Tyranid Index Review: HQs

Hello again all, Danny from TFG Radio here to start the review process all over again.  Since it is unclear when our brand new 8th edition codex will drop, I thought I’d take a general look at each Force Organization slot to give a rough rating of how our individual units are in this wondrous new world.  Of course, you should also be reading Frontline’s Tactics Corner for even more goodness.

I will rate everything on a scale of 0 to 100, 0 being absolutely unplayable in any format, and 100 being broken and could use an adjustment.  Anything in the 90s is amazing, and really, 70s and above means playable in a competitive format.  Let’s go!

Hive Tyrant

The Hive Tyrant has fallen a bit off its perch as the best unit that Tyranids have to offer, and I for one am happy as all hell about it.  This is not to say the Hive Tyrant is bad, far from it, but it is simply not the obvious spammable choice.

The Hive Tyrant, for about the same points, received a few key upgrades.  They still have the 12 inch Synapse bubble, which is great since most everyone got bumped down to 8.  The Hive Mind also upped the defense here with a nifty 5+ invulnerable save, which has been sorely needed.  They still know 2 psychic powers as well as Smite, which increases their offense just a bit, and they hit in melee on a flat 2+.   I find that melee Tyrants, walking or flying, are actually solid.  If you take Monstrous Rending Claws, which are a free upgrade (to be fair, we’ll see how long this lasts as it may be an oversight), a melee Tyrant costs a shade under 150 points for 10 wounds, 3+/5++, pysker, melee-beat stick.  A flying version is under 180.   Taking a few of these bad boys and rushing forward can be scary.

Of course, the standard Flyrant build is now much less effective.  Devourers with Brainleech worms are just a sub-par choice as it is just flat out better to take the upgraded Deathspitter for +1 Strength and -1 AP.  There is no more twin-linked, so a four-gunned Flyrant still pumps out 12 shots, but no rerolls.  That said, a Flyrant does not have the Hard to Hit rule, so they are easily engaged in melee, and without a melee weapon, they are not too impressive at all.   They are also easy to kill at range since without the Hard to Hit rule, they can die to 2 lascannon shots.

Cheap melee Tyrants or the standard Dakka Flyrants are good to have for fast flankers.  A good trick with the Flyrant is to rush up the side of the board, whittle down some chaff, then charge a vehicle or a softer target to get tied up.  Next turn, you can Fall Back over your opponent’s lines and start character hunting.

70/100.  Passing grade. Good potential here with some workable builds, but taking more than 1 or 2 (unless you are doing something crazy, and I like crazy) will likely be a detriment.

Tyranid Prime

This little bug may get the award for most improved HQ choice.  With more or less the same stats except a buff to wounds, this little leader bug is inexpensive with a few decent weapon options and a nice aura ability.

At just about 100 points stock, the Prime is drastically cheaper than before.  It hits on a 2+ in melee and a 3+ in shooting, and it adds +1 to hit for all Warrior and Shrike units within 6.  This can really help get some extra mileage out of these units, who are also much improved.  Because a Prime is under 10 wounds, it is quite safe by hiding behind a wall of Gants, and with 2 sets of Bone Swords, it can pump out 6 attacks that hit on 2s at S5 AP -2.  That’s not too shabby for a Synapse beacon that cannot be easily targeted.  The Prime can also be upgraded with Adrenal Glands for that sweet +1 inch to charge and advance or Toxin sacs for extra wounds on 6s.

While the Prime is great, it hurts not having the option to take some of the heavier bug artillery.  Being able to take a bio-cannon would really up their stock as cheap Synapse beacons that also lay down a bit of ranged firepower.  Let’s also be real: Malanthropes are cheaper and provide a much stronger defensive buff, so unless you are running a Warrior/Shrike heavy list, it is just better to take the Malanthrope.  Hopefully the Tyranid Codex will give the Prime a bit of extra love.

60/100. Not passing.  There is a lot of good here, but the Prime is outshined by the Malanthrope, and it is really only a good idea with a specific army build.


The Queen Bee itself saw a lot of changes in the index.  The Tervigon is still a baby making machine, and it got a huge boost in both wounds and toughness, but it also received a big price increase.

