Tyranids Tactics: The Trapdoor Spider


Hey everyone.  Bigpig here to wax philosophicatactically about what I feel is the most effective Tyranid playstyle available to the current codex;  Something I like to call, “The Trapdoor Spider.”

I coined that term (trademark pending, Paypal me when you use it) on the Tyranid boards while discussing my experiences at last year’s Las Vegas Open, hashing out what worked and what didn’t.  I use the term “playstyle” instead of build because what I feel makes the Trapdoor Spider work is the way you  approach the game and use those handful of Tyranid units that are spectacular.  Certainly, this playstyle takes advantage of some of the usual suspects in the Tyranid codex,  but I have had success using this approach with a variety of codex bench warmers supporting those key units.  After all, when polishing a turd, it pays to start out with the best turds available.

Turd?   Is this going to be just another whine fest by a disgruntled Genestealer lover???  Ok, so I’m not STILL hanging my head low and kicking rocks about how the Tyranid codex was a disappointment and “isn’t competitive.”  To be sure, it doesn’t have the competitive breadth of something like Space Marines or Eldar, but it does have two or three units forming the core–courtesy of Forge World updates and some formations–which, in the hands of a patient general, can solidly win you games when used correctly.   I’ve been sticking with my bugs since the book dropped, trying to find just the right combination and I may have it in the Trapdoor Spider.

Why Trapdoor Spider?  Well, trapdoor spiders are ambush predators.  That means they wait for the prey to come to them, jump out of their hiding place, sucker punch them, and continue to beat the crap out of the prey before they realize what hit them.  Not very gentlemanly, but effective.  This is in contrast to hunting spiders which go out and look for their prey and are exposed in the process to other predators.  It’s all about lying in wait.  The typical 40k army, is the hunting spider.  Mobile, fast, and oftentimes able to redeploy anywhere on the board in a single turn, they go ferret out the prey and kill them.  The advent of Maelstrom objectives has made mobility even more telling.   Successful armies like Eldar, Marines, Necron Air, or pretty much any mech’d up force meet this description.   Lacking the ability to move anything more than 12″ a turn and still claim an objective, Tyranids cannot be the hunter.  They must  instead become the ambush predator and wait safely in their lair, making their prey come to them, until it is time to pounce and deliver the overwhelming counter-stroke.


To make this work, the Trapdoor Spider Tyranid relies on what is really the only synergistic rule in the entire codex, “Spore Cloud.”  This is, of course the ability on Venomthropes and Malanthropes to give shrouding to all Tyranid units within 6″.  In your typical ruin or rubble terrain, this means a 2+ cover save for any unit in range.  Even twisted copse (the fancy GW trademark name for whatever trees or crystal forest you choose to throw on the board) will grant a 3+, 2+ during night fight.  Yes, yes, we all know about ‘thropes.  Nothing new here.  The difference with the Trapdoor Spider, however, is patience.  The Spider plays differently than most armies because it doesn’t leave its lair until it has to.  I see typical Tyranids use ‘thropes to charge their models across the board as early as turn 1 or 2.   The Trapdoor Spider instead says, “Be patient and stay in cover till turn 3 or later.”

Much of the current meta is characterized by the unavoidable alpha strike.  Drop marines, Eldar or Tempestus deepstrikers, any flyer heavy army, 3×3 deepstriking Obliterators, Grey Knight formations, White Scar bikes, Rhino rush, and the soon to be new hotness of Web Way Portal Dark Eldar all want to hop on the board or close with you and deliver a knock-out blow.  With its 2+ cover coupled with high toughness models, multiwound models, or ablative fodder models, the Trapdoor Spider can weather that storm and punch back hard on the alpha strikers, killing the hunters, before venturing out in force to take objectives later in the game from backfield campers.  This can be extremely effective.  At the Brawl in the Fall, I only lost five units in the ENTIRE five game tournament (not counting sacrificial ripper swarms).   Remember, the key is not leaving your 2+ lair until you have dealt with the enemy’s hunter units.  ‘Nids that charge forward prematurely die.

But will they enemy come to you?  Yes, they will.  It is in their DNA and army design.   Many of these alpha strike lists must move forward, drop in, or deepstrike on a timetable dictated by the game’s reserve rules.  The Trapdoor Spider takes advantage of this by waiting the enemy out.   At Brawl in the Fall I faced Rawdogger’s Grey Knight list.  He had teleporting Dreadknights, reserved flyers,  and a Centurion Star with Draigogate and librarians.  Being a skilled player, Rawdogger KNEW what I was doing.  He tried to hide out turn 1 hoping I would come to him, but I stayed in cover and sniped with hard hitting long range fire.  On turn 2 as his reserves started coming in he had to make his move or lose any advantage so he teleported forward and fired into the 2+ cover killing nothing.  In return I unboxed his biggest threats, retaining cover against a turn 3 counterstrike from what was left and mopped up the rest of the game.

