I recently started playing Aeronautica Imperialis and I've found it to be pretty deep as well as a lot of fun; it's certainly gotten me thinking about how to optimise the various factions. I'm enjoying the challenge of different builds and decided to write some articles on the subject!
In order to get my thoughts in order, I decided to put together a table of the various weapons and calculate their damage averages. By the time I did this, it felt like rather than reference these stats piecemeal in different articles, it would be a better idea to start with an article about the data that I could reference back to later.
The data below is raw maths and none of it is a conclusion - though we can certainly draw conclusions from it! Notably it doesn't take into account points values or aircraft statistics - this is just about the dakka.
(The excel sheet with all of this data is available here if you want to download it for yourself)
Let's take a look!
Firstly, here's a list of every anti-air weapon in the game (bar ground assets). You can see average damage at short, medium and long range (factoring in extra damage and a 5+ to hit; if you're on a 6+ to hit due to altitude or other, your average damage is halved). You can also see the total average damage a weapon has across all three range bands, giving you some small indication of it's potential combat effectiveness in an unknown situation. Finally, you can see at the bottom the average damage across all weapons in each range band, and the average of all weapons that actually have dice, so we have some sort of baseline to compare "good" and "bad" weapons against (albeit a weak one). We can see that most of the game's damage is loaded into the mid range, with a lot of guns that can't fire at long or short bringing those averages down, but the numbers for short and long ranged guns with non-zero stats are a lot higher meaning that when guns can fire at those ranges, they can generally compete in output.
Here we can see the table sorted by damage at short range. The main takeaways here are that the big Tau and Imperial gunships pack a real wallop, and Quad Big Shootas are really good, the damage dropping off by almost 25% from those top 3 to the Avenger Bolt Cannon in 4th place. Given that the Quad Big Shoota comes on a 16 point aircraft we could certainly infer from this that the Dakkajet has a lot of potential, and we'll discuss this in a future article! Also make sure you respect the turret of both Marauder Destroyer and 'Eavy Bommers, they hit hard for a "defensive" weapon!
The king of medium range will be a surprise to exactly nobody who has played the game or read about it online - the Avenger Bolt Cannon is an incredible weapon. It will be the subject of a balance-related article, but at a whopping 1.56 average damage it certainly seems very far out of line with other contenders in the lower brackets given the aircraft's other performance characteristics and points cost. We can also see, though, that the Marauder Destroyer main gun is again up there packing a huge punch as are both the Vendetta and Vulture main weapons. Tau don't get a look in until 6th place and when they do they're a full 33% less effective than the best imperial guns. Imperials certainly win out at medium range and they do so by a long margin, and with a number of ships - Vendettas are possibly even more efficient than Thunderbolts when it comes to pure gunnery. Orks don't get a real look in in this category, so you'll definitely want to get in close with your Orks and stay there.
Now we come to long range, which is unsurprisingly topped by the Tigershark's giant railguns, the best long range weapon in the game by almost two times over. Tau dominate the top of this list, and the list view as a whole shows to some extent how the factions feel about long range, the middle being mostly blue and the bottom being mostly green. A good takeaway here is that the top part of the list is loaded with various missiles; clearly they're what you want if you intend to duel at long range, but you'll have to pay points to get them.
Finally we have a composite stat, with the table sorted by total average damage at all ranges. The big gunships again top the list here with their heavy short+medium totals, and unsurprisingly the Vendetta's Lascannons and Avenger put them up at the top too. Various Tau and other Imperial Gunships also show their versatility. Quad Big Shootas are the only Ork gun in the top 1/3 of the table but this does show their good overall stats.
As I mentioned at the start of the article, the conclusion to this article is that there is no conclusion, but maths-savvy readers will certainly be able to draw plenty from this. Certainly for people who aren't sure about certain weapon loadouts (this is especially true for Tau, as a lot of their weapons are great but very expensive) this should give you something to mull over. I'm looking forward to writing more articles on Aeronautica, and looking forward even more to being able to play with some wider groups once we're allowed out!
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"Wow, that's a lot of shots"
That's what my last opponent said when my five Dakkafexes killed almost his entire Astra Militarum infantry screen - 60 guys and change - on turn one.
Welcome to part 4 of our Tyranid Codex review! Today we'll be looking at Tyranid weaponry, everything from guns to claws, how it performs and how it compares to both other Tyranid weapons and what other armies have. This article is going to have some :maths: in it and be a little bit statistical so if that's not your thing, you might just want to glaze over those parts and skip to the conclusions. But everybody loves maths when it means Tyranids actually get to win things without resorting to putting 5 Hive Tyrants on the board, right?
I'm going to break down the weapons by category and look at the more interesting choices and options that we're presented with.
My Spike Rifles, noooo! Spike Rifles are gone from the Codex, so we're left with Fleshborers, Spinefists, Devourers, the latter of which is the only one that costs points.
Being able to shoot whilst in melee (Spinefists) is really not worth losing the Str 4 of a Fleshborer nor the ability to advance and shoot with the assault weapon. Fleshborers being the only other free option now, this makes them the obvious choice for our Termagant screens. Fleshborers are also used by Gargoyles, too.
Both Fleshborers and Devourers share the same profile, the only difference being that Devourers fire more shots at a longer range, so the expected wounds chart below is applicable to both weapons - just multiply out the numbers according to your squad size.
