As I've done for Orks and Chaos Space Marines I'm doing another Top Unit post; hopefully the Tyranids will get more than 7 like CSM! lol.
In no particular order:
The Tyrant is a tough monstrous creature packing 4 wounds; not as many as I'd like but still enough along with T6 and a 3+ armour save. The Tyrant has gone up in points since the previous codex, over doubled, but don't let that put you off.
For 170 points you get 4 psychic powers for free; 2 which you can take in the game. You get a sword and whip while the sword doesn't do much the whip is better making opponents strike last. The Tyrant is also extremely flexible in builds you can go for a flying assault Tyrant or a gun monster with double twin-linked devourers or a vehicle sniper with a venom cannon. The Tyrants best role is supporting other units or acting as a benefit for the army, the Tyrant can take several abilities which only two are really any good. One gives all units within 6" preferred enemy this can make some nasty combos for re-rolling 1's to hit and re-rolling 1's to wound, given the right wargear on other Tyranids. Your Tyrant can also do reserve bonus, units appearing on a 2+ on turn 2? Oh yes!.
Negatives for the Tyrant is the cost points; 170. The default build for those points isn't exactly brilliant and if you do want to use the standard wargear you need wings to make the most of them which make the Tyrant cost a lot more. The Tyrant isn't a unstoppable killing machine either and lacks a invulnerable save, which is a problem, 4 wounds and 3+ armour save isn't hard to stop with long range anti tank weapons. You have to becareful as well where you throw the Tyrant into combat due to lack of invulnerable save but you can get around this by using the leech essence power in the shooting phase; providing you live.
The Tervigon is one of the new monstrous creatures on the block and like other big beasts costs a points packet but this big brute ends up paying for its own points for its ability to spawn free troops!
The Tervigon is a HQ choice, but you take Termagants as a troop choice you can take these big daddies as troops too; so that's a T6 6 wound monstrous creature for troop choices - nice! If you do take them as troops choice then take minimum Termagant swarms to get them, don't pay for a 20 Termagant unit when you get them for free! The Tervigon also comes with a range of psychic powers which all of them have benefits; one makes synapse range 18", the other gives feel no pain to a unit, the other allows a unit to run and still shoot. Another cool thing this big guy can do is pass any bio morph abilities to any Termagant units within 6" - so your Termagants get toxin sacs and adrenal glands for free!
Like other monstrous creatures the Tervigon lacks invulnerable save so AP3 and below weapons will fry it along with no armour save weapons in combat i.e thunder hammers. While you've got 6 wounds to take the pain they soon can be chipped away. The Tervigon isn't exactly a good fighter either and to upgrade it to make it a bit better in combat can be costly. The only real uses the Tervigon offers is claiming objectives and spawning Termagants. Some people rave about the ability to pass on bio morph benefits, but it means keeping a unit(s) within 6" at all time. This can be a good tactic as an assault shield, but because the Tervigon spawns 7-11 Termagaunts it's not exactly a massive shield.
The Tyranid Prime is a tooled up Warrior in the profile section and is the cheapest HQ available and for the points isn't too shabby.
The Prime firstly gives any Warrior unit it's attached to his BS and WS. The BS makes a difference but the normal Warriors are WS5 as standard so will still hit on 3+ most times anyway. Another bonus is this guy is a I.C so unlike the big beasts he can join other units and hide in them (don't forget look out, sir); however the gay G.W FAQ says I.C cannot join Mycetic Spores so if you was going to deep strike Warriors with a Prime it's now a no-no. The Prime is also very flexible and can be tooled up for combat or shooting, both can be good but the Prime lacks a invulnerable save and only has 3 wounds plus doesn't have fleet to get into combat quickly.
As mentioned the problem with the Prime is no invulnerable save. Also, expect challenges from characters, which depending on wargear you have have to decline, which means not attacking this round of combat. Luckily the Prime is T5 so cannot be instant death'd by anything under S10.
One of the new beasties on the block and taking a elite section. These guys are the new tank busters for the Tyranids.
The Hive Guard is a tough cookie being T6 and 2 wounds, so no instant death for this guy with normal weapons and is tough to put down even with the big guns i.e lascannons, meltas, plasma etc. The Hive Guard is BS4 which is what you want for cracking tanks but best of all comes with a assault 2 weapon which fires S8 AP4 shot; excellent for cracking armour and best bit is you don't need LOS! So this guy can hide in terrain and be safe and sound! Even better is only 'natural' cover saves can be used i.e terrain. Things like smoke and going flat out will not save the enemies hide.
The benefits for the Hive Guard are minimum and simple but so are the disadvantages. Firstly the cool gun only has 24" range so you need to move up first turn, however it is possible you may be always in range as you start 12" away from the table edge so does your opponent which leaves a 24" gap - however a smart opponent would draw his units back so they don't get assaulted or shot too quickly by the Tyranids. A work around for this is cast onslaught power with a Tervigon. Another issue besides short range in the armour save which is 4+.
Now living in the elite section, the Zoanthrope packs a punch. Like the Hive Guard, it's simplistic but has it's problems.
