How to Play Hive Fleet Leviathan Warhammer 40k 9th Edition


This is your complete guide on How to Play Hive Fleet Leviathan in Warhammer 40k 9th Edition! Our expert players have broken down the latest codex and have put together this beginner’s guide for Hive Fleet Leviathan.

“Across the heavens the flotilla of bio-ships stretched out, impelled by instinct to hibernate again until new prey was found, new resources could be plundered. In their wake was left a bare rock orbiting a star, scoured of every organic particle, stripped of all but the most basic elements. Nothing was left of the farming world of Langosta III, there were no testaments to the humans who had once lived there. Now all that was left was an airless asteroid, the unmarked death place of three million people.” -Codex: Tyranids (Third Edition)

The Tyrannids are an existential threat to everything in the setting of Warhammer 40k. They are a problem that exists outside the context of everything and everyone involved. As the Imperium and Chaos struggle for control of the galaxy, the Necrons attempt to achieve supremacy over the materium, the Eldar and Dark Eldar struggle to survive, and the Tau try to expand across the galaxy, the Tyrannids stand completely alone and indifferent.

Tyranid Warrior Colored
Tyranid Warrior Colored by MajesticChicken

They fight for no cause except to consume. They believe in nothing, connected only to a massive hive mind that directs everything from the smallest grubling to the largest bioship to consume, add more biomass to the swarm, and continue. These many hive fleets, even when destroyed, may simply become splinter fleets that devour smaller worlds until they can become a full hive fleet again.

What seems like a mindless expanse has been noted by Inquisitor Kryptman of the Imperium to be outflanking the entire galaxy from below, thinking three-dimensionally on an incredible scale. They cannot be stopped, they cannot be reasoned with, and if you have no biomass, they’ll simply eliminate you from existence.

And running from them is a fool’s errand. The presence of the Tyrannids in general creates “The Shadow In The Warp” A phenomena that suppresses psychic power in a sector. Most of the time, when an Imperium astronavigator detects the shadow, it’s already too late, and any attempt to use warp drive to escape is more likely to send a ship into the depths of the Immaterium: a fate that guarantees death if you stay in the sector, and death if you try to leave. 

Even the forces of chaos fear the Tyrannids. The power of Chaos is generated by thinking individuals in the Warhammer 40k Universe: Tyrannids absorb vast swaths of people, and thus shrink the power of Chaos and the immaterium wherever they go. Daemonic invasions have been halted by Tyrannid onslaughts, and the Necrons lose potential assets wherever these monsters go.

Play the Tyrannids to be a mysterious plague haunting the galaxy. Be the fabled terror swarm you were meant to be, overwhelming your enemies. Wield swarms of insectoid terrors as well as giant monsters that can knock out tanks.  This is Specifically, we’re covering Hive Fleet Leviathan, the largest Hive Fleetof all hive fleets ever recorded.

A leviathan detachment is one of the solid all-around Tyranid armies you can deploy. In Lore, this massive hive fleet has split into multiple galaxy-wide tendrils to force the largest ever Shadow in the Warp to cut off as many worlds from support as possible.

This is the Hive Fleet that’s currently engaged in the Octarian Conflict, trapped in a massive, constantly escalating war with one of the largest Ork Waaaaughs in history. And whichever force wins, due to the conflict-escalating powers of the Orks and the biomass devouring nature of the Tyranids, will likely end up becoming a dominating force in the galaxy. Your enemies will learn to fear the devouring swarm you represent. And no force better defines this strategy like a Leviathan detachment.

Watch Tyranids Versus Necrons

And for more Tyranids information check out our previous article!

Synapse Strategy

The Great Devourer
The Great Devourer by MajesticChicken

The key to deploying a successful Tyranid force starts with knowing what kind of Synapse Units to deploy. Your army depends on good Synapse choices, so make sure that you have units of comparable speed to move with your Synapse Unit’s movement type. Any player who knows what they’re doing is going to target the Synapse Unit first. Additionally, depending on whether it’s a Combat Patrol, Incursion, Strike Force, or Onslaught; you can have 1, 2, 3, or 4 Synaptic Link abilities respectively. All Synaptic Link abilities are dependent on which Synapse Creature you intend to deploy, so decide what you want to improve in your army’s basic function and apply those abilities accordingly.

