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40K Tactics: Tyranids – Termagants

11 Minute Read
May 11 2014
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Hey guys, Learn2Eel here from Imperator Guides and today we’re going to be studying the most basic and efficient soldiers in a Tyranid force, the scuttling Termagants!

These small gun-toting Tyranids have dropped in cost by a mere point but retained all of their previous efficiency, though they have received indirect debuffs through the Tervigon and Instinctive Behaviour changes. I hope you enjoy this article!

Termagants

Overview

Termagants are one of two choices to form the key building blocks to an effective Tyranid force, namely cheap Fearless horde units that are surprisingly mobile and cost effective. Their stats may be unimpressive, with threes almost across the board, but their incredibly low cost per model when combined with the effects of Synapse makes them some of the most useful Troops in the game. They strike at Initiative 4 in combat, albeit with only one attack each and Weapon Skill 3, making them weak melee fighters. However, as cheap units backed by Synapse, they all of a sudden become the game’s cheapest Fearless horde unit, able to hold up all kinds of enemy units in combat at will. They are also the only fodder Troops choice with a ranged attack, bring the Strength 4 AP5 Fleshborer that, aside from its 12″ range and Assault 1 profile, may as well be a half-ranged Bolter. They might only be Ballistic Skill 3, but the amount of shots such cheap models can put out, all of which ignore the armour of Imperial Guardsmen and Ork Boyz, is surprisingly nasty. Their Strength and Toughness of 3 is typical of a cheap horde unit, and while a 6+ armour save is inferior to that of a Guardsmen, their stronger shooting weapon – albeit with half the range – and easily accessed Fearless as opposed to paid for Stubborn makes them more easily utilized in large numbers.

With the changes to Instinctive Behaviour though, unlike Guardsmen who can be somewhat self reliant, Termagants are absolutely dependent on a nearby Synapse creature. With their below par Leadership 6 Termagants are likely to fail such tests, losing you control of the unit as a start and potentially leading to them falling off an objective. When you consider that Termagants are your cheap fodder scoring units that can easily hide behind cover on objectives, having a unit in your backfield suddenly run off the table and forfeit that objective can lose you the game. Like anything in a Tyranid army, Termagants are reliant on some form of synergy to be most effective. Though Tervigons aren’t really the best unit to pair up with them anymore, and Synapse unit from a baby-sitting Zoanthrope to an attached Tyranid Prime will be both integral and incredibly useful. Termagants evolve into one of the premier Fearless road-blocks in the game due to their crazily low cost per model once a Synapse creature comes within range, and using them to deter other light infantry with their ranged weapons is always viable. Termagants can even be given upgraded ranged weapons to bring more devastation, though at great cost; Devourers can mulch anything with a Toughness value of 7 or lower, though they double the cost of each Termagant per model. Unlike other infantry as well, Termagants have Move Through Cover, meaning there is little reason not to be utilizing terrain as they advance or remain static. An entire unit of Toughness 3 models with 5+ all the way up to 2+ cover saves – with the help of either Night Fighting or a Venomthrope – is incredibly difficult for most armies to shift, especially when many such broods can be fielded.

How to Equip Them

Termagants have several more options than their Hormagaunt cousins, something that is based entirely on the fact that they have ranged weapons. For Biomorphs, they have access to both Adrenal Glands and Toxin Sacs. The former I feel is the more valuable choice, giving Termagants both Fleet and Furious Charge, making it a more valuable purchase than for Hormagaunts. Toxin Sacs allow them to threaten Dark Eldar Talos’ all the way up to the Wraithknight, but with one attack each they aren’t as good here as they are for Hormagaunts with two attacks base each. This is of course why Toxin Sacs are slightly cheaper for Termagants than Hormagaunts, but nonetheless, I feel giving Termagants the capability to damage rear AV10 vehicles in combat as well as re-rolling their charge and run distances is more useful, especially for the same points cost.

