Hive Tyrant Tactica
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The Hive Tyrant is the battlefield leader beast for the Tyranid swarm. It's a giant monstrous creature, able to kill entire squads and slice through battle tanks with ease. Able to be equipped with a variety of close combat and ranged weaponry, the Hive Tyrant is sure to have the right weapons to carry out its job.
What does the Hive Tyrant do?
The Hive Tyrant is a Monstrous Creature, meaning it ignores armour saves in close combat, and roles 2D6 for armour penetration against vehicles. It's also a synapse creature, meaning anything within range automatically passes all leadership tests. Overall, it's designed to fill whatever need you have in your list, able to tackle anything that can be thrown at it.
Acid Maw: This bio-morph lets you re-roll fails to wound in close combat only in the first round. It's a nice bio-morph, but most of the time I would advise against it. You're generally going to be hitting on a 2+ or 3+, depending on if you take Toxin Sacs. Plus, it only works for the first round, so if you get stuck in close combat for more than, it's useless. 5/10
Adrenal Glands (I): Upping your Initiative by 1 may not seem that important on the Hive Tyrant, but being able to strike before Space Marine captains and Masters, Eldar Exarchs can be vital to survival. Plus you get to strike at the same as Eldar Autarchs and Dark Eldar HQs, which means you may get to knock them down in return. 8/10
Adrenal Glands (WS): Most of the time you're not going to be needing this bio-morph. You're going to be hitting most things on 3+ anyways, but it can help against those pesky Exarchs and HQs you might be forced to get into close combat. 8/10
Bio-plasma: This gives a free attack in close combat before anybody attacks. However, it doesn't get to benefit from the Monstrous Creature rule, meaning armour saves apply. Though, it is nice to get an extra attack. 6/10
Enhanced Sense: Useful when giving the Tyrant ranged-weapons, meaning more hits with your Devourers or Venom Cannon. Entire dependant on what you give the Tyrant as weapons. 7/10
Extended Carapace: Highly desirable for a walking Tyrant with Guards or solo. This protects you from Battle Cannons, Missile Launchers, and other AP3 weapons. 9/10
Flesh Hooks: One of the best bio-morphs you can give this beast. This lets you count vertically impassable terrain as difficult terrain. It also counts as having Frag Grenades, letting your Tyrant hit at its Initiative in cover. 10/10
Implant Attack: A useful bio-morph, but not vital. Counting each unsaved wound as two wounds is nice, but it only helps against multi-wound models like HQs and big elites. Otherwise you're going to be killing anything you hit outright anyways. 7/10
Symbiote Rippers: Due to 5th edition, this has become an entirely pointless bio-morph. Outnumbering no longer has any effect, or rules for that matter. 0/10
Toxin Sacs: Another highly desirable bio-morph. Upping your strength lets you wound pretty much everything on a 2+, such a MEQs, TEQs. 10/10
Toxic Miasma: Useful, but not required. Lowering your opponent's WS by one is nice to let you hit easier, but you're still going to be hit on a 4+ in most situations. 7/10
Wings: I'm a huge fan of this bio-morph. This lets your Hive Tyrant cross the field at the same pace as your small broods. It's nice for a close combat oriented Hive Tyrant, or one outfitted with Devourers. 10/10
Barbed Strangler: Decent strength, large blast template and decent range make this a nice weapon to use for a ranged Tyrant. 7/10
Twin-Linked Deathspitters: Template weapons are nice, as is the upped strength. However, there are much better weapons to equip to Warriors as they're small blasts, which reward multiple templates. 3/10
Twin-Linked Devourers: Beautiful weapons to use. Give your flying Tyrant two of these for 12 re-rolls to hits and re-rolls to wound. The low strength and no AP does hamper a little bit, but it's for infantry killing. 9/10
Lash Whip & Bonesword: A nice combo weapon, as the whip means you have less return attacks against you, or if you got charged yourself. The bonesword gives puts your Tyrant under the catalyst ability permanently, and can extend its range. However, you're better off simply getting more attacks in close combat. 5/10
Rending Claws: A nice weapon, but useless to the Hive Tyrant. You're already ignoring armour saves, and you have more than enough strength and dice-rolling to crush nearly any vehicle. You could use it to ensure that any vehicle you meet WILL die. 1/10
Scything Talons: One of the best weapons you can give. This is the only way to gain extra attacks in close combat other then the extra for charging. 10/10
Spinefists: Pretty much a pointless weapon to give. You can get this weapon in larger number with Spinegaunts. Plus, your Tyrant has better weapons that can be given then this. 0/10
Catalyst: This lets your smaller, slower minions hit back against their attackers, even if they're killed off. A nice ability, but we have ways to strike faster than our opponents, but it does have its uses. 4/10
Psychic Scream: Giving your opponents a -1 to their leadership sounds pretty nice, but given that most are either Ld 9-10, have some re-roll trick, or are fearless; this isn't as good as it sounds. Better used on Zoanthropes. 5/10
The Shadow in the Warp: This power affects only enemy psykers, making them more likely to make them fail their psychic test. However, it removes the Perils of the Warp, meaning nothing bad will happen if they fail. Good if you know you're facing lists with lots of psykers. 6/10
Warp Blast: Nice ability, this allows you to pop MEQs with relative ease, due to the nice strength, AP, and the blast template. In addition, a more powerful version can be used to pop tanks. 8/10
Warp Field: Vital to any flying Tyrant, due to the inability to take Extended Carapace. Gives you a nice invulnerable save to help against power weapons or such and AP2 weapons. 10/10
Hive Tyrant Builds
The Hive Tyrant is a highly customizable leader beast, which leads to several different configurations that can be done. Below are some of the more common versions of what is seen.
