Tyranid Tactics: Beginners Guide

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Tyranid Tactics

Getting started with Tyranids

Today we are talking about Tyranid tactics! If you’re interested in starting a Tyranid army you will learn everything you need to know below! We will talk a little bit about who the Tyranids are, what their play style entails and end with a solid 1,000 pt army list.

What are Tyranids

Tyranid Tactics

The Tyranids are an extragalactic race of apex predators that are tied together by “The Hive mind”. In essence, they are a giant swarm of space locusts from another galaxy bent on consuming every living thing in ours. As such they don’t use traditional weapons when waging war, instead, they use weaponized lifeforms to kill and consume their prey. For example, the common weapon that Tyranids wield is the unpleasant, “fleshborer”. Fleshborer weapons fire flesh-eating maggots that bury into the flesh of their victim and eat their insides.

As a result, a Tyranid army is a scuttling nightmare of weaponized monsters. These range from small hunched beasts to Biotitans the size of buildings. Additionally, they are all part of a massive hivemind which makes them behave like a massive organism made up of different parts. In fact, many imperial defenders have made the mistake of thinking they are dumb animals, only to be outmaneuvered, out planned, and torn to pieces. Because of this connection to the hivemind, they also don’t feel fear, and won’t run unless their connection to it severed.

The second trait that they are known for is their ability to wage any war of attrition and win. This is because every fallen soldier or slain Tyranid can be consumed and recycled into more Tyranids. They also happen to be one of the most numerous races in the entire galaxy. As such, Tyranids often swarm and overrun their prey under a tide of gnashing teeth and claws.

Tyranid Playstyle

Above all this translates to their play style as they can bring waves of infantry or monsters to the table. Granted, this may sound like their play style is inflexible, but that couldn’t be further from the truth. The Tyranids have a unit to fit any role an army would need, be it shooting, melee, or a mix of the two. You can build them to be comprised of only monsters, an endless tide of infantry, or a mix of the two.


With that last part in mind, I’ve decided to spice things up by making an army list you usually don’t see, and is guaranteed to throw your opponents for a loop.

The Army List

Tyranid Tactics

++ Battalion Detachment +5CP (Tyranids) [55 PL, 1,000pts, 7CP] ++

+ Configuration +

Battle-forged CP [3CP]

Detachment CP [5CP]

Hive Fleet
. Other: Bio-metalic Cysts, Prey-sight

+ Stratagems +

Progeny of the Hive [-1CP]

+ HQ +

Malanthropes [5 PL, 120pts]. Warlord.
. Malanthrope

Malanthropes [5 PL, 120pts]
. Malanthrope

+ Troops +

Hormagaunts [9 PL, 150pts]: 30x Hormagaunt.

Also, more Hormagaunts .[9 PL, 150pts]: 30x Hormagaunt

Still more Hormagaunts [9 PL, 145pts]. 29x Hormagaunt

+ Heavy Support +

Mawloc [6 PL, 105pts]: Prehensile Pincer Tail, Toxin Sacs.
Adaptive Physiology: Dermic Symbiosis

Yes, another Mawloc [6 PL, 105pts]: Prehensile Pincer Tail, Toxin Sacs.
Adaptive Physiology: Murderous Size

Mawloc [6 PL, 105pts]: Prehensile Pincer Tail, Toxin Sacs

++ Total: [55 PL, 7CP, 1,000pts] ++

Tyranid Tactics Breakdown

Most importantly, let’s talk about what two traits I picked for our custom hive fleet. The first trait is “ Bio Metalic Cysts”, which means that all our units with scything talons will be at AP-1. The Second pick was “Prey-sight”, which will add +1 to hit rolls for monstrous creatures when charging, or being charged. This Last trait is for the mawlocs, as it will help fix their generally underwhelming weapon skill of 4+ by letting them hit on 3’s. However, “Bio-metallic Cysts” will improve nearly everything in our army even the Mawloks. Because they have regular scything talons as opposed to the other variants. By doing this, we have gained army-wide ap -1 and will get much more mileage out of our Mawlocs and hormagaunts.

The Swarm

Above all else, the core of our army is our massive swarms of hormagaunts and 2 Malanthropes. So, the Malanthropes job is to hold the army together and give the Hormagaunts some protection from enemy gunfire. To clarify, this ability will put a -1 to hit penalty onto anyone shooting at our hormagaunts. Protecting your swarm is a major part of good Tyranid tactics, and should always be considered. Otherwise, this part of the army is going to want to run up the board as fast as inhumanly possible, so it can charge into your opponent. Most armies will have a hard time chewing through all your homagaunts, and you will be able to kill units just through the sheer number of attacks. We can also spend command points to improve the Ap of their talons. This allows us to have an easier time killing well-armored units like space marines.

Whack a Mole 40,000

The Second component of our army is by far my favorite part and is the most fun. That’s because we have included a total of 3 Mawlocs to deep strike on our opponents and dish out mortal wounds. So, Mawlocs don’t deep strike like other units in the game, instead, they can pop up 1 inch away from enemy units. Additionally, when they arrive from deep strike you get to roll a dice for every unit within 2”. On a 2-3 it suffers 1 mortal wound, on a 4-5 its d3, and on 6’s its 3 mortal wounds. This means we can deal a whole bunch of mortal wounds to our opponent’s army on turn two, and have 3 big monsters parked in the middle of their army. Also, you have the option to spend 1CP for unexpected incursion to add 2 to your rolls.

However, our Mawlocs can’t charge that turn, but it does force our opponent to deal with them and can mess up their plans. Additionally, we went ahead and gave two of the mawlocs upgrades to increase their durability and damage. The first one, “Dermic symbiosis” gives one a 5++ and lets it double the wounds on its damage chart. Meanwhile, “Murderous size” adds 1 to the other’s damage, strength, and AP on a weapon of your choice. So, on subsequent turns, you will be able to have your Mawlocs charge your opponent and deal plenty of damage.

In Conclusion

Tyranid Tactics

This Army is a blast to play and has the unique ability to mess up your opponent’s plans. Also, this army will force your opponent to make some tough choices between shooting at the approaching swarm or the Mawlocs in their face. I hope you guys enjoy running my Tyranid “whack a mole” list, and if you want to see some of our battle reports featuring Tyranid tactics being implemented click here and here.

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As always thanks for reading!

Special thanks to Games Workshop for the use of their images and for making the best game ever!

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