A while back I decided I was going to write a Tyranid Tactica. So I started woth the Hive Tyrant. I quickly realised that the Tactica would be huge, and that it would be far better in parts. So here is the first part of it, the Hive Tyrant. I have limited expierence with Hive Tyrant's, most of this is based off how the Tyranid army functions, as well as a theoretical scouring of the Hive Tyrant itself. As such, if you have any input or ideas, feel free to share, as I'm sure everyone will appriectate it
Updates in Green!
General The general rule for Hive Tyrants is don’t mix roles. Flexibility is good and all, but total balance is better left to the army wide scale. Flexibility of a single choice means that it can do something if it needs to, but shouldn’t try and be good at it. A ranged Hive Tyrant won’t roll over and die if stuck in close combat and a character hunter can bust a tank if need be. However, that doesn’t mean give your ranged tyrant close combat enhancing bio-morphs, nor boost you character hunters tank killing power. So pick a role for your Hive Tyrant and stick to it. A good way to keep yourself on track is to pick the weapons first and then pick the bio-morphs that will benefit your chosen weapons.
Bio-Weapons Scything Talons- The basic close combat weapon. The best option for a melee Tyrant.
Lashwhip and Bonesword- It looks good on paper, but it’s a bit over-priced for what it does. The Lashwhip’s additional protective powers are nice and Catalyst is a bonus, however it’s not really worth the extra cost over a second set of Scything Talons. Most of your units will hit at the same time, if not before, opposing troops anyway. In most cases just stick to Scything Talons.
Rending Claws- These are quite useless. They only help against vehicles, and even then against AV13/14 to an extremely small degree. The only reason for choosing these would to save points, but why not just pay a few more to get Scything Talons instead?
Twin-linked Devourer- An awesome weapon. With enhanced senses and toxin sacs, alongside a pair of these will turn your Hive Tyrant into a killing machine. Twin-linked Devourers also make for a decent secondary weapon, thought with its short range it can be a bit limiting to the extra killing power. The range is really the only drawback, but when they used in pairs, it’s really not that much of a restriction. A great back-up weapon for a Tyrant with a Venom Cannon.
Twin-linked Deathspiter- This option is often over-looked. However, it makes for a decent secondary weapon. It isn’t the most outstanding weapon, but it is a solid choice none the less.
Spinefists- Cheap and for a good reason. They aren’t nearly as effective as any of the other weapons the Hive Tyrant has at its disposal. Its biggest drawback is the range. If you really want to save points, go ahead and use them but your much better off picking some up some deadly weaponry.
Venom Cannon- Not quite as effective as the Carnifex’s Venom Cannon at stunning heavy armour, but is much better for tackling the light vehicles. It also does well against models with high T but low armour, which are quite rare usually. A good weapon to combine this with is the Twin-linked Devourer, as it allows the Tyrant to turn to killing infantry if there are no tanks around, its a cheap second weapon and its high number of shots can help against light vehicles.
Barbed Stranglers- These aren’t nearly as great as on a Carnifex, more so than the Venom Cannon. The Hive Tyrants BS and extra attacks, which make up for the lack of strength on the Hive Tyrants Venom Cannon compared the Carnifex’s, the Barbed Strangler isn’t boosted by either of these bonuses. It is still a nice weapon, but without the high Instant Kill (to deal with Feel No Pain as well as multiple wounds) ability and that even with Toxin Sacs it still won’t wound T4 models on a 2+, the Barbed Strangler isn’t the greatest ranged weapon for a Hive Tyrant. A good secondary weapon for the Barbed Strangler is the Twin-linked Devourer, as both are made for scything down hordes or the Twin-linked Deathspiter, as it is a blast as well and can help out against tougher targets.
Psychic Powers Catalyst- As previously mentioned, although Catalyst is a nice boost, it simply isn’t as good as some of the other powers. Again, most of your units will be striking at the same time or before most troops and if not, then they are likely to lose combat anyway. Although it is a decent option, look elsewhere first.