We're not really discussing a choice here so much as we are looking at what we can reasonably expect these weapons to achieve. We can see that we can expect 20 Fleshborer gants to do a morale-test-inducing 5 wounds to a squad of Guardsmen, and that 20 Devilgants would overkill the same squad (over 15 wounds). Meanwhile, 20 Devilgants should shave almost 4 wounds off of an average vehicle, and using Single Minded Annihilation on that squad would put a very serious dent in the same unit.
As with most AP0 weapons, the damage output is really not impressive vs anything with a saving throw but is certainly fantastic at clearing screens. I think that there is a tendency to overestimate what "volume of shots" can do to tougher targets based on anecdotal evidence, but at the same time remember that these units do have a very high potential damage and sometimes you just need that hail mary roll (or have no other target to shoot at).
I'm not going to draw a specific conclusion here, but it is useful to know your averages when deciding how to split fire to maximise morale rolls vs guard Infantry spam, for instance, so use this info as you will.
Next up, let's take a look at Tyranid-Warrior sized weaponry that also might be found on Raveners as well as Tyrannocytes. These weapons will not be incredibly common as they are not the most competitive of units but it is worth looking at how they stack up against eachother.
The Devourer is essentially pointless at this level because a Deathspitter only costs 1 extra point. Don't take Devourers on these troops.
The Deathspitter received a decent buff in the codex. Now 24" range and only 5 points, this is functionally an assault Heavy Bolter, and is actually pretty nice for its cost. The Venom Cannon was also buffed and points changed to make it in line with other heavy weapons. So how do these guns stack up vs eachother and others?
Here's a reference chart of expected wounds for common weapons with BS 4+:
And here's the expected wounds for our Tyranid weapons at BS4+:
We can see a few things here:
If I was to draw a conclusion from this, it's that Deathspitters don't justify including a unit to bring them (as with most heavy bolter style weaponry) but they are a pretty efficient weapon should you already be bringing a unit that uses them. Barbed Stranglers are a similar weapon, being better vs large units but not efficient enough over a Deathspitter for 5 extra points. Venom Cannons come off very well, being a straight up better take all comers weapon than a Missile Launcher and not significantly worse than a Lascannon at anti-vehicle duty - a nice buff for Tyranids who have struggled with armour-cracking for a long time. It's not a weapon that we can deploy in enough numbers to be as effective as it could be if we could, say, take Tyranid Warrior squads with all Venom Cannons, but if you are running Tyranid Warriors it's certainly an efficient choice.
Note that we've not analysed these weapons when our BS is 3+ (Tyranid Prime) or 5+ (Tyrannocyte) but the numbers move roughly in-line with the changes. All of the weapons become more desirable and worth their points at BS3; at BS5, you probably want to stick to Deathspitters, although an argument can be made for using Barbed Stranglers on a Tyrannocyte if you want some additional anti-chaff firepower.
And now onto the big guns! These guns will see a lot more widespread use than their smaller bio-cannon cousins, being used by Hive Tyrants and Carnifexes - two of our best new units - as well as our fliers. Let's look at their expected numbers vs various targets, but first, a reference of some common BS3 weapons to compare against:
And the Tyranid weapons (at BS3 since your Carnifexes with guns should always have Enhanced Senses - no exceptions!)
Other than the table looking generally very good for these weapons (especially when you factor in the points cost of the Devourers and Deathspitters!) there are some obvious things that we can see here:
In the battle of the dakka weapons, we can conclude that Double Devourers are certainly our go-to take all comers weapon. They're incredible at scything through infantry of any kind, and no slouch against vehicles either; if you're fighting against invulnerable save targets such as Magnus, they will easily overtake weapons with higher AP. Deathspitters are an option if you exclusively intend to fire them at vehicle targets (the table does skip T6 vehicles such as those found in Eldar lists, against which Deathspitters will be better too) but most likely the loss of efficiency against other targets isn't worth taking them. Range is a consideration, though is interesting to note the following:
Even when the Devourers are forced to advance and get -1 to hit in order to close range, they still maintain their superiority against softer targets over Deathspitters.
The other conclusion we can draw here is that Stranglethorn Cannons simply aren't worth taking. Heavy Venom Cannons are an incredible weapon - 1.7 Lascannons for the same cost as a single Lascannon - and though Stranglethorns perform a little bit better against the softest of targets (but still worse against marines), those targets simply aren't targets that you want to be shooting with your 25 point heavy weapons. The Stranglethorn Cannon has an identity crisis, which unfortunately makes it basically unusable. If you want anti infantry, you're going to use Devourers or maybe Deathspitters, and anti-tank you're going to use Heavy Venom Cannons.
How do the same weapons look on our fliers at BS4?
The Stranglethorn Cannon continues to look unimpressive here, having neither the anti-infantry capacity nor the anti-tank damage to justify it's points cost. The Heavy Venom Cannon though, despite being at BS4, is still better than a BS3 Lascannon and so still looks tasty!
There are far too many weapons in the codex to cover all of them in one article but hopefully this article has given you some insight into the more common choices that Tyranid players have to make when equipping their units, and given you the information you need to make informed choices. I'll talk about units with more specific and unique weapons as we discuss those units individually.
Speaking of which, tomorrow we'll finally be starting to look at the various units from the Index, starting with our HQ units and featuring the mighty Hive Tyrant!
