Tyranids: First games in 9th

Hey everyone, Danny from TFG Radio here, and today, let’s chat about some experiences with 9th edition. The Hive Fleet is known to adapt, and adapt we must do, so I thought I’d share what I’ve learned from a few test games. Of course, everyone else is doing the same, and knowing is half the battle, so keep on eye on Frontline’s Tactics Corner.

So I managed to get some testing done despite COVID, and here are my general thoughts. Things will change as more games happen against a variety of opponents, so these are just my observations from what I have. Once the tournament scene really opens up, we’ll get a better and better view of how things will shake out. Let’s dive in:

Warriors: They are surprisingly decent for their points when used as Action fillers.  With just double-scything talons, they are only 7 points per T4 4+ save wound, which makes them the most efficient body in terms of points and durability. When you consider that the Termagant is 5 points for a T3 6+ save wound and even a Genestealer is 15 points for a T4 5++ wound, naked Warriors make excellent chaff for secondaries like Raise the Banners.  When taken in small squads, they also do not get hammered by the Blast rule.  It is easier to hide them as with the INFANTRY keyword, they can make better use of terrain, and still, 3 Warriors with double talons put out 12 attacks at WS 3+, rerolling 1s.  That’s not amazing but it is certainly not horrible.  If you take 5-9 bug squads, popping Unyielding Chitin can make them far more resilient than your opponent expects.

Hormagaunts: With a much smaller board, these little bugs are probably our best early pressure as they are cheaper than Genestealers, move very fast on their own, and again, that 6” pile-in and consolidate move is clutch for maximizing attacks.  They don’t hit very hard, but they are solid for holding enemy units and keeping them from advancing too far into the center or even running up a flank.  If they hit a target that they can’t really hurt, that’s fine as long as you are positioning yourself to keep the enemy from moving into the center of the board quickly.  Moving in several rows (movement trays help with this) also minimizes losses from coherency. Don’t forget that they are Objective Secured, so running them forward to sit on a middle objective is a fine use, especially if you can crowd it out, so that even if your opponent charges, they won’t be able to consolidate into the objective. Maybe you don’t keep it, but you can stop your opponent for a turn.

Hive Guard: Still amazing.  While 300 points is a lot, they do so much damage at range, and with the board shrinking, they can camp in your deployment zone and rain down pain over most of the board.  They are still CP hungry beasts, so that is something to consider, but in terms of pure offense, they are one of our most reliable units.  Again, the whole Kronos Patrol of Neurothrope (for Symbiostorm), Rips, and 6 Hive Guard slots into just about any army.

Dimacherons: Yes, our beautiful, beautiful super Lictors actually have some moves in the new edition.  Thanks to their ability to ignore vertical distance when moving, they can jump over obstacles and actually are pretty damn good at just getting up the board and causing trouble. Seeing as how they can really dish out a lot of quality, multi-damage attacks, they are good at killing elite infantry and light vehicles, and well, with the new points, they only saw a 10 point increase, so relative to everyone else, they actually got a tidy points decrease.  I was mostly goofing around with them, but I was very pleasantly surprised how much punch and mobility they brought.   They are a great counter-assault unit because they can hide behind a piece of Obscuring terrain and then jump out next turn to get into trouble.

Outside of units, let’s talk the Mission. Tyranids are more of a Mission Army than a Killy Army as we really don’t have the same level of threat saturation that other armies can bring, but we do have moves in every phase of the game, and so if you play savvy, you can take a beating but still win the game.

Tyranids, unfortunately, give up a lot of Secondaries.  Seeing as most of our HQ choices are Psykers, we are suckers for Abhor the Witch. If you go horde, Thin Their Ranks can be really tough, and Bring it Down also can really hurt a Nidzilla list.  This really means that you have to be mindful in army construction. If you are going to bring 5 psykers, be very careful or just accept you are giving up 15 points.  Once you hit a certain point, just lean into it as you won’t stop the tally anyway.  There is a delicate balance in trying to make sure that you aren’t giving up easy secondaries, or you are giving up one easy secondary but only one.   If you ran a Gant-Wall list in 8th in ITC, you knew you were giving up Reaper, but it is making sure that you don’t give up another easy secondary. If going horde, Broodlords are great line backers, but they die pretty easily, so maybe Neurothropes or Malanthropes are a better choice as if your opponent is getting to them quickly, you were probably already on the losing stretch. On the flip side, taking 2 Broodlords as your only HQs can work in a Monster Mash style list where they are going to be low on the threat priority.

A Monster Mash list is a little harder to score good secondaries unfortunately.  You really have to lean into killy secondaries, but that gives your opponent more counter-play opportunities.  While We Stand, We Fight is not ideal because our most expensive models tend to be big bad bugs, but they are fire magnets, so unless you are taking Exocrines or Tyrannofexes that try to stay out of the fray, you are likely not going to get these points at the end of the game.  Grind Them Down can work if you are really taking a lot of tanky monsters that won’t die easy, but then getting kills can be the problem there.

That said, there are a few that we can easily achieve.  If you are taking a lot of infantry (or again, Warriors), Raise the Banners high in missions with 2 objectives in your own deployment zone is generally a quick way to score decent points.  You may not max, but getting 10-12 is still quite strong.  Engage on All Fronts is also easy to do, especially with Rippers and reserves. Throwing 30 Termagants onto a forgotten quarter of the board can really shift things, but even the lowly Ripper becomes great at Engage on All Fronts and Linebreaker secondaries.  Really, if you are building a list to maximize either Engage on All Fronts or Linebreaker, Lictors become decent at this as they are cheap, can be hard to uproot in cover, and can inherently come in from reserve to tag forgotten corners.

If you build for it, Deploy Scramblers is a good secondary to keep in mind as we have plenty of ways to reserve in Infantry.  Again, this is where Lictors low-key shine.   Even if you are taking a Nidzilla style list, throwing in a few Lictors can open up secondaries for you.

So overall, 9th is certainly a shade different than 8th, but luckily, the Hive Mind adapts. Tyranids can be a powerful board control army, so make sure that you know what secondaries you can score, and build a game-plan during list building.  How have your games been?

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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.

2 Responses to “Tyranids: First games in 9th”

  1. JR August 9, 2020 8:15 am #

    I have had success last game with a Trygone prime and 30 gants with fleshborers popping up turn 3 amd hitting a lonely objective that had 5 CSM on it. It was a 6 objective mission and the chaos player was spread thin, he diddnt have the speed to bring his units back in time to conest the obejective, prime had the 3d6 charge relic and kited the gaunts into melee with the strat.

  2. Rob Butcher August 9, 2020 9:53 pm #

    Interesting, but don’t keep comparing CA2020 missions/secondaries to itc. The actions make a huge difference as they score entirely in your turn. The missions/secondaries deliberately are different and the Codexes will add faction specific options as well. Then the new rules. Overall, board control is important and getting up the board to at least the centre-line, if not all the way into the enemies deployment zone.

    It would be useful to compare lists from the previous and new editions to see what works within these new missions.

    A major hope for any changes over the past five years is that forgotten units make a come-back, so it’s nice to see your analysis examining other units. A major goal this week whilst waiting for the new paint set to arrive is to test out the best unit to do the “raise the banner” and “scanners” secondaries. And how to counter those.

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