Tyranids: Warzone Octarius review – Synaptic Link

Hey everyone, Danny from TFG Radio here, and today, let’s dig into the other big part of the Warzone Octarius book, the new Synaptic Link rules for Tyranids. If you like upgrades, all the upgrades, then time to dive in and see how you can cut points for one or just flat out build something new. As always, be sure to keep up with Frontline’s Tactics Corner for all those sweet articles to see what the hell anybody else is doing.

So the basic gist is that all Synapse creatures (lolz, not Malanthrope) now have a unique upgrade, and in the command phase, you can bestow the benefit of that upgrade to one unit within Synapse range.  The trick here is that Synapse range can now be measured point to point from Synapse creatures within 12 of each other, meaning you can create a chain between different synapse creatures of the same Hive Fleet, so you can have a softer synapse creature still give their benefit to a forward threat without having to expose them as long as there is another synapse creature in the middle.  You only get a certain amount of Links per game based on game size (so for 2K competitive, that’s 3), they cost 15 points each (except for one that is 10), and a unit can only be effected by one Synaptic Link at a time. Ok, with all that out of the way, let’s see what we get here:

Broodlord – Mastery of Shadows

Models in the unit gain the benefit of Light and Heavy Cover. Each time a ranged attack is made more than 12” away against the Unit, the Unit gains Dense Cover (unless it is a Monster). 

This is a very defensive Link that really is like a slightly cheaper way to get an improved Malanthrope aura that only applies to one unit.  The +1 save at range is always good, and Heavy Cover is actually a bit more useful as the +1 save against a charger’s melee attack can make a big unit of Warriors pretty hardy or even Genestealers.  The Dense Cover for -1 to hit on Non-Monsters is also solid, so this is a great way to protect a big unit of Genestealers against an attack as the +1 save and -1 hit make them just a bit harder to shift.   I really like it for making a big block of 9 Warriors a very tanky unit as between Enhanced Resistance, Unyielding Chitin, and now Mastery of Shadows, you have a unit of Warriors that is -1 to hit at range, 3+ armor (ignore AP-1 and -2), and then -1 damage against ranged attacks.  This can make the Deathspitter/3 Venom Cannon Warrior blob pretty resilient at range, and as Leviathan, they also have a 6+ to ignore wounds.  While this is resource intensive, this is also a very expensive unit, so keeping it more or less safe helps keep it on the table long enough to earn its investment.   Of course, this also works well on Hive Guard as well, if you are in an out of LoS firefight, getting that protection on the Hive Guard can help quite a bit (assuming what is shooting at them doesn’t ignore cover like they themselves do).

The downside here is that for a larger infantry horde, making only one resilient isn’t more helpful than a Malanthrope, and since Synaptic Links are triggered in your Command Phase, if you don’t go first, you can’t actually use this to really protect that one key unit.  If ever there was one that needed to be triggered in the enemy Command Phase, it’s this one.

Neurothrope – Psychic Creep

Aura. While a enemy unit is within 6” of the selected Unit, subtract 1 from leadership and subtract 1 from Combat Attrition tests for that unit.

This one can do some good work if going against the right armies.  Being able to ensure that a Genestealer rocket is going to spread that aura and weaken enemy units or make a unit run after some causalities isn’t bad.   We do have other ways to attack enemy leadership, and especially if doing a Forces of the Hive Mind psyker build, this can actually really pay off and add a good amount of pop to the army.  It can be surprising and -1 to combat attrition can actually be pretty impactful. 

That said, this is very much a corner case as right now, a lot of armies don’t care that much about leadership or morale, so against a lot of matchups, it just isn’t that effective. Granted, this is on a model that you’ll likely take anyway as a cheap, solid HQ choice, but then adding on 15 points definitely makes it less efficient for that role.

Hive Tyrant – Malicious Direction

Each time a model in this Unit makes a Pile-In move, they can move an additional 3”, up to 6”.

This is very much a finesse power that absolutely can change the shape of a game.  Getting Termagants or even Genestealers to move 6 when they Pile-In can help gum up the board even more, get more bodies on a contested objective, or get more Genestealers into combat.   It can work both sides of the melee game, increasing damage for bigger squads by actually getting more of the models into the fight but also increasing the mobility that melee provides for board control.  While not easy to use perfectly, this is very much one of those Tyranid standard low floor, high ceiling abilities that can be easy to throw away but can also be backbreaking when used appropriately. 

The downside here is that since again, these abilities are used in the Command Phase, you can’t drop down a Flyrant to do this; it has to be on the board.  Thanks to Synaptic Link, you could have a walking Tyrant in the backfield that is linking into the scrum from a mid-board synapse creature, so if playing a melee focused infantry swarm, there is a bit of play here, but it certainly takes a great deal of planning.

