The Tyranids are a highly flexible army, capable of running a variety of lists that can perform Melee and Shooting very well, alongside strong Psychic and ability support, and with options for running horde or monster heavy armies the army affords tons of variety.
Tyranids Tactical Guide | Warhammer 40,000 Tactical Guide
- Powerful Melee that is capable of getting to grips with the foe quickly and shutting down parts of the enemy battleline
- Strong shooting capable of dealing with a multitude of targets
- Incredibly flexible army builds and abilities, up to changing army rules pregame
- Some of the toughest and killiest units in the game
- Extremely cost efficient in many units
- A lot of moving parts and rules can overwhelm newer players
- Can be easy to load up on certain units and run out of points whilst neglecting other areas
- Reliant on Synapse units for a lot of army functionality, and the Synaptic Link is often crucial to maintain to maximise effectiveness
- Units are generally focused on one role, and do little to nothing outside of their speciality
- The latest in a string of “Creeped/Pushed” Codexes, likely leading to some significant nerfs or points increases in the future, and negative connotations in the meantime
Here are some key points to remember when reading this Primer, mainly to save it being typed out every time. Don’t forget that this presumes you have the Codex, so some basic things may not be explained here.
Any of the rules discussed below apply only to HIVE TENDRIL models with the same <HIVE FLEET> Keyword, so no overlapping or crossing of Auras (no BEHEMOTH Auras or powers affecting GORGON units, for example), outside of explicitly noted abilities.
Some common shorthand terms found throughout-
- X++ means an invulnerable save
- X+++, or ‘shrug’, ‘Feel No Pain’ or ‘Ignore Damage roll’ depending on how you’re feeling, means it is a dice roll to ignore each point of damage, which is taken after any failed saves.
- ‘6s explode’ essentially translates to ‘An unmodified 6 to Hit does an additional hit’, so read that as ‘Does 2 Hits instead of 1’. Per the Core Rules, anything that might also happen on a 6 to hit (such as auto-wounding) does not apply to the additional hit, only the original.
- ‘First turn of combat’ means any rules that trigger when you Charge, are Charged, or Heroically Intervene.
- ‘Deep Strike’ essentially means the unit can be placed into Reinforcements and arrive more than 9” away from enemy units.
- ‘Infiltrate’ or something on those lines means the unit can be deployed anywhere on the table over 9” away from enemy models and the enemy deployment zone, instead of deploying normally.
If your Detachment is Battle-Forged (which will be most armies) and only has HIVE TENDRIL units in it, you’ll get these rules.
- Rare Organisms– One HIVE TYRANT per Detachment. Pretty much what you’d expect given current trends, and understandable given how powerful these beasties are.
- Objective Secured– All your Troops get Objective Secured, which given your choices means you have lots of fast bodies for playing the mission with.
- Hive Fleet Adaptations– Your “Chapter Tactics”, explained further below.
- Hyper Adaptations– One of your Adaptations will be tagged as “Adaptive”, and provided your army is all from the same HIVE FLEET, you can swap this part of your Adaptation for another one after determining who has the First Turn. Whilst they do have to be from specific lists (see Infinite Biomorphologies), this offers frankly ridiculous levels of flexibility for your army from game to game, letting you change to a more beneficial ability in certain circumstances. Understanding this aspect is crucial to playing Tyranids, letting you leverage a huge degree of options for your army, as whilst not all of them may be useful or even needed depending on your army build or lists you have access to, the sheer options it can provide can be vital.
- Spore Seeding– Basically LIVING ARTILLERY units never get a Hive Fleet Adaptation, but they don’t take away anything by not having it. Given these are mostly bombs (hence their name), this is fine.
Every HIVE FLEET unit gains an Adaptation, provided the whole army is from the same HIVE FLEET, granting them unique abilities, a unique Psychic Power they know in addition to their other Powers, and access to a Warlord Trait and Stratagem. Should your WARLORD have the associated Adaptation, you are also eligible to have their Relic too.
Psychic Powers marked with a * last until your next Psychic Phase.
In the interests of not repeating everything half a dozen times, for rules info on the Hyper-Adaptations available, see the Infinite Biomorphologies section.
+1 Str in the First Round of Combat offers a nice melee boost to your units, whether it’s to give a good edge for your melee fighters, or to help a little bit for your shooting units, and will often push you into some of the “magic numbers” (4, 5 and 8) for when it comes to wounding things easier.
Your Adaptive part is rerolling Charges, which is a powerful ability to ensure you make key charges, whether it’s from a distance, to circumnavigate terrain, or to ensure you can charge far enough to push an advantage onto an Objective or to threaten other units, in addition to saving CP for elsewhere.
You get access to the Hunt and Lurk tables, though giving up reroll Charges is a tough sell in many match ups. However both have some potent upgrades that can be useful regardless of army set up, be they big or small.
Warlord Trait- Monstrous Hunger
6s to Wound in Melee do an additional Mortal Wound. It’s fine, though generally not needed given the sheer killing power of your Characters in combat already.
Psychic Power- Unstoppable Onslaught* (WC 7)
Grants a unit in Synaptic Link range +1 to Wound in Melee. An expensive but powerful combat boost, especially when combined with your inbuilt Strength buffs, letting you easily wound most things on 3s if not 2s.
Relic- Monstrous Musculature
+1 Damage to all the bearer’s Melee weapons. Not flashy, but potent, making the wielder’s claws much more capable of dealing with higher wound models, or to help offset Damage Reduction, especially as this will push many of your typical weapons into the Damage 3 range.
Stratagem- Unparalleled Ferocity
Models in a non-CHARACTER INFANTRY unit can Fight when destroyed by a Melee attack, with the usual caveats of not doing any other ‘On Death’ abilities, and provided they haven’t fought already this Phase. A pseudo-interrupt, letting you punish an enemy that gets the drop on you or otherwise interrupts. This costs 1CP for MULTITUDE units, or 2CP for anything else, which given their generally much scary profiles (Warriors, Genestealers etc) makes sense, though on a big unit of Hormagaunts this can be a nasty counterpunch for only 1CP, especially when combined with their Swarming Masses rule making a large chunk of them capable of fighting back.
Adaptation- Questing Tendrils
+1 AP on the Charge makes this Hive Fleet geared towards offensive melee, pushing many of your already potent melee units into high, if nigh on unsaveable territory. Has virtually no benefit for your ranged bugs however, outside of last ditch charges to help try and shift units off Objectives.
The Adaptive part is Advancing 3+D3” instead of D6”, giving your army a much greater degree of reliability for positioning and board control. It is, however, not so useful for units without Assault weapons or those looking to charge that turn, outside of a select few abilities.
Feed and Hunt both offer some potent buffs, especially to your ranged elements with some of the abilities on offer, making a mixed force a bit more viable. If the Advance portion is something you won’t need all that often, you have good options here, whether to spread grant more widespread rules across your units, or to focus on your melee aspects.
Warlord Trait- One Step Ahead
Gain a CP on a 5+ each time your opponent uses a Stratagem. Tyranids have some excellent Stratagems, so keeping them fuelled is a powerful boost indeed, though this is of course bound to your opponent, so against some more frontloaded armies which are spending several CP in the first turn or two, you might not get as much out of this as you’d like. Still can’t go wrong with this as a secondary Trait, and it will on average pay for itself and net an extra CP in most games.
Psychic Power- Synaptic Lure* (WC5)
Grants reroll charges for all friendly units on a single enemy unit within Synaptic Link range, or 18” of the caster. This is a cheap and powerful boost to help ensure multiple charges on a key unit, or simply to just get an important unit of your own into melee.
Relic- Chameleonic Mutation
Attacks against the bearer are at -1 to Hit and cannot be rerolled, making them very tough to shift at both ranged and melee, and all but ensuring they will make it to combat and stay there, or simply persist on the battlefield to provide powerful buffs.
Stratagem- Opportunistic Advance
For 1CP a unit Advances a flat 8”, and ignores the Assault weapon penalty when they do so. This is a powerful tool to guarantee grabbing an Objective or board presence, or to ensure you can bring your guns to range or line of sight, with no penalty to boot. Doesn’t stack with Bounding Advance in the main Stratagems, cos that would be stupid.
Adaptation- Synaptic Control
All your SYNAPSE units can never be Wounded on a 1-3 regardless of modifiers, and your non-SYNAPSE units can never be Wounded on a 1-2, provided they are in Synaptic Link range. This is a wildly powerful buff, making your big Synapse even harder to shift with the anti-tank weapons you’d usually need to use, your lesser Synapse creatures able to shrug off tons of mid-level firepower, and even your smaller creatures are afforded a decent defensive buff against double strength weapons.
The Adaptive part offers a single reroll to Hit per unit, each time they Shoot or Fight. Great on your harder hitting units that you’ll want to ensure connect with the foe, less useful on mass bodies, but still will stack up over time in terms of reliability.
Feed and Hunt are both great sources of power, especially if you’re looking at a combined force where the reroll Hit might not be so useful for a variety of units.
Warlord Trait- Perfectly Adapted
The Warlord can reroll a Hit, Wound, Damage, Advance, Charge, Psychic Test or Save, once per Battle Round. Read as a free CP Reroll for the Warlord once per Round. Reliability is always good, especially across so many options, however the decision paralysis could bite, wanting to keep it for a key moment, then not needing to use it. It’s certainly not bad, but there’s generally better traits available.
Psychic Power- Hive Nexus (WC 7)
Pick a unit and a SYNAPSE model, both in Synaptic Link range of the caster. The unit chosen receives the Synaptic Imperative of the chosen SYNAPSE unit until your next turn, in addition to any that are active for your army, even if they aren’t within 6” of each other. Whilst a high cost, this is extremely flexible, letting you save your Army Wide use of an Imperative for a later date, whilst still getting access to their powerful abilities when needed. Need some Warriors to get out of a tarpit and deal with something else, use the Tyrant’s ability. Want to ensure your Tervigon facing down a unit of Meltas, give them the Zoanthrope shielding. This can even be used to grant a unit an Imperative that has already been used this game, lending even greater options and power.
Relic- Preceptic Node
When an enemy unit sets up from Reinforcements within 18” of the bearer, a CHARACTER or CORE unit within 6” of the bearer can Shoot at the freshly arrived unit (following all the usual restrictions). Each unit can only be selected to shoot once, but the fact it happens immediately, and in a generous area, makes this a very powerful deterrent to enemy deep strikers, and can out right shut down certain playstyles from launching an offence.
Stratagem- Combined Assault
Grants Melee attacks +1AP against an enemy unit within Engagement Range of 2+ units. For 1CP this is a potent boost, though requiring multiple units can make sometimes tricky to pull off. Still, it can be worth sending in a small unit of Termagants or Rippers in support if it helps your bigger units really punch through the enemy.
Codex Supplement: Leviathan- Coming Soon! (but hopefully not, they don’t need more)
Adaptation- Adaptive Toxins
Attacks you make against non-VEHICLE/TITANIC always Wound on an unmodified 4+. This is a powerful boost for your lesser creatures, especially in melee, though less useful for your bigger hitters which will be wounding most things on 3s already. Not affecting VEHICLES which is where it would be the particularly useful (though praise be to whatever semblance of balance there is in the game that they don’t) does limit its usefulness a little, though there are still plenty of Monsters in the 41st Millenium for you to acidicly melt. Regardless, it will help over the course of the battle, and if built around offers immense reliability in dealing damage.
The Adaptive part offers a single reroll to Wound per unit, each time they Shoot or Fight. Always useful, with of course better returns on units with heavier weaponry.
Feed and Lurk tables offer strong buffs, and whilst losing the reroll Wounds might sting depending on what’s in your army, the options within are worth considering for Nidzilla style lists.
Warlord Trait- Lethal Miasma
Enemy units within 3” at the start of the Fight Phase take a Mortal Wound on a 2+, or D3 Mortals on a 6. A decent enough area of effect, especially on those with bigger bases, this can stack up wounds quite quickly as the game progresses, provided you’re getting stuck in where you can affect multiple units.
Psychic Power- Poisonous Influence* (WC 7)
A unit in Synaptic Link range inflicts an additional Mortal Wound on 6s to Wound in Melee, to a max of 6. A high cost, but given the sheer amount of attacks that can be churned out by certain units, this can easily hit the cap and do some nasty additional damage. Better on larger units with multiple attacks like Hormagaunts or Genestealers, than on single big monsters, unless you’re really needing to do the extra damage in a pinch.
