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Much like the rest of their codex, the Tyranids have some fantastic choices in the troops department. This is awesome for a number of reasons, not the least of which is that it makes unlocking detachment quite easy for them, but also because having the mainstay units in a book be exciting is great!
Tyranid Warriors are the first offering in the troops slot, and one I am very fond of. They are quite cheap for what you get at 20pts base which is incredible considering they’re T4 with 3 wounds and a 4+, with 3 attacks base, plus providing not only Synapse but Shadows in the Warp as well. That is a lot of positive from the word go. Their standard kit is Scything Talons and a Devourer, which is not bad, but you’re probably going to want to up-gun them a bit with at least Boneswords which are only 2pts per model and give you AP-2 and a bonus attack. Or, go super choppy and take 2 pairs of Boneswords which clocks in at only 24pts per model and looks bad ass, too! Toss in Adrenal Glands for that sweet +1″ to advance and charge rolls and you’ve got a solid melee unit. Alternatively, consider a Sword and Lash Whip in there as you may lose an attack but you gain the ability to swing before you are removed as a casualty in the fight phase so long as you have not yet swung. This creates some awesome tactical advantages as once your stuck in to multiple, grinding melees, if you really need another unit to swing first, you can, and then your opponent may be reluctant to actually attack the Warriors knowing it will trigger their ability. Alternatively you could just keep them dirt cheap and go with dual Scything Talons which for 20pts, gaining 4 attacks, re-rolling 1’s to hit is not bad at all. 1 extra point for the Adrenal Glands (essentially mandatory in my mind for an assault unit) and 63pts nets you a cheap melee troop unit that also provides synapse and shadows in the warp.
Personally, I prefer to go with one pair of Boneswords and a Deathspitter as my favorite combination as that nets you the melee punch and a powerful shooting weapon, too. The Deathspitter is strength 5, AP-1, 24″ assault 3. Basically, each Tyranid Warrior is packing a shorter ranged Heavy Bolter that can move and shoot with no penalty. When backed up with a Tyranid Prime, they go up +1 BS and WS, meaning they hit on 3’s with shooting and on 2’s in melee. They love the Single-Minded Annihilation stratagem as if you have a full unit of 9, they pump out 54 strength 5, AP-1 shots! That is some serious firepower and will melt many units with ease. I toss in that Adrenal Glad and the net ticket is 28pts per model. Not bad. Their heavier ranged weapons are worth considering, too. The Barbed Strangler is what I usually take, as it is Strength 5, AP-1, D6 shots, Assault 36″ and gains +1 to hit vs. units with 10+ models. Not bad for a 10pt price tag. However, the Venom Cannon is also solid at 20pts with an assault 36″, D3 shot, strength 8, AP-2, D3 damage profile. Either of these you can take one of for every 3 models in the unit. Alternatively, you could stick with the Devourer and up-gun to the Flesh Hooks for even more strength 4 shots (2 at 6″ with the ability to fire into and out of combat on the hooks), for 6 shots per model.
As you can see, you have a LOT of options. Tyranid Warriors are now cheap enough to really be considered for your list and while not as purely punchy as Genestealers, or shooty for the points as Devourer Gants, they can be good at both and again, provide that all important Synapse and Shadows in the troops slot. If you run them in anything more than just small units, it is certainly worth taking the Tyranid Prime as his buff for them makes them much, much more effective. They also work well in any Hive Fleet, but I have found Jormungandr to benefit them extremely well as they tend to want to walk up the table shooting and then going into melee. The +1 to their save for counting as being in cover helps a ton, plus the ability to deliver them and their Prime into combat along with a Trygon, Mawloc or Raveners is an awesome little package, especially if you make the Prime your warlord and give him the ignores cover Jormungandr Warlord Trait. I am working on a unit of 9 with Adrenal Glands, Deathspitters and Boneswords for my army as I type this. However, they can also be played aggressively with Behemoth or Kraken, purely shooty in Kronos, etc. They work with all of the Hive Fleets quite well, as you’d expect them to. They also love the Onslaught power as they tend to be equipped for shooting and melee, and the ability to move+advance and still charge for them is very solid. I am a big fan of Tyranid Warriors and continue to use them in my lists.