When to leave your lair?  I usually wait till turn 3 or 4 to rush forth and grab objectives for the primary mission.  By then, most of the enemy reserves will be on the board and you will have dealt with their heavy lifters, often having gained first blood and not having lost a unit at all by this point.  This is where another key component comes in , objective placement.  Any good player can tell you that the game can be won or lost before a single model is placed on the board depending on mission and where objectives go.  Place your objectives knowing you won’t make your move till late game.  Place them where you can get to them.  If something must go in your opponents DZ, put it in a far corner where your deepstrikers can get it (more on this later).  While I could spend an entire article talking about objective placement, the simple rule is;  Ask yourself WHY you are placing an objective in a specific location.  How does it fit into your plan and interact with what your opponent brings to the table?  If you don’t have an answer, then you need to think about it more.   Devise your plan before your models hit the table.

Maelstrom missions can be harder and you may well likely start behind.  Don’t panic and break cover too soon.  The modified charts under BAO format help with a healthy smattering of “kill an enemy unit” and “have 3 units in your deployment zone.”  Often times one of the objectives will be right in the middle of your camp anyways.  Focus on denying the enemy points in the first few turns.   You will score in the last few.  Be patient.  Plan.  Be the ambush predator.

The key units and how to use them

Malanthropes:  The lynchpin unit.  Much has been said about these across the community already.  Cheaper than two Venomthropes and far more survivable, all the while providing synapse;  What is not to love?    At only 85 points they will save you several hundred to a thousand points in casualties.  Take two if you like, though one typically will suffice.  If they survive until near the end of the enemy’s turn three shooting phase, they have done their job.  Deploy them centered in your cover and preferably out of LoS of the enemy’s backfield units.   I tend to place them directly on top of the objective I placed in my own DZ.  Don’t have access to Malanthropes or FW is not allowed?  Venoms can work as well.  They are easier to hide from LoS, but suffer from being ID’d to Str8 on an unlucky 1.  Consider taking 2 or deploy them in an Imperial Bunker or Bastion for increased safety and radius of effect.   Malanthropes are a game changer with their survivability but Venoms can be a less efficient back up.

Flyrants:  Arguably the best flyer in the game, Dakkaflyrants (double twin link brain leech worms) bring devastating firepower, mobility, downrange synapse, psyker powers, and survivability to the table.   They blast infantry, light vehicles, and knights.  They kill 2+ saves with volume of fire.  Many people complain that they die.  They aren’t using them right.  Keep them in the spore cloud until it is time to strike.  If they start in the rear of your cover blob they can Swoop 12″ forward and snipe into the enemy lines and still be in the spore cloud giving them a 2+ jink option in open ground.  This is especially important vs enemy flyers coming in from reserves.   Remember that they can also claim the “area terrain” cover save for ruins/rubble/forest for having a toe in, also giving them a 2+ without having to jink.   Facing BS4, a flyrant with 2+ cover will take 216 bolter shots, or 45 melta shots to kill outright.  That is pretty tough.  (I’m a cop, not a mathematician so prove me off by a few percent if you must, but the point is they don’t fall out of the sky unless you stick them out there to get beat down).  Take at least two.


Barbed Hierodule:  Oh what a difference Forge World makes.  The Hierodule is not key, but she brings so much to the Trapdoor Spider.  The Hierodule gives you what you are lacking otherwise;  Long range punch and late game speed.  The ability to put out 12 Str 10 shots between 2 targets a turn puts pressure on opponents who might otherwise be reluctant to step into your parlor.  Toughness 8 with a 2+ cover and 5+ FNP means they cannot sit back and snipe your Hierodule who sits in the spore cloud with a toe in cover saying, “Come at me bro, see what happens.”  Str 10 gives you an answer to AV 13/14, instagibs Thunderwolves and T5 units, and long range/high volume AP3 lets you wipe power armored campers off objectives across the board.  Turn 3, 4, or later when you make your move, the 12″ move and ability to double run if needed can put you anywhere on the board fast to Thunderblitz or take downrange objectives.  Hierodules can stomp invisible units and flip land raiders with ease.   They were worth the price tag.

Rippers:   The lowly Ripper is the quiet workhorse of the Trapdoor Spider .  By deepstriking they allow you to stay competitive on the secondary/maelstrom objectives.  Many of those objectives will center around holding a far objective marker (placed in a safe corner if you were crafty) or being in the enemy deployment zone.   Expect them to be dead by the end of the game, but in the meantime they will keep you competing for secondary.  If they survive to grab a primary objective, all the better.

