Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Know Your Enemy 101: Tyranids

Just thought I'd post up a quick article. I know a lot of the time when I play at GS I'm just about the only Tyranid player there. Nobody knows what my army does. This quick article aims to tell you (from a marine viewpoint, most likely) what some more common units do and what you should know.

It is well known that destroying the more intelligent creatures in the swarm is essential to stop a Tyranid advance. Training in recognition and fire discipline is of some help in identifying the best targets but the chaos and confusion of the battlefield make it difficult for troops to pick out their targets amidst the swarming mass of creatures. Ultimately it has proven best to direct fire at the largest Tyranids in sight and pray to the Emperor that some of them are the leaders.

First a quick note about tyranids: the big ones usually provide brains to the little ones. Shoot the big ones and it is possible the tyranid player won't be able to control what they do. They have to make a leadership test for each unit that is out of synapse (12" range from my of the big ones). If they fail it is likely they'll either run towards the closest unit or shoot at the closest unit.

A second quick note: the big ones also provide a 12" range bubble that makes it tough for you to do psychic powers (this includes force weapons). You have to roll 3d6 and any doubles results in perils of the warp.

Hive Tyrant: provides synapse. Big monstrous creature, 2d6 pen on vehicles. Power weapons. 3+ save, NO INVULNERABLE! Since he is a monstrous creature, it is tough to get a cover save. Nasty nasty nasty psychic power is "paroxysm". This makes the target unit BS 1 and WS 1.

Tyranid Prime: bigger tyranid warrior. Provides synapse. Toughness 5 so it allows wound shenanigans to units it attaches to and almost can't be insta-killed. 3 wounds. Can provide its WS and BS to warriors.
Tyranid Warrior: Toughness 4! Double it up and you kill him easily. 3 wounds. Nasty in close combat especially when led by a Tyranid Prime. Can be given lash whips (you're at initiative 1) and bone swords (leadership test or die). Slow. Provider of synapse.

Raveners: can come in from deep strike. Tons of attacks. Beasts (12" charge, fleet). Often has rending. 3 wounds at Toughness 4! Rapid fire them to death.
Hormagaunts: small tyranid used to screen. I5 and fleet. Lots of attacks on the charge.

Termagants: usually armed with 12" str 4 assault gun at BS3. Cheap. Can be buffed by tervigon.

Genestealers: WS6, I6! 5+ armor save, shoot them with bolters. Fleet, with rending and move through cover. They're FAST. Don't get into close combat with them if you can manage it. They may outflank or infiltrate on you. Don't need synapse.

Gargoyles: Jump infantry. Often times upgraded to wound on a 4+ poisoned. Nasty in close combat. Sometimes used as screens to give MCs cover.

Zoanthropes: Synapse creature - they have psyker powers, one is a str 10 lance and one is a str 5 ap 3 blast. Both have to roll to hit. Shut them down with librarians.

Hive Guard: Toughness 6, 2 wounds, they shoot a 24" assault 2 strength 8 shot great for taking out transports. Don't need LOS. Priority target.

Trygon: nastiest MC. Can deep strike, is fleet. Tons of attacks, re-rolling hits. Really nasty in close combat.

Mawloc: MC that can pop up and hit your dudes from deep strike. Not as nasty in close combat.

Tervigon: perhaps the best entry in the book. Poops out gaunts each turn until enemy rolls doubles. It is an MC, but doesn't hit too hard in close combat. Great psyker powers - can give FNP to units, can allow a unit to run and shoot. Makes termagants really nasty. Destroy it and gants die around it.

So that is some of the Tyranid units. Hope it helps players that have never seen them before. I'm sure I missed some strategies etc, but I aimed for a high level overview. Any comments?


  1. To avoid being chewed up by Raveners, deploy or move into the second level of buildings. As Beasts, they cannot climb. You can pick them apart at will.

  2. Good article. I can post a Tau version that would be very short.
    Step 1 - get in close combat
    Step 2 - win

  3. It's kinda ridiculous to say "Just us Librarians" when it will just be a rolloff every time.

  4. Well, the thing about that is librarians have a 24" bubble where they can deny enemy psychic powers. That is HUGE.

    Tyranids rely on their psychic powers going off to provide synergy with their army. For a cheap character that fills an HQ slot you get the ability to 50% of the time shut them down within range of most of your army.

    This is especially good against Zoanthropes. The Tyranid player has to roll for each zoanthrope in the brood (unit) to even cast the psychic power, then he has to roll to hit.

    If you have a librarian in the area then you can provide a THIRD stop measure against the zoanthrope powers. The tyranid player has to get really, really, really lucky to hit with zoanthropes like that.