8th Edition Tyranid Review: Index Overview

In this series of posts, I’m going to delve into the changes that affect the Tyranids between 7th and 8th edition.  While this may be beneficial to those of you who don’t already have access to the rules, the real goal is for me to better familiarize myself with the changes.  I suspect that these posts may open up a dialogue with others online who share an interest on the subject.

For that matter, I’m going to try to be as objective as possible about the changes.  Feel free to point out area where I stray from this goal and/or help me to better understand the changes as a whole.

At the time of writing this, I haven’t actually played any games of 8th, so any analysis is purely academic.  Things may play out substantially different on the tabletop.

As my first post, I’ll go over some of the army-wide special rules, along with some basic rules of the game that will have an impact on Tyranids as a whole…


As with the previous iteration, this power grants automatic passing of morale tests.  Previously, it granted creatures within the range “fearless” and caused them to automatically regroup if they fell back into that range.  Fearless allowed them to automatically pass pinning, fear, and regroup tests, plus morale–and also prevented them from going to ground.

I don’t see that fear, regrouping, or going to ground are a thing anymore, so it basically provides the same benefit as it did in previous editions, though there are two key distinctions.

  1. The power is limited to 8″ by default.  This is obviously a nerf to what it was previously (12″).  It should be noted that Hive Tyrants, for some reason, have this range extended to 12″.  I find this fiddly, and it seems like something I’m prone to forget when playing.
  2. Morale is handled differently than it was previously.  So, while this is not a specific change to Synapse, it’s prudent to bring this up.  Previously, you stuck in combat and automatically passed the failed morale test.  New morale tests require you to remove models (a la “Demonic Instability” from the previous edition).  Functionally there’s very little change for the Tyranids here, but it’s worth noting that the rest of the armies will be automatically losing models upon failing morale.  So, while holding steady in this regard, the Tyranids may have actually got a bit of a buff here.

Overall, I’d say this was slightly nerfed based upon the reduction in range.  The overall change in Morale might be significant though.

Instinctive Behavior

I really hate this rule.  I think that having an innate rule that penalizes an army is just poor game design.  Previously, IB meant that if you were outside of Synapse range, you had to pass a a leadership test or fall back to one of three different behavior types.  Like the rest of the game, they’ve streamlined this a bit, so you no longer test leadership, and instead everything falls back to a single behavior which requires you to shoot at/charge the nearest target.

Let’s start with the leadership test.  Tyranids generally have pretty abysmal leadership, so you weren’t likely to pass a lot of IB tests when outside of synpapse before, but at least you passed some of them.  Taking this away streamlines the game, but is also a nerf to the army.

As for what happens when you fail, it’s far more streamlined, and an easy way to restrict all of the different types of units in a simple rule.  While I’m not a fan of any penalty here, it’s a simple and clean solution.  It’s also more acceptable than many of the previous iterations (I mean seriously, who thought of my own models eating themselves?).  This rule is simply better (though maybe not as fluffy) as the last interation.

Overall, I think IB is improved over the last version and would consider this a buff to the army.

Shadow in the Warp

Like Synapse, this range has been reduced to 8″ (again, for all units except the Hive Tyrant).  This effect was actually reasonably good in 6th edition, but had very little bearing in 7th.  In 8th, instead of affecting leadership, this forces enemy psykers to reduce their psychic test by 1.   Since psychic tests are leadership tests, and each power can only be attempted once per army per turn, this is a drastic improvement in effect.  It won’t be a huge game-breaker, as psychics seem to be toned down overall, but it is an improvement (except for the reduced range).

With the eliminiation of the “Allies of Convenience” designation though, it does mean that if you play these guys with the cult, you don’t negatively impact your own forces with Shadow in the Warp.

I’d say that this power is slightly better in the new codex.

Psychic Powers “Aka “Hive Mind Discipline”

In this edition, each faction lost it’s deck of powers and instead has been consolidated in roughly 3 powers each.  Tyranids’s powers are:

  • The Horror – Pinning is no longer a thing, so this power instead forces the targeted unit to subtract 1 from “to hit” and “leadership” rolls.  In 7th, so many armies were effectively immune to leadership that this power was not great most of the time.  Reducing “to hit” rolls (in both shooting and assault) is a definite improvement.
  • Catalyst – Like the last version, this grants a friendly unit a 5+ Feel No Pain save (though FNP as a universal rule is dead so they have to spell it out).  It no longer grants it to the casting unit as well, but has it’s range bumped up by 50% to 18″.  This is probably a wash.
  • Onslaught – Previously this allowed a unit to run and shoot.  In this iteration, everyone can do that with -1 “to hit.”  This power removes that penalty and also allows you to charge that turn.  The downsides would have to be that it limits the range from 24″ to 18″ and that everyone can already run and shoot.  Still, running and charging is a definite plus, so this got better.

In addition, “primarus” powers have gone away, and every psyker in the game knows “smite.”  It targets the closest visible enemy within 18″ and does d3 mortal wounds.  It means that every psyker is going to be able to at least fire one power, and it’s not half bad.

