Hey everyone, Danny from TFG Radio, and today, we talk about building your very own Hive Fleet of ravenous, mindless killing machines, just like mama used to make! If you like to Frankenstein some rules together to harness the power of jank, then you are the right place. Of course, you can also check out all the Psychic Awakening and Chapter Approved coverage over at Frontline’s Tactics Corner.
In Psychic Awakening III: Blood of Baal, Tyranids get a bit of a level-up here in 8th with the introduction of customizable Hive Fleet Adapations, where you can select two adaptations from a list instead of taking the codex Hive Fleet adaptations. I like calling this a Build-A-Bug approach. None of these adaptations are overtly stronger than the codex Hive Fleets, but many of them are workable, and when used in combination with another adaption, you may be losing some raw power in some areas but gaining far more in others. And hell, making your own fleet is just good fun. So let’s jump right into it:
Adaptive Exoskeleton: 6++ invulnerable save to all Termagants, Hormagaunts, and Gargoyles.
Do you like little bugs? Do you love playing the submission game of just drowning your opponent and the objectives in fearless little balls of love? If so, this is an interesting counter to Leviathan. A flat 6++ is better than a 6+++ Feel No Pain style save in terms of damage mitigation all things being equal, but the math does skew a bit when you factor that in that with cover, a 6+++ is better against anything not AP-2 or D2 or better. Leviathan also benefits all models, and a 6+++ FnP is essentially 16% more wounds for free for any Monster. That said, there is no limitation here about having to be so close to Synapse, so this gives you more freedom in terms of moving these bugs or even dropping them down unassisted. Your opponent also can’t turn off this save, and with the sheer number of damage 2 and above weapons out there, a 6++ is going to serve you well. If you are interested in a horde, this should be one of your first looks.
Bestial Nature: +2 Attacks when a model with a damage table is at its last row.
If you like your monsters big and ornery, this is for you. Most of our big monsters lose WS when injured as well as attacks, so this helps take the sting out of our damage tables, which can be pretty unforgiving. Some models really get mileage out of this like the Haruspex who caps at WS 5+ but does not lose any attacks, so the extra 2 attacks is actually another 2d3 attacks with the mouth, and welp, it can help heal itself this way. This also especially nice on Swarmlord who never loses WS 2+, so at its lowest table, you are back to 6 attacks rather than 4. Hive Tyrants can be stuck at WS 4+, but getting up to 6 attacks when near death isn’t terrible. Trygons also benefit as they may go down to WS 5+ (rerolling 1s at least) but when near death, they jump up to 9 attacks with the big hits. That’s not shabby. Really, this adaptation is more about mitigating one of the weaknesses of our models rather than adding a strength, and no codex Hive Fleet comes close to adding anything like this to our big kits. This is also nice for Hive Tyrants, and Swarmlord since when they die, you can trigger Death Frenzy and get more mileage out of those extra attacks as you are treated on your last row.
Bio-metallic Cysts: –1 AP to all Scything Talon weapons.
Do you want to try for the Super-Hormagaunt? Do you like Warriors and Raveners? Maybe a Mawloc? If so, here we are. This is all about adding just a little bit of kill for free, and well, with the points changes in Chapter Approved 2019, you can see why. There is the much ballyhooed Super-Hormie with a possible AP-4 to its melee attacks, and that can do some work assuming you can get there and get there whole, but there are also other plays here. Warriors and Raveners are both 18 ppm, and for 18ppm, you can get 2 sets of Scything talons that add +1 attack and reroll 1s to hit. A Tyranid Warrior or Ravener is putting out 4 attacks at WS 3+, rerolling 1s, at S4 AP-1. That’s not bad at all on multi-wound models. Especially since both can be buffed by a character and both can take ranged weaponry in exchange for an attack a piece, you can make some solid chaff killers that are a decent threat in both shooting and melee. The Mawloc is only 105 points, but it does have 8 attacks, so if it lives long enough to charge into combat, at least now it is AP-1. This is a good choice for either going with Hormie spam or trying to add some spice with more non-favored models.