Beyond these units, the Trapdoor Spider can employ a variety of units and options in the secondary role;

Biovores:  Long range sniping, devastaing vs xenos races with low toughness and 4+ saves.  These guys put more pressure on while safe out of LoS in the 2+ cover.   They force the enemy to come to your lair.

Ranged MC firepower:  Exocrines, Tyrannofex, and DakkaCarnifex are all valid options.  The provide mid range firepower to stand in the cloud and threaten the enemy or charge and smash deepstriking units in power armor, all on a survivable platform.   All work well depending on your preference.

Swarm:  Hordes of Termagaunts, Gargoyles, and Hormagaunts can give you a bubble wrap in the backfield and the ability to flood midfield late game.  This is especially valuable if you know you will face lots of Imperial Knight armies, but it is very susceptible to flamers and T-Fire cannons.  It also gives you less firepower.

Shrikes/Warriors/Raveners:  Not my first choice, but these can give you an effective counterstroke melee unit with the ability to move quickly late game to midfield.  They tend to be more susceptible to ranged artillery and, of course Str8 fire, than MCs though.  Shrikes with poison Boneswords scare the crap out of Wraithknights, but then again so do Carnifexen.

Living Artillery:  My favorite.  This gem gives you the benefits of many of the above options in a more accurate package.


Here is a typical Trapdoor Spider list at 1750pts;

Combined Arms

Tyrant; Wings, Double Brainleech worms, Electroshock Grubs, Warlord

Tyrant; Wings, Double Brainleech worms


2×3 Deepstriking Ripper Swarms

Carnifex; Double Brainleech Worms

Barbed Hierodule

Living Artillery Formation


3 Biovore

3 Warriors (1 Barbed Strangler)


The current meta with Superheavies, formations, wonky psyker powers, and allies really lends itself to Rock/Paper/Scissor matchups.  The Trapdoor Spider manages to avoid most auto-lose match-ups, but there are still some tough nuts out there.  So what gives the Trapdoor Spider problems?  Obviously anything that won’t come to play with you.  Fortunately, those lists aren’t as common in the current meta.  There are a couple other stumbling blocks to be aware of as well.  Here are some of the challenges and ways to deal with it;

Imperial Knights:  A single IK is easy.  Flyrants in the flanks and Hierodule in the face will kill one a turn with ease.  A formation of three can be much tougher and a Knight will waste your Hierodule in combat.  To counter triple knight, hope to go second and use a refused flank if possible.  Fall back and waste the closest knight as soon as possible.  Falling back will buy you an extra turn before the assault, hopefully buying enough time to cripple the second knight.  Try to get them to charge you in cover or put up bubble wrap to buy extra time.

The Scouring/Hammer and Anvil:  These two mission and deployment options really do not do the Trapdoor Spider any favors.  A high number of objectives scattered around and lots of real estate can make it tough to score.  This is the only time you may need to break cover sooner.  It really depends on your opponent.   The combination of these two, along with a boots heavy drop list pushed me to third at the recent Brawl.  I just didn’t have enough to take all the objectives at the end of game.  It can be a challenge.

Ignores Cover:  Fortunately, most ignore cover weapons tend to be low strength (with the exception of Serpent Shield).  These don’t challenge a MC list in cover as you still have a 3+ save.   If you play vs Serpents, deploy more defensively and try to snipe them out with Flyrants and Hierodule.  Against a Perfect Timing list, you will have more problems, but you can try to assassinate the unit with the psyker early on.

So that is the Trapdoor Spider in a nutshell.  Remember, the key is in patience and waiting for the moment to strike.  Most Tyranids, even the best ones out there, make their move too soon to truly be playing as the Spider even when using all the components.    The Trapdoor Spider is a defensive concept rather than offensive.   The army really plays to the current alpha strike meta.  What are your thoughts?  Have you faced it?  How would your army deal with it?



About Reecius

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

58 Responses to “Tyranids Tactics: The Trapdoor Spider”

  1. Avatar
    iNcontroL October 16, 2014 2:07 am #

    Nice article Vince! Love that we share a similar thought process on Nids 🙂 Malanthrope/rippers/Barbed is a combo I am hard pressed to get away from. I also really really enjoyed my time with living artillery (courtesy of Reece for encouraging that formation).

    I think had I adopted more of your thought process at Brawl I would have taken that top table for crap sakes.. I was overly aggressive haha

  2. Avatar
    Bigpig October 16, 2014 5:15 am #

    Thanks Goeff. In contrast I tend to move too slowly sometimes. If I’d been just a hair more aggressive (or my opponent had played a hair faster so we could have had another turn) I may have been able to do better and taken that round three game. Together we make the perfect bug 🙂

  3. Avatar
    Jural October 16, 2014 6:14 am #

    Great article. I love playing rush lists (and my favorite is the whole deep striking Mawloc + Trygon + Prime + Raveners formation) But the cold truth is they just don’t stand up to most lists. The new codex requires the most point efficient units, played cautiously and using cover as your ally.