What’s a killer here is that you can only attempt to manifest each power once per turn.  While it’s good to balance out forces that were crazy unbalanced because of the number of psychic powers they used, this is a pretty hard nerf to the Tyranids.  Leaving instinctive behavior in the game means that you’re going to essentially need to run synapse still and, since most of the synapse units are also psykers, you’re effectively paying points for psychic powers that you won’t be able to use.

It’s true that all of those extra psykers do get to roll smite, and they all also act as nodes where you can potentially cast psychic powers from, but it feels pretty brutal to nerf armies that were largely designed around psychics.  I guess time will tell if I’m over-reacting on this.

I think the powers as a whole are an improvement here, but I think the changes to the psychic phase in general will hurt the ‘nids more than help them.



12 comments on “8th Edition Tyranid Review: Index Overview

  1. You can cast smite more than once per turn.

    The horror from what front line gaming has said will reduce you over watch shot from a 6+ to hit to a 7+ to hit.

      • I am looking and all I can find is, under point 2. ” A psyker cannot attempt to manifest the same psychic power more than once in a turn. ” I am not seeing where it say that to different psykers can’t cast the same power.

      • Ok found the spot where it blocks you from using the same power twice in one turn. It’s under the match play rules. It says.

        “Psychic Focus
        With the exception of Smite, each psychic power can only be attempted once per turn, rather than once per psyker per turn. ”

        So if your using Match play rules only one power per turn except Smite. If your not playing match play rules once per psyker.

      • The book is poorly laid out, but I expect that “match play” will be the defacto standard as it seems most equivalent to what we’re all used to.

        On Wed, Jun 7, 2017 at 9:56 PM, Warhammer 39,9999 wrote:


  2. Hi, pretty good write up but a few things Id like to say.

    1. I dont think Cataylyst is a wash at all! Alot of our big bugs have no invulnerable saves, and so catalyst is big in saving them :). Also it can save against mortal wounds and there is no double str no fnp. So our big units can actually be a huge pain to deal with. Especially since tervigons can (for free) return 10 destroyed termagants with fleshborers a turn to a unit. Combine that with a 5+ save on everything and its difficult to get rid of :).

    2. Shadow is a huge improvement compared to 7th. Alot of really strong psychic powers require a 6 or 7 already-shadow skews that math. Also with deny the witch being what it is, tyranids can control the psychic phase.

    • Catalyst is certainly good. What I was trying to say is that, when compared to Catalyst from 7th edition, it is a wash. 7th granted the same save, but granted it to two units (including the caster). Obviously there are some other advantages to it in this edition (including the extra range) which is why I say it’s about the same.

      You’re also right in that Shadow got a big bump with the new rules, but honestly I very rarely found enemy psykers within 12″ of my synapse creatures in the previous edition. With that in mind, even a huge improvement in the ability (which this quite possibly constitutes) isn’t a big bonus for the army. At least, not the way I see it.

      Thanks for visiting and taking the time to comment!

  3. I think one of the things that mitigates a number of the downsides here is that Warriors and the Tyranid Prime are now once again viable options. They let you spread your Synapse net better, and the Tyranid Prime is really durable unless your Opponent has a lot of Snipers, since he’s a low-Wound Character. The BroodLord being a Synapse creature without having to cast Dominion as well helps, too. So it’s not necessary to bring as many Psykers as long to feel wasted.

    The fact that just about everyone else’s Psychic Powers also got a reduction in their Range helps with the SitW issue as well.

    I do hope that when we get a proper Dex, we get some sort of exemption from the “only one power once” thing. Both Catalyst and Onslaught get progressively worse in larger Games as the number of Units wanting them increases while they can still only be cast once each.

    The real thing for me, tho, was just the feel when I actually got them on the table. I can’t remember the last time I had that much fun playing my Nids. Probably back in 4th Ed, or very early 5th Ed, honestly.

    • Have you gotten a bunch of games in? I haven’t actually used Warriors or the Prime in a game yet (though I have used Shrikes and Raveners, which are quite similar in terms of durability).

      The prime is certainly more survivable (against shooting), but his statline and weapon options aren’t that impressive. Are you using large squads of shooty-based warriors and letting him help their ballistic skill? How do you make him viable?

      On Mon, Jun 19, 2017 at 6:13 PM, Warhammer 39,9999 wrote:


      • Only one Game with the Nids so far. The Prime didn’t do a huge amount of damage himself, but he was buffing a Brood of DeathSpitter/ScyTal Warriors who ended up being fairly vicious. Getting them to WS2+ re-rolling 1s in CC was pretty awesome.

        He was also very helpful in having another Synapse Unit that could shift over to help cover the middle of my Army after Belial dropped my Tyrant, without having to remove the coverage on my right flank that the Warriors were providing.

      • Synapse somehow seems even more important this edition–though that may be just bias. At least I can control my unit now, but morale tests seem harsh in 8th. I haven’t had to make one myself, but I’ve forced enough to know that I don’t want to.

        On Thu, Jun 22, 2017 at 10:50 AM, Warhammer 39,9999 wrote:


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