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“Kilgore and Eibel At the Gaming Table”: The 6e Codex: Tyranids
Kenton Kilgore
: Long-time Jungle visitors will probably remember that when the previous version of Codex: Tyranids came out, Patrick and I reviewed it together, similar to how the great critics Siskel and Ebert used to cover films.  Gene and Roger are gone, sadly, but Pat and I are still here, we both still play this army (his Hive Fleet Ravana and my Kurindan proxies), and we’re looking forward to rolling up our sleeves and gettin’ Niddy with it.  So off we go!

First off, the new Bug Book is a 100+ page, full-color, hardcover tome, like the versions done recently for Dark Angels, Chaos Space Marines and Daemons, Eldar, Tau, and Space Marines.  I’ve said before that the new format is reminiscent of the D&D 3e Monster Manual, and it’s especially appropriate for the Tyranids.

As one might expect, the artwork is abundant and inspiring, a mixture of original pieces and colorized versions of previous illustrations.  Sections are nicely broken up with subheadings and text boxes for easier reading—as a former technical writer, I greatly appreciate these touches.  But you didn’t come here to read about presentation, did you?  I thought not.  Let’s talk about the first part of the book, the background material, or “fluff.”  Pat, would you like to do the honors and take it from here?

The Great Devourer
Patrick Eibel:
The fluff section of the codex is about thirty pages long.  There is a lot about each Hive Fleet and their previous invasions (though you really only get color schemes for the big three: Behemoth, Kraken, and Leviathan), as well as synopses of several battles and the Tyrannic Wars.  We are treated to stories of Tyranids versus Imperial Guard (at Tyran), versus Space Marines (at Macragge), versus Eldar (Iyanden), versus Tau (Sha’draig), versus Orks (Orrok, in the most obvious naming ever), and versus Grey Knights and Chaos (Shadowbrink.)  It is no wonder that no one will Ally with them.  All of this is very nice, with full color pictures, but has no effect on putting an army on the table.  Still, “thumbs up” on the fluff.  Kenton?

KK: In our prior review, I said the fluff was boring and predictable, but GW has gotten it right this time.  Much of what you’re given will be more than familiar to veteran gamers, but there are snippets of new and interesting material in the two-page sections following each Tyrannic War.  Maybe I’m becoming the close-combat junkie that Pat has always been, but I really liked the “War in Octarius,” describing the fight between the Nids and the Orks, even though I’ve read it before.  “The Fall of Shadowbrink” was a breath of fresh air: an enemy (Chaos Daemons) attacks the Bugs (instead of the other way around, like these stories usually go) and kicks their Niddy abdomens until the Hive Mind can adapt and retaliate.  Good stuff.  A solid “thumbs up” from me.   

Forces of the Hive Mind
Let’s move on to the next section, where we get universal rules and write ups for each unit.  Right off the bat, we have the new Instinctive Behavior tables.  Yes, they are more debilitating for creatures that get out of Synapse range.  Clearly, GW wants you to invest heavily in Brain Bugs: just plan carefully, or bring high-Leadership non-Synapse creatures, and it really won’t be that bad.  Also of note, Shadows in the Warp makes enemy psykers suffer a Leadership penalty; pretty good, if the enemy psyker is in range.  Synapse remains unchanged from last edition, so no Eternal Warrior.  I will discuss later why this is one of the failures of the codex. I like that one of the Warlord traits affect terrain, but do not like that it is useless if there are no trees around.  They should have designated “area terrain” so it would be more universal. 

So, to summarize, Instinctive Behavior got more confusing and Synapse did not get “fixed.” Overall, “thumbs down” from me.

KK: The Instinctive Behavior changes follow the 6th Edition trend of making game mechanics more random and complicated than they need to be.  True, you can have some good things happen on “6’s,” and some pretty bad things happen on rolls of 1-3, but if you use lots of Synapse critters, this will be a moot point most of the time.

