Tyranids Tactica Be Not Predator

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The Hive Custodian


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Below are the links to the various sections of this article:

Part 1: Composition:
 Chapter 1: Darwinization
 Chapter 2: Devourers of the Devourer
 Chapter 3: Stronger, Faster, Better
 Chapter 4: Mind of the Hive
 Chapter 5: Links in the Evolutionary Chain
 Appendix 1: They Came From Behind
 Appendix 2: The Galaxy Evolves Around the Tyranids
 Appendix 3: Bigger is Better

Part 2: Tactics
 Chapter 1: They'll Never Hit Us From All the Way Over TH.Definition: Thunder Hammer..



Part 1: Composition
Chapter 1: Darwinization

I'll start with a good ol' rundown of the units; just an evaluation, not a whole lot of detailed tactics or specific customization tips, or anything like that.

HQ

HQ and Troops are the base of every army, but this is more true for Tyranids than most. Whether you need Synapse or not, you will need Tyrants to fill many roles in the army.
Hive Tyrant: On a scale of 1 to 5, I give the Hive Tyrant a 5. ALWAYS take a Hive Tyrant, unless the game is under 500 points. Even then, consider it. The Tyrant can fill many roles that the Tyranid army is otherwise lacking in: long range firepower (Venom Cannon), good AP shooting (Warp Blast), and fast monstrous creature (Wings). It's an all-around good deal; anything Warriors can do, a Tyrant most likely can do better for the same cost. Another note: do your best to remember to use The Horror. It may not be much, but it will bite your opponent in the tail once in a while.
Tyrant Guard: I'd rate Tyrant Guard at a 2, maybe 3. Tyrant Guard are best for guarding short-range or melee-based monstrous creatures that are slow; in other words, monstrous creatures similar to them. If you're planning on a shooty, long-range monster, you're probably better off buying a duplicate rather than protecting it with Guard. Apart for guarding, there's not a terrible lot that these can do; their slow speed and poor attack capability hinders their effectiveness.

Elites

Elites is perhaps the least-used slot type in Tyranid armies, as Warriors are generally only taken when there's little else left. Better this slot type than any other, though; if you are playing with the experience system, you'll find plenty of room up here for elite units from other slots.
Lictors: Some people like Lictors. I certainly don't; I'd give it a 1. The way I see it, Lictors are a gamble, and 80 points is too rich for me. By taking a Lictor (or Lictors), you are betting that the enemy will not detect the Lictor (once the enemy reads the rules, they can search with every unit every turn with almost no penalty) and will move (if they stay 6" inside their deployment zone they are safe) a vulnerable unit past the cover that your Lictor is hiding. Furthermore, while the Lictor is hiding, that's 80 points of Tyranids that is not doing anything. Its statistics are not even approaching anything that I would expect of an 80 point unit; should it fail to destroy its intended target, it is usually wasted in both senses of the word.
Warriors: Warriors are definitely a 3. Warriors are the workhorse medium creature, simply because all other creatures of this size are extremely specialized or ineffective. In larger games, you'll need them to fill out your Synapse, as two Tyrants may not be enough and Zoanthropes are for Warp Blast. Furthermore, they often occupy the least-used slots on the Force Organization chart; if you run out of slots on one type, chances are you can make some type of Warrior to fill that role. They won't do spectacularly, but they'll get the job done.

Troops

Tyranid armies are often Troop-heavy; most Tyranids (and sometimes their opponents as well) expect to win simply by throwing lots of Gaunts or Rippers at the problem. Whether you accede to this school of thought or not, there is little more intimidating than sheer numbers, and sometimes attrition is the best way of defeating the enemy.
Genestealers: In my book, Genestealers are a 1. Genestealers are like Lictors in that some people like them, but I find them too fragile for their cost. Anything at this points cost better have some fair durability or speed; the Genestealers don't. Though they are feared in melee, there are more than a few things that can beat them there. Ripper Swarms mutated with Rending Claws are much better in most ways.
Gaunts: Gaunts get a 4. The most common model in most armies, Gaunts provide a combination of speed and massive numbers of models and attacks.
Ripper Swarms: About even with Gaunts, I give Rippers a 4. Perhaps the meatiest of Tyranid units, Ripper Swarms are an excellent deal. With their low cost and high Wounds and Attacks, as well as their lack of need of Synapse, they would probably outdo Gaunts if it were not for their inability to complete some mission objectives; as such, you can't rely solely on them. Any significant number of Ripper Swarms is almost impossible to destroy in a reasonable amount of time. They can also be used to fill out your Troop requirements extremely cheaply, should you want to field a top-heavy army.