Psychic Scream- Although the -1 penalty to Ld seems great, it really isn’t all that much to boast about. The real power of Psychic Scream comes into play when you field a ‘Choir’ of multiple creatures with the Psychic Scream Power. Keep this in mind if you plan on using Psychic Scream, it’s got to be taken in multiples, preferably at least 3 but 4 and 5 are much better. Fielding one Psychic Scream isn’t that great unless you are facing Ld 7 opponents, which is rare, due to a unit being able to use the highest Ld in the unit.
The Shadow in the Warp- This is a good support power, especially against Chaos Space Marines, Eldar and to an extent, Space Marines. If your Hive Tyrant doesn’t have another power and you have the points, then The Shadow in the Warp is a good investment. However, Hive Tyrants often have need of other powers, so this isn’t an extremely common choice, but can be very useful.
Warp Blast- This isn’t as great a power as it seems. Check page 31, at the start of the Warp Blast section. A Hive Tyrant who uses Warp Blast cannot use another Bio-Weapon. This makes Warp Blast an expensive choice for a ranged Tyrant, who would mostly want to stick to firing two Bio-Weapons instead of the one Warp Blast. Also a ranged Hive Tyrant should have Enhanced Senses, which decreases the efficiency of Warp Blast majorly, as you lose the powerful focused bolt. It also isn’t the best choice on a combat Hive Tyrant, because as it wants to get into a melee as soon as it can, it would be preferable to run most turns. All in all, it’s an expensive choice for something that will be rarely used.
Warp Field- This really should only be taken by Winged Hive Tyrants and it is a good idea to give it to said Winged Hive Tyrants. A walking Hive Tyrant should just take Extended Carapace instead, as the 6+ Invulnerable Save isn’t quite worth the extra 10pts. A Winged Hive Tyrant can’t take Extended Carapace or Tyrant Guards and will also attract a lot of fire, so Warp Field is a good choice for them. Just don’t forget the 6+ Invulnerable save if you do take Warp Field!
Biomorphs Acid Maw- This is only really useful on a Hive Tyrant if you plan on using it to tackle other Monstrous Creatures or really tough infantry. Since the Hive Tyrant wounds most standard infantry units and a lot of characters on a 2+, you really don’t need the re-roll. Even against T5 models you still have a good chance of wounding. So only take this for Monstrous Creature hunting.
Bio-Plasma- One attack sounds nice, especially at I10 and a high Strength, but your opponent still gets an armour save. Even though it’s not hugely expensive, it is still not the best use of points. If your Hive Tyrant is made for killing hordes in close combat, or attacking light vehicles, go for Bio-Plasma, if not spend the points elsewhere. Remember you can only take this or Acid Maw, but as their roles are so different this really shouldn’t be a problem.
Adrenal Gland (I)- This is a good choice in some cases, and over-priced in others. It has a hefty price tag, but if you’re going up against high I enemies you will want it. Against most troops it won’t be all that useful, unless you’re playing elite combat heavy Eldar or Dark Eldar, or Tyranids. Most characters are at least I5, so you will want this if your Hive Tyrant is a character hunter.
Adrenal Gland (WS)- Like the Adrenal Gland (I), this biomorph has a greater impact when facing characters than when facing standard troops. However, unlike the Adrenal Gland (I), it is quite cheap and a good choice for any close combat Tyrant. This doesn’t mean it is a necessity for a combat monster, so if you‘re a few points over, a standard infantry hunting Hive Tyrant can lose his Adrenal Gland (WS).
Toxic Miasma- In practise, this has the exact same effect as Adrenal Gland (WS), except it has a slightly higher cost. Because of this, always pick up Adrenal Gland (WS) before Toxic Miasma. Unlike the Adrenal Gland (WS), this isn’t a biomorph you should just slap onto a close combat Hive tyrant, as if you have the Adrenal Gland (WS), you should have a high enough WS to kill Infantry. If you are planning on your Hive Tyrant killing characters, this should be a high priory option, else just leave it at home.