Shadow In The Warp has changed, making it much less likely that an enemy psyker within 12” is going to pull off his or her magic tricks, and that’s always a good thing.  The Nid Warlord Traits are good, too, with the most useful being Adaptive Biology (Warlord gets Feel No Pain [5+] for the rest of the game after taking a Wound), and the least being Nature’s Bane (one wooded terrain piece within 12" of the Warlord becomes a Carnivorous Jungle). “Thumbs up” from me on this section, though what really would have been useful would have been if Nids could Ally with themselves.    

PE: The unit write-ups follow the same format as previous codices.  I couldn’t help but notice special text boxes for units not in the codex, some of which were deleted from the previous edition.  My suspicion is that these will show up as future dataslates on the GW website.  If you don’t know, GW has begun a cottage industry in putting up additional rules in their electronic media section (for an additional cost, of course).  In addition to the supplemental codices, like Iyandan and Farsight Enclave, one can start to feel like there will always be another shoe dropping.  It has become exhausting (and expensive) keeping up with all the rules.

The big change is the deletion of Spore pods, which provided a much needed expeditious way for Tyranids to enter the field.  I had a few, so I am sad to see them go.  Overall, though, much of what was deleted I considered “specialty” units, so I don’t miss them too much.  It is fine for the new codex to require some rethinking of how you approach the army.  I will give the unit write-ups a reserved “thumbs up. I will save my unit analysis for the army list section, so let’s see what Kenton has to say. 

KK: Obviously, many long-time Nid units return: Hive Tyrants, Tyranid Warriors, Termagants, Hormagaunts, Gargoyles, Genestealers, etc., and they’re pretty much as you remember them.  Nothing’s changed too much with them (although the Tervigon is no longer the obvious “go-to” choice it once was—more on that later). 

Missing are some special characters from the previous book (the Parasite of Mortrex and the Doom of Malan’tai), Ymgarl Genestealers, and Mycetic Spores.  They’re replaced by the Red Terror (returning from the 4e Nid codex), Exocrines, Haruspexes, and Hive Crones.  The Parasite made Ripper Swarms (and variants) interesting, while Doom was overpowered and underpriced, so I’m of two minds on their departure.  Ymgarls and Spores were tremendous assets to the Nid list, which I don’t feel the new additions compensate for.  So “thumbs down” from me on the units available to play with.   

Weapons and Biomorphs   
To start the weapons section, there is a note changing melee weapons: a Tyranid creature now needs two sets of paired weapons to get a bonus attack.  Let me get this straight: a Space Marine carrying a bolt pistol and chainsword gets a bonus attack for extra close combat weapon, but a Tyranid, a bio-engineered assault organism, needs two sets?  This has to be one of the stupidest things ever put in a codex – unless, of course, the rumors of a tweak to 6th Edition are true and this is a harbinger that the aforementioned Marines will be losing that bonus. 

Some highlights from the rest of the weapons and ‘morphs section include: boneswords lose their ability to ignore all armor (they’re AP 3, now), but you knew that was coming.  Bio-plasma is a nice little shooty weapon for your Carnifex.  Electroshock grubs could be useful against vehicles.  Regeneration has become more useful, but much more expensive.  Toxic Miasma is actually kinda cool.  Most of the ranged weapons pretty much stayed the same.  There is no great “wow,” but, other than the paired-weapon thing, nothing truly awful.  This section gets a half-hearted “thumbs up” overall, but I wish that this so-called assault army got some better melee goodness.

KK: Worrisome to me is how scything talons have been nerfed: before, having one set would allow you to re-roll “1’s” when trying to hit; two sets would let you reroll any misses.  The new talons are AP 6…uh…wheeee?  Crushing claws have Armorbane instead of adding d3 Attacks.  Rending claws are AP 5 now, and the lashwhip & bonesword combo is all kinds of good.  Still, thumbs down” for melee weapons.

