Hello everyone, Danny here from TFG Radio to start my series on the faction closest to my heart, the team that always plays together, and our one, true God in this world: The Great Devourer! Of course, if you want to learn how to kill bugs good, you can check out Frontline’s Tactics Corner.
So Tyranids are not always the most feared army on the tabletop, and I’ll be real-real, they have some pitfalls, but man, I’ve played the hell out of them since they debuted in 2nd Edition, and I’ll be damned if I ever stop. The Tyranid codex gives you a lot of options, and while certain builds are clearly optimal, this is a beast that rewards ingenuity. So for today, let’s look at the overall special rules and gear, and next time, we’ll start going through the codex unit by unit.
Instinctive Behavior – Tyranids outside of Synapse at the beginning of the turn (after Reserves but before movement) must make a leadership test, and if they fail, you roll on one of these three charts, depending on the unit: Lurk, Hunt, and Feed. You do not need to take this test if the unit is locked in combat, gone to ground, failing back, or just arrived from Reserves.
Shadow in the Warp: All enemy units and models with the Psyker, Brotherhood of Psykers, etc, special rules suffer -3 Leadership when within 12 inches of one or more models with this rule.
Synapse Creature: All friendly Tyranids, including the model with this rule, within 12 inches of a Synapse Creature are Fearless and do not need to roll on the Instinctive Behavior Chart. Note that it only takes one model from a unit to be in range.
So, the army wide special rules are very much built around fluff, and a good Tyranid player knows how to use these to great effect while also managing the downsides. Speaking of downsides, the Instinctive Behavior tables can be a bit brutal, and so you need to be sure to keep your units in Synapse range. The big table that hurts is Feed as it is possible for your own unit to start killing itself, so any unit with this Instinctive Behavior needs to stay in Synapse range at all times, otherwise you’ll see Rippers or Hormagaunts tearing themselves apart. Lurk and Hunt are not too bad, but there are plenty of options on the tables that make the unit worthless until it gets back to Synapse.
Synapse is actually a solid rule as Fearless is huge. With Tyranids’ ability to take large squads of disposable bodies, being Fearless means you can tarpit the hell out of your enemy, and it means that they will stay camping or bubble-wrapping an objective to the very last bug. When building a Tyranid list, you need to be sure you have Synapse, and the more basic units that you take, the more Synapse you need.
Shadow in the Warp is not as strong as it used to be when manifesting powers was built upon Leadership rolls, but it still has some utility. Seeing as most Perils of the Warp results require a Leadership test to avoid the worst side-effects, it can be very helpful to suddenly drop a Librarian from Leadership 10 to 7. I cannot tell you how many times I had a Librarian blow himself up and take a few friends with him when they rolled a 1 on the Perils table and then rolled an 8 for their Leadership check. This is especially helpful against Daemons as units like Pink Horrors or any other Brotherhood of Psykers suddenly have terrible leadership.
So overall, with special rules, you need to know them, and you need to remember when Shadow in the Warp matters and how to manage Instinctive Behavior, so it doesn’t foil your plans.
Nature’s Bane: At the start of each movement phase, you can make one Twisted Copse within 12 of your warlord Dangerous Terrain for the rest of the game.
Heightened Senses: Warlord and all friendly Tyranids within 12 have the Night Vision special rule.
Synaptic Lynchpin: Add 6 inches to the Synapse range of your Warlord
Mind-Eater: You gain 2 additional VP for every Independent Character your Warlord slays in a challenge, and only in a challenge, and not through a Sweeping Advance.
Digestive Denial: Before Scout/Infiltrate, you can weaken the cover save by 1 of any piece of terrain in the enemy deployment zone, so long as they did not purchase that terrain feature as part of their army.
Adaptive Biology: If your Warlord suffers or more unsaved wounds, starting from its next Movement phase, it gains the Feel No Pain special rule for the rest of the game.
In all honesty, the Warlord Traits are pretty bad. The only one that is typically solid, depending on army build, is Synaptic Lynchpin. The extra 6 inches can really help keep flanking forces inside Synapse. Digestive Denial seems good, but Tyranids lack a lot of low AP shooting, so cover saves really aren’t that important, and Adaptive Biology also seems good, but too often, if your Warlord is taking wounds, it is probably on its way to death already. Mind-Eater could really help you win the mission, but getting to melee is not easy for our HQs.
Overall, you are better off rolling on Strategic in the main rule book. Stealth Ruins is way better as is reserve manipulation.
Powers of the Hive Mind:
Primaris: Dominion. Warp Charge 1. Blessing. Add 6 inches to your synapse range.