    I love how you talked about alternatives to the Malanthrope, but what about alternatives to the Barbed Hierodule (Assuming Harridan is also not allowed)? I find there are lots of lists who can wait you out without it… and a few who can almost ignore you altogether with it!

    Hive Guard I find are great in these lists. With the right board, they can stay out of LoS so they don’t have to worry about the Spore Cloud, but stil pop transports and put wounds on Knights and stuff. I always hope Zoanthropes can work as well… I’m rarely happy with them.

    I love Living Artillery too, but with the Malanthrope I’ve been trying lists with an Exocrine and some combination of more Carnifex, Hive Crone/Harpy, or DImachearon to use the Warrior+Biovore points.

    Finally- Is there anything you can do on low terrain boards? Sometimes I just look at a board with no area terrain and limited LOS blocking and say- “I guess there is always next round?” 😉

    • Avatar
      bigpig October 16, 2014 8:48 am #

      Yeah, there are times where you do not have the terrain and those games just suck. In those cases you are playing a charge nid list and they don’t hold up as well (the reason I prefer to play the Trapdoor game). Even in those cases, a good refused flank set up can still give you some cover for some of your units thanks to the intervening unit 5+ cover save (bumped to 3+ by shrouding).

      At last LVO I was tearing up my opponents using venoms to make this work until my third game. It was Vanguard and the board was terrain light compared to many of the boards there. Opponent won roll for side and picked the deployment which gave me almost NO cover to work with. One of the tricks with Vanguard is the player winning the roll can seriously affect the terrain available by picking which way the diagonal runs (left to right or right to left). To make matters worse, he was running Taudar ughhh. I gave him a run for his money with what was available but couldn’t pull it out. He was kind of a douchey player with a douchey list, but on turn 3 he was surveying the board and said, “You’re good. Most nids I play just run towards me and get shot up.” Anyways, that list wasn’t optimized as I was still shaking out the new codex. Malanthropes and Hierodules really punch up concept.

    • Avatar
      bigpig October 16, 2014 8:51 am #

      and I do agree on the Hierodule. Without it the stand off lists (gunlines and artillery) can somewhat wait you out and they will tend to have maneuverable units like bikes to be capping points on the perimeter, putting the pressure on you instead. The Hierodule lets to you reach out and touch the opponent… hard. That is the reason I do not think the Scythed Hierodule will replace the Barbed; Despite it’s cool hellstorm template it just doesn’t fill the same roll.

  4. Avatar
    Novastar October 16, 2014 6:14 am #

    Get a room lol, but very good article and seeing both your armies in action makes me want to pic up a Tyranid army of my own. If you can’t beat the best then copy em lol

    • Avatar
      bigpig October 16, 2014 8:35 am #

      You know you love me 🙂

  5. Avatar
    DCannon4Life October 16, 2014 6:33 am #

    I will add this to my list of Tyranid builds that concern me. This brings me to two: Skyblight (with 8 FMCs) and Trapdoor. Half the ‘Nid players in my area are all Skyblight, all the time. The other half are stubbornly (and admirably, I suppose) trying to make the codex work without much tinkering (no formations, no Forge World).

    I play a reserves list (just Eldar), it would definitely be challenging to play against a Trapdoor strategy/build.

  6. Avatar
    Logan October 16, 2014 7:18 am #

    Great Article, This seems like a good tactic to add to a collection of tactics, but not so much as a main tactic. I see this tactic as a case by case basis.

    Your Tactic will really helps with my thought process to fight against deep striking armies. I been spending some time wondering what I would do against 100% pod armies since my buddy is doing an IF (SW Allies) all Drop Pod list.

    Right now I’m working on a list and I still need to playtest it, but it will be mostly rush foward as fast as possible with Malathropes, Crones, and Endless Swarm Formation. My intention is to weather the storm T1 and maybe T2, and assault with everything T2 and beyond.

    • Avatar
      bigpig October 16, 2014 8:52 am #

      The endless swarm really gives you bubble wrap against drop armies. I find it lacks punch unfortunately. If they were objective secured it would be awesome because you could wait them out.

  7. Avatar
    Logan October 16, 2014 7:27 am #

    1 other thing. Why the Barbed Strangler over the Venom Cannon? The formation makes the weapons on the warriors Pinning already. Do you prefer the S4 Large Blast over the S6 Small Blast, even though both are pinning? I think the VC will provide a better chance to get wound results since it will wound on 2s against T4 or less, and helps with Light-AV.