Close Combat Builds
Hive Tyrant with 2x Scything Talons, Wings, Warp Field; 166 points
This guy is the cheapest you can get him for this job. He has the bare requirements to get him close combat, and 6 attacks on the charge is nothing to laugh at. Can get seriously hurt by Aspect Warriors and SM Definition: Space MarinesHQs, so be careful around them with this build. 7/10
Hive Tyrant with 2x Scything Talons, both Adrenal Glands, Wings, Toxin Sacs, Warp Field; 197 points
Slightly more expensive build, he's faster and hits harder against anything he meets. Faster than quite a bit of things, he should be fine to charge into combat with whatever you need taken care of. 9/10
Here's the build I'm currently trying out.
Hive Tyrant with 2x Scything Talons, both Adrenal Glands, Bio-Plasma, Flesh Hooks, Toxin Sacs, Wings, Warp Field; 209 points
One of the more expensive versions, but I find he's worth it. Like before, he's capable to tearing into anything, only now he can take out those pesky units hiding in cover. And he gets 7 attacks on the charge. 10/10
Hive Tyrant with 2x Twin-linked Devourers, Toxin Sacs, Enhanced Senses, Wings, Warp Field; 161 points
12 S5 re-rolled to hit, re-roll to wounds shots. This guy is made to decimate squads of low SV units, such as Imperial Guard or Dark Eldar, or other Tyranids. He's fast enough to get into range, and he has the save to survive for the most part. 10/10
Hive Tyrant with Enhanced Senses, Extended Carapace, Toxin Sacs, Barbed Strangler, Venom Cannon; 182 points
This guy is your long-range powerhouse. The Barbed Strangler has the potential to clear squads out if lucky enough, and the venom cannon can instant kill due to its high strength. Mostly, this version is used with Tyrant Guard to help protect from assaults and low AP weapons.
Just because you've equipped your Hive Tyrant to the way you want it, doesn't mean you can just start charging forward in the hope of reaching your opponent's lines. The Tyrant may be tough and strong, but it's not invincible in any sense of the word.
Close combat tactics
Winged close combat Hive Tyrants require a lot of skill to use. You can't simply charge forward, or you'll simply be gunned down. Use what you got.
Rather than use the wings to get close as fast, stop behind that piece of terrain if it's tall enough to cover you. If you have Flesh Hooks, hop over that wall to shield yourself. Instead of placing him in the center of your force, playing him off to the side on a flank. This might give you more terrain to hop between and less resistance you'll face before you close into his ranks.
Something you can try is to shield him with a squad of Gargoyles. They're fast enough to keep up with him and gives your opponent a choice to make. Shoot the Gargoyles and let your Tyrant close the distance, or try and shoot the Tyrant. This means that your Gargoyles can shoot forward and tie up one of the squads, giving less resistance. Either way, one of these squads is going to make it to close combat with your opponent.
Overall, you want to send your Tyrant into something he can kill enough of to prevent being hurt, but large enough to keep him from wiping them out in your turn. This saves you from retaliation in the form of massive guns beings leveled at your friend. You want the squad to be wiped out in your opponent's turn. Allowing you to move and assault another squad and keep yourself save.
Since we have two distinct builds, I'll cover each in turn. First, we'll start with the Devourer Tyrant.
The Devil Tyrant (Devourers) is just as fast as the close combat Tyrants, and much of the same tactics apply. However, you have to be more careful about choosing your target. Due to the range of the Devourers, you will be putting yourself right in range of most anti-tank/MC weapons. Because you're not tying yourself up in close combat, you can find yourself out in the open after decimating a squad. Thus, it's very handy to try and place area terrain or large enough terrain between the Tyrant and the rest of your opponent's army. And because the Tyrant still ignores armour saves in close combat, you can charge in if you find yourself needing to.
The walking Tyrant is a different story. Due to the Tyrant Guard most likely accompanying your Tyrant, you don't have to rely on terrain quite as much. This build relies on choosing its targets more carefully than the others, due to the smaller number of shots. Devastator squads, Heavy Weapon squads, and the new special weapon squads are all viable targets. Cover is still vitally important, protecting yourself from assaults and all those nasty lascannon shots and such.
The Hive Tyrant is a powerful model to have in your army. Whether shooting or close combat, he can get the job done. However, don't throw him around just willy-nilly. He requires patience and strategy to serve his purpose in your army. And remember, it's not always about killing the most. Sometimes it's about the fear factor that your Hive Tyrant can produce.