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40K: Tyranid Tactics

6 Minute Read
Nov 12 2017

Alright, the Tyranid Codex is out and that means there’re bugs everywhere. Let’s talk tactics for dealing with them.

The Tyranid Codex is here and bugs are back. Whether Winged Hive Tyrants swooping in with their monstrous scything talons and devourers with brainleech worms, or Carnifexes loaded for bear with their devourers with brainleech worms, or gaunts loaded down with devourers–odds are real good you’ll be facing down a bucket of dice being thrown at you in the future. But that’s where this article comes in. We’re going to go through the most effective ways of dealing with a given threat, and little by little we’ll all become masters of the game.

Let’s do this.

Winged Hive Tyrant

Alright. This one’s tough to deal with… you’ve got an incredibly fast move speed, and it can set up to deep strike near whatever it needs to in order to bring its monstrous weapons to bear against your army. A flyrant armed with devourers with brainleech worms and monstrous scything talons can quickly eat up a flank, pumping out 12 strength six shots with the Flyrant’s excellent skill, and following that up with a charge that is absolutely devastating should it get in. And odds are good it might be a warlord, rolling up on your flank. However, there are a few obvious weaknesses here.

Pity. This one’s a pretty good tactic. While your opponent is setting their Flyrant down, do your best to look pathetic. Make yourself seem physically smaller. If you can cry on command, let tears well up in your eyes. Try and get your voice to move up half an octave as you talk about how the Flyrant is a combatant that you’re not sure your army can defeat. Talk a little about how you need to win this game so you can get in the tournament and win the prize for that operation you desperately need and you’re on the right track.

But this only works if there’s just the one Flyrant. An opponent running multiple Flyrants, especially beat up ones that have been around a while, is a cruel, heartless sociopath and pity will only play into their hands. That’s when you need to use their tendencies against them. They will doubtless delight in the expressions of pitiable weakness that you make as they set their models down–so play it up as before, but then, as soon as they’re distracted trying to figure out where to put their second, third, and probably fourth Flyrants, move the objectives so that they’re on the other side of the table and underneath your troop choices (which, let’s be honest, what are you doing bringing troop choices to a game? What do you think this is, one of those editions where you need minimum troop choices?) — then just keep your opponent distracted with your pleas for mercy as they destroy whatever flank they’ve rolled up on.



Carnifexes are back in a big way in this edition. Which means that you’ll doubtless see them on the table when Tyranids come to Town. And what’s not to love? They are already pretty beefy bugs and they can be upgraded to carry a variety of weapons, as well as given some wargear that makes them better shots, harder to hit, deadlier in close combat, and basically unstoppable. There are a few classic variants, like the Dakkafex, which takes four devourers and spits out 24 shots at anything within 18″. And that’s per model, so you’ll likely be facing down an entire business week’s worth of shots in a single volley. So if you’re eager to whether a volley of fire that exceeds both the number of models in your army AND the number of shots you can put out from about half your opponent’s army, then settle in for some good times.

If, however, you want to counter this chicanery, we’ve got the perfect strategy for you. Prevarication. Nothing super elaborate, but if you’re facing down an opponent who brings more than three carnifexes, they’re probably an old school Tyranid player, which means that they spent their time collecting those models and not caring about how the rest of the game works. This is true because Tyranid players are notoriously self-interested. So when it comes time for you to return fire, just make up some rules-sounding words about why you have just as many shots as your opponent does. It’s not cheating if it makes the game symmetrical. And the Tyranid player will think that sounds about right–they’re used to their armies being about the same or worse than everyone else’s.

If your opponent insists on either seeing your rulebook, or that they know what they’re talking about, then while they’re getting out their next fist full of dice to roll, slide your models backwards so they’re just slightly out of range.


Haruspexes can be a nightmare in close combat. With an all-consuming maw, shoveling claws that help them load up on infantry models like they were trying to win a hot-wings eating contest, and the ability to regain wounds every time it kills something in melee, the Haruspex can be difficult to deal with. Now, you might read some strategies about how the proper thing to do is to shoot them before they get into close combat, but this is a waste of firepower and will only guarantee you get charged by the Carnifexes, Hive Tyrants, or Genestealers (see below). So instead what you want to do is let the Haruspex charge into one of your units.

Then use sleight of hand. Every time you need to pick up a model, simply use your dextrous hands to palm a model and slip it in near the back. This is especially good if you have a big horde unit of conscripts or bloodletters or chaos cultists or whatever cheap terrible infantry you want. Now you might feel bad about doing this–but the Tyranid player will love that their Haruspex is actually getting to kill and eat models, instead of being shot off the table, and will in fact be so grateful that they’ll just let the fight continue forever while you win the game. Everyone goes home happy.

Genestealers w/Ravener/Trygon/Mawloc


In the latest Codex, the Tyranids have a number of ways to deep strike a brood of Genestealers in wherever they want. Whether in the native abilities of one of their bugs, or through the use of stratagems that lets them accompany a burrowing ravener, for instance. This guarantees that the Genestealers will be at or near full strength when they charge your unit that you really didn’t want getting eaten. And with their claws and the support of a nearby Broodlord, they’ll be absolutely devastating. Fortunately there is an easy solution to this menace.

Flip the table.

Now that you know how to combat some of the deadliest threats in the Tyranid Codex, you’re ready to get out there and win so you can finally get that operation you so desperately need.

Be sure and share your favorite tactic for victory in the comments, we’re always looking to expand our arsenal of tried and true tournament tactics to help us gain a competitive edge.

Author: J.R. Zambrano
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