Genestealers are the iconic Tyranid unit, in my mind. They are a core part of the lore of the game and just all around cool. They’ve also been returned to glory! They, like Khorne Berzerkers, hit like a freight train again and inspire fear in those facing them…as they should! Genestealers are crazy quick, moving 8+D6″ as they are able to assault after advancing. Once in melee, they pack 3 strength 4, AP-1 attacks each that go to AP-4 on a 6+ to wound. They gain an additional attack if they’re in a unit of 10+ Genestealers as well. For defense they’ve got 1 wound and T4 with a 5++ which is great when fighting high powered melee models like say, Magnus, but leaves them vulnerable to small arms fire which is why you will often be buffing them with Catalyst. They also gain the benefit of +1 to hit if within 6″ of a Broodlord in the fight phase. In terms of options they don’t have a ton but they do get Scything Talons for free, which if you choose to use them you lose any AP but gain re-rolls of 1 to hit which is awesome when facing units that have invul saves such as Daemons. You can also take an Acid Maw or Flesh Hooks on one in every four Genestealers. The Acid Maw is nice, giving you AP-3 attacks. Lastly, you may opt to pay 2pts per model to gain a 4+ but lose the ability to advance and still charge. Not a trade I’d make but perhaps in some Hive Fleets it makes sense.
Most interestingly though, they gained the Infestation ability which allows you to start them off of the table. You place 4 markers in your deployment zone and so long as no enemy units are within 9″ of a marker (which causes it to be removed form play), you can bring in a unit of Stealers within 6″ of it, counting as their move, after which the marker is removed. This is fantastic to help the unit get through a potential Alpha Strike at the expense of less movement on the first turn. As stated in Part 2 of this article, if you are bringing Swarmy you can make them move again in your Shooting phase to help mitigate this. If your enemy is coming at you though, you will probably be in range to attack regardless. You want to use this when facing a powerful shooting army where you lack the ability to hide or if you don’t want your opponent to know where you will deploy them. Otherwise, just start on the table.
Genestealers in my experience work best in units of 20, backed by a Broodlord. This gives you a whopping 80 attacks hitting on 2’s from a full strength charge, 160 if you use the Adrenaline Surge stratagem…which is just comical overkill in most cases. And if you really, really want to go to crazy town give them Toxin Sacs for 4pts per model which is pricey, but it means 6+’s to wound will be AP-4 and 2 damage a pop. If you find yourself facing vehicles a lot, it is worth the investment as it means the Stealers will rip them to shreds. Alternatively, you can min/max them to fill troop slots and at only 60pts for 5 with basic kit, it’s not a bad option to go hunt objectives and back-filed units. I prefer Behemoth for them for the re-roll to charge, but Kraken is amazing too for the ability to leave combat and still charge plus the 3d6 take the highest Advance move which massively benefits them. Honestly though, they work in any Hive Fleet as they all have something to offer. No matter how you run them though, Genestealers force your opponent to deal with them as they just hit too hard to ignore.
Termagants are an absolute all-star of a troop unit. While many are drawn to the Hormagaunt (and for good reason) Termagants have a lot to be excited about and I rarely play a game without at least 30 of them. Termagants pack a 12″, strength 4, Assault 1 Fleshborer, and are pretty wimpy themselves at strength 3, T3 with a 6+. They also self-buff, re-rolling 1’s to wound if they number 20 or more in their unit. However, they’re only 4pts each and are absolutely excellent for board control, screening and grabbing objectives. When backed up by Synapse to keep them fearless and a Malanthrope or Venomthropes for -1 to be hit (which, they always should be), they’re not easy to clear out. Combo this with Jormungandr or Leviathan and they become pretty dang tough. I enjoy using them with a Tervigon to regenerate them and give them re-rolls of 1 to hit in the shooting phase, although you can make a good argument for simply taking more Gants, instead. That has it’s merits but I have had really good results by keeping the same unit pumped up with reinforcements to avoid giving up kill points, stay in a specific location or keep a unit tied up in combat, etc. There are also a number of stratagems that benefit the Termagants, such as Scorch Bugs which gives their Fleshborers +1 to wound, or Caustic Blood which causes your models to deal mortal wounds to the enemy in the fight phase on a 6 when killed. For a screen unit this is amazing as they’re going to die anyway, and if you can take out half a unit of Berzerkers as they kill you then well done! Also worth considering are the Spinfists which while only strength 3, are Pistols allowing you to shoot them in melee, where these gents often find themselves for long periods of time.