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Hi everybody, and welcome to part two of our Codex: Tyranids review. Today we'll be focusing on the new stratagems in the book, and there's quite a lot of them, so let's dive in and not waste any time - we've got stuff to devour, and now we can do it strategically!
(check out our short article on ratings if you want to see what our ratings are all about)
Psychic Barrage - C
The standard copy-paste Linebreaker strategy, except this time using Zoanthropes instead of Vindicators. Great if it comes off, but too many units required, too easy for your opponent to break, and still requires a random roll. Keep this one for casual play.
Caustic Blood - B
This is a really solid stratagem if you know when to use it. Khorne Berserkers tearing up your Termagant screen? Howling Banshees killing your Hormagaunts? Pop this and watch them kill themselves as punishment! This will be a nasty surprise for opponents who aren't aware that you can do it, and you should be watch for opportunities to use it at all times.
Rapid Regeneration - B
On-demand healing is always powerful in the right situation. In an army with as many monsters and hence as many degradation tables as Tyranids (and the worst degredation tables in 40k, to boot... :sadface:), being able to heal your unit back to a higher threshold in a pinch often might as well read "+1 to hit" on top. Use sparingly due to its high 2CP cost, though.
Scorch Bugs - C
Turn your giant units of gants, or your Fleshborer Hive Tyrannofex (no, you shouldn't be running a Fleshborer Hive Tyrannofex) into a much scarier unit. Your Fleshborers will now wound T7 vehicles on a 4+, guard screens on a 2+ et cetera. The problem is that you need a gant blob big enough to benefit from it and that gant blob needs to be in range; so whilst the strategem itself is great, the it's a little bit restrictive to do much work. For just 1CP it's worth keeping this in your back pocket for occasional use, maybe combined with Single Minded Annihilation if the situation warrants it I guess? It's going to be a bit niche but I'm sure it will come up on occasion.
Feeder Tendrils - S
If this didn't have the word "Genestealer" in it it would be a solid D, but it does, so it's excellent. Genestealers killed an enemy character? Gain 0-2 CP. That's it, simple. Tyranids have so many great uses for their CP and Genestealers are such a ubiquitous unit that getting something for free is simply fantastic. Make sure to model a few of your Genestealer models with Feeder Tendrils and make gobbling noises whenever you use this!
Implant Attack - B
Inflict a mortal wound on a 2+ on a unit that you wounded and didn't kill. Simple but great - I've already heard stories of a unit of Genestealers killing a Magnus, a Mortarion, and a Space Marine Biker (ok, bit less impressive that one) with this. Again, a super useful strategy that won't always be relevant but is highly reliable when you need it to be.
Bounty of the Hive Fleet - C
Eh, it's a struggle to find a second good Bio-Artefact in most lists (outside of Kraken, who have maybe the best artefact/relic in the game so far), it's even more of a struggle to find three. There's some OK choices but nothing I'd be regularly spending CP on. I'm sure occasionally you might want to grab a Miasma Cannon on top of your Behemoth claws or something like that, but I'd expect it'll be an exception to the rule.
Metabolic Overdrive - A
The ability to to move a unit twice, even if it might take damage and can't do anything afterwards, can be game changing. 40k is ultimately (in most rulesets anyway) an objective-based game, and many of our units love melee. Being where you need to be when you need to be there is therefore very important, which makes this strategem truly excellent. It also has some niche uses too; it doesn't stop psychic powers from being cast, so making a huge reposition with a Smite+Psychic Scream psyker, unit of Zoanthropes or even a Maleceptor can make for some funky and surprising plays.
Single-Minded Annihilation - B
Shoot twice for only 2CP. Excellent? Unfortunately not, because it's limited to infantry only. I'm sure this might be a controversial ranking, but I really don't like this strategem. Devilgant blobs are expensive and though this combos well with the aforementioned Scorch Bugs that's still just a bunch of S4 0AP shots; Hive Guard are great but limited to units of 6. I just don't see this strategem being as game-changing as it looks on paper. Endless Cacophony is a big deal because you can use it on big-deal units; we just don't have any of those in our infantry choices.
Grisly Feast - D
More like Garbage Feast.
Pathogenic Slime - A
We've got 24 shot Carnifexes and Flyrants, Tyrannofexes that average 14 Acid Spray hits, and plenty more besides. Giving them +1 damage is great, but make sure you do your maths first - it's not always as incredible as it sounds, and sometimes you're spending 2CP for an extra 2 wounds on average. Against the right targets though (or as a hail mary with some luck involved) this can be killer.
Sporefield - D
Requires reinforcement points in matched play. Even in non-matched play, 3CP for this seems like a lot.
Invisible Hunter - C
I like Lictors, they're cheap and have reasonable stats, but they're not incredible. Now we have an extra reason to take them for Pheromone Trails (read on!). This strategem seems designed to get them through a screen and into a delicious-brained character beyond but unfortunately single Lictors aren't quite good enough to take out a character so this probably isn't worth spending your points on unless you're in the incredibly niche situation of a) having a Lictor b) in combat and c) needing it to tie up something nearby.
Power of the Hive Mind - C
Most lists I've written so far don't have redundancy in their powers so this won't come up very often, but it's useful when it does, I guess. Another strat that is really for non-matched play.