The ranged weapons haven’t changed all that much: almost all of them do what they did before.  Notable exceptions are that venom cannons no longer have a penalty trying to penetrate vehicles that aren’t open-topped, and Spore Mines can be much deadlier under certain circumstances.  Acid spray now has Torrent, and Hive Guard have the option of using a shockcannon (18" S5 AP5 Assault 1, Blast, Haywire) instead of an impaler cannon (more about that later).  There are also, of course, new weapons for the new critters on the block.  Thumbs up” for shooty weapons. 

Biomorphs are a mixed bag: some are better, some aren’t, most of them are what you’ve seen previously.  Adrenal Glands have picked up Fleet in addition to the Furious Charge they provided before.  Regeneration is MUCH better (happens on 4+ instead of “6”).  Blinding Venom has changed, Gargoyle fans, and Toxic Miasma (for your Venomthropes) has been downgraded.  Flesh Hooks are no longer S6 (user Strength instead), and no longer rend.  Meh” for biomorphs.

Let’s take a look at the Bio-artefacts and Powers of the Hive Mind.

PE: There are five special bio-artefacts that Tyranid “characters” can purchase.  Most of them are over-priced for what you get.  Maw-Claws (whatever those are) give Rending and Preferred Enemy for 10 points – that one is OK.  Norn Crown adds 6" to Synapse range for 40 points.  We know how important it is to keep your Bugs in line, and if you luck into Synaptic Lynchpin or can take Dominion, you will have some sweet coverage.  Is the Crown worth 40 points?  Ehhh, maybe.  The Ymgarl Factor is interesting, if unpredictable.  Might have considered it if it wasn’t 40 points.  There are cheaper and better weapon options than what is available here.  The big void is no option for an Invulnerable Save: that would have been worth 40 points.  Big fail here – “thumbs down” from me.

There is a lot of talk about how losing access to the rulebook psychic powers is a bad thing, but you can still get Feel No Pain, and the other powers can be useful.  I like that other creatures than the Zoanthrope can get Warp Blast.  I give the psychics a “thumbs up.”

KK: Gotta agree with Pat on the Bio-artefacts: very expensive for what you’re getting, though I think that Miasma Cannon for 25 points is your best option.  The continued lack of an option for an Invulnerable Save for your Big Bad Brain Bug is not quite so crippling as it used to be, as the main rules now allow cover saves for Monstrous Creatures so long as 25% of the model is obscured by terrain or intervening models.  Venomthropes also continue to provide mobile cover, and the Tyrant + Tyrant Guard option is still viable, albeit it’s expensive.  Nevertheless, “thumbs down” from me, too.

Nid psychics have, for the most part, gotten better.  Yes, you have to roll for powers now, but powers are no longer specific for each type of psyker Bug, as they used to be.  Previously, Tyrants, Tervigons, and Zoats got their own abilities and did not share.  Catalyst now affects the psyker’s unit AND another unit within 12"—two for the price of one!  The Horror pins the target unit instead of makes them fall back: why would I want the enemy to get farther away from my claws and fangs, when they can cower there and not shoot at me?  Onslaught’s range doubled to 24".  On the flip side, Dominion no longer happens at the start of your turn, which might affect how many units are covered.  Paroxysm reduces the target WS and BS by d3, not to WS and BS 1, as it did formerly.  Psychic Scream’s range is now 6" instead of 2d6".  The lance version of Warp Blast is AP 2 instead of 1.  Nevertheless, thumbs up” from me.

Colours of the Hive Fleets 
Like similar sections in other codices, this one is loaded with gorgeous and awe-inspiring photos of models in various configurations.  Some are the same, many are new, and it’s all good.  We’re shown paint schemes for Hive Fleets Behemoth (red and blue), Kraken (mucous yellow/green with brown-speckled armor plates), and Leviathan (white with pink highlights plus purple/black armor).  In the photos of whole armies, it’s often hard at a glance to pick out individual critters: they all merge together in a mass of limbs and claws and spikes, and that’s a good thing, methinks, as it visually presents the theme of the Nids as a swarm. 

