40K: Those Tyranids We Used To Know

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With the Tyranid Codex around the corner, let’s take a look at some of the bugs you don’t really see anymore.

We’ve all seen the codex release dates–looks like it won’t be long now before the Tyranids get their codex. In anticipation of this, I asked around the office about the nids you used to see, the ones who need a little attention to start seeing a little more play around the tabletop. Here’s what we came up with:


Gaunts can be an important part of any army. Numberless, and armed with guns that make each one punch well above their weight, they are a crucial part of a Tyranid army. They can take objectives or die in droves, and it still feels like you’re getting your money’s worth.

Winged Gaunts, then, should almost be a no brainer. Except you don’t really see them anymore. Part of this is that they have all the fragility of Gaunts without the accompanying force multipliers. They lack the firepower to get the job done. Sure, they’re fast, but, without any of the synergies that are the backbone of Tyranid armies to help them out, they mostly just end up being a target. Plus if you take too many of them, your opponent will reveal themselves to have been Xanatos all along.


A big, shooty bug with a big, shooty gun. At least, that’s what it’s supposed to be. The problem is, for all that it is this big crazy tank, its weapons are a bit lackluster against vehicles. Sure, the crazy 18″ flamer can hit hard, or you can give it the Fleshborer Hive if you want to pretend you took a squad of Fire Warriors. But those are all infantry killing weapons, and there are better, more efficient ways to do that in the army. And its iconic gun? The Rupture cannon? It only has 2 shots and it needs both of them to hit in order to be worth anything. Otherwise it’s one strength 10 hit that deals a whole 2 damage, which is not great. Granted, you’ll have a 4+ — until the enemy pings you for 6 wounds and drops you to a 5.

The Tyrannofex highlights one of the big difficulties for Tyranids right now. It’s hard for them to deal with vehicles. Rending claws are one of the best bets, but, against a tank company, say, you want a little more than that. Especially since those Leman Russes are gonna be double firing their battle or demolisher cannons at you until your big bugs melt.


These all get lumped together under weird corner case useful units. Maleceptors can do their psychic overload, which sounds cool until you realize that instead of tossing one mortal wound to every unit within 6″ you could just smite and do as much or more damage to the thing that you really want to die, and also not be within 6″ of enemy units. Haruspex are these cool, potentially self-sustaining units that work on paper, but in the game nobody has quite figured out how to use them. And Toxicrene are a great concept until you realize that Exocrenes exist, and they do everything better.


A fast attack unit, so they kinda suffer as do most fast attack units in 8th–but Raveners are so close to being a choice. Adam Harry describes them as kinda like the Stealth Suits of the Tyranids, which I can see. Not because they are stealthy or infiltrate (they do infiltrate, but that’s besides the point), but because they’re slightly overpriced and slightly too fragile for what they do. Their toughness being only 4, or their armor save being only 5 means that they’re just not tough enough to get more than one thing done. We have high hopes that they get a little better in the codex, just a tweak here or there and you’d see these all the time.


Sadly, these are probably gonna get phased out. They don’t have models, and likely won’t be in the codex. RIP.

Anyway, here’s hoping these bugs get a little loving come codex day, it’d be nice to see a bit more variety for the bugs. They’re beefy, but big bugs break when battered by billions,  and Horde armies are the kings and queens right now. So they need a little something.

Now to figure out where all of those sky slasher swarms slithered off to…in the meantime, how would you tweak the Tyranids? Think we missed a unit that needs fixing? Let us know below.

  • I’ve never even heard of Shrikes, yet I know someone who has the Red Terror.

    • Gullinbursti

      Winged Warriors is memory serves.

      • J Mad

        Yep, FW used to sell them but stopped like 5yrs ago.

  • DrLove42

    Everyone i know has dozens of Gargoyles for the infinite respawn Skyblight formation from Leviathan in 7th

  • Devourer

    I play tyranids for over 20 years now and I would like to see the flying tyrant go away too. It’s just not fluffy in my opinion. The Hive Tyrant should be a commander that does not fly around but stays with the troops and give the guidance of the hive mind to them.
    It feels just like a relic from the edition where everything could mutate.

    • swiftscythe

      i beg to differ – the tyrant should fly just as a demon prince should fly and watch his minions go forth in his name. Flight is an advantage that the tyrant has over say a lowly captain on a bike or company commander hiding inside a chimera. Wings give speed to a vulnerable walking monster esp since tyrants only have 10 wounds and will be targeted by a dozen lascannons per turn per game.

      • Steven Walter

        Agreed. Winged Tyrants are…incredibly fluffy.

        The hive mind will develope any strategy and advantage to pull through a conflict. And as for commanding your men, thats what having a gestalt psychic link to all your units is for <3

        • ReveredChaplainDrake

          *enemies run away from Hive Tyrant*

          Hive Mind: “Prey… retreating… Must… evolve… faster… Hive Tyrant.”

          *enemies shoot Hive Tyrant dead*

          Hive Mind: “No… Cannot… evolve… armored Hive Tyrant… Because… reasons.”

    • Heinz Fiction

      It has a cool model, so i’d like it to stay. They could however adapt to rules to the miniature und having the wings replace one pair of weapons. That way the walking tyrant has at least something going for him…

      • ReveredChaplainDrake

        The flying Tyrant has scything talons on its legs.

        The problem was that, for about three straight editions or so, Tyrants were best with Devourers, not any form of melee. So the idea for Flyrants to have a second weapon set on that particular hard point was always the intent.

        • Heinz Fiction

          Scytthing talons on the legs just never made sense, because when he is in close combat he is actually standing on those legs…

  • ReveredChaplainDrake

    The main thing holding Gargoyles back is that they don’t open up any detachment worth using except the Brigade, and Mucolid Spores unlock that detachment for far cheaper. And when Tyranids actually have strategems worth using, you can bet this will come up more as Tyranids have one of the cheapest Brigades out there at a mere 735 pts (3 Malanthropes, 3 Lictors, 18 Rippers, 3 Mucolid Spores, 3 Biovores). Gargoyles just don’t make the cut, nor are they good enough to even come close.

    Regarding the Tyrannofex… um… it *does* double-fire its main gun if stationary, just like Exocrines. Unfortunately for Tyrannofexes, Exocrines are both better and cheaper. Maybe if Tyrannofexes got the same +1 BS that Exocrines also got for sitting still, and if their Rupture Cannon actually got an AP worth using (like, say, the Earthshaker Cannon did), you might see them around. …Until you realize that you get far better anti-tank (and anti-infantry, for that matter) by hiring out some IG, and I think I’ve already made it abundantly clear how demoralizing and pathetic I think it is that the most competitive way to play Tyranids is to play IG instead.

    For other recommendations, Zoanthropes are pretty trash. Not that Smite isn’t cool, but it’s like GW forgot that Zoanthropes were an anti-tank unit. If they still were, we might not have such problems with anti-tank.

    • J Mad

      Yeah this is spot on.

  • Curtis Cunningham

    Would like to see another transport option in the new dex…