40K: Ranking The Hive Fleet Adaptations

The Tyranid Hive’s Adaptations are wide and varied – Here is how we think they stacked up!

With seven new Hive Fleet adaptations to choose from it’s a lot to chew on. We’ve been mulling this over and we’ve come up with our ranks from Worst (7) to Best (1). Now, a couple of caveats:

  • We’re only looking at the Adaptations and trying not to include combos or other Hive Fleet Specific abilities. We are looking at how they work with general principles in the Tyranid Army (Big Bugs vs Little bugs as an example).
  • We actually think they are ALL really viable. For the first time in a long time, you can build different Tyranid lists and actually have something that caters to your playstyle – so we’re keeping these really high level and not getting to granular. For example, Kronos is ranked MUCH higher if you decided to focus on only shooty, long range Tyranids – so we tried not to do that and keep this list generic.

Now, let’s dive in to the digestion pools and …Oh wait, no! That’s a terrible analogy! Let’s just get started.



#7 Leviathan: Synaptic Imperative

Well someone had to be last place and Leviathan, you’re it. The big reason is because it’s very conditional. If the range was simply “within Synapse” then it would be pretty amazing as it just makes your whole army (pretty much) 16% tougher. However, because you have to be within 6″ of friendly Synapse unit it’s kind of a let down. Still, your Big HQ’s are going to get the benefit – but that’s what Catalyst is for anyways.


#6 Kronos: Bio-Barrage

I can make a shooty Nid army and on paper this one got me pretty excited. Then I remember for most of my big, deadly shooting attacks I need to be within 18″ for them to really do their thing. I guess if you wanted to build an army of all Tyrannofexes and Exocrines then you could really take advantage of this one – but if you want to move up and shoot then this one is counter-intuitive to those plans.

#5 Gorgon: Adaptive Toxins

Gorgon’s ability isn’t bad at all – it’s just that the others are better. Re-rolling 1’s to wound in the Fight phase is really powerful because nothing is worse than finally getting across the board, hitting with a ton of attacks and then completely whiffing on the wound rolls. This really does help to even out that curve. At the same time, it’s just re-rolling 1s to wound. It would be TOO good if it was re-roll all failed to-wound rolls. But because there was technically something better, we had to rank it at #5.

#4 Hydra: Swarming Instincts

Honestly, we went back and forth between Hyrda and Gorgon’s adaptations because while re-rolling ALL failed hit rolls in the Fight phase is strong, you DO have the condition that you have to outnumber your victim target unit. That means you’re really susceptible to a bad round of Overwatch or battles of attrition. You might start with a 20 man Hormagant squad, but by the time they make it into combat, if there are only 10 of them I hope you have a back-up plan. It also doesn’t help the Big-Bugs in combat at all. So maybe we should have swapped Gorgon and Hydra…Nope. I’ve gone to far and can’t delete it or edit it later.

#3 Behemoth: Hyper-Aggression

Re-roll failed charge rolls for all your Behemoth units. YES. This is fantastic! I think if you really wanted to maximize this one, you’d build an army around ‘Podding stuff in with Spores or using the Trygon to tunnel in with extra units. The only reason this isn’t higher is because you have to re-roll all the dice – you can’t just pick one or both. But that’s what Command Points are for!

#2 Kraken: Questing Tendrils

Kraken comes in at #2 – the first part of the ability is good and all. Roll 3 dice, pick the highest for an advance is cool. But really it’s that Fall Back and charge in the same turn that rocks! That means for those battles of attrition, you’re going to get to charge (and strike first) or get your other charging bonuses. The down side (and the reason it’s not #1) is because you’re still subject to Overwatch when you charge back in.

#1 Jormungandr: Tunnel Networks

Jormungandr comes out at #1 for the simple reason that it’s AMAZING. Look – Carnifexes with a +2 save, T7, 8 wounds, and a -1 to be shot are going to come plowing at you. That’s a fact and I hope you’re ready to deal with it. They might be close combat, they might bring the dakka. I don’t know for sure, but I do know that the -1 to be hit is going to add up as well as the +2 save will assist with the Anti-tank rounds. Or what about the Tyrants who can march up with that +2 save as well. On the flip side, it makes your Gaunts actually GET a meaningful save. You can combo that with Venomthropes for the little guys to get that -1 to be shot as well. Do you really want to waste shots at the little guys or are you going to waste shots on the big guys. There are no good choices for your opponent and that’s why Jormungandr is #1.

It’s also the most fun to say. “Release the Kraken” comes in a close second.


What do you think of our rankings? Agree? Disagree? Let us know how you stack them in the comments below!

  • Andrew O’Brien

    I appreciate the general review, but I would have liked to see a review of these assuming you are using the one taking advantage of your play style and how strong that play style hive fleet would be.

    • Red_Five_Standing_By

      Hard to say without the codex but, typically, the Chapter/Legion/Craftword/Fleet trait with a strong “always on” defensive buff is usually the most competitive, all things being equal.