    • Avatar
      bigpig October 16, 2014 8:40 am #

      Straight points unfortunately. This list clocks in at exactly 1750 with the only wiggle room being the Electroshock grubs on one of the Tyrants. I think those give me more versatility than the VC.

      Also, I find that playing the hide and wait game you don’t really get that much opportunity to snipe at long range with the Warriors. They are usually shuffling around to keep the Formation within their own bubble and don’t always get a shot. When I do get the odd shot with the Strangler, you’re right, it usually doesn’t do much. If I had points, I would honestly probably put rending claws or even a bonesword (on one of the models) on the warriors before upgrading the gun. They wind up in backfield scraps with enemy offensive units more often than I’ve had opportunities to take shots.

      • Avatar
        Logan October 16, 2014 11:12 am #

        You make other good points. In case you overlooked it, the BS and the VC cost the same.

        • Avatar
          Bigpig October 16, 2014 3:59 pm #

          I did. My army builder has it wrong. All this time since the new book. Lol.

  8. Avatar
    Xsquidz October 16, 2014 9:36 am #

    I actually am currently using a version of this tactic in my local GW league and have downed a triple riptide list and a 3 wave serpent/dual wraith knight list. My whole army waits in cover and like you said, I hide the venomthropes out of LOS and give the MC’s a 2+ cover save and they have a 3+ vs ignores cover weapons. The wave serpent list on turn 1 could only kill a 10 man gant squad! Vs the riptide list I deployed out of the pathfinders range and he went first. Again he was able to kill a gaunt squad and then my 2 hive tyrants flew up and killed his pathfinders and for the rest of the game I had at least 3+ cover due to venomthropes and interveining models. He dropped in 3 6 man crisis suits and the best he could do was 3/4 wounds to one carnifex and then my counter charge killed virtually all 18. Then I just slowly dealt with the riptides. I use the knight similar to how you use the Barbed Hierodule. My next match is vs a Eldar list with a few DE (including a WWP for shenanigans).

    My 1500 point list:
    1500 Nids-Dakka and Knight

    HQ 1 Hive Tyrant-Wings and 2 Devourers 230
    1 Hive Tyrant-Wings and 2 Devourers 230

    H 1 Carnifex with DD 150
    1 Carnifex with DD 150

    T 10 Termagants 40
    10 Termagants 40
    3 Warriors 90
    Barbed Strangler + 2 Devourers 10
    3 Warriors 90
    Barbed Strangler + 2 Devourers 10

    E 1 Venomthrope 45
    1 Venomthrope 45

    Ally 1 1 Imperial Knight with Thermal Cannon 370

    Models 33 Total Points 1500

  9. jy2
    jy2 October 16, 2014 9:36 am #

    First of all, congrats to both bigpig and InControl at Brawl. Way to represent!

    Secondly, had I been able to make it to Fall with my bugs, it would’ve been:

    3. Vince “Bigpig”

    2. Geoff “InControl”

    1. Jim “Jy2”

    Ok, that was all. 😉

    • jy2
      jy2 October 16, 2014 9:37 am #

      BTW, great article!

    • Avatar
      bigpig October 16, 2014 9:52 am #

      Actually, I would have been first because you and Goeff would have played and tied. Just sayin….

  10. Avatar
    iNcontroL October 16, 2014 10:36 am #

    you both are silly… Hive Fleet Goliath leads this pack 🙂

  11. Avatar
    tag October 16, 2014 11:33 am #

    Interesting ideas. You’ve created what amounts to a Tyranid gunline. It is hard for me to wrap my mind around it because other codexes have gunlines that are superior, and immobile gunline is very, very popular in my meta.

    However, as I ruminated on it, I realized that I play in a very, very similar way if I’m using a heirodule. I usually pick a big piece of ruins that is near midfield, and advance my forces there. Situationally, I will send my flyrants ahead (the situations being that the opponent doesn’t have sufficient anti air to threaten them). However where my strategy differs from yours substantially is that I always have at least 20 Gargoyles. I use them to tarpit / contain units that threaten me, and then once the threats are contained, it is time to starfish out and bring my entire firepower to bear. The gargoyles give me added flexibility of a screen if the terrain doesn’t suite my purposes.

    Without a screen I wonder how you deal with Assaulty deathstars like TH+SS thunderwolves. Catacomb Command Barges, or Magically repairing stompas?

    Alternatively how do you deal with Farsight bomb which can easily kill your Heirodule in one round of Ignore Cover, Twin Linked, Monster Hunter shooting? What about Centurion Star with perfect timing? It can also Kill Barbie in one round of shooting, and is not susceptible to sniping out the Psycher.