The models for the new units—Haruspex, Exocrine, and Hive Crone—are pretty cool, though the Haruspex’s mouth looks a bit too busy and clogged with all those grasping tongues: maybe the sculptors should have gone the Gene Simmons route and just had one really long one.  I don’t know if it’s new or not, but the Flying Tyrant model is damned purty, too, in a buggy, swoop-down-and-gut-you-where-you-stand sort of way.  Thumbs up” from me.       

"They call me 'Dr. Love'..."  

PE:  The full color display sections in each new codex are inspiring, to be sure.  To see each of the units painted up in hive fleet colors can really help to sort out the color choices you want for your army.  And there is the problem.  Although many hive fleets are mentioned in the fluff, including Gorgon, Jormundgandr, and Moloch, only color schemes for the big three--Kraken, Leviathan, and Hydra--hive fleets are shown.  

The Tyranid model range is mostly complete, helped by the loss of the Parasite and Doom.  The plastic Hive Tyrant is not new, but is really sweet looking, and plastic (finally).  I am not in love with the new Tyrant Guard/Hive Guard kit (they look bottom heavy), but plastic may keep the Hive Guard, formerly with a big metal gun, from tipping forward. 

I really like the gribbly Haruspex.  It’s like a grenade blew its head off and it is still coming after you.  Ewwww.  Shrikes and Slasher Swarms are still only available from Forge World, but since it looks like GW plans to integrate the FW stuff into their product lines, it may get easier to get them.  The Harpy/Hive Crown models do not look very aerodynamic, which is probably apt since they will be quickly shot down.  The Exocrine is the other build from the Haruspex kit, and looks like a bigger Pyrovore.  Kenton is right that the models look fantastic all massed together for assault, and with several reductions in point costs, there will be more models on the table.  I give the color section and models a “thumbs up.”

It's like what you'd get if Rodan and the Xenomorph had kids....

The Tyranid Swarm
All right, enough of these pleasantries: let’s get on to the army list.  I think going section by section makes the most sense, as some FOC slots fared better than others, so we will start with the HQ choices.

The first change is that the Parasite of Mortrex is gone, replaced by Old One Eye and the Deathleaper.  Since I have never been a fan of Ripper Swarms, I do not mourn the loss of the Parasite.  I do wish Old One Eye unlocked Carnifex broods as a Troop choice.  Wouldn’t that be a fun army?  Alas, no such thing.  The Deathleaper lost its improved Rending, but moves out of the crowded Elite slot into HQ. 

The Swarmlord, Tervigon, and Tyranid Prime all got more expensive with no real added benefit.  The Tervigon really got nerfed, losing its ability to buff the Termagants that it spawns and only being able to take one psychic power.  GW does seem to like to bang down the nail that sticks out, so to speak.  At least the Hive Tyrant got a bump to its Ballistic Skill and had a cost reduction of five points.  I give the HQ section a “push.”  All of the HQ choices I used to take are still there and do what I want them to do, if for a few points more or minus a few abilities.  I am sure Kenton will have a more decisive opinion.

KK: Under the previous codex, the two best HQ choices (not counting the Shawarmalord) were the Tervigon and the Tyranid Prime.  In its infinite wisdom, GW decided that the best way to encourage people to take other HQ was to simply make the Terv and Prime more expensive (and less effective, in the case of the former).  It’s the first of several “What-the-hell-were-they-thinking?” moments I had while going through the army list.  Oh, and the Prime still can’t take Wings so as to join the less-than-stellar Shrikes and make them at least decent.  Because…that would make sense and be awesome?

The Tyrant’s BS got better and his base cost is a smidge less expensive; his abilities also cost less, though he lost the Armored Shell (2+ Save) option.  Tyrant Guard got cheaper and more effective (automatic Look Out, Sir!), even if they lost an Attack.  I’m not enamored of special characters, but I have to appreciate that Old One Eye is 40 points cheaper, and his Initiative (like the Tervigon’s and the Carnifex’s) went up to 2, meaning he’ll be going before those power fists.  Now that I’m over the shock at the knee-capping that the Tervigon and the Prime took, I can give the HQ section a lukewarm “thumbs up.”