Or, you can turn these little buggers into damage output machines! If you opt to give them the Devourer they go to Assault 3, strength 4 shots at 18″. That is tripling their firepower and increasing their range by 50%. it also doubles their cost up to 8pts per model which is significant. However, you have the opportunity to deal staggering damage with this unit. If you take a full unit of 30, it runs you 240pts, but it also gives you a whopping 90 shots which when you apply the Single-Minded Annihilation stratagem, turns into an absurd 180 shots, lol. As they re-roll 1’s to wound on their own in a unit that big, and can also re-roll 1’s to hit if near a Tervigon, you can just smash things to bits with this unit. This works best coming out of reserves, often with a Trygon or in a Tyrannocyte. In Jomungandr, they can come in with a Mawloc or Raveners as well. If you don’t want to go whole hog, another strategy that works well is to mix a unit with Devourers and Fleshborers. The standard Gants are there to act as wound caddies, buying you more shots out of each Devourer before they go down. This strategy works great with a Tervigon who can regenerate the expendable models as you go while buffing their shooting attacks.
Hormagants are the faster, meaner, punchier cousins of Termagants! These little guys boast the same basic stats at strength and toughness 3, with only a modest 6+ save, but they move 8″ and have 2 base attacks, re-rolling 1’s to hit in melee thanks to their Scything Talons, and 1’s to wound as well if in a unit of 20 or more. However, the real magic is in the fact that they pile in and consolidate 6″! That is crazy and allows you to pull off some serious shenanigans, grabbing lots of units into one big scrum and stopping them from shooting. They don’t have a lot of options but for my money, unless you are using them as a screen, Adrenal Glands are mandatory. The +1″ to charge and advance dramatically improves their performance, especially if you have them come out of reserves with a Trygon or something similar where the +1 makes a very big difference in the odds of you making the charge, particularly when combined with a Hive Fleet like Behemoth for the re-roll. Swarmlord also compliments them especially well for tactics like this as they will move to within 1″ of enemy units after deep striking, assuring the charge and then allowing them to exploit any gaps in the enemy lines to worm into their army, stop them from shooting and holding them in place while the other units follow up and do the actual damage. Hormagants are very, very good and while they don’t kill a lot on their own, their tactical application is immense and they work particularly well in aggressive Tyranid armies or as a part of your assault forces. Expect them to die in droves but to change the course of the game for you, dictating what your opponent deals with.
Lastly we have the humble Ripper Swarms. These feisty little ankle biters are seriously an awesome unit. So damn good at winning missions that it is stupid! For a measly 11pts per base and coming in units of 3, you get a troop that can deep strike for only 33pts, and has 9 wounds in total. That is amazing. They don’t kill anything, they don’t shoot (unless you buy them their Spinemaw which, pro tip: don’t), they don’t even look scary, lol, but they’re small, easy to hide and you can put them where you need them to quietly score points for you and win the game while the bigger, flashier units are doing the fighting and dying. I can’t tell you how many times Rippers have won me the game, it’s silly. The fact that they are a troop is just icing on the Ripper cake. They unlock detachments for you and then stay safely off of the table until you need them to appear somewhere out of the way on the table and earn you mission points. I usually take 2 units of 3 but now with Genestealers also being able to stay off of the table, you can make a fairly solid argument for 5 strong Stealer units as they can impact the game more if needs be but Rippers have a special place in my heart and my lists just don’t feel right without the little buggers!
Troops done! Next: Elites, which you can read here!
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