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Tactica: Tyranid Fast Attack

I've recently brought 2 boxes of Ravenors and plan to get another 2 as well; this will give me 2 fast attack units with 6 Ravenors in each unit. Along with a additional Carnifex this will bring my Tyranid army up to a total of 2,600. Though I'll be getting the other 2 boxes of Ravenors and the 'Fex in time.

So in the light of my recent purchase I thought I'd some some tactica for the Ravenors, though there isn't a huge lot to write so I thought I would push the boat out and do the entire Fast Attack choices :)

Tyranid Shrike Brood

Basically what we've got here are flying Tyranid Warriors; except with a 5+ armour save instead of 4+. As standard you bascially get a Space Marine with 3 wounds which is a slightly better fighter but slightly worse shooter, for those extra 3 wounds it's not bad trade off. You also get a devourer as standard, so a nice 18" S4 assault 3 fire power attack is nice. Bonus is your Shrikes are synapse creatures as well. What this means is they can move as quickly as the lesser Hormagaunts and keep them in synapse range and give them fire support, also because of there mobility they can plug synapse gaps very quickly.

These guys get plenty of upgrades. First are a barbed strangler and venom cannon. The strangler gives more anti infantry power along side the devourers and will suit them well; however the venom cannon won't match the devourers and is best for light vehicles, something which would be better paired with deathspitters. Either way one will complement your fire power, just make sure you get the right setup.

The next set of options is where you can make your Shirkes nasty little buggers. You can give them rending claws for 5 points, which is a good buy and then make them more combat orientated with a pair of boneswords, lash whip and bonesword and finally another pair of scything talons.

The dual swords will give you c.c weapons which ignore armour saves and force instant death on anything which receives a wound from them, though the enemy model must pass a leadership on 3D6 before suffering instant death with a pair of swords - quite nasty and even high leadership models will be challenged to do this.

The whip and sword combo costs 5 points more than the double swords. Which IMO is a bit steep and really should cost the same. With the whip and sword combo you're losing the I.D on 3D6 and gaining the ability to force the enemy model to strike at initiative 1. Sure you can still I.D but it's leadership test as normal. Personally I'd rather take the double swords.

The talons can be useful as it allows you to re-roll ALL failed hits as you're now taking two pairs.

This is now where you can do funky combos with the bio-morphs. Adrenal glands and toxin sacs are both 5 points each, which are a bargain. If you take toxin sacs and rending claws you get to re-roll against T4 enemy models or below; which means more rends! You take adrenal glands and you get furious charge which makes that pair of boneswords S5 and with talons that's S5 with re-rolls to hit!

Jumping back a little bit there're two other ranged weapons, spinefists and deathspitter. You can swap your devourer for spinefist for free which give you 12" range S3 but become twin linked and fire as many shots as you have attacks, which is 3, which is the same as the devourer. Personally I'd rather take the longer range devourer with high strength, which as a bonus can force -1 morale test if causes 25% damage. The deathspitter on the other hand is a different story. For 5 points you can a S5 AP5 weapon with the same amount of fire power and range. Not bad, this also means you can take out light armour and dish out the pain more to infantry.

The Shrikes do have a down side though and that is the weak armour save. Being 5+ means pretty much anything will slay them and because they're jump infantry moving through terrain will force dangerous terrain tests if they use their wings.

Like Warriors they're highly configurable, but with that weak armour save I'd rather take something else. Sure they can be setup to be good shooting but with the 18" range on the best weapons you really don't need wings to reach your target. In combat they're good; but the modified Warrior aka Ravenor costs 35 points with rending claws and can move so much quicker, and has more attacks and also a better initiative....


I've always liked Ravenors. I just didn't like the annoying old metal models and they looked stupid with ranged weapons because how is a tunneling beast meant to move through the ground with a gun in it's hands? The new models are not only plastic but the ranged weapons are "built in" the Ravenors.

Any hoo, enough waffling. What we've got here is a Shrike but it has one more attack and initiative value. Down side is they're not synapse creatures and only leadership 6; but that's not a problem. Their instinctive behaviour is to feed, which gives the rage special rule; +2 attacks when charging, awesome!

First upgrade is rending claws. Get them. Sure you lose a pair of talons and re-rolls to hit, but with at least one pair of talons you can re-roll one's, when you're dishing out 5 attacks per Ravenor that could be a lot of one's failed which means re-roll and possibly more rends! Because these creatures are beasts they can move fast; 12" movement, ignore effects of terrain and have move through cover, so they do not take terrain tests. 

Next batch of upgrades are ranged weapons; if you have the points, then take deathspitters or devourers. Both of these weapons suit the anti troop role of the Ravenors, but deathspitters can also tackle vehicles, which the rending attacks of Ravenors can also do. Just beware that gun upgrades and rending claws can make Ravenors expensive. 

One last thing about the Ravenors, they get deep strike. But because I believe they should be kept as a pure close combat unit you really don't want to do this, especially with 5+ save.

Sky Slasher Swarm

Swarm that can move 12", not bad. 15 points per base though? I don't think so. Would I take these? No. Perhaps I have over looked something, or maybe not?

Gargoyle Brood

These little rats with wings are the bomb in the Tyranid codex. You get a Termagant with wings and a cool special rule; blinding venom. Blind venom basically scores a wound on the roll of a 6 when rolling to hit, not bad eh?

These guys should be used for two things. One is a bullet shield for your fast moving creatures, they make exceptional cover for a flying Tyrant, yes you can cover a Tyrant! The rule book says only legs, head, arms and body are classed to draw LOS to - things like wings and tails are not. And remember, models only need 25% cover to gain a cover save. Second use is to harass the enemy early on, send them forward as a distraction and let them take the bullets while your more important beasts move forward.

These guys get bio-morph upgrades too. Give them toxin sacs as they will wound anything on a 4+. With a flying Tyrant, which has old adversary (preferred enemy) this means re-roll 1's to hit and to wound (remember those 6's to wound when hitting!). 


Basically a semi monstrous creature,  it's just not quite there, but it's also the only flyer in the Tyranid codex!yet. The Harpy only has a 4+ armour save and is T5, so you need to keep it swooping so enemy units need 6+ to hit. The only worry you've got is from other flyer units and guns with skyfire i.e aegis autocanon. If you can tackle those threats early, then you will be ok. 

The Harpy is a all rounder. It can do close combat against basic troops reasonably well, remember it has the smash rule and it's attacks are AP2. Don't forget hammer of wrath and vector strike too!. It is also a flying monster gun boat as it comes with 2 ranged weapons plus spore mines.

You can upgrade the stranglethorn cannon to a twin-linked venom cannon for 10 points; not a bad buy. However I'd rather keep the stranglethorn and swap the stinger salvo for cluster spines giving me two templates o' death; excellent for anti infantry. 

You can upgrade the Harpy with bio-morphs. These will help it in close combat and when going after vehicles it will be S6 when doing vector strike attacks. 

Probably one of the best fast attack units Tyranids can get. 

Spore Mines

Spore mines can be fun messing with your opponents deployment. What isn't fun when facing a mech army and the mine explodes dishing out a S4 hit; even against the weakest vehicle it needs a 6+ to glance. Not good. Best deployed when against foot armies, the ap4 large blast can be annoying and for 10 points per mine can be useful.

I think it can be literally hit and miss with these.

* Note this article has been edited and is resourced upon gaming time I had with Tyranids back in 5th. I no longer have a Tyranid army and have not played with them or against them in 6th. 

So that's about it. Any comments or anything you notice needs changing you know what to do ;) If you've played Tyranids in 6th, then let me know.