Tyranid Warriors are a much-loved Tyranid unit that just hasn’t been strong enough to find a place in the competitive tournament scene. (Prior to Blood of Baal, only one major tournament-winning list had a unit of Tyranid Warriors in it.) Their toughness and armor save put them in an uncomfortable place where they are particularly vulnerable to heavy weapons but also still can fall to concentrated light fire as well. They also do not hold up well in combat where a single smash captain will make short work of the entire brood. Despite being very cool models that are relevant in the fluff, they just were not the most competitive option.
Blood of Baal has breathed new life into them, however, and people are finding them to be much more durable than before. They also received a points drop in Chapter Approved 2019 so we at Hostile Galaxy think they are definitely worth a second chance. Today we are going to look at their options and the popular builds you want to consider.
Weapon and Biomorph Options:
Scything Talons – Free and great for taking out lightly armored opponents. Re-rolls are nice where we can get them.
Rending Claws – Rending is fun but if you are upgrading from free talons, generally you will just want the Boneswords for the extra attack.
Boneswords – Solid weapon option and good price. Great to get the +1 attack and still be able to take a ranged weapon.
Lashwhip/Bonesword – Better off with the Boneswords unless you expect these to die in combat and are using them as a screen for some odd reason.
Ranged Weapon Options:
Spinefists – Weak pistol weapon. I suppose if you want lots of attacks and plan to be in melee these could be alright but as a general rule, no.
Pairs well with Fleshhooks if you’re into that. (See below.) Worth considering if you want the unit to have some ranged option but to stay as cheap as possible.
Devourer – Less range, less strength, no AP and only 1 point cheaper than the Deathspitter. Don’t use these.
Deathspitter – Best ranged option we have. Pricey and not worth it if you’re melee focused (don’t be melee focused) but can pack a punch in numbers.
Barbed Strangler – Solid choice for killing troops. Even better with Symbiostorm and Single-Minded Annihilation. We’ll talk about this more in a minute.
Venom Cannon – Good. If you lack anti-tank firepower or just really need to reach out and touch some elite infantry, these are a good choice.
Fleshhooks – 2 extra shots
that can be fired along with your pistol shots. Take with Spinefists if you just need a ton of shots that can shoot into melee. With Fleshhooks and Spinefists you can fire 10 shots per model into melee if you use the codex stratagem Single-Minded Annihilation. (Edit: We were mistaken here. We thought because Fleshhooks were a biomorph they could be fired alongside the Spinefists but the listing specifically states it is assault 2, therefore it cannot be fired with the pistol Spinefists. Sorry.) Remember it’s only a 6” range. Can be fired within 1″ of an enemy unit and can target enemies within 1″ of friendly units. Helpful when fighting hordes.
Toxin Sacs – 1 additional damage is good but Warriors don’t want to be in melee anyway. Avoid.
Adrenal Glands – Cheap and can be handy in trying to charge out of reserves but you probably won’t find too much use for these.
The general consensus is that Warriors are best with a pair of Boneswords and a Deathspitter with 1 in 3 warriors being given one of the two Basic Bio-Cannons, a Venom Cannon or a Barbed Strangler. For a cheap upgrade cost, the Boneswords make this troops unit better in combat than the majority of other troops they would come up against, however, they will still drop like flies to any dedicated melee unit. I would keep the boneswords and hold the Warriors back to a mid-field shooting role. The threat of those boneswords will make sure they can protect other supporting units (Malanthropes, Tyranid Primes, Neurothropes, Maleceptors, etc.) from being held up or taken down by less specialized units. A unit of basic Space Marines or Primaris Marines would tie up and eventually bring down any of those supporting models in combat but a Bonesword-equipped unit of Warriors would either eat that unit on the charge or at least drop it to non-threatening levels. (Beware of Primaris Marine squads with a Sergeant equipped with a Thunder Hammer. That sergeant alone is a massive threat to the entire Warrior Brood!)
We recommend you keep your basic non-bio-cannon-wielding Warriors cheap if not using Deathspitters. With that in mind, here are a couple of other loadouts for these 6 Warriors in a full brood of 9 that we think could be interesting/fun to use. These loadouts are not meant to be highly competitive but could be hilarious under the right circumstances.
Chaff Slayers – If you want lots of attacks to kill chaff units that get tossed at you, consider using Warriors equipped with
Spinefists (this was wrong, see above) Deathspitters or Devourers, Scything Talons, and Flesh Hooks. If you get within 6”, you will be able to fire 30 shots from these 6 Warriors, or 60 shots with Single-Minded Annihilation if you really get desperate! And that’s before considering the Barbed Strangler or
Venom Cannon shots from the other 3 Warriors. If the chaff lives, charge in with those Scything Talons and finish them off. Could pump out a surprising number of overwatch shots against an unwary unit as well.
Food Processors – Keep these guys cheap as chips and just go with two pairs of scything talons. Lots of attacks to kill off weaker units and even marines will start to drop with enough of these coming their way. Don’t attack full sized Space Marine squads with these guys though. You will regret it.
The Screen – If your opponents regularly charge you in the first turn and you tend to use a lot of Warriors, consider giving them Lashwhips/Boneswords, and Spinefists. You’ll get a decent amount of overwatch shots and all your models will still get to attack no matter how many get killed in combat. Fairly cheap loadout and you can do some damage with your screen. Kraken Genestealers coming your way? Make them pay!