If it could talk, you know it would sound like Benedict Cumberbatch

PE: On to the Troops section.  Warriors stayed basically the same.  And that is the problem.  With no Eternal Warrior or bump in Toughness, Warriors will be instantly killed by missile launchers and any other gun with Strength 8 or higher.  With an Armor Save of 4+ and many armies ignoring cover, I have to question what the designers were thinking.  However, they are not totally useless – if you run enough Warriors with Venomthropes and larger bugs to screen they may actually be viable. 

Unlike Genestealers.  Genestealers are the result of number-crunching gone wrong.  I can see the design team going, “Let’s take a Space Marine and raise some stats over here, lower some stats over there, and create a balanced unit.”  Hey, idiots: are you aware that like every gun in the game will automatically kill these guys?  I don’t care that if you Infiltrate enough of them in cover, some may survive.  I don’t care that they don’t have to use the convoluted Instinctive Behavior rules.  They needed to get a 4+ Armor save like the Broodlord so they could have a chance, a chance mind you, to save against bolters, shuriken catapults, and pulse rifles, not to mention flamers.  You know, the basic weapons of every Troop unit they will face?

Ahem!  Moving on.  You now need 30 Termagants to unlock Tervigons as Troops.  I am OK with this as I can understand why GW didn’t want players to continue to take mini-‘gant units to spam the big boys.  Even better, you can now have a mix of weapons, so you can “hide” your devourer ‘gants amongst the fleshborer guys.  Hormagaunts stayed roughly the same, other than the oh-so-useful toxin sacs got more expensive.  Don’t bother with it, as the only reason to take these guys is to cover the board with ‘gants and ‘guants and/or to screen bigger bugs. 

As I mentioned before, I am not a fan of Ripper Swarms, so the fact that they are more expensive does not concern me.  If you ignore the fetid entry that is Genestealers, I actually am going to give the Troops section “thumbs up.”  What do you think, Mr. Kilgore?

KK: What do I think?  Well, I considered Warriors a decent (not great) choice under the old codex, so having them stay the same doesn’t frost my undies.  Pat is right that they could have used a boost to help survive the increased emphasis on the Shooting Phase in 6th Edition, and the newly-redesigned armies (Tau, Eldar, and one can assume the upcoming IG) that make their living off it.

Genestealers were poor choices before, and GW has done nothing to upgrade them.  With the current Infiltrate rules, I don't see how it does much besides put the Stealers closer to the other guy’s guns, with you crossing your fingers and hoping that cover will keep at least half your guys alive…so that they can hurl themselves into some Overwatch fire.

As Pat discussed, the base price on Termies and Hormies got cheaper, and the latter’s Bounding Leap now adds a respectable 3" to Run moves. These are still not units I want to invest a lot of upgrades on.  And Rippers—underused and underappreciated before—got 3 points more expensive, in exchange for…nothing.  No upgrades.  Because “screw you, Themed Army Player”:  that’s why.

We’ve covered how Tervicows have been knocked down a peg or twelve, but did we mention how spawned Termagants can no longer move and/or charge on the turn they’re whelped, thus limiting their mobility?  And speaking of mobility, no more Mycetic Spores, which, to me, is a huge step in the wrong direction here in the game’s current gun-happy iteration.  And no, I’m not bitching because I had a bunch of Spores in my army (I owned all of two) or that I “don’t want to change how I play.”  Trust me: I was looking for something much different from the previous codex; more about that in our conclusion.  For now, I’m going to disagree with Pat and say “thumbs down” on Troops.

You say you already have a bunch of these guys?  Well, you might need even more.

On to Elites, and on to another “the hell?” moment, as we discover that Hive Guard, the “go-to” choice under the previous codex, have lost a point of Ballistic Skill AND have gone up 5 points. Because GW apparently believes that it’s preferable to downgrade something that’s good than it is to improve something that sucks.  Hive Guard now have the option to take the shockcannon, which, while it does have the nice Haywire rule, has 6" less range than the impaler cannon, nor does not ignore cover, nor does it have Homing, which lets the impaler shoot targets out of line of sight.