Enhanced Senses- If your Hive Tyrant has a ranged biomorph, he should have Enhanced Senses. If he doesn’t, he should not have this at all. A simple choice whether to take or not.
Extended Carapace- A nice way of protecting your Hive tyrant, but a bit on the pricey side. Although it helps against AP3 weapons, a lot of the weapons aimed at a Hive Tyrant will have an AP2 or AP1. Having at least one Tyrant Guard is better than having Extended Carapace, so if you have the points, buy your first Tyrant Guard over Extended Carapace. It is personal preference wether you go Extended Carapace or 2nd Tyrant Guard from there, but Extended Carapace before a 3rd Tyrant Guard is a good choice. Remember, try not to take some 2+ save Montrous Creatures and some 3+ save Montrous Creatures. It makes you enemy’s target selection easier.
Flesh Hooks- A good, cheap option for combat Hive Tyrants, and a good idea to chuck them on all your close combat Hive Tyrants. The only variety of combat Hive Tyrant that doesn’t need Flesh Hooks is a tank hunter, other than that the couple of points are worth it.
Implant Attack- Only pick this up if your Hive Tyrant is planning on attacking Monstrous Creatures, characters or tough multi-wound units in close combat. Note that the multiplication of wounds only affects the one model, it has no effect on single wound models.
Symbiote Rippers- No. Just No. They literally do nothing. Don’t waste the points.
Toxin Sacs- It doesn’t matter what your Tyrant is doing, this is a great choice almost every time. Its only downside is the cost, especially if you include the increased cost of the weapons. Simply put it, it is a great biomorph. If you can afford it, it is recommended.
Winged- This upgrade is expensive, but it gives your Hive Tyrant speed which makes it a very big threat. The most of all the biomorphs, this is a personal choice. A winged Hive Tyrant should have either combat or short range weaponry. Make the most of the flexibility. Be warned, Winged Hive Tyrants are one of the biggest fire magnets in the game.
Tyrant Guard These guys can only be taken by non-Winged Hive Tyrants, but those who can take them should take at least one. Three is overkill in most games, but depending on what you face it may be necessary. Tyrant Guard can take those high AP shots for you Hive Tyrant and keep him safe from deadly close combat weapons. They have a few options, and what you chose depends on what role your Hive Tyrant fills.
Lashwhip- Lashwhips are an awesome choice for Tyrants. Ranged Tyrants should always take them, as they won’t miss the extra attack. Combat Tyrants may want to keep the Scything Talons to get a few extra kills, but Lashwhips help when facing killy stuff like Nobz and Thunder Hammer/Storm Shield Terminators.
Flesh Hooks- These should only be taken by a melee Hive Tyrant and being extremely cheap, there aren’t many reasons for not taking them.
Implant Attack- Much like the Hive Tyrant, Tyrant Guards should only take these if your Hive Tyrant plans on going toe-to-toe with either characters or monstrous creatures. They are expensive though, so even if that is your Tyrants role, you might not want to take them to save yourself some points.
Effective Builds Hive Tyrants are very versatile, but they fulfil certain roles better than other. Hive Tyrants excel at granting short ranged fire support, tearing apart tanks with their scything talons and beating characters to a pulp. They can also be used for long range fire support, horde control and Monstrous Creature hunting, but not as well as the first three roles. Some tried and tested builds of Hive Tyrants are:
Dakka Tyrant: Give him two Twin-linked Devourers, Enhanced Senses and Toxin Sacs and prepare to watch him become a killing machine. Twelve shots with re-rolls on the hit and wound will make a mess of just about anything. Add a one or two Tyrant Guard for survivability and your all set. The only other upgrade that should be considered is extended Carapace, but really two Tyrant Guards should be enough.