Fast Attack

Fast Attack, in my experience, is an all-or-nothing deal. I either fill all my Fast Attack slots, or none of them. Fast Attack is likely the second least-used slot.
Raveners: Raveners are a 1. Virtually anything a Ravener can do, a Warrior can do better. A Winged Warrior moves better than a Ravener and costs much less; look at the stats and the biomorphs and you'll see just how stark the difference is.
Gargoyles: Gargoyles I'd give a 4.5. They are a great deal. If you like a fast army, you can skimp on Troops and take lots of Gargoyles instead, often with the same or better effectiveness. Apart from their obvious speed, they have a multitude of small advantages; Bio-Plasma lets you attack with a fast, powerful stone throw and glance light vehicles, even skimmers, they can shoot and Deep Strike, and they don't need Hive Nodes. All this adds up to make the Gargoyles a better buy than they may appear at first glance, which is saying something.

Heavy Support

Most commanders like Heavy Support; who can say no to the big guns? In the Tyranid army, big guns are even rarer than normal, which makes Heavy Support all the dearer. Not to mention that it's the biggest way to get more monstrous creatures...
Carnifex: I'd put the Carnifex at 3.5. The Carnifex's main strength is, well, Strength. It can deliver high Strength attacks at any range, making it invaluable for taking out vehicles at long range. If it manages to catch a ground vehicle in melee, the vehicle is almost certainly destroyed. If it manages to catch infantry in melee, it can usually wade through them, albeit somewhat slowly. A fair unit; not great, but useful.
Zoanthropes: Zoanthropes get a 4, simply because Tyranids tend to lack good AP shooting, and Zoanthropes provide that. They're expensive, but there's nobody else to do it.
Biovores: I rate the Biovores at 3.5. They MUST be set up in an absolutely safe place; if that is done, they can rain Spore Mines all battle long. They're about as effective as you would expect for their cost, which isn't a whole lot. Poison Mines are generally the best; Acid mines are too unreliable, and the extra AP makes them better than Frag.

Special Characters

The Red Terror: Perhaps a 2.5. Neither of the two unique abilities, Deep Strike and Swallow Whole, are as good as they would seem. The Red Terror cannot assault the turn it arrives via Deep Strike, opening it up to enemy fire. If they have Strength 10 weapons, woe betide the Red Terror; even without them, the Red Terror is very vulnberable. As for Swallow Whole, the chances of it happening are not great, except on the charge. Even then, you are not assured to be in base contact with your intended mark, especially if they enemy knows what the Red Terror does (the other player has a turn to place meatshields between the Red Terror and any characters. The more deadly drawback, however, is the restriction on which models it can swallow; it excludes most all models that the Red Terror would not be better off scoring the regular hits on. Without the unique abilities being useful, the Red Terror is little more than the poor man's Hive Tyrant; though the Red Terror is cheaper, the Tyrant hosts massive advantages over the Red Terror: ability to shoot, Wings are generally better than Fast, a 2+ save, another wound, better Strength, Initiative, and Toughness, immunity to auto-kill by double Strength, Synapse, The Horror, and greater customizability.
Old One Eye: Now we're getting somewhere. I'll give this beastie a 4. Its Gigantic Crushing Claws (pretty blunt name for an ability, if you ask me) isn't much of an advantage over dual Scything Talons (only 0.5 more attacks on average), but it is something. The main benefit is psychological; if you roll a 1 and aren't charging, the two attacks are still nothing to sniff at. On the other hand, if you roll a 6 and are charging, that's a whopping 8 attacks! Worth it for the look on your opponent's face, if nothing else. The main draw for Old One Eye is Regenerate. In small games (where Old One Eye can be used), your opponent is less likely to have lots of heavy weapons. This is good for Old One Eye, because concentrated fire is the bane of Old One Eye. Ideally, you'll have the enemy shoot at Old One Eye a little; every wound he regnerates is one less wound going to a Hive Tyrant. Present him in an intimidating manner while exposing him to only a few heavy weapons at a time; that way, he'll negate a few heavy weapons completely simply by standing there. If your opponent figures out your gambit and starts concentrating fire, try giving him a brood of Tyrant Guard next game. Then, you can take the first wound every turn on him, and put the others on the Guard. This should result in the unit lasting quite a while; Old One Eye saves the Guard a wound every turn, and the Guard prevent Old One Eye from taking more than Regenerate can handle.



