Tyranids: January 2021 FAQ and update

Hey all, Danny from TFG Radio here, and today, of course I am going to go through the new changes that GW rolled out this past week as they pertain to the Hive Fleets. There were troubles, but mostly, GW gave far more than they took here. Let’s get into it, and don’t forget, plenty of other factions got some boosts, so keep a few eyes on Frontline’s Tactics Corner.

So let’s jump into it:


For me, the biggest change for the positive here is that going second still gets to score at the end of Turn 5.  From my side of the biomass, Tyranids are strongest when playing a control game, smothering objectives with bodies and using our few really strong killers to take out key threats.  Before this change, if you didn’t go first, you just had less opportunities to actually control the board and score points, so going first became essential.  Now, you have much more of a fighting chance.  This is also a boost to Nidzilla style lists though.  One problem that I have encountered with that style of list is that I can do damage and I can even start to push towards a tabling, but I simply did not have enough board presence to win the game, especially against a player savvy enough to throw disposable units into my objectives to stop me from scoring at the top of the next turn. This gives Nidzilla a little bit more legs and is a bit less punished as by design, playing a more focused, elite army means that you have to catch up on the mission a bit, but now, there is more time to do that. This can cut both ways of course, but I think overall, our speed and ability to bring a lot of beef or bodies puts this into the win category.

There were several nice changes to how secondaries work here that helped Tyranids by quite a bit.  The first is that Abhor the Witch is far less punishing as before, a lot of our strongest units gave up this secondary to max without much of an issue.  Broodlords, Neurothropes, Zoanthropes, Hive Tyrants, and Maleceptors are breathing a bit easier now, especially since you can build a list with some decent psychic heat without also handing your opponent a full 15 on one of their secondaries. 

The change to Why We Stand, We Fight is also give and take.  On one hand, the Malanthrope was a great choice for it as well, if your Maly died, chances are you were losing pretty badly, but now that it is most expensive units, chances are you going to be taking units worth more than 150 each unless you are really dedicated to an MSU style list.  Of course, you can also build to take advantage of this, especially with Hive Guard and Barbed Heirodules.  While 1 unit of Impaler HG and 2 Barbies are an expensive package, they provide a lot of ranged threat in a Kronos list, and they are our most survivable units as HG can stay out the fray and rain down death while as I’ve covered before, Barbies are just immensely durable thanks to the combination of T8, 2+ armor save, and our usual defensive buffs like Malanthrope, Venomthropes, and a Maleceptor aura.  That said, if you take all the defensive tek, your list runs out of points for bodies, but then a Kronos Patrol of the big shooters and then a defensive Batallion of horde could do work some work. 

The big bugs also get a boost as Bring It Down is far less punishing, so you can splash a few big bugs into a list without worrying about giving your opponent an easy secondary.  Again, in list design, it can be hard for Tyranids to create a list that doesn’t max at least one secondary, but as long as you can stymie the choices for the other 2, you can be ok.   Our strengths are generally skewing hard toward one thing or another, but these changes do allow a more balanced, combined arms force to be less punished by secondaries.


The only real thing here is that Living Bombs can’t perform actions and what not, which makes sense and all, so not too hard to get bent out of shape.  Again, if playing Crusade, it makes sense that they would never gain experience or suffer injuries. 

The Units:

There were points adjustments, and most things went down rather than up.

Zoanthropes are 5 points more, which I don’t know if they were really setting the world on fire, but making each one an even 50 is fine. It certainly isn’t ideal, but then it is not such an increase that they become untenable as if you are building a psychic heavy list, 15-30 points more per unit isn’t total death. If you were building a full psychic list, then yah, 90 points does hurt though.

Carnifexes are in a weird spot as I am not entirely sure how much the standard double-talon build actually is. The entry for double talons is gone, so I assume then that you just purchase talons twice for 20 points, so that’s a 5 point increase.  That said, a single set of talons is only 10 now, so doing a heavy venom cannon and talon Fex with Enhanced Senses isn’t as expensive although still likely more expensive than is needed.  I really liked double-talons as essentially just chaff to throw forward, threaten an objective, and soak fire away from other threats, but we’ll see what shakes out.