A key thing to reinforce: a smart player will target your Synapse Unit first. Synaptic Link abilities shouldn’t be something you center your entire army around, because you will lose them during the battle. If you’re not comfortable fielding your army without them, rework your strategy. They are a bonus to exploit, but no one unit will carry your army. Your choices are:

  • Brood Lord
  • Hive Tyrant
  • Maleceptor
  • Neurothrope
  • Tervigon
  • Trygon Prime
  • Tyranid Prime
  • Tyranid Warriors (A unit with multiple models. Spend the points for a Warrior Prime for extra fun!)
  • Zoanthropes

Each one has its own special individual Synaptic Link upgrades, and stacking multiple synapse creatures allows you to apply a single Synaptic Link ability to any Unit that is in the combined Synapse creature range. EX: If you have a 12-inch Synaptic Link area, and you have another Synapse Creature within 11 inches of the first, they can make use of one of their Synaptic Link abilities anywhere within the overlap of the two different Synaptic Link areas.

Choose your Synaptic Link Creatures with care, and figure out how to defend them, and use them to enhance your offense with the right Synaptic Link upgrade. The new rules give each synapse unit advantages and disadvantages.

Hive Fleet Leviathan Pros:

  • Hive Fleet Leviathan’s unique abilities center around being overwhelmingly tough
  • All Tyrannid forces have swarms of infantry they can deploy, able to give even the Imperial Guard (Astra Militarum to new players) a run for their money.
  • Massive deployable monsters
  • Classic tyranids are actually a great starting army to learn to paint, with simple patterns and an easy process to follow.
  • Assault armies are more powerful in 9th Edition due to the changes to Overwatch, making a Tyrannid assault army highly effective on a charge.
  • Tyrannids weaken enemy Psykers with their Shadow in the Warp ability.
  • Synapse units make your army extra nasty.

Hive Fleet Leviathan Cons:

  • While a shooting-heavy Tyrannid force is a valid army choice, your range is short and your positioning is difficult. 
  • Tyranid Infantry will get knocked down by nearly any solid hit, cementing their status as a swarm of angry insects.
  • Tyrannids focus on assault means that they will take a lot of shots before they can hit their targets. And it also means that they’re at real risk of having their heaviest hitters taken off the board by enemy Heavy Support options before they can contribute.
  • Synapse Units are just that: units, and they can be destroyed like any other.

Hive Fleet Leviathan Relics

  • Biomorphic Carapace: Any time an attack is made against a model with this, subtract 1 from the wound roll. For when you have a Character that you absolutely cannot allow to die, this is the relic for you.
  • The Void Crown: Do you have a psyker model on the field? Make it utterly horrifying. Give it another power from the Hive Mind Discipline, Its power cannot be denied on a natural 9+, and if it uses a psychic action during the psychic phase, it can still attempt to manifest one psychic power during the phase. 
  • Synaptic Hive Blades: Does your model have boneswords or monstrous boneswords? Do you want to make it so people can’t use invulnerable saves against them? This is the relic for you.
  • Adaptive Neural Lobe: There are never enough Command Points. But this makes it so that if your opponent spends a Command Point on a Stratagem, you can roll a d6. On any roll of 5+, you get 1 Command Point. Depending on your opponent’s CP choices, that means 1 in every 3 Stratagems, you potentially get 1 CP. It’s a solid choice. But it’s also a choice that runs the same risk as any die dependent ability: your battle is dependent on statistics, and pray you’re not the outlier rolling low.  Regardless, Adaptive Neural Lobe is a solid passive buff for your army.