Chapter 2: Devourers of the Devourer

Bio-weapons and Warp Blast
I'll sort this one by creature, rather than bio-weapon.
Hive Tyrant: You want your Tyrant to have one shooting weapon; even if you go dual Scything Talons, you should still take Warp Blast. The other option is to use a Venom Cannon. Other shooting weapons may be cheaper, but they are generally quite weak. Furthermore, the Venom Cannon provides good long-range firepower, something you'll be hard-pressed to find anywhere else. Nothing is better than a Tyrant Venom Cannon for taking down Skimmer tanks, for example. For the former, you'll want Wings to get in range; for the latter, they aren't as necessary. Close-combat-wise, I would suggest Lash Whips first, then Scything Talons. Most people favor Scything Talons; however, I have found Lash Whips much more effective. Sure, you give up one attack, but your enemies lose one as well. Most enemies have fewer attacks than the Hive Tyrant, so it hurts them more. In fact, if the enemy has 2 Attacks, Lash Whips will cut half of them out, which gives you a huge advantage in melee. Of course, they are less necessary with Tyrant Guard.
Warriors: Again, if you want a gun, go for the Venom Cannon. The Deathspitter is also a fair choice; the range advantage is crucial over the Devourer. Lash Whips are not as good as they would be on a Tyrant, due to their lower number of Attacks; only take it if your enemies have exactly 2 Attacks, or, for Venom Cannon Warriors, if you think it will let them hold out long enough to be rescued by more melee-oriented units. Rending Claws are a must for close combat Warriors. Note that you can swap bio-weapons while having the Warriors count as the same species, an important fact when working out mutations.
Genestealers: They're already fragile enough for their cost without bio-weapons. I don't recommend taking Genestealers at all, but if you do, skip the Talons.
Gaunts: There's only one good weapon for a Gaunt: Scything Talons. Shooting prevents you from using Fleet of Claw, which is reason enough to use Scything Talons instead.
Ripper Swarms: The Spinefists are effectively 6 points a model, because you have to buy +BS to shoot with them. At that cost, they're too expensive, so skip them. Besides, if you mutate the Rippers with other weapons, you'll have to replace them anyway.
Ravener: Even more so than Genestealers, I advise against taking these. If you do, use Rending Claws and Scything Talons for melee. If you want to shoot, replace the Scything Talons with Devourers to take advantage of the high number of Attacks.
Carnifex: You want a gun, because this thing's not getting anywhere fast. The Venom Cannon is the best choice, due to its range; you can't be sure that you can get into melee or even Devourer range during a battle. Give him Scything Talons to go with the Venom Cannon. If you're using Seeding Swarm, you may be able to get away with a Devourer.
A note about using the Venom Cannon: the glancing-only seems to be a huge drawback. But is it really? While it's certainly better to be able to penetrate, glancing-only means you don't have to worry about Skimmers moving fast, or your target vehicle being Hull Down, or smoke launchers, or some other things; they doen't do anything further. So if you're using Venom Cannons, you can put something between you and your mark with no penalty to your shooting. If you're only going to glance no matter what, might as well grab some cover while you're at it.



Chapter 3: Stronger, Faster, Better

Biomorphs
Before I go over specific biomorphs, let's get a couple of units out of the way:
Gaunts: Don't give Gaunts biomorphs. There are very few units against which a biomorph will provide an advantage over simply having more Gaunts; there is virtually no army where the biomorphs will serve you better. Even against Iyanden or Death Guard, you'll only break about even with +S, though it doubles your chance of wounding them (if you started in melee, it would be better, but +S doesn't help you when you're shot at on the way there, whereas greater numbers does). If you want speed, take Gargoyles instead; the equivalent Gaunt would cost 50% more.
Genestealers: Again, I recommend against Genestealers. If you do take them, only Flesh Hooks may be worth taking, as it will allow them to find cover more easily while advancing. The others are too expensive considering the fragility of the Genestealers.