Dakka Flyrant: Same as above, but with Wings instead of the Tyrant Guard. This makes it slightly cheaper, but easier to kill. However the added speed granted by the Wings make this Hive Tyrant able to cause havoc in the enemy lines. Warpfield is a viable option for this guy.
Light Tank Hunter: Just give your Hive Tyrant a pair of Scything Talons, Wings, Warp Field and Toxin Sacs and watch it tear light vehicles apart. The only other upgrade worth considering is Bio-Plasma, but it doesn’t get the Monstrous Creature bonus of 2D6 amour penetration, so it’s not recommended. He’s cheap and still able to hold his own if he gets caught, but don’t expect him to kill elite units or characters like a Hive Tyrant built to do that.
Character Hunter: A pair of Scything Talons, both Adrenal Glands, Toxin Sacs and Toxic Miasma are the standard upgrades for this guy. Either with the Wings and Warp Field combination or a couple of Tyrant Guard with Lashwhips, this guy should be able to take down most characters he comes across. Implant Attack is another good option for this Hive Tyrant, but only if you are willing to spend the extra points.
Monstrous Creature Hunter: Same upgrades as the Hive Tyrant above, but with a few extras. Implant Attack is more useful here and this build is one of the only ones that will benefit from having Acid Maw. However, by this stage your Hive Tyrant will be getting expensive, so you might want to stick to some of the other builds. As for the Wings or Tyrant Guard decision, this guy will probably have more use for Tyrant Guard, and they would benefit from Implant Attack and/or Lashwhip. Keep in mind that this build will be very expensive and would only be really helpful against armies with a lot of tough units. Keep in mind that this build will be very expensive and would only be really helpful against armies with a lot of tough units.
Longed Ranged: Tyrants can make useful ranged support. The best weapon combination for this guy is Venom Cannon and Twin-Linked Devourers. Other, less effective, combinations include Venom Cannon & Twin-Linked Deathspiters, Barbed Strangler & Twin-Linked Deathspiters or Barbed Strangler & Twin-linked Devourers. The Tyrants weapon load determines his role, Tank-stunning is good with the Venom Cannon combinations, while Horde Killing is good with Barbed Strangler combinations. A Tyrant Guard or two can be handy, and Lashwhips help keep your Tyrant alive. As for bio-morphs, if you have only blast weapons, don’t bother with Enhanced Senses, but otherwise it’s a standard choice. Toxin Sacs are very useful, pumping up your Tyrants S helping him take down vehicles or high T units and helping him wound easier. Extended Carapace isn’t really needed if you have Tyrant Guard, but if you have two Guards and are looking at a third, take this first.
Tips and Tactics Cover saves: Make sure you try and keep you Hive Tyrants in cover! Use Warriors, Zoanthropes, Lictors or other larger models to obscure half of your Tyrant. If you have a Hive Tyrant on foot with Tyrant Guard, the Tyrant Guards can get cover like infantry and as such, make it far easier to cover your Hive Tyrant.
Stun-spamming: If you have a Tyrant with a Venom Cannon, keep in mind his aim is to keep vehicles stunned, so don’t expect too many explosions. This means don’t waste shooting on a stunned tank in order to try and take it out if there is another tank nearby. It may seem like common sense, but that can be forgotten in the midsts of a battle. Just try your best to remember!
Wound Allocation: Use your Tyrant Guards wisely. If you get hit by an bunch of AP3 shots, use your wound allocation to negate as many as possible. Go through a few hypothetical situations, and learn how best to allocate to suit your needs.
Contesting: A winged Hive Tyrant is one of the fastest units in the Tyranids army, especially when moving without assaulting. If it’s your turn the bottom of the last turn and you need an objective, fly your Tyrant onto the objective, contest it and take the pressure off.
I would like to thank Wolf_Lord_Skoll for this great article!