Pheromone Trail - B
Lictors rejoice! You have a raison d'etre in 8th. Most units that can set up in reinforcement also have a way to deep strike, so this power is mostly pointless, except for one important thing; Genestealers' new ability to use their Infestation Nodes. This power turns that ability into your Genestealers having actual deep strike, letting you keep them safe from first turn alpha strikes and deploy them in your enemy's face without shelling out for a Trygon. All for the low cost of 1CP and 45 points, and you get a free Lictor thrown in too!
Death Frenzy - C
This would be a great stratagem were it not for degradation tables making it pretty crappy on... just about everybody. Most of our characters either degrade to the point of this not being worth 2CP (Hive Tyrant, Swarmlord), or can't fight well enough for this to be worth 2CP in the first place (Malanthrope, Neurothrope). The Prime could get some benefit from this in some situations but again, not really 2CP worth. The most notable target for this is Old One-Eye, who will most likely mince anything that kills him in melee if you get this off.
Overrun - A
It's a movement ability, and as mentioned with Metabolic Overdrive, movement is king. Take a clutch objective, reposition your big melee unit in their turn ready for a charge in yours, push into your enemy's backfield, or combine with Adrenaline Surge for a double-whammy on two units that were too far apart to follow up into (though bear in mind charge targeting rules). All for 1CP.
Voracious Appetite - A
A lot of Tyranid monsters actually aren't that scary, mathematically. It makes me a little sad, but that's the world we live in. Tyranids also have a bit of a problem with cracking armour (particularly T8). This cheap strategem solves both of these problems, and turns all of our melee monsters into melee beasts. A staple for any list using melee.
Call The Brood - D
3CP for 5 Genestealers that you have to pay reinforcement points for. Pointless for Matched Play. Maybe in narrative play, but like Sporefield, isn't this a bit expensive?
Adrenaline Surge - S
Fight twice, no unit restrictions (unlike Single-Minded Annihilation... pah). Excellent, but please practice multi-charging especially if you want to get mileage out of Overrun too. Many a Khorne player has been saddened when he learned how charge targeting works. Expect "I Adrenaline Surge my Genestealers" to be heard spoken by competitive Tyranid players a lot.
Endless Swarm - D
The targets for this are too restrictive (unless you're Hydra) and it costs points in Matched Play, so like similar abilities, this is really for narrative play only.
Digestive Denial - C
The old favourite is back. This isn't great, especially given its high cost of 2CP, but very occasionally if you're playing shooty nids and your opponent puts a large firebase in a single piece of terrain I guess you might pull this out of your bag of tricks.
We already reviewed the Hive Fleet-specific strategems in our last article so I'll just rate them here for the sake of completeness:
The Enemy Below (Jormungandr) - A
Brute Force (Behemoth) - B
War on All Fronts (Leviathan) - C
The Deepest Shadow (Kronos) - A
Hyper-Toxicity (Gorgon) - B
Opportunistic Advance (Kraken) - S
That's it for our review of Tyranid strategems - we hope it was useful! Check back again tomorrow for the third part of our Codex review when we'll be looking at Warlord Traits, Bio-Artefacts and Psychic Powers.
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Ian here with the part 1 of our review of the new Tyranid Codex! If you haven't picked this up yet, it's a great book and yet another fantastic Codex offering from Games Workshop so it's well worth a read!
Come with me on a journey into the fleshy underbelly of the many swarms, and let's talk about who's best at gathering that biomass and who deserves to be recycled...
Masters of brute force and smurf murder, the Behemoth Hive Fleet Adaptation allows you to reroll charge distances - pretty simple stuff. This is ideal if you're wanting to alpha strike your opponents and most Behemoth lists will focus around doing just this. With Adrenal Glands and a Behemoth reroll, units that enter 9" away from the enemy will have a 66% chance of a successful charge and that's without the potential for command point rerolls instead. This pushes Behemoth in the direction of a reserves-based playstyle, keeping your units safe off the table if you go second, and dropping them in for an aggressive turn 1.
This style of play is reinforced by the unique Behemoth strategem, Brute Force, which deals mortal wounds to a unit that you charged for every 6+ (2+ for monsters) you roll on a number of dice equal to the number of models you have within 1" of the enemy unit. Ideal with a unit of Genestealers of Hormagaunts - a little bit expensive for a monster, though,
The Behemoth Bio-Artefact, Scythes of Tyran, replaces a set of Monstrous Scything Talons giving the model +1 Str and A, and an extra attack for every roll of a 6. One of the better bio-artefacts, this mitigates Tyranids' biggest weakness (low strength) and has a decent chance of getting you an extra attack on top, too.
The Behemoth Warlord trait grants an extra damage for every roll of a 6 in combat. A clone of Toxin Sacs, this is a little weak for a Warlord Trait but they do stack if you really fancy the all-in approach.
Overall, Behemoth offers a very straightforward playstyle with a lot of potential power. It is a little bit of a one-trick pony and will have its gameplan mitigated or completely stymied by an opponent who screens well, though, so I don't think it is the most competitive Fleet in the book. It certainly offers a lot of potential punch, though, and if your event allows multiple combined Hive Fleets a detachment of alpha-strking Behemoth could be an option when backed up by another more utilitarian Hive Fleet choice.
As their tendrils tendrils spread far and wide, so does Kraken's Hive Fleet Adaptation let you do the same with your army! It allows you to roll 3D6 and pick the highest for any advance moves, and also allows your units to fall back and charge in the same turn. The first part gives you a serious amount of maneuverability - getting your melee units into combat turn 2 is now all but guaranteed, re-positioning across the board or to objectives is a breeze. The second part opens up all sorts of neat tricks; flying units can fall back, shoot, AND charge every turn, Carnifexes can fall back and charge every turn to always get their charging bonuses, Harpies can shriek every turn, your units can "fall back" through enemy screens and into juicy characters or units behind... so many possibilities!
