Tyranids: Hope is the first step to disappointment

Hello everyone, Danny from TFG Radio here to not actually go over a Tyranid unit because those days are done, for now.  Yes, my reign of terror ends as with a new form of 40K coming, well, why waste our time? Yet, hope springs eternal, and I look toward the horizon as the Hive Fleet descends, and I cannot stop myself from imaging what could be.


Well, they did it.  GW is changing 40K into something new.  What will it be? No idea.  What rules will we see? I have no clue.  Can I get hyped and hope that my Titanic and Titillating Tyranids are going to be awesome in this new era? Damn skippy.

Let’s get the disclaimers out of the way: I have no idea of what is or is not going to happen.  All of this is simply reasoned analysis of previous patterns and induction based off of what GW has officially said or done.  In other words, wish-listing.

  1. Tyranids regain the melee swagger.


I really, really miss when Tyranids were primarily a melee army, and the old Screamer-Killer Carnfiex was just feared, feared on the table.  Besides the mighty fex, we also had genestealers who were just about the scariest melee unit in the game.

If the “chargers hit first” thing is applicable to new 40K, this will help a lot of the Tyranid beasties.  The low initiative of our biggest hitters meant that they were likely dead before they swung, especially the standard Crushing Claws Carnifex. Now, if it gets to hit first on like a Knight, we actually have a chance to kill it before taking the D-sword.  Even little Tyrant Guard with a melee Hive Tyrant become more viable as being able to hit first, again with Crushing Claws, is pretty great.

Tyranids have plenty of chaff units to hold enemies in place, but our best hitters have trouble dealing with the other big nasties out there, but if we can swing first, we are in a much better place.  I can set up a charge with 20 Termagants to hold a Knight, but no matter what, my Carnifex is going to have survive the D-sword first. That’s bad. If we do get to hit first if we charge, then suddenly, a lot of our melee beasts have new life.

1b. Give us Rend or something


Another part of this whole help “Tyranids fight again” is to give us the ability to modify armor saves. Scything talons should, you know, scythe.  Granted, the current rules give all MCs AP2, but it would be nice if even our little bugs suddenly gave a -1 save to armor.  If GW is switching 40K to a similar engine as AoS, it would be nice to see a bit of Rend coming to the Hive Fleets.  Right now, we lack a lot of quality ways to mitigate armor outside of MC melee attacks.  This of course applies to shooting as well, and while I don’t want our little Flesh Borers to suddenly be gang busters, I’d like to see the Venom Cannon, Barbed Strangler, and Death Spitter be relevant again.

  1. Make Tyranid Monstrous Creatures better


As a long, long time Tyranid player, there have always been two archetypes that capture the fluff of the army: waves upon waves of bodies and Monster Mashes. It would be really nice to see the Tyranid big beasties get a boost as right now, the only MC you are really going to see consistently is the flying Hive Tyrant.  It is sad that Tau have much better Monstrous Creatures/Gargantuan Creatures than we do. Again, assuming that 40K moves to the AoS engine, having Monstrous Creatures increase in power and survivability while also suffering from diminishing returns is a fluffy, balanced mechanic.  I’d love to see Maleceptors and Haruspexs with 10+ wounds and a strong save.  It’d also be nice to see the general attack characteristics of these monsters go up and/or have the quality of their attacks increase.  Again, in early 6th edition, 3 or 4 attacks on a MC was fine, but now, Tyranids are just outgunned.

A boost of speed would also be nice.  Tyranid MCs that don’t fly are super slow, so they never get to the set the tempo of the game in the movement phase.  It would be nice to actually win the positioning war with our MCs by being able to move quickly to set up the piece trading engagement in Turns 2 or 3.  It would be great if our threat ranges were long enough to make our opponents actually have to think about how they move about the board rather than know that they outpace our biggest hitters.  Again, why does a 20 foot tall Haruspex or Dimachareon move at the same speed as a Guardsmen my size?

  1. Make Synapse meaningful


Here’s the thing, right now, Synapse is a designed handicap on the bugs, and I’m fine with that, except the handicap is horribly unnecessary.  Much like Mob Rule for Orks, the rule is meant to offer a balancing mechanic and fluffy quirk to the army, but all it does is punish an army that needs help.

Now, I’m fine with instinctive behavior as a rule so long as the benefits of having this handicap are clear.  If Synapse provided morale control and a survivability buff? Hell yah.  If Tyranids received boosts in other ways like better than average shooting on little bugs or cheaper than normal infantry, then it is understandable why Synapse and IB exist.

Really, I’d just be totally happy with old 4th edition Synapse that granted Fearless and Eternal Warrior.  This really helped keep our big bugs alive and even made a lot of multi-wound models viable like Warriors and Raveners.  Yes, that is strong, but then it also gives priority to targeting Synapse creatures and breaking the chain, kind of like the fluff.  Depending on what the new 40K looks like, it would be nice to see Synapse be truly meaningful, and it would encourage tactical play where an enemy has to focus on the Synapse beacons to really be successful.  If new 40K has the same bones as AoS with Battleshock, it would be great if bugs ignored Battleshock tests when within Synapse.