Relic- Hypermorphic Biology
+1 Toughness is already a great survivability boost, but if their stats degrade with damage (ie they’re a MONSTER), they also count as having double wounds remaining for the damage table. This makes things like your Hive Tyrants or Tervigons incredibly difficult to deal with, being both more difficult to wound in the first place, and still acting at top efficiency even when heavily damaged. A must take on a MONSTER Character to keep them trucking pretty much all game.
A TOXIN SACS unit autowound on unmodified 5+s to Hit in Melee. This is a powerful boost for many units for 1CP, though does require the Toxin Sacs on the unit in the first place, which depending on the unit might not be even worth it. Overall pretty situational, and not really worth building around.
Adaptation- Tunnel Networks
Your non-MONSTERS get Dense Cover when attacked from over 12” away, and your MONSTERS get Dense when attacked from over 18” away. A potent defensive boost, especially for the early turns of the game, this will drop off as the battle progresses, but still useful for backlined shooting units, and to protect your advance.
Their Adaptive portion halves the number of models in the unit when calculating Blast attacks against them. This is highly situational, and worthless for your MONSTERS and even smaller sized units. Even for your bigger units, they’ll still be susceptible to Blast in some capacity. Against armies with lots of Blast, if you’ve built around this it can be quite useful, but generally you’ll be looking to swap it out.
Fortunately, you have access to Hunt and Lurk, giving you access to many more generally useful abilities. One thing of note is Naturalised Camouflage specifically calls out receiving the benefits of cover ‘from terrain’, so no, you don’t get that with your Dense Cover from the main Adaptation.
Warlord Trait- Insidious Threat
Pick a unit within Synaptic Link range in your Command Phase, granting that unit Ignore Cover. Bypassing both types of cover is potent indeed, and this works on any unit, making your Tyrannofexes or Exocrines particularly nasty. Even on smaller units, it helps to make your bugs more accurate and hit harder.
Psychic Power- Lurking Maws* (WC 7)
All Melee attacks made against an enemy unit within 18”, or Synaptic Link range, are at +1AP. Whilst a high cost, it’s strong to help ensure maximum damage on a key unit, whether with only one unit going on or multiple.
Relic- Infrasonic Roar
One enemy unit within 12” at the end of your Movement Phase cannot perform Actions until your next turn, and immediately fails any ongoing Actions, provided you roll equal or greater than their Leadership on 3D6. Whilst fairly niche and shortish in range, Actions can often be key to obtaining Secondaries or performing crucial rules, and being able to move into range allows a good portion of control over the target. With an average of 11 on the roll, pretty much all units will be susceptible to losing their Actions, so this is mostly reliable in that regard.
Stratagem- Buried in Wait
Places a non-TITANIC unit into Deep Strike for 1 CP. Great to protect a valuable unit from Turn 1 attacks, to put pressure on other parts of the battlefield, or just to have the option for attacks from multiple fronts. Can be used twice in Strike Force missions.
+4” Range to all your Shooting helps you maintain distance with your shorter ranged weaponry, as well as extending the longer range weapons to hit pretty much anywhere on the board. It’s perhaps not the most exciting ability, and oftentimes won’t be needed given the size of the boards, but it is effective for many units, with the boost being useful to ensure getting in range without the need to Advance and sacrifice accuracy for many units.
The Adaptive rule grants +1 AP when making Ranged Attacks within Half Range. This combines very nicely with the first rule, and makes it much stronger on paper. With many of your weapons already having strong AP, this makes getting too close to your lines a dangerous prospect indeed, and your longer ranged firepower even scarier than it already can be.
Getting access to Lurk or Feed allows you options for some more defensive or utility based rules, though losing the AP boost will reduce your general ranged prowess, and realistically the Adaptations are so focused on ranged boosts that making a more “general” army with Kronos is probably not quite as effective as some other Hive Fleets.
Warlord Trait- Soul Hunger
An 18” Aura that makes enemy PSYKERS suffer Perils on any doubles when casting, not just 1s or 6s. Very niche, but utterly crippling to Psyker heavy armies, especially since this will be in Shadow range as well, making each double costly. Of course against armies without Psykers, or only 1, it’s far less useful. For an all-comers choice, best to leave it at home, unless you really want to ruin a Thousand Sons or Grey Knights player’s day should you face them.
Psychic Power- Symbiostorm* (WC 7)
+1 Str to Ranged Attacks made by a unit in Synaptic Link range. Whilst most of your weapons have a decent Strength already, this is usually enough to push them into the levels needed to wound their targets on 3s if not 2s. Plus if you ever wanted to kill a tank with a unit of Termagants, this and Scorchbugs has got you covered.
Pick an enemy unit within Synaptic Link range, and until your next Command Phase, that unit cannot reroll Hits, Wounds, or Psychic Tests. A powerful debuff, able to shut down a key unit’s offensive capabilities, or preempt a buff on them, and being able to cascade it along the Synaptic Link makes it able to reach most parts of the board with relative ease.
Stratagem- The Deepest Shadow
When an enemy PSYKER fails a Psychic Test, you can spend 1 CP to inflict D3 Mortal Wounds if they within 18” of one of your PSYKERS. In addition, your PSYKER unit continues to do D3 Mortal Wounds to enemy PSYKERS that fail Tests, in an 18” Aura, for the rest of the Phase. Another niche anti PSYKER ability, though a bit more usable given the ability to choose to use it mid game rather than picked pregame like the Warlord Trait. Not always useful, though can be brutal when it does come up, and combines hilariously well with the Warlord Trait if you are inclined, with any failures on doubles inflicting 2D3 Mortals, all but ensuring dead psykers everywhere.
Adaptation- Swarming Instincts
+1 to Hit with Melee attacks if you have more models in your unit than the target, with VEHICLES and MONSTERS counting as 5 models each (for both your own and the enemy units). This is a strong boost to help maximise your hordes, but also useful to offset any negatives or degradation your melee monsters might have suffered, when attacking smaller units, and especially useful when fighting enemy Characters.
The Adaptive part nets you +1” to your Mv, as well as +3” to Consolidation moves (up to 9” max). This makes your army even faster, and particularly adept at tying up enemy units with your swarms, or moving to engage with other enemies once your big hitters have finished off a unit. Stacks to ludicrous levels with things like Adrenal Glands or Tervigons for even more ridiculous speed.
Hunt and Feed offer some good general purpose traits, particularly useful if you’re not looking to leverage the extra consolidation move, letting you have a slightly more balanced force in terms of melee and shooting, to offset the otherwise solely melee boosts.
Warlord Trait- Endless Regeneration
Heals D3 Wounds in your Command Phase. Whilst prevention is generally better than cure, there aren’t too many general defensive traits for Warlords otherwise, and healing a decent amount of wounds will add up over time and make your bigger characters much harder to put down, let alone if it bumps them up a damage bracket. A decent pick if you’re looking to keep your Warlord alive rather than pump out more damage or support. Doesn’t stack with other healing abilities like the Rapid Regeneration Stratagem.
Psychic Power- Psychic Shriek (WC 6)
An enemy within 18”, or Synaptic Link range, is targeted. For each of your INFANTRY or BEAST models within 3” roll 1D6, and for each MONSTER roll 3D6 – each 5+ does 1 Mortal Wound, to a max of 6. Whilst there’s a few hoops to jump through, this can inflict some nasty damage for a low cost, especially if you bounce it down the Synaptic Link to a unit engaged with a mass of Gaunts, or fighting multiple units.
Relic- Barbworm Infestation
Reroll Wounds with Ranged Attacks. It’s decent enough, especially since the Ranged weapons your Characters can have, particularly Tyrants, are strong indeed, but it’s not really anything special, and only really useful on your bigger monsters, who might be better served with other Relics.
Stratagem- Critical Mass
1CP lets a unit reroll Wounds in Melee, provided you have more models than there are enemy models in the unit you’re attacking. Only really useful for big swarms, or larger units of Warrior-esque creatures fighting smaller units. Note your Adaptation of MONSTERS and VEHICLES counting as 5 models explicitly does not apply here, so you can’t get this with a Hive Tyrant fighting a lone Captain, for example. Likewise, this means 3 Warriors will get this against a Knight, which is quite funny.
Custom Hive Fleets basically, picking either Splinter Fleets, or from a trio of lists- Hunt, Lurk and Feed. If you pick from the Lists, you have to pick two traits, both from different lists, and then choose one of them to be Adaptive. If you swap out the Adaptive trait, it has to be from the third list.
As mentioned above, the flexibility these Biomorphologies offer are phenomenal, so even if you aren’t planning on making your own Hive Fleet, you should at least consider some picks from the lists you have access to, so you know your options.
If you assumed this was the “pick a basic Hive Fleet and basically be them and get all their rules even if you aren’t the official colour scheme”, congratulations, you have understood the design philosophy of every Codex released after Adepta Sororitas.
- Adrenalised Onslaught- Baby Hydra, letting you Consolidate +3”. Great for a melee focused list looking to apply as much pressure or tag as many things as possible.
- Heightened Reflexes- Fall Back and Shoot, with a -1 to Hit. Given the strength of your bugs shooting, this a great ability to have access to, even with the negative, ensuring you ranged gribblies can always be doing something, and that you can choose the optimum targets in the face of being tied up.
- Augmented Ferocity- Pseudo-Behemoth, granting +1” to Charge Rolls. A nice reliable boost to making it to melee.
- Synaptic Goading- ENDLESS MULTITUDE units that have started wholly within your Deployment Zone, can make a Normal Move of up to 6” at the start of the First Battle Round before the First Turn begins. Whilst only affecting your Gaunt like bugs, this is still useful for extending early battle lines, getting them in range for turn 1 attacks, or pulling back to protect them should you lose the roll off.
- Ambush Predators- Everything can Heroically Intervene. Good for guarding Objectives, as well as supporting other units. Worth noting this doesn’t help out your Characters with an extended range, so they’ll still need to position as normal.
- Exoskeletal Reinforcement- Ignore AP-1 Attacks, giving you greater resistance against a lot of common weapons.
- Naturalised Camouflage- +1 to Armour Saves when getting Cover from terrain, so no stacking with special rules or abilities, but also works with Dense, meaning even your big gribblies can get a boosted save if there’s a gantry or trees in the way.
- Territorial Instincts- MONSTERS get Objective Secured, and MONSTERS with 10+ Wounds count as 5 models for Objectives. A great boost for Nidzilla style lists, letting them interact with the Primary missions much more effectively, and your bigger monsters can quite easily take an Objective by themselves.
- Unfeeling Resilience- Models that degrade count as double wounds remaining for their characteristics. This lets your scary monsters operate at full effectiveness for a long time, and if built around this can make for a scary monster mash list that is tough to neuter past outright killing them, already a tricky prospect.
- Synaptic Ganglia- Reroll Deny the Witch tests, and +3” range to any Psychic Powers cast. Both niche cases, as many of your powers will be used via the Synaptic Link (which this doesn’t increase), and the Deny boost is nice but not always relevant. However against some psychic heavy armies this can be worth leaning into to really help shut them down.
- Stabilising Membranes- Sort-of Kronos, with your Ranged attacks getting +1AP on 6s to Wound. With the ability to fire en masse, this has the potential to add up nicely over the course of the battle, making your already strong weaponry even better.
- Exoskeletal Stabilisation- Ignore the penalties for Advancing and firing Assault weapons, moving and firing Heavy weapons, and for firing Heavy weapons with Big Guns Never Tire. An all round good choice for shooty bugs, letting you position better without sacrificing accuracy, and letting your Monsters be a little more efficient when in melee.
- Wreathed in Shadow- Enemy units cannot Overwatch or Set to Defend against you. Overall pretty niche, but there are often units that will want or be well equipped to Overwatch, and this can save a heavily wounded unit from an errant shot on the way in. The Set to Defend denial is also handy to have, if anyone remembered to actually do it.
- Relentless Hunger- If you fail a charge, you can make a Normal Move of 3”. This is frankly ridiculous, and can be used to actively make extremely difficult or impossible charges, and then move onto Objectives, into terrain, or out of line of sight. Even the intended play of using it to actually press forwards towards the enemy on a failed charge is strong, letting you keep the pressure on at all times. Note it is explicitly a Normal Move, so you can’t use this if you arrived from Reinforcements this turn, and it is slowed by Difficult Ground.
- Unstoppable Swarm- Ignore all modifiers to your Mv Characteristic, Advance rolls and Charge rolls. A decent pick depending on the board setup and foe, letting you bypass terrain and special rules that would otherwise hinder your assault.
Tyranids have access to a wide range of offensive, defensive and good utility Stratagems, though often they are quite specific, with many tied to certain bits of Wargear, or only applicable to certain units. Whilst they are restricted, they are strong, and can bump up the power level of your units significantly, or create some potentially game changing effects.