The Kraken strategem is also excellent, allowing any unit to double its advance move for just 1CP. Combined with Genestealers or Onslaught you have some nigh-guaranteed charges from your deployment zone on turn 1, an easy way to redeploy a unit across the board, and so much more besides. Movement is really great and Kraken have it in spades.
Kraken's Bio-Artefact is perhaps the best in the book, and one of the best in any Codex to date; it makes the unit that has it -1 to be hit by shooting (with no range limitation).. Throw this on the new improved Hive Tyrant and you have a really survivable model.
The Kraken Warlord trait allows you to choose a unit near the Warlord to fight first. Not a bad Warlord trait but not on par with the other Kraken abilities, it's really only of use if you're fighting against another strong melee army and have something to worry about - likely the generic traits are better than this.
In summary, I think that Kraken is in the running for best Hive Fleet in the codex - movement is king in 40k, especially if you like to eat your opponents' faces, and falling back and charging is a really useful tactical option. How you choose to leverage this ability makes for some really interesting list building, and I think we'll see a lot of Kraken competitively once people are comfortable with getting the most out of their toolkit.
The biggest Hive Fleet, but are they the best? Leviathan's Adaptation is a copy paste of abilities we've seen before, ignoring any wound on the roll of a 6 (and not being able to be stacked with Catalyst, boo). It's solid, but unspectacular. We've not seen this trait used much competitively and I doubt that that will change now.
Leviathan's strategem allows you to reroll hit AND wound rolls of a 1 vs an enemy unit in the fight phase if you have a flier and non-flier within 1" of it. Personally I think that this is pretty hard to pull off and the payoff isn't good enough, and coupled with the fact that it's limited to melee and our fliers won't/don't want to be in melee with many of their best builds, I think this is a bit of a miss.
The Leviathan bio-artefact is also pretty poor. Replacing monstrous boneswords which themselves are not a terrific option compared to the alternatives, it can kill infantry (and bikers, for some reason?) if it wounds them but doesn't kill them. So, good for finishing four wound characters that you only managed to wound once... talk about niche.
The Leviathan Warlord trait is pretty solid, giving you a single reroll of mostly anything once per battle round. Simple and effective, and a viable choice for your Warlord.
Overall I think Leviathan's offering is pretty poor, possibly the worst in the Codex, and I don't expect them to see much if any competitive play. A shame for one of GW's poster boy Hive Fleets, but at least their paint scheme is cool!
Poisonous and with a love for eating those who won't shut up about "the greater good", Gorgon's Adaptation is simple, allowing rerolling of 1s to wound in the fight phase. It's not spectacular, but it's solid if that's what your army is based around.
Their strategem allows any of your units with Toxin Sacs to deal their extra Toxin Sac wound on a roll of a 5+. Factoring in their reroll on 1s to wound, this makes this actually pretty easy to hit; Genestealers, Hormagaunts and even Tyranid Warriors with Toxin Sacs will therefore be able to put out reasonable damage to anything that they can get a wound through to, and this could also be decent on Trygons and Mawlocs. The problem as ever is cost; Toxin Sacs are expensive on Genestealers and Warriors who would benefit from this the most, so whilst it is a reasonable thing to have access to, I don't think that building your army to use it is going to be cost efficient.
The Gorgon bio-artefact gives its bearer +1T from the end of any phase in which it was wounded. It's not terrible, but people are not stupid and know how to focus fire; also, the effect of +1T is sometimes a little bit irrelevent (going from 7 to 8 on a Hive Tyrant that your opponent only intends to shoot with Lascannons anyway, for example). It's another meh artefact that is usable but not spectacular.
The Gorgon Warlord trait grants a 4+ fight-phase mortal wound aura. This is actually prety good for the Gorgon style of play and is a viable choice if your Warlord is melee-focused.
Gorgon are ok. I don't expect to see them at the highest levels of competitive play but they are playable and will likely pop up in some places simply to take advantage of army-wide fight phase rerolls in lists that are happy losing out on some of the more obviously powerful Hive Fleet choices in return for simply efficiency.
The new kid on the block (codex-wise, at least), Hive Fleet Jormungandr's Adaptation makes every model in the army count the benefits of cover unless it advances or charges. This is a pretty nifty ability when combined with lots of 3+ save Tyranid monsters, making them that little bit more survivable against Lascannons and a lot more survivable vs annoying lasgun and bolter spam. It's also pretty good for our smaller beasts, giving them an extra bit of resistance vs the small arms fire that is so prevalent right now.
The Strategem, "The Enemy Below", is not necessarily the strongest in the book but it does change the way your army can play more than any other. It allows you to set up any infantry unit in reserves and deploy it when any "tunnelling" unit deploys. This means that you have a way to deep strike your Broodlords with Genestealers, deploy forward synapse creatures without needing to buy a Trygon Prime or Hive Tyrant, gives you a way to keep your Hive Guard safe from turn 1 alpha strikes, and much more. Many armies will be built around taking specific advantage of this strategem.
Jormungandr's bio-artefact affects morale. Enough said about that one.