    • Avatar
      bigpig October 17, 2014 10:19 am #

      Tag, I’ve toyed with the screening units as well and I go back and forth. As you see in my read, I did put the idea in there for supporting units. For me, I’ve found that gaunts (both flavors) tend to get in the way more than they help. Gargs are good, but I tended to get less oooomph out of them than I would if I spent the points on another monstrous creature. In a list without the Living Artillery, I’d probably run them for sure. Remember, what I’m talking about here isn’t a specific list, but a playstyle using a variety of tyranid units around the Spore Cloud core.

      Assaulty deathstars aren’t that bad. Most of them large enough to really threaten the Hierodule are hesitant of charging in because of the Stomp. There are exceptions, but you can always bubble wrap with biovores, warriors, the rippers, or even SWOOPING Tryants (just don’t fall down). Honestly, I find that 36 twin linked brainleech worms do a number on those assaulty 2+/3++ units before they get too close. TWs hate those Str10 shots in the face too :). Hopefully a Paroxysm thrown in too for good measure…

      Farsight bomb (fortunately not as common now) and Centurionstars (more common) can be a tough. Centurions aren’t as much issue unless they get lucky and get Perfect Timing. That sucks. As mentioned in the read, Ignores Cover is a problem, but that unit would wipe any multiround viable Tyranid list except Endless Swarm and good luck with that. I suppose if I had to face it would go with the range advantage and try to kill a Centurion or two (most stars have 3 or 4 I’ve found) before they get to 24. It becomes very terrain dependant. In the games I’ve played against it, tyrants help here by being able to get around the tanker in the front. 24 shots in the flanks will take down at least one Cent. Can also drop back the Hierodule, or even the entire formation, to buy ground and time.

      Remember, what I’m talking about is an approach and playstyle, not necessarily ONE list that is the Holy ‘nidGrail. As with anything, it has to adapt to the opponent, terrain, and mission.

  12. Avatar
    fluger October 16, 2014 1:34 pm #

    Seems like forgeworld really helped out Nids with both the Malanthrope and the Hierodule.

    I gotta say, my IG with all it’s lascannons and ignore cover orders could probably outlast that list at range, but it would be a very interesting slugfest.

    • Reecius
      Reecius October 16, 2014 3:12 pm #

      I think IG and Serpent Spam are two lists that will give this trouble. Certain Tau builds, too.

      • Avatar
        bigpig October 16, 2014 4:36 pm #

        Trouble yes. Unfortunately the days of true take all comers list aRE gone. Too many extremes out there. Serpent spam I doable if terrain is favorable, bUT it is tough. The real weakness for this list is centurion star that gets ignore cover

        • Avatar
          fluger October 16, 2014 6:20 pm #

          Yeah, that would be a mess.

          And agreed, all comers is a dead concept.

          • Avatar
            Km October 17, 2014 5:50 am

            I would strongly disagree with you, i believe that eldar and space marines can still create balanced tac lists which CAN (not will) beat almost anything

          • Avatar
            bigpig October 17, 2014 9:55 am

            Eldar and Space Marines can come pretty close. I do agree with that, KM. For those of us less favored by our kind and benevolent masters at GW though…. 🙂

        • Avatar
          Kuragh October 16, 2014 6:58 pm #

          i LOVE this statement.

          I think the idea that take all comers lists are dead is AWESOME.

          Rather than cookie cutter netlists, people are coming up with crazy “Plays” and lists. I love it, makes the game so much more interesting.

          Balance is coming back by the multitude of extremes. Its a weird concept but a good one.

          • Avatar
            IndigoJack October 16, 2014 9:22 pm

            No offence, but I wholeheartedly disagree with you. These extreme lists create paper/scissor/rock type games where you end up winning just because you never saw your hard counter. What TAC lists provide is a way for players to match wits, not lists. I’d much rather lose a game because I was outplayed (and given a chance to learn from my mistakes and from a better player) than lose a game because I fought a hard counter.

      • Avatar
        fluger October 17, 2014 8:56 am #

        Also, can I say that I’m glad we’re still calling it IG. I don’t think I’ll ever refer to them as Astra Militarum.

  13. Avatar
    iNcontroL October 16, 2014 4:10 pm #

    to be fair serpent spam gives everyone trouble and IG is fairly rare oddly enough… but can be tough with their access to decent AA, raw numbers and ranged weaponry.

  14. Avatar
    TinBane October 16, 2014 4:13 pm #

    Yeah, wave serpents are just hugely, mathematically, advantageous units.
    High strength, high accuracy with scatter lasers, high ROF, and ignores cover, is brutal. Especially combined with such fantastic range.

    • Reecius
      Reecius October 16, 2014 4:15 pm #

      And awesome defense, too! WTF?! haha

      • Avatar
        Jural October 16, 2014 6:01 pm #

        But they are balanced by not being able to hold Wraithknights and make them troops? Maybe next Codex!