- Scorch Bugs- +6” Range and +1 Str to Fleshborers or Fleshborer Hives in a unit, for 1CP, or 2CP if a MONSTER or 16+ models in the unit. Fleshborers are already ridiculously good, this just pushes them over the edge into nonsense, and whilst it can be pricey on units with massed shots, this ensures that they can obliterate most light units, and heavily dent if not cripple heavier units. Will add up quickly if used every turn, and often it isn’t needed, but potent when needed.
- Voracious Appetite- A MONSTER rerolls Wounds in Melee. A powerful offensive boost for only 1CP, making sure a key unit takes the full brunt of a monster’s assault.
- Adrenal Surge- A unit with ADRENAL GLANDS gets +1 Attack, or +D3 if they’re a MONSTER. A potent boost, especially given Adrenal Glands are already a very strong upgrade for many units, this can really give an edge to a unit in melee. It doesn’t come cheap however, costing 2CP, or 1CP if there are less than 20 models in the unit, but the output can be enough to tip the scales to your advantage in a key combat.
- Reinforced Hive Node- A unit of WARRIORS, or a PRIME, gets -1 Damage when targeted by an Attack, lasting for the rest of that Phase. A solid boost for their survivability, helping to negate D2 weapons significantly, and forcing double the number of Dmg3 weapons to kill a single Warrior. Works nicely on random Dmg weapons as well, though not so useful on the more reliable ones like Lances or Railguns, given their minimum 4 Dmg. Either way, at 1 CP, or 2 CP for a unit of 6+, this is an affordable defensive power, especially when combined with other survivability boosts.
- Observer Organism- An EXOCRINE gets Ignore Cover, and exploding 6s when Shooting. Good for only 1CP, the exploding 6s is a nice bonus, though will average out as 1 extra hit, and whilst the Ignore Cover they can gain innately by moving at half speed, this enables them to be more mobile throughout the game, letting them bring their potent cannon into range and line of sight more effectively, with no degradation in efficiency.
- Indomitable Monstrosity- A MONSTER cannot be Wounded on unmodified 1-3s for a Phase. Whilst your Monsters are already plenty tough, this allows them to withstand really heavy firepower, or offset modifiers, keeping them around for much longer, especially on your crucial units like Tyrants or Tervigons. Whilst it might not be needed all the time given your high Toughness, for 1CP it’s a steal when needed.
- Power of the Hive Mind- A PSYKER can cast an extra Power. Generally this will mean casting a Smite or Hive Fleet Power, as most of your Psykers Know as many as they can Cast, however the option to be able to access either of these when needed for a CP opens up some nice options, particularly in a Psyker heavy army, or for units of ZOANTHROPES who really want to pile on the psychic pain with some Witchfire powers.
- Death Frenzy- For 2CP you can fight on death with a CHARACTER that hasn’t fought yet, instead of doing anything else when destroyed (like Death Throes). For those with degrading characteristics, they fight on their top profile too boot, making them particularly dangerous as they become Obi-Wan more powerful than you could possibly imagine should you strike them down. Whilst its costly, and requires a usually important character to be killed, it makes for a nasty punishment to the offending unit, especially given how tough and killy your bigger gribblies are.
- Pheromone Trail- An enemy unit within 6” of a LICTOR is tagged, granting +2 to Charge Rolls made by your units that turn against that enemy. A good buff for 1CP, the Lictor itself doesn’t need to be in combat either, so you can have them nearby but not in combat themselves, or fighting someone else close to them. It’s also done at any point, so can be useful on a Lictor arriving from Deep Strike looking to pull off a charge.
- Synaptic Channelling- For 1CP, one of your PSYKERS knows all the Powers your other PSYKERS on the battlefield knows. You generally won’t need this all that often, given most powers can be cast via the Synaptic Link, so you’ll generally have good coverage of their areas of effect, but it can be useful to have if the web gets picked apart, or if you need a particular Synapse unit out of position, but also need access to a power elsewhere.
- Synaptic Legacy- If your WARLORD is on the battlefield, you can pick a Synaptic Imperative of a unit that has been destroyed this battle, unless you have already used that Imperative this game. This ensures your opponent can’t get lucky and shut down a crucial Imperative, unless they take out that Synapse and your WARLORD, often no small feat. For 1CP this offers great redundancy, helping you get the maximum benefits from your army’s Synapse creatures even should they be taken out before their time comes.
- Trampling Charge- A MONSTER model does Mortal Wounds on the Charge to one enemy unit within Engagement Range, either D3 on a 2+, or flat 3 on a 5+. If they are HORNED CHITIN however, they instead do flat 3 on a 2+, and a whopping D3+3 on a 5+. For only 1CP, this is a great way of inflicting reliable extra damage on the way in, softening them up for melee, if not killing them outright.
- Enfolding Strike- A PARASITE that makes a Normal Move or Advance over an enemy unit can sting them with its stinger, doing D3 Mortals on a 2+, or flat 3 on a 6. In either case, the unit becomes Infected per their Parasites rule, making this an ideal ability to turn off ObSec en route elsewhere, or just to kill a light character or unit you couldn’t otherwise get to in the following turn, with effectively 2D3 Mortals on a 2+, over two turns, being enough to deal with most support HQs. A steal at 1 CP.
- Rarefied Enhancements- The standard extra Relic Stratagem. Whilst some of the Tyranid Relics are potent, most are quite specific, or just not worth taking on certain units, so you may not need to use this all that often.
- Hive Predator- The counterpart, giving you an extra Warlord Trait, is much more worthy of consideration, with some of the Traits being very good for creating offensive monsters, or even better support creatures. Does work on Special Characters, for what it’s worth.
- Subterranean Assault- When a TRYGON or TRYGON PRIME arrives via Death From Below, a Troops unit in Strategic Reserve can arrive with them, wholly within 9” of the Trygon, and 9” away from enemies as normal. Okay for 1CP to have a bit more options for your forces, though the unit in question needs to be in Strategic Reserves in the first place, so it will cost you a bit more than the 1 CP on paper.
- Rapid Regeneration- Heal a model for D3 Wounds in your Command Phase, for 1 CP. Useful to keep a big monster trucking, push something back into a higher damage bracket, or just to help out something that has taken a beating and you could do with it healthy. Doesn’t stack with other healing abilities like Old One Eye’s Regeneration rule.
- Invisible Hunter- Another 1 CP LICTOR Stratagem, this time putting them into Reinforcements at the end of your turn, provided they hadn’t been set up this turn. They must arrive next turn wholly within 9” of a battlefield edge, and 9” away from enemy units. Good for repositioning in later turns, be it for Objective grabbing, threatening isolated units, or setting up Secondaries.
- Overrun- A unit that has charged this turn can make a Normal Move instead of a Consolidation move, provided there are no enemy models in Engagement Range, at the end of the Fight Phase. This is a potent tool for 1 CP, letting you reposition a unit to safety, onto an Objective, or just to push the advantage and hem the opponent in on their next turn. The wording and timing is slightly odd however, as this is done at the end of the Fight Phase, and needs the caveat of not doing a Consolidation, so just bear that in mind when considering what units will Consolidate, and if you’d rather use this instead, as you’ll have to wait to see the lay of the land in the case of multiple combats.
- Shard Lure- If a SYNAPSE unit hits an enemy unit in the Shooting Phase, for 1 CP you can grant all charge rolls against that unit this turn 3D6 and discarding one. This is a fantastic support ability for your army, especially with units like WARRIORS who can afford to fire off a single Deathspitter at something to help ensure the charges elsewhere.
- Endless Swarm- At the start of your Command Phase, an ENDLESS MULTITUDE unit revives D3+3 slain models, for 1CP. Being able to bring back your cheap bodies is handy, and as it’s done at the start of the Phase, this can swing control of an Objective back to you when it comes time to control it on Primaries. Combined with a Tervigon, and you can have a unit that has to be wiped out to the bug lest a dozen more come back.
- Instinctive Rampage- When a HIVE TYRANT is destroyed, you can use this to give all your TYRANT GUARD +4” to Charge Rolls against the unit that destroyed the Tyrant, as well as +1 to Hit and Wound. Tyrant Guard are already plenty scary in combat, so to boost them further for only 1CP is a powerful tool. Of course it does mean you just lost a Hive Tyrant, but this is a nasty way to “counter” that loss and punish the unit that did the deed.
- Bounding Advance- A unit of HORMAGAUNTS that Advances automatically moves 6” instead, and can still Charge that turn. Being very fast already, this can make for some very easy turn 1 charges, especially if combined with things like Adrenal Glands or Tervigons for their Imperative. Whilst not hyper killy, they’ll still do some damage to most units, and with their extra combat moves are ideal to tie things up in the early stages and protect your second wave of organisms. Costs 1 CP, or 2 CP for units of 16+, but overall a low cost for the disruption it can cause.
- Encircle the Prey- A BURROWER unit or a FLY unit can go into Deep Strike at the end of your turn, provided they have not arrived in that same turn. Ideal for repositioning a snake-type Monster, or a big unit of Raveners, but even the ability to move around units of Gargoyles for Objectives and Secondaries is well worth the 1 CP.
- Spore Clouds- A SPORECASTER unit that Remains Stationary in your Movement Phase gets +6” to their Auras until your next Command Phase. Decent enough at 1 CP, as whilst this basically is a similar range to just moving, it enables you to affect a greater part of the battlefield. On a Toxicrene already in the enemy’s midsts, this can be a pretty nasty debuff to apply to many units, whilst a unit of Venomthropes will be able to protect a large chunk of your army.
- Toxic Entanglement- A TOXICRENE that hits a non-AIRCRAFT unit in your Shooting Phase applies a number of debuffs on a 2+, halving the enemy’s Movement, forcing them to charge the Toxicrene as at least one of their targets if they declare a Charge, and getting +2 to the Charge for the Toxicrene against them. It’s a decent spread of buffs for 1 CP, that can halt an enemy from moving around your big gribbly, or helping him make it to them for further disruption. The only downside is the low 8” range of your attacks, and the occasional chance of failure on the die roll.
- Impaling Hooks- FLESH HOOK models in a unit get +1 to Hit vs non-VEHICLE/MONSTER units in Melee. It’s a strong buff for 1CP, though only really useful for a unit of Warriors. Lictors already hit on 2s, and Genestealers will only really get 2 models benefitting. If you have some minuses to Hit, or just really need to ensure an enemy unit dies, it’s still good to have in your pocket.
- Psychotropic Venom- An enemy unit within Engagement Range of a LASH WHIP or TOXIC LASHES unit in the Morale Phase have -2Ld and -1 to Combat Attrition. It’s fine for 1 CP, though limited in who can use it, and often the models that can will either have inflicted so many casualties to make it moot, won’t have anything left standing to do Morale, or won’t be doing enough damage to warrant the minuses.
- Acidic Torrent- ACID BLOOD models in a unit roll a D6 when selected to Fight, or 3D6 if they’re a MONSTER, with each 3+ inflicting a Mortal Wound. A fairly reliable way of adding some extra Mortal Wounds for a CP, though the numbers and units are limited. It says it’s capped at 6, but the max you could ever do is 3, as Genestealers can only have 2, Pyrovores are a 1-3 unit, and Carnifexes are single Monsters. So that’s nice.
- Corrosive Viscera- When an ACID BLOOD unit loses a Wound in the Fight Phase, you can roll a D6, inflicting a Mortal Wound on a 4+, once the attacker has finished their attacks, and to a max of 6 per unit. Good as a deterrent for 1 CP, especially as multi-damage weapons will result in multiple D6 rolls to inflict damage. This does mean you’ll need to slow roll saves in certain situations however, as you can’t lose any further wounds one you hit zero, so if there is a chance of dying you’ll need to bear that in mind.
- Blinding Venom- A unit of GARGOYLES blinds an enemy unit in Engagement Range at the start of the Fight Phase, preventing them from rerolling Hits, and imposing a -1 to Hit to boot. A nice defensive buff for 1 CP, though realistically any melee unit worth their salt still won’t have an issue with dealing with a unit of Gargoyles if they catch them. Where this is more useful is proactively, sending in a unit of Gargoyles alongside other melee units to mitigate any attacks back against your more important unit.
- Pathogenic Slime- A units Shooting Attacks autowound on 6s to Hit, making massed firepower more reliable, and helping big hits stick with some luck. Whilst costly at 2CP, you do get a discount if the unit has TOXIN SACS, making it only 1 CP, and a lot more affordable, at the cost of some points and perhaps an ancillary upgrade on a unit that won’t otherwise use it. Your choice really.
