Tyranid Codex Review: Elites: Venomthropes

Hey again everyone, Danny from TFG Radio here to talk about that Pig-Pen of Tyranids, the lynchpin of defense, the Venomthrope! Of course, you can see through the cloud of spores easily by going to Frontline’s Tactics Corner!


The Venomthrope is a dedicated support piece who buffs the defense of every bug near it, and it is a necessity for a lot of walking bug builds.

Venomthrope (1)


Lash Whips – +3 initiative in close combat

Toxic Miasma: Once per game in the assault phase, all enemy units engaged suffer a number of hits equal to number of models in base contact with this unit.  These are resolved at S3 AP- Poisoned (4+) Ignore Cover at initiative 1.

Upgrades: You may add 2 more Venomthropes to the unit.

Ok, so there isn’t a lot of upgrade potential here, and really, you aren’t taking Venomthropes for these things.  Lash Whips can help against squishy, high initiative units as the Venomthrope swings at I6, but their WS3 and 2 attacks are not great, but again, against very squishy units like Harlequins, you can do a bit of damage before you die.  Toxic Miasma is again very corner case as Venomthropes don’t have a lot of survivability, so you’ll likely not make it to I1, but they, it could help every once and awhile.


Special Rules:

Instinctive Behaviour (Lurk): If Venomthropes are out of synapse and fail a Leadership 6 check, they may fall back, or they may have to seek cover to be able to shoot and can’t charge. Eh, not terrible but never good either.

Poisoned (2+) – They wound on anything but 1 most times.

Shrouded – +2 to cover saves

Spore Cloud – All friendly models with the Tyranids Faction that are within 6” of a Venomthrope gain Shrouded.  Here is the money.

Very Bulky: 3 models for transport purposes.

Ok, so it should be pretty clear why you would want to take Venomthropes.  Spore Cloud is absolutely a great ability, and it gives a lot of defense to Tyranids.  Getting Flyrants to have a 2+ jink ain’t bad nor is giving a unit of 30 Objective Secured Termagants or Hormagaunts a 5+ in the open or 3+ with standard cover.  If you face an army with no ignores cover, a Venomthrope suddenly makes a lot of Tyranids far more survivable.   The super poison isn’t too bad as it means that the Venomthrope can sort of help in a fight, and it having its own Shrouded means that it likely always has a 3+ cover save from hiding behind whatever it is buffing with Spore Cloud. If you want to try taking a big nasty like a Hierodule, you better have one of these little bugs tagging along.


So, what do you do with these guys?

The very obvious answer is to use them to support a front line, whether that be hordes of little bugs or a few big bugs.  Venomthropes are pretty much just support pieces, but when they work, they can make an army work.  Yes, 60 T3 bugs is easy to kill, but 60 T3 bugs with a 3+ save? That starts to become difficult.   Pretty much all of the Monstrous Creatures in the codex benefit (or even rely) on the cover save from the Venomthrope, and in general, for less than a Lictor or a Zoanthrope, you can radically increase the survival of your units.   This is what they are made for, and they are very niche, but they are essential.  Venomthropes are one of the only ways to really increase the durability of the bugs.  I’d like to wax poetic but it, but really, it is that simple: Venomthropes keep your bugs alive by giving them decent cover saves.


So why aren’t they everywhere? Well, the reality is that they are hurt most by the things outside of the codex, namely a lot of ignore cover.  Tau alone make Venomthropes cry because their whole ability is negated, and all the bugs around them start to drop.  The Hunter’s Eye still means that Grav-Centurions get to kill anything at will when they drop, and since they are T5 with a 2+ save, a lot of bugs struggle to kill them.  This is what hurts Venomthropes the most: there is too much ignores cover in the game for them to be useful.

They are also only T4, so they can get Instant Deathed easily, they don’t fight well, so once they are engaged in melee, they are going to die terribly, they are slow, and they don’t have synapse, so you can’t use them as MSU objective grabbers.  They also compete with Zoans and Lictors for elite slots, and both of those units are far more dependable.

So are Venomthropes competitive? Yes and no.  Yes in the sense that you can make a strong, strong army using them as support pieces, but no in the sense that too many other competitive builds will ignore them and their abilities.  Venoms really belong in a friendly game where you want to have a good mix of units for variety’s sake, but in the competitive scene, unless you get to tailor your list, they are not really worth it.   Thanks for reading, and as always, see our troubles and triumphs over at TFG Radio

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About Danny Ruiz

Long-long time 40K player, one of the original triumvirate of head 40K judges at LVO, writer, educator, tyranid-enthusiast, disciple of Angron, man about town, afflicted with faction ADD.

9 Responses to “Tyranid Codex Review: Elites: Venomthropes”

  1. abusepuppy April 8, 2017 12:48 am #

    Venomthropes are almost purely worse than Malanthropes. For the cost of two Venomthropes, you get the same total number of wounds, higher Toughness, 3+ armor to shrug those Ignores Cover attacks, Regeneration, and Synapse status, not to mention superior close combat as well as some other minor abilities. Whereas a Venomthrope dies pretty badly to one or two Smart Missile or Wyvern volleys, a Malanthrope can hold up surprisingly well to many things.

    Of course, that presumes that your tournament allows Forge World models, but if that’s the case the Malanthrope is the clear choice. Sadly, it still makes for a fairly subpar army overall, since any Tyranid unit that is on the ground is probably dying in really short order.

    • Reecius April 8, 2017 12:54 pm #

      Yeah, the Malanthrope is infinitely better, but neither is relevant due to stupid Ignores Cover being far too prevalent.

      • abusepuppy April 8, 2017 10:06 pm #

        Eh. I think people overestimate how much Ignores Cover is actually out there- SMS does, obviously, and there’s the Wyvern and Hunter’s Eye, and… that’s actually most of it. Obviously there are more sources, but those and Shriek (which technically doesn’t have the rule but may as well) are really the main sources.

  2. Laevatine April 8, 2017 12:58 am #

    Man, every time you look at a unit review, the counter is always Hunter Eye Grav Cents / Scatbikes / Marker lights / D weapons. It’s like there’s 40k and there is MarineEldarTau 40k.

    • Reecius April 8, 2017 7:37 am #

      Yeah, the hunter’s eye is so bad for the game. It made so many units obsolete.

    • abusepuppy April 8, 2017 10:07 pm #

      And Demons. And Renegades. And CSM. And More Differenter Space Marines.

  3. Dakkath April 8, 2017 11:07 am #

    If only they let venomthropes (and maybe zoans), attach to other units but be stuck there like a tyrant and guard.

    • Reecius April 8, 2017 12:55 pm #

      If they just threw out a 5++ instead, Tyranids in general would become vastly more playable. As is, armies that rely on cover saves simply cannot compete in the current meta.

      • abusepuppy April 8, 2017 10:07 pm #

        Even with a 5++ aura and the ability to join units, for Tyranids would still be garbage. Their problems go far, far past just issues with Grav and Scatter Bikes.

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