Other familiar Elite choices—Lictors, Zoanthropes, Venomthropes, and Pyrovores—got cheaper, which is good so long as it doesn’t come with nerfing.  Lictors are still “meh” to me: this unit was scary-good in 2nd Edition and hasn’t been the same since.  Zoats got much better, acting as a unit instead of as individual psykers, and now can have an additional power (I guess they picked the Tervigon’s psychic pocket).  The Vthropes’s Spore Cloud (the only reason to take this guy) became more effective (Shrouding, which will stack with other cover) even if its range is much more limited (affects models within 6" as compared with units within 6" before).  The Pyro got +1 W, +1 I, and +1 A, but still doesn’t have Torrent, so I’m still not taking him over other Elite units.

As mentioned, the Ymgarlers and Doom of Maalox are gone, replaced by the Haruspex, who doesn’t impress me.  Overall, I give a “thumbs up” to the Elites; let’s hear what Pat has to say. 

PE:  I agree with Kenton that lowering a Hive Guard’s Ballistic Skill while increasing his point cost is inexplicable.  Hey GW, we will not rush out and buy Exocrines just because you make Hive Guard worse.  Lictors help with Deep Striking units, and would have been really useful if Spores were still in the codex.  The Zoanthrope is now the “go-to” Elite unit.  It helps with Synapse, has anti-tank capability, has an Invulnerable Save, and gets a bonus psychic power to boot.  Needless to say, they will be Target #1of any opponent. 

Venomthropes now give Shrouding, which improves cover saves by +2. They’re clearly intended by the designers to compensate for the universal low armor save throughout the Tyranid army.  Pity the designers didn’t consider that every other codex in 6th Edition has a way to ignore cover.  The Haruspex is cool only if you want to do a Nidzilla list with Monstrous Creatures in every slot.  While I think the model is awesome and the idea of it literally eating an entire unit is hysterical, it is not enough to bite on the $75 price tag. 

Pyrovores were improved, but still suck.  There are players who based their entire strategy on using Dooms and/or Ymgarl Genestealers.  You should know by now that if you rely on a gimmick, GW will eventually take your gimmick away.  If I had armies with either of those units I would be mad, but since the units I usually take are intact, and I like the one new unit well enough, I give the Elites a “thumbs up” as well.

Here's the shockcannon.  Your Hive Guard will never use them, but here it is.  Just, you know, for your reference.

KK: Now to Fast Attack.  Shrikes: 5 points cheaper, still no better.  You ask, “But isn’t cheaper better?”  Not when it wasn’t good to begin with.  Raveners: same price, same problems as they had before, one of which is still shared by the Shrikes.  Namely, that boltguns (now with an effective range of 30", thanks to being able to move and fire at full range) snicker at T 4 and 5+ Save.  Also, the Red Terror model has not aged well, and no, I don’t care that he’s available again.

Sky-Slasher Swarms are 3 points more expensive, just like their terrestrial buddies, because “screw you”: that’s why.  Spore Mines—does anyone use these?  Maybe we ought to.  Gargoyles Hunt instead of Lurk when they brick their Instinctive Behavior tests, and Blinding Venom ain’t what it used to be.  However, now they can screen your Flyrant if he's in Gliding mode, so there's that...I guess.

Harpies got even better: 25 points cheaper, +1 W, +1 A, and they drop Nid Poop (ok, spore mine cysts) on every Movement Phase, not just once a game, like they used to.  Did I mention that after pooping, they can fire at other targets in the Shooting Phase?  I didn’t?  How neglectful of me.  Hive Crones are supposedly your anti-Flyer Tyranid, but why are we bothering with the Crone when the Harpy is so much better?

Despite the Harpy, “thumbs down” from me for Fast Attack.  Pat?

