models. Mawloc does not really suffer from being out of synapse at all, while Trygon will be unable to shoot from time to time (Trygon Prime suffers not from this at all).

        There is obviously no intent to force Nid players to get new kits if you look at the rules. They released both a new Warrior kit and a new Hive Guard kit, and neither are pushed at all rules wise, and one of them was actually nerfed from probably playable to probably not. Carnifexes were obviously pushed and got a new box, but a cheaper alternative than the last one, and a model a lot of older Nid players probably already had. If they were using rules to push new models, they did a petty bad job at it this time, and the evidence for them doing it is weak at best (yes, Crone and Crine are new models with nice rules).

        • Smellofwetdog March 26, 2014 8:33 am #

          I was referring to the fact that it mishaps, which isn’t new but now you kind of want it to so people will probably play it more aggressively and trigger those roll more often.

          I had a 2nd half to that post typed up where I talked about the new good kits too but didn’t want a wall of text.

          The warrior kit fits exactly into the template I was talking about since the troops you could choose other than warriors are preferable except for their reliance on synapse. People are moving away from the tide of gaunts since they’re unreliable at anything you want to do without synapse. Warriors fit this bill since they won’t eat each other or run away (they’ll just get insta death’d instead lol pick your poison I guess).

          On the topic of hive guard you don’t see them cropping up a lot in these net list builds but they’re still plenty desirable since they’re no LOS high str weapons. It’s just that for their points you could fit more TMCs which leads to the next couple entries…

          Carnifexes were almost untouched but like you said doubled up and made slightly cheaper… and now if you want to fit carnifexes in your list full of great heavy support choices you’ll need to run broods of multiples.

          Venomthropes weren’t really bought or used much before other than people liked the models so GW made the rules better to sell more.

          Make the old popular models bad and the new ones less bad and you’re still getting $ from people.

          • Jonas March 26, 2014 1:49 pm

            But the support for the claim that the new Tyranids book is an example of “make the old popular models bad and the new ones less bad” is fairly weak, to be honest. Some new models are bad, some old models got worse, some old popular models got better and some of the new models are good.

            That a new codex release and new model releases turns into model sales is to be expected of course, but if there is any maliciousness in the rules design to sell more models by making old models bad and new models good (or, less bad), then the Nid book is not very well executed in that regard. And we surely would not see new Warrior kits, new Hive Guard kits or even stronger Flyrants if that was the case.

            If they are writing rules to sell models, then the rules designers and model designers are clearly out of sync with each other.

          • Smellofwetdog March 26, 2014 4:39 pm

            In a meta that thanks to the rules now is MC heavy and a release that had 3 new MC kits I think there’s a case to be made the rules are driving sales.

            Crone/Harpy Only dedicated flyer nids have, vector striking, tentaclids/spore mines good (for nids)

            Exocrine/Haruspex only AP2 shooting along with carnifex bioplasma

            Carnifexes repackaged box still good MC

            Warriors: new box same rules, but they don’t run away or eat each other

            I actually agree the book wasn’t executed very well and if they really wanted to push the new plastic they could’ve done a much better job. The new book wasn’t well put together in any aspect though so I think they just rehashed a bunch of stuff last minute and this is what we wound up with.

    • Jonas March 26, 2014 8:05 am #

      Collecting and winning does not always align, which I guess one has to accept. To me it seems forums in general are pretty weak for discussions on hardcore lists, most of them seem to fill up with know-it-alls who don’t know it all, that annoying type of negative complainer gamers, and lost new players who are just trying to get advice but get none.

      I usually find the competitive podcasts and their social media presence to be the best to actually find discussions on good hard lists, and what makes them being good and hard (and of course one can look at successful tournament lists at sites like Torrent of Fire when looking for examples of how successful players approach list building). Frontline Gaming, Forge the Narrative, and the like seems to me to be good resources for intelligent army list discussion.

  6. jy2 March 26, 2014 6:40 am #

    I believe the Tyranid Air Force will be the base for a competitive single-FOC Tyranid list. Where it will differ will be in the support units. This would be my 1850 Bugs (and had I all the models, would have probably brought it to Adepticon):

    Dakka Flyrant – Hive Commander
    Dakka Flyrant


    30 Termagants
    10 Termagants

    Hive Crone
    Hive Crone
    Hive Crone

    2x Biovores

    Bastion w/Comms

    • Reecius March 26, 2014 4:01 pm #

      That will work quite well, too.

  7. z3n1st March 26, 2014 8:17 am #

    Looks like Nidzilla is coming back

    • Reecius March 26, 2014 4:01 pm #

      It’s the only way we’ve gotten them to work, honestly.

  8. iNcontroL March 26, 2014 8:56 am #

    The list mentioned is the one Reece/Frankie and I have been play testing almost since launch. I tried out mawlocs but found that the random element to them was tough to rely on BUT they are really really fun. Lots of cool strategy and when the dice DO go your way you feel like a mastermind.