Your paid upgrades section, this allows you to upgrade a non-CHARACTER/TITANIC MONSTER model (so only one CARNIFEX will get the upgrade, it doesn’t apply to the unit as a whole). As usual, each one can only be taken once per army, and each unit can only take one upgrade.
- Dermic Symbiosis- Tied for most expensive at 25pts, but it does bag you a mighty 4++. On units that already sport T8, lots of Wounds and a 2+, this makes them even harder to bring down with heavy weapons, and offers nice redundancy once the Warp Shielding Imperative is used. Good on any monster, though might be better spent on one of your tougher ones you want to stick around as long as possible.
- Enraged Reserves- The other 25pt upgrade, this grants you double wounds remaining for the purposes of your damage table. In addition, you can use an Epic Deed Stratagem once per battle for 0CP. Given the nature of who can take this, that effectively means you can use Death Frenzy or Trampling Charge for free once per game, both of which are great Stratagems to have access to. Overall a solid upgrade, particularly on a monster looking to engage in melee combat.
- Hardened Biology- Dmg 1 Attacks against this beast grant you +1 to your Sv. It’s not bad for 15pts, and can be useful to help mitigate last ditch attempts at bringing them down, or against the ever increasing number of basic Infantry weapons that have ludicrous AP.
- Precognitive Sensoria- 20pts nets you Fight First, always a good rule to have access to, whether it’s to offset Fight Last Abilities, or to ensure you aren’t caught off guard and thus need to spend CP to interrupt.
- Predator Instincts- This gribb;y can make 6” Heroic Interventions for 15pts. A nice upgrade, allowing them to park their large bases on Objectives and make them a no go zone for lighter Infantry looking to come steal them from you, or to just provide some nice combat support for units you’re marching alongside.
- Synaptic Enhancement- 10pts grants you SYNAPSE, the Synapse ability, and Shadow in the Warp. A great upgrade for only 10pts, letting you spread your buffs even further along the Synaptic Link, as well as the various little interactions you can gain from the Keyword (such as the Leviathan Adaptation).
- Voracious Ammunition- Pick one unit hit by this model’s Ranged Attacks after it’s finished firing, doing D3 Mortal Wounds on a 2+ to them. Not shabby for 15pts, letting you punch through harder to wound units, finish something off, or just add more damage to an already beleaguered tank.
- Whipcoil Reflexes- Units that Fall Back from this Monster take D3 Mortal Wounds on a 2+. Can stack up nicely for only 15pts, especially if you can make it into multiple units, this may even cause the enemy to just not walk away from you in fear of losing a key unit or character, freeing up your gribbly from any shots at you this turn.
- Alien Cunning- The Warlord is Objective Secured, counts as 5 models for controlling Objectives, and can do Actions when they’ve Advanced and Fallen Back. The ObSec and being 5 models alone is well worth this, letting something like a Hive Tyrant move to contest or take control of most Objectives with ease. The Action component is pretty niche as there aren’t many Actions which can be done easily, if at all, by lone models, but it’s useful to have for some of the Mission Primaries. Deathleaper has this, for he is cunning but alien.
- Heightened Senses- Fight First and reroll Melee Hits, a powerful spread of combat boosts, especially for your MONSTER Characters whose WS degrades as they take damage, letting them retain a good bit of reliability in melee even as they get wounded
- Synaptic Linchpin- +3” range to Auras, Synaptic Imperatives and Command Phase abilities. This lets you control a huge swathe of the battlefield with your abilities, as well as the larger range of the Imperatives they use. It also amusingly makes Shadow in the Warp slightly bigger too, as it is an Aura. The Swarmlord is one of these, which given his entire raison d’etre, makes sense.
- Direct Guidance- Allows you to give a CORE unit +1 to Hit in your Command Phase until your next turn. A solid offensive boost, whether it’s Ranged or Melee, helping bump your accuracy into scary high levels.
- Synaptic Tendrils- Allows you to use your “give a unit a buff” Command phase ability a second time, letting your really spread out some powerful buffs, be it the reroll 1s from Tyranid Primes or Tyrants, to making your Psychic phase truly reliable with a Neurothrope. A great secondary ability, though bear in mind some of these abilities are probably only useful on one unit to begin with.
- Adaptive Biology- A 5+++. It’s simple, but effective, and makes for some exceptionally hard to shift monsters. Old One Eye gets this, more because it’s too stubborn to die in the first place.
All of these Powers, apart from Psychic Scream, can also be cast through the Synaptic Link, instead of the range listed, letting you cast your powers in a huge variety of places on the battlefield, and often from safety. None of these powers require Line of Sight as well, mostly due to the Synaptic Link, but something to consider if using their base ranges.
Powers marked with a * last until your next Psychic Phase.
- Catalyst* (WC 6)- A unit in Synaptic Link range gets a 5+++, or a 6+++ if they’re TITANIC. A cheap and powerful defensive tool on any unit, whether it’s to provide resistance to small arms for your Gaunts, or to make a big monster even harder to put down.
- The Horror* (WC 5)- An enemy unit within 24” is -2 Ld and -1 Combat Attrition. It’s not terrible, and cheap to cast, but not really something that will come up as useful all that often.
- Neuroparasite (WC 7)- Roll a D6 for each model in an enemy unit within 18”, and for each one higher than that model’s Toughness, the unit takes a Mortal Wound, to a max of 6. A high cost, but relatively reliable power to inflict damage to low Toughness units, and even chip away at mid range Toughness units. Worth noting that in the rare cases where there are mixed Toughness units (Deathwatch, T’au Empire), you’ll need to roll for those different Toughness models separately.
- Onslaught* (WC 6)- A unit in Synaptic Link range ignores penalties for Advancing with Assault Weapons, moving with Heavy weapons, and can Charge even if they Advanced. A decent spread of buffs, and great on a unit with mixed loadouts like Warriors or Raveners.
- Paroxysm* (WC 7)- An enemy unit within 18” cannot Overwatch, Set to Defend, and also suffers -1 to Wound when making Melee attacks. A powerful debuff to either neuter a strong melee unit, or shut down Overwatch on your way in. It is costly however, predominantly as a result of the -1.
- Psychic Scream (WC 5)- The closest enemy unit within 18” takes D3 Mortal Wounds. If that unit is a PSYKER, and you cast this power on a result higher than their Ld, they also lose one randomly selected power for the rest of the battle. First and foremost this is another Smite, albeit one that ignores Line of Sight. This can both work in your favour to get at units trying to hide, but also detrimentally should a better target have exposed themselves. The PSYKER bit is nice, but will rarely come up outside of playing vs Thousand Sons or Grey Knights.
- The Ymgarl Factor- At the start of the Fight Phase, the bearer can gain either +2 Str, +1 Attack, or +1 Toughness, all until the end of the phase. All are solid buffs, and whilst they only last for that phase, they each have a use depending on the situation you find yourself in. Generally you’ll take the extra Attack for consistency (at which point you’re better off with the Maw-claws below), but be ready to do some quick maths to see if the Str or T boosts will help out. As you’re often hitting at high enough Strength to wound most things on 3s or 2s anyways, you might not need Str though it can occasionally bump you up a bracket. Toughness is great if you’re on the defensive, though again account for the attacker’s strength – T8 to T9 means nothing vs Str 4-7, or Str 10-15 attacks, for example.
- The Reaper of Obliterax- A Bonesword, or Monstrous Bonesword (not Dual Boneswords, in the case of a TYRANID PRIME), keeps their original stats, but does an additional Mortal Wound for each successful Wound roll, and also ignores all Damage Ignoring rules (Shrugs, Damage Caps, but not Damage Reduction). This is a very powerful upgrade to an already strong weapon, and on a Hive Tyrant can reliably ensure 3-4 Mortal Wounds each time they fight, let alone the ability to bypass tertiary defences. A great upgrade if you’re looking to build a hard hitting melee monster.
- The Maw-claws of Thyrax- A slew of combat buffs, granting +1 Attack, Reroll Wounds in Melee, and an additional +1 Attack if the bearer destroys an enemy unit in melee, to a max of +3. Another great melee buff, able to make a very reliable and scary melee character, and given it can be taken on anyone, has a lot of variety in uses and application. Tyrgon Primes will enjoy the reliability it gives their wounding, whilst a Hive Tyrant with this and Heightened Senses becomes an incredibly reliable hunter of other big things.
- Resonance Barb- Grants a PSYKER +1 to Cast, as well as knowing an additional power. A decent set of improvements to any Psyker, giving you more options as well as reliability.
- Pathogenesis- +8” Range to all your Ranged Weapons, as well as Reroll 1 Hit and 1 Wound each time they Shoot. It’s a decent upgrade, especially on a Heavy Cannon toting Tyrant, though there is generally enough firepower available to not really need this, or at least not require it’s reliability. Nice to have if nothing else takes your fancy however.
- Scythes of Tyran- Upgrades 2 Monstrous Scything Talons with +2 Str, as well as +1 AP and Dmg. You still keep the 2 Attacks they would have provided as well, making this a simple but strong flat upgrade for a Melee Tyrant.
- Balethorn Cannon- A Stranglethorn Cannon gets +2 Str, +1 AP and +1 Dmg, another flat upgrade in terms of stats to an already good weapon profile, making this a horrific heavy infantry killer. Gravis and Custodes beware.
- Shardgullet- Following the trend of the above two Relics, this upgrades a Heavy Venom Cannon, though this time it’s +3 Str, +2 AP and +1 Dmg. It also becomes Assault, making it a bit better with Big Guns, as well as having the option to Advance and Fire. Good if you need a bit more anti tank punch, this can reliably cripple if not outright kill most light to medium vehicles with relative ease.
- Gestation Sac- Once per game, in the Shooting Phase, you can perform an Action that completes at the end of that Phase, spawning a unit of D3+1 Ripper Swarms within 3” of the bearer and not in Engagement Range. Pretty niche, though it can have occasional uses to drop off some bodies onto an Objective as you plow into the enemy lines, but it’s generally one of those “That’s neat. Anyway…” type Relics. Pass.
- The Dirgeheart of Kharis- One enemy unit hit by a melee attack this turn loses Objective Secured, and is -1 Ld, until the end of the next turn. Whilst it is melee only, being able to shut down ObSec on a key unit can be vital to playing the mission, and helps prevent frustrating moments like a lone Guardian holding onto an Objective against something massive like a Tervigon. Won’t always come up, and can be hard to leverage, but useful when it does.
- The Passenger- An ADRENAL GLAND gets +2 Advance and Charge in addition to their other benefits. Adrenal Glands are already fantastic upgrades, and these are a good pair of buffs. However with no innate way to Advance and Charge, outside of relying on Onslaught, you’ll generally only get the benefits of one at a time. Not a bad choice for the utility, but there’s often something else more appealing.
- Searhive- A TOXIN SAC automatically wounds non-VEHICLE/MONSTER models if they Hit. Helpful for when you’re dealing with high Toughness infantry, and even to just remove the element of chance when fighting light infantry. Certainly not an autotake, but definitely not a bad one if you’re expecting to have issues with wounding.
The following are available if you have a HIVE TENDRIL WARLORD when playing Matched Play or Grand Tournament Mission, with the usual restrictions.
No Mercy, No Respite - Synaptic Insight
You keep a Tally each Battle Round, that starts at 0 each Round. Each time a SYNAPSE unit destroys a non-Dedicated Transport model, add to your Tally-
Models with 3-5 Wounds are worth 1 on the Tally
Models with 6-9 Wounds are worth 2 on the Tally
Models with 10+ Wounds are worth 3 on the Tally
If your Tally is 4 or more at the end of the Battle Round, you score 3 VP. You can’t score more than 12 VP with this Secondary. An interesting Secondary that obviously relies on lots of SYNAPSE creatures to maximise, though it applies regardless of how the enemy unit is destroyed, whether its Melee, Ranged, Psychic, or even rules like Death Throes. Very match up dependant of course, as realistically this will require multiple VEHICLES/MONSTERS to be killed each turn, or at the very least heavy units or Characters. Not the easiest to achieve, though with a wide variety of Synapse and the right match up you can score reasonably well, and it offers a solid alternative to other No Mercy Secondaries.
Shadow Operations - Spore Nodes
One Troops unit can perform an Action at the end of your Movement Phase, provided it is within 6” of your opponent’s Deployment Zone, and not within 6” of any other Spore Nodes, completing at the end of your turn, and you score 4 VP. You then place a Spore Node both within 1” of the unit, and wholly within the enemy Deployment Zone. This cannot be performed in Battle Round 1. There’s quite a few hoops to jump through here, needing to wait a turn to get the action going, the limitations on where it can be done, as well as the Troops only part. However, if you can get your Troop units close to the enemy Deployment and survive to the later stages of the game, this can easily net you 8-12VP, especially if you have units in Strategic Reserve or able to arrive via Deep Strike, such as GARGOYLES using the Encircle the Prey Stratagem.