Wannabe Genestealers – If you think you might be up against a lot of high armor targets with few invulnerable saves, you may want to consider using Rending Claws, Scything Talons or Spinefists, and Toxin Sacs. If you’re Behemoth, you can also use the BoB Psychic power Unstoppable Hunger to essentially double that rending damage! Useful against tank-heavy armies or could even do a surprising amount of damage against Knights. Again, keeping them cheap because throwing them into melee means they will die a horrible death.
Venom Cannons vs Barbed Stranglers
You honestly can’t really go wrong either way here. The Venom Cannons are a solid choice for punching hard targets in the face from range. Use the codex stratagem “Single-Minded Annihilation” to shoot twice and basically act as a mini Hive Guard brood (without the cover/los ignoring benefits). This brood would be good backup for killing off units that a Hive Guard brood failed to completely annihilate (although if you have Hive Guard on the table you should be using Single-Minded Annihilation on them instead.) A nearby Tyranid Prime will give them much improved accuracy and, if you can justify using the Kronos Psychic Power Symbiostorm on your brood of Warriors, you will see improved damage too!
3 Venom Cannons vs T8
Without support: 2.000
With +1 to hit from Tyranid Prime: 2.667
With +1 To hit from Tyranid Prime AND Symbiostorm: 5.333
With +1 To hit from Tyranid Prime, Symbiostorm AND Single-Minded Annihilation: 10.667
I personally prefer to use Barbed Stranglers. They can pump out a surprising amount of shots and are very accurate against units of 10 or more models. I want to be able to wipe a unit of infantry in shooting during my first turn to make sure I get at least 1 point in the turn for “Kill One” in ITC format games.
3 Barbed Stranglers
vs T4 Sv 3+ (unit of 10 models)
Without support: 2.333
With +1 to hit from Tyranid Prime: 2.917
With +1 To hit from Tyranid Prime AND Symbiostorm: 6.417
With +1 To hit from Tyranid Prime, Symbiostorm AND Single-Minded Annihilation: 12.833
To conclude our look at ranged weapons, we will look at how effective our Deathspitters will be against a basic Marine profile. This is assuming a full brood of Warriors with 3 of them using Basic Bio-Cannons (leaving 6 total Deathspitters).
6 Deathspitters vs T4
Without support: 3.000
With +1 to hit from Tyranid Prime: 4.000
With +1 To hit from Tyranid Prime AND Symbiostorm: 8
With +1 To hit from Tyranid Prime, Symbiostorm AND Single-Minded Annihilation: 16.000
Deathspitters are a solid choice and a brood of Tyranid Warriors is a very capable unit for mid-range firepower. In a list that lacks firepower, Warriors will have a lot of choice targets and will likely be useful all game long.
Note: Deathspitters are pricey and definitely NOT mandatory. If trying to keep them cheap and survivable, you could skip the Deathspitters and keep 6 with just Scything Talons and equip your 3 with Basic Bio-Cannons and Boneswords. They would stay more than 24” away so that your opponent has limited options on what to shoot them with. Meanwhile, they will blast away with their Bio-Cannons all game long. Casualties won’t reduce the firepower of the unit until you get past the 6 bullet shield Scything Talon Warriors. Having 3 sets of Boneswords in the unit will make sure they can still handle basic troops or small harassing units that may come their way. Just keep in mind that they get less benefit from things like a Prime, Single-Minded Annihilation, or Symbiostorm when used this way.
The biggest benefit Tyranid Warriors received in Blood of Baal was the BoB stratagem “Unyielding Chitin” which can be used in your own Charge Phase or your opponent’s Shooting Phase. This 1 CP stratagem reduces damage dealt to the brood by 1 to a minimum of 1. This greatly increases the number of attacks needed to bring Warriors down. This alone is enough to change the game for Tyranid Warriors and make them viable but that’s not all they have access to.
As always, the codex Psychic Power Catalyst is available to help them ignore wounds.
They could be given one of two Adaptive Physiologies: Enhanced Resistance to ignore AP -1 and AP -2, or Dynamic Camouflage to add 2 instead of 1 to their save when benefitting from cover.
There is also still a Malanthrope/Venomthrope’s bubble for -1 to hit.
And last but certainly not least, they can benefit from a Maleceptor’s new BoB stratagem Encephalic Diffusion which counts ranged weapons shooting at the unit as -1 Strength.
These defensive buffs all help Tyranid Warriors in a firefight but are less effective or ineffective in melee so that is why Tyranid Warriors should be kept as midfield objective holders/protectors of support units/midfield synapse coverage rather than charging headlong into the fray with Boneswords flashing. The chart below details their durability under the above conditions.
The Durability Chart
Tyranid Warriors are a solid investment now. They are cheaper and more durable and I believe they have a role in a balanced army. They are strong shooters with reasonable effective range and they can be very durable and hard to shift. You can keep them cheap but effective at range by not using Deathspitters but still taking advantage of the 3 Basic Bio-Cannon options in a full brood. Solid troops for the points cost.
What do you think? Will you be using Tyranid Warriors in your list? How do you plan to equip them? Please let us know in the comments below and don’t forget to follow us on Facebook!
Thanks for taking the time to read this article! We hope you found it helpful!