Maleceptor – Focal Essence

Each time a model in the Unit makes an attack: On an unmodified 6 to wound, increase the AP of the attack by 1.  The unit can also reroll damage rolls.

So this is a power that really has different directions.  The most obvious is Hive Guard.  Getting HG to reroll their damage d3 weapons really ups their overall throughput, and HG can struggle a bit against T8 targets, mostly due to not getting enough damage through the 4+ to wound, so being able to mitigate some of those 1 damage rolls can be pretty tasty, not to mention any AP -3 attacks that sneak in on a 6 to wound.  It can also do some good work on a unit of Devilgants as getting that extra AP on 90 shots can absolutely help push through the damage when needed.  If you are really dedicated to the big stick Tyrannofex with a Rupture Cannon, this can help make the most of it as rerolling those d6s certainly helps push the damage curve up.  A Maleceptor and Tyrannofex do pair well since the -1S aura can make that T8 so much harder to crack.

The other way is to use this on a melee unit with a high volume of attacks like Genestealers or Hormagaunts.  This can be a way to get some surprising punch out of Hormagaunts as you can get the extra AP on the wound 6 as well as pop Feral Instincts for another -1 AP, so getting AP-2 Hormies isn’t too bad, especially for only 180 points for 30. 

Really, the biggest downside to this one is that it is attached to the Maleceptor, and well, it can be hard to justify 170 points for the Maleceptor in a lot of lists. Encephalic Diffusion is amazing, but it is CP hungry, and unless really rocking a Monster Mash list, the -1S aura isn’t super impactful for our infantry with all the S5-7 shooting out there.

Tervigon – Weaponised Gestation

When the Unit makes a ranged attack, you can reroll unmodified Wound rolls of 1 and 2.

This is another great way to just turn a few of our already standout units up to 11.  You can absolutely throw this on Hive Guard, especially if you are hitting anything under T8, and get full reroll to wound (unless they have a rule like Transhuman).  Either way, against a T8 target (or a Transhuman like target), getting to reroll half of your fails is pretty sweet.   

Since this is from the Tervigon, it feels built to really make Devilgants much stronger.  Devilgants rarely wound anything on 3s, so it is about getting some return back against T4 and above.  90 Shots with rerolling 1s and 2s to wound isn’t shabby at all, especially when you consider that if you have a Swarm Leader warlord nearby, that is also full reroll to hit.   If you want more esoteric fare, you can also throw this on a Flamer Tyrannofex as it helps make sure that flamer is putting wounds through.   This also isn’t a bad option on a Quad-Devourer Flyrant as with S6, rerolling 1s and 2s to wound can be a full reroll to wound against a lot of preferred target, and if you throw on Pathogenic Slime, you can have a Dakka-Flyrant just murder 2 wound bodies or even a light vehicle. 

There really isn’t a big downside except again, it is on a Tervigon, which isn’t an easy splash to lists.  Tervigons are tough, and you can definitely take one and make it tanky as hell, but that requires a lot of resources, and often, those resources will get more value by investing in another builds. 

Trygon Prime – Feed

The Unit is eligible to shoot and declare a charge in a turn in which it Fell Back.

The ability to Fall Back and Charge or Shoot is so clutch, and really, it is one of the best parts of the Kraken Hive Trait, so being able to put it on any unit in our force can be massive.  I have definitely lost games where a fast unit was able to tag my Hive Guard and essentially turn them off for the rest of the game, so being able to just fix that is pretty amazing.  Getting Hormagaunts to Fall Back and then Charge around what was stopping them can also be devastating.  Even on our favored monster beatstick, the Dimacheron, being able to Fall Back and Charge without being Kraken opens up fun new builds like Leviathan goodness.  This really is an amazing ability that can just save your bacon.

That said, it is on a Trygon Prime, which has 2 problems. First, you don’t see a lot of Primes to begin with as the Synapse is generally not worth the price over a regular Trygon that does everything the Prime does.  The second is that again, this is triggered in the Command Phase, so the Trygon Prime can’t pop up and solve the problem, so now you have to have the Prime out and about, and Trygons don’t tend to last too long after they say hello.   It is hard to justify 190 points with the upgrade for a unit that is just going to hang out and try to be alive when needed or where you really have to be able to predict what your opponent is going to do and bring the Trygon up before your HG get tagged or before your melee unit needs to Fall Back and Charge. 