Purge the Enemy - Cranial Feasting
Each time an enemy CHARACTER or Unit Champion is destroyed by a melee attack, you score 1 VP at the end of the Battle, with an additional 3 VP if the WARLORD was destroyed. On top of that, each time you slay such a model, roll a D6, getting +2 if they were a CHARACTER slain by a FEEDER TENDRILS unit- on a 6+ you gain a CP. If you get at least 1 CP with this Secondary, you score an additional 3 VP at the end of the battle. This can be very high scoring Secondary in the right match ups, effectively scoring you VP for each unit destroyed. However, it is also quite easy to counter, as your Shooting or Psychic could afford your foe the ability to just remove their Sergeants and deny you VP in Melee, though that has its own advantages by removing Ld buffs as well as often wargear. Against Character heavy lists you’re likely better with just using Assassination, or something else entirely against hyper elite or horde armies. If an army has 6 units with Champs and 3 Characters, you can max this, but it will require them all being eaten in melee. Realistically, you’re likely to pick up around 6-9 VP for this, assuming you have a melee centric force that your opponent doesn’t counter by removing champions early.
These are rules that will be commonly found across multiple, if not all, units in the Tyranids section of the Codex.
Not a rule in itself, but all SYNAPSE units have the following abilities. Synapse is vital to the army, as it provides many key buffs and lets your force be even greater than the already formidable sum of its parts, so positioning them well is key to making the most of your army. There isn’t a general rule of thumb in terms of ratios of Synapse to non-Synapse units, but a good guide would be for every 1-2 non-Synapse units, you probably want 1 Synapse for each grouping, lest you spread your forces too thin and have too many units reliant on a single Synapse, which could end badly if it gets brought down.
Units within 6” automatically pass Morale Checks. A great force multiplier, letting you stick around in the face of heavy casualties, bypass Leadership and Attrition modifiers, and basically need to be killed to the last model in a unit to get rid of them. Good thing too, as most of your units have appalling Ld, so a babysitter for the flimsier parts of your battle line is pretty much mandatory. Explicitly not an Aura, for any rules that modifier those.
Shadow in the Warp
An 18” Range Aura that makes enemy PSYKERS in range -1 to Cast, as well as causing them to take an additional Mortal Wound if they Perils. Whilst obviously only effective against armies with Psychic, it’s a potent debuff, with the potential to cause some extra damage, but more importantly make crucial powers a bit more difficult to cast, and easier for you to Deny.
Anything that refers to Synaptic Link range basically means 12” from the model using the ability. However, any other SYNAPSE units within 12” can “extend” the range further, measuring 12” from that model instead. It can continue moving down the line, so long as there are SYNAPSE within 12” each time. This enables you to cascade abilities to a ludicrously large portion of the battlefield, so long as the Synaptic Link is set up. Letting you use some of the powerful buffs or Psychic Powers from halfway across the map where you most need it is a very potent ability and grants great flexibility with deployment and positioning, but it can wane as units separate from each other, via being destroyed or charging off into combat. As such, consider the placement of your Synapse carefully as the game progresses, and how subsequent movements might cause gaps in your Link you either need to plug, or accept won’t be usable.
The “Pure” Army rule, this enables you to pick a bespoke ability at the beginning of each battle round for each type of SYNAPSE creature you have on the Battlefield. Each can only be picke once per game, regardless of how many of that type you might have in your army, but all SYNAPSE creatures in your army then gain that special ability, granting it to all your units that are within 6”. These aren’t Auras, so can’t be affected by rules which modifier them, but likewise they don’t stack. The flexibility of these is strong, letting you decide what will best suit your army as the game goes on, and what might be needed at a certain time.
Of course, using one will shut it off for the rest of the game, and the unit dying stops it from being selected if they’re the only unit (outside of certain abilities), so timing is key. There is little point using a defensive ability if nothing in your army is under threat this turn, likewise an offensive ability might not be useful if you’re unlikely to be making attacks. You don’t have to use one each turn however, so you can always save one for later if it’s not going to be useful on a given turn.
HIVE TYRANTS grant Fall Back and Charge. Great for keeping the pressure on units, reactivating certain rules that trigger on Charges, or to avoid units being tarpitted and kept from their preferred targets. Ideal for turns 2 or 3, when most melee combat happens, and can be good as a preemptive deterrent to a melee focused force who might think twice if they charge in, only to find you moving off to shoot them from elsewhere and crash back in.
BROODLORDS give INFANTRY Light Cover, or Heavy Cover if they were already getting Light Cover. Being only applicable to INFANTRY limits this somewhat, and generally Warp Shielding will serve you better, but it acts a nice “secondary” Imperative once that has been used up, and especially when against armies with low AP across the board. Can also be useful for anticipating combat against units in cover, letting them have a slightly better Save against lighter melee.
TYRANID PRIMES give 6s explode with Ranged Attacks, provided they are attacking an enemy within 24”. A solid offensive boost, and despite the range limit will generally be applicable to most of your units as the game progresses. Just bear in mind that this will necessitate measuring on a model by model basis in some instances, though generally given the range of most Nid guns, if they’re in range to Shoot, they’ll likely be within 24”, outside of some of the heavier guns.
TERVIGONS grant +2” Mv, making for phenomenally fast armies. Great for board control, nabbing Objectives, getting into range or threatening charges, this is one of the more widely applicable abilities that pretty much all your units can make use of and benefit from in some way. Also one of the few where you don’t mind if they move out of the Imperative range that turn, lending you some flexibility in positioning that turn.
NEUROTHROPES grant +1 to Cast and Deny, as well as a 5+++ vs Mortal Wounds. Whilst all are quite niche, they will generally always find a use. You have a range of powerful Psychic abilities so bonuses to cast them will be handy to have when you need them off, whilst bonuses to Deny will help shut down key powers your opponent might try to cast, already difficult thanks to Shadow. The shrugs vs Mortals is a bit harder to leverage, but useful to have in those situations where weapons or abilities that are looking to do serious damage come to the fore, or even just to preempt explosions and the like.
TRYGON PRIMES make everything explode! Ok not quite, but effectively any model with Death Throes will instead activate it on a 3+, and models without Death Throes roll a D6 when destroyed by a Melee attack, doing a Mortal Wound to the Attacker on a 6. One that’s definitely not usable every game, though it can be useful if you expect a big horde to be wiped out by a melee unit, and can be useful to get a last ditch “attack” out of a heavily damaged monster that turn.
Goaded to Slaughter
TYRANID WARRIORS give exploding 6s in Melee. A great offensive boost, obviously better for those already good in combat, turning your high attack units into veritable blenders, and can help spike your lower attack beasts with more output.
MALECEPTORS let units Shoot and do Actions, do Actions when they Fall Back or Advance, and PSYKERS can do Psychic Actions and still cast. Whilst quite specific, this can be very powerful with the right build and Secondaries, letting you score on the missions without sacrificing board control and ranged output. A few things to note, you can only Fall Back and Shoot whilst doing an Action if you have a rule to do so, though Advancing, doing an Action and shooting Assault Weapons is fair game. Additionally, the wording for the Psychic Actions bit is a bit odd, as it states it doesn’t prevent you from manifesting Psychic Powers, which can be interpreted as being able to do a Psychic Action and cast your full complement of Powers (where similar rules state you can still manifest a Psychic Power). Check with TO/Opponents before doing a Psychic Action then casting 2 powers with a Tyrant, for example.
ZOANTHROPES give units a 5++, or a 4++ if they’re a MONSTER. So let’s not beat about the bush, this is an autotake. You will take a unit of Zoanthropes to unlock this, it’s so wildly good it has overtaken the Custodes points drops in the “Well that’s busted” Award category of 2022. If positioned correctly this affords an insane bump in survivability for your army, letting your smaller bugs not care about AP, your midrange bugs get a nice boost in toughness, and you Monsters be ludicrously hard to put down for a turn. Useful in almost any turn and against any army, the only downside is when to use it, but generally you can’t go wrong with Turn 2 when most things will be in range and line of sight, and when combat is starting to happen. The most autotake of autotakes in the history of autotakes.
PARASITES OF MORTREX give +3” to Pile In and Consolidates, to a max of 9”. Great for swarming over a foes battlelines, maximising attacks, tying up multiple units or those that thought themselves safe this turn, and just pressing your advantage after fighting resolves. Not always going to be useful depending on army build, but handy to have up your sleeve, especially if you anticipate lots of combat due to resolve in a given turn.
Lets your smaller horde units Fight when in Engagement Range as normal, or if within 2½” of enemy models, effectively giving them an extra “rank” of models that can fight. If there are any rules which reduce Engagement Range (like the Line Unbreakable Stratagem for Dark Angels), they just cancel each other out and normal Engagement Range rules are used instead. Whilst this won’t exactly help your Termagaunts or Gargoyles inflict too many extra wounds, it can help against light infantry, and is especially useful for Hormagaunts, making large units of them a serious danger.
Deep Strike by any other name, if it’s a snakey Tyranid, it has this. This lets you bring up some quite nasty melee monsters into enemy lines, though be wary as their large bases or unit sizes can make them somewhat easy to screen out.
Not a general rule per se, though definitely one of those ones which occurs enough that it should have been. Effectively the Tyranid Monster version of Explodes, doing some Mortal Wounds on a 6 when they die, however this one only ever affects the closest enemy unit, so whilst it is potentially less damaging in a big area, also means you never run the risk of hurting your own units. Every MONSTER has this, usually doing D3 Mortals to the closest enemy within 6”, and TERVIGONS and TYRANNOFEXES inflicting D6. CARNIFEXES are another exception, having a weaker version and only doing a single Mortal with a 3” range.
Certain units with differing Datasheets will have common stats or rules, and so are condensed into one for ease of reference.
Units marked with a * are CORE.
Units marked with ˢ are SYNAPSE units.
PSYKER units will be referred to as X/Y/Z PSYKERS, meaning how many they Know, Cast and Deny. So a 2/1/1 PSYKER will Know 2 Powers, Casts 1 Power, and can Deny 1 Power.
A 2/2/1 PSYKER MONSTER, with a robust Str 7, 12W and a 4++, they can grant a CORE unit in the Synaptic Link reroll 1s to Hit, making them useful in both offence and supporting roles. With WS/BS 2+, both degrading to 4+ with damage, they have strong offensive output with either the choice of 2 Scything Talons (for AP -3 D2, as well as +2 Attacks) or a Lash Whip and Bonesword (for Str 10 -4 Dmg 3, rerolling 1s to Hit). They also have the option for a Heavy Bio-cannon, in the form of a Venom Cannon for some heavy unit busting or tank hunting, or the Stranglethorn Cannon for anti Marine and light Vehicle duties. Finally they also have the option for an Adrenal Gland for a generous +1” Mv and +1 Str, and Toxin Sacs for autowounding with 6s to Hit in Melee. Regardless of type, the Tyrant is a great force multiplier with their abilities, as well as no meagre threat themselves, be it at ranged or up close.
Getting a fast 16/12/8 Mv, and with the option to Deep Strike, the Winged Tyrant is able to bring their melee or guns the bear where needed, as well as providing support to your other units, quickly and when you need it. They come stock with Foot Talons for an additional 2 Attacks at -3 D1, and a Prehensile Tail which lets them reroll a Hit or Wound in Melee. Their main downside is they can only take one set of weapons, so you’ll need to decide between going heavy melee or some shooting. At 190pts base, they aren’t cheap, and you generally have more affordable, if less mobile and accurate, shooting. Defensewise is also quite low, in the context of other Tyranid Monsters, though T7 and a 3+ don’t exactly make it a slouch. You’ll need to use your speed to you advantage to press the advantage quickly and deal with the units you need to fast, as you’ll likely be a prime target.