The Warlord trait here allows your Warlord and units within 3" to ignore cover when shooting. Again, this is not terrible but is likely eclipsed by the generic traits - Heightened Senses is just much better on a shooty Warlord, expanding your toolkit in a much better way.
The most obvious competitive build in the Tyranid codex is a combination of dakka-tyrant and dakkafex spam (more on this in another article!) and this build will benefit heavily from Jormungandr. Between that and the unusual deployment options, expect to see this Hive Fleet used a lot; it's certainly one of the most competitive in the codex.
Another more recently discovered Hive Fleet, Hydra's trait interests me a lot; it allows rerolls to hit in the fight phase if you outnumber the enemy. Blanket, non-1 rerolls are pretty hard to come by so this is quite a big deal; however it is a little restrictive. The most likely to benefit from this are Genestealers. Hormagaunts will too, and though they hit like a wet noodle, this will make them pretty good at clearing chaff screens when taken in large units to also reroll 1s to wound with their own ability. Thewre's also some potential here with units of 9 bonesword-equipped Tyranid Warriors I guess, though that's probably reaching.
The Hydra strategem is unfortunately a casualty of matched play rules; re-adding a destroyed chaff unit to the board is simply not worth setting points AND 2CP aside for. At 1cp it may have seen some play for sneaky objective grabbing or backfield melee-tying, but at two it's priced out.
Hydra's Warlord trait harkens back to the old "regeneration" abilities, allowing your warlord to try to regain each lost wound on a roll of a 6 each turn. This could be quite a swing when it comes off but most of the time your opponent won't let you have the luxury of a low-wound Warlord rolling up extra wounds for multiple turns, so isn't really fantastic.
The Hydra artefact is solid but unspectacular. It's a Slimer Maggot Deathspitter that rerolls failed wounds. Cracking T7+ armour is a particular pain point for Tyranids, so this on a Hive Tyrant would be a reasonably good pick.
I think with such a big blanket reroll, you can make a Hydra unit do some pretty nasty stuff, but is it worth the limitation and the loss of choosing another Hive Fleet ability? The answer is probably no, and I don't expect this Hive Fleet to see much competitive play.
Finally answering the question of "do Tyranids bother fighting Chaos", Kronos are here to show that yes, indeed they do - and they're well adapted to do so. Their trait does something that is traditionally non-niddy; rerolling 1s for shooting if you don't move is interesting. It obviously works well with Tyrannofexes and Exocrines that already get bonuses for not moving, but what else does it work with? The arguable best unit in the codex is the new shooty Carnifex, but one of their strengths is in their ability to stay mobile whilst shooting. Likewise for Hive Tyrants. Screens tend to have to move so won't benefit from this often. Hive Guard will get mileage out of this, particularly with Impaler Cannons. What this leads us to is that whilst Tyranids are not a great gunline army, this ability is useful, though knowing when to stand still to get the bonus and when you need to move and lose it is going to be important when playing Kronos.
Kronos's strategem causes a Psyker within 24" of a Kronos unit - most likely the entire battlefield - to roll only 1 dice for a Psychic test. This takes most powers from 60-80% cast chances down to 16-33% cast chances; quite a big drop. Given the number of armies that rely on key psychic powers to make things happen (Warp Time, Catalyst for other nids, Nightshroud on a super heavy tank, etc) this is an incredibly good power. Especially combined with the Kronos Warlord trait!
Kronos's bio-artefact, the Balethorn cannon, is a Stranglethorn Cannon that ignores invulnerable saves. This sounds good until you realise that with a -1 save modifier many units would be using their normal save anyway, so mostly all that you're getting out of this is an extra 1 point of AP on units like Magnus the Red. The Stranglethorn Cannon is not a great weapon to begin with, so a slightly buffed one isn't really worth it.
Their Warlord trait causes any Psyker within 18" that fails a psychic test to take D3 mortal wounds. This is a genuine game changer vs some armies, especially combined with Shadow in the Warp and the Kronos Strategem. Popular armies like Mortarion/Magnus or any kind of Smite spam will not only be unable to use their powers effectively but actually lose their models too. In the right meta, or in a format where you can pick your Warlord trait before each game rather than choosing it on your list, this can be super good; in the wrong meta or in a true take-all-comers list, this would be a bit of a gamble. Definitely one to keep on your radar, though!
Kronos provide an interesting toolkit of shooting and anti-psychic ability. They're not the most obviously strong Hive Fleet nor the Hive Fleet that is most obviously "build-around" but they definitely have a place and that place is hating on Psykers. Whether you should run them or not is certainly down to what you'll be facing (and how shooty you want to be, though that isn't really their biggest forte in my opinion). They are a great option for a Tyranid player to have in their kit and options are always good!
To conclude, let's summarise the new Hive Fleets and where I think they're going to land competitively. If you're not familiar with how we rate things, check our our short article here and then come back.
S-Tier: I don't think that any of the Hive Fleets are at this level. There are some great Hive Fleet specific things available, but none of them are truly incredible.
A-Tier: Kraken, Jormungandr, Kronos. You're going to see a lot of these in competitive lists. Kronos maybe less so, but when it's relevant it's going to be really relevant and ruin some peoples' days.
B-Tier: Behemoth. Doesn't offer quite enough to be the foundation of a list but as a second detachment, their Adaptation is quite desirable and we may see them show up as a role-player in competitive lists.
