Tyranids: Looking at the 9th Rules

Hey everyone, Danny from TFG Radio here, and today, I am going to do a quick dive into the now released 9th edition rules, specifically things I haven’t covered in my series, and of course, with an eye on Bugs. The times, they are a-changing, Hive Fleets, so keep up with everything at Frontline’s Tactics Corner!

I am going to start by just going through a few things that hit me that will be a big change for Nid players, and I’ve already run through plenty. Perhaps in the next few weeks, I can do a full compile and really chew on everything, but my biggest caveat is that until we see points and the Chapter Approved 2020 missions, we can’t be entirely sure how things will shake out. Let’s go!


Yep, this is a really big change to the game, and while it may seem minor at first, it has big implications for our little gribblies.  There are two parts that need to be tackled here.

First, if a unit is 6 or more models, then coherency must be created with 2 other models within 2″ (or 5″ vertically). This means that for pretty much all of our Infantry save for the Warriors, Raveners, and Hive/Tyrant Guard, we need to pay attention here.  What this does is mostly prevent Daisy-Chaining where a single unit of Gants can stretch across the table, helpful for screening out charges/reserves or capturing multiple objectives at once.  You still can Daisy-Chain to an extent by having 3 models at the end of each part of the chain, but this is not very wise at all, as we’ll get into below. 

Keep this in mind too in terms of charging.  You have to finish your charges in coherency, and you have to successfully complete all your declared charges to charge anyone, so you can no longer send just a lone flyer to tag a squad; you have to make sure enough get there to maintain coherency if trying to tag multiple squads. 

Really, this change isn’t too major in some senses as it really means that if running a large unit, you need to move in at least 2 ranks, making your footprint much denser.  If playing on a minimum sized board, remember that there is less real-estate to dominate, so this isn’t too bad of a hit, and our infantry is pretty good at navigating terrain after all.  With Blast weapons and such, you definitely want to be utilizing terrain anyway, so clustering together is a good idea to stay in blind spots, and well, Blast weapons are getting their max hits anyway, regardless of your formation. 

The second part that is a bit more important is the Coherency Check during the Morale phase.  This is where Swarms of bugs can get hurt bad as you have to remove models in any unit that are not in coherency.  So, if doing the triangle end daisy chain, losing one model will force you to remove models until you are at 5.  That’s brutal.   This means that you have to be very aware of how you are removing casualties because if you go a bit too loose, you may end up losing far more models than you thought.  This is again why having 2 or 3 ranks for large squads is going to be essential for the redundancy.  It also means that when taking casualties, be sure to take from one side and move your way in a linear progression rather than trying to save the foot print of the unit and taking casualties from all over.  This will really matter in melee where you are going to take casualties, but if you spread out to try and engage more enemies, you are risking losing coherency as you take hits.  Model positioning is going to be critical to help mitigate this if you are running lots of little bugs. 

We see 5 turn games, which is interesting, but generally speaking, most games are decided by then.  This doesn’t really make the game that much “shorter” time wise as I think Turn 1 and 2 still take up the lion share of time and by Turn  4 and 5, unless one side is clearly doing better, there isn’t that much on the board.   Once we see points, that may be the biggest factor in making the game faster as if it is true that points are going up 10-20%, we could be looking at playing 1600-1700 point games (in 8th edition points that is). 

Psychic Actions:
This is pretty cool, and as Tyranids can be a psyker heavy list, we get a lot of play here.  

Mental Interrogation is an easy secondary mission to take for  Nids as we can easily run a whole host of psykers, and plenty of times, I have a Neurothrope or 2 sitting around, not doing much other than maybe throwing a Smite at a chaff unit.  With Mental Interrogation, that Neurothrope may have something to do, and a level 4 test is easy for a Neuro.  Broodlords can also be quite good at this since they only get one spell, but they are fast, and they generally want to be close in the action, so being able to get within 18″ of a character isn’t too hard, and well, if you can get a good charge target on top of it, double score.  

The whole new Supreme Command does limit how many psykers we squeeze in, and it’ll be interesting to see if Swarmlord gets that shiny new Commander tag.  That said, maybe this means that taking a Brigade isn’t such a bad idea as we have plenty of cheap options in every detachment, so Tyranids can certainly do MSU very well.  If you want a lot of psychic power, this may be the way to do as being able to take 5 HQs plus maybe the new Supreme Command and of course, Maleceptors/Zoanthropes seems good to me.  That’s a fair amount of kill with easy secondary options. 