Apart from these two genera, the biomorphs work as follows

Leaping: At only a few points for Ripper Swarms, as well as not requiring modeling (how would you model a Leaping Ripper differently from a normal one?), combined with the Rippers' low Initative and high Attacks, you'll want it to get the Rippers into combat faster and to be able to strike more effectively after the enemies have taken their turns whacking at you. Plus, the 2" range will allow you to put normal Rippers in front while your Rending Rippers attack from stone throw range. In contrast, they are very expensive on Warriors; unless you cannot spare the Fast Attack slots, Wings are much more effective for only a few more points.
Wings: Only fair on Rippers, due to the cost, Wings are quite good on Warriors and Tyrants. If you want your Tyrant to be able to close with the enemy quickly, or to "snipe" (more effective than it might sound), you'll need Wings. For Warriors, it's a matter of role; shooty ones can sit back and shoot without Wings, or "snipe" with Venom Cannons/harass troops with Deathspitters. You can take a few close combat Warriors with Wings for fast Synapse; otherwise, you will need to be careful with your Winged close combat Warriors due to their high cost and marginal durability. Without Wings, you can either go for quality or quantity for close combat Warriors depending on the number of biomorphs.
By "sniping" I mean jumping a large group of winged Tyrants and/or Warriors with Venom Cannons into the line of fire with a specific enemy target, and hopefully annihilating it before it or any other shooty enemies nearby can respond. Tyranids can be actually not bad at this, as many armies lack fast, compact units with powerful long-range weaponry.
Adrenal Glands (either; +WS and/or +I): +WS is not worth it on Rippers; +I usually isn't either. Otherwise, take these when they allow you to meet or exceed by 1 the enemy's WS or I; this is where they will actually have an effect (for example, don't take +I for a Carnifex; you'll usually strike last anyway against anything significant). If you're in doubt, take them; on Warriors, Hive Tyrants, and Carnifexes, they're quite cheap compared to the base cost.
Toxin Sacs (+S): If you have a gun that isn't already Strength 10, take +S. The gun may end up costing more, but that extra Strength makes a lot of difference against vehicles. Again, it's usually not worth it on Rippers. The Carnifex's default Strength is usually overkill already, unless you're going tank hunting and using Seeding Swarm, or fighting multiwound Toughness 5 (not many of those). You'll do about as well with or without it on Warriors; it's a good bet on Tyrants.
Extended Carapace (+Sv): Not worth it on Rippers.Always take it on Tyrants and Carnifexes, no exceptions. It's a good idea on Warriors as well, as it's quite a bonus in durability when you get your save, especially against the ubiquitous AP 5 small-arms fire.
Flesh Hooks: Take them for all non-Winged creatures. The reason: forget the frag grenade effect; that's just a side bonus. Flesh Hooks allow you to scale walls, a huge advantage for its cost. Plus, it's just amusing to think of a Carnifex pulling itself up a skyscraper with them.
Implant Attack: According to the wording in the Codex, they affect ranged attacks as well as melee attacks; the Q&A that said they did not no longer exists. If this is true, they are much more powerful than they would be otherwise. The use is obvious: fighting multiwound enemies. However, the cost is high. Therefore, Implant Attack is either indispensable or worthless, depending on who you're fighting. When in doubt, don't take it.
Bio-Plasma: The most expensive biomorph, Bio-Plasma is generally not worth it because monstrous creatures don't get their bonuses with it, and Rending Claws probably don't help them either. They won't help against Skimmers as the Tyrant is too weak without the extra penetration die, and the Carnifex is too slow to catch a Skimmer. On Warriors, they are far too expensive.