C-Tier: Hydra, Gorgon. These are playable, but I don't expect they'll be the foundation of many lists. They may crop up as second detachments in some lists but there's just so much more utility and raw power to be squeezed out of the higher tier fleets. Not to say that these fleets aren't potentially capable, though.
D-Tier: Leviathan. Poor Leviathan, doesn't really offer anything that another Hive Fleet wouldn't do better. I suggest that if you have a Hive Fleet painted white and purple, you practice arguing about Tyranid bioforms and how diverse their colourations can really be...
That's all for today! Check back tomorrow for the second part of our Codex review when we'll be looking at Tyranid Strategems and further increasing our knowledge of how to eat the universe.
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As a long-time Tyranid lover, I always enjoy seeing changes to the army. Although the last few editions (since the 2nd/3rd ed glory days, really...) have not been particularly kind to Tyranids unless you are a fan of Hive Tyrants, it's been interesting to watch the changes that the army has gone through since I started playing in 2nd edition. With the release of 8th edition we have the biggest sweeping changes for years, not only to the army but to the game itself, so there's a lot to digest (get it?) Luckily as a store we've had our books for almost a week now and I've had plenty of time to read the various indexes and more importantly, the Tyranid index.
Today's article is part one of a massive roundup of Tyranids in 8th edition. It is primarily focused on Tyranids in matched play, but most of it is also applicable to other play modes too. We hope it will help you in your mission to turn your enemies into delicious, delicious biomass!
As a side note - anything with the keyword "Tyranid" is considered a Tyranid for army selection purposes, and therefore you can happily mix and match Genestealer Cult units in your Tyranid detachments. This is certainly very advantageous, though for the purposes of this article series when I reference Tyranids I'm not going to include Cults except at a few select points where they are specifically worth mentioning. If you're a more competitive player, you should certainly consider the cult units and the gaps they fill in the Tyranid roster.
Much improved from last edition's horrific Synapse rules, Synapse now simply makes your units immune to morale tests. If you've played Age of Sigmar, you'll know the battleshocking units is one of the best ways to get them off the table, and played right Tyranids can be completely immune to this. The effect of this on the game cannot be overstated - it's an incredible ability, especially for an army that can run swarm units.
The downside to being out of Synapse range, Instinctive Behaviour, really isn't too bad - forcing you to only shoot or charge the nearest enemy unit. Oftentimes this won't even be a downside, though a savvy player will be able to exploit it when the opportunity arises.
Tyranid psychic powers are looking pretty good within the context of what Tyranids want to do, and that is to stay alive long enough to inflict damage. Both Catalyst and The Horror are great ways to increase your units' survivability, and easy to cast at values of 6 (many armies needing 7s to cast some of their powers). Likewise Onslaught is a really good power for keeping your army mobile or closing into melee more quickly (particularly combined with the Swamlord who can fling units the entire length of the table and into melee with his double-move ability plus Onslaught!)
Finally, Shadow in the Warp returns to its former glory; with most psyhic powers needing a 6 or 7 to cast, -1 to psychic rolls really makes a difference. Combined with Deny the Witch rolls requiring you to beat the enemy roll, this small increment in your favour should add up a lot over the course of a game and give you a definite edge as far as psychic powers go.
Tyranids have a lot of good toughness, decent save, high wound models, as well as lots of cheap, average toughness, low save models - not unexpectedly. Some units such as my beloved Carnifex are pretty cheap for their survivability, whilst others such as Trygons seem relatively fragile for their points cost. When you look at the maths, T6/7 with no invulnerable save is going to be easy prey for special weapons such as meltaguns, plasma guns, and most heavy weapons - weapons that armies such as Imperial Guard and Space Marines are capable of fielding in multiples. Supercharged Plasma Guns (Str 8, -3 Save, 2 wounds per hit) for example are going to be particularly bad for us, as are Meltaguns if we're trying to get up close, which we will be often. Not until you hit toughness 8 do these weapons start to get a little less scary, but even then, the abundance of high strength, multiple damage weapons that can deny or mostly deny 3+ saving throws is bad for monsters. In these situations, good use of the Catalyst power is going to be key, although unfortunately it can only be cast once per turn in Matched Play.
Standard infantry units, including Genestealers, fare a lot better. They are cheap and effective, and don't care about weapons with a low shot count and big save modifier or multiple damage per hit. There aren't really any great horde-killers in this edition; old blast and flamer weapons simply get a variable number of hits now (mostly D6), which won't trouble cheap infantry too much.
What it boils down to is this; special and heavy weapon gunlines are really, really bad for monsters but fine for troops. If your opponent has a lot of guns, you'll want to be in melee to be safe from them - though that won't help much if you want to play shooty nids.
Tyranid design philosophy changed a few editions ago to "everything must have a low save modifier" and by extension "Tyranids are bad at killing armour that they can't glance to death". With the save modifier compression in 8th, Tyranid shooting has this been hit really hard. In past editions Tyranids were at least able to rely on their guns generally having high strength, but even that is often not good enough now - most of the midrange high strength guns such as Brainleech Devourers are now wounding on 3s instead of 2s and we can no longer use our high strength, high shot count weapons to glance vehicles to death (wounding vehicles on a 5+, they get a save, and have a lot of hitpoints makes shooting vehicles with mid-strength weapons a bad option). Combined with Tyranids' BS being generally mediocre at best, and the high cost of heavy support beasts, Tyranid shooting is not looking to be in a generally good place (although there are some exceptions).
