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Tyranid Evolution

7 Minute Read
Mar 11 2012

I’ve been playing my Tyranid army for over 6 months now and my 2000 point list has slowly evolved with several major modifications. Most of the changes have come about due to lessons learned during playtesting — a few modifications came about through constructive feedback from other avid Tyranid players. I still believe that my brand of Tyranids can beat the top armies – Grey Knights, Imperial Guard and Space Wolves. Grey Knights are still the biggest challenge by far but I still have a solid track record versus the silver Marines — often these games come down to the last turn and are often decided on the roll of one dice. There is a new threat emerging upon the horizon — the Necron menace. I have not played a single game yet versus Necrons but my feeling is that the mobility and superior melee of the Tyranids are both major advantages — enough so that I’m not really worried at this point. Sure that’s easy to say without having actually played against them but on the other hand I’ve read plenty of batreps and I’m aware of what they can do and what are the more prevalent builds… Knowledge is power.

Here is a list of the core units I’ve stuck with since the very beginning… There have been some slight changes but overall these units haven’t changed much at all in terms of how I kit them.

Alpha Warrior:
— Bone Sword + Lash Whip
— Scything Talons
— Adrenal Glands
— Regeneration

The Tyranid Prime is most often my go to HQ and does lots of heavy lifting — providing synapse for my fire base and leading counter assaults versus enemy units that break towards my forward line. Time and time again the Tyranid Prime has finished off tough dedicated enemy melee units with a little support when needed. His independent character status makes him easy to hide in any brood and that keeps him alive for when I need him to wreck havoc. The Alpha Warrior is definitely a super beast !!

Rating: A+

3x Warrior:
— Bone Swords + Lash Whips
— Toxin Sacs
— 2x Deathspitter
— Barbed Strangler

This brood is by far and has always been one of my favorite units. They might not seem like much on paper but boy do they ever pack a wicked punch in melee… In fact I’ve had several SM players tell me they are just plain evil. They are a fantastic unit for killing just about anything in melee due to the combination of a high weapon skill (WS5), relatively large number of attacks with power weapon equivalents that are poisoned plus they are multi-wound (3 wounds apiece) creatures. Their only major weakness is versus high strength weapons that can insta-gib them. The optimal configuration is to run them with the Alpha Warrior attached so they can benefit from his higher WS and BS. They also provide synapse — you can never have enough synapse as far as I’m concerned and I think other competitive Tyranid players are beginning to realize why this can be so important. Conventional wisdom on the Internet says they are mostly rubbish but often for me they end up doing great things and help me win. They are another keeper for sure. They also provide some anti-infantry firepower and it can help — in particular the barbed strangler has been quite awesome for me.

I’d be inclined to run them as Shrikes but then they would no longer be a scoring unit, slightly higher cost and it would then be pointless to attach the Alpha Warrior. To me the Warrior brood is the semi-equivalent of a tactical terminator (at least how I run mine).

I am currently fielding a Tyrant with Hive Commander so there is also the option to run the Warriors solo and outflank them — it’s not something I do often but there are those times when it’s useful.

Rating: A-/B+


15x Termagant:
— Devourers
— Mycetic Spore

This is a versatile unit as they drop in and do some serious damage versus enemy units such as Grey Hunters when I can catch them out in the open. They are also quite good when used as a large brood to hold an objective — so they are indeed a multi-purpose brood. Sometimes I’ll even throw them into an assault if I need more bodies to quickly finish an emeny unit such as a five man Strike squad.

