Codex Review: Tyranids HQ Units

Hello all, Shorereaper here. After a few months of playing the new Tyranid codex, I wanted to do a more in-depth review. I have managed to play quite a few games, and even managed to win a few. And frankly, Severus’s fantastic reviews of the Ork Codex were making my Tyranids a little jealous.

First, I feel that it should be said that the Parasite of Mortrex was removed completely from the codex. In fact, that was one of many models removed from the codex, even though it does still get a small mention. This was not an HQ I used in the older codex, so I don’t really morn it’s loss. The HQ section did gain Old One Eye and the Deathleaper, which makes the HQ section a little heavy. Odds are though, I wouldn’t take those two new options often, but I do want to give Old One Eye a fair shot.

I am going to start my coverage of the HQ units with the Tyranid Prime, which we have a nice new small model to represent it. For small games, this guy would be the way to go if you want a cheap unit on the table. The Prime has slightly better stats than the Tyranid Warrior, but I am not sure that it is worth the extra points. At 125 points, the prime is more expensive then 4 warriors (with no upgrades). However, if the Prime joins a unit of warriors, they can use his ballistic skill and weapons skill. That is not something to be ignored if you are fielding some of those warriors. A group of nine warriors with a BS of 4 and a weapon skill of 6 can do a lot of damage.

The Tervigon, big berther, the spawner. This monster beast has gone up in points, but brings with it six wounds, toughness six, and the ability to spawn up to 18 termagants in one turn (and then stop). It is still true that if you roll any doubles on 3D6, you can no longer spawn, but it usually doesn’t max out in the first turn. And spawning objective secured units can be helpful during the game. The fact that it is a level 1 psyker is not much of help, except that with the primus power, you can make the synapse rage 18 inches. The beast is best used sitting in the back spawning away. However, it is even better used as a troop option, parked on an objective, spawning even more objective holders.

Old One Eye, the former Heavy unit which is now located in the HQ section. You pay 220 points for a Carnifex on steroids. He comes with crushing claws, regeneration, and a tail to beat your opponents with. Any friendly model within twelve inches can use his for any morale and leadership tests. However, he only has leadership 8, so it will not be that much of an improvement. Successful to hit rolls in close combat (the only place you can make to hit rolls with One Eye) make one additional attack and do not generate further attacks. His warlord trait also confers feel no pain after he takes one or more wounds, although it only takes effect at the beginning of his next movement phase, so you cannot feel no pain the wounds suffered in the first round. So, Old One Eye has a 3+ Armor Save, 4+ regeneration (regains 1 wound at the end of each friendly turn on a 4+), and 5+ feel no pain. Even if an army targets him alone, he is going to be very hard to take out.

Another unit moved into the HQ section is the Deathleaper. Another cheap HQ unit that does not bring with it a synapse range. It is armed with Rending Claws, Scything Talons, and Flesh Hooks. Nothing really that spectacular. Some things of note are that it does not scatter when entering from deep strike, it has stealth, fear, fleet, move through cover, pheromone trail (units who deep strike within 6 inches of the model do not scatter, model must be on the board at the start of the turn). Another ability of the Deathleaper is that the player nominates an enemy character and rolls a D3. The character’s leadership is reduced by the result while the Deathleaper is alive. Also, enemy units targeting the Deathleaper can only fire snap shots at it.

Now we come to the unit that most Tyranid players take, the Hive Tyrant. I do not think I need to say that equipping the Tyrant with wings and Devourers (with brainleach worms) is the way to go. Ballistic skill of 4 means you will hit with your 12 shots slightly more than average. But wait! They are twin linked! So you are going to hit with most of your S6 shots. Plus, unless your opponent has anti-air, he is going to be hard to bring down.

Other upgrades include Hive Commander (Gives a troop selection outflank, I never take this), Indescribable Horror (Units taking a fear test must do so on 3D6, again I never take this), and Old Aversary (re-rolls all failed to hit and to wound rolls in close combat, again, I try to keep my tyrant out of close combat). I prefer to use my tryant as a flying shooty psyker (level 2). Plus, with his synapse range, you can give support to any unit that may need it. He functions very well as a rapid support HQ unit.

And now we move on to the staple of my army lists, The Swarmlord. He has gone up by a whopping five points. But with him you get a level 3 psyker who is amazing in close combat. He has a 3+ armor save and a 4+ invulnerable save (in close combat). His bone sabers cause instant death. Weapon skill of 9, Ballistic skill of 4 (like he ever shoots except with psychic powers), Initiative of 6, and 5 wounds make him a major concern. His warlord trait makes his synapse range 18 inches, covering a good portion of the board.

His Alien Cunning rule still gives you +1 to your reserve rolls (if he is so smart, why is it you must add?). He also gives you the ability to bestow Furious Charge, Monster Hunter, or Preferred Enemy onto his unit or a friendly unit with in 18 inches. However, they only gain that ability till the end of the turn (I have been playing that wrong, prepare for comments).  He also has a decent chance of getting Catalyst (Feel No Pain) and with Dominion; a player can increase the synapse rage up to 24 inches.

Of course, when we talk about the Hive Tyrant or the Swarm Lord, we have to discuss the Tyrant Guard Brood. The only job of these guys is to give your HT or Swarmlord more wounds. At 50 points a model, you gain two more T6, 3+ Armour saves to the unit they join, and since they automatically pass Look Out Sir rolls, they will be taking the wounds (most of the time). They can be upgraded with crushing claws or a lashwhip and bonesword at a cost of 20 points. You can also give them toxin sacs (gains poison) and Adrenal glands (Fleet and furious charge) but I never upgrade these guys. I spend 150 points to give my Swarmlord 6 more wounds, making him that much harder to kill. I also keep the brood an equal distance away from the swarmlord so that I can choose who takes the wound. And hopefully I can give them Feel No Pain with catalyst… if I can get it, and if it goes off.

As a closing remark, with the release of the Ork codex, I would not be surprised if somewhere down the line they moved the Swarmlord from an HQ slot to a Lord of War. That just seems to be the direction the GW wants to head towards. Would this be a good thing? I’m not sure. I do like the idea of a Swarmlord and two flying Hive Tyrants in one list, but that would be a lot of points tied up in three units. Since GW released Grazzy as a lord of war, I can see Chapter Masters moving into the slot, maybe some daemon princes, and Swarmy. It seems to be the way that GW wants us to go.

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