Monday, March 28, 2011

The Tyranid Organism

by TheGraveMind

I’ve been rethinking Tyranids thanks to Purgatus and Kennedy. Heck even Brent, Hyv3mynd, and Sinsynn (where ever he hails from) have been addressing the bugs lately.

So here are the basics, even on the table, Tyranids act like one large organism. On the galactic scale, one the skirmish scale, all aspects of the Tyranids are dictated by biology. What am I getting at? Phagocytosis of course.

Phagocytosis is the act when a cell surrounds and engulfs foreign matter in order to isolate and consume it.

In the Tyranid book, everything is mostly short range. 12”-24” very few shots are farther than that. Even the buffs and boosts are Short range. Synapse, catalyst, onslaught, Brood progenitor, the list goes on. What this really comes down to is no part of the Tyranid army should really ever be more than 12” away from another part of the army. It is a giant squad coherency concept. And luckily for us, every weapon in the book is an assault weapon. It’s like they intended for it to work this way. (I’ll rule it off as a coincidence; we all know GW doesn’t plan these things out.)

Sure it has it’s weakness like not being able to move out and hit outlying units, but you need to plan ahead. If you need to be able to break off, then think of it like cell division. You’ll need to have enough units in your army that support each other that can split in half and still function. That means redundancy and army planning. It is tough to split a trygon in two, so have another unit to fill that role on the other half.

Back to the larger picture, the more units you have within 12” of each other, the better. You’ll have more options for what units to counter attack, what buffs go where, when to use powers and where. Being able to put a hive tyrant and Tervigon near the same combat can increase gaunts combat power by 3 fold! (Actually 3.38 but who does math-hammer anyways)

Your screening units are your cell walls, the synapse is the nucleus. As you cross the battlefield the shape may ebb and flow, but the unity between the whole army will be evident as you consume all that is in your path. What this really leads to is the fact that Tyranids require a lot of synergy and forethought into each turn and the turns ahead. You are moving your army as one giant unit, plan were each model will go, which ones you’ll remove as casualties, where the weak point will be. Be able to foresee where the next assault will come from, have enough units to counter it.

Not only will a good list need redundancy, but also variance. A survival of the fittest approach, one unit may not be good at handling a certain enemy, so make sure you have one that can. Hoods can stop zoanthropes from breaking through raiders, so have a tyrannofex to keep trying. Tervigons die and gaunts can’t handle infantry, have some warriors or raveners to assault in. Hive guard can’t torrent enough shots into horde units, have some Biovores that can lob large blasts at them.

All the while keep moving the whole mass forwards. It is a rolling ball of biomass that envelops and grows as it moves, expanding in the middle of the table and threatening to over run every inch of it. Use the abilities given to you to gain board control. Take the momentum of the nigh un-killable monstrous creatures thundering at the tanks and the numerous swarms threatening to overrun any infantry that is foolish enough to be within reach and crush all that are before you.


  1. Oh, tyranid orgaNIsm. I was totally thing of something else.

  2. This is a really great example, Gravemind. I'm just now learning some of these concepts and this helps reinforce it.

    It's funny how people think; I was talking with buddy, and I said the Bugs are a very interconnected army to play.

    But he cites that as a weakness. I'm not sure I agree at all.

    I'm with you on this one - Brent

  3. Om nom nom... tasty imperium...

    You speak the truth, brood brother. In this latest book especially, Nids developed a huge sense of necessary Synergy.

    To expand on this idea, I tend to run multiple smaller cells, all with different jobs. I have a more defensive cell, an aggressive cell, and a 2nd aggressive cell (on wings for speed). Then I have a few white blood cells thrown in to fight any infections that pop up (Lictors, Genestealers, and other independent units).

    Even with this slightly different take, the army is still made up of cells that perform their job to make the organism as a whole work.


  4. @caulyndarr; You scared me and made me double check my title. pfew....

    @brent; it is only a weakness if you don't plan ahead. If your opponent has a break away unit, you may be hard pressed to get it if you can't shoot it down, as you might have to redirect your army.

    Foodie, you've got the idea. Smaller independent cells work well. I always try and make my lists to operate in half at least. Genestealers really are white blood cells.

  5. There's a lot of science involved in tying to understand how we recognize words. Let's just say that at a glance, it looked like you're topic was about something else entirely.

  6. Yeah, but they still have major issues with the white blood cells being crippled by a tree or area terrain. The white blood cells can't do their jobs if the are so slow and trip over their own feet all the time. And heaven forbid a heavy flamer come around!

  7. A very intriguing, and surprisingly complementary post to one I had been planning to post today; I cited this article as good confirmation bias =)

  8. Spaguatyrine, We do not mention the heavy flamer. Those are only tales used to scare little gaunts into finishing their biomass.

    I'm glad I'm not just having crazy ideas. I've been dwelling on this concept for a while as I've tried to figure out how I want to run my tyranids.


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