Tyranids: Sleepy units for 9th edition

Hey everyone, Danny from TFG Radio here, and today, I want to talk about some units for Tyranids that most people probably ignore, and well, maybe that’s not the wisest course of actions. You may have these in your collection, and if they are a little dusty, maybe time to clean them up and get them pretty for a day out on the town. Competitive play is slowly starting to turn up, so make sure to stay up to date with Frontline’s Tactics Corner!

So I think most Tyranid players know where some of our obviously strong choices are, chief amongst them Hive Guard, but what else is there? Are there units that we just forget exist? Well, let’s take a look and see some of the units that I’ve found to be quite useful, even if people give me an odd look about it.

Tyrant Guard

Now, you might not think I’m all there, but hear me out: What is one of the biggest changes to 9th? For me, it is that anything CAN outflank if you pay CP.  This means that every unit has a delivery system, and before, that was often one of the biggest hits against units.  Tyrant Guard now have a way, without spending points on a Tyrannocyte, to pop out of reserve, especially as Behemoth.  Let’s break it down:

276 points (not cheap) gets you 6 bodies at T5 3W and a 3+ save, so resilient for Tyranids, but 3 attacks each at either S5 AP-1 with a chance to go to AP-3, or S5 AP0 reroll 1s.  For that 276, I threw in 3 crushing claws for 9 S10 AP-3 Dd3 attacks, pretty solid for killing multi-wound models.   You also have a +1 to charge out of reserve thanks to Adrenal Glands, and again, Tyranids have a few ways to further boost charges like Hunter’s Drive or Hive Instinct.  Throw in the Behemoth Fleet Trait, and they naturally reroll charges, and you have access to the +1 to wound power, which is brilliant.  If you are good at setting up powers or simply have a Winged Hive Tyrant dropping out of reserve with them, getting a unit of 6 with just Lashwhip/Sword can still do work as S5 AP-2 and +1 to wound means that Tyrant Guard can still do a lot of damage to most targets and your opponent can’t clean them out in melee without taking damage back. 

A big blob of Tyrant Guard rolling into a flank and taking an objective is not hard to pull off, and bonus, they are tough enough to tank some damage, and they have a high enough damage output to kill hardy units like Terminators or Aggressors.  Most people have never seen Tyrant Guard en masse on the table, but I do think if playing around with Behemoth and reserves, a unit of 6 will catch folk off guard.  Not only can they hit decently hard, they can sit on a contested objective and take the punishment to hold it. It is not enough in 9th to take objectives; you have to hold them as long as possible to really win.

Meiotic Spores

These little bombs are one of the only “advance deploy” units that we have, and while they are one-use only, they give a lot of tactical flexibility.  Essentially, you can dominate the center of the board from deployment, putting down a unit that screens out any enemy advance deploy from taking good real estate in the center while also providing threat projection.  If your opponent goes first, they have to be careful about how the bombs are waiting, and if those bombs happen to be blocking out a path to a crucial objective, your opponent now has to spend resources to kill the spores, resources not spent on killing your primary threats. Even though the bombs can’t go off in the movement phase, your opponent still has to stay outside of 1″ of them, so you can ring an objective (they can’t hold it anyway) and keep your opponent from jumping on objectives on the first turn, and that can be huge for tempo.

Of course, if you go first, you can press in with the bombs, or at least one squad, and with Metabolic Overdrive, you can easily get them into your opponent’s lines on turn 1 and do some damage, and Meiotic Spores throw out a lot of mortal wounds, so being able to cripple a hard target, something Tyranids can struggle to do at range, is not a bad idea at all.  Meiotic are really strong against Custodes because they bypass defenses, and well, you’d rather the spores take the hurricane bolters than Gants. So Meiotic Spres, even just 3×3 to fill out a brigade for cheap, can give you a lot of early board control that either does some good damage on the top of 1 or stops your opponent from moving into the center on top of 1. Both of these outcomes are good.


Oh, the little Mawloc. It longs for the days of Lictor-Shame, but hey, I still think there is room for these little sneks.  They are primarily a great way to steal objectives from an opponent.  With Terror From the Deep, they can pop up right on top of an objective, and thanks to Blood of Baal, for 1 CP, you are pretty much always getting d3 mortal wounds on whatever is around, so you can chip away at small squads, weaken characters, or just take a decent bite out of a harder unit.  Now I know that Mawlocs don’t do that much damage, but they force a tempo change.  Your opponent might think an objective to the side is more or less safe, and suddenly it isn’t, and now they have to dedicate resources to secure it.  If they overcommit to the center, now you have a flanking unit that they can’t really deal with effectively, and if the Mawloc gets to charge, it’ll eat a lot of light infantry. At 12Ws at T6 with a 3+ save, they aren’t super easy to take down, so again, you are forcing your opponent to shift resources away from another area, and that can tip the balance. 