    I want the Swarmlord to work but he simply doesn’t. Too expensive and with the slight nerf in cc + no book powers he doesn’t represent the 1 man wrecking crew he used to. He is the best force multiplier with 3 powers so maybe in 2l+ games 🙂

    I had Zoanthropes/10 more gants and minus the crone but I found the zoanthropes died to volume of fire really easily and while their Warp blast was nice vs high AV it almost never shot as they have BS 3 .. was simply too hard to get off (LD test, deny the witch, shoot).

    The list you see above is the one I am taking to adepticon. In practice it is 3-0 and with the zoanthropes/gants I did pretty well as well. What I like about the list is it allows you a LOT of strategy in how you use the fliers and maneuver the other MC’s. Tyranofexxes / Exocrines require a bit of finesse since they aren’t anything OP but when they get their job done they can do it really well. Torrent heavy flamer is no joke vs kroot, scouts, cultists etc.

    Will be documenting my adepticon trip in great detail!

    • BeeCee March 26, 2014 9:39 am #

      Remember that Zoanthropes are still BS 4, but all the reasons you said they end up not panning out still apply. At a tourney in March i think i shot at Land Raiders with Zoanthropes a total of 8 times with a grand total of 0 pens.

      Do you feel like you are really in a hole for troops when your Tervigon poops out early?

      Good luck at Adepticon!

      • iNcontroL March 26, 2014 10:45 am #

        In most missions I also score with crones OR 2 exocrines/tyrannofex etc. But yes when I poop out early my options are more limited 🙂

        • BeeCee March 26, 2014 11:35 am #

          that is true! Scouring/Big guns evens that playing field alot. good call out sir.

    • TheWarRoom March 26, 2014 2:19 pm #

      This is a similar list to what I’ve been running as well but I don’t own three crones (I’d probably get two harpies before a third crone) and tend to leave the non-formation exocrines at home.

      Good to see some actual feedback aside from the absolute garbage that is posted in the BoLS comments section.

  9. Infinite Freedom March 26, 2014 10:51 am #

    Damn. This was the list I was going to challenge you with.

  10. Novastar March 26, 2014 12:15 pm #

    Have you guys pitted this list against Fire Raptor gunships or sicaran tanks?

  11. bugsculptor March 26, 2014 2:27 pm #

    So has the TO jury decided that the Skyblight formation is out?

    I think variants of that would be quite a bit tougher than this list, which is basically what Cooper Waddell was playing at LVO.

    • Reecius March 26, 2014 3:02 pm #

      We need to make out minds up on Skyblight. We haven’t decided yet, no, sorry.

      • bugsculptor March 26, 2014 4:29 pm #

        Well make your minds up… 90 gargoyles aren’t going to paint themselves 😉

        This is an odd situation now… GW release rules and new minis, but Adam B and I have been joking that we need to wait for Team Comp to issue an edict before we can get excited about putting a new list together.

        I don’t want to buy models and put effort into building and painting a list for the golden throne that I can’t take to the BAO… etc.

        • Reecius March 26, 2014 4:32 pm #

          Yeah, the responsibility of making decisions that impact other people so much is pretty weighty, no doubt. We 100% understand that folks want to know what they can use in advance.

          We will decide quickly, we just need to play test it one more time.

  12. Brakhal March 26, 2014 5:43 pm #

    Well… Not really surprising… It’ s the same list we all had in mind since day 2…

    There’s nothing else in the codex to look for. All non shooty non scoring MC, and all non MC options have hard delivery, low movility, at low range threat with low damage output, and with an average survivality at best.

    The 5 FMCs look like the only way to build around, and wthe shooty MCs being the only way to support them when you had run out of FMC slots.

    It makes me sad.

    • Smellofwetdog March 27, 2014 7:46 am #

      I second this. Exciting to have a tried and true nid list that reliably does well. Sad that it’s probably going to be pretty mono build for us in 6th edition barring something crazy this summer with 6.5 or “7th” finger quotes.

  13. DexKivuli March 26, 2014 7:34 pm #

    I’d love to see more video reports with ‘nids 🙂

    I like the list very much. I think that in a way, the tervigon has actually benefitted from the nerfing. It’s become less threatening, which further complicates target priority.

    • Reecius March 27, 2014 3:15 pm #

      I understand your argument, but I would prefer to have the old one, back, lol!

  14. Fulcrum March 27, 2014 12:12 am #


    • Reecius March 27, 2014 3:16 pm #

      I don’t care for them, honestly. Exocrines are better, IMO. Mawlocs I think have a place, but I am not sold on them, personally.

  15. Km March 29, 2014 11:44 am #

    If you think there is such a problem with synapse why not use genestealers as troops and reserve them as they can outflank as well as come on from your normal board edge or infiltrate. If you do this you can concentrate your synapse on your MCs or offensive forces and go for late objective grabs as well

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