  • Heinz Fiction

    Jormu is good for shooty tyranids, not so much for assault heavy lists as the cover bonus fades when you advance. But together with it’s subterran aussault stratagem it will be a great combined arms hive fleet, I think

  • I_am_Alpharius

    Seems like is another case of all the Adaptation being applicable (as the article points out) depending on the way you design your army to work. Which is, much like, all Army Abilities in the Codices that have been published so far. I think, what separates the Tyranid Adaptations apart is that combining 2/3 Adaptations in different detactments could be advantageous, and potentially very dangerous to face.

    • Randy Randalman

      I agree. This will be an army that can do packages with an adaptation for a shooty Detachment, another for a tanky Detachment, and a third for a running-up-the-field-into-combat Detachment.

  • Davis Centis

    Step #1 – Charge.
    Step #2 – Surround a model that won’t be killed, like a Rhino, even if you didn’t charge it.
    Step #3 – Don’t get shot during enemy during shooting phase.
    Step #4 – Walk away and repeat somewhere else.
    Step #5 – Profit!

  • Bootneck

    Its all rock paper scissors just on a grander scale.

    If a shooty list comes up some fast melee list you might already have lost.

    Some good chapter tactics for nids which aren’t clones of the others like we have seen.

  • Rob brown

    I think jormun is dependent on how much scenery you play with normally if you find it easy keeping a snooty army in cover it won’t have much effect.

    I’d also add that Kronos has advantages for biovores, hive guard, and termies once you’ve got them into that sweet 18” range and want to stay there.

  • Jerin Price

    Hmm what do we think? Does Jormu lose the bonus for DECLARING a charge, or actually COMPLETING the charge?

    It greatly affects the power level of say a tunnel or pod list.

    • Rush Darling

      Step one of the charge phase is titled “Choose unit to charge with”, so personally I’d assume that any unit that attempts a charge can be reasonably considered as having “charged”. Interesting point though.

      • Larry Oliver Jr.

        If that’s the case, then units that failed to reach the enemy may still be activated in the fight phase since they would have been considered to have ‘charged’. I don’t think that’s correct.

        • Rush Darling

          Excellent point. Opens up a can of worms though doesn’t it. Under the “Make Charge Move” section it mentions failed charges: “If this is impossible, the charge fails and no models in the charging unit move this phase”. If it simply said unit instead of charging unit then I wouldn’t have a problem, but referring to it as a charging unit in spite of the failure strongly implies that it’s considered to have charged, but as you’ve mentioned that causes all kinds of craziness in the Fight Phase.

          Bar any FAQs, I think I’m with you on this one.

  • Drpx

    And suddenly, Imperial Fists and Salamanders aren’t so bottom tier anymore.

    • MarcoT

      Salamanders? If you’re referring the ignoring cover benefit, I think you mean Imperial Fists and Iron Warriors.

      • Drpx

        Flamers autohitting with boosted wound rolls.

  • Sure

    I think Jormangundr is useless. Probably because I play Iron Warriors with their useless “ignore cover” legion trait.

    • Marcus Clark

      useless except if your in a city fight or have lots of terrain for things to hide behind.

      • Sure

        Just poking fun at prior ratings.

  • Apocryphus

    I just love Kraken. Yes, overwatch can get you on the re-charge, but I see it as a way to quickly and effectively tie up the enemy in melee. With some “deep striking” units showing up and charging into units to soak up overwatch, gaunts and stealers can freely roam between combats, applying themselves where ever needed.

    Joyfully, it devours! 😀

  • Tshiva keln

    You can’t use cps to reroll one die from a charge. It still rerolls both as they form the roll together. Gw FAQed this.

    • Khelban Blackstaff

      This debate still rages on. So many people, including Youtube groups like Miniwargaming and Tabletop Tactics use the reroll one dice. So confused. Which is the correcf way? The Faq is very vague. Does anyone know the correct solution? Thanks in advance!

      • Tshiva keln

        The FAQ couldn’t be less vague so it’s odd about those groups. Here is a copy:

        Page 178 – Re-rolls
        Change this paragraph to read:
        ‘Some rules allow you to re-roll a dice roll, which means
        you get to roll some or all of the dice again. If a rule
        allows you to re-roll a result that was made by adding
        several dice together (e.g. 2D6, 3D6, etc.) then, unless
        otherwise stated, you must roll all of those dice again.
        You can never re-roll a dice more than once, and re-rolls
        happen before modifiers (if any) are applied.’

        Hope that helps.

        • Larry Oliver Jr.

          The problem is the strategem says you can reroll a die. It does not say to reroll the ‘result’. That erreta says ‘If a rule allows you to re-roll a result..’. Well the strategem never uses the word result so that’s why people still reroll 1 die.

  • David Clift

    It can be a real struggle to keep larger units/horde army’s in cover.