Tyranids: Still looking towards 9th

Hey all, Danny from TFG Radio here, and today, let’s again recap what we’ve learned from the steady stream of information about 9th edition, particularly how it relates to the Hive Fleets and our awesomeness. Tau is dead, but long live Tau, or not.


Welp, T’au get to keep their dominance in Overwatch, and well, it is a faction feature, so it makes sense.  This does mean that Tau tends to be a very tough matchup for Nids as we cannot out shoot them, and getting into assault can be exceedingly difficult if there is not good terrain to create blind spots for charges.   We can still do a great deal of damage in the psychic phase, but unless you have leaned into that aspect of the Hive Fleets, you might not have enough to eat through the drones to get to the real meat.  While FLY no longer grants units the ability to Fall Back and shoot, Riptides can still sit in combat and gun down whatever. Maybe Senses of the Outer Dark is still a usable Build-A-Bug trait to take.

If you are going to be playing Tyranids into T’au, it is definitely wise to invest in our psychic abilities to be able to do some real damage. Neurothropes, Zoanthropes, and Broodlords are still very much needed to be able take on T’au.

This hurts overall, but I try to find some silver lining: perhaps this means that Synapse won’t be altered too much as it is definitely a distinct faction feature of ours, one that has existed for quite some time.  If T’au get to keep Overwatch, perhaps we get to be one of the only factions to ignore Morale.

Strategic Reserves

We got a lot of cool information here, and really, Tyranids were already great at reserves and utilizing fancy deployment tricks, but now we have even more flexibility.  You can reserve anything you want, as long as you spend the CP, so now you can really cut costs and avoid having to bring Trygons or Tyannocytes, but you certainly still can do such if you want. 

This opens up a whole host of plays.  If you like Tyrannofexes with Acid Spray or even Fleshborer Hive, this is a great way to get around the limited range by showing up on the flanks.  This also works for a mass of Dakka-Fexes as well.  You can also wait until later to see how the battle has shifted and suddenly roll onto a flank with 30 (or 60) Gants with a Tervigon as backup, taking an ignored quarter of the battlefield and dominating it.  Even the Harpy and Hive Crone get some value here as they can hide for a turn or 2, show up in a place of relative safety, do some damage, then next turn, use their high speed to get to a more advantageous position. 

Even good ol Pyrovores have some tek here since they can reach past the usual 9” restriction with their flamers, and they are cheap enough to not eat up too many CP to come out of reserve.  Another interesting factor here is that you can always show up in your own backfield and can’t be zoned out, so enemy flyers or really fast units that get right into the face can suddenly get counter-charged right out of reserve.  That said, this cuts both ways, so if you are doing Kraken Rocket, you need to be careful about your positioning and what forces your opponent put into reserve. 

Overall, this is a really cool change that is going to drastically change the tactical landscape of the game, and I am all for it!

Combat attrition

This is an interesting new mechanic, and well, we don’t know enough yet to really say how this will affect Nids.  Assuming Synapse stays the same, then we need not worry as long as we maintain Synapse. A squad of Gants outside of Synapse is easy to melt with these new rules although by the math, it actually isn’t too bad. 

For example, say a squad of 30 Termagants takes some heavy fire and is reduced down to 14. In the old system, this would have been an additional 12+d6 dead models in the morale phase, so the squad would evaporate. In the new system, let’s assume 1 dead for failing the test, and for the Combat Attrition test, at under half, that’s another 4.29, so losing 5 more or less.  That’s actually better for us than before as in 8th edition, a Gant squad out of Synapse taking that many hits is going to melt, but now, well, the squad is still damn hurt, but it is still there. 

That said, even Genestealers aren’t hit as hard since their high leadership isn’t as much of a protection, but the actual mechanic is less punishing, so running the same math again, 11 killed outside of Synapse, in 8th edition, that would be 2+d6 more dead, so 5.5 gone.  In 9th, that’s 1 for failing morale, and an additional 2.64 gone, so 3-4 dead.   Not too bad really. 

Of course, if run monster mash, you don’t really need to care either. 

Cap to Hit rolls

This is overall a solid win for Tyranids with one big downside, namely that Hit Roll modifiers are capped at 1.  We really only have one way to get -2, and that’s just on a single model.  We also know that terrain can give a -1 to hit, so really, this means that if we are playing on well-built tables where we can get some coverage, we can skip the Venomthropes/Malanthropes to save points for more kill. 

As spoiled, this is all modifiers together, so if going against armies that can stack a lot of bonuses to hit, then having multiple negative modifiers can help mitigiate since if your opponent has a +2 to hit and you are only -1 to hit, they will still end up with the +1. 

Either way, it will be interesting to see how this plays out, but I think if we see a shift to more defined tables with a lot of good terrain, investing in Malanthropes/Venomthropes may not be as necessary. This is again balanced out by how the meta adapts as taking multiple -1s to hit may still be good to cancel out any +1s to hit, namely if you can get -2 to hit and your opponent only has a +1, you are still putting them at -1 to hit.

The one real big hit to us in Old One Eye and Carnifexes.  With only a max +1 to hit, OOE can’t go HAM with his Scything Talons, and he can’t power up other Carnifexes on the charge to get +2 to hit.  We don’t have a lot of stackable pluses, but this was one solid one that is now going to be toned down a bit. It certainly lowers the overall power of a Carnifex Carnival list, but I think Carnifexes still got loads better by being able to shoot into combat. Instead of taking Prey Sight for an additional +1 to hit, you can try and experiment with other Hive Fleets.

Super-Heavy Detachments

This is an interesting one in that bringing our Hierodules is not going to be easy, and spending 6 CP to bring 3 really isn’t attractive, especially since Hierodules aren’t all that great when stacked against other Lords of War. Hopefully, the Forgeworld redux of the Tyranid models makes losing so many CP worth it. We shall see.

Overall, I think Tyranid lists are going need to change these days, but really, until we see points changes, it is really hard to say one way or the other. I am still quite excited to see what the future holds, and just like everyone else, I am eager to see an official release date. Thanks as always for reading, and stay safe out there!

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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: Still looking towards 9th”

  1. Brakhal June 28, 2020 6:50 am #

    Maybe spore mines will be usefull in strategic reserves. They will (presumably) be cheap and expendable, and their natural DS is worst than flanking. Nothing to write home on offensive, but being able to insta-charge on the backfield with them can punish hard an enemy invasion on your side.

    The cap to hit rolls also affects deathleaper. I’ve been coordinating him with the horror and mass hypnosis, to tarpit strong countercharge units. I hope deathleaper gets a rework on his superior chamaleonic skin, tho.

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