Yes that title is a bit of a mouthful, but we're Tyranid players, so we're OK with that right?
Today we'll be talking about the rest of the non-unit options that we haven't covered already, which are the best and worst, and how we might rate them for competitive play. There's a lot of cool stuff in the Tyranid book and I think that Games Workshop have done a great job of capturing the feel of the army as well as giving us the options that we want to play the game. But which are the real gems and which are best left for fun games? Let's take a look!
The Ymgarl Factor - C
Randomly gaining a point of something in combat is not stunning but it is useful. As I've already mentioned, Tyranids have an issue with strength and pushing your melee Hive Tyrant to 7 is a useful thing to be able to do. Failing that, +1 attack is also never a bad thing, so the only thing we're really not wanting to roll is +1T, but if we're playing against another melee army even this can have its uses. Not the best pick, but one of the few generic picks that doesn't require you to have a certain weapon to use it and hence worth considering on occasion, especially if you're using a Warlord that doesn't have access to the weapon-based artefacts but still likes to melee, such as a Broodlord.
The Reaper of Obliterax - C
Lash Whip & Monstrous Boneswords are not the best choice for your Hive Tyrants - the only model that would likely make use of this artefact - that honour instead going to Monstrous Scytals or Rending Claws depending on your build, so this artefact doesn't get as good a rating as it might. If you are using LW&MB anyway though, this artefact is actually pretty good. Hitting for 6 damage is nothing to be sneezed at. So this question is, does this artefact give you a reason to run LW&MB? I think that the answer is no, but depending on what other artefacts your Hive Fleet has access to and wants to use, there is certainly an option to use the Reaper.
The Maw-Claws of Thyrax - C
If you're running a Hive Tyrant with the ever-popular, completely free, Monstrous Rending Claws, then you could do worse than to take these. Though the Tyrant has a 2+ in melee, he does degrade and therefore you can get some use out of this. It also works on a Broodlord of course.
The drawback of having to kill something first makes this a bit awkward, though. Delayed action effects are never ideal, especially since you'll likely want these guys going after bigger things that they may not kill in a single round of combat which could cause you to miss out on the buff until later in the game.
...is what we might be saying if this artefact had a point
The Norn Crown - D
With the improvements to synapse range and the fact that are synapse creatures are so great now that you'll likely be taking plenty of them anyway, I don't think that this really has a place. Given the new, less problematic Instinctive Behaviour rules on top, I don't see a need to ever take this over something more impactful.
The Miasma Cannon - A
Heavy Venom Cannons are a really great weapon post-Codex, as we're going to talk about shortly. A lot of people wrote the Miasma Cannon off because of its 8" range on autohits, but auto-hitting is very strong; a winged flyrant can spend most of the game after his deepstrike within 8" of his targets once screens are cleared, and especially once his BS starts to degrade this ability is really nice. Wounding infantry on a 2+ is gravy on top if you happen to come across T5 units such as Plague Marines, Aggressors or Bikers which you'd normally wound on a 3. A great pick if you have a HVC flyrant in your list, probably the second best relic in the book, and honestly one of the better relics we've seen in any book so far.
And ranking the fleet-specific artefacts that we reviewed already:
Scythes of Tyran - B
Chameleonic Mutation - S
Hyper-Adaptive Biology - C
Slayer Sabres - D
Slimer Maggot Infestation - B
Balethorn Cannon - C
Infrasonic Roar - D
Relics and Artefacts throughout all of the codexes that we've seen so far tend to be not hugely impactful, though there are a few standouts such as the Astra Militarum flanking dagger and our own Kraken's Chameleonic Mutation. Overall I don't think that Tyranids come out in a bad spot here, actually I think we've done reasonably well out of our artefacts - artefacts in general just tend to be not hugely impactful.
Alien Cunning - B
There's some disagreement as to how this trait works with things that can deepstrike. The question revolves around whether you can take a unit such as a Flyrant who is on the board, and redeploy him into reserves. I believe that that's legal, since the trait doesn't actually specify any deployment rules and since it presumably doesn't let us deploy anywhere on the table that we want to deploy, it wants us to follow normal deployment rules instead, which would include either being in your legal deployment zone, or setting up in reserves. That being the case, this is kind of cool; you can deploy your flyrant on the board, and if you lose the roll for first turn, move him to reserves instead.
Outside of Flyrants, this also has some uses. It comes as the Swarmlord's mandatory Warlord trait, and redeploying him to somewhere that the enemy can't shoot (especially if you lost the first turn roll) could be valuable, as could redeploying him to Hive Commander a unit your enemy wasn't expecting.
Outside of Swarmy or a Flyrant I think there are better than this, but it certainly has its situational uses.
Heightened Senses - A
Oh baby! All those Raven Guard derivatives, Alaitoc Eldar, fliers, and even the Tyranid mirror match should be afraid of this trait. It's a really good counter to many of these units, who often have very little to protect them once you ignore their to-hit modifiers. If you're playing fixed warlord traits this loses a little value but even if you do have to list your trait this is a very solid pick.
