In order to familiarize myself with the latest edition of the Tyranid codex, I’m hoping to do a detailed review of everything in it. This will force me to read through things in an attempt to recognize just what has changed.
To start with, I’m going to address the army-wide special rules. So, here goes:
Instinctive Behavior: (DEX39)
While previous incarnations had just Lurk & Feed, the new book adds another classification: Hunt. Practically speaking, Lurk used to apply to shooty-units, whereas Hunt now takes that place. Lurk is now more appropriately titled as units with that rule now seek cover, while those with Hunt can stay in the open and still fire. The new category (Lurk) only applies to a select group of models: Lictors (including Deathleaper), Termagants & Venomthropes.
The bigger change in this is that each group now has a chart to roll on to determine what they do. Whereas, in previous iterations, Lurkers always did one thing and Feeders did another, each classification has three different options broken into the following categories:
- Die roll 1-3 (50% chance) – Do something bad (in the case of Feed, something VERY bad, as they wind up doing quite a bit of damage to themselves.
- Die roll 4-5 (33% chance) – Limit their options. In general, this results in them doing what they’re designed to do: Feeders charge (though can’t run for some reason), Hunters fire, and Lurkers seek cover. Effectively, this is very similar to what happened in previous codicies.
- Die roll 6 (17% chance) – As above, but with some sort of special rule applied (preferred enemy, rage, or stealth).
As stated above, the previous incarnations of these rules were roughly in sync with 4-5. So now they get worse 50% of the time—which can be devastating if you go without synapse. Granted, synapse should be important (it was stupid that the old codex actually made units with Feed better outside of synapse in 6th edition). Synapse is a great benefit, and I agree that it should come with a downside, but coupled with the fact that the codex has very low leadership scores, isn’t this taking it too far?
It should be noted that fearless units (which comprises a lot of units—including seemingly every monstrous creature) are immune to the first entry of the chart.
I’m not a fan of these changes. While it’s cute that they can get some benefit (rarely) when going instinctive, the downsides look to be pretty frequent—and severe.
Shadow in the Warp: (DEX69)
Whereas this previously required people to roll three dice for psychic tests when they were within 12”, this has since changed to say that psykers get a -3 penalty on Leadership instead. This is an interesting change because it’s both a buff and a nerf at the same time.
The nerf is small in that rolling three dice will give you a statistically higher number (on average) than rolling 2 dice and adding three (but only marginally). It also increases the odds of rolling box cars/snake eyes and thereby increases the likelihood of a perils. Sadly, that’s not the case anymore.
The buff is that it’s a flat penalty to leadership for all psykers—and makes no specific mention of psychic tests, so it also applies to things like leadership and morale tests too.
All in all, I’d consider this a bit of a buff to the army. It’s not huge unless you’re facing an army of close-combat oriented psykers, but it’s nice to have.
This grants any friendly Tyranids within synapse range the fearless USR (usually 12”, but it can be as far as 24” with certain Warlord Traits/Psychic powers. Additionally, they get to regroup automatically “before the unit moves” if they’re within synapse range.
Nothing here seems to have changed much, though one curiosity is that it doesn’t specify the regrouping has to happen in the movement phase—so can you think of another time when a falling back unit would be able to move outside of the movement phase? They don’t get to run or assault, so that’s not it… Maybe something to do with compulsory moves, like tank shocks?
Still, it’s a stretch and not likely to happen much, so I’m willing to say that Synapse has no real change. I would’ve really liked to have seem a change wherein they reverted to the old rules where units fell back towards the nearest synapse—and not just the board edge. Oh well…
Psychic Powers: (DEX69)
The big issue here is that powers from the BRB are completely absent. My previous evaluation on which powers from the rulebook are good is still valid, but it now is only valid for other armies. Gone are the days of Biomancy (which is, practically speaking, the only one I ever really chose), instead we have seven new powers specific to the hive mind:
- Catalyst – This is very similar to the old Tyranid power by the same name, except it grants it to the psyker AND (up to) one friendly unit with 12”, both of which gain Feel No Pain. Clearly, this is a step up from what it used to be.It should also be compared to the Biomancy power Endurance, which is no longer available. That one extended 24” and granted not only Feel no Pain, but also It Will Not Die and Relentless. I think the biggest difference was the range.Still the power is good. The biggest downfall? Tervigons used to come stock with this power (or have the ability to buy it innately), which is no longer the case.
- The Horror – A malediction with a 24” range which forces pinning tests at -2 leadership. I’ve made no attempts to hide my disdain for pinning tests (see example here), so I’m not thrilled with this power at all. There are just far too many units that have fearless (including this entire codex—when in synapse range) to make this valuable.
