Tyranid Codex Review – Troops: Tyranid Warriors

Hey everyone, Danny from TFG Radio here again to talk about those bugs that love big bases and cannot lie: The Tyranid Warriors! Our middle-management bugs aren’t popular, but they can be a multi-threat unit that shoots and fights far better than most expect.

***This article has been updated for Chapter Approved 2018***

Equipment and Biomorphs:

  • Scything Talons – S4 AP 0 D1 weapon that rerolls 1s to hit. If you have two sets, +1 attack.
  • Rending Claws – S4 AP-1 D1 weapon that if rolls a 6 to wound becomes AP -4
  • Boneswords – S4 AP -2 D1 weapon that gives +1 attack.
  • Lash Whip and Bonesword – S4 AP -2 D1 weapon that allows you to fight in melee even if you’ve been killed.
  • Spinefists – Range 12”, S3 AP 0 D1 Pistol 3.
  • Devourer – Range 18”, S4 AP 0 D1 Assault 3.
  • Deathspitter – Range 24”, S5 AP -1 D1 Assault 3. (Decent firepower there)
  • Barbed Strangler – Range 36”, S5 AP -1 D1 Assault D6 that gives +1 to hit against units with 10 or more models. 1 per 3 models in unit.
  • Venom Cannon – Range 36”, S8 AP -2 Dmg D3 Assault D3. 1 per 3 models in unit.
  • Fleshhooks – Range 6”, S4 AP 0 D1 Assault 2 that can be fired within 1 of enemy units and target units within 1 of friendly units.
  • Toxin Sacs – A wound roll of 6+ in melee causes 1 additional damage.
  • Adrenal Glands – +1 to advance and charge distance.

Good Hive Mind, that is a lot of customization right there.

Special Rules:

  • Shadow in the Warp: -1 to psychic tests within 18″. Does not affect TYRANID units.
  • Synapse: Fearless bubble of 12 inches.

The Tyranid Warrior is slept on a bit here as its raw stats are pretty impressive for the price point.  You get Synapse, which is never bad, but you are also getting 3 Wounds at T4 with a 4+ save for 20 points.  That’s not entirely bad math there. You also get 3 attacks at WS 3+ and either 3 S4 shots or 3 S5 AP-1 shots on BS 4+.  Again, not too bad for our codex.    Warriors are also our only infantry unit that gets a flat bonus to all hit rolls, not just melee, and with a Prime, you suddenly have WS 2+ and BS 3+ Objective Secured Synapse creatures.  Not bad at all.

The Warrior unit has two big factors (other than synapse, which is just gravy).  First, they are highly customizable.  With just stock Devourers, they pump out decent fire power, but they can upgrade to Deathspitters, which received a nice boost with the addition of -1 AP to it, so even 5 or 6 Warriors with Deathspitters does 15-18 heavy bolter shots, more than enough to threaten a lot of smaller units or take decent chunks out of bigger units.  For every 3, you can get either a Barbed Strangler or a Venom Cannon, and typically, the Barbed Strangler is the way to go as it is more accurate against larger units, gets more shots on average, and the Venom Cannon doesn’t do enough damage, despite being S8. Chapter Approved did make the Venom Cannon more attractive as it is not nearly as expensive, but I’d still take the Barbed Strangler as Warriors in a shooting platform are better anti-infantry than anti-tank.  You can also load them up for combat with Bone Swords for -2 AP and an extra attack or even Rending Claws for -1 AP and the chance to go up to -4 AP.   This again means you have the option of either going for a shooty unit that maybe camps an objective and helps secure the backfield or for a more aggressive melee unit that is great at taking down other infantry.  I personally like a unit of 5 with Deathspitters and rending claws for a more toolbox unit that can hurt a variety of targets and still fights well enough that they cannot be brushed aside without some dedicated resources.   As infantry, they can also pop Singled Minded Annihilation to shoot twice, so one unit can put out 54 S5 AP-1 shots in a single turn (possibly on a 3+ reroll 1s if you take all the tricks) [ed note: Thanks for the keen eye]. To maximize their value, melee is likely the most efficient option though.

Second, they aren’t that expensive when stock, and a totally naked Warrior unit with just double Scything Talons (for +1 attack and reroll 1s) is only 60 points, barely more than a naked Hormagaunt squad.  A full unit of 9 popping up from a Tyrannocyte with either guns or just naked melee can actually be a serious threat to enemy chaff and even stronger squads.  A big blob of “Screamer Killer” Warriors is 41 S4 attacks at WS 3+, reroll 1s to hit.  That’s not bad for 180 points.  Even just the standard Devourer/Talon Warrior is only 24 points for a bit of range and a bit of fight.

