Tyranid Elite Tactics

Warhammer 40k Tyranid Zoanthrope Brood

Elite troops are very important to the structure of a Tyranid army. In most armies the Elite choices are chosen to add colour or an extra edge. In the Tyranid army the Elite choices offer some of the more specialist Tyranid creatures.

Having as much fore knowledge as possible about any upcoming battle will help when it comes to choosing what, if any, elite units you add to your army list. If you are expecting a sparse amount of cover then the Venomthrope will give your broods some mobile extra cover saves. If you are expecting to face a number of Psykers,, then the Zoanthrope offers psychic powers, added hive mind cover, and the potent Warp Blast. And for games with heavy cover, the Hive Guard can stay out of sight and still offer close support anti-tank fire-power.

Tyranid Hive GuardTyranid Hive Guard Tactics

The Hive Guard are very  similar to the Tyranid Guard that you find in the HQ section. They have a few tweaks to the stats line that you need to be aware of, specially the 4+ save. The Hive Guard also come with impaler cannons.

The Tyranid Hive Guard Impaler Cannon

The Tyranid Hive Guard get the Impaler Cannon. There are no options to change this, so generally you choose to field a Tyranid Guard squad if you want this weapon.

The Impaler Cannon is a medium ranged S8 weapon. This does have enough punch to take out most tanks and instant kill most S4 multi wound characters. Its main strength though is that you can be fired at targets that are out of sight. This is great if you are going to fight on a table that has dense cover. City Fight and Jungle Fight rules are prime examples.

Note that even though the Hive Guard does not need line of site to fire this weapon, you still need to roll to hit. I guess it is the ‘Shard-beast’s’ ballistic skill you are checking and not the Tyranid Hive Guards!

Tyranid Lictor Tactics

A Tyranid Lictor sneaks up on Sisters of Battle

A Tyranid Lictor sneaks up on Sisters of Battle

Lictors are the sneaky assassins of the Tyranid army.  Their chameleon scales and ability to function away from the Hive Mind make them great scouting choices.

Lictors add an element of surprise to your army. They Can be set up in a hidden location, even if the scenario does not allow infiltrates.

Lictor Tactics

Lictors use a different type of tactics to the main Tyranid army. Although there are now several Tyranid creatures that can deep strike, the Lictor is the only one that must deep strike.


Lictors are good assassins. In a one to one fight, Lictors will wound or kill most of your opponent’s characters. Avatars and Greater Demons are edible with a bit of support. Beware of the character’s bodyguard retinue. If you are out numbered your chances of survival are slim.

If no valuable characters are available Lictors can tie up squads in combat. This allows your other troops top close in. Remember that your enemy can not shoot through close combat. Choose a squad that is small enough so you are not killed in one turn. Choose one in a position that blocks as many shots at your troops as possible.

Confuse and Distract

Even when your Lictor is not on the table it can distract your opponent. Decide at the beginning of the battle if you want your opponent to know that you have a Lictor. If he does not know about it you can surprise him when it appears. If he does know about it then he will be guessing where it is placed until it’s on the board. Sometimes you do not get the chance to keep your army list secret. In this case use the second tactic.

Causes Terror

Lictors do not have ‘The Horror’ Hive-Mind power, but they do look awesome and your opponent on his toes.

Pheromone Trail

With a greater number of deep strike troop available, the Lictor’s ability to get your other deep-strike troops in sooner is a great advantage. If you have a larger quantity of deep strike troops it may be worth leaving your Lictor out of harms way just to do this.

Remember that the Lictor needs to be on the table at the start of the turn to use his Pheromone skills. As the Lictor always is deployed as reserves. This means that they turn up on turn two at the earliest and will not be able to help other Tyranids turn up until turn three at the earliest.

Lictor Special Rules

The Lictor have an array of special rules. It’s highly recommended that you get familiar with them.

Chameleon Skin

How can anything this big be so sneaky? With Secret Deployment, the Lictor has the best chance to worm its way behind enemy lines to cause havoc. Be warned though, on its own Lictors are very vulnerable targets and its toughness 4 is no that great. Beware of those scanners and flamers when you are setting up.


Tyranid Lictors get the ‘Stealth’ special rule. This good if you are in cover, but no benefit out in the open. So the best idea is to keep in (or near) cover!

Hit and Run

This allows your Lictor to leave an assault on your turn and hide / assault again / assault elsewhere. This is a good tactic to avoid the Lictor being bogged down by large cheap units ( Imperial Guard Conscripts? ).

Fleet & Move through cover

I will deal with these two special rules together. The Lictor is quite nippy around the table. This will effect you tactics, specially if the gaming table has a lot of cover (jungle fight anyone?)

