Tyranids: Updated thoughts after some real world testing

Hey Everyone, Danny from TFG Radio, and today, I want to explore some of my initial real world impressions of all the new rules and bonuses that have given Tyranids a big boost.  If you keep an eye on the tournament scene, well, it seems like Tyranids are popping up on or near the podium a lot more than they used to.  Of course, there’s always new hotness coming up, so be sure to keep up with Frontline’s Tactics Corner (and maybe get some of that cool new terrain). 

I have been doing a lot of test games with Tyranids since Leviathan got their shiny new toys, and here are some thoughts and observations based on it and also looking at tournament data where Bugs have done well.  Let’s dive in:


For me, I had high hopes to bring back the effectiveness of big blobs of stealers as the little blenders that they used to be.  Between exploding 6s with Relentless Fury, rerolling hits from Swarm Leader, and +1 to hit from Warriors’ Synaptic Link, the math is there that they are going to punch through a lot of heat. I tested this twice, against a Black Templar Crusader Squad and a big squad of Beasts of Nurgle, two strong anvil-style units.  The results were not impressive, at least based on the resources expended.  The main issue was wounding as Strength 4 still meant that against Primaris bodies, half those hits fail to wound, and against the Beasts, only a third got through, and when you toss in saves (either 4+ armor saves or 5++ invulnerable saves and then any ignore wound saves that might be present), they simply weren’t putting out enough heat to actually kill the targets enough to where the swing back didn’t cripple the Genestealers in return.   When you factor in you are spending 260 points, 2 CP for Relentless Fury, a Warrior unit’s Synaptic Link, and your one full reroll from Swarm Leader, you really want to make sure that they do the job, and they really don’t against the anvil-units that you need to deal with.  That said, smaller groups to harass flanks or piece trade are still quite doable as you can get them the pop that they need.  They are not necessarily anvil-crackers, but they can still be used quite well as flankers.

30 strong blobs of Hormagaunts have been an interesting replacement as they were cheaper, less CP intensive, and able to real world get attacks due to a 6 inch pile-in, and instead of getting +1 to hit, simply going for a Prime’s Synaptic Link of 6s to hit are autowounds, they do some decent damage and had the bodies to clog up the board and steal critical objectives, especially if you throw one more CP on them to keep them in synapse regardless of range.

Hive Guard:

Well, we all know that Hive Guard are good, and yep, 2 units of 6 Hive Guard are great, especially if just doing a small patrol of Kronos for Symbiostorm and a Warriors’ Synaptic Link with a Leviathan detachment for their own buffs.   For under 500 points, you get a lot of ranged threat, and Mani Cheema did take 18 to victory, they still have certain meta weaknesses, namely anything with -1 damage.  As their guns are damage d3, when hitting a target with -1 damage like Magnus/Mortarion or certain Dreadnoughts, you really aren’t getting through as much damage as you want.  2 units seems the sweet spot for me as it is enough ranged threat to really make my opponent cautious as they approach, but I have not invested so many points in them that I don’t also have other tricks.  Still, it is a bit sad that our best unit just got better rather than helping out our other units that don’t see much play.


The Devourer-armed Termagant is a humble bug, but oh boy, do they do some fun tricks.  Namely, they do surprising damage that can either alpha-strike a frontline unit or come in from reserve, do some damage, and then clog the board with Obsec bodies.  A fun trick is taking 30 of them and deploying them on the board, which yes, makes them a tempting target, but with the Strategic Adaptation warlord trait, you can throw them into reserves if you don’t go first, and if you do go first, you can have them advance forward for 6+d6 inches and with +1 to hit to cancel out the assault penalty and Swarm leader, they are connecting with 75% of their shots, but for 1CP, they have tesla on those guns, so you end up getting a ton of hits, and when over 20, they also reroll 1s to wound, which isn’t terrible at all for helping convert some wounds.  While you can’t buff them that much out of reserve, still, showing up and doing some damage while suddenly threatening a whole flank is pretty fun. 

The Chonkiest Bugs

Ok, so I definitely have had some fun busting out the Harridan and Hierophant with the new rules.  Synaptic Link giving either BS 2+ is pretty money, and the combination of Frenizied Metabolism for +1 to wound in shooting, Pathogenic Slime for Damage 4 guns, +1 to hit from Synaptic Link, and Relentless Fury for a few extra hits on those guns, a Harridan or Hierophant is likely to murder any single hard target in one volley.  Besides that, the Broodlord’s Synaptic Link is also pretty fun as while they are monsters and cannot gain the -1 to hit from Dense Cover, the +1 armor save on a Harridan or Hierophant certainly adds to their durability, especially the Hierophant who know has an effectively +1 save, meaning even Lascannons are saved on a 4+.  Throw on Catalyst for the 5+++ ignore wounds, and you can soup up a Harridan and throw it into the fray or make a Hierophant just an imposing mid-table fortress. 


Really, not much has changed for Zoans except their new Synaptic link, giving any psyker unit, including themselves, an extra d6 on psychic tests, and well, that can make the difference.  As Leviathan, Zoans can be shockingly resilient with the 3++ and a 6+++ to ignore wounds, and when they can cast their smite on 3d6, drop a dice, and can reroll 1s when near a Neurothrope, their 24” smite becomes far more reliable, and you can save them for later in the order.  I have found that 5 Zoans are a good unit that does 2d3 mortal wounds at 24” and can take some firepower to really harass, and because of their resilience, several units of them with Hive Guard can make for a good choice for While We Stand, We Fight, opening up some additional secondary play. I am liking them, but I am not entirely sure how they fit into lists outside of really leaning into them or building a list that guarantees me 3 secondaries, namely a big block of Zoans and two Hive Guard squads with a ton of Infantry to keep them safe.


Yes, Tyranid Warriors are sort of an auto-include now.  Most often, I find having just 3 warriors with only scything talons and Synaptic Link is great as for 66 points, you get to give one unit +1 to hit, then can perform an easy first turn action like Retrieve Octarius Data, and if necessary, help screen out your backfield to protect those Hive Guard.  66 points isn’t too much of an investment for the +1 to hit and Synapse. 

I haven’t tried the 9 Warrior block of Doom, but it’s on the agenda.  3 Venom Cannons and 6 Deathspitters is decent ranged threat, but really, it is a unit more designed to absorb damage with ignore AP -1/2 and -1 damage.  I may even try a double scythe unit of 9 that is just there to rush the center and just be annoying as that is only 163 points.  They won’t do much damage, but they will take a lot more resources to shift than their cost. 

So overall, Tyranids certainly got a big boost from Octarius, and really, when you see big names like John Lennon start taking them to tournaments, you know we got some stuff worth working.  Thanks as always for reading, and as always, play games and be nice to each other.

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.

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