Rating: B

14x Genestealer incl. Broodlord:
— Scything Talons & Toxin Sacs

8x Genestealer

These are two of my shock troops. Typically they do well and can sometimes last throughout the game to hold an objective. Like I said they are shock troops obviously providing the most benefit in melee. I tended to outflank them a lot throughout the majority of my games with the Tyranids but I’ve recently started to infiltrate either one or both broods and I’ve found this can work well if they have other friendly closeby in support. The combination of scytal (scything talons) and poison (toxin sacs) for the big brood plus the Broodlord often puts them over the top in assaults versus enemy dedicated melee units. Recently in a very close game they managed to take down the Khan and a big squad of assault terminators and in another game versus Purifier spam they took down a Nemesis Dread Knight. Scytal plus poison greatly increases the number of rends — I wish I had the points left over to equip the smaller brood as such. Again conventional Internet wisdom tells us to leave the Broodlords back on the Hive Ships but mine has been a real beast – higher weapon skill, higher strength, higher toughness, higher initiative, three wounds and a better armor save tends to often pay off.

Rating: A


8x Yrmgarl Genestealer

Another shock unit par none! I used to run a full brood but have recently cut back as per a suggestion from the Hyv3mynd. Eight is enough to get the job done and saves some points that can go elsewhere. It’s very powerful to have a dedicated melee unit that can come in from anywhere – you decide where to secretly deploy them in reserve after your opponent has deployed their army… It’s brilliant. Recently I charged a squad of Grey Hunters in a ruin that had been shot up by my termagants, popped the +1T mutatation to increase their survivability then popped +1A the next turn to finish off the Grey Hunters — the next turn they climbed a level up and assaulted a squad of Long Fangs popping +1T again… Rinse and repeat.

Rating: A

3x Zoanthrope
— Mycetic Spore

This brood is my ace versus landraiders and of course they are quite good at popping other vehicles as well. I originally started off with only a pair but have added a third Zoie to increase their odds versus Grey Knights. They most often come in from reserve alone and isolated from the rest of my army but that’s the price you must be willing to pay if you really want to target landraiders and other vehicles with high armor facing values. As such they often are destroyed along with their spore but if they can inflict some critical damage it pays off. This brood can also drop the S5 AP3 small blast and as such they are also good at soaking power armor. I could drop them for another Hive Guard brood but like I said I think it’s important to have at least one dedicated unit that can fairly reliably pop open landraiders at range.

Rating: B

At first I always ran a pair of Trygon Primes then I dropped one to include another monstrous creature. Just recently I dropped the second one as well to include yet another monstrous creature. Trygons are amazing in melee but I have found I am doing better now overall by fielding other monstrous creatures that provide superior ranged anti tank firepower. I really love my Trygons… Oh well they were fun.

Gone also are the Hormagaunts I used to run as a posse for my Alpha Warrior. They were also a great unit when used in tandem with the Tyranid Prime but these points have allowed me to run a third brood of genestealers (see above) so I still have four scoring units plus now I have the option to attach the Prime with my Warriors which is a better combination.

The two units I’ve added are a brood of three Hive Guard and one Tyrannofex (rupture cannon, wound on 2+ template and Adrenal Glands). Both these units provide excellent long range anti tank firepower and with the recent change to the Tyranid FAQ the Hive Guard are even better now. I have also added a Hive Tyrant (wings, twin linked devourer with brainleech ammo, bone sword and lash whip, adrenal glands, Hive Commander, paroxsym and Life Leech)… I want to find the points to add Ancient Adversary as well. The Tyrant is a force multiplier for the army — improving my reserves, adding some more ranged firepower plus he is another melee monster. With only four wounds that is a liability but he is still a solid choice. I rate the Tyrant at A+ and the Tyrannofex at B+.


The addition of these new units has greatly changed the dynamics of my army — instead of always fielding a purely reserved army often now I start with several units on the table — especially if there is some LOS blocking terrain to hide them. I’m still protected and it prevents my opponents from spreading out as much plus I still have some units held in reserve such as the termagants and Zoanthropes. I play more defensively now probing the enemy to find a chink in their proverbial armor I can exploit.

My Tyranid army has slowly evolved over the period of six months. I have more ranged anti tank firepower without being detrimental to my melee. I don’t really see the army changing much now and look forward to bringing them to some GTs this year.

  • 40K: Fully Reserved Tyranids versus Mechanized Imperial Guard