Chapter 4: Mind of the Hive

Psychic powers
Synapse Creature: Very important... if you have Gaunts. It's not quite as crucial as it's often made out to be, though that doesn't say much. Generally, you'll have enough Synapse coverage in the form of Tyrants; Tyrants would be useful even without it, so why not take them?
The Horror: As I said before, it's not much, but it may bite your opponent in the buttocks when he least expects it. Just don't rely on it.
Psychic Scream: Impressive, but it carries a hefty points cost. If the enemy has a lot of psykers, though, definitely take it.
Catalyst: In essence, this power gives the targeted unit the Initiative of your enemy (if you strike first, you won't use this power). It's a lot cheaper than +I and/or Flesh Hooks for your Gaunts, Rippers, or whatever, and sometimes more effective. Unfortunately, it only works during your turn. Its price is low, so if you're fighting enemies with high Initative (namely Eldar), by all means take it.
Warp Blast: Only good AP shooting attack availiable to the Tyranids; take it whenever possible and not redundant (i.e. Tyrant with Venom Cannon).
Warp Field: Standard on Zoanthropes; Extended Carapace does the same thing for less on Tyrants.



Chapter 5: Links in the Evolutionary Chain

Hive Fleets and mutations

Hive Fleets

It is rare that you will actually use the maximum number of species allowed in a Hive Fleet; after all, there are only 17 slots on the standard chart! Furthermore, there are some units (such as Hive Tyrants) that are universally effective, reducing the number of species you need to take. The minimum number of species is actually only two, though this is also rare: a Troops choice and a Warrior species without Wings (note that you don't need a Fast Attack choice, and you can fill Heavy Support with the same species as Elites, since Warriors with different weapons still count as the same species; CA 2004 page 99). If you know who you're fighting, you can narrow down your species list more because you can rely on a few specialized species rather than have to cover a wide variety of roles.
You'll almost always be able to mutate one or more Ripper or Gaunt in each brood. Large broods of Genestealers, Warriors, or Raveners are open to mutation as well. Mutating a Hive Tyrant or Carnifex is a stretch, but it can be done. Anything else is nearly impossible to mutate.

Mutations

Hive Node:Always take one in each Gaunt brood. Nobody else benefits from it, though.
Weapon-beast: Gaunts don't have enough Attacks to benefit from this mutation. Rippers mutated with Rending Claws are brutal and overall better than Genestealers, especially with Leaping. Tyrants can already take all the weapons; same with the Carnifex, though you can save a few points by replacing Rending Claws with a mutated Venom Cannon rather than take a Venom Cannon normally. This mutation is too expensive on all other creatures.
Exceptional Size: There is only one model where this mutation could potentially be worth it: the Hive Tyrant. It's too expensive elsewhere for its effects. When should you take it? When the enemy has a multitude of AP 2 and/or power weapons at Strength 3, 5, and/or 6, and you're packing a Venom Cannon. As far as I know, there's only one race that fits that description...
Acid Blood: Small models generally can't get enough base contact to make this effective; the best use may be on monstrous creatures when you think they may be likely to be killed in melee. The relatively low cost makes that a somewhat effective use; if your Carnifex gets killed while surrounded, then Acid Blood has done its job.



Appendix 1: They Came From Behind

Seeding Swarm
HQ: Take a Tyrant as usual. You will only be able to get away with Warp Blast without using Wings if you win the Strategy Rating roll, so it's best to keep them if you go the Warp Blast route. Take Tyrant Guard only if you're taking a Tyrant on foot; the randomness of Deep Strike means that you can't always get them to something else to protect.
Elites: Unlike a normal Tyranid army, a single Tyrant is generally not enough to provide Synapse coverage. Therefore, you'll need Warriors. Deathspitters are a good choice, as they can be fired on the turn that they arrive, and they are effective both against infantry and the rear armor of tanks.
Troops: Avoid these unless you have run out of Heavy Support slots; Without Number is a huge bonus.
Fast Attack: Raveners are poor as usual. Gaunts make poor candidates for Ferocious, due to their low Toughness. Furthermore, the Hive Node is vulnerable to the deterioration, a crucial weakness when Synapse may be intermittent. Genestealers fare better because Deep Strike cuts down on the time that they are exposed to fire, which is their greatest weakness. However, the unreliablility of Deep Strike still makes them vulnerable. It would probably be best to fill out Heavy Support first.
Heavy Support: The restriction of Zoanthropes means that you likely will not want to spend the entire slot for just one. With Deep Strike, you can get away with a Devourer for a Carnifex, which makes it deadly against tanks, though you may want to stick with the Venom Cannon in case you lose the Strategy Rating roll. You'll want to fill all of your remaining Heavy Support slots with Without Number Gaunts. Since the Gaunts come back when killed, those biomorphs you skimped out on in regular armies may have some value here. However, watch those Victory Point battles.