Termagants also have their own little special weapon system, with one in ten able to take a strangleweb; a Strength 2 template weapons with the Pinning special rule. As nice as Pinning is, that it only activates at short ranges – where the Termagants are likely to charge the unit affected by the strangleweb – limits its usage. It won’t do too much damage with its lack of AP and pitiful Strength, and again, Pinning may be nice but when the Termagants are probably going to charge the affected unit, I don’t think it is really that useful. Pinning doesn’t affect Overwatch, for example, and it has to actually cause wounds to even force that Pinning test. It is thus not going to work on something like a Riptide, and is unlikely to affect a unit of Space Marines or other unit with a decent Leadership score and Toughness 4. That it can get a lot of hits as a template weapon is its saving grace, and something to remember is that Pinning down a unit so that it can’t charge in the subsequent turn – such as opposing Assault Marines, for example – with a Termagant brood can allow your own melee units to deal with a specific unit without interference. Stranglewebs are incredibly cheap upgrades, so there’s no fretting over taking one and having it not do much; they are cheap, they have a use. They aren’t really necessary, but they can help out.

The other ranged weapons have no limitation on the number per unit, and can be freely mixed and matched within a brood. Spinefists are the first option, a free weapon exchange that is effectively a Fleshborer with one less Strength and twin-linking for a Termagant with only one base attack. The reduction in Strength in exchange for re-rolls to hit is actually a decent trade with no cost, and something that I recommend if you prefer the look of the weapons. Against lower Toughness models and Toughness 6, the Spinefist wins out, and it is tied on damage output against commonplace Toughness 4 opponents. The Fleshborer has the capability to damage vehicles and the model itself can be recycled for use with Tervigons, so really, this all comes down to preference. Spike Rifles are another free weapon options, and one that – in modeling terms – is very rare to come by. It is Strength 3 like the Spinefist but lacks an AP value and the twin-linked, though it has an extra 6″ range – for 18″ total – to compensate. I’m not really a fan of these as having AP5 guns on your most basic fodder unit gives them a serious edge over the fodder units of other armies in a tug of war, while the loss of twin-linking isn’t really compensated by an extra 6″ of range, as nice as it is.

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The final weapon upgrade, and the most interesting by far, is the Devourer, a weapon that is part of the base equipment for Warriors. A Devourer doubles the cost of an otherwise stock Termagant model, but makes each Termagant identical to a Warrior for ranged damage output. Remembering that Warriors are almost four times the cost of a Termagant armed with a Devourer, this not only makes Termagants by far the more cost-effective ranged unit, but also arguably the most devastating in the codex against anything that isn’t Toughness 8 or a vehicle. Devourers not only combine the Strength 4 of a Fleshborer with the 18″ range of the Spike Rifle, but they have a whopping three shots each, tripling the rate of fire of every individual Termagant as opposed to every other weapon option. Essentially, Devourers triple the ranged damage output of Termagants, but make them twice as fragile per point. I think the incredibly low cost of Termagants and their speed with Move Through Cover shouldn’t be wasted, so with the ability to mix and match weapons in a unit, giving half or a third of the unit – say, ten out of thirty – Devourers and hiding them in the rear or middle of a unit is the best way to go. An entire unit armed with them will either be small to make up for the cost, or just too expensive for fragile Toughness 3 models that have lost access to Mycetic Spores. It is a testament to the effectiveness of Devourers – the points reduction helps – that they still remain perfectly viable despite the removal of a guaranteed, safe Deep Strike option.

Where to Put Them

As your fodder units, Termagants are one of few you can deploy in the open and care little for the ramifications. They are a cheap Fearless horde unit that, when spaced out 2″ per model – just make sure to move them quickly in bunches then use rough space out measurements to minimize the time taken to move them – aren’t as vulnerable to blast and template weapons as you would think. If they get intervening cover from, say, a Tyrannofex, or if they move into terrain where they are barely slowed due to Move Through Cover, they become difficult to shift very quickly. Plague Zombies are testimony to this, with only short-ranged Space Marine builds or those packing Thunderfire Cannons, massed Wave Serpents or common Tau really able to destroy such units with ease. Pack in nearby Venomthropes and the unit starts to become almost as survivable as Space Marines and, in some cases, even more so – such as against Riptides with Ion Accelerators that ignore all armour and your Toughness value if it is below seven. In any case, Termagants are a unit where you can afford to lose models; that is the reason you employ them. It is not for their mediocre or low damage output or their slightly above average mobility in terrain, but their inexpensive nature and how many you can field.