On the sunny side of life, the Tervigon evolved into one of our beefiest monsters with 14 wounds and Toughness 8.  That’s respectable.  It is still a psyker, so Smite is good, and it is one of the few ways to add models to the game without reinforcement points.  The Tervigon also buffs nearby Termagants in shooting, which is awesome, and it is still Synapse.  I love having a Termagant wall with a mix of devourers and fleshborers, and each turn, the Tervigon replenishes those Fleshborer Gants so the unit can take casualties and still have all the right shooting I need.  While quite expensive, dropping a unit of 30 Termagants from a Trygon and Tervigon in a Tyrannocyte is a mean way to set up a mostly autonomous base anywhere on the table, and 60-90 S4 shots that reroll 1s to hit and to wound can do a fair bit of damage, and the Trygon, Termagants, and Tyrannocyte can aim their guns wherever they please thanks to the Synapse.  You can also save points to spawn a whole new unit, which can be clutch for taking objectives.

Unfortunately, the Tervigon is our most expensive generic HQ choice that has little offensive capabilities other than Smite and a 4 shot heavy bolter. If charged, a Tervigon is not going to do much work at all, and with Crushing Claws, it is hitting on 5s.  Ouch.   Worse yet, the Tervigon also has no defensive abilities, so while T8 and 14 wounds is great, without an invulnerable save on such a large model, a few lascannons or missile launchers is going to ruin its day, fast.  When I’ve deployed one on the table, it does not last long as there is a bit of contradictory synergy here:  The Tervigon wants to hang with the little bugs, but since it is a Monster with 14 wounds, it is easy to target and well, who is going to shoot heavy weapons at the little ones when the big one is right there?  Plus, the Tervigon does mortal wounds when it dies to any Gants nearby, so there is even more incentive to kill it.

30/100.  Big fail, sad to say. I love the model, but the Tervigon is really only for casual, narrative games or if you really want to spend half of your army on a mobile base that drops in unexpectedly, which isn’t entirely effective as this costs about 840 points, depending on upgrades.  That’s quite a bit.

Old school is the best school.


Hey, this bug is new! Yes, the Broodlord is no longer an upgrade to Genestealers but a separate HQ choice.  This is not a bad thing at all as while the Broodlord is more expensive, it is a pretty slick melee beatstick that also brings some nice supporting abilities.

The Broodlord is no chump in fisticuffs.  With 6 attacks that hit on a 2+ at S5 with the chance to go to -6 AP and do auto 3 wounds, that’s pretty crazy, and Broodlords are great at taking out other mid-range characters or elite infantry.  The Broodlord also has the nifty ability of buffing nearby genestealers, letting them hit on 2+ in combat, and since Genestealers are one of the best units in the index, this just makes awesome even more awesome by adding some awesomesauce.  Of course, on its own, the Broodlord also has a nice 5+ invulnerable save and can advance and charge in the same turn. Finally, the Broordlord gets one psychic power and Smite, so there is a bit of ranged damage there or the chance to get that sweet Catalyst off on a nearby unit of Genstealers.  That’s a whole lot of kick ass.

There is no real downside to the Broodlord.  At strength 5, it is not going to wreck any vehicles, but then, that’s not really its MO. With only a 4+ save, the Broodlord isn’t going to survive any real attention, but then again, that’s not what the Broodlord is about.  It is all about hitting hard, hitting fast, and blending through some biomass. I suppose you could argue that Genestealers are best used with Tyrannocytes or Trygons, so they often outpace the Broodlord.

93/100. Solid A. The Broodlord is just a wonderful HQ choice that can do a lot of work.

Old One Eye:

The meanest bug that ever crawled out of the ice is back with a vengeance.  For a low price, you get an anti-tank melee threat and as bonus, you also get a force multiplier for your carnifexes.

OOE is still a mean, mean bug. Hitting on a rerollable 2+ with its Talons or a 3+ with its Crushing Claws , (since it benefits from its own aura), OOE is going to land some big hits at either S7 (when healthy) or S14 with the claws. OOE also still generates extra attacks, and OOE could theoretically generate 10 attacks in a single round. That’s some heat from a single model, especially at S7 with AP -3 or S14.  The +1 to hit aura also makes standard scream-killer carnifexes far more reliable with a 3+ to hit and rerolling 1s. This is also really the only way to make Crushing Claw Carnifexes viable as it allows them to hit on 4+ rather than 5+.   If you want to run Carnifexes, then OOE is your go-to bug, but even on its own, it is still a good, self-sufficient killer.