Tyranid Prime – Unchecked Ferocity

Each time a melee attack is made by a model in this unit, an unmodified 6 to hit automatically wounds the target

This is a great Link for turning volume into profit.  The two biggest and more obvious choices are Hormies and Genestealers.  For 180 stock, Hormies put out 60 attacks on the charge, and at S3, the wound roll is where they really struggle, so being able to skip that step absolutely helps up their damage potential.  This doesn’t mean that they are going to just murder anything, but it certainly helps make their attacks meaningful.  You can stack this with Leviathan’s Relentless Fury and Swarm Leader where you are just fishing for those 6s, and while the extra hits from Relentless Fury are not converted into auto-wounds per the Core Rulebook FAQ, it definitely does help add more and more heat. Of course, this also works on Genestealers, and well, 80 attacks is better than 60, especially at S4 with their own inherent AP.  Yes, you miss out on the chance to get those Rending Claws hit, but if you just want to force saves, this is pretty sweet. While I am generally one of the few who reps these bugs, double scything talon Warriors also benefit from this nicely as for 153 points, you get 36 attacks at S4, rerolling 1s, and if within Prime range (which is easier if you are using this Link), that’s essentially WS 2+ rerollable, so that’s a lot of attacks that can get some heat. By the math though, Hormies and Genestealers certainly benefit more. 

There is no real downside here as a Prime is our cheapest HQ, so they make ideal mid-table Synapse beacons to help keep your Links strong.  If doing a melee focused infantry horde, this is very much a good addition to help push your offense up in a key fight.

Tyranid Warriors – Bioweapon Bond

Add +1 to hit for the Unit’s attacks.

This is as basic as it is good. A simple ability that is just money.  The most obvious is again Hive Guard as getting Kronos Hive Guard to essentially BS 2+ that rerolls 1s is just value upon value, especially when they shoot twice.   This really lets you run double Hive Guard as Kronos and Leviathan with excellent efficiency as you can have the Kronos unit boosted by Bioweapon Bond and Symbiostorm, and you can have Leviathan HG with Swarm Leader for full rerolls and Relentless Fury, so both units get extra hits on 6s to hit, the Kronos have insane accuracy, the Leviathan have great accuracy or can fish for 6s at will, and one of them gets to shoot again with Single-Minded Annihilation.  Again, that’s just some overbearing shooting that can absolutely cripple an opponent. 

Of course, you can also throw this on Hormies or Genestealers for some melee punch, and it really saves you the trouble of paying for a Broodlord as you get the +1 to hit on the Genestealers and then rocket them forward to do the Hive Mind’s work.  If looking to cut points, this is a good way to shave a lot of points and take up a troop slot and get a bit more synapse into the list for that all important Synaptic Link. 

The unit also can choose to target itself, so if you don’t want a Prime for any reason, you can boost your own accuracy, and again, Warriors can do a lot of ranged damage if you invest.  I am definitely going to have at least 1 full unit of 9 ready for lists, but even having 2 minimum squads of just talons can really add some good accuracy to a list without costing too much.  

If you love Carnifexes, getting a Carnifex to BS 3+ with a +1 to hit can make them scary accurate, but this also works on big units like Tyrannofexes (which really do need BS 3+ inherently).   Even Haruspexes get a big boost as you can get them to hit on effective WS 3+ and pop their stratagem for reroll hits, and for 170, they become some pretty decent bruisers if they get there.

Overall, there really isn’t a downside to this one, and again, minimum warriors become attractive for providing just a ton of utility. 

Zoanthropes – Psychic Channeling

Each time a Psychic Test is taken for this unit, roll one additional D6 and discard one of the dice

This is a great way to make a psyker do what they need to do.  Rolling an extra D6 and dropping one dice really changes the probability distribution of 2d6, and it makes Perils of the Warp really rare.  More importantly, since Tyranids often don’t have a lot of direct damage powers, making sure that the last unit to activate can maybe hit those Casting Value 9 or better Smites helps.   Again, if doing a really heavy psyker build with Forces of the Hive Mind, this is a pretty good investment on a unit or two of Zoanthropes if only to make them more consistent in their casting.  Especially since this is the only 10 point upgrade, that really isn’t that much to provide some good consistency for their attacks.   If you want to save CP, you can also take this in Kronos and use it on whoever is casting Symbiostorm to make sure it goes off, and that lets you ignore the Resonance Barb.  That said, that’s a lot of points for a single CP. 

The downside here is that this really only matters in a very skewed army build. If you really love Zoans, and I do, then it is worth it, but probably not for anything else besides that army. 

So there we are, all of the Synaptic Link powers, and you know what? There are some hitters there.  They provide a good deal of increased tactical and strategic growth for Tyranids, and some are just almost auto-include, but others do open up some combos and builds that weren’t particularly effective before.  I really enjoy this new mechanic and hope whenever we get our 9th codex, we see this there (with maybe some refinements).  My biggest issue is that they mostly buff what is already good in our faction, and so it would have been nice to see things that more directly boost our weaker units to make them a bit more viable, but hey, new rules are new rules, and they look fun as hell.

Thanks as always for reading, and hey, now that SoCal is done, if you are local or can be local to Pasadena on Nov 13 and 14, check our The Old Town Showdown for some quality 40k where you can rep those bugs and our newest tricks.  As always, play games and be nice to each other.  And of course, Happy Halloween!

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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.
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