  1. Make Shadow in the Warp viable


Ok, let’s be real: Shadow in the Warp is two editions old and it shows. -3 Leadership was great when psychic tests were based on Leadership, but now that LD only matters for Perils of the Warp, this really limits the ability of Tyranids to control the psychic phase.  That was supposed to be one of our things: we had ok psykers but we shut down enemy psykers, and we turned an almost given LD10 check into a just barely 50/50 shot.

Could Shadow in the Warp ape part of the Sisters of Silence rules and deny Warp Charge generation (if such a thing even exists in New 40K)? If Psychic powers work more like AoS with just a set number to hit on 2D6, maybe Shadow of the Warp imposes a penalty to that roll or offers a benefit to dispelling the roll.  Either way, Shadows in the Warp needs an update to actually be impactful on the game.

  1. Make the Hive Mind mightier


This ties into number 4.  Tyranids have never had dominant psykers, but we were ok to decent at it, but  since we’ve been forced into just one discipline while others get up many, many more,, we’ve felt the burn.  Out of our 7 powers, only 1 is consistently good, Catalyst.  Tyranids need defensive buffs, so giving out Feel No Pain to the caster and another unit is huge.  Psychic Scream is good against some armies like Psychic Daemon Princes or Tau, but it is short ranged, and 2D6+2 is only 9 on average, which is no good against many armies.   Warp Blast can do some work, again, situational, but there are so many points of failure that it is incredibly unreliable.

If we are going to be limited to just a few powers, please let them be decent. If 40K still follows the current DNA where there are Power-Trees, let ours be solid.  If we go more AoS and each bug is limited to one or two unique powers, again, let them be meaningful.  Onslaught could be a great power if it let you shoot and run OR run and charge.  Paroxysm would be a great debuff if it was just a straight penalty to To-Hit rolls.  Warp Blast would be great if it didn’t need to roll to hit or if like AoS, just caused a random number of mortal wounds.  The Horror would be good if again in an AoS model that it forced a big Morale penalty on Battleshock tests or just straight out made the unit test again out of order.  Again, there are possibilities for Tyranids to have some good psychic powers, but we need them if we are going to be forced into a very small pool of abilities.

  1. Make our Special Characters matter more


I mean, Space Marines just got Rowboat.  Eldar got the Yncarne.  Hell, Imperium in general got Celestine.  What do we have? Special characters that are best described as “fun and fluffy ways to spice up your narrative game”.  Why not have the Swarmlord be able to attach to any infantry unit and give them the old Azrael 4++?  Why not have The Red Terror have Rending and be able to assault out of Deepstrike?  Why not have Deathleaper gain Instant Death against any character? Deathleaper is good, but more in the debuffs he brings, and even then, you need to design around that a bit.  Our special characters are just pretty weak sauce compared to the others floating around, so why not take this opportunity to ramp them up to the level of others?  I’d love to see Old One Eye just be a melee beatstick that is more durable than anything else.  I’d love to see the Red Terror be an actual menace.  Why not bring back good old Doom of Malan’tai?

In AoS, special characters tend to be pretty beefy, so it’d be nice to have ours be a bit beefy as well.  I mean, the Swarmlord has the statline of a primarch, and almost costs as much, but it ain’t no primarch.  Hive Tyrants and Carnifexes are supposed to be scary, so shouldn’t the elite versions of these actually be usable?

  1. Give us some form of workable defense

Venomthrope (1)

This is the thing, Tyranids have some of the lowest defense in the game.  Really, Tyranids and Dark Eldar can argue about who dies quicker.  Tyranids rely on cover saves, and well, that’s bad.  Sure, we can boost our cover saves nicely with a Venom/Malathrope, but against some armies like Tau? Too bad.  We have actually 4 invulnerable saves total in our army list: Swarmlord (in CC only), Zoanthropes, Maleceptors (lol wut?), and Hierophants (a mighty 6++).  That’s just terrible.

Ok, so if New 40K goes towards AoS with no cover saves and really no invulnerable saves, that more or less helps us get back to even with everyone else.  Ideally, our big bugs should have pretty robust saves and a way to mitigate damage.  If Strength vs Toughness still exists, maybe give our big bugs a higher toughness (anybody remember T7 Carnifexes?),  If we go straight AoS style flat To-Wound rolls, give us more wounds?

Hell, we just need a means of mitigating damage, and maybe all little bugs just recycle? Sure, kill us in droves, but we come back.  That would be both characterful and useful in the game.


