Tyranids at LVO, a quick rundown

Hey all, Danny from TFG Radio here, and today, I want to chat about some of the things I saw at LVO as it relates to my beloved bugs, and also look at some of the data that has come out since then. Of course, there is plenty to learn and plenty to study over at Frontline’s always expanding Tactics Corner!

First off, a big thanks as always to The Falcon for doing so much work gathering data for the 40K community. He really has let us look at the game from a totally new perspective, and he does pretty much it all himself. I am using his numbers from his most post here: https://www.40kstats.com/blog/lvo-by-the-numbers

Ok, so let’s look at some numbers. So an interesting statistic to look at here is that of the very few top 100 ITC players that played Tyranids/Forces of the Hive Mind at the event, they boasted a 75% win rate, which is easily skewed data since we are talking just a couple of players, but it still shows that Tyranids can absolutely win games in the hands of a savvy general.  I think this is always important to highlight as it is easy to get doom and gloom that a faction isn’t as powerful as another, but the reality is that the player behind the list is more important than the list.  Of course, when you look at how many top players took Space Marines, it is fair to say (and math certainly seems to prove it) that SM are stronger than Tyranids, which I am also not arguing against, but rather just making the point that player skill is always a big part of success. Yes, a good deal of the best players took SM, not Tyranids, but the best players generally want the best tools to try and win a 750+ person event, so that tracks.  

A cool stat was that there were 530 Termagants at LVO, which doesn’t necessarily mean anything particular other than Bug players like 4 points models that are fearless (and can be -1 to hit with a 6++), and especially in ITC where the mission matters so much, having bodies is never a bad thing.  If we can attempt to draw any conclusions from the data, perhaps it is that as much as the Big Bugs are fun, they alone cannot excel, so maybe factor in 360 points for 90 Termgants in your lists.  Hormagaunts were also popular in some of the better performing lists, so let’s not forget them either.

I saw a lot of Exocrines on the table, and well, for good reason. At 155 points, T8, with a gun built to kill Primaris Marines, and good lord, there were a lot of Primaris Marines, the Exocrine is a great overall meta-choice.  While it doesn’t put up big numbers against anything T8, the fact that there were over 3,000 Intercessors at LVO shows you that you should factor in needing to kill 2 wound models effectively.  Of course, Exocrines shine the brightest in Kronos with reroll 1s to hit and access to Symbiostorm.  There were plenty of lists with 2 or even 3 Exocrines, but how did they do overall?  Well, the two highest placing pure Tyranids both had 2 Exocrines in there, so that’s a good sign that they are going to do work.

The top 3 Tyranid/Hive Mind Lists were:

Rock Liberty (Forces of Hive Mind)

Kraken Battalion:


2×20 Genestealers with Talons/5x Maws

1×3 Rips

Mixed GSC Battalion:

Magus (familiar/Crouchling)/Patriarch

3×10 Brood Brothers

Twisted Helix Battalion: Anointed Throng/Broodcoven


2×5 Acoylte Hybrids

1×14 Hybrids with hand flamers
1×10 Abberants


In this list, you have a good mix of the Kraken Rocket and the GSC is bringing the usual Abberant bomb but with also a medium flamer-bomb to help clear screens. This is clearly a solid list that can do a lot of work with a variety of threat vectors.

Darren Jac (Forces of the Hive Mind)

Mixed GSC Battalion:

Jackus Alphus/Magus

3×5 Hybrids


5 Atalan Jackals

Twisted Helix Battalion (Broodcoven/Anointed Throng)


3×5 Hybrids

10 Abberants

Leviathan Battalion:


2×24 Termagants

1×25 Termagants

3×4 Zoanthropes

This list is quite different than the other as it has very different modes of attack. It has some shooting elements, a lot of psychic, and a good amount of board control with a whole lot little bugs. Plus, it still has an Abberant bomb, so it can absolutely hit like a truck when it needs to.

