Hello all, Danny here from TFG Radio, and yet again, we take a look at the leader beans of the Tyranid Codex, and today brings us to the Tyranid Prime, under-utilized but a serviceable budget character. Of course, you should check out bevy of articles over at Frontline’s Tactics Corner!
The Tyranid Prime is a budget leader that provides Synapse, spreads around Shadows of the Warp, and can still offer some punch, all for one of the lowest prices in the codex.
Weapons and Upgrades
- Scything Talons: Melee weapon, Strength user, AP -0, D1, reroll 1s to hit. If equipped with 2, +1 attack.
- Devourer: Range 18 Assault 3 S4 AP 0 D1 gun.
- Spine Fists: Range 12 Pistol 4 S3 AP 0 D1 gun.
- Deathspitter: Range 24 Assault 3 S5 AP -1 D1 gun. If you want range, this is the best option.
- Rending Claws: Melee weapon. Strength User, AP -1, D1, and on a roll to wound of 6, the attack becomes -3 AP.
- Boneswords: Melee weapon. Strength User, AP -2, D1, and +1 attack for each pair.
- Bonesword and Lashwhip: Melee weapon. Strength User, AP -2 D1, and if this model is killed in melee before it attacks, it may be chosen to attack before it is removed.
- Flesh Hooks: Range 6 Assault 2 S5 D1 gun that can be fired within 1 of an enemy and can target enemies within 1 of a friendly unit. You can take this as well as a ranged weapon or two melee weapons.
- Adrenal Glands: +1 to charge and advance rolls. If you want melee, auto-include.
- Toxin Sacs: Rolling a 6 to wound is +1 damage in melee. For 1 point, not bad at all.
So that is a lot of upgrades. It is worth noting that a Prime can only ever take one ranged weapon (except for Flesh Hooks, which you can add on). Again, I really do think a Prime would see more table time if it could take a basic bio-cannon. Bone Sword and Lashwhip is also not really enough to consider as Boneswords are just better for the +1 to attack, and Primes just don’t hit hard enough to where it is worth it to guarantee some swings. As always, Adrenal Glands are worth their points if you want to be melee focused, which is where the Prime excels. Toxin Sacs are so cheap on a single model unit that isn’t a monster, namely the Prime, so it is typically worth it.
- Shadow in the Warp: -1 to psychic tests within 18″. Does not affect TYRANID units.
- Synapse: Fearless bubble of 12 inches.
- Alpha Warrior: +1 to hit for HIVE FLEET Tyranid Warrior units within 6 inches. That’s +1 to any To Hit roll, so shooting and melee. Also, the Codex Prime does not buff Shrikes anymore as they are no longer in the codex.
So there are not a lot of special rules here, but the ones that the Prime have matter quite a deal. Synapse is crucial for Tyranids, particularly for our little bugs as being essentially Fearless is huge, and since the Prime is cheap, having a Synapse creature that can hide thanks to being a 6 Wound character is not bad at all, especially for ensuring that fast moving or reserve-entering Bugs have Synapse somewhere nearby, if only to mitigate Instinctive Behavior. The same goes for SitW as being able to have a forward beacon of -1 to cast can really help slow down psychic heavy armies like Chaos. Lastly, Alpha Warrior can be huge if you build for it, which most do not, but that might change.
So, what can we do with this bug? First, and likely the most common use, is a budget HQ slot for a detachment. At 100 points base and 100 points if taken with only scything talons, this is a bit more expensive than Neurothrope, but it does provide either some offensive output that is not reliant on any psychic abilities. Even with just scything talons, that is 5 attacks that reroll a WS 2+ at S5. While these attacks don’t have any AP or extra damage, they are certainly enough to add a few wounds to a chaff unit or even sneak in a bit of extra damage on a more durable unit. Since the Prime is all about granting Synapse, it is going to be up close to the front lines as is, so being able to send it forward to do some damage along with Hormagaunts or some melee Warriors is not a bad idea. The Prime can also load up to do a bit of damage with a Deathspitter for essentially a short range heavy bolter, and this can be a great build for simply escorting a Gant wall of some kind or as camping the backfield with some Biovores.
A dedicated melee Prime isn’t a terrible investment. With 2 boneswords, adrenal glands, and Toxin Sacs, a melee Prime is pumping out 6 attacks at WS 2+, S5 AP-2 with a chance for 2 damage. Really, if you are looking to cut points, losing the Adrenal Glands saves a bit, but this makes the Prime a mini-Broodlord for about 50 less points. This is a decent amount of punch for the price, and if you are using the Prime as a frontline Synapse beacon to get stuck in with your Gant screen, this is a good way to do it. This is especially true if running Leviathan where you need to keep other bugs within 6 of a Synapse creature, and the Prime is cheap enough to bring several, but still capable of doing some decent damage when the line gets stuck in. The bonesword Prime also works well as Gorgon for a 2+ reroll to those melee attacks, and a unit of 30 fleshborer Termagants with a melee Prime for support is not all that expensive but with a surprising punch when run in Gorgon.