There are precisely zero melee weapons in the Tyranid arsenal that give a strength bonus (and only a couple with Power Fist-style x2 strength), all weapons instead being strength "user". This would be fine if Tyranids had the strength you may expect of giant monsters, but they don't; Hive Tyrants, Carnifexes, and many more are only strength 6. This is a pretty weak number, since it only wounds average T4 infantry such as Marines and Orks on 3s, and is not high enough to do significant damage to even medium vehicles who are mostly T7. To put this in perspective, Ork Warbosses have str 6 and a default Big Choppa makes them str 7; why exactly are Tyranids so pillow-fisted? There are also a distinct lack of monsters able to use our main armour-cracking weapon, Crushing Claws, and the ones that can have enough deficiencies in other areas (attacks or WS or both, I'm looking at you Carnifex) to make the claws a poor choice anyway.
Tyranid monsters are also often deficient in the attacks department. This is partly due to the tail issue (see below), and party just because some of their overall numbers are just too low for 200-250 point models. When you factor in their average WS of 4+, a lot of the monsters just don't inflictanything like the damage that units of their cost need to be able to, despite the -3 AP and 3 damage of Scything Talons looking great on paper.
Another issue for Tyranid melee is how bad most of the non-dedicated bugs are at it. If you compare a Tyrannofex or an Exocrine to similar heavy support you'll see that there is definitely a cost associated with being able to melee (plus they have to buy Powerful Limbs for 12 points that you never want to have to use), but these units are just terrible at it due to their WS and attack numbers. Yes it's a nice to have, but it's not ideal to pay what seems to be a lot of points for the privilege on a monster that you'd rather keep away from the fighting. Similar logic applies to monsters such as Carnifexes when equipped with ranged weapons. This makes these units a lot less attractive than they would otherwise be as they aren't really the "shooty but still good in melee" units you'd hope to get when you pay that many points for them.
Where Tyranid monsters do excel is in killing multi-wound models with T6 or less. Bikers, Walkers, and similar are their ideal targets as monsters get to capitalise on their high damage per hit of 3 which makes up for their other deficiencies.
Non-monsters, conversely, are looking good in melee. Unburdened by low numbers of attacks, poor WS, or both, Hormagaunts, Genestealers, and Tyranid Warriors can put out good damage against a range of targets, even vehicles (thanks to sheer volume of attacks and/or rending claws). Their high volume of attacks per point and/or high weapon skill and effective but cheap weapons means that they are effective against most targets, and they're all reasonably costed to boot.
Finally, let's talk about tail weaponry. If you haven't read the Tyranid index yet, you're going to be cursing tails every time you come across one. The majority of tails MUST be used for one attack a turn and in general they are significantly weaker than the attacks of the monsters to which they are attached - AND you are forced to pay points for them! I really don't know what the designers were thinking here, and I do wonder if the intent was for tails to give an extra attack (as it certainly doesn't seem that the forced tail attacks have been factored into profiles by giving the monsters +1A), but right now it seems we're stuck with them. You'll be happy to find that some tails are not forced-use and so look out for those. The "tail tax" to buy the non-enforced use tails such as the Thresher Scythe or Biostatic Rattle is generally worth paying. If you arm your monsters with guns then the tails become a little more relevant, but paying points to increase the effectiveness of a single melee attack on a ranged unit is not ideal. Oh well.
Completing the trinity of our combat effectiveness overview, along with Damage and Survivability, is Maneuverability. This is an area in which Tyranids are pretty good. Many units have high movement values or the ability to "Deep Strike" onto the battlefield, and with Trygons and Tyrannocytes (though the latter are probably too expensive) we can bring other units along for the ride. The Onslaught power lets units advance (run) and still shoot and charge, and the Swarmlord lets a unit move twice in place of shooting. We have units with wings. All of this means that we can put our melee units in melee pretty well, where they are not only safe from shooting but also able to inflict maximum carnage - and we can do this, for the most part, without needing to pay for transports as other armies do.
Tyranids in 8th edition look very much like they are going to be a melee-focused faction, which in my opinion at least is a good thing. Though their melee across the board is far from amazingly powerful due to their poor melee weapon options and often mediocre stats, it will be effective when the correct units are given the correct tasks.
Special weapon spamming lists are going to be common, given how easy and points-cheap a tactic it is to accomplish, and this is going to be something Tyranids will have a hard time dealing with. Getting into melee quickly will be key, though meltaguns, plasma guns, and similar are going to give us fits.
Armour (particularly T8 armour) is going to be the biggest problem for us - we really don't have a ton of great ways to crack it, and the ways that we do have can be played around by smart opponents. I've got some solutions to this issue I'll talk about as I get deeper into talking about specific units, so hopefully that'll work out!
We have some nice army abilities in Synapse and Shadow in the Warp that will eke us out a few extra percentage points sometimes, so there's that to be happy about too. Mostly though I'm just happy to see Tyranids looking like they will play like Tyranids again - there are lots of viable units, melee is feasible, and most of all we get to put cool monsters on the board and feel like we have a chance of winning if they aren't Hive Tyrants!
That's all for this article! The next one will be up soon, so don't forget to check back for more gribbly goodness. Please like us on Facebook or follow us on Twitter to keep up with our articles, and if you want to support us please consider preordering your 40k 8th edition supplies from us!