Hive Fleet Leviathan Warlord Traits

Leviathan Winged Hive Tyrant 2018
Leviathan Winged Hive Tyrant 2018 by AdzStitch
  • Swarm Leader: Pick a Leviathan Infantry, Leviathan Beast, or Leviathan Swarm within 9 inches of your Warlord. Re-roll every time that unit attacks! For those times when the Carnifex can’t miss, or you need some Hormagaunts or Ripper Swarms to really count.
  • Strategic Adaptation: Sometimes you need strategic reserves, and this lets you redeploy two Leviathan Units as strategic reserves, no matter how many you have in play, not including your warlord. Now, the usefulness of this does depend on what rules you’re playing by during the game. But most of the time, having the option to place units where your opponent isn’t ready for them is an excellent move. 
  • Gestalt Commander: Pick a Warlord Trait from Hive Fleet Warlord Traits on this Warlord. Any warlord trait from any other Hive Fleet. For one round, your Warlord has it, and all of its particulars apply to Hive Fleet Leviathan instead. It’s only one round, but for one round, your units get a benefit that normally only applies to a different Hive Fleet. The strategic implications are vast if you think you’ll need a specific trick to win a battle. They do make sure you can’t take a Trait your commander already possesses, of course. Because that’d be too easy.

Hive Fleet Leviathan Stratagems

  • Relentless Flurry (1 CP/2 CP): Activate during the Shooting Phase or Fight Phase. Pick a unit. Any unmodified roll of 6 scores an additional hit, 2 additional hits if your unit has 11 models or more. This costs 2 CP for Genestealers, 1 CP for any other unit. After all, if Genestealers could use this cheaply, they would be ridiculous.
  • Questing Tendrils (1 CP): You can use this in your second movement phase. When you set up a Leviathan unit from Strategic Reserves, you can set it up as though it were round 3 instead of round 2, giving you far better reserve options a round early.
  • Alpha Leader-Beast (1 CP): When mustering an army, before a battle, you can name a Leviathan Character that is not a named character to be a Warlord. You generate an additional Warlord trait for them randomly from the Warlord Traits table. You can only do this once, but having an extra Warlord with Traits on the field can be a serious force multiplier.
  • Animated By The Hive Mind (1 CP): Does your model have the Death Throes ability, or a similar one that activates on death with a roll? Activate it automatically on death instead of rolling. The catch is that it doesn’t work on Titanic models.
  • Synaptic Domination (1 CP): Pick a Unit. One of the most important mechanics for the Tyranid armies is the use of Synapse Creatures to grant groups their buffs. As long as one specific Leviathan Synapse and one specific Unit are on the field, that Unit is always considered in range of the Leviathan Synapse. For 1 CP, it’s a cheap way to make a unit particularly dangerous.
  • Control of the Swarm (1 CP): Use this if a Leviathan Warlord you’re using is destroyed. Pick another Leviathan Synapse Character from your army that has no Warlord Trait, andselect a Warlord Trait your target can have. Until the end of the battle, it has that Warlord Trait, and counts as your Warlord. Think of it as Warlord Insurance. Try to keep a CP handy to pay for it in case you take a bad break.
  • Hive Mind Imperative (1 CP): If you have a Leviathan unit within 12 inches of a friendly Leviathan Synapse unit, give that unit Objective Secured. If it already has that, it counts as having another model when deciding who controls the objective. For a command point, it’s a cheap way to keep control of an objective. Also: if the unit selected performs an action, it can shoot without that action failing. Just keep your synapse units safe!
  • Hyper Adaptation (2 CP): Swap the Synaptic Imperative Hive Fleet Adaptation for any other Tyranid Hive Fleet Adaptation. This lasts one round. But for one round, you have whatever tool another Tyranid Army might use to solve a problem.
  • The Void in the Warp (1 CP): An Enemy Psyker passes a Psychic Test and you failed your Deny The Witch roll, or couldn’t roll at all? Not a problem so long as they’re in 24 inches of a Leviathan Synapse in your army. Roll a d6, on a 4+, the power is denied. Sometimes, you need to remind people that Tyranids are very hard targets for Psykers.
  • Bio-Adapted Borer Grubs (1 CP/2 CP): During the shooting phase, when a Leviathan Unit is selected to shoot, if they have a fleshborer or fleshborer hive, you can activate this stratagem. If you roll a 6, you deal a mortal wound along with everything that normally happens. You can’t do more than 6 mortal wounds per phase with this. Tyrannofexes need 2 CP, but every other unit can do it for 1 CP. You can’t use this and Scorch Bugs in the same phase.

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