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Tactica: Tyranid Hive Tyrant

Lately I've been configuring my Tyrants a lot deciding which way to go; flying or foot. The Tyrants are changed a bit from the previous codex edition, I thought I'd give a run down and share my thoughts I've had while getting mine sorted.


The Hive Tyrant fills a HQ slot and is a monstrous creatures which has a decent profile, which is more towards combat. It has a whopping WS8 on par with some Greater Daemons though shooting is BS3 so you need 4+ to hit, not brilliant, but these seems to be the way of the Tyranids, unless they're dedicated tank hunters i.e Zoanthropes and Hive Guard. This bad boy is S6, T6 and has 4 wounds along with a 3+ save so can be fragile against the wrong targets. The downside though is lack of invulnerable save, which is a issue for a unit which is orienated towards combat at default wargear. Lastly the beast is I5, so not the quickest but neither the slowest and thankfully is leadership 10; which is extremely useful as the Tyrant has moved more into the psychic department.

The Tyrants comes with some funky special rules: synapse creature and shadow in the warp. The former basically makes your beast and any within 12" fearless, very handy if you want to be stuck in combat and keep a enemy unit in a tarpits. The shadow in the warp forces all psychic tests taken within 12" to be done on 3D6, while it's no psychic hood it certainly can be annoying and stop powers going off and claim wounds even on enemy psykers.

The down side really of the Tyrants profile is the lack of invulnerable save, as mentioned earlier. Weapons which do not allow armour saves in close combat or AP3 and below weapons will maul it. Another issue is the whooping 170 point cost.


As standard the Tyrant comes with a pair of scything talons and a bonesword/lash whip combo. The talons aren't mega useful as they allow to re-roll 1's to hit only, you need a pair to re-roll all failed to hit. I guess it's better than a kick in the balls, right? The sword and whip combo isn't hugely useful, the sword allows no armour saves, but the Tyrant is a monstrous creature and has the smash rule (attacks are AP2), so the sword doesn't really matter. Though, the sword can spell instant death if a invulnerable save is failed; this could be useful. The whip itself is perhaps the most useful as it makes all models in base contact against the Tyrant be initiative 1, useful for against faster close combat models and works as frag grenades sort of as you will now go at the same time as a enemy in cover. Though the whip has a more interesting combo, I'll talk later about that.

Psychic Powers

The Tyrant comes with four psychic powers for free, you can take two of these.

The Horror

A psychic shooting attack which auto hits a enemy unit within 12". It forces the enemy unit to take a morale test or fall back. It's not brilliant as high leadership is becoming more common these days and it doesn't affect fearless units. Also if the unit is over half strength there isn't anything to stop them from regrouping. All the power will do is act as a speed bump for a turn, if you're luckily. You may force a unit to flee if they're close enough to the board edge.

Leech Essence

This is another auto hit psychic shooting attack and is a mini regeneration ability for free. The bonus of this is it causes D3 S3 AP2 hits, so you'll kill a few enemy models. The downside it's not mega high strength so even against T3 models you need a 4+ to wound. Though the AP2 does mean lack of armour save for the enemy, however you gain a wound back for each wound inflicted - that's not failed armour saves btw, so you score 3 wounds you gain 3 wounds!


A useful power for support purposes. This power reduces WS and BS down to 1; blast a shooty unit with it and that unit now needs 6+ to hit. Blast a unit you want to assault and they need 5+ to hit; your Tyranid won't be taking the pain so much, and beauty is if you're locked in combat this power works until the Tyranid next turn!

Psychic Scream

Another leadership shooting attack, all units within 2D6" of the Tyrant must take a leadership test and if they fail they take wounds for each point they failed by. Like the Horror power it suffers the same problems with high leadership so make sure you're casting it on low leadership models i.e Orks and Guard and have plenty of units surrounding you to take advantage, could be useful as the enemy unit could fail morale and fall back due to receiving wounds.