As part of their customization, they really benefit from Hive Fleet traits.  Want a shooty unit that can actually fight a bit for your Kronos gunline? Warriors are great with a reroll to 1, especially if you bring the Prime.   Jormungandr is also a good choice for a 3+ armor save at range, so they can walk up the field, lay down fire, and be a bit more resilient to it back.   Gorgon is not a bad choice here as rerolling 1s to wound in melee only increases their points efficiency when they are naked.  Behemoth gets their charges more likely, and doing like a Tyrannocyte full of melee Warriors with Adrenal Glands is a pretty mean unit that is likely going to stick a rerollable 8 inch charge (this is also possible with Jormungandr for less points but spending 1 CP for the reroll).  Leviathan makes them more durable with an inherent 6+ Feel No Pain and since they are Synapse, they spread them out easier to others.  Kraken is awesome for the fall back and charge and the extra speed, and while a bit pricey, a big unit of deathspitters/claw Warriors with a Prime advancing up the field and laying down some S5 shots can catch people off guard.  Hydra isn’t ideal as chances are, they are not going to outnumber their opponent.

The downside to Warriors is that they are not that fast, even with Adrenal Glands, so they are often not going to be able to get up to the fight quickly, especially if they are shooting as well as with a BS 4+, you do not want that -1 penalty for advancing and shooting assault weapons. Their speed really relies on the usual Tyranid Tricks like Swarmlord or Tyrannocytes/Trygons, but this isn’t a good fix as these are expensive solutions (although cheaper now than they have been), and again, it is hard to justify using Swarmlord on Warriors when there are Genestealers.  Warriors out of Trygon holes or Tyrannocytes isn’t bad as this load out is much cheaper, but in terms of pure points efficiency, you get more kill out of other options. They lack a big, heavy hitting melee component, so they have to rely on volume of attacks, which is great against hordes, but not so much against anything T5 or above, especially anything T5+ and with a 3+ or better save.  Relying on S4 is not great, even with the -2 AP of the bone swords.  They are not characters or monsters, so they don’t get to reroll wounds for a CP.

They also can get expensive if you start upgrading like crazy, and then they become a prime target with weapons that do multiple damage.  Again, this is a bit of anti-synergy (called Skornegy in Warmachine) as Warriors are typically best as cheap Synapse beacons for the first wave for the little bugs, but because they are multi-wound models, most weaponry that would be wasted on the little ones is going right to them.  That said, if you take them with a lot of big nasties, then your opponent has to decide to either use those weapons against the big ones or against them.  They are fairly resilient, especially with the usual -1 to hit from Malanthrope/Venomthrope or Catalyst. Again, this is spending resources on them, and the reality is that there are other units that do what they do better.  They are not tanks though as any dedicated melee or shooting threat, especially those that do multiple damage, will quickly take care of them.  If you want a mean assault unit, Genestealers are better. If you want a good tarpit, Termagants/Hormagaunts are better.  Neurothropes are better cheap Synapse.  Hive Guard are better shooting units.  Getting them their buffs requires a Prime, which is now not really a big penalty, but it is still spending 70 points to help a possibly 200+ point unit do more.  This really is the worst part of the Warriors is that they are just outshined by other units.  This doesn’t mean they are bad, but there are just stronger choices overall in the codex. They are super legit in Kill Team though, just saying.

69/100. Barely failing, but also highly overlooked. I think a lot of people discount Warriors because of how worthless they were in 7th, but I do think they can be used to good effect, even in a competitive environment, but they are certainly not an optimal choice. If you want to take them, you are going to have to build around them rather than slot them in to another list archetype.

Thanks for reading, and be sure to tune back in next Sunday for more troops.  Also, since it is not as far as you think, start thinking about LVO, and maybe I’ll see you there.

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.

9 Responses to “Tyranid Codex Review – Troops: Tyranid Warriors”

  1. Brakhal October 11, 2018 7:18 am #

    Right now they’re suffering the “mid range syndrome”. Since the arrival of the ik codex, anything bigger than a Genestealer, unless it has a specific protection (a good invulnerable, character or no LoS attacks), is not in a good spot. They die as fast as gaunts, but at x4/5 cost. Even stealers usually survive a little better (5++), but at half the cost, twice the speed and twice the combat power.

    They were decent before the ik meta tho. A jack-of-all-trades troop unit with a decent durability for their cost. Not easy to play, but decent overall. It’s been a nice to play them again for a few months.

    End of the rant.

    I find the lashwhip pretty useful on Warriors, and almost an auto-pick. It doesn’t only ensure they’ll have the chance to trade in combat, but also stops a lot close combat shenanigans, preventing powerfull models to consolidate freely after their kills. And it comes with a -2 ap, wich is usually better than having rending claws. Double scything is also decent, as this gears keep them at the cheapest cost they can be.

    On the shooting department I like to take a strangler for each 3. It has better accuracy, and the 36″ range is key to shoot at what you want to shoot while charging what you want to charge. Devourers don’t make sense (just pay 1 more point and get a deathspitter). Deathspitters make them too expensive if your not tunneling them, but it makes sense for a good alpha in Jormungandr.