        • Avatar
          TinBane October 16, 2014 8:03 pm #

          It’s a good point though. Obsec on those things is just filthy. A formation would have to be super broken, to make up for giving up obsec on six of those puppies.

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    Julio Rodriguez October 16, 2014 6:00 pm #

    How have you been doing vs ObSec armies like mine? I also wait all first 3 turns and then go forthe objs late in the game. I didn’t get the chance to play you at Brawl.

    • Reecius
      Reecius October 16, 2014 6:22 pm #

      InControl plays a similar list and I can beat him with my Scout ObSec army, but it is me dying, and him killing, just a race against time. The army is brutal.

    • Avatar
      bigpig October 16, 2014 6:38 pm #

      I actually do pretty well against them. Alan’s list is similar to yours (lots of msu obsec and rhinos) and I nearly tabled him. Your has more boots, but in concept its similar.

      This list can put out a LOT of firepower and can clear bodies in a hurry. Against a defensive rhino list that is holding back, I can start moving forward, especially with Tyrants and pop transports taking away mobility. Without alpha strikers dropping in or looking for the window to pounce, nids can afford to break the 2+ sooner and move to midfield. There we’ll be looking for cover from intervening models, LoS blocking, and ridgeline cover to keep from getting sniped by what heavy weapons you do have.

      It really varies by mission. Scouring can be hard vs a heavy boots list like yours. Emporer’s Will, crusage, purge, or Relic are much easier. A lot of variables. Again, this concept is designed to weather alpha strikes. If you don’t bring them I would need to change up my approach a little. Fortunately, that list isn’t a one trick pony and CAN modify on the fly

      Come on up and we’ll play it out 🙂

      • Avatar
        Jural October 17, 2014 10:11 am #

        One thing I don’t worry about with Tyranid is when the opponent doesn’t have that hammer or doesn’t have that alpha strike. We hold up pretty good against average. We don’t hold up all to extraordinary.

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    iNcontroL October 16, 2014 6:37 pm #

    Yeah Reece went 1-2 vs my list with his scouts.. not bad (for him) ^__________________^;;

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    jamie October 17, 2014 1:58 am #

    it sounds interesting but isn’t area terrain 5+ so ud get a 3+ cover from shrouding and 2+ with night fight unless iv missed something

    and 2 counter this list 9 missile sides with drones and 30 path finders should be enough behind and aegis play the same game wait u make a move in that 30″ bubble they’ll put the hurt on that unit

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      bigpig October 17, 2014 9:50 am #

      All ruins (not technically called that any more, but you know what I’m talking about) and rubble that you are in, regardless of obscurement, is 4+. Hillsides, walls, tank traps, statuary, and buildings that obscure you (even if standing in open) are 4+ or better. Really the only 5+ is forests, moonscape craters, and the battlescape model. More terrain is 4+ than 5+, though it may depend on the tables where you play.

      Biovores love big blobs of 30 pathfinders. With 48″ range twin linked barrage at AP4, Pathfinders fold pretty quickly behind the aegis line. Fortunately, we don’t see many 9 missile side lists any more. (Your scene may be different, but I haven’t faced something like that since 7th in local play or tournaments), and I’m not sure ‘nids would have any better answer to that particular pair of scissors without specifically tailoring to face it (and being less competitive in other areas because 3 mawlocs aren’t the best versus a lot of other armies).

      …and note, any good player can come up with a counter for most lists. I’m not saying this concept has no counters if someone wants to sit down and put it together, just that for ‘nids it does pretty well against most of what you will run up against. Two prevailing theories for being competitive in multiround play; One: Go big on rock/paper/scissors and hope you don’t face your hard counter. or Two: Go middle of the road versus what you expect the meta to be and get as close to what used to be the idea of a TAC approach as possible. This list/concept goes for the latter

      • Avatar
        fluger October 17, 2014 2:13 pm #

        IMO, it would seem like riptides would be a bigger threat as they can get lower AP and high strength shooting to tear up those big baddies. With markerlight support of course.

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    BeeCee October 17, 2014 4:14 am #

    Great article! I am trying out my barbed hierodule at the Renegade Open in about a month. I haven’t been able to fully graduate away from the old nids.

    I still have 40 termagants in the list that i use to help screen my hierodule from unwanted advances.

    • Avatar
      DCannon4Life October 17, 2014 6:04 am #

      I look forward to getting a chance to ‘hit on’ your Hierodule. 🙂

      • Avatar
        BeeCee October 17, 2014 7:27 am #

        Dcannon, are you making it in for Renegade? If so, beverages are required!

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          DCannon4Life October 17, 2014 8:23 am #

          I am indeed and am looking forward to meeting you!