Plus, if your opponent is trying to set up to do certain secondaries that require no enemies within a certain distance, Mawlocs can make that extremely difficult to pull off. You can even boost their offense a bit by going Build-A-Bug and taking -1AP on scything talons and +1 to hit for monsters when they charge/are charged, and suddenly a Mawloc is putting out 7 S6 AP-1 D1 attacks at WS 3+ rerolling 1s. That is enough to scare most weaker, objective camping type units, and if you really need to wipe a squad, you can give the Mawloc rerolls to wound thanks to being a Monster.  Mawlocs are easy to dismiss because they haven’t been super relevant since 7th edition, but they are one of our best disruption units that can absolutely mess with your opponent’s plans.

They also allow a really reserve heavy army to work because you can deploy them on the table in as safe a position as possible and then burrow on your turn, and bring them in on Turn 2. This essentially lets you put more than 50% of your forces in reserve as you can suddenly pop out with a lot of problems on Turn 2 and still have heat for Turn 3.


Speaking of another snek, the standard no-frills Trygon has got some moves, namely because it is one of our cheapest monsters that can actually do damage.  It is our cheapest damage d6 monster, and it is fast.  Most think of Trygons as a delivery system, and they totally work that way, but even on their own, just deploying on the board, with movement 9, Onslaught, and a bit of good rolls, they can easily reach your opponent’s lines on the first turn.  They are only T6, but a Maleceptor can help there, and really, they also have the advantage of being able to take Adrenal Glands, so that’s +1 to advance and charge.

Even if they aren’t bringing friends, Behemoth Trygons can do the whole assault out of reserve about as well as Tyranids can do, and again, thanks to Unstoppable Hunger, you can get them +1 to wound, and reroll wounds, and wow, that means they are actually really good at cracking hard targets without strong invulnerable saves. 

Again, also at 155 with Adrenal glands, that is pretty inexpensive for one of our hardest hitters.  Tyranids can be a little bit pillow-fisted, so having something that your opponent has to respect helps quite a bit, and bonus, Trygons don’t need to spend points or CP to come in from reserve.  They also allow Warriors to traverse the board fast, so you can bring the Trygon in, drop off a minimum squad of Warriors behind the Trygon to take an objective, and then rocket the Trygon forward to try and get some love. 

So, 9th edition is still in the wildest days, but here are some choices that maybe you want to try.  They are overlooked at the moment, but each has some plays.  I think especially with the rise of Salamanders and heavy threats outflanking on Turn 2 and 3, I think Tyranids need to adapt to this mindset as we can play the reserve game pretty well, so we should leverage that.  I hope you are getting games in, having fun, and taking care of yourselves. Get dat Biomass, kids!

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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.

8 Responses to “Tyranids: Sleepy units for 9th edition”

  1. abusepuppy August 24, 2020 9:58 am #

    Line those Tyrant Guard up against some Aggressors and cry. Just… cry.

    • Kitane August 24, 2020 11:37 am #

      I wanted to post just that. I know the direct comparison between factions is often flawed but this one presents itself.

      A unit of 6 TG, the strongest, toughest and hardest hitting melee infantry in the Nid codex per model, is almost, almost as good as 6 Aggressors that took an oath of moment to use their fists only.

      For the same cost.

      • Reecius August 24, 2020 2:14 pm #

        Comparing anything to Aggressors is going to pale. They’re quite obviously too good at present, IMO.

        I think Nids have the ability to compete with Marines, I just played them this weekend and did well against power armor. However, they unfortunately have a lot of disappointing units leaving you with only a small amount of viable options for competitive play.

        • abusepuppy August 24, 2020 5:59 pm #

          Yeah but you can say that about practically every Space Marine unit. Literally every model from the Indomitus box blows every other faction’s best units out of the water at half the price, plus they have the entire rest of their codex that is the size of any three other factions’ codices put together, plus they also have their supplements.

          Is there any unit or combination of units in the Tyranid book which can go toe-to-toe with Bladeguard getting babysat by a Judicator and actually win? Why is a codex that is nominally all about getting in close so incredibly bad at melee?

          • Reecius August 25, 2020 7:19 am

            That’s a different conversation but I agree, Nids in general are bad at melee which is so counter to what they should be per the lore.

          • abusepuppy August 25, 2020 7:47 am

            I feel like it’s a specific case of a general problem. Xenos specialist units, in many cases, are on par at their one specific job with a similar Space Marine unit, but then also worse at everything else while being a similar/higher price. It’s particularly evident with Tyranids right now, but it’s a consistent theme. Marines are supposed to be jacks-of-all-trades, but because GW wants to make them powerful because they are the flagship unit, they often make them the best generalists _and_ the best specialists.

          • Reecius August 25, 2020 8:08 am

            Yeah, and it is also the issue of the layering of additional force multiplication rules that Space Marines have. When a unit gets layers of additional rules, all of which are significant buffs, even if in a vacuum they compare well to units in other codexes, the multiplicative effects make them much stronger.

          • Ohlmann August 25, 2020 9:34 am

            One of the issue is that versatility is much less valuable than it seem to in tabletop wargaming. Which is why versatile units in W40K (and other game) often have a long history of being underpowered.

            You need to have them less good than specialist, but with a pretty small margin. It don’t excuse GW for the worse excess that we currently see, but it’s actually pretty tricky.

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