OOE is not a perfect bug as it is a bit slow and with only 10 wounds, not that hard to kill.  T7 and 10 wounds is not that big of a hurdle, and OOE has no defensive moves except for a 3+ save and healing 1 wound a turn.  You do need to either invest in target saturation to make it hard for the enemy to want to target it as opposed to a Swarmlord or other big Beastie, or you could also drop it off in a Tyrannocyte but if outside of Synapse, OOE still has to charge the nearest enemy, which isn’t ideal if your opponent has a lot of chaff.

85/100. Strong B that can do a lot of work solo or as part of an army of carnifexes, but there are some weaknesses to be sure. Still, you can take OOE and be reasonably confident in its abilities.


Our big baddy, the leader-bean of leader-beans, is back with a vengeance.  The Swarmlord is a named character to inspire terror in our enemies and fear in our allies.  A force multiplier and one of our best melee fighters, the Swarmlord is everywhere you need it to be.

Swarmy got a nice buff alongside other Hive Tyrants with an increase to 12 wounds, a WS 2+, and an increase of strength to 8 (when healthy). Swarmy still has a 4++ in melee, but it also gets the 5++ in general, so that helps keep it alive.  With Catalyst up and the Warlord trait of a 6+ “Feel No Pain”, Swarmy can be exceedingly hard to kill, especially with a few Tyrant Guard nearby.  Swarmy still brings the psychic tricks, and the real bonus is the Hive Commander ability, allowing a unit to move again in the shooting phase. This essentially lets you guarantee first turn charges or charges out of reserve as a unit can drop in more than 9 away and then get a full move towards the enemy.  Swarmy can do this to itself, so Swarmy dropping in with a Tyrannocyte and then moving itself is hilarious.  Swarmy does D6 damage in melee, so a healthy Swarmlord hitting a hard target is likely going to mean a dead target.  I have killed many a vehicle as well as big bad Bobby G with my Swarmlord.  In general, Swarmy is both an excellent threat and it makes our other threats better as 20 genestealers that move 16 +2d6 and then get the chance to charge is a whole lot of gravy.

On the downside, Swarmlord is our most expensive single model outside of Titantic models, and as a Monster, it can be still be shot down easy enough if you do not have the first turn to get Catalyst up on it.  Swarmlord also needs some assistance to really shine, either a Tyrannocyte to drop it into the fight or Tyrant Guard if it is going to saunter across the table.  Really, a Swamlord costs about 450 points or so as just taking Swarmy without a ride or guards is asking for a disappointing day.   That is a lot of points spoken for, but then, Swarmy is worth it.

95/100.  One of the best in the class. You should always consider the Swarmlord, and while it is not an autoinclude, it is almost so, depending on your build.

Thanks for reading as always, and I’ll be back to take a look at Troops next!  You should totally come see what we are up to at TFG Radio, and make sure to buy your LVO tickets as they are selling fast, and the super-ultra bonus for going is you get to scream JUDGE at me in person.

And remember, Frontline Gaming sells gaming products at a discount, every day in their webcart!



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.

22 Responses to “Tyranid Index Review: HQs”

  1. Reecius August 2, 2017 9:04 am #

    Good review, buddy. Swarmy, Broodlord are where it’s at right now, IMO. I also like the Tyranid Prime but I think that my opinion is in the minority, there.

    • Hugz August 2, 2017 9:34 am #

      I definitely agree the Prime is significantly improved over his previous incarnation, however, as long as the Malanthrope is 90 points, the Prime just isn’t tough, killy, or cheap enough to justify its inclusion.

      • Reecius August 2, 2017 9:39 am #

        If you run him with Warriors you get a lot of mileage out of him.

        • WestRider August 2, 2017 11:38 pm #

          Not really. It’s almost always better to just spend the same amount of Points on more Warriors than to take a Prime with them. Even after accounting for the work the Prime is doing itself.

          I really want to like the Prime, since I have a couple of them that I really love the Models I made, but they’re just not enough better than a regular Warrior to justify the additional price.