Strategy Rating probabilities

4v1: Win 70.7%; Tie 16.7%; Lose 12.6%3v1: Win 66.0%; Tie 16.7%; Lose 17.4%2v1: Win 57.9%; Tie 16.7%; Lose 25.5%4v2: Win 52.6%; Tie 26.4%; Lose 21.0%3v2: Win 47.2%; Tie 24.8%; Lose 28.0%4v3: Win 40.3%; Tie 32.6%; Lose 27.1%



Appendix 2: The Galaxy Evolves Around the Tyranids

4th Edition
Hive Tyrants are now much safer moving through difficult terrain (which they can actually do now).
If you have lots of Carnifexes, you could use them to provide a crude screen for something.
The new Rapid Fire rules mean that Gargoyles may be a better choice than Scythegaunts, although the new Assault rules improve the performance of Scythegaunts when and if they reach the enemy in numbers.
The new Perils of the Warp Rules make using psychic powers a bit more risky. However, it's still a very small risk for a Tyrant.
Leaping Warriors are actually worth their points now, as they now benefit from Fleet of Claw. Now if they would only clarify Leaping Rippers in the same way...
Improved cover saves make Tyranids more dangerous in general, especially Rippers.
It is now somewhat viable to Deep Strike large broods of Gargoyles.
Infiltrate has been improved. I still think Genestealers aren't a good idea, though.
Lash Whips are more useful now.
The Leaping bonus in terms of attack range is a bit redundant; I tend to find that 2" is plenty already. However, the possibility of Fleeting more than makes up for this.
Apparently, Warp Blast costs 20 points; going by the Q&A, it seems to apply to Zoanthropes as well as Tyrant.
Deathspitters and Barbed Stranglers are not as useful as they used to be. The new Assault rules means that getting into base-to-base is not an issue anymore, so it doesn't matter if the enemy spreads out or not. Also, because you have to center the template over a model, you won't get as many hits.



Appendix 3: Bigger is Better

Creature Design Rules
Yes, I know the rules say to make the creature first and then apply rules to it. But this is a strategy guide, and as such, I'm going to teach you how to abuse the system. Besides, if you think these are bad, you should see some of the Eldar and Tau VDR's I've come up with...
First, some examples, so you won't have to build your own:

Tyranid Venomnest

Heavy Support, Cost: 372 points
WsBsSTWIALdSave
4457523102+
  • Lumbering
  • 1 Mass Point
  • Flesh Hooks
  • Gargantuan Warp Field
  • The Horror
  • 2 Cluster Ranged Spasm Massive Venom Cannons
  • Effective Ranged Attack: Assault 6d3 Blast S8 AP3 Range 72" (approximately equivalent to 12 Blast Long-Barrel Krak Missiles)

Tyranid Devourernest

Heavy Support, Cost: 266 points
WsBsSTWIALdSave
4467523102+
  • Lumbering
  • 1 Mass Point
  • Flesh Hooks
  • Gargantuan Warp Field
  • The Horror
  • 2 Cluster Ranged Spasm Massive Devourers
  • Effective Ranged Attack: Assault 12d3 Blast S6 AP5 Range 36" (approximately equivalent to 8 Blast Long-Barrel Shuriken Cannons)

Tyranid Eviscerfex

Heavy Support, Cost: 145 points
WsBsSTWIALdSave
4467523 + 2 + Bio Plasma102+
  • Winged
  • Warp Field
  • 2x Scything Talons
  • Bio-Plasma

Now, should you want to build your own, use these guidelines:

Take as many Wounds as you can. The cost is cheap, and they usually end up lasting longer than Mass Points for their cost.
Take as high a Toughness as you can. Again, it's not very expensive, and it does wonders for the creature's durability.
Take as many Attacks as you can, unless you're using Assault 1 weapons strictly. Attacks are pretty cheap.
Take as high a BS Definition: Battle Sister or Ballistic Skillas you can. BS Definition: Battle Sister or Ballistic Skillis cheap as well for what it does.
Only pay for a 4+ save, and buy Warp Field. If you followed the above, it will be cheaper, and if the creature is gargantuan, it will be more effective as well.
Agile is better than Fast. Shooty monsters need Lumbering. The larger the creature, the more efficient it is to use Fast or Winged. Flyers are a very poor deal.
Don't upgrade WS or I. Way too expensive.
Don't use Rending Claws. They're already Monstrous. Don't use Razor Claws, either, unless it's a Titan-heavy battle; it's a large increase in cost, and the selection of targets which it can affect is limited.
If the creature has a gun, take all the upgrades you can. A gun with all the upgrades is much cheaper than two with only some of them, and often just as effective. Don't split between guns and melee bio-weapons on the same creature; go all for one or the other.
Devourers are the weapon to use against infantry due to their rate of fire. The best deal is at Strength 5 or 6; the jump from 6 to 7 is 100%.
Against vehicles, you'll want a Venom Cannon if you need the range; otherwise, use the Fleshborer (Spinefist with the 4th Edition preview).
Stay away from Deathspitters, Barbed Stranglers, and the Acid Spray. You want to take advantage of the cheap Attacks. If you want AP, take Massive with a Venom Cannon, or use Warp Blast.
Transport is a poor deal.
Tunneler is too expensive.
If the creature has no Mass Points, Bio-Plasma is free. Therefore, take it if the creature has no mass points. Otherwise, it's too expensive.
Implant Attack is about the same as any normal Tyranid creature.
Always take Flesh Hooks if the creature is not Winged.



Part 2: Tactics
Chapter 1: They'll Never Hit Us From All the Way Over TH.Definition: Thunder Hammer..

Tyranid shooting
Most people think that Tyranids can, and often should, be played as an almost exclusively assault army. This is simply not true. While melee should comprise the majority of your army against heavily armored enemies, a few Warp Blasts are indispenable. Against armies with worse saves, particularly Eldar, shooting becomes more important, especially with Venom Cannons. That said, here's a guide to best using the three main types of Tyranid gunnery: Venom Cannons, Warp Blast, and Spore Mines. Many of these things apply to other races as well.

Why Shoot?

Your enemies don't expect it. You play Tyranids, so your enemies probably don't expect much firepower. You might even catch them off guard, but don't count on it.
Greater freedom of target selection. Often, there's a lot of things keeping people from breaking in an assault, despite its randomness. This can make assault a little like marriage: "'Till death do us part." Sure, the enemy has an advantage in target selection over you, due to Shoot the Big Ones, but you can limit or reverse that with mobility. However, you can still choose who you shoot, rather than having to flail at whatever you managed to charge or be charged by. This makes shooting more like... umm... well, I can't really think of a good simile for that one, being young and sheltered and all, but you get the picture.
You can't melee Skimmers (and sometimes other fast units, either). It's that simple; it's nearly impossible to catch them in assault, and nearly impossible to hit them in assault.
Guns tend to have higher Strength. Nothing complicated to this by itself, but keep it in mind.
Tyranid melee isn't supreme. There are plenty of things out there that can beat Tyranids in melee; it's just that a bigger chunk of a Tyranid army tends to be melee-based.
Blast weapons tend to make the enemy spread out. Why is this good, you ask? If your Gaunts charge, that means more of your Gaunts can get into base-to-base.