Micah Chapman (Tyranids)

Kronos Battalion:

1×29 Hormagants with Adrenal Glands

1×22 Termagants

1×9 Warriors with Deathspitters and 3 VCs

1×6 Hive Guard with Impaler Cannons

Kronos Battalion:

Tyrant with wings, claws, devourers, toxin sacs, adrenal glands. Xenogenic Acid

Tyrant with Heavy VC, claws, adrenal glands, Venomthorn Parasite, Toxi Sacs


3×3 Rips

2 Exocrines 

While not an overly complex list, this gets it done with a lot of high powered shooting that is very accurate. With some first turn push and some melee thanks to Swarmy, this is a mean Tyranid gunline that can do big damage at 36″ away.

The top 2 lists were Hive Mind with a lot of similarities but for my own interest, the Tyranid detachment being different.  In Rock’s, you have the classic Kraken Rocket, which is a ton of first turn threat and excellent at clearing chaff to open holes for the Abberants. What is often underrated about the Kraken Rocket is that you are also sending 40 Obsec bodies into your opponent’s deployment zone, so you can easily snake objectives from them on the first turn and build up a decent lead in the points.  This creates pressure not just on killing the Genestealers but also having to play catch up on the mission.  

Darren’s list uses Tyranids as both board control and psychic power with Leviathan Gants (one of my favorites) for 77 fearless bodies that are -1 to hit and have a 6+++ Feel No Pain backed up by 3 units of Zoans that have a 3++ and a 6+++.  That is a lot of high powered smites, the option to do the big nuke if going against a castle, and also a unit just capable of tanking high quality but low volume attacks.   While radically different than Rock’s use of Tyranids, it does showcase the different options one can take.  This will hopefully inspire other Norn Queens to try different paths. Both these detachments really show the different tools that Tyranids can bring, but the common thread between them is a form of board control, which for me, is what Tyranids excel at the most.  With access to a ton of movement tricks, a ton of cheap infantry, and of course, a way to ignore Morale, Tyranids really excel at taking control of the pace of the game right from the start.  

Finally, let’s look at top pure Tyranid list with Micah. You have a pure Kronos army with 2 battalions, and like Kronos does, you have a lot of Fire Power.  You can see how Blood of Baal really boosted certain units as a big squad of Warriors are present that with symbiostorm can absolutely devastate a lot of chaff units, Hive Guard for just great out of LoS shooting that threatens just about anything, and of course, 2 Exocrines for more high powered shots.   The more interesting tek here is the Walking Tyrant with the Venomthorn Parasite for max shots on the heavy venom cannon, which I am glad put in work for him, and of course, Swarmlord with Hormagaunts.  

The Swarmlord with Hormies is a good call as it creates a lot of turn 1 pressure to just buy time for the shooty elements to get to work.  While Hormies do not kill a lot of things, with their inherent speed and tricks, it is easy to get tri-points and lock down an opponent, forcing them to kill the hormies in melee, which is going to buy you a turn at least, maybe even 2.  Of course, after that, you still have a Swarmlord to get into melee against the hardest targets, and in general, there is a lot of threat overload in this list as if you prioritize the hormies, you aren’t killing the termagants holding objectives and screening, and if you are killing the Exocrines, you aren’t killing the Warriors or the Tyrants.  

This is a solid list that covers our bases pretty well.  Micah did go up against Space Marines several times, and at 5-1, he clearly did fine.  Thunderfires and slowing things down is no good, but there are ways around it, and since this list isn’t really leaning into melee like a Kraken Rocket, it can take losing the hormies early and still have the pop necessary to grind the game out.   It would be interesting to see the different variants of these lists and perhaps how to combine some of these elements like a Kraken Rocket backed up by a Kronos gunline. Welp, time will tell.

So, with LVO 2020 in the books, we have a new season with new expansions and who knows what else that will shake up the meta. Thanks to those that came out, sorry again for the delay, and please know the judges did our best to get things going as fast as possible.  Also, brief shout out to the other Micah, Micah Merkley, whose Tyranids got into the top cut for Best Painted (and went a respectable 4-2). See you all around next time. 

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.

One Response to “Tyranids at LVO, a quick rundown”

  1. Noblegunner March 11, 2020 10:21 am #

    You didn’t mention the melee weapons the Tyranid warriors were equipped with?? Bone swords, scything talons? Any Bone sword and lash whips?

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