The problem with these psychic powers is they're all shooting attacks. So if you have a ranged weapon Tyrants carrying two weapons then it's either fire a single weapon and cast a psychic test, as monstrous creatures can fire two weapons. The downside is that the Tyrant cannot cast two psychic powers which is a bummer considering you can take two for free.


The Tyrant has plenty of options but like other wargear some is more useful than others.

The first upgrade is to ditch the sword and whip for another pair of talons; this gives you re-roll to hit. Not bad.

Next options are ranged shooting. Twin-linked devourers are tasty firing S6 6 shots each and cause morale, they are also excellent for taking hull points off typical transport vehicles. The the twin-linked deathspitters I wouldn't bother with tbh, devourers offer much more for the same points cost.

The heavy venom cannon is ok. As long as they blast template hits it is causing some damage.


Moving onto the biomorphs:

Adrenal glands gives furious charge; not bad for smacking other monstrous creatures and help against vehicles. Though consider you fight other monstrous creatures you get no invulnerable save! This upgrade isn't essential, but can come in handy.

Toxin sacs are pretty handy. Basically in most situations the toxin sacs are going to let you re-roll to wound. Don't forget that the poison rules have changed, so you can still wound on a 2+ as poison lets you wound normally if you didn't have the poison rule.

Acid blood can be very handy with a lash whip. With acid blood the enemy needs to take a initiative test for every wound they received, they fail and no armour saves. Lash whip makes enemies I1, you see where I am going with this? Take this upgrade if you take a lashwhip, it's very very affective.

Implant attack dishes out instant death. You have instant death if you take a bonesword.

Toxic miasma is like acid blood but a toughness test; except the enemy can take armour saves. I wouldn't bother tbh.

Regeneration gives you wounds back on the roll of a 6 on a D6, it's costly and luck of the dice and may not be worth the points. Why bother when you can have regen for free and dish out some dirt at the same time?


The Tyrant has a few other extras listed which fall into a variety of categories, the problem with this is you can only take one, which is a shame as all or majority can be useful.

You've got the throax swarms which I think are wishy washy, though could be useful for a Tyrant without any weapons. However if a Tyrant has no ranged weapons you want it in combat a.s.a.p, which means taking wings, which means no to throax swarms.

Next is armoured shell which is a 2+ armour save. Is it needed or not because for a bit more points you can get a Tyrant Guard which gives cover and you can do other cool tricks with i.e look out, sir. If you take it remember you still can take fire from AP1 & AP2 fire and there's not a lot you can do. Of course power weapons cannot hurt you in combat, so that's a nice bonus.

Wings are the most expensive and cost a packet. Winged Tyrants are a point sink so you need to make sure they work and earn there points back. I'd take wings if you have a close combat orientated Tyrant.


The Tyrant gets four abilities you may take for 25 points each, for the points cost of the Tyrant be nice if you could have taken just one of these for free.

You've got Hive Commander power which allows a -1 reserve bonus to your reserve rolls and also allows a single troop choice to outflank, nice. Probably not a must needed ability as I cannot see a huge amount of units in reserve for Tyranids besides FMCs. I guess it depends how you run your army tbh.

Next is Indescribable Horror which is more leadership trickery if you wish to assault the Hive Tyrant. It runs into the same problems as the free psychic powers, I wouldn't take this TBH.

Lastly is Old Adversary which allows all units within 6" of the Tyrant and the Tyrant itself the preferred enemy special rule. This ability is very handy for a Tyranid shooty army, re-roll 1's to hit, yes please! In combat it maybe not so handy as a good portion of Tyranids have scything talons, which let you re-roll 1's to hit. So in combat old adversary will only give you half the benefit.

If you pick the right powers the Tyrant can certainly benefit the army or other units; which is what you want. The days of hulking power units are gone and it's now about army benefits models can give. Two out of three abilities can do this.