You can also go for a more shooty Prime with a Deathspitter for camping in the back and keeping a gunline in Synapse. While 24 inches isn’t a big deal, it is enough range to engage enemies that start to close in on the Gun-beasts. While expensive, a Deathspitter/Bonesword Prime is a good babysitter as it can shoot at threats and still get into combat. Since the Prime is a character under 10 wounds, it can safely sit between two Exocrines or a gaggle of Biovores and be safe while adding just a bit of firepower of its own. Of course, Kronos helps here too by giving the Prime just a bit more accuracy when it shoots. Since the Prime only gets to bring one gun, it is not going to be an overwhelming fire base or a sniper, but it does grant Synapse to those bugs that do, and it can still roll up its sleeves and punch when needed. Deathspitter and Boneswords gives you a pretty versatile character that can fight well enough but can also still shoot at more distant threats.
The other tactic is to fully dedicate to Warriors and get the most mileage out of the Alpha Warrior rule. This is not a tactic to ignore, but I understand that Warriors have not been that great for a few editions, but times have changed. I won’t belabor the point too much (I’ll save that for the Warrior article soon enough), but granting a flat +1 To Hit bonus to Warriors is a lot of extra value. This is particularly true for melee Warriors as they are exceedingly inexpensive for 3 Wounds at T4, and with 4 attacks with a reroll thanks to the +1 to Hit and scything talons at only 20 points, that can result in a high volume of attacks at a low cost. You even get more out of the high volume Tyranid shooting with upgunned Warriors packing Deathspitters. Getting them to hit on 3s (with maybe even reroll 1s in Kronos) makes a unit of 9 Warriors a veritable fountain of death, especially with the whole Single-Minded Annihilation stratagem. While this may not threaten Magnus or Mortarion, it will blitz through most chaff screens like infiltrating Alpha Legion cultists. If you really worry about heavy armor, a squad of 9 with 3 Venom Cannons near a Prime and Single-Minded Annihilation does a bit of work although again, not against Magnus or Mortarion.
You can also go for pure melee kill and give each Warrior double Boneswords for 5 attacks each at -2 AP, and again as Gorgon, with a 2+ rerollable if near a Prime. This also gives you access to Hyper Toxicity, with on a unit of 9 Warriors near a Prime equals a lot of extra damage if they bring Toxin Sacs. Another interesting avenue for shooting is to actually go Jormungandr for the cover save. Warriors and a Prime with Deathspitters and Boneswords can walk up the field laying down suppressing fire, and the Warriors are packing a 3+ armor save (and the Prime is packing a 2+ in case of any pesky Snipers). You could also go with Leviathan for a nice 6+ Feel No Pain style save for the Warriors and the Prime, making them just a bit more resilient, and since they are Synapse, they always have that save, and you also have plenty of Synapse beacons to spread the save to other units in your army.
In general, it is not a bad idea to consider Jormungandr simply for the ability to deploy a Prime along with a Ravener escort after a Trygon delivers a big unit of Warriors right into the enemy’s face. This ensures that you can always keep your Prime nearby Warriors, but you can also simply delay a turn or 2 and walk the Prime up and have the Warriors arrive nearby. Really, in just about any Hive Fleet, the Prime has its place.
Of course, the Prime is going to get passed over a lot, and sometimes, this is justified. If you just want a dirt cheap HQ to help fill out a detachment or babysit a fire base, a Neurothrope is just better as it is cheaper, and with access to Smite and one other power, there is still some offense there. The Neurothrope also has a 3++ rather than a flat 3+, so it is a bit more survivable. A Malanthrope is also cheaper (although if the rumors about Chapter Approved are true, not anymore), and a flat -1 to hit is damn great defense. If you are really trying to squeeze efficiency out of a list, a Neurothrope is just better at it.
The Prime also has no multiple damage weapon, so you have to rely on Toxin Sacs to be able to do a quick burst of damage. At Strength 5, you are not going to threaten armor, and you are still wounding on 3s against basic infantry, which is not at all ideal. Yes, as the Prime is a character, you can use Voracious Appetite for the reroll to wound, but that is better saved for Monsters and Characters that hit far harder. The Prime is also one dimensional in many ways: having a 3+ to hit Deathspitter is nice, but is it 105 points nice? Not really. I hate to say it again, but I think GW missed the mark by not giving Prime’s access to bio-cannons or at least double-stacking on shooting weapons. It would open up more possibilities for the Prime.
Well, the Prime isn’t the red-headed stepspawn of the Hive Mind anymore, and there are certainly some fun and interesting ways to use one, but unless you are dedicated to a specific tactic (probably Warrior-centric), a Neurothrope is just cheaper and a Broodlord is just more of a melee threat, but I do think a Prime has its place. A lot of players will be caught off guard how much a Prime turns Warriors into vicious killers.
And due to popular demand, overall, I’d score the Prime a rather sad 65 out of 100. From a purely competitive perspective, a Neurothrope is just better for cheap HQ, and a Broodlord or Hive Tyrant is better for an offensive weapon that is worth the increase in points. I do think a Warrior heavy army could put in work, but one narrow build is just that, one narrow build, so yes, you may just see a Prime or two in a competitive list, but it is likely not the most efficient choice.
Thanks as always for reading, and let us carry forth on this grand adventure of exploring everything the Hive Mind has to offer. Until next time, why not check out my homesite of TFG Radio (we are having a contest), and of course, be sure to get those tickets for LVO!
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