      • AbusePuppy August 2, 2017 9:15 pm #

        The Malanthrope is basically this edition’s incarnation of the Flyrant- he’s so absurdly undercosted there’s very little reason to consider much of anything else. Broodlords to support ‘Stealers, I suppose, but that’s about it.

  2. Don Tomaso August 2, 2017 9:27 am #

    Me like. Good job making tyranids fun and usable.

  3. Dakkath August 2, 2017 9:29 am #

    Instead of trygon+gants+tervigon+tyrranocyte, how about trygon prime+genestealers+broodlord+tyrranocyte? Stealers come out of the trygon tunnel, broodlord drops down next to them in the cyte.

    • Reecius August 2, 2017 9:41 am #

      Or have Swarmy double move him and drop even more Stealers in the Cyte!

    • JohnDrake6 August 2, 2017 10:53 am #

      How about Trygon with Stealers in the tunnel, then Trygon #2 with Broodlord? Trygon is only a bit more pricey than the tyrranocyte, no need for the prime (or maybe on one for the synapse redundancy).

      Adding Adrenal Glands on the trygons and you get a pretty easy 8″ charge for the big guys.

      pretty frightening at 762 points (for 20 genestealers) or 791 if one is a trygon prime.

  4. Nameless August 2, 2017 9:37 am #

    Good review. I’d rate everything fairly similarly. My builds tend to revolve around Swarmlord, trygon and carnifex. Though, while objectively the broodlord seems very good, I can’t figure out how to use it properly.

    If I send genestealers in by trygon, then broodlord is sad.
    If I hive commander genestealers, the broodlord is sad.

    How have you used your broodlord so that synergies don’t disappear? Or does it matter?

    • winterman August 2, 2017 10:30 am #

      Just to see, I tried putting him in a tyranocyte, but really didn’t seem worth it.

      I wish tyrannocytes worked like other transports and it could any combination of units rather than 1. Getting a broodlord and malanthrope and some other units in position woulda been perfect.

      Right now you are stuck trying to string back to him for the bonus or just not getting it until he catches up. Or if you use 3 units of stealers you likely have two that are first in and the 3rd is the anvil that hit later with full broodlord support.

    • JohnDrake6 August 2, 2017 11:03 am #

      I’ve done multiple large units of stealers with a broodlord with good success. Backed up with Biovores tossing in mortal wounds and several Hive Guard with impaler cannons causing a lot of threat to vehicles, the opponent has to make difficult choices. I’ve tried a 3 venomthrope squad with it to good effect.

      Using a command point to reroll an advance roll, and you end up with an average of a 12.5″ move.

      And even if the synergies disappear, a unit over 10 can be ridiculously dangerous (get 15 in to a unit, you have 60 attacks hitting on 3s – usually 40 hits, almost seven rends and 13 -1AP wounds against MEQ, vs terminators, you actually average taking down 4 of them, and against MEQ you get an average of 13.5 dead marines.

    • Threllen August 2, 2017 11:34 am #

      You can try combining the two (although you’ll need a fair bit of luck with the broodlord’s advance rolls). He gets 8″ + D6 advance so you can send the Genestealers with the Trygon and then have the Swarmlord boost the Broodlord and give him a 16″ + 2D6 range. Not guaranteed to make it but it will help.

    • Nameless August 2, 2017 2:22 pm #

      Good tips, thanks guys. I tend to try to diversify a bit, but I think I’ll go with 3 units of genestealers next game and see how I like that.

      As it is, I use some stone crusher carnifexes (since they can’t be hive commander-ed together) for that second wave after the trygon pops up and the hive commandered unit gets into assault.

  5. Edward Horne August 2, 2017 4:46 pm #

    Great review man! I am really trying to find the best competitive build for bugs. Our shooting isn’t all that good so the fast attack close combat armies seem to be where it’s at. Swarms and Broodlord w/20 genestealers are basically auto-include. After that though I’m in debate on where to go from there. Tygrons w/homagaunts in the tunnel?

    What are your thoughts on a fast CC Nid build?

