Today, we are going to look at the Troops of the Hive Fleets. There is a lot of good here, and really, there isn’t a stinker in the bunch.
Troops are the essential building block of an army, well, at least they were. While other armies that only have indexes do not have much reason to take troops, Tyranids do because ours are so good. Let’s take a look:
So our standard shooting infantry bug is mostly unchanged from 7th edition, which is not a bad thing at all. They are our cheapest infantry, and they pack a surprising punch at range with either a standard S4 assault 1 gun or you can double their points to pack a devourer for an 18 inch, S4, assault 3 rifle. Again, not much has changed for our little ones save for a generic rule that when there are 20 or more models, the unit can reroll wound rolls of 1. That is a nice boost that makes Devil-Gants more effective at clearing out T3 chaff units like Conscripts or Brimstones.
The real benefit to Termagants is that the rules of the game have changed, for the better. The change to assault weapons helps with the Termgants moving forward and still laying down some fire. This helps boost their movement of 6 as they can advance and still fire, albeit at 5+. With Trygons now allowing a full unit of 30 Termagants to pop up, 30 Devil-Gants is 90 shots into a unit, and with the change to reserves, so long as you stay more than 9 when you arrive, you can choose exactly where you need to go. That’s a lot of pin-point firepower, and Termagants are one of our best ways to deal with other hordes as they shoot well enough, and they are cheap enough to take a few units. When in doubt, you can even charge them in, and while they don’t fight well, absorbing 90 S4 shots is going to weaken most chaff units, and then another 30 S3 attacks could push them over the edge. They also have the chance to get upgraded for either +1 to advance/charge or an extra wound on a melee wound roll of 6.
The only downside is that Termagants are even squishier than before. With only a 6+ save and the change to cover, they cannot rely on the old 4+ cover save, even when plenty of other armies could ignore it. At best, your Termagant is going to get a 5+ save in cover, and that is not all that helpful. With the change in cover that the whole unit must be on or within, it can be hard to fit 30 Termgants in a single piece of terrain. They really need a Malanthrope or Venomthrope for the -1 to hit modifier to keep them safe as once they take a shot, they crumble fast. Such is life for a little bug, and as long as they do some damage before they die, they’ve done their duty.
88/100: A strong, B+ unit that does quite a bit of work. Either as a cheap tarpit or as a fully-loaded Devil-Gant unit, these little bugs have skills that pay bills, but don’t expect them to last too long to any real attention.
Hormagaunts received a decent change, and all in all, they are our best tarpit and screen. The big changes to Hormies is that they received a few new rules. First, when there are more than 20 in a unit, they reroll 1s to wound in melee, which is a nice incentive to take big units. This couples nicely with Scything Talons going back to the old rules where you can reroll 1s to hit, so Hormagaunts get a bit of number fixing, which helps them stretch out their attacks. The biggest change is their new Bounding Leap rule, which allows them to consolidate and pile-in 6 inches rather than 3. That’s huge.
Hormagaunts are our premier chaff unit because they are wickedly fast, faster than even Genestealers in some regards. With an 8 inch move, they are quick for infantry, but the 6 inch pile-in and consolidate, they can move as far as standard infantry, twice in the combat phase. Hormies reward careful positioning and tactical play. If you are canny, you can easily move a Hormie in the back of your swarm to well behind your opponent’s line as you do not need to move directly towards the nearest enemy, just end closer, and with 6 inches of movement, you can get real slippery. Hormagaunts are great for trapping enemy units from failing back by circling around and pinning a few models in place as if you can get two Hormagaunts on opposite ends base to base with an opposing model, there is no way they can move and thus the unit is pinned in place. Paired up with a Trygon and Adrenal Glands and a CP reroll, a unit of Hormies coming out of reserve has a decent chance of sticking the charge without using a Swarmlord. If you need a unit locked down, Hormies are the way to go.
The downside is much like Termgants, they die, and they die fast. Hormagaunts also do not actually do much damage. Rerolling 1s to hit and wound is nice, but with a WS of 4+ and only S3, they are not going to do much, even to chaff units. Especially with only 2 attacks each, Hormies are not going to do much damage, and with their 6+ save and T3, they are going to die fast. They won’t last too long against just about any attention, so really, you have to rely on them to simply tie up and lock down a unit for a turn, nothing more. You cannot expect them to actually do damage, and if you do, you’ll be disappointed.