At 160pts, the Foot Tyrant is of course slower, at 9/8/6, but does gain a meaty T8 and 2+ for that trade off, as well as 2 ‘arms’ for weapons, letting you go for a really nasty combat blender, or a nice jack of all trade Tyrant with a mix of melee and shooting. A great anchor for your lines, where the Flyrant will go off with the vanguard or move to provide support for other units, this guy wants people to flock to him, holding the centre of your battlefront and daring anyone to come near him. A word of caution, the wording for taking weapons leaves it ambiguous as to whether you are intended to be able to take 2 of the same Bio-cannon. Given that you only get one of each in the box, that should be a good indicator of what you should do…
Head honcho of the Genestealers, the Broodlord is a 1/1/1 PSYKER, with a decent WS 2 Str and T 5, 7W and 6A at -3 D2 (AP-5 on 6s to Wound) and built in reroll Wounds. Like their smaller brethren they can deploy 9” away from the enemy Deployment and enemy models, making them a serious threat in the early turns, especially if you win the roll off. A 4++ helps keep them around a bit longer, and their Vicious Insight ability lets you give a CORE unit in the Synaptic Link 6s to Wound get +1AP in Melee, letting even lots of light attacks shred through armour with enough of them. A decent second in command for 120pts, they make for a good leader of a spearhead, or a useful backline commander who can help deal with any intrusions in your own lines. A unit of GENESTEALERS in the same Detachment can make one of your Broodlords be a “free” slot, giving you more HQ access if you want.
The Brain Bug leader, the Neurothrope is a nice support character, being a 2/2/2 PSYKER with a built in +1 to Cast, and hard to shift with T5 6W and a 3++. In addition, they can help heal up a ton of damage to your ZOANTHROPES, as well as themselves, with every Mortal Wound taken in the Psychic Phase by an enemy within 18” of them (regardless of source) healing 1 Wound to a NEURO/ZOANTHROPE within 12”, to a max of 3 per phase. Finally they can pick any PSYKER in Synaptic Link and let them cast all their powers on 3D6 discarding one for the Phase, which given the potency of the Hive Mind powers makes this a potent tool indeed. For a fairly cheap 100pts, you get a reliable and hard to kill support Psyker who also buffs your other Psykers as well, making them ideal as a backline Synapse.
The Alpha of the Warrior broods, they take the Warrior statline and character-fy it, with +1 to WS, BS, A, Sv and bumping up to 6W. They also gain a reroll 1s to Wound for one CORE unit in Synaptic Link. With a plethora of weapon options, all of which are free, they can do a decent bit of Shooting and Melee (see the Warrior entry below for a full breakdown of their options), as well as the Gland, Sacs and Flesh Hook wargear options for 5pts each. All this for 85pts, making them a steal for their prowess and abilities. Just watch out for the lack of Invulnerable, as that can cause them to wither quite quickly in the face of stronger attacks. If your Detachment has WARRIORS in it, one Prime won’t take up a HQ slot, so you’ve got the option if you want it.
The big mama for the swarm, this living incubator has a very tough T8 and 17W, on top of a 2+ Sv. Coming with a Stinger Salvo for some light infantry firepower, and a choice of Massive Scything Talons for versatility (ala the MALECEPTOR) or Massive Crushing Claws for anti tank goodness at Str 14 -5 Dmg 3+D3, their main benefit lies in the buffs they bring. A 1/1/1 PSYKER, they also grant a unit of TERMAGANTS in Synaptic Link +1 to Hit with Shooting, making their massed firepower much scarier, and can also either revive 2D6 Termagants to a unit within 6” (setting up wholly within 6”), or once per game can add a brand new unit of 10 onto the battlefield wholly within 6”, costing you no additional points. This grants the Tervigon nice flexibility as they can quickly bring back casualties, or add another ObSec unit onto the battlefield, ideal for Objectives and Secondaries. Even getting to the Tervigon can be tricky, as any unit of TERMAGANTS with 15+ models within 1” and closer to the attacker prevent the Tervigon from being targeted in the first place, making them much harder to shift at ranged. All told the Tervigon is a strong buffing piece, though pretty much reliant on having Termagants around in order to make the most of their abilities, and at 215pts you need them to be doing those buffs to your little bugs.
Take a giant alien monster snake, and then give it a bigger brain. A TRYGON (see below) with SYNAPSE, and a Command Phase ability to give a CORE unit in Synaptic Link +1 to Advance and Charge. They also get AP-2 on their Bioelectric Pulse, making them a bit more reliable at ranged. As with the base Trygon, they have access to Adrenal Glands (well worth it to hit Str 8, despite the 15pt cost), Toxin Sacs, and a choice of tail for Prehensile like the Winged Tyrant, a Toxinspike for an extra -3 D2 attack, or a Biostatic Rattle to prevent a single unit in Engagement Range rerolling Hits or Wounds against you, should you roll over their Ld on 3D6. The main benefits are access to CHARACTER based abilities, and of course being SYNAPSE. Whether this is worth 30pts is down to you, as there are no other stat boosts to talk about, and their Synaptic Imperative, whilst fun, is certainly not the strongest available.
Unlike most Special Characters, the Tyranid ones do benefit from their Adaptations, meaning you will gain access to all the rules for your chosen Hive Fleet, something to consider when adding one to your army.
A HIVE TYRANT +1! Take a Hive Tyrant on Foot, give him +1 Str, +1W, make him a 2/2/2 PSYKER, and 9 Attacks! His Sabres hit at +1 Str -4 Dmg 3, so he is technically weaker than a Bonesword toting Tyrant, but he also has more Attacks. In addition, his reroll 1s ability becomes full rerolls (still CORE only), and he can also grant a CORE unit in Synaptic Link Objective Secured, counting as +1 Model if they already have it. Finally he reduces the Dmg of the first failed Save in Melee to 0, once per turn, giving him some extra survivability. An all round improvement of a Melee Tyrant, outside of some cases where you’ll miss having Str 10, but the overall support and defensive benefits he gains in return are substantial. He is a costly upgrade however, costing a chunky 230pts, but that’s still cheap enough to make certain units weep at their own price point.
Old One Eye
A CARNIFEX Character, who for a fairly substantial 220pts, gets +1 WS and BS, +2 Attacks, but does lose a point of Damage on both their 2 Scything Talons and 2 Crushing Claws. They come stock with HORNED CHITIN, a Thresher Scythe for 3 extra Str 4 -1 D1 attacks, as well as Chitin Thorns to boost their Melee AP by a further 1. They do however come with some nice boosts, namely autohealing D3 Wounds in your Command Phase, and doing D3+1 Attacks on the Charge, making them a scary prospect in combat. They can also grant +1 to Hit to one CARNIFEX within 9”, letting them offer some support to others (or offset any minuses that might affect themselves). Old One Eye is a nasty beatstick that is hard to keep down, alongside being difficult to deal with via shooting given their Character status, but don’t really bring much else for their cost compared to other units.
The mainstay Synapse unit, the Warriors are a jack of all trades heavy INFANTRY unit coming in units of 3-9 sporting a meaty WS/BS 3, Str and T 5, alongside 3W 3A and a 4+. Defensively they aren’t the toughest, though there are ways to improve it via abilities and Stratagems, however offensively they have a ton of output. With 2 arms, they can take a melee and ranged loadout, or a dual melee profile. Scything Talons will give you -1 D1 but +2 Attacks, whilst the Rending Claws trade out the attacks for +1 Str and AP-4. Alternatively you can look at the Boneswords for a healthy +2 -2 D2, and go for a pair for +1 A, or with a Lash Whip for reroll 1s to Hit in Melee (generally the +1A is better, but the reroll can help to mitigate certain negatives, and lets them be independent of a Hive Tyrant). On the ranged aspect, they come stock with a Devourer for light infantry fire at 18”, hitting at Str 4 AP0 D1 but Assault 5, or the harder hitting Deathspitter for 3 shots, but at +6” Range, Str 5 -2 instead. They can also have a Bio-cannon for every 3 models, either the Venom Cannon for anti marine/light Vehicles, or the Barbed Strangler for more anti infantry shooting. And all of those weapons are free, apart from the Bio-cannons which cost a measly 5pts. Which, on your 25pts base, makes them incredibly cost-efficient in terms of damage output. And that’s not all, you can also buy 3 upgrades on a unit basis, regardless of the unit size, with Flesh Hooks costing 5 for the unit (letting them ignore Vertical Movement in the Movement Phase), Toxin Sacs for 10, or the frankly autotake Adrenal Glands for 15pts, bumping them up to a neat 7” Mv, but more importantly Str 6, meaning those Boneswords are now hitting at a mighty Str 8. With their small arms resistant profiles and great ranged and melee output, your opponent will have to divert heavier weapons to dealing with them, making them great as a primary threat, keeping your other units safer, as well as providing Synapse abilities in a large footprint.
The humble Termagant has a pretty standard “human” profile, albeit a pitiful Ld 5 (good thing you have Synapse). They pack a nasty gun in the form of the Fleshborer however, hitting at a pretty scary Str 5 -1 D1, with Assault 1 at 18”. They can be swapped for a Devourer which gains +1 Shot, but loses -2 Str and -1AP, not worth the 1 pt premium you’re paying. Spinefists are also an option, if you want to carry around 2 Laspistols. They also have access to Toxin Sacs and Adrenal Glands, but these are generally not worth it. At 7pts they are cheap enough to flood the board without breaking the bank, but expensive enough to not want, or indeed need, to load up on upgrades. With Synapse nearby they will hold to the last bug, making them ideal for backline and midboard Objective duties, all whilst adding on high quality firepower, if at average accuracy.
The melee gaunts, these guys come with the same statline as their shooty siblings, but with a 10” Mv, and eschew ranged weaponry for 3A at -1 D1. Coupled with their Bounding Leap to grant them +3” to Pile Ins, and they can really overrun a battleline or entrap units with their big squad sizes. With access to Toxin Sacs for a point, or Adrenal Glands for 2, they can be made even better in melee, though on top of their 8pt base cost this will add up quickly across a unit. Whilst great for disruption and blending lighter infantry, they will need support to carve through tougher units, and they’re still only T3 1W with a 5+, so they won’t withstand concentrated firepower, but they are good for adding to the threat saturation of the army.
A Termagant that gets +6” Mv and FLY, for the cost of only having a 6+ Sv, and only being able to take units of up to 20. A fast ObSec unit with Fly is a rarity, and they’re fairly cheap for 8pts. Whilst their gun is of course great, you’ll generally be wanting Gargoyles to be your Objective cappers and Secondary units, flying around to score things like Engage or RND, whilst avoiding return fire where possible given their flimsy stature. One thing to watch out for is they can’t innately Deep Strike, despite their wings, so you can’t rely on them going deep into enemy lines in the mid to late game outside of certain Stratagems.
What you get when you cross a mushroom with a squid and put it in organic battle armour on land. A pretty “standard” Tyranid MONSTER profile with a decent T8, 15W and 3+ Sv on the defence, they strike out with 12 Attacks at WS 3 (degrading), that always wound non-VEHICLE/TITANIC units on a 2+, at -2 and D1. The same tentacles can also whip out at ranged, with 2D6 shots with the same statline, albeit at 8” Range, making it well suited to killing infantry, and chipping away at high toughness units. It’s main strengths come from it’s disruption abilities, preventing a single non-AIRCRAFT unit per turn from Falling Back from it on a 3+ (2+ if INFANTRY), causing all enemy units within 3” to suffer -1 to Hit, and inflicting D3 Mortal Wounds and Fight Last to enemy units within Engagement Range at the start of the Fight Phase. These combined give it a good, if slightly muddled, role as a tarpitter and disruptor. With debuffs and mortal wounds, you’ll want it engaged with your enemies elites, though offensively its better at wading through infantry. This does leave the Toxicrene in an odd spot as a fairly generalist monster, but at 150pts it’s not the priciest of gribblies, and can cause some serious mayhem, if you can get it upfield and through terrain alleyways, a somewhat tricky prospect given their 8/7/5 Mv, and massive effective footprint due to the model.
The Bodyguard (literally, urgh) of the Hive Tyrants, these burly slabs of muscle are a dedicated heavy melee unit, coming in units of 3-6 and sporting an impressive T6 4W and 2+ Sv, and hit out at WS 3 Str 5 and 3 Attacks. Coming stock with Rending Claws and 2 Scything Talons ala the Warriors above, they can also opt to replace their Talons with either a Lash Whip and Bonecleaver (Str 5 -1 D2), or Crushing Claws, which make them a nasty Str 8 -3 D2, but weirdly costs 20pts, as they are priced individually at 10, so you probably won’t bother. With access to Adrenal Glands and Toxin Sacs, they can be boosted further for melee havoc, and if within 3” of a HIVE TYRANT, they also get +1 Attack. And have Bodyguard for them, making a HIVE TYRANT, untargetable whilst they’re alive near him. Which is nightmarish to consider. They even don’t take up a slot when in the same Detachment as a TYRANT, isn’t that nice. Their main downside is that they aren’t incredibly killy compared to other units for their cost, and are a bit slower than the Tyrants themselves, being only a 6” Mv, but these aren’t exactly dealbreakers as they can just advance to keep up, and their goal is to protect, so if they add in some extra damage in melee that’s a bonus.