    • Danny Ruiz August 3, 2017 9:41 pm #

      I’ve used a fast CC army to good effect, using Hormies, Stealers, and Hive Crones for a lot of first turn charges. It works against a lot of armies, but it can lack the ability to chew through big waves of chaff fast enough before being shot to death. I am trying to rejigger the points to throw in a Deathleaper and maybe a full Devil-Gant unit in a Trygon Hole.

      We can definitely do fast CC, but genestealers or Devil-Gants are our only answers to big chaff, and both don’t stand up too well against a lot of dedicated firepower.

  6. NiallJC1984 August 3, 2017 2:44 pm #

    Thanks for this review! I’m looking at moving from Ad Mech to Tyranids (new to 40k nevermind 8th ed) and it’s a crazy jump from 17 Ad Mech options to 39 tyranid options!

  7. Andrew August 3, 2017 7:18 pm #

    I’ve been playing around with the tarpit swarm idea since 8th launched. I was curious if you think running a list with 2 Tervigons, 1 with warlord FNP trait the other with catalyst, then throwing in a malenthrope, 2 mawlocs, 2 exocrines, 2×30 17fleshborertoxinsac/13devouerer termagaunts with 5 hivegaurd would actually do some work?

    T8 is pretty hard to break then add a 3+ save and a 5+ or 6+ FNP/Catalyst, most armies can’t really deal with that easily.

    They wouldn’t shoot at them early on anyways because they’re not the biggest threats, the mawlocs and the exocrines are, which would benefit from shrouding on turn 1 from the malenthrope.

    Never take crushing claws on a Tervigon this edition Massive Scytal are just outright better. The jump from S7 to S14 doesn’t matter if you cant hit, the thing you want to hit. Getting an extra attack and rerolling 1’s with the same AP and Damage profile is just straight up better.

    I’ve got a lot of shooty threats that should draw fire off my tervigon’s, and the tervigons should never be in close combat until i want them to be, so I can just tarpit an army with the expendable toxinborer terma’s and just score points, whilst the exocrines & hiveguard are protected by the malenthrope aura.

    • Danny Ruiz August 3, 2017 9:45 pm #

      I want the Tervigons to work, but unfortunately, if you go against anything packing multiple lascannons or missile launchers, even with Catalyst up, they won’t live very long. Broodlords are better choices from my experience since they can still smite and fight much better than Tervigons, and they open up almost a 100 points for more little bugs. When I go swarm, I aim for 90+ bodies.

      I like Mawlocs with Swarm since it puts pressure on your opponent’s backline, and Exocrines are never bad nor are Hive Guard. I think you’d have better success against gunlines by dropping the Tervigons for a Broodlord and another Malanthrope and more little bugs. Plus, Little bugs with -1 to hit and Catalyst are surprising annoying to handle.

  8. Nids August 15, 2017 6:46 pm #

    Where’s the review of the malanthrope? Haven’t played since 3rd/4th these reviews have been helpful….it’s been a while.

  9. Tyranid guy August 28, 2017 3:15 am #

    Hey Danny, i’m new to nids, here is what I have so far; 1 swarmlord, 3 tyrant guard, 1 old one eye, 2 carnifexes, 1 Trygon/mawloc (can be a prime) 9 warriors, 9 ripper swarms, 3 biovores with 10 spore mine models. What should I get to make this a playable army? I am more into just running monsters, not really liking lots of termagaunts/hormagaunts. I am yet to play with it, but already see that I will not be able to deal with flying. Got a game thursday night against space marines.

    • Danny Ruiz August 28, 2017 6:21 am #

      Hey man,

      I would get yourself some genestealers. They are our best infantry, and since they are a bit pricier than our other infantry, they don’t turn into a true horde as quickly as possible. Even in a Monster list, at least one squad of 20 genestealers popping out with a Trygon really helps.

      If you want to dedicate to Monsters, I’d suggest finding a few more Carnifexes and a tyrannocyte or two to help with delivery. You also might want to grab another box of Tyrant guard as Swarmlord is sooo good, but you either need to drop it off with a Tyrannocyte or have 4+ tyrant guard to absorb some firepower. You won’t go wrong with another Trygon or Mawloc, or one of each, as Mawlocs make great distraction monsters and are cheap, and Trygons, even without a crew to drop off, are still decent threats.

      If you can, find some Malanthropes too. Our monsters don’t have a huge amount of defense, so the -1 to hit aura is important.

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