With Patrols requiring 2 CPs but all the other more skew style Detachments like Outrider taking 3, I foresee a lot of Patrols for Nids. In a competitive game, I always had at least 2 different Hive Fleets, Kronos for shooting and something else for melee/board control, and I still can do this pretty well. Yes, I’ll be at 10 CP rather than 12, but having a Neurothrope and a Ripper squad as my tax for Hive Guard is fine with me. With terrain being more pertinent, Hive Guard are still one of our MVP units.

Engagement Range

Well, we learned so much, it will take time to really crack it open, but what I appreciate is that engagement range is 5″ vertically.  This means that yes, Carnifexes can swing on models that happen to be a second floor.  It also means that yes, you can still hide if a model is on the top of a tall terrain piece, which at least is far more logical in the visual sense.  

The hurtful change to melee engagement range for back row fighters is definitely a thing.  The actual space that you can attack in melee has been reduced, so large blobs of infantry are going to have a hard time maximizing attacks.  Setting up multi-charges with larger based models is also a difficulty to navigate as large bases can take up valuable frontage real estate.  For Nids, this isn’t bad as it sounds.  Hormagaunt stock goes way up as with their 6″ pile-in, they can really push up and get some frontage, much more than 20 Genestealers.  Especially with the Blood of Baal buffs, this makes Hormagaunts a solid melee option as they can be mean, and well, chances are you aren’t going to get 20 or even 15 Genestealers into melee range, but you can definitely get 15-20 Hormagaunts there thanks to their pile-in and smaller bases. 

On the defensive side, depending what points Termagants come in at, they could still be ideal chaff because you can deploy in a triangle, denying frontage to your opponent, so they are not absorbing as much attacks as they would previously.  This also helps with the coherency issues that a large unit can have.  

I am sure that there is a ton that I’ve missed, but I like to really sit with rules and figure things out. I am sure in the coming weeks, we will all discover far more about these rules and how they will change 40K.  While our infantry is going to play differently, I do think Nids have the depth of builds and the tactical flexibility to still be strong in a competitive game, but I do not think a lot of 8th edition builds will port over well.  Thanks as always for reading, and of course, share your thoughts! 

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.

8 Responses to “Tyranids: Looking at the 9th Rules”

  1. Gregory Ullrich July 5, 2020 10:15 am #

    I’m not sure that if you daisy train with a triangle at the end and lose a casualty there that it “..losing one model will force you to remove models until you are at 5”. Isn’t more like: You lose a model – so you’re in a single line – then in the morale phase there is only 1 model (the one at the end whose 2nd buddy was lost) that has to be removed. It reads to me like you determine coherency at that point in the phase for the unit – determine the number of models that it has to lose because they are OOC, then lose those models. That one guy at the end is the only one OOC when determining coherency.

    • Gregory Ullrich July 5, 2020 10:18 am #

      …though reading it – yeah, I guess it does roll down the line like a big o’l boulder…that could be rough!

  2. Stefan July 6, 2020 12:19 am #

    I think that officially you can still use Genestealers on 25 mm bases like Hormagants. Only the GSC ones come with 32 mm.

    • Kitane July 6, 2020 3:47 am #

      Only two unique princelings in box that has been OOP for years, in fact.

      Hive fleet genestalers and purestrains were never officially on 32mm bases, they just look better on them.

  3. Kevin Lantz July 6, 2020 1:19 am #

    yeah it gets rid of the gamey “my guys are out of coherency, but locking 5 units all up and down the line… but they don’t move so no worries”

  4. N.I.B. July 6, 2020 2:47 am #

    The new terrain rules don’t look like a good thing for Hive Guards and Genestealers. So now they have to stand BEHIND ruins to be out of LOS? The gains from a smaller table just vanished. Unless I make my own terrain features and bring them to my games, most clubs and events have the old ruins and wont bother to make much new. 20 Genestealers are really hard to hide BEHIND terrain, and Hive Guards will again struggle with range.

  5. Kitane July 6, 2020 3:57 am #

    I am looking forward to seeing how Nidzilla will shape up. If the monsters get a significant price increase because they can shoot into combat, it’s going to be rough.

    The revealed/leaked stuff so far looks extremely tightly tailored to benefit marines.

  6. David Jesion July 7, 2020 5:25 am #

    I’m definitely shelving my Tyranids this edition unless the game involves beer.

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