Biosphere Consumption: 6+++ Feel No Pain to Monsters in the first battle round and/or if they did not move in the movement phase. This turns off if enemies are within 1″ of them.
This is a strange one, and it definitely has the most conditions to achieve, which means more points of failure. That said, an extra 16% wounds to monsters is good, and this really is a way to reward Monster Mash gunlines. Exocrines and Tyrannofexes want to stand still typically, and this rewards them nicely, giving you a bit more protection in the attrition via shooting game. Even Carnifexes and Hive Tyrants benefit, so you can sit still and lay down the fire. I want this to work, but really, it is a more restrictive version of Leviathan that also doesn’t work on little bugs. Any fast moving assault elements just need to tag the monsters and suddenly they have less protection, which seems odd, and in general, I don’t see this beating Leviathan if you really want some FnP rolls or even Jormungandr for cover all the time if you don’t fly/advance.
Cranial Channeling: Once per turn, a psyker can reroll a psychic test.
Here we go, on to the hijinks. This is an excellent adaption if you want to do Bug Smite Spam list, which we can do with reasonable success. Zoanthropes, especially if they are 4 in the unit, throw down some mean, mean smites, so getting to reroll any failures really ups their dependability as damage dealers. Even if you are trying to spam Neurothropes, Broodlords, and Hive Tyrants, the reroll really helps you get those harder to cast Smites later in the turn. If you are doing things like Catalyst or Onslaught, which can be essential to victory, this makes those powers more reliable. I definitely feel like this is a little Skornegy (negative synergy) with the new bespoke Fleet powers as some of those are awesome but hard to cast, so this would have helped except you lose access to them unless you take another Hive Fleet detachment. I do like this adaption though, at least for an Outrider detachment of 3×4 Zoans with a Neurothrope buddy. This gives them some reliability in their casting and gives you some good punch in the psychic phase. There is some discussion on wording as whether or not this is per unit or per phase total, but from my view, it applies per unit, and unless GW FAQs it, likely will be played that way.
Feeding Frenzy: Move 6″ when making a pile-in move.
This is all about board control, and turning gants into mini-hormies is not a bad idea at all. If you want to dedicate to the swarm and go with a board control list, this is not at all terrible. Gargoyles and Termagants become good substitutes for Hormagaunts as you get less movement in the assault phase, but you are getting some shooting and with Termagants, cheaper bodies. Even monsters get some mileage out of this in terms of maximizing how many models they are engaging or reaching characters/vehicles behind chaff. If you like to play the mission, this is definitely a first choice for getting models locked into combat. It of course pairs well with anything else that increases movement or increasing your likelihood of surviving overwatch or surviving in combat.
Horror from Beyond: -1 LD to enemies within 3″ of a Monster.
I want this to be good, and BoB has a lot of new leadership modifiers, but the problem is that not all armies are susceptible to such, and this really pushes you into monster mash, which maybe isn’t your style. If we had more powers or abilities that triggered off of leadership, then I could see a good argument for this, but really, the only viable way that I see is for a Three Detachment army with GSC/AM/Nids where you stack the leadership penalties to let the GSC power get those 6 mortal wounds and/or use AM artillery to cause a lot of morale checks with a heavy penalty to some units. This could work as it will force your opponent to spend CP to protect a vital unit while other units are losing 2-3 models all over their board, but is this enough to win? I am not so sure. It would be an interesting build at the least, but it seems like a weaker version of a Night Lords list.
Hypermetabolic Acceleration: You can re-roll Advance rolls.