Catalyst: Warp Charge 1. Blessing. Psyker and its unit as well as one other friendly Tyranid unit within 12 inches gain Feel No pain.
The Horror: Warp Charge 1. Malediction. A target within 24 inches must take a pinning test with a -2 penalty to Leadership.
Onslaught: Warp Charge 1. Blessing. Whilst power is in effect, the target unit can both Run and then shoot in its Shooting Phase.
Paroxysm: Warp Charge 1. Malediction. A target within 24 inches suffers a D3 penalty to Weapon Skill and Ballistic Skill (roll once for both) until the next Tyranid psychic phase.
Psychic Scream: Warp Charge 1. Nova. 6 inches. For every enemy unit in range, roll 2d6+2 and substract the target’s leadership from this roll. The unit suffers a number of wounds equal to the result with no armor or cover saves allowed.
Warp Blast: Warp Charge 2. Witchfire. As a blast, range 24, Strength 5, AP 3, assault 1 small blast or as a single shot, range 18, Strength 10, AP 2, assault 1 Lance.
So, Tyranids can only generate their powers from Hive Mind, and there are a few stinkers here but also a few winners. The Primaris is never bad as again, being able to add 6 inches to Synapse can be huge, and it can be an easy way to auto-rally a unit. Catalyst is great as giving a Hive Tyrant and then another unit Feel No Pain can really up survivability, particularly since Tyranids lack a lot of invulnerable saves. Since it is essentially 2 for 1, you can protect your Psyker and a whole other unit. Psychic Scream is huge as it is only WC 1 and a Nova, so with a Flying Hive-Tyrant, you can swoop into the middle of the enemy and do some big damage, particularly against units with a 2+ armor save. This is often Tyranids’ best answer to Riptides and Wraithknights. Warp Blast is situational as it looks great on paper, but you have to remember that it has a lot of points of failure. You have to roll to manifest first, then roll to hit, then roll to wound, then apply any saves the target may have. That’s a lot of places where the dice can fail you. If you roll this power, it can save your life, but it can also let you down, and most times, it will. Paroxysm can be helpful at times, particularly against Tau or Necrons who shoot but have no psychic defense, or it can be used to tip a combat’s favor to you in a blob on blob melee like against Orks. Onslaught and The Horror are pretty corner-case, and in at least a hundred games since this Codex dropped, I’ve used each maybe twice.
So yes, we are forced into this discipline, but there are some good moves here if you remember to utilize them. There are a lot of “if the conditions are right” type of powers, but if you are mindful of these conditions, you can get a lot of mileage out of these powers.
Bio-Artefacts of the Tyranids:
The Maw-Claws of Thryax:
S: User, AP 5, Rending, Assimilate claws. You gain preferred enemy against all models chosen from that same codex after a kill.
The Norn Crown:
Add 6 inches to your synapse range.
The Miasma Cannon
two firing modes: Range 36, S1, AP4 assault 1 Poison(2+) blast or Range: template, S1, AP4 assault 1 Poison(2+).
The Ymgarl Factor:
At the start of every assault phase, you must alter your form and choose one of the following benefits. This lasts until te end of the phase, and you cannot choose the same form in two consecutive turns.
+1 Strength, +1 Attack, or +1 to Armor Save.
The Reaper of Obliterax
S+1. AP3, Life Drain (6s to wound cause Instant Death), Shred, Swiftstrike (+3 Initiative in combat), melee weapon.
So, our special wargear is pretty terrible, no two ways about it. The Norn Crown is the most useful but it costs as much as a standard Termagaunt squad. The Reaper of Obliterax on a Hive Tyrant makes it S7 with Shred, but getting Tyrants into combat isn’t easy and again, it costs more than the Norn Crown. The Ymgarl Factor is the only way to get a Hive Tyrant or Tervigon to a 2+ armor save, but only in melee, and the sad fact is that Tyranids are not a great melee army. We shoot better than we fight, and anything hunting our Monstrous Creatures are going to bring high strength AP2 as is.
Quite honestly, there is nothing here worth taking. Save your points and buy more models, which is where Tyranids excel as is. If these items were half the cost, they may be justifiable, but right now, there is no real way to utilize them well on the table-top. Again, just save the points and buy 10 more Termagaunts or a Ripper squad.
Ok everyone, so that’s a general rundown of all the special rules/wargear, powers, and Warlord Traits for the bugs, and while there is a lot of ugly here, there is some good, and being a bug player, you use what you can. I’ll be coming at you with a lot of unit by unit analysis in the coming weeks, so stay tuned, and of course, check out TFG Radio for some of my random bug musings at times.
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