Use them to bubble-wrap – surround a unit with individually spaced Termagant models so that no charges, particularly from flying monstrous creatures, are possible to the designated unit – Synapse creatures like Hive Tyrants with Tyrant Guard, or those vulnerable in combat such as Exocrines and Tyrannofexes. Deter drop pods and reserves by spreading your Termagants out further to cover as much space as possible around your monsters and Synapse creatures, preventing the typical short ranged weapons carried by such units from destroying those units. Deploy Termagants within Synapse range at all times, and keep more than one within at least 18″ in case the closest Synapse unit is eliminated. Declare charges at units first with Termagants to potentially eat up Overwatch so the other more valuable units are left untouched. Use Termagants to surround vehicles, but not charge, allowing a model such as a Carnifex to move in and hopefully wreck it, surrounding and instantly destroying the embarked unit with the lack of space to place models. Make sure to keep Termagants away from a Tervigon at all times – armies such as Eldar or Imperial Guard are easily capable of killing one in a single shooting phase – as you don’t want to risk losing models to its ‘explosion’ unnecessarily. Don’t be afraid to charge Termagants by themselves as long as they are in Synapse range; try to charge units such as Wraithknights or Riptides, if luck chances that they are nearby, and merely hold them up so that they can’t devastate your forces in shooting. The Fearless special rule conferred by Synapse allows large broods of Termagants to hold down such destructive monsters for extended periods of time, usually for at least two or more game turns with a fifteen strong brood.

Best Uses

I see the best uses of Termagants firstly as a thirty-strong brood to unlock one Tervigon as a Troops choice for games between 1000 to 1850 points. Larger games favour the use of more Tervigons in the Troops slots due to the extra firepower, and thus the need for more scoring units, though regular game sizes favour only one due to the high cost of a Tervigon. The thirty-strong Termagant brood(s) you use can either be left bare to keep points spent on your Troop slot low, or they can be given a mix of Devourers – preferably ten to fifteen in a thirty strong unit – to give them some really nasty extra shooting. I recommend spinefists for the twin-linked shooting for the most part, but fleshborers may be the better “utility” choice with the ability to glance AV10 vehicle armour; either choice is fine, realistically. From there, I like using medium sized broods of Termagants, around fifteen to twenty models, as cheap but sizable scoring units. These units take up less than a hundred points each and are well worth the extra investment, though the need for more than one or two is low once a Tervigon is factored in.

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If you aren’t a fan of the Tervigon, then I recommend taking three to four of these medium sized broods. This is so that each unit doesn’t suffer so much from Instinctive Behaviour or a lack of Synapse once in combat as they would in larger sizes. From there, twenty models strong is still high and will give you lots of scoring bodies and ablative wounds for objective camping. You will want Termagants in all the roles detailed above; surrounding your own monstrous creatures to prevent mobile assault units or ranged reserve units from having free reign to target them; using them to encircle loaded transports so that wrecked results lead to “free” casualties, and; charging dangerous units so that they have to slog through your cheap Fearless horde units before they can actually do any real damage to your army.

Recommended Builds

These are a few example builds for the unit that I feel can fit into a number of competitive Tyranid lists. I’ll list some thoughts on each build and what kind of lists they fit better in.

Termagants (30) – This is your generic scoring Tervigon unlock unit; they are a massive brood of cheap and very cost effective Termagants, surprisingly nasty in combat and shooting against other light infantry.

Termagants (20) – Ten Devourers – Like the unit above, this is a nice and large unit, but one that trades extra models for seriously upgraded firepower. Mixing and matching weapons within Tyranid broods allow you to hide the valuable Devourers behind Fleshborer Termagants. They are nasty in shooting against other infantry and can charge after unleashing a salvo to finish units off.

The Skittering Horde

Even after the destruction of the Hive Fleet and the death of its Norn Queen, the presence of the Swarm is rarely ever truly purged from a planet. Hormagaunts forage in mindless hunting packs for food, while Genestealers prey on the unwary as they try to spread their infestation to other worlds. But lurking deep in the caves and ravines, hidden from any enemy presence, are broods of Termagants. Driven by instinct to hide and survive, Termagants will attack only when discovered and retreat at every possibility. Though this basic survival instinct disappears once they are under the control of a Synapse creature, it is nonetheless integral to how they fight. They do not charge blindly to their deaths, instead staying at range and fighting defensively. With their ranged weapon adaptations, they make the logical defenders of more important creatures in a Swarm, able to assail and harass before meeting the foe in combat. But when driven forward by their leader beast, the Termagants are every bit as frightening as their Hormagaunt counterparts, scuttling over obstacles with unnatural speed and firing multiple deadly salvos into their foes just as they clash.

Thank you for reading this thankfully far shorter article covering the various uses of the little devils that could. How have your Termagants performed as the swarming fodder of your Tyranid force?

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