This is a no-frills, all-kill adaptation that is at home anywhere. Do you want your big monsters to go smash? Rerolling advance rolls helps, especially with Onslaught. Do you want your little bugs to get up the board faster and chew on the real estate? Here you go. The real question is: is it better than Kraken? Mathematically, no. Kraken gives you more average speed, AND the ability to fall back and still charge. Throw in the Kraken specific stratagem, Opportunistic Advance for double the advance roll, and well, you can still do a Swarmlord Rocket without Kraken, but you are not getting the assured distance that Kraken gets. If you do want to do a Build-A-Bug Hive Fleet, this is never going to be a “bad” choice, but if you are really interested in speed and only speed, Kraken is still the best.
Membranous Mobility: Enemies are -1 to hit models that FLY in melee.
This is solid if you are looking to do a Death From Above style Nid list, and with the points cut to Gargoyles, this can make them super annoying. FLY screens are the best screens since you can’t really tri-point them, and they can even jump over assault elements to isolate your opponent’s second wave while your forces handle the now stalled first wave. Hive Tyrants often fly, so this makes them a bit harder to handle in melee for other forces, and Zoanthropes/Neurothropes/Malanthropes love it for a little extra protection in melee. Zoanthropes can actually be great against high quality, low volume attacks with this as with the -1 and their 3++, anyone swinging in with a Thunder Hammer is probably going to bounce right off them. For the sake of math, a Knight with 15 stomps only kills 1 Zoanthrope, doing 5.5 wounds on average against a -1 to hit Zoanthrope screen. That’s tasty. Use Gargoyles to tie up threats that pump out a lot of attacks and use Zoanthropes (or even a Neurothrope) to tank the big hits.
Metamorphic Regrowth: A unit with this gains up to 1 lost wound at the start of your turn.
This is not too bad if you want to play medium infantry and/or monster mash. Tyranids actually have quite a few multiwound models like Warriors, Raveners, Zoanthropes, Hive Guard, Tyrant Guard, etc. If you want to try taking these out for a ride, getting 1 wound back can be value, especially against variable damage where a 2 wound Warrior can suddenly soak 2 shots rather than 1. Of course this goes well with our big Monsters like Haruspex (who heal on their own anyway), and maybe getting a tick back to either Middle Grade or even back to Full Grade on the damage track. Now, from experience, a lot of the usual murderers out there will pick up our beasties in one volley, but this can come in handy, and the longer the game goes, the more value this gets as by Turn 4 or 5, any monster working even at medium capacity is probably enough to tip the game in your favor.
Morphic Sinews: Monsters with this don’t suffer the penalty for moving and firing Heavy Weapons nor Advancing and firing Assault weapons.
This sounds good, but it really is only for a few models like Carnifexes and Exocrines. Tyrannofexes already ignore the heavy penalty, and since they are armed with Heavy weapons, they can’t advance and shoot anyway. Most of our heavy weapon platforms are actually assault, so Carnifexs (and even Hive Tyrants) get far more value here by being able to advance and still lay down BS 3+ (or 4+ if doing another version) fire. If you want a more mobile gunline that is able to move around and put out shots, this isn’t a bad adaptation at all, but it definitely favors a specific playstyle. If you want to shoot and stand tall against the storm, Jormungandr is likely better for the extra defense, but MS allows you to exploit cover much more and it helps mitigate against our relatively short range. If you like your Carnifex gunline, this is something to consider as a replacement as being able to get d6 (with a reroll maybe) extra range each turn as well as exploit positioning without sacrificing accuracy is good. I would rather take this over Jormungandr unless also relying on a reserve heavy element.
Pack Hunters: Gain an additional AP-1 for a unit in melee when attacking an enemy with less models than your attacking unit.