PE:  As mentioned, Shrikes have all the problems of Warriors compounded by trading a point of armor for jump ability.  Joy!  The only use for them is as a Deep Striking shooting unit to take out entrenched opponents like Broadsides or Devastator Squads.  Using them that way, you might even take a Lictor.  Raveners are Shrikes minus the Synapse, so utterly useless.  Sky Slashers are really fast Rippers.  Oooh.  Scary.   

Gargoyles are flying Termagants with a blind attack.  They’re OK if you really want a Termagant-themed army, but I am unimpressed.  Harpies and Crones are Flying Monstrous Creatures; this means they can Vector Strike, even against Flyers.  That’s the great strategy for dealing with enemy Flyers?  Really.  How about the fact that each needs to do grounding checks on any enemy hits?  The 100 monkeys in charge of writing this codex were really working overtime here, kids.  Spore Mine Clusters might be fun if you run Biovores, but why would you do that?  I have to give Fast Attack a massive “thumbs down” for absolutely missing the boat on providing anything this army could use: effective fast assault units or reliable anti-Flyer capability.   

Seriously, dude, this is not a good look for you

Let’s move on to a happier topic: Heavy Support.  As with the last version, the Heavy Support section is where all the cool kids hang out.  Let’s start with the 40 points-cheaper Carnifex.  They still can come in a unit of up to three, which means your opponent will have to kill the closest one before moving on to another one.  Think of them as a tank squadron. 

There are people who like Biovores; I think Bios are vastly overrated.  Trygons have the bio-electric pulse and tunneling ability (though I think it would be too hard to coordinate bringing a unit in that way).  If you Deep Strike your Trygon, you may want to make it a Prime so it doesn’t go Instinctive.  Mawlocs are cheaper and can still land on a squad, which is always a fun way to take out hidden snipers and heavy weapons.  The new Exocrine has a big plasma cannon-like weapon; pity that it does not have a big plasma cannon-like range.  Finally, the Tyrannofex got massively cheaper and can still take the long-range, S10 rupture cannon.  Every army needs at least one, because that is how you are going to deal with tanks, baby.

The wealth of riches that is the Heavy Support section gets a big “thumbs up,” though this seems like a good place to question why Tyranids cannot Ally with themselves (do not speak to me of future supplements, I am dealing in the now.)  Would it have killed the designers to allow one more Heavy slot via an Allied detachment?  It would not, but then you, dear Tyranid player, would not be forced to pick from sub-optimal choices in other categories.  At least you can go with two detachments in big games.

I cede the floor to my esteemed colleague from the hinterlands.

KK: Well, let’s get heavy, then—Heavy Support, that is.  The Carnie is indeed 40 points cheaper AND has I 2 (to beat power fists to the punch, and to have a slightly better chance of dodging the muy-broken insta-kill Jaws of the World Wolf power).  Carnifexes lose one Attack and Mycetic Spores from the last codex, but to my way of thinking, they’re now the “go-to” HS option for Buggies. 

Pat pooh-poohs the Biovore, but they’ve become potentially more effective, and they’re cheaper.  Would I take them over other HS options?  No, except in games under 1000 points.  Maybe that’s damning with faint praise.  Whatever.

The Trygon and the TryPri each got 10 points cheaper, but I’m still not sold on their Deep Striking into enemy territory: I’d rather keep on rushing them at the enemy, but this role might be better played by Carnifexes?  I won’t know until I play some games using the new book.  The Mawloc is MUCH cheaper (-30 points) than it used to be, and might be even more useful than ever, given how many folks like to castle up their shooty guys behind an Aegis Defense Line waaaaaay back in their deployment zone.         

The Exocrine is the new Shooty Bug on the Block, but I’m wondering why I need him: to zap lots of Terminators?  Or other Monstrous Creatures?  It’s certainly not for tank-killing, not when I can have a Tyrannofex for a whopping 75 points cheaper than he used to be.  Yes, the rupture cannon (the gun you’re most likely to pick) is more expensive than before, but a TFex with one used to cost 265 points, and now he's 205.  And the TFex is also now I 2, which is a good thing.  So, yeah, “thumbs up” for Heavy Support.