General

Psychology: A minor advantage for Tyranid shooting is that many opponents don't expect to be shot at by Tyranids. This fact is like The Horror; it will throw your opponent off because they don't expect it, but you shouldn't rely on it. It's just another thing in your favor.
Target selection: The enemies that you should shoot first are the most fragile targets that carry the most firepower. Of course, don't go too far out of your way to do this; you have to weigh the risks of getting into position. For example, if you have a couple of Tyrants with Venom Cannons, and you see a Falcon, Wraithlord, and three War Walkers, you'll want to shoot the War Walkers first since that will remove more of the enemy's firepower faster. After you destroy the War Walkers, you shoot the Falcon, and finally the Wraithlord. If there are Rangers swarming around the War Walkers, though, you may want to pick a different target instead.
Concentration of fire: When your weapons auto-kill, or you are targeting single-wound models or vehicles, concentration of fire is not important. However, it won't hurt, and if your targets take more than one hit apiece to take down, you want to concentrate your fire on one target. Furthermore, control of firing lanes often lends itself to concentration of fire. Shooting doesn't do you any good until you reduce your enemy's ability to move and shoot back. For example, say you have two Tyrants against two Wraithlords. If you divide your fire evenly, you might cause four Wounds after a while, but the enemy still has just as many Starcannons as they started with. On the other hand, if you concentrate fire on one Wraithlord, it's going down, which means that they lost half their Starcannons in this situation. That's less firepower coming toward you, which means that you units will survive longer, which means they will deal more damage, which means that they will reduce the enemy's firepower faster, and so on.
Control of firing lanes: When you have picked a target, keep your gunnery broods in the same place unless they are slow and vulnerable to assault (such as Zoanthropes or Biovores). Make sure all your shooty creatures can see and fire at your target, but make sure the target andonly the target (or as few other enemies as possible) can fire at your shooty creatures with anything significant on their turn. Use cover, close combats, and Wings to accomplish this. Be sure to take into account any moves the enemy may be able to make before shooting; just because they can't see you when you shoot doesn't always mean they can't move to somewhere where they can on their turn. For example, suppose that there's a large walled complex with rubble in the center in the middle of the board, and the Eldar player decides to try a pincer movement, sending three Vypers around one side and a Wave Serpent around the other. What you'll want to do is move your Venom Cannons to the side with the Vyper (better target selection there) and hose them down before the Wave Serpent can come in to help. Do this well, and the enemy will get fewer or even no shots at you.
The Assault advantage: All Tyranid weapons, except Spore Mine Launchers (and you won't need to move with those) are Assault. Assault does for Shooting roughly what a high Initative does for close combats: it lets you go first. Say there's some enemies with Heavy weapons around a hard corner. Assuming you are in range, you approach that corner. If they pop out to get a line of sight to you, they can't fire that turn, so you get the first shot (or, alternately, you could hide behind a wall if you don't want to start a shootout). If they stay there, you can pop out around the corner and shoot them before they can shoot you.
Firing Order: Always fire the brood with the least number of available targets first. That way, if the first brood destroys the target, the other broods still have something to shoot at.

Venom Cannons

Glancing-only: As I said earlier, glancing-only means you shouldn't worry about Hull Down, smoke launchers, Skimmers moving fast, or other things like that. Take advantage of cover. Of course, if your enemy is using Skimmers, and he knows you're relying on Venom Cannons, he may stop moving fast so he can fire more weapons. Generally, this is a bad thing, but at least they aren't moving as fast if they do this. You could also pack one or two non-Venom Cannon weapons to keep your opponent honest.
Anti-infantry: The AP is actually decent for a Tyranid weapon, and so are the range and Strength. After you've downed the vehicles, it should be a simple matter to stay out of range and pelt the infantry, assuming they don't have a better range than you do.
Biovores and Synapse: If you're worried about your Biovores going beserk, a brood of Venom Cannon Warriors is useful to keep them in Synapse while staying effective in their own right.

Warp Blast

Warp Blast is not a psychic power!: Technically Warp Blast IS a psychic power. However, it does not function like a psychic power. It is the Tyranid Missile Launcher, with shorter range but better AP and Strength. Don't neglect the non-concentrated version; it's more reliable, it gives you longer reach, and can hit more models.
Zoanthropes: You don't want to send your Zoanthropes in a group without other support. Three Zoanthropes without an assault screen or countercharge threat of some type makes a tempting charge target. Either surround them with Gaunts or Rippers, or spread them out.

Spore Mines

Spread Out: Due to their range and indirect fire, you'll want to spread your Biovores out, in case some enemy makes their way back there.
Shoot at the Heavy weapons: Since Spore Mines trigger when a unit near them fires, even a miss near a Heavy weapon unit can be effective. They must either spend a turn moving clear, or fire and have the Spore Mine detonate. If the position of the Spore Mine is favorable, you may want to use this opportunity to fire with some of your own guns.




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