80/100. Good overall unit that is an amazing tarpit, but their lack of durability and pop make them not quite as reliable as you may want.
Our littlest of little bugs are again mostly unchanged from 7th edition, and just like Termagants, this is a good thing. Their stats have stayed the same, and their overall points is also about the same. For under 35 points, you can get a minimum squad of 3, which if you are trying to farm CPs through several Battalions, this is not a bad way to go. With Mucolid spores no longer troops, Rippers are back as the go-to cheap troop tax.
There are some changes, the biggest being that Rippers just come with Deepstrike now rather than having to buy it as a separate upgrade. With the removal of Instant Death, these little bugs are a bit hardy for their points, and your opponent has to decide if sending any D3 or D6 damage weapons their way is actually worth it. For just about any army build other than a Swarm, Rippers make great Turn 3 objective grabbers or even as deployment stand-ins to sit and camp a backfield objective out of Line of Sight while a meaner prize sits in reserve. If you want to try and do a massive drop army, Rippers are a great way to fill out deployment requirements.
Of course, they are super squishy with only a 6+ save, and they are only WS/BS 5+. They won’t do much damage, and they won’t survive much attention, but then they are not really meant to. They are best kept out of the fight and holding an objective or at least helping to contest one. If you are expecting them to put in some work, you are betting on the wrong bug.
70/100. Passing, but that is because they fill one very specific niche. They are solid objective campers and mandatory troop choices if you want to stay cheap, but the best they can hope for in a game is to score you a maelstrom point or two.
Just like the Prime, the Tyranid Warrior is one of the more improved units in our Index, partly due to a points decrease and partly due to the change in game mechanics. With Instant Death gone, Warriors get far more mileage out of their 3 wounds, and their statline is pretty much unchanged. They fight well at WS 3+ and shoot about as well as Tyranids do with BS 4+. They can still die to a stray missile launcher, but then there is a 33% chance that a healthy Warrior will survive, and that is infinitely (literally) better than the chances in 7th edition.
The Warrior unit shines because of three factors (other than synapse, which is just gravy). First, they are highly customizable. With just stock Devourers, they pump out decent fire power, but they can upgrade to Deathspitters, which received a nice boost with the addition of -1 AP to it, so even 5 or 6 Warriors with Deathspitters does 15-18 heavy bolter shots, more than enough to threaten a lot of units. For every 3, you can get either a Barbed Strangler or a Venom Cannon, and typically, the Barbed Strangler is the way to go as it is more accurate against larger units, gets more shots on average, and the Venom Cannon doesn’t do enough damage, despite being S8. You can also load them up for combat with Bone Swords for -2 AP and an extra attack or even Rending Claws for -1 AP and the chance to go up to -3 AP. Second, they are cheaper now than before, and a totally naked Warrior unit with just double Scything Talons (for +1 attack and reroll 1s) is only 60 points, barely more than a naked Hormagaunt squad. A full unit of 9 popping up from a Tyrannocyte with either guns or just naked melee can actually be a serious threat, especially with the usual Swarmlord combo. Lastly, Warriors are one of our only units that gets a blanket buff from a character, the Prime, and a unit of Warriors shooting with Barbed Stranglers and Deathspitters is a decent fire-support unit, one that fights much better than our best shooting infantry, the Devil-Gant.
The downside to Warriors is that they are not that fast, even with Adrenal Glands, so they are often not going to be able to get up to the fight quickly, especially if they are shooting as well as with a BS 4+, you do not want that -1 penalty for advancing and shooting assault weapons. They lack a big, heavy hitting melee component, so they have to rely on volume of attacks, which is great against hordes, but not so much against anything T6 or above, especially anything T6 and with a 3+ or better save. They also can get expensive if you start upgrading like crazy, and then they become a prime target with weapons that do multiple damage. Again, this is a bit of anti-synergy (called Skornegy in Warmachine) as Warriors are typically best as cheap Synapse beacons for the first wave for the little bugs, but because they are multi-wound models, most weaponry that would be wasted on the little ones is going right to them. That said, if you take them with a lot of big nasties, then your opponent has to decide to either use those weapons against the big ones or against them.