    Adrenal glands is a good choice. Warriors are slow, while having assault weapons, and packing some punch against 1W models. Each turn they’re not going to charge they should be advancing, so the adrenaline always have effect (unless they’re holding an objective). And they’re cheap on Warriors.

    Forget about devourers, rending claws and toxin sacs. Flesh hooks and spinefists are too niche. Venom cannons can be useful from time to time, but they’re too expensive and unaccurate to field.

    About the Prime… It’s just a garbage tier hq. It’s not a good option even when you play 27+ Warriors. It can seem mandatory if you want to field dakka Warriors, but the combination of deathspitters + venom + Prime is extremely expensive for models that don’t last for too long on the table.

    First in my wishlist is some love for Warriors when we get the chapter. They’re my favourite unit in the game, but they’re in a horrible place right now.

  2. Reader October 11, 2018 2:24 pm #

    Nice to see the new reviews for Nids! Keep up the good work.

  3. WestRider October 11, 2018 10:48 pm #

    I love Warriors, but they’ve pretty much always suffered from GW over-pricing generalist Units. You nearly always get more bang for your buck by picking up one dedicated CC Unit and one dedicated Shooty Unit than two all-rounder Units. And in reasonably-sized games, you can get enough redundancy that you can mitigate the downsides of specialists pretty reliably.

    It doesn’t help that the Prime is also so badly overpriced that you need a bare minimum of (IIRC) 8 Warriors around before it’s any better than just putting the Points into more Warriors. And because casualties are a thing, that means you need a lot more than 8 Warriors to reliably have enough around to make it worthwhile. And it has no other synergy with the Warriors, since it’s redundant for Synapse in that case, so their theoretical synergy Unit basically ends up actually being yet another Skornergy situation.

    I do love that DeathSpitters are 24″ range again. That’s been annoying me for the last three Editions. And, more specifically, that DeathSpitter/ScyTal and DeathSpitter/Bone Sword are good combos, since I love the look of both builds.

    I also still really miss the level of customization they had back in 4th Ed. You say they’ve got a lot of options now, and it is better than it’s been since that Dex was replaced, but it’s still nothing on what they had back then.

    Given that a significant amount of the stuff that wrecks them is D3, I kind of wonder if a boost to W4 might be in order for them. IDK if that (and/or a boost to S/T 5) would even really help much, tho, since elite Infantry in general are in a pretty rough place in 8th.

    Like Brakhal, Warriors are possibly my favourite Unit in the game, certainly my fave in the Tyranid Codex, but they just can’t really hang right now.

  4. Gazophylax October 12, 2018 12:55 am #


    How do you end up with 90 shots at S5 AP -1 ?

    Even if all the stranglers do 6 shots, you only have 36 shots (72 with the stratagem)

    -3×6 for the stranglers : 18 shots

    -6*3 for the deathspitters : 18 shots

    Am I missing something ?

    • Danny Ruiz October 13, 2018 5:37 pm #

      You’re not wrong; I miscopied stuff from my handy word doc of tyranid math; it is 27 shots of Deathspitters (or 54 shots with Single-Minded Annihilation). Thanks for spotting it!

  5. Sean October 12, 2018 12:52 pm #

    I love me some warriors, but after running them extensively (a full strength unit with a prime) I have cut them from my list. They just die too easily for an expensive unit.

    As mentioned above the prime is not efficient and dies super easily as well. If he had an invulnerable save he might be worth it. The Kraken warlord trait is nice to have that unit of Warriors he is supporting fight first.

    I think either going cheap assault or generalists is the way to run them. For the generalists, deathspitters and barbed stranglers as mentioned in the article are good. For assault weapons I would take a mixture: 2x Scy Tals to die first from shooting, 2x Lashwhip to die first in assault, 5x Boneswords for some actual real punch in combat. Although rending claws going off on a 5+ with the Prime sounds nice too. For upgrades adrenal glands are nice, but I also think that fleshooks can be pretty good too. They are basically two extra close combat attacks in your turn for minimal points.

    • WestRider October 12, 2018 8:20 pm #

      The Prime doesn’t help with Rending Claws, unfortunately. It boosts to-hit rolls, and Rending Claws trigger on to-wound rolls of 6+.

  6. Brakhal October 14, 2018 6:07 am #

    One thing that annoys me a bit about Warriors, and any unit who can choose between venoms and stranglers, is that both long ranged weapons are heavily random, while most armies can pick at least one “reliable” long weapons instead of a more random one. It would be nice if the strangler was assault 4, or the venom assault 2, so you could choose a reliable option.

    • WestRider October 14, 2018 7:10 pm #

      Random numbers of shots always annoy me. Honestly, I’d like them to go back to Assault X for the Venom Cannon and HVC. Wouldn’t be nearly as much of an issue as it was back in 4th if you keep it to number of shots, and only a couple of weapons that can only be taken by a few Models.

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