Faction Focus : Tyranids

Hey guys, it’s Erik here from the land down under! Today, I’m bringing to you the Ins and outs about my beloved Tyranids! In this article, I will break down the strengths and weaknesses of the Tyranids and what I believe to be the current most potent archetypes for the nids.

Tyranids are quite a unique faction; they operate best built on the back of synergy. Unlike most factions in 40k, usually the most robust combination of units or rules is not quite so obvious. Most of the time, it takes a couple of games on the table to understand the interaction between the units in a Tyranid force. This wildcard factor typically ends up being one of your greatest strengths.

Because it takes quite a lot of effort to discover the gems within the Tyranid codex, there is very little chance your opponent truly understands what your list does.


With Tyranids, I believe there are three main archetypes that fluctuate in effectiveness based on the meta or your playstyle. These archetypes are; 

  • Kraken Stealers + Swarmlord (currently the most common)

  • Monster Mash (This has been out of favor for quite some time but still has some play)

  • The Tyranid Carpet (my personal favorite, and I also believe always meta relevant) 


– Primary Strength – Synergy: The thing all these archetypes share is they are all built around synergy. Nids rely heavily on things like synapse, venomthrope -1 to hit auras, +1 to hit auras through Tyranid Primes or Broodlords, spells, hive fleet bonuses, etc. Most units in the Tyranids codex individually appear quite weak; however, when supported by the right units/spells/abilities, they can become quite devastating and have a massive in-game effect! 

An example of this is with my Gaunt carpet style list; I move all my gaunt units in tendrils around the map, maintaining my -1 to hit auras, synapse, and any other buffs I may have. I do this not only because it maximizes my buffs, but it can also minimize incoming damage by removing specific models that are within range of enemy units. This sort of tactic is crucial for an army like Tyranids as they are not overly fond of taking a million shots to the face. All of these armies excel in rapidly taking board control or finding ways to keep themselves pinned in close combat to prevent shooting while peppering some of your critical units with indirect firepower of their own.


– Tactical Strength – Flexibility Through Strategems:

Some of the most flavourful things about Tyranids come through their strategems. They have incredible movement-based strats that other armies just do not have access too. Using stratagems like “Overrun” and “Metabolic Overdrive” can quickly turn games on its head or secure board control. Some of these strats can inflict a devastating blow onto an enemy army. By using things like overrun in conjunction with the fight again stratagem, your genestealers can pull a gunline to pieces! 


– Strength Through Allies:

Luckily for Tyranids, they have access to some unique and powerful allies through Genestealer Cults. GSC doesn’t even have to be a significant point investment into things like hand flamer and rock saw bombs. Something cheap and effective I like to do with my nids is either take a patrol or vanguard detachment simply to gain access to some of the cheaper assassin-based characters or, more importantly, the Genestealer Vect Strat. I really cannot stress enough just how powerful this is for an army like Tyranids. The ability to remove any way of the opponent interacting with your explosive or defensive strategems can mean the difference between causing a multitude of problems or finding yourself in a horrible situation.

– Strength – The Tool Box: 

Having access to an ally like Genestealer Cults, I believe, gives this combined faction the biggest toolbox in the game. The tech choices that you can chop and change is honestly almost limitless, even minor changes to a list can drastically change how the army operates, giving you quite a lot of ways to keep your games fun and different and forcing you to learn new ways to play the list. They have an answer (maybe not direct counters) to just about everything a meta can throw at them, making them an incredibly long-lived tournament army to collect. Because a lot of this tech can come through biomorph adaptations, GSC relics, and warlord traits, a lot of this is usually allowed to be interchangeable throughout your tournament rounds. This flexibility means you have answers that your current opponent hasn’t thought of or doesn’t even know about!


Where I Currently See Tyranids in the Meta:

Tyranids on face value probably sit in the upper mid-tier, especially after some minor buffs through the Blood of Baal. They aren’t Space Marines, but they have a broad range of options that can all be competitive. Things I would begin exploring as a Nid player are the inclusion of Exocrines, one or two Mawlocs, Maleceptors (really!?), and the compulsory inclusion of one unit of biovores for movement blocking shenanigans.

In my mind, the strongest build for Tyranids is still the gaunt carpet that I have been playing for quite a while now, it takes a lot of endurance and finesse to play to its maximum potential, but it is honestly quite rewarding once you can wrap your head around it. It abuses the fact that most competitive players aren’t usually up to date with the shenanigans a Tyranid army can pull, giving it a lot more power and respect in my eyes then most people are willing to give it. 

May The Hive Mind Prosper.

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