Do you like horde? Then come on down for so more AP. Termgants or Gargoyles with AP -1 in combat? That seems like out of a dream. This of course pairs well with Bio-Metallic Cysts for AP-2 Hormies, but don’t underestimate having your chaff line be a bit better in combat. Upping the potential damage of Termagants and Gargoyles is good, and this even has some help for Raveners and Warriors as they can be 9 strong, and there are plenty of targets out there that tend to run in 3-9 man squads, especially if you peeled one or two off with some Deathspitters, and now suddenly Warriors and Raveners are AP-1 (or again, -2 if you took Bio-Metallic Cysts). This can even work for creating more armor-cracking Tyrant Guard units that are designed to hunt vehicles, and now those rending claws are AP-2 and the crushing claws are AP-4 against single model units. Genestealers get even more killy here as they will more times than not outnumber their opponent, and getting standard AP-2 is just awesome. This is a pretty flexible adaption (excluding Monster Mash), but it also contingent on your opponent’s army. Against another horde based army, it is nowhere near as effective, but this is a meta-concern more than anything else.
Prey-sight: If a Monster with this adaptation makes a charge move/is charged/heroically intervenes, +1 to hit rolls with melee weapons until the end of the turn.
If you love Pina Coladas, and Biomass pulped in melee, here you go. If you are a duke of the monster mash, do a happy dance. +1 to hit on the charge is huuuge for a lot of our Monsters. Harpies and Hive Crones become far more threatening character hunters with WS 3+, rerolling 1s. The Haruspex actually becomes threatening at WS 3+. Trygons and Trygon Primes become terrifying at WS 2+ rerolling 1s. Even a damn near dead Hive Tyrant is hitting on 3s in melee with this. Carnifexes are hitting on 2s on the charge, without Old One Eye. Stone-Crushers are hitting on 3s now without OOE. Not only does this increase our healthy potential, but it takes some of the sting out of being degraded. If you get the charge off, a lot of our monsters are not suffering under WS 5+ anymore, so they become at least a bit more workable. This is a must-take if you plan on running a melee oriented Nidzilla.
Senses of the Outer Dark: Gain a 4+++ Feel No Pain save against wounds caused in Overwatch.
This is custom built for a T’au or Iron Hands matchup, and well, it is needed. As I dreamed of how to help my beloved bugs, a way to mitigate overwatch was at the top of the list as any melee army without the ability to strike fast and not die in overwatch wasn’t going to do much, and well, here is a bit of an answer for it. The 4+++ helps every single bug, whether it be Genestealers rocketed up the board or our Big Bugs trying to bear down on a Riptide. By the math, it is best on a unit with a save to begin with, so Genestealers and Big Bugs, as you get the value of your save and then the 4+++, which is beyond rarified in this game (I can only think of 1 model with a 4+++ naturally). If you are planning on a melee centric army, you need to consider this adaptation, if only for a first strike detachment that is designed to get into your opponent’s line early, lock things in, and wait for another, hard-hitting detachment to come in and win the game.
Shrewd Predators: When a model with this adaptation consolidates, if there are no enemy models within 3”, it doesn’t have to move closer to the nearest enemy model.
This is an odd one. Being able to move freely in a consolidate move is huge, and it can allow you to duck into cover or reach far into the backfield and tag a unit that thought it was “safe”. This is especially good on units with a naturally large consolidate move like Hormagaunts who can kill a small unit and then consolidate 6 in any direction. If you take the Feeding Frenzy adaptation, this gives you a lot of movement in the pile-in and a lot of freedom in the consolidate. The problem here is two fold: first, you have to have no enemies within 3”, so that means you need to kill whatever you hit, and Hormies aren’t very good at that thanks to only S3. Genestealers can do it, but they cannot consolidate more than 3, so you don’t get the leverage of the freedom of movement. The second issue here is that it very much can be counter-played. As long as your opponent stacks models in such a way that there is a model within 3 of you, you can’t get to just run wild and start tagging what you want. There is some play here, but it has a deep skill floor, so if you aren’t great at positioning in melee, this is not a good choice for you. When we get into the other new hotness, this can work if you take two units that take Adrenal Webs.
Sporemist Spines: A unit with this can Advance in a turn in which it Falls Back.