Tyranid Deathleaper Tactics

The Death Leaper is another ‘Unique’ Tyranid creature. Games Workshop has not released a model for the Deathleaper, so it’s another good opportunity to do some modelling. The Deathleaper is essentially a Tyranid Lictor. There has been two different Lictor models (Mk1 and Mk2). The easiest option is to use a Tyranid Lictor of a different type to your other Lictors. Of example I have two mark 1 Lictors, so I could get a Mk2 Lictor and announce that it’s a Death Leaper at the start of the game.

Tyranid Venomthrope Tactics

Tyranid Zoanthrope Shouded reachVenomthropes are impressive close combat creatures, but the greatest benefit of the Venomthropes is that it gives a shrouded cover save bonus ( +2 sv ) to all broods with a model within 6″. Please note that this is just the models in 6″. If you have as large brood where some models are within 6″ and some models of the save brood are beyond 6″, then only those in 6″ get the shrouded cover save bonuses. I have seen battle report videos where they have applied the bonus to the whole brood if just one model was in range. Sorry guys, you have this wrong. Double check the Codex if you doubt me.

Also note that being in range of two Venomthropes does not give you twice the cover bonus. +2 to save is the best you get. However the +2 bonus does work in conjunction with ant cover save you get from the terrain. This means that you can get a 2+ save in ruined buildings. That is  a 4+ save from the building and a +2 bonus from the Venomthropes shroud.

However any additional cover saves is a massive bonus to the Tyranid army. This is because you will often face a hail of incoming fire as you see to get in to close combat with your foe.

Tyranid Zoanthrope Tactics

Warhammer 40000 Tyranid ZoanthropeZoanthropes are exclusively psychic creatures, they even move using their psychic powers (at normal speed). Zoanthropes can be used to support the smaller Tyranid creatures as a Synapse creature and with the Catalyst psychic powers, or support the army using The Horror or Warp Blast powers.

Close Assault skills

With a strength and toughness of four the Zoanthropes are as tough as a Space Marine and with a 3+ invulnerable save and 2 wounds, they can be quite tough! On the whole Zoanthropes are general better out of combat in a support role.

The Zoanthrope as a shooting creature

The Zoanthrope has two psychic powers as shooting weapons. You can only use one per turn.

The problem is that Zoanthropes have to take a psychic test and a ballistic test so the stats make it look like they hit as often as a Space Marine, but the truth is that they hit slightly less often!

Another problem with shooting is that each turn that the Zoanthrope shoots, it can not run in the shooting phase. This means that it is it danger of not keeping up with the rest of the army. Plan to use your Zoanthrope at the back of the any, catching any stray creatures that have escaped the Hive Mind.

The Zoanthrope Warp Blast

The Warp Blast psychic power is an impressive mid range weapon. The Warp Blast is a S5 24″ blast weapon that will make holes in closely packed troops.

The Zoanthrope Warp Lance

The Warp Lance is a S10 weapon that will damage the toughest tanks (even Bainblades!). The problem though is that you need to pass a psychic test, the deny the witch roll and then roll to hit. This can make the chance of hitting painfully less than you would expect. If you are looking for some big guns then the Tyranid Heavy Support section is a good place to look!

Tyranid Neurothrope

Warhammer 40k Tyranid Zoanthrope brood with Neuronthrope Tyranid Zoanthrope brood with Neurothrope.

With the release of the plastic Zenothrope / Venomthrope boxes at the end of 2014, Games Workshop have re-introduced an old favourite from the 2010 Tyranid Codex. Then it was called the Doom of Malan’tai. Now we have the daughters of the Doom, called the Tyranid Neurothrope.

You can find the rules for the Tyranid Neurothrope in the weekly White Dwarf no. 42. If you do not have it you can purchase a downloadable version from the Black Library site here for £2.49.

Tyranid Pyrovore Brood Tactics

The Tyranid Pyrovore is a Tyranid Hive Guard variant that fires a heavy flamer type weapon. This means that the Tyranid Pyrovore is a useful creature to have around in game that have dense cover. Jungle and City Fight games.

As the Tyranid Pyrovore has a short ranged template weapon it will be expected that the Pyrovore will get in to assault on a regular basis. Fortunately the Tyranid Pyrovore is not too shabby in an assault either. For smaller foe it has 2 S4 AP- attacks, and for larger foe it can use it’s single S5 AP2 attack instead. Be warned though, the Pyrovore has low initiative and leadership score. This means that the Pyrovore will be better at assisting in an existing attack than spearheading a new assault.

Ymgarl Genestealer Brood

Even though they are making their first appearance in a codex, the Ymgarl Genestealers are not new, but very old, appearing first in the ‘Rogue Trader’ version of 40k.

There are no official Ymgarl Genestealer models any more so you will need to find some vary rare Rouge Trader figures, or more likley adapt and model Ymgarl Genestealers from the regular Genestealer plastic kits.

The Ymgrl Genestealer has been deleted from the 2013 Tyranid Codex. Hopefully we will see them re-appear  in one of the black library data-slates.