The hive mind's coil unwinds.
The very first game of 40K I ever played was as the general of a tyranid army. I still remember how exciting just reading about the ‘nids was, from their disgusting weapons to alien life cycle. I don’t remember much about how the game went, but I have one distinct memory of my lictors that pretty put the tyranids into a special place in my heart. We were playing a huge, 3-way battle. The center of the board had a fabulous looking city ruin my friend had constructed. On the ruin’s roof was a squad of elder rangers using their sniper rifles to pick off open targets on the massive table. The lictors appeared via deep strike, scaled the building with their flesh hooks, and devoured the rangers in a single dramatic round of close combat. I am not sure if lictors could pull that kind of maneuver off in the 5th edition ruleset, but just the idea of it made me hooked on tyranids. Admittedly, it’s not much of a stretch. Alien(s) is one of my favorite movies, and I love monsters in general.
So when it came time for me to invest in my first 40K army, I made the natural choice… Tau! OK, so maybe not such a a natural choice after all.
Then afterwards I stumbled onto the Orks, Chaos Marines, and now Space Marines. In hindsight a very odd series of choices for someone who thinks that tyranids are one of the best looking and most stylish armies in the game. I think that during some of this time I purposely stayed away from the Tyranids because a friend already had a bunch, and I didn’t want to simply copy him. Then, after I got more and more games under my belt, I realized that Marines are pretty much the army to beat—and if you can’t beat ‘em—join ‘em. But that’s exactly the problem… everyone plays marines. Meltaguns and power armor pervade the game, and dominate the tournament scene. For experienced players who are interested in winning, this is a no-brainer, because many of the xenos codices simply aren’t as good as the Marine books. However, the game is poorer because of it. Marine versus marine games are very common, making so much of the 40K feel irrelevant as humanity’s most powerful heroes are pitted against… humanity’s most powerful heroes.
It’s because of this that I finally, after almost 5 years, am getting serious about fulfilling my Tyranid love affair. Really, there’s no better time to do it, because of his new releases of the excellent tervigon and tyrannofex models. But, before I just jump in and start buying one of everything in the army list, I want to get a good game plan so that I can really take advantage of the uniqueness of the Tyranidss.
To start, let’s take a look at what makes them a unique Army to play:
The wait is over!
- their HQ’s are incredibly powerful monstrous creatures
- their most effective builds emphasize hordes of individually weak creatures
- they have a close combat emphasis
- they can field lots, and lots, and lots of monstrous creatures
- they don’t have any vehicles
- they rely on synergy between units in order to be most effective
- their shooting phase is more about suppression then destruction
In looking at this series of traits, the two things that jump out as being most unique is the Tyrnanid’s lack of vehicle transport, and proliferation of monstrous creatures in almost all force organization slots. Therefore, in order for me to play them differently in meaningful ways from my other armies, I need to find ways to emphasize these traits. I wouldn’t want my Tyranids to simply be a different colored version of my orks, nor rely on the Tyranid mycetic spore to emulate my drop pod heavy Marine lists. After reading through the Codex and reflecting on the Tyranids monstrous creatures, play style, and flavor, I’ve come up with a few list ideas to begin developing in preparation of my purchase. Here’s what I like:
- the tervigon is just too cool, not only is a really tough, but it gives birth to scoring units; a great example of how a game mechanic can mimic the alien style of the Tyranids.
- Monstrous creatures really don’t get any bigger than the tyrannofex and the trygon, and since they’re kits are similarly priced against the carnifex, getting them is a no-brainer.
- There are a lot of really excellent flying units in the tyranid codex, from gargoyles, harpies, and especially the shrikes.
- One thing I always like to keep in mind when building an army is the feasibility of creating my own terrain projects. With the trygon’s subterranean assault rule, I could create a very cool pits or burrows in the earth, filled with teeth, tentacles, eyes, slime, and pretty much anything else I can think of that would make the holes their most disgusting.
- If I decide to go with the flying creatures I’ll instead create a giant alien tree, covered with spikes from which Imperial guardsmen and Space Marines are impaled upon. This might be growing out of the digestion pool. I love the idea of the shrikes carrying back victims and impaling them like their real-world namesakes for the benefit of the hive.
Just imagine this shrike with horns, claws, carapace, and a gun coming out of its intestines and you pretty much got it.
One thing is certain after flipping through the tyranid codex and getting myself excited for this project, I got serious planning to do. Starting an army from scratch can be a huge task, daunting not only for its price tag but for the amount of work that it will take to see it completed. However, despite the hard work and will take, my games need the Tyranids, Warhammer needs the Tyranids, and deep down in my shadowy, toothy, slimy heart—I need the Tyranids, too.