85/100. Solid B and overall, highly overlooked. I think a lot of people discount Warriors because of how worthless they were in 7th, but I have a feeling that a Warrior heavy army could be a real sleeper.
What can be said that hasn’t already been said about Genestealers? They are hands down one of the best melee units in the game, and for damn good reason. As shock troops from a Trygon or Tyrannocyte to just bodies on the table, they are to be feared.
Let’s see why: For less points than before, they can advance and charge, are movement 8, and have a 5++. They also go up to 4 attacks when their squad is 10 or more, which means that 20 of these buggers pumps out 80 S4 AP -1 attacks that can go to AP -3, all that hit on a 3+. They can hit on 2+ with a Broodlord around, and if you give them Scything Talons, which are free, they can reroll 1s. It is pretty easy to get them to 80 rerolling 2+ to hit attacks. That’s about 77 hits on average dice. With the Swarmlord, you can easily do multiple waves of Genestealers that scurry across the board and crash into enemy ranks, likely shredding whatever they hit. With Catalyst up, they are also our most durable infantry unit with essentially 50% damage mitigation between the 5++ and the 5+ Feel No Pain roll. At T4, they are also harder to wound than our other little bugs, and let’s face it, one genestealer is definitely worth more than 3 naked Termagants. So yah, Genestalers are the Hive Mind’s meow.
What is bad about them? Well, nothing really. They aren’t exceedingly cheap, but they aren’t too expensive either. It isn’t hard to get at least one squad into a list if not two, and you could take 3 or 4 and still have points for plenty of other beasties. My only complaint is that I didn’t have enough before.
99/100. The best unit in our Index. They are just a hair away from being too good, but since they can’t fly, they aren’t super broken, just exceedingly good. Unless you are dedicated to Monster Mash, there isn’t a good reason to not at least take one squad of 20.
The Tyranid drop pod is a bit pricier now, but you cannot put a price on surprises, and the Tyrannocyte is still one of our best defensive and offensive pieces.
In terms of defense, the Tyrannocyte is a great way to both lower the number or drops in an army as well as ensure that a unit or monster gets to do something before it dies. Whether it’s a Swarmlord in a Pod or a Haruspex, being able to protect a big beastie for a turn or two is great. If you have a unit that you want to not be on the board, a Tyrannocyte is the way to go. On offense, a Tyrannocyte drops in a big threat. Whether it’s 20 genestealers, a Haruspex, or a squad of shooty warriors, you get to choose where one of your hits lands, and that can swing the game. The Tyrannocyte also can do a bit more damage than before with its simplified shooting, so even at BS 5+, having 15 S5 AP -1 shots or 5D6 S5 AP -1 shots is not bad. Let’s not forget that the Tyrannocyte can move, albeit slowly, so it can wander off on its own to camp an objective or even try to get deeper into the action. Really though, it is our only transport in the index, so it opens up a host of tactical plays.
The downside is the cost and counter-play. The Tyrannocyte is almost twice as expensive as before, so taking one is eating up points, and taking two is a significant investment. If you take 2 or more, you have to start wondering if just more bodies would be preferable rather than fewer. Just like all reserves, a Tyrannocyte can also lose some luster if an opponent is smart in their model placement, and it is not hard to deny them good landing spots. Lastly, the limit on 20 infantry just means that if you want the full 30 Devil-Gants, you have to take a Trygon. This isn’t necessarily a huge issue as 20 Devil-Gants in a Tyrannocyte is the budget version that still effective, but it means that Hormagaunts need to ride with a Trygon to be effective as they die too fast at 20.
90/100: The Tyrannocyte is a must-own model as it opens up so many plays and tactics, but just don’t go too crazy or you may run out of points to fill them.
Thanks as always, and next, I’ll be sauntering over to Elites and digging through there. If you’re not busy, why not stop by TFG Radio? If nothing else, suck up to us as we will be your judging staff at LVO, after all.
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