This is another that I want to love, but it is very niche. Getting an extra d6 when you fall back is cool, but from my experience, I generally don’t want to fall back that far, just far enough to get out of combat and let my shooters or my hitters get into what I needed to die. This can work well with Gargoyles as that becomes a 12+d6 Fall Back, perfect for jumping over units and gumming up the works elsewhere. Outside of that, I am not sure I would take this over any other adaptation, and again, Kraken lets you Fall Back and Charge, which is immensely more valuable to me. If you are trying to do a tricky Gargoyle screen, I could see this working, but otherwise, there are just better options in the Build-A-Bug list or the main Hive Fleets.
Synaptic Augmentation: When a unit with this adaptation is within 6” of a friendly Synapse unit , when it fires Overwatch or is picked to shoot or fight with, you can re-roll a single hit roll.
There is one model that I know loves this rule, and that’s the Tyrannofex with a Rupture Cannon. Tyranids have very few true rerolls, so getting just 1 per unit is still more value to us than any other codex since at best, we get reroll 1s to hit more than anything. A Rupture Cannon hits like a truck but on a BS 4+ model, so getting 1 free reroll on a shot is a lot of value, especially since if you really need the hits, you can CP reroll for another. Carnifexes or Hive Tyrants (who are always in their own aura) with Venom Cannons are workable here too as the free reroll helps make those high value, low quantity shots get to where they need to get. This ability really loses shine with high quantity, low value shots, which are what make up most of Tyranids’ shooting. If you are planning on running Venom Cannons or a Rupture Cannon, this adaptation does a bit of work for you, but it is like a very weak Salamander’s rule in an army that doesn’t have access to the same high value shots that Space Marines do. That said, mathematically, it is more value on average than Kronos since you don’t need to stand still and you can reroll any miss, not just a 1, but Kronos has other lovely tricks that you get for being Kronos, so if you are really invested in shooting the big shots, Kronos might be better, but then, it comes down to play style. Synaptic Augmentation definitely allows for more mobility.
Wow, that’s a lot of new options, and new options are fun, even if they aren’t all the Norn-Queen’s Knees. I plan to experiment a lot with different combinations, and if you are going to Build-A-Bug, I think for the most part, having multiple detachments with multiple features is the way to go if you want to maximize your odds. Still, here are a few combos that I’m enjoying right now.
Membranous Mobility + Cranial Channeling = Zoans and Neuros. Having a Vanguard detachment of flying psykers gets you a lot of reliable smites that are also a pain in the ass to kill in melee. If you throw in some Venomthropes, all the better.
Senses of the Outer Dark + Feeding Frenzy = Hormies and Gants and Stealers swarming the board and locking down the enemy in combat while other forces come in and clean up.
Bio-metallic cysts + Pack Hunters = Hormies, Warriors, and Raveners going to get some work done, son.
Synaptic Augementation + Morphic Sinews = Carnifexes and Hive Tyrants with Venom Cannons running around, shooting wildly like Yosemite Sam.
Prey-Sight + Bestial Nature = Haruspexes, Toxicrenes, Trygons, Harpies, Crones, and really, any big bug that wants to just fight and fight hard until the bitter end.
Adaptive Exoskeleton + Membranous Mobility = 6+++ Gargoyles that are -1 to hit in melee, a screen with resilience. Slap Catalyst on those suckers and watch your opponent drown in bodies that they cannot tri-point.
Of course, there are so many other options here, and really, I am sure that a lot of interesting lists are going to come out of this. I look forward to seeing what combinations people generate, and of course, how these are going to work in tandem with the Codex Hive Fleets. I am definitely interested in a Kraken rocket supported by Prey-Sight/Bestial Nature big bugs or Kronos Hive Guard getting some big extra mileage while super-killy Warriors and Raveners harass the front line.
Next time, I’ll dive deep into the new other hotness, the Adaptive Physiology and new Relics available to us. Keep on eating, fellow Bugs!
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