Hive Tyrants are a little more usable thanks to dropping 15 points on the Wings.  For what you get, I still think they are overpriced as they don’t put out enough offense to really do damage, but then, I suppose 170 points for 12 Wounds at T7 with a 4++ and two powers isn’t bad, especially on a chassis that can come in from reserve.  Still, my issue with Tyrants isn’t really addressed in that they just don’t do enough damage anymore for their point cost.  I would love to see their base attacks increased.

Getting 30 more points in a list is always good, and that’s just what happened to most players as Hive Guard are now 5 points cheaper.  This was a big surprise as on paper, HG are still our point for point most efficient ranged threat, but hey, I’ll take it.  I think most Nid players (and their opponents) know how painful a full unit of Impaler Guard are, so now that they are cheaper, well, all the more reason to try and find a slot for them in most lists.  They are just at that point where I may consider taking 2 full units of 6 behind a Termagant wall. 

Another big boost to shooting is that the Tyrannofex is now not so outclassed by the Exocrine. At a sleek and slim 170 points base, 175 for Acid Spray, you have a relatively cheap, beefy shooting platform that is great at holding down a radius of the board and daring units to enter.  Two of them can be exceptionally good at clearing out objectives in the center, and with range 18” and a smaller standard board, they can cover a good amount of the field.  If you want to do a shooty Nidzilla list, then Tyrannofex become a more economical option as the sort of frontline beasties that actually make use of the Overwatch strat. 

Again, GW must want Tyranid players to kill things at range because our highest volume of fire threat is now 22% cheaper: The DevilGant.  Devourers for Termagants saw a big price drop, and when you are talking taking 30 of them, that adds up real fast.  At 210 points for up to 90 S4 shots, easily up to 180 if you double-tap with Single-Minded Annihilation, you are putting out enough dice to wear down even Space Marines with just volume of fire.  One of Tyranids’ bad matchups is actually other horde armies as some of our strongest units are better suited to killing harder targets, so having DevilGants be cheap enough to splash into an army gives you that good counter.  The Tervigon is also ever so slightly cheaper, but it is still way too expensive to really justify.  Still, I am glad that I own 60 Devilgants and now I am thinking of ways to incorporate them back into lists.

Lastly, my favorite sleeper unit in the codex, Warriors, also saw a significant price drop down to 17 points base.  They still do get pricey once you throw on gear, but for me, 17 points for 3W at T4 and a 4+ save is pretty impressive.  For a Nidzilla style army or even MSU, 51 points is just 1 more point than a minimum Termagant squad for a hell of a lot more survivability.  Yes, they can’t shoot and while ObSec, they don’t have the numbers to really dominate an objective, but they are far more resilient to small arms fire than Termagants, and if doing MSU, you want resiliency on your small units as the more resources your opponent has to invest to remove one unit, the more likely you are to win the mission as you have more units than they can effectively kill in 5 turns.  I could see Warriors becoming a solid choice as min troop choices for Nidzilla or even some crazier skew list with 60+ naked Warriors acting as the front line.  That said, hard to imagine having that many, even for me. 

Lastly, Raveners also dropped down 2 points per model, and if doing a crazy MSU style army or using them as cheaper Tyrannocytes for Infantry units as Jormungandr, some savings is good, but still, this isn’t really the change that they needed.

All in all, I think Tyranid players should be happy about the update.  With some of the points adjustments and the changes to the mission, I do think we are better positioned to do well in games.  I mean, everyone loves Hive Guard, right?  Thanks as always for reading, and get those games in if you can.

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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: January 2021 FAQ and update”

  1. Avatar
    Sean January 10, 2021 7:23 am #

    Thanks, Danny. Are you going to continue your FW Compendium review for the Harridan and Hierophant? I think people are sleeping on how good the Harridan is and it was nice to see the FAQ address its deployment issues.

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