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The Tiger Roars
Guest Commentary: Legionis Tacticum
Tactical articles

Legionis Tacticum: Tyranids  by Patrick Eibel
“…And you may ask yourself, ‘Well, how do I work this?’…”

I am sure there are many 40K players out there that are mourning the loss of mutable species in the new Tyranid Codex, but I am perfectly happy with the revised codex. The game designers at Games Workshop wisely realized that they had created a monster (pun intended) loophole that was being abused in ways they never even imagined (just check out the Swarm army). Not only does the new codex clean all that up, it also offers some very cool new rules, some new figures, and generally improves the army as a whole.

Strengths: Synapse, Monstrous Creatures, Fleet of Claw
Weaknesses: Limited shooting ability, susceptible to tanks
Key Wargear:  Rending claws

Tactics: Tyranids are the ultimate assault army and any tactics for them should revolve around ways to get them across the board and into close combat. No matter what brood choices you make for your swarm, the first things to consider will be how to deal with tanks and what Synapse creatures you will use.

For attacking tanks, your best option will be a Carnifex with a venom cannon and a barbed strangler, which provides three shots per round that could potentially take out a tank (even if the venom cannon can only Glance). Zoanthropes are also useful as they have a more powerful attack (the Strength 10 Warp Blast), but a much shorter range (18"). Still, with the ability to take three of them for one slot, they make an attractive option.

The Hive Tyrant is an interesting option in that it can provide shooting support, Synapse support, or both. You can tool your Tyrant up for pure shooting with a venom cannon and barbed strangler, or for pure assault with wings and scything talons, or for a combination of the two with a venom cannon and bonesword/lash whip (I like the bonesword as it gives you the Catalyst power for free). Just remember that if you are not giving your Tyrant wings, attach some Tyrant Guard to absorb the enemy shooting directed at him.

The Broodlord is an excellent Synapse choice if you are planning on having any Genestealers in your swarm. You will generally want to infiltrate the Broodlord and his retinue; just be wary if your opponent has a Callidus Assassin.

Tyranid Warriors may be the best option for providing Synapse, as they come in squads of 3 – 9, and can be taken as HQ, Elite or Fast Attack options. By including multiple squads of Warriors, you can create a Synapse net that will essentially make all of your troops Fearless as long as they are within twelve inches. Like the Hive Tyrant, Warriors can be tooled for shooting or pure assault. For shooting, I would take deathspitters, as they have a decent range and multiple templates will do nasty things to whatever you are firing at (a venom cannon in a Warrior’s claws is just not that impressive). For pure assault, I would take rending claws, scything talons and wings (any Tyranid that does not have a ranged weapon needs to be able to move quickly across the board and wings are a much better option than leaping).

Having spent the points on your Synapse creatures and support options, you can now focus your attention on the Troop choices that will form the bulk of your army. If you have gone the Broodlord route,  loading up on Genestealers is a great idea, as the combination of Fleet of Claw and rending talons will trouble your opponent very quickly. Just be sure to take the maximum of 12 Genestealers per unit and seriously consider extended carapace so that they can shrug off bolter fire.

If you want huge broods, you can load up on Hormagaunts and Termagants, and even Ripper Swarms (although they have been seriously toned down, thankfully). I would consider giving the Hormagaunts adrenal glands for Initiative and/or toxin sacs so that they will have first strike capability against most opponents (including Space Marines). Termagants can be given fleshborers and toxin sacs to provide a nasty support fire option that recycles when the squad is wiped out (gotta love Without Number).

Above: Old-school Hormagaunts
Photo © copyright Grayson Pike, November 2005. Used with permission.

You will want to keep your Warriors close to your swarm broods to keep them from going Instinctive. The ability to, in essence, make these units Fearless (i.e. immune to Leadership checks) is invaluable, as you will be losing lots of casualties to enemy fire. 

One of my favorite units in the new codex is the Lictor. For 80 points you get a creature that can assault when it Deep Strikes, always has at least a 5+ cover save, and is always equipped with rending claws and scything talons. As the Guinness beer guys would say, “Brilliant!” The added bonus of the Pheromone Trail will help out for those inevitable Reserve rolls to get your Monstrous creatures and beasts onto the board.

I have touched on several of the choices available to a Tyranid swarm, but there certainly are other options (I have garnered a new respect for Raveners after my last battle). The goal of these articles is to get you to think strategically about how to use your unit choices to form a cohesive army. Hopefully, the information presented here as started you thinking critically about what role each choice will play, be it assault or support, and what options will help those units perform their tasks.

Related Pages
Introduction to the series
Other articles in this series

© Copyright Patrick Eibel, November 2005. Used with permission.


Fighting Tigers:
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Other Pages:
Main <> What's New <> Site Index <> The Tiger Roars <> Themed Army Ideas
Events and Battle Reports <> Campaigns <> Terrain <> FAQ <> Beyond the Jungle