- Onslaught – A blessing with a 24” range that allows a unit to both Run and Shoot. Again, I’m not in love with this, as running will preclude units from charging, and Tyranids have historically been an assault based army. It’s not horrible, but I would’ve greatly preferred this to be “run and charge.” I guess time will tell on this particular power, but I’m thinking it’s rather ‘meh’ at this time.
- Paroxysm – A malediction with a range of 24” that lowers WS and BS by a d3. This is similar to the Hive Tyrant power from the previous ‘dex of the same name, except that it doesn’t automatically reduce it to 1, it has double the range, and is now available to other units in the book. Frankly, I think this one is ok. I’m not sure that it stacks (I would rule that it doesn’t), but if it does, I suspect this will be relatively powerful.
- Psychic Scream – A nova power with a range of 6” that forces units to roll 2d6+2 and subtract leadership, taking automatic wounds without armor or cover saves. In effect, it should turn them into little Dooms which are slightly less effective. Considering that anything with this power should also be a psyker (and therefore have shadow of the warp), it could prove nasty against units of psykers, and reasonably good against anything else. It’s nice to finally have more access to AP2 in the ‘dex.
- Warp Blast – Almost verbatim translation from the warp blast from last edition. The only difference I can see is that on the lance hit, it’s no longer AP1 (instead being AP2), and obviously it’s now available to other units in the codex. Again, more AP2 is a good thing.
- Dominion – This is the primaris power, and I don’t care for it. A blessing that extends synapse range by 6” range is meh. One saving grace is that the wording on synapse for regrouping allows you to cast this before you go to move a broken unit to allow them to automatically regroup. The fact that it’s a blessing means that if you switch out the psychic power on broodlords, you’ve always got a little something to fall back on.
Of the lot, I think psychic scream and Catalyst are clearly the best, Warp blast and Paroxysm are pretty good, and the rest are fair. Overall, the powers seem relatively well balanced. Honestly, even if Biomancy was available to me, I can’t say that I wouldn’t roll at least some of my units with Tyranid powers. So, I think it’s safe to say powers are a wash.
Warlord Traits: (DEX38)
- Nature’s Bane – Allows you to turn areas into Carnivorous Jungle throughout the game (RB102). It’s flavorful, but I don’t see it really helping much throughout the game. Passing out a handful of S5, AP- hits to units doesn’t seem like it’d be enough to dissuade them from using cover.
- Heightened Senses – The Warlord and friendly models with 12” have “Night Vision” which allows them to ignore the effects of night fighting (RB40). With so few long range weapons in the Tyranid codex, and so very few shooty units in the codex, this seems like a wasted trait.
- Synaptic Lynchpin – Extends Synapse range to 18”. Not uber, but at least not a waste of a slot. With the instinctive behavior tables being so slanted now, this might wind up being the best warlord trait you could hope for—assuming you can keep him alive…
- Mind Eater – Extra VP for killing characters in challenges. Boring. And the fact that durability of warlord capable units has actually gone down makes me less inclined to challenge anything.
- Digestive Denial – Reduces the cover save of one non-purchased terrain piece in the enemy deployment zone by one. This would only really be valuable if using a significant number of Tyranid shooty units (specifically the few that have low AP).
- Adaptive Biology – Grants the warlord FNP 5+ the following turn after it suffers it’s first wound. While FNP is great, I’m not sure how often this will really come up. Historically speaking, the way to be effective against Monstrous Creatures is to focus fire them down systematically. Will there be all that many games where your Warlord will take damage and not die? Granted, it’s not a bad power, but how much better would this have been to just give him an innate field save? Would that have been overpowered?
There is nothing on this list that I wound be expecially interested in getting. While they’re no worse than the powers in the rulebook. I wouldn’t exclude the possibility of rolling on here, but I almost think I’d prefer to roll on the generic Strategic Traits table instead.
Allies & Fortifications:
There were rumors that the book would allow Tyranids to ally with themselves, but that doesn’t appear to be the case. Sadly, they’re stuck to the same FOC as before and still no allies.
For fortifications, they’ve always been allowed to buy any, but the big problem was that they weren’t allowed to manually fire the emplaced weapons. There was a rule in the previous edition codex which prevented them from firing such weapons seemingly arbitrarily. At least that doesn’t existing this edition, and I might be able to finally fire my quad gun.
I’ve been flipping through the codex a little for the past 12 hours, and my initial reaction is that the doom and gloomers out there are probably right: the sky is falling. At this point in this review, there’s not too much to get excited about, and from what I’ve seen elsewhere in the ‘dex there are few bright spots. Still, it’s worth going through the exercise, so stay tuned.