Synaptic Lynchpin - D
For the same reasons as the Norn Crown, this just isn't needed.
Mind Eater - C
Movement is really good, as I keep saying, but the requirements for this to trigger are prohibitive; slay a character, in the fight phase, and be within 3" of the target (if not using it on yourself). This earns a better grade simply because a full move (especially on a Flyrant) can be powerful, but is really hard to use.
Instinctive Killer - A
In casual games this trait may well be not fantastic, but competitive lists love their unit spam and what better way to abuse that then by making sure your Warlord has rerolls vs whatever he needs rerolls against? Note that this works for both the fight phase and the shooting phase too, making it even better. Even if you don't get choose "all Conscripts" or "all Razorbacks", simply getting full rerolls against a large priority target such as Magnus or Mortarion is pretty good. A great choice for your Warlord.
Adaptive Biology - C
Much like the Gorgon Bio-Artefact, this trait is good if you get it to kick in - but competitive players should not be stupid enough to shoot a model with this without some degree of focus fire. Yes, it's possible that your Warlord may take incidental wounds to trigger this such as from an explosion or a Mortarion area effect attack, and if it does come off it could be very good, but it's inconsistent and there are much better picks here.
For completeness, let's also rank the Hive Fleet Warlord traits that we talked about previously:
Monstrous Hunger (Behemoth) - C
One Step Ahead (Kraken) - B
Perfectly Adapted (Leviathan) - B
Lethal Miasma (Gorgon) - B
Insidious Threat (Jormungandr) - B
Endless Regeneration (Hydra) - C
Soul Hunger (Kronos) - A
There are plenty of excellent competitive options to pick for Tyranid players here, as well as some more situational ones. How good these are or aren't depends to some extent on the rules of the store or event you're playing at, but even if you do have to pre-list your Warlord traits there are great take-all-comers options here. I'm very happy with these options.
Dominion - C
I couldn't bring myself to quite give this a D because it not only "extends" an IB aura it also extends the shorter, ignore-morale part of our synapse too (and to a really big range to boot). In reality it's really not needed and its unlikely you would carry this on a Psyker even over a redundant copy of another, better power for matched play, but it could be usable in unusual circumstances or if you were very psyker heavy.
Catalyst - S
FNP where you need it, when you need it. What else is there to say? One of the best powers in the game.
when you tell a guard player his Shadowsword has -1 to hit
The Horror - A
Anything that makes a unit worse at shooting is good, and especially if your opponent is running very big units like Lords of War, this can really shut them down. The morale part is extra gravy. Definitely a must-take power if you can find a psyker to carry it.
Onslaught - A
Onslaught is super useful in the context of what Tyranids do, primarily for making sure that your units can run and charge, often meaning they get into combat a turn earlier. In the index it was somewhat unclear whether this power allowed you to advance and fire heavy weapons, and the codex has clarified the wording on this to make it more obvious that you can. Given the short range of some of our more powerful new guns this is a welcome option to have available too. Not quite a must-take in every list though there probably aren't any Tyranid lists who wouldn't benefit from this in at least some capacity.
Paroxysm - B
Adding to the plethora of ways Tyranids have to fight first in the codex, I was nontheless a little disappointed that Paroxysm didn't do something better. Fighting first is only really a big deal against other assault armies which aren't that common competitively, but it is a useful tool to have access to. This is certainly the easiest and best way to get this option into the army, so keep an eye out for opponents that it will work well against and know when to take this power (if your event allows you to choose powers at the start of the game, of course, otherwise you could happily avoid this)
Psychic Scream - S
Smites are good. Double Smite is better. Flying Hive Tyrants firing off 4 mortal wounds with good positioning in addition to shooting things is great, Neurothropes casting this with 94% success chance thanks to their rerolling 1s is great, it's generally just great to be able to double up on Smites. And as if that wasn't enough, hit an enemy psyker with this - not easy to do generally given the targeting restrictions but much easier against a marauding Daemon Primarch or a Grey Knights army - and you can maybe strip a psychic power from them, too. Lovely.
Our psychic power set was pretty good in the index and Psychic scream upped our game just that little bit more. It's a shame that Dominion is a bit wasted and Paroxysm so situational as we have easy access to so many psychic powers with the Neurothrope and newly-improved Hive Tyrant, but at least we get to throw a lot of smites and still cast all 4 of our good powers with ease, and even maybe carry some redundancy in our better powers. All in all Tyranids came out of this well if for no other reason than the excellent Psychic Scream.
Tyranids have done well out of this Codex in terms of the options we've discussed. Like any Codex there are plenty of duds, but there are a lot of viable choices even though there are some standouts. This not only makes for interesting list building but competitively means there are plenty of options to tailor your list to a specific playstyle or meta. This is great, and for me ticks both the fun and powerful boxes, which is exactly where we want to be.
Check back tomorrow when we'll be taking a deep dive into the weapon options included in the new codex. I'll warn you in advance though, there's going to be lots of maths, but the conclusions will be worth it!
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