The Hive Mind looked at the Imperium’s Assassins, liked the look of the Eversor and Calidus, and said “What if I combined them, and made it just…better?”. For a measly 70pts, the Lictor is a nasty melee beast, with 6A at WS 2 Str 7 -3 D2, all with Fight First, making it ideal for murdering unsuspecting characters and unsupported Infantry. With it’s Hidden Hunter rule letting it arrive from Reinforcements and reroll Charges on the turn it does so (though with the caveat it must also be wholly within 6” of a board edge or terrain, as well as the usual 9” away), it can strike in a lot of places on the board with it’s small base size, though even when footslogging it’s 10” Mv and Flesh Hooks make it quick to get to it’s prey. Defensively it packs a decent T5 and 5W, but more importantly it is -1 to Hit, with a 5++, and can never be Shot whilst they are getting Cover and the attacker is over 12” away. Even if the Lictor was the only thing they could see and it was the closest, if it’s in Ruins and 12.1” away, it’s literally invisible. Nasty. Of course, killing is pretty much the only things the Lictor can do, being eligible for scoring many mainstay Secondaries, so whilst they make a good disruption and backline threat, they won’t necessarily help win you the mission.
Special Character LICTOR, being the basic Lictor but much better for 25pts more. With +1 Attack he’s slightly more killy, but his main improvements are defensive, getting +2 Wounds and a 4++, as well as more disruption potential, getting a 6” Aura that prevents enemy units from starting Actions (though it doesn’t shut off ongoing ones), as well as preventing any enemy units in Engagement Range from using any Stratagems, at all. This makes it ideal for dealing with units that draw a lot of strength from Stratagems, or being used as a support piece to shut down major defensive abilities. If you were looking for a single Lictor for assassination/disruption missions, consider Deathleaper instead for more reliability and longer lasting presence.
A big armoured brain bug that focuses on a mix of support and psychic output, with a smattering of melee damage thrown in. A 2/2/1 PSYKER, they add some extra powers, though their main ability will be to use their Encephalic Diffusion Psychic Action, which for WC 6 grants them a 6” Aura of -1 Str to enemy Ranged Attacks, which coupled with their large base size makes for an effective army booster. Even when doing the Action they still dish out damage however, as the closest enemy unit within 12” takes Mortal Wounds whenever a Psychic Test is passed on a 7+, doing 3/2/1 as they degrade (note this is not a Characteristic, so does not get the benefit of certain abilities that allow you to act on top profiles or count as double wounds remaining). If you focus on casting lots of Powers with this bug, you’ll be inflicting a lot of Mortal Wounds up close, though this is offset by their fairly slow speed of 8/7/5. Whilst they only have 3 Attacks, they strike with their Massive Talons for anti tank and anti marine options, so they can engage with heavier targets if needed, and with their standard big Monster statline and sporting a 4++, they are a tough beast to bring down before they get up close and brain melty. Not cheap at 170pts, but offer a lot of support and offensive options for the cost.
These once joke beasts are now a serious anti infantry mulcher, with 2 options for their ranged attacks, be it the 12” anti heavy infantry Burning Spray (D6 Str 6 -2 D2), or the anti light infantry Pyrogout at 18” (2D6 Str 4 -1 D1), both being Assault and autohitting letting them have a decent extra bit of movement and perfect accuracy. Whilst you don’t want them in Melee, they can hold their own against lighter or smaller units, with 3 Attacks each at Str 6 -3 D1. Defensively they’re pretty robust with T5 5W and a 3+, and they even explode in 3” for a Mortal Wound. For 30pts they are cheap for their output and comparative survivability.
Mega Melee Murder Monster, the Haruspex takes your “big” Monster statline ala the Maleceptor, makes him a shock assault beasty. With 5A at Str 7, he has two options for melee, he can go infantry blending with his Maw, striking at -1 D2 but x3 Attacks, or use his Claws for tank busting, hitting at a healthy x2 Str AP-3 Dmg D3+3. He also has his Tongue which hits at Str 6 -3 Dmg 3, ignoring Look Out Sir, so could get lucky and eat an unsuspecting support HQ. Finally he has a 6” Aura of -2 Ld to enemy models, and heals a Wound each time he slays an enemy model, to a max of 3 per Phase, which combined with his already good defences can keep him going for longer than he should. At 170pts he’s not that cheap for a solely melee combatant, and so he needs to get up field as soon as possible to make the most of his good profile.
Floating sacs of gas and tentacles, these INFANTRY come in units of 3-6 for 35pts each, and start off with a decent T5 and 4W, albeit only a 4+ Sv. Similar to the Toxicrene, albeit on a smaller scale, they are here to disrupt your foe. With their Grasping Tendrils they can stop one non-MONSTER/VEHICLE unit from Falling Back on a 4+, one enemy unit within 3” at the start of the Fight Phase suffers a Mortal Wound but more importantly Fight Last, and finally they have a 6” Aura of -1 to Hit your non-TITANIC units with Ranged Attacks. With 5 Attacks each at Str 5 -1 D1, though always wounding non VEHICLE/TITANICS on 2+, they are good for blending light infantry, though you probably only want to do this in a pinch. With an 8” FLY Mv, they can get to where they need to provide their support abilities, and when spread out can offer their buffs in a wide area.
Living Psychic Batteries of Doom, Zoanthropes are a 1/1/1 PSYKER unit of 3-6 brain bugs, that offensively do little, unless they zap stuff, and you’ll want to zap stuff with them. When they cast a Smite or Witchfire power (so Psychic Shriek, Neuroparasite or Psychic Scream) they add +1 to Cast for each model in the unit, and if it’s a Smite you do an additional Mortal Wound for each model in the unit, to a max of +3. This makes them fantastically reliable at dishing out Mortals, with even a squad of 3 able to cast your first Smite on double 1s, and getting the Super Smite on a fairly easy 8+. Coupled with their incredible Imperative, and being tough to shift with T5 4W and 4++, they are capable of anchoring a part of your line whilst also threatening heavy units that come close. Used offensively they can add some devastating output and force your opponent to screen with lesser units to protect their elites, keeping them out of the fight for a bit longer. They aren’t too cheap at 50pts a pop, but with their powerful output and buffs, they are well worth it, and don’t even take up a slot if you have a NEUROTHROPE in the same Detachment.
Elite vanguard organisms, the Genestealers all come with an 8” Mv and Infiltrate, making them a serious turn 1 threat if you win the roll off, or a big distraction that has to be dealt with should you not. 4 Attacks at WS 3 Str 4 -3 D1 makes them well suited to carving through all manner of Infantry, and chipping away at heavier units, whilst T4 and a 5++ (4++ in Melee) makes them fairly resistant to low level attacks back, albeit only 1W each. They can however bring along an Infestation Node for 20pts, which can either be set up with them, or via an Action sacrificing your Movement, which brings back D3 slain Genestealers in your Command Phase if within 3”. It doesn’t move, and if it’s ever within 3” of enemies and you aren’t within 3”, it is automatically removed, but regardless it’s useful to have to add a bit of longevity to the unit if needed. 1 in 4 (which is an odd choice given they come in units of 5-10) can be given an ACID MAW or FLESH HOOKS, neither of which are particularly strong or useful in the context of the rules they give, but they are free, so whatever. They can also have Toxin Sacs for a hefty 3pts a model, or an Extended Carapace for 1pt which reduces their Mv to 7”, but increases their Sv to 4+. Neither are particularly necessary, and only really serve to increase the points on their already fairly costly 16pts, so you can probably avoid them. Really you want them as an early game threat to deal with a key unit asap, or provide breathing room for your latter waves of forces. A BROODLORD in the same Detachment as them can also be taken without using up a Slot, good if you want to add some bigger punch to their assault.
Effectively a Tyranid Warrior with some reduced wargear options, but make them a snake and geared for fast infantry blending. For 5pts more, you get +6” Mv, +1W, +2A and the -1 to be Hit in Melee. They come standard with Ravener Claws for -2 D1, and the option of 2 Scything Talons or 2 Rending Claws for other melee options. With a Devourer, Deathspitter, or Spinefist options (Pistol 2 Str 5 -1 D1), they can add further anti infantry output. If they go without the guns, they get reroll 1s to Hit in Melee, making them a bit more reliable. Regardless of choice, they’re all free options, so you can play around with what works best. With their speed and option to Deep Strike, they make good backfield harassers, or can leverage their INFANTRY Keyword for Actions and such. Now crucially they aren’t SYNAPSE, so are susceptible to Morale if you do use them as a stand alone attack force, so be wary of Morale or losing access to Synaptic abilities should they be off by themselves.
Bases of little munchy bugs, Rippers aren’t particularly strong or tough, with each base being T3 and 4W with a 6+, and hitting with 4 Attacks at WS 5 Str 3. They do get to Deep Strike, and also get +1 to their Sv vs Ranged when getting Cover, so can be somewhat tricky to shift with light firepower, making a small unit of 3 handy for popping up to nab an Objective or Secondary, cheap at 45pts, but not really likely to do much else, and being SWARMS precludes them from many Actions. The whole unit can take Spinemaws for a 6” Pistol 4 Str 2 AP0 D1 ranged attack, but it’s rarely worth it. Not being usable as a Compulsory Detachment Slot is another odd choice, but fine. Overall there’s not much they do that others can’t, though they have some very fringe uses in regards to Secondaries like Engage or Behind Enemy Lines.
A flying Snake CHARACTER, the Parasite is an assassin/disruptor beast, whose main draw is being a fast (16” FLY) SYNAPSE creature to offer buffs to where needed, as well as their Parasitic Infection rule. By successfully wounding a non-VEHICLE unit with their Ovipositor (though they only ever get 1 Attack with it at Str 6 -1 D1, so easier said than done), the target takes a Mortal Wound and becomes Infected. Whilst Infected, a unit loses any Objective Secured they might have, and in addition you roll a D6 for the unit at the start of your opponent’s Command Phase. They take D3 Mortal Wounds, and on a 4+ remain Infected, otherwise they are no longer Infected. If 2+ Mortals are done, a single Ripper Swarm is set up within 3” of the enemy, outside of Engagement Range. All this is, well, fine. It’s sometimes hard to pull off, as you need to successfully Wound, ie damage, not just make a successful Wound Roll, then a 50/50 chance for the Infection to wear off before the ObSec negation kicks in (as Primaries are scored end of Command Phase), and you might get a Ripper, which are, well they’ll be there. So there’s plenty of hoops for a cool, albeit niche rule, and you’re otherwise not all that killy with admittedly 6 Attacks at AP-2, but Str 5 D1. Whilst somewhat tricky to pin down with the permanent -1 to be Hit and no reroll Hits allowed, their T5 and 6W will only go so far with keeping them around, but for 80pts they’re a cheap source of SYNAPSE that can occasionally be useful in dealing with stubborn units or lone, smaller Characters.
Shai-Hulud The first of the big snakes, this larged maw gribbly comes with a decent Str and T7, 14W and a 3+ Sv, making it a “lighter” version of the standard Tyranid Big Monster Chassis. It does have the -1 to be Hit in Melee however, and is faster at 10/8/6, alongside the option to Deep Strike. It has a number of offensive options, either anti infantry in Melee for a whopping 16 Attacks at -1 D1, as well as literally swallowing things whole, with one non-VEHICLE unit in Engagement Range in the Fight Phase taking D3 Mortal Wounds on a 2+, or flat 3 Mortals on a 6, with the added bonus of the enemy counting as below Half-Strength for Morale if any models were destroyed (seeing your pal eaten whole is a bit unnerving). They also have the option to act as a pseudo-Bombardment, placing a Marker in your Command Phase, forcing you to emerge within 12” of the marker in your next turn’s Movement Phase, but then every enemy within 6” of the marker taking D3 Mortal Wounds on a 3+, getting +1 if the unit is 6-10 models, or +2 to the roll if they’re 11+, and should you reach the lofty heights of a 7+ on the roll, you do D3+3 Mortals instead. You can set up within 9” and outside the Engagement Range of enemy units when you use this rule, but then you can’t charge, though it’s useful for positioning for Objectives or Secondaries. With the same tail and wargear options as the TRYGON PRIME, they are predominantly an area denial and distraction unit, which for 125pts base is pretty affordable for what they can do, or at least threaten to do.