The 'Thrope is a psyker and has two ranged psychic powers one is a S10 AP1 lance; excellent for vehicle destruction which penetrates vehicles on a 3+. Or the other power is S5 AP3 blast which deals the pain to infantry. The Zoanthrope is no wash over and can be a tough customer as it has 2 wounds and a 3+ invulnerable save so can be quite hard to tackle sometimes.
Problems with Zoanthropes is the warp lance power is short ranged but this can be sorted with a Mycetic Spore or using onslaught from a nearby Tervigon. They are also 2 wound Space Marines so weight of fire power will bring them down and they're not brilliant in a melee fight either. Add that every unit in the game as psychic defense in the form of deny the witch, at least it's only 4+ at a best.
Now finding itself in the troop section the Warrior is the most expensive troop unit available, but they're so damn flexible!
The Warrior has dropped down on BS but it up on WS and as standard comes with a assault 3 gun so can pack a punch. These guys are pretty tough as well having a 4+ armour save, T4 and 3 wounds so they can take a pounding. Like the Tyraind Prime they're highly flexible so can be geared for shooting and or assault, personally I wouldn't go all assault as they do not have fleet which can hold them back. A mixed role for these with decent shooting such as deathspitters packing the extra strength and rending claws along with toxin sacs can really put the pain in.
If you start tooling these guys up they can be expensive, I personally run a 5 Warrior unit and it's 220 points! The 4+ armour save doesn't hold much out against some of the more bulkier weaponry but the 3 wounds can make them last however.
You can find a Tyranid Warrior tactica guide here.
Now slightly cheaper are these guys still the bees knees?
The 'Stealer is pure combat and can get there in a hurry as it has infiltrate, move through cover and fleet, which also means it can outflank too. What makes these so bad is they're WS6 so Space Marines get hit on 3+ and most monstrous creatures will need a 4+ to hit them. They also get 2 attacks each throw that in with rending as standard rule and they're tough just how they come out the box. If you want you can make these more deadly by taking toxin sacs which means re-rolls against anything T4 or below, adrenal glands probably aren't needed and scything only re-roll 1's and are probably not worth the points hike.
Problem with Genestealer is a 5+ save so bolters shred them but infiltrate along with the move through cover rule should mean they'll get cover save or be off the board so they cannot be shot at. It's also 14 points per model and the smaller Tyranid models cost half than that, even a unit of 10 Genestealers don't last long. You'll also find toxin sacs are a must making these even more expensive. One massive problem is Genestealers cannot assault from outflank or assault first turn if they infiltrate; boo!
The Hormagaunt was a expensive devil but it seems times have changed..
The Hormagaunt is now 6 points, which is a lot lot better than previously. The Hormagaunt can benefit from bio morphs, which make it a lot better in combat. Toxin sacs are the best, wounding on 4+ which is a lot better for S3 beastie.
Problem with the little Hormagaunt is it's damn fragile. It's T3 and 6+ armour save means it doesn't last long. Also each bio morph is 2 points making each Hormagaunt 10 points! A effective unit of 20 would cost 200 points, which is a lot for fragile little monsters.
Snake like Warriors with the beast rule, oh yes!
As mentioned the Ravener is a beast which comes with the fleet rule as standard it also has move through cover, which is where these guys should be with a 5+ armour save but they do have 3 wounds to take the pain. Note that beasts ignore the effects of terrain, so they move through terrain freely and also do not take dangerous terrain tests; as such Raveners have a prospect 24" charge range! You can give the Raveners ranged fire power, which if you have the points maybe worth it and is handy for softening up enemy units.
Only issue with this guys is the 5+ armour save so in combat they can take a pounding but 3 wounds a piece does balance that out.
The new big daddy monstrous creature knocking the Carnifex off its throne, is it any good though?
The answer to the above question is yes. The Trygon is T6 with S6 6 wounds and 6 attacks, basically a lot of attacks in it's profile! Add in WS5 and I4 along with 3+ armour save makes this a very tough customer. Only wargear it comes with is two pairs of scything talons so it can re-roll to hit in combat, nasty! And comes with a mediocre ranged attack but I wouldn't worry about that. The Trygon is a fast big guy can either deep strike, or run across the board quickly and being a monstrous creature it gets move through cover - ouch!. Toxin sacs maybe handy as will be getting re-roll to wound against pretty much everything and still wounding on a 2+ :).
Bad points about the Trygon is it's so damn big cover saves are almost impossible and the ranged attack isn't that good, but it should be in combat.
Cheap troop choice and can lay down decent fire power with upgraded weapons; though those weapons are expensive and the standard weapon is short range which puts yourself at assault risk and these guys like other smaller Tyranid beasts aren't the strongest of the bunch.
Not as good as it once was and expensive this guy can get up to 5 attacks on the charge; scary being S10! Problem is the Carnifex is only really good in a shooting role, which costs some serious points.
Love it or hate it deserves a mention. Some use it for cracking tanks but it's not a brilliant shot and the anti tank weapon doesn't come standard which makes this big guy very very expensive - not the best anti tank available.
* Please note that this article was written in 5th ed and when I played Tyranids. I no longer own a Tyranid army and have not played with them or against them in 6th. This article has been edited to reflect 6th ed changes, but details maybe missed due to playing experience.
That's it for the Tyranids! As the codexes get better so do the units. Any thoughts or comments welcome :)