Listen, Exocrine, I like you.  I do.  But I'm already seeing other Heavy Support units now, so it's just not going to work out between us.

If I were judging the new Tyranid codex solely on presentation, I would give it a big “thumbs up,” as the formatting, fluff, and artwork are excellent.  The models and paint jobs are also top-notch.  But once I start trying to make some sort of an army using the rules and units given, I rapidly become underwhelmed.

The previous Nid book (I eventually realized) had several very poor units, and most of the more effective lists I saw leaned heavily on Tervigons + Termagants + Hive Guard.  Which, though it worked for a while, was dull, dull, dull.  Tyranids were vastly in need of a big improvement, especially given the changes brought about by 6th Edition.  But they didn’t get it. 

The new codex does make some underperforming units—Hive Tyrants, Zoanthropes, Carnifexes—better, but does nothing or not enough for many others—Genestealers, Rippers, Lictors, Pyrovores, Shrikes, Raveners.  It introduces new units—the Haruspex, Hive Crone, and Exocrine—that add little, while eliminating Mycetic Spores, which had vastly increased mobility, now more crucial than ever.  It waters down and/or makes more expensive some units—Tervigons, Tyranid Primes, Hive Guard—that were the few high points from the last codex. 

The new book is two steps in the right direction, one step back.  It’s certainly better than what we had before, but not, I fear, good enough.  Yes, some individual pieces have improved, but the whole is nevertheless not greater than the sum of its parts.  There are still too many things that don’t work; Pat has a list of them that still need fixing. 

Once upon a time, Nids were the premiere close-combat army; I don’t even feel like that's so, anymore.  And it’s still outclassed against the shooty armies: I don’t yet know how these supposedly “new-and-improved” Tyranids are supposed to deal with Wave Serpent spam, or the Necron Flying Circus (Night Scythes and Doom Scythes a-plenty), or Tau.  If you do know, feel free to set me straight.

So overall, “thumbs down” from me.  How about you, Pat?   

Trust me: a cool paint job and great gas mileage are the LEAST of this vehicle's many fine, fine features

PE:  If the question is whether you can create a viable Tyranid army from the new codex, the answer is “yes.”  I think spamming Termagants with Tervigons, and covering the rest of the board with Hormagaunts is still a viable strategy.  I think running as many Monstrous Creatures as you can, Shrouded by Venomthropes is a viable strategy.  There may be something you can do with lots of Warrior Broods, but I would have to try it out before I recommend it.

But viability isn’t the question.  These army ideas are basically the same ones that worked under the old codex.  And these versions will not work as well as those did because of changes to the Tervigon and psychic powers.  Does this codex have really good units?  Yes: the Zoanthrope, Venomthrope, Carnifex, and Tyrannofex.  Some good units got a little less good, like Tervigons, Tyranid Primes, and Hive Guard.  Many bad units stayed really, really bad: Pyrovores and Genestealers. 

The new models are not game-changers (compare them to the Riptide or Wraithknight in terms of army impact, and you will be unimpressed as well).  I do think that Tyranid armies will fare better than what we think based on the changes to the codex.  However, the codex does little to inspire new army lists or encourage trying new units.  It is a massively missed opportunity, and that is why I must give it a sad “thumbs down” as well. 

There are now rumors circulating that Mycetic Spores will return as a Forge World unit with rules usable in 40K.  Is this GW’s new strategy?  Prop up sub-par books by releasing additional models and rules through their spin-off company?  I guess that is better than letting them continue in mediocrity, but it feels like the customers are being slowly bled dry.  No wonder so many people are jumping over to rival games.  With at least four more codices to be released this year, I am not overly optimistic about what the future may hold for my Imperial Guard, Ork, or Space Wolf armies.


"So you brought scything talons to a gunfight, huh?  Bless your heart...."



Posted January 2014.  Images copyright Games Workshop 2014; used for review purposes


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