Lets look at Tyrants, I'll refrain from mentioning the past codex, we are starting fresh. So base price of 170, some good options, some expensive, and some bad. Base price gets you a TMC, synapse, psyker with 2 powers, and near demon like stat line. High weapon skill means he is hitting almost everything on 3+. Unfortunately his Bs is only 3, so weapon options aren't looking that great from the get go. Lets look at the psyker aspect, well you get to choose 2 powers from 4. Of those 4, one is amazing, two are decent, one is horrible. So really you get to choose 1 of two mediocre powers and take the one good power. Paroxysm is almost always taken, as it makes a unit Bs and Ws 1 for a full turn. The other two options are Life essence, which allows you to gain wounds from dealing wounds with it. But the odds of dealing a wound with it makes it very situational, though it is still normally worth taking for those chances. Then you have scream, which causes Moral check in a radius. The Fourth option is so bad and unused I can't even think of what it is right now.
Weapon options; He starts with talons and bonesword/lashwhip. Generally, you'll want to keep the sword/whip combo, not for the sword but for the whip. You can replace the talons with a weapon if you have the points. The main reason for this is because his powers are shooting attacks, you can still shoot one weapon, and the whip is helpful for keeping him alive. The common gun is the Devourer. It gives you 6 TL S6 shots that can really widdle infantry or an MC. My favorite option is Barbed strangler. It is less dependent on Bs, and allows the Tyrant to threaten infantry at range. Another common option is the heavy venom cannon. People like the HVC because it is long range and S9. Though it can pop light transports, I don't trust them since they are small blasts on a bad Bs, and against vehicles count as AP-.
Other options are generally wings or armored shell. So either move like jump infantry, or 2+ armor save. Both of these are sometimes ignored if you take a good amount of Tyrant guard. Though some people take them to save from Krak rounds. With the rise of Dark lances, I see this being less useful. The other options are tactical implements. Hive commander gives you +1 reserves and outflanking a troop choice. Old adversary gives you an aura for preferred enemy, and Horror gives you something relatively useless, units have to pass leadership to assault the Tyrant. Each of these are priced at 25 points, and though you can take more than one, I would not recommend it. Generally I've seen people take old adversary, as it makes nearby gaunts and all other units far more dangerous. The main reason not to take it is if you are doing a reserves heavy list and need the hive commander option.
NOTE: If you take tyrant guard, it is almost always worth the 5 points to give them whips, it helps keep the tyrant alive. Most people take two guards, so one can die, and still have cover on the way up.
So looking at two common builds, You have a flying tyrant, with devourers, and hive commander and then you have tyrant with lash/sword and a gun, with two guards with whips. So your tyrant is almost always going to range from 250-350. An average of 300 points for this Role-confused TMC.
Lets define the Tyranid Prime briefly, and see how both of these fit into army roles.
So the Prime (I also call him Alpha warrior, to not confuse with Trygon prime), is basically a warrior, with every single stat increased by one, with the exception of wounds. For 80 points you get a T5 IC with a 3+. That is almost enough right there. IC in a tyranid codex has been almost game changing, we've never truly had one before, and not one so versatile. So jump him in a large group and keep the synapse safe, Jump him with MCs and give them easy cover saves, or jump him with T4 warriors and soak up some S8 wounds.
Option wise he has Basic Warrior options, plus cheap regeneration. Depending on how you are going to use him, the regeneration is cheap enough to consider it for him, but not something I'd generally recommend. He starts off with scything talons and a devourer. You can upgrade the gun to a deathspitter if you really want to, but he is a close combat unit, with the best Bs in the codex at 4. You can also replace the gun with rending claws or scything talons. His normal scything talons can be replaced with either dual bone swords or whip/sword. That is generally the big decision for him, is he needed to knock down initiative to 1, or the 3d6 from bone swords going to be needed? I generally pick whip/sword first, and if I get a second on then go with dual swords. Whip will always work, 3D6 is a variable you can't count on. Last two options are toxin sacs and adrenal glands. With S5, toxin sacs are always useful. You hit MCs on 4+ while always rerolling against anything weaker. If you think you'll be hitting MCs a lot with him, or need a way to stop them, then consider adrenal glands. With whip/sword, the initiative boost isn't needed, but the S6 first turn will let you reroll to wound. So again consider Adrenal glands for the second Alpha warrior.
Lets not forget one of his biggest aspects. In addition to the fun unlocked by being an IC, he has a rule called "Alpha Warrior". This rule lets the warrior squad he has joined to use his Bs and Ws. So the whole squad just jumped to Ws6 and Bs4. The common way I use mine is with a shooting warrior squad to boost them, and pull the close combat weight. He'll have whip/sword, Talons, toxin sacs. The squad, as mentioned in my last post, are basic with talons and deathspitters. The Alpha doesn't need a gun as he makes up for it by the increase in squad shooting. When it comes to combat, he is hitting hard and rerolling hits and wounds in most cases, and ignoring armor. He pulls the weight in combat, but 5 warriors at Ws6 with talons can put on a large amount of wounds to force some saves as well. So tyranid primes clock in at around 100-120 points for some pretty damaging combat, that squanders a great Bs.
Hive Tyrant vs Alpha Warrior.
For around 200 points less, the Alpha does the same amount of damage in combat as a tyrant will. He'll have less wounds, but easier cover, and can hide in squads. So really it comes down to army effects. The Alpha only really boosts a Warrior squad, and can share cover with carnifexes. The tyrant can have reserve affects, an aura of preferred enemy, and powers that others can take advantage of, paroxysm.
The Tyrant gives you board control. Hammer units will come near him, weaker units will stay away. He can boost nearby units and penalize enemy units that get to close. With a heavy weapon he can still reach out and damage the enemy, while guards allow him to gain cover and survive incoming shots. If you are looking for the combat power, consider the Alpha warrior for a much cheaper price tag.
So what does everyone use? My preference are to the Tyranid primes, as I see the Tyrant over-priced seeing as I'm paying for things I don't want for him.
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