Ok, so that’s enough.  I could start going on and on, namely pointing out the flaws in just about each unit in the army, but really, these are the big flaws in the bug codex, and hopefully, whatever on the horizon addresses them to some extent.  I’m a realist; I don’t  expect to see Tyranids suddenly becoming OP, nor do I want that, but I would like to know that if I decide to bust out the carnifexes and maybe get cheeky with a few Toxicrenes, I’m not going to get destroyed.  Really, like most of us, I just want there to be more than one or two viable units in my army with more than one or two viable army builds. Thanks for reading, and I’m warning you now, when New 40K drops and I’ve had time to digest and playtest, you can be sure that my articles will return en masse.  In the meantime, go check out TFG Radio. You know you’ll miss me.

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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.

14 Responses to “Tyranids: Hope is the first step to disappointment”

  1. Michael Corr April 26, 2017 1:11 am #

    Awesome work, some really nice wish listing there!
    I hope that Tyranids get some of their bite back. I remember in 3rd edition, Nids were the scariest army to face if you played Marines. Those Genestealers could chew through anything you could throw at them.

    • Danny Ruiz April 26, 2017 6:54 am #

      Yes, although a few early confirmations are making me smile. And oh yah, 3rd edition was so fun to watch hormagaunts flood the board with the genestealers came in and just murderized anything in their way, and even the Hive Tyrant could kill just about any other character. Good times. Good times.

  2. DustyK April 26, 2017 5:55 am #

    Speaking to the end of your post about recycling, I’d love to see a mechanic for us that’s similar to the Flesh Eater Court in AoS. They allow regeneration in a way I think would work great for the Nids.

    The Flesh Eaters have Ghouls that can be regenerated by a courtier. I think a Tervigon would be great to regenerate units rather than spawn new ones (then stop spawning after turn 1), especially if we go to paying for summons like in AoS.

    • Danny Ruiz April 26, 2017 6:53 am #

      Yes, I’d actually really love that as it would make sense that we are essentially fueling ourselves with the biomass of the fight. Also, in AoS, you spend points for new units, but you don’t for regenerating units.

      • Tal April 26, 2017 9:03 am #

        I’d like to see it handled like Tyranids in Epic Armageddon where a Tyranid fight is like an infestation and you draw more to the fight as long as you have synapse. That would work for the Lictor pheromone trail and go back to making it worth taking more synapse creatures.

  3. AngryPanda April 26, 2017 8:26 am #

    The title pretty much says it all. None of the rules changes mean anything if the general attitude at GW doesn’t change from thinking the Space Marine version of a monstrous creature should get a 2+ instead a 3+, move 30″ instead of 6″ and have instant death attacks and a torrent flamer.

    • Danny Ruiz April 26, 2017 8:37 am #

      Thanks to the playtesting by actual competitive players, I am willing to trust that that kind of disparity will not be as wide.

      • AngryPanda April 26, 2017 9:41 am #

        Let them prove me wrong and look like a miserable cynic once it comes out. That’ll be great.
        I’ve looked like an idiot before I can live with that 😉
        Until then though I go with my gut feeling of how they have operated since 1990.
        Even without playtesters they had to know they are favoring some armies and I don’t see that bias vanishing all of a sudden.

  4. WestRider April 26, 2017 9:56 am #

    From what we’ve seen leaked of 8th so far, I’m fairly confident that none of your detailed suggestions will come to pass, simply because the core game is changing enough that they’ll get re-worked from the ground up rather than tweaked like that.

    That said, I’m also fairly confident that we’re not going to see nearly the spread of power levels between Factions that we have in 7th. I’m really looking forward to being able to pull my Nids out of my storage unit again 🙂

    • Danny Ruiz April 26, 2017 10:40 am #

      I doubt I’ll be super prophetic, but a few things are looking good. Chargers swing first is in and everything can hurt everything, so suddenly our little Gants get to punch Knights to death. That definitely makes them far more viable.

  5. crispy86 April 26, 2017 11:26 am #

    Looking at AOS its sort of easy to imagine Tyranids with Death like abilities. Additional attacks and bonus to hit when near certain synapse characters etc.

    Their monstrous creatures being behemoth like creatures with winners and losers. Probably being crap at face value, but better when combined with character support and losing efficiency as they lose wounds. Just my opinion based on what you currently see in AOS, and with the new kharadron overlords having transport vehicles.. even easier to imagine them adapting that ruleset to 40k.

  6. winterman April 26, 2017 3:23 pm #

    One thing not mentioned I hope they address is all the broken alternate deployment rules Tyranids have. They tried really hard in the 5/6ed books to theme Tyranids around this scary ‘threats from everywhere’ army.. And ultimately they failed. Trygon tunnels were a joke. Reserve rules favors shooting over assault, so things like ravenors deepstriking and lictors appearing was fairly lackluster. etc etc. I hope they get that right this time.

    If AoS is any indication of what that could look like I am very hopeful.

  7. Luke April 26, 2017 5:24 pm #

    Reece was Geoff one of the playtesters for you guys? If so, I’m sold that 8th will be a solid edition for Nids 🙂

  8. AngryPanda April 27, 2017 1:46 pm #

    “here to not actually go over a Tyranid unit because those days are done, for now.”
    I’m gonna catch my breath before it starts again with every single revamped unit.

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