1 x Hive Tyrant - bonesword/ lashwhip, scything talons, acid blood & wings

The Tyrant above is a close combat beast it can fly 12" and then charge giving it a possible 24" threat radius. Do not forget hammer of wrath either. The whip makes enemy models strike last and if you starting feeling the hurt they have to take a initiative test thanks to the acid blood at I1 thanks to the whip.

1 x Hive Tyrant - 2 x twin-linked devourers & armoured shell

This Tyrant is a walking gun boat which can fire 12 twin-linked shots. S6 will take out infantry and light armour, this is about weight of fire power.. The armoured shell makes the Tyrant shrug off most attacks but it has little defence against real anti tank weaponry. A Tyrant Guard or two are a must for a Tyrant on foot.


Taking the winged Tyrant can cost a pretty penny and it needs support, badly, or else it will just get shot out the sky. You can take two for dual threat but consider this will cost you a bucket of points. What you could do is take a large unit of cheap Gargoyles and use them to screen the Tyrant. You'll get a 5+ cover save, which is better than nothing. If you do have the points and are taking Gargoyles take Old Adversary power, this lets your Gargoyles re-roll 1's to hit now and to wound for shooting and assault; very handy, particularly with the blinding venom rule.

The bonus about Gargoyle shield is you can advance without taking major damage and shoot up the flank pretty quickly with a equally fast unit. Though when going into combat make sure you can win because those flying rats will easily fold.

If Gargoyles aren't your thing and lets also face it they're not super tough how about a Trygon escort? You can hide your Tyrant behind the bigger Trygon and get cover and the Trygon itself takes a lot of putting down. You now have a more fearsome combat due and you do not need Old Adversary like for the Gargoyles as the Trygon has dual scything talons so it can re-roll to hit anyway. Sure you will get shooting bonus, but it's not a massive boost.

The advantage of this is you now have two dual monstrous creatures giving you a lot more threat. While the Trygon cannot exactly keep up with the Tyrant it isn't exactly falling right behind. Also the beauty is the Trygon will not fold like paper like Gargoyles will. The downside is this combo costs a lot of points, at least 430 points if my maths is correct.

Considering a Tyrant's attacks are AP2 in combat and is more geared towards close combat than shooting I'd lump the wings point cost and take a flying Tyrant. No point putting a close combat Tyrant on foot because you do not have fleet and you'd need Tyrant Guard, which equals same points as wings, so if your're walking you may as well go shooting.

For a shooting Tyrant I would honestly take two pairs of twin-linked devourers. It can put out a great deal of shots laying down a lot of fire support for small critters. You could take a stranglethorn which acts as anti infantry too. I wouldn't consider a venom cannon really due to BS3 and if it scatters you may miss; the Tyrant isn't best used effectively as a dedicated anti tank gun platform other Tyranids can do that. If you are walking a Tyrant then you definately need at least two Tyrant Guard. If you do take armoured shell, then a single Tyrant Guard should be fine. Just remember to make use of cover for the unit and look out, sir.
To keep the Guard cheap as they do cost just take lash whips, this will make the opponent go last and your Tyrant and Guard can do some bashing before getting bashed themselves.

Ultimately it boils down to two effective Tyrant builds - the winged Tyrant for close combat, after all you don't want to go on foot.! Beware though this costs points and you need support! Or go the walking gun platform which is better for anti infantry role using devourers and/or stranglethorn. A venom cannon anti tank purposes is best for other creatures, although you can assault after you destroyed the enemy transport. Just remember, on foot you need Tyrant Guard and at least two as a smart player will nuke the Tyrant and Guard with AP2 and AP1 so you don't get any armour saves - just cover if you're lucky.

Hope that helps all Tyrant lovers out there. Any comments or additional tactica is welcome!

* Note that this tactica guide has been updated for 6th ed. I have only played Tyranids in 5th and no longer own a Tyranid army.

How do you run your Tyrant, people?