The second big snake monster, having the same stats as the Mawloc above, albeit with “only” 12 Attacks. These attacks do hit harder however, with AP-3 and D2, making them great at carving through heavier infantry and lighter tanks, and they have a smattering of ranged output with their Bio-electic Pulse, a 12” Range Assault 8 Str 5 AP0 D1 attack. As with the other snake monsters, they have a trio of tail options as well as some wargear (with the Adrenal Glands approaching a must to make them even more reliable), but otherwise they are nothing more than a beatstick. The utility of them Deep Striking is what makes them a bit more of a threat than perhaps other beatstick monsters, as despite their lower Toughness and Wounds, they have the ability to strike out at undefended positions, warranting your foe to screen or anticipate the Trygon’s arrival. At 145pts base, they can be costly for their output, but their presence cannot generally be ignored or neglected.
Two separate types of Spores, with differing stats and rules but both following the same identity and restrictions, namely that they don’t interact much with the game itself, and they explode to do Mortal Wounds. Regardless of type, they autopass Morale, can’t do Actions or score Missions, can’t Charge, are ignored for Look Out Sir and setting up units within X” (so you could deep strike within like 5” if you wanted), and other models can move through them as if they weren’t there, though not ending any move on top of them. So as mentioned, they don’t really interact with the game or other models, unless they explode. When they end a move within 3” of an enemy unit, or an enemy unit ends a move and passes within 3” of them during that move, they explode for a number of Mortal Wounds on that unit, depending on a D6 roll and size. Note this is on a model by model basis, so one Spore Mine exploding doesn’t cascade explosions down the unit. They are not useful for anything else, and with a 4” Mv and 6+ Sv, they aren’t sticking around too long, but the threat of the Mortals for cheap can afford them a target on their back, protecting other units in a way. They can also Deep Strike, and can do so on Turn 1 if you want, letting you add a small deterrent to an enemy’s advance.
The bigger ones, coming in units of 1-3, they at least have a bit of bulk to them with T4 and 4W. When they explode, they do D6 Mortals on a 2+, or D3+3 on a 5+, making them actually a pretty scary threat for only 20pts.
The much flimsier ones, with T3 and 1W, doing 1 Mortal Wound on a 2+, or D3 on a 5+. At 10pts their output is not nearly as significant, however there are few ways to add them for free into your army, and being much smaller makes them easier to hide and pop out as a trap.
A jumbo bio-plasma cannon attached to a hulking tough brute. With the usual Nid monster statline of T8 15W and 2+, its a tough one to shift, letting it leverage its powerful cannon, firing D3+6 Heavy Shots at 36”, Str 8 -4 Dmg 3, making it a perfect elite infantry and tank killing machine. It also ignores all cover if it Remained Stationary or moved less than half, making it even more deadly. Beware of fast moving units however, as only 3 Attacks at Str 7 -1 D2, and it’s cannon being Blast, means if tagged in melee it will be verging on useless unless you can Fall Back and Shoot (via the Heightened Reflexes Biomorphology), or have some other units nearby to help unjam them. At 170pts and needing some screening to remain effective, they can be somewhat tricky to use without risking them being shut down, but the output they churn out is scary indeed.
A smaller variant of the Pyrovore, these beasts of burden instead site back and lob Spore Mines into the battle, either firing a D3 Shots at 48” and able to ignore Line of Sight if targeting a unit a SYNAPSE creature can see, and doing a single Mortal Wound on a Hit. Alternatively, they can sacrifice their shooting and perform an Action to set up D3 Spore Mines per Biovore, for free, anywhere wholly within 48” and more than 6” away from enemy units, letting you set up choke points and traps. Only one unit can do that per Phase however, so you can’t suddenly be adding dozens of mines onto the battlefield, but it’s worth considering, especially since the potential for damage can be higher, more reliable given their BS 4, and also weirdly defensive as the Mines might absorb firepower. Make sure they’re far back though, as whilst T5 with 4W, they only have a 4+ Sv, and 2A at Str 6 -1 D1 in Melee, hitting at WS4, means they won’t be fighting their way out of units looking to hunt them.
All your Carnifexes, regardless of their subtype below, follow the same basic principles, with some little tweaks between their units. They all sport a healthy statline of WS 3 BS 4 Str 6 T7 9W 4A and a 2+ Sv, have -1 Dmg built in, get +1 Attack on the Charge or Heroic Intervention, and can be taken as units of 1-3, which are deployed within 6” then act as separate units. Whilst each takes on a slightly different archetype, they are all a good general purpose monster which act as a good speartip for your assault.
The general purpose and most customisable of the Fexes, starting at 100pts and going up with their plethora of wargear choices, costing between 5-15pts each. They come stock with 4 Scything Talons, each one hitting at -3 Dmg 3 with +1A, making them a nasty combat threat to elite units and lighter tanks. They can replace 2 of these at a time for either tank busting Crushing Claws (hitting at Str+4 -3 D3+3 Dmg), or a variety of ranged options, be it 2 Deathspitters (24” Assault 3 Str 7 -3 D1 each) or 2 Devourers (18” Assault Str 6 AP0 D1 each) for anti infantry, or the heavy bio-cannons ala the Hive Tyrant. Regardless of choice, these all cost 10pts for the upgrade. You can also have a number of Head, Back and Tail options, which will take forever to go through but generally boil down to a minor ranged attack, +1BS, ACID MAW or HORNED CHITIN Keywords (on the Head), another minor ranged attack or permanant Light Cover (on the Back), or an extra anti marine attack or extra anti infantry attacks (with the Tail). They can also have Adrenal Glands, Toxin Sacs, or Chitin Thorns to boost their Melee with +1AP. Now all of these will add up very quickly, and they’re still a fairly generalist option, though most of these upgrades are exclusive to them, so if there is a particular build you want to try, it can be worth starting with the base Carnifex, before seeing if either of the specialists below are more useful to you.
The Melee Specialist, for 15pts than your base Carnifex you get +2” Mv, +2 Attacks, a short ranged but high powered plasma attack, as well as a Ld debuff in melee, with each model slain imposing a -1Ld on the unit (to a max of -4). They can only use their Scything Talons however, so if you were looking at a solely melee Fex with no or few upgrades, just take these instead, who get there faster and hit harder. Still capable of taking Adrenal Glands and Toxin Sacs, as well as the pricey, but often worth it, Spore Cysts to give it Light Cover.
The Ranged Fex, again 15pts more, this time coming stock with 2 Talons, 2 Devourers and Chitin Thorns. If this was the build you were looking at, again with slightly less upgrades, it’s worth using these guys instead, as they also get Ignore Cover and 6s to Wound get +1AP with their Ranged Attacks. They can swap out their Devourers for the Deathspitters, (for free) and their Talons for a Barbed Strangler (for 10pts), if you’re so inclined. They can still take Adrenal Glands and Toxin Sacs, as well as Spine Banks (for another bit of extremely short ranged shooting), a Thresher Scythe for some minor melee, and most importantly the Enhanced Sense for the +1 BS, pretty much mandatory for ranged gunbeast. They are a bit slower however with only a 6” Mv, and being a predominately short ranged anti infantry platform, they are somewhat susceptible to being tagged in melee, and it’s a role often already covered elsewhere in the army.
Chunky defensive/artillery style gunbeasts, they pack a pretty robust defensive profile of T6 4W and a 3+, and a choice of ranged options hitting at BS 3. Their Shockcannon is a solid anti tank gun, an Assault 2 36” Str 7 -2 Dmg 3 weapon that always wounds VEHICLES on 4+, and does a Mortal Wound in addition against them, or the anti heavy infantry Impaler Cannon, firing 3 Heavy shots at 24”, at Str 6 -2 D2 ignoring Light Cover, with the additional ability to ignore Line of Sight if shooting at a target that a SYNAPSE creature can see. Regardless of option, they can ignore any Hit and BS modifiers when shooting at a target a SYNAPSE can see, and they also have an Action to make them count as 3 Models for the purposes of controlling Objectives, at the cost of Moving that turn. The Hive Guard are a potent, albeit pricey ranged support unit, with a base cost of 50pts and +10pts for an Impaler. You may have better options depending on the role you want them to perform, though there are still a decent option due to their accuracy and Objective holding potential.
The biggest beast in the Codex, this massive walking gun platform rocks up with a whopping 17W at T8 and a 2+ Sv, making them a real pain to shift whilst still benefiting from Terrain, and a choice of 3 guns for anti light infantry, anti heavy infantry and anti tank duties. The Fleshborer Hive hits out with 30(!) Str 5 -1 D1 shots at 24”, more than capable of rinsing through light squads, whilst 5pts more nets you the Acid Spray, for an armour melting 6+D6 shots at Str 6 -3 D2, auto hitting, albeit Heavy and only 18” range. For 20pts you can instead take the Rupture Cannon, a tank buster extraordinaire that fires 3 Shots at 48”, hitting at a mighty Str 14 -4 Dmg 4+D6. They also come stock with Stinger Salvos for some extra anti infantry firepower, and their Powerful Limbs use their 4 Attacks to hit at Str 7 -1 D2. As with most big gribblies, they can take Adrenal Glands and Toxin Sacs, though melee beasts they are not. Try to avoid melee if you can, unless you’re fighting something you wanted to shoot at anyways, and at 170pts they’re a pretty affordable source of firepower.
It’s a Drop Pod but fleshy! Able to arrive Turn 1, and carrying either 20 INFANTRY (with models with Wounds of 2+ taking up 3 spaces), or a single MONSTER with 16 Wounds or less), the Tyrannocyte is ideal for getting a prime unit into position early, whilst protecting them from counterplay in the early stages of the game. But once they arrive, they also get to do other things, coming with a choice of guns in batches of 5, either Deathspitters, Barbed Stranglers (+25pts) or Venom Cannons (+50pts), though with their BS 5 they won’t do a huge amount. They can also move around the turn after arriving, with an 8/7/6 FLY Mv, and are decent at tying things up by floating menacingly after them. They might even kill something with their 6/5/4 Attacks with their Flensing Whips, hitting at Str 7/6/5 -2 D2. With T7 and 15W, albeit a 4+ Sv, they can withstand a decent amount of damage, whilst offering a pseudo distraction to the enemy. For 100pts base, they give you some nice options to have.
A versatile flyer, with a mix of weaponry and roles for a fairly affordable 150pts. Getting +1 to Hit vs FLY units helps them bypass some negatives or be hyper accurate against others, and the ability to charge other AIRCRAFT even whilst Airborne lets them do some damage to ground targets then tangle with a plane, or of course go into Hover mode to deal with lighter units on the ground. With 4 Attacks at Str 6 – 2 D2, as well as an additional Str 9 -4 Dmg 3 attack from their tail, they can deal with light units if needed. On the ranged front, they have their Drool Cannon (18” Assault 2D6 Str 6 -2 D1 autohitting) and Stinger Salvos for anti infantry, and Tentaclids for some slightly heavier lifting, letting loose 4 Shots at Str 7 -3 D2, or D4 vs AIRCRAFT. With a 15” Mv, and up to 40/30/20 whilst Airborne, as well as able to pivot an additional time during their Airborne move, they are a fast and manoeuvrable jack of all trades Flyer that can deal with a variety of targets, whilst being fairly resistant to return attacks with their T7 13W and 3+ Sv.
With identical stats as the Crone above, the Harpy trades out some of their versatility for a more heavy hitting output. Losing their Tail attack and +1 to Hit FLY units, they instead drop Spore Mines onto the battlefield, either as a direct bombing run attack- rolling a D6 for each model in a unit they pass over, or 6D6 for MONSTERS/VEHICLES, up to 10D6, and doing a Mortal Wound on each 4+; or by spawning 3 Spore Mines anywhere within 1” of a point you moved over, and 6” away from enemy units. Whilst they keep their Stinger Salvos, their main armament is instead either 2 Stranglethorn Cannons, or 2 Heavy Venom Cannons for +10pts, which coupled with their speed and agility lets you bring some heavy firepower to hard to reach targets. Ideal for dealing with heavier infantry, the Harpy is a bit more specialised, but no less deadly for only 160pts.
Effectively an immobile version of the Tyrannocyte, sharing similar stats and the same weaponry options, but rather than acting as a Drop Pod, instead acts as a kind of organic turret. They can be set up anywhere on the board more than 12” away from enemy models and their Deployment Zone, making them a useful are control piece against enemy Infiltrators. They also act as a SYNAPSE creature, provided they are within 12” of a non-SPOROCYST SYNAPSE, letting them bounce the morale boosts and Synaptic Link further along. Finally one per army can perform an Action in your Movement Phase to place either 6 Spore Mines, or 1 Mucolid Spore, anywhere wholly within 18” and 6” away from enemy models, letting you add some pseudo screening to the battlefield. At 95pts, they act as a good utility and area denial piece, though at 10W they are fairly easy to shift in the context of other Tyranid Monsters, and with their BS degrading to 6 within only 5 Wounds remaining, they aren’t really worth using as a gun platform.