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      bigpig October 17, 2014 9:53 am #

      BeeCee I played with that for a while as well. It took a while to get away from the old mindset. For me, I’ve found that they actually get in the way. After a lot of fiddling, I decided to put those points into another dakkafex or a crone or Hive Guard. Most of the time I found I didn’t really need the bubble wrap. See how it goes though and good luck! I can certainly see opponents where they would come in handy to tarpit or screen.

      • Avatar
        BeeCee October 17, 2014 12:16 pm #

        yeah, i think it’s a mindset change that i still need to make. i’m getting there, i finally kicked the tervigon out of the list. so it’s baby steps i guess.

        Really looking forward to running the Hierodule!

        i’m sure i’ll report out how i did on the hive, and maybe if i do exceptionally well i’ll email and article to Reese to see if he wants to run it. It will for sure be up on the blog Facing the Grey Tide.

        • Avatar
          bigpig October 17, 2014 12:50 pm #

          Look forward to seeing it

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    Archibald October 18, 2014 10:08 am #

    @IndigoJack: But the hard-counter concept has worked for Pro Tour level Magic: the Gathering for decades, and is really what happens at Warmachine Masters too. In the latter instance, some players lose because they run into a caster that just auto-beats them.

    TAC lists produced the boring turd-pile that was pre-Grey Knights 5th edition. Sure, you could fight against anything, but that’s because every list was EXACTLY THE SAME:

    5 dudes, 1 with a Meltagun, 1 with a Powerfist

    Repeat 6 times. That wasn’t fun, and there was no variety in the game. It’s impossible to have perfectly balanced TAC lists without reducing variety, options, and play styles available.

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    Luke October 18, 2014 2:37 pm #

    Bigpig do you have any battle reports published using this tactic? I’d love to see it used in detail. And maybe I just play against too many Eldar/DE lists that have no intention of coming to you ever, but I can certainly see the merit of waiting in your lair, if nothing else for late-game durability. Perhaps a bastion would be in order for super anti-alpha-strike, but I think the Malanthrope is pretty stupidly durable as is, even without BLOS terrain. I mean, he even has regen! Love the ridiculousness

  21. Avatar
    Joe October 19, 2014 12:59 am #

    Seconding Luke, is it possible to see some batreps of Trapdoor Nids?

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    bigpig October 19, 2014 8:09 pm #

    You’d think 🙂 I always forget to do something after toournaments. I always have the best intentions but it takes so much dang time. I will see what I can do

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    Wuffell October 30, 2014 11:58 am #

    Hi guys,

    Awesome article, bigpig, I’ve been trying to digest this for a while. I haven’t played a game with 7th edition nids and I’m trying to balance theory with my idea of how games will go, which is why I’ve got a few questions that seem a little basic or obvious to you!

    Some of the punch is from devourers and I understand you keep your flyrants in the spore cloud bubble. How long does it take before enemies come into range of the devourers?

    Secondly, I understand you don’t like to bubblewrap your things cos they get in the way. I totally understand that and I’ve had it happen to me enough times. Have you tried using a unit of 15-20 termagants with 10 devourers with this tactic?

    Lastly, I would also be very interested in a battle report. I would like to see the nid-door shuffle in action, as you move your guys around.

    Thanks again for the article, it has really opened my eyes!

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    Ivellos November 3, 2014 4:38 pm #

    I second the request for a battle report with this! Have you gotten any more games with this build under your belt? Would you change anything with that experience?

    Also with all of the new models that have been announced/leaked is this still viable/the best way?

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    Shinkaze November 20, 2014 7:51 pm #

    Hey Reece since you are not against rules changes how about this?

    Serpent Shield being fired is One Time Use Only.

    I mean the 2+ reroll rule didn’t even faze Alex Fennell in his list building, he won LVO. All it did was hurt Kairos and ScreamerStar.

    You are modifying Invisibility and I think the kid at Nova lost to Kopach’s Serpents regardless of an Invis Beaststar. Invisibility may even be needed in todays modern RoF. I’m not a super computer so I don’t know the answer but it is possible.

    How about a rules change that would help everyone instead of only being a half measure?

    Maybe competitive 40k does needs a BRB redesign. I’m much more interested in Conquest then unrestricted 40k. After people incorrectly stating that it is a rock scissor paper game for so many editions… it feels like that sentiment is finally true.

  26. Avatar
    franus February 18, 2015 10:59 am #


    Just wanted to share a piece of army that works alright IMO for trapdoor spider strategies :
    the exocrine deployed on a bastion battlement (with a venomtrope inside).
    For less than 300 points, you got a long range S7AP2 weapon that threatens almost anything and forces the enemy to counter deploy hence exposing a reduced area for your heavy CC hitters to ambush.
    Add 2 of these, you just claim 2/3 of the table as yours and dare your opponent to come into your territory ^^

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