Man oh man… I just want to start off by saying I am so hyped for brand new Tyranid rules! We haven’t had anything since Psychic Awakening (like a few other armies) and this book has graced us with not one, but two updates!
That’s right, not only are we getting a brand new mechanic in the form of Synaptic Links, but we’re also getting a whole supplement for the biggest and baddest hive fleet in the galaxy: Leviathan. So let’s see just what we got!
So the brand new supplement introduces a bunch of new Warlord Traits, Relics and Stratagems that are only accessible to Hive Fleet Leviathan. The best news is that there are hardly any blunders of any of these choices; everything new here seems powerful and has a place in a lot of lists.
Cadia Stands! Within the Octarius War Zone. Cadia gets a small Supplement with some pretty nice stratagems and a whopper of a Relic Battle Cannon. There isn't anything too fancy in here but its enough to warrant another look at the Guard.
It goes a little way to making Astra Militarium a bit more relevant and with Cadia being one of the favoured Sub-Factions this is a really positive boost to the an army who has definitely fallen behind in 9th edition.
CODEX SUPPLEMENT: HIVE FLEET LEVIATHAN
We have 3 new warlord traits, and all of these are pretty good! First up we have Gestalt Commander, which has already been previewed on Warhammer Community. This nifty trait lets your warlord pick one of the Hive Fleet specific Warlord Traits every battle round, giving you the flexibility to take the one that best suits your needs. Overall this one is a fun pick, but probably not as competitive as the other two choices, being Swarm Leader and Strategic Adaptation. The former has already been shown on Warhammer Community, and it allows you to give full rerolls to hit to a friendly Infantry / Beast / Swarm unit within 9” of the Warlord. It cannot be overstated just how powerful this warlord trait is, and it finally gives Tyranids a way to gain a set of rerolls which we seriously lacked beforehand.
Strategic Adaptation, on the other hand, allows you to redeploy 2 Tyranid units at the beginning of the first battle round but before the first turn begins, and you may put these units into Strategic Reserves for free. This one will also definitely see play, whether it’s allowing you to redeploy an Exocrine or a Tyrannofex into view of a tasty target, or just putting 30 devilgaunts into reserve so they can arrive with a Lictor later.
One of these has already been shown off on Warhammer Community; the Synaptic Hive Blades. These allow the bearer’s Boneswords / Monstrous Boneswords to ignore invulnerable saves. It’s pretty cool, but given that Boneswords are only AP-2, it’s not amazing, as a lot of 4+ Invulnerable save units also have a 2+ base save (Custodes, Storm Shield Marines etc). You could use Murderous Size to upgrade those Boneswords to AP-3, but you’re giving up a valuable slot of Adaptive Physiologies, which could probably be better utilised elsewhere.
On the bright side, the other relics have some serious power to them. Biomorphic Carapace gives a flat -1 to wound rolls that target the bearer. The Adaptive Neural Lobe also gives Tyranids access to CP regen, allowing you to roll a d6 every time the opponent spends a CP, and on a 5+ you gain one. It’s nifty and will certainly see play in a lot of competitive lists. The one I’m a biggest fan of though, is the Void Crown. This can only be given to a Psyker, but it allows them to know an extra Tyranid power, perform a psychic action and still cast a single power, AND unmodified casting rolls of 9+ cannot be denied. That’s a HUGE boost in power for our psykers, and potentially makes the Warpcraft secondaries actually worth taking.
So the supplement gives us access to 10 brand new stratagems, and most of these are good. Like, REALLY good. The biggest standout of the bunch is Relentless Flurry which, for 1cp (or 2cp for Genestealers), allows ANY Tyranid unit to have exploding 6s in either shooting or melee. If the unit that you selected has 11+ models, each 6 counts as 3 hits instead. This is a HUGE boost in power to literally anything in your army, and almost invalidates Symbiostorm as a whole, which has been a big clutch in a lot of competitive Tyranid lists.
There are some other great stratagems too, such as Hive Mind Imperative, which costs 1cp and gives a unit that is within 12” of a Synapse creature Objective Secured (or count as x2 models if already Objective Secured) and allows the unit to shoot and still perform actions. Synaptic Domination allows you to choose a Synapse and non-Synapse unit, and the latter counts as being in Synapse range of the former regardless of range. The Void in the Warp takes some notes from the World Eaters and Black Templars, and allows you to deny any enemy psychic power on a 4+ if the caster is within 24” of one of your synapse creatures.
Animated by the Hive Mind is also, in my eyes, an incredibly powerful stratagem. For 1cp, it allows you to automatically trigger Death Throes with any of your monsters once it is slain. This may not sound particularly amazing, but on something like a Scythed Hierodule, this is potentially game changing, thanks to its massive base and dealing flat 3 mortals to every unit with its Death Throes. And considering I won one of my games at the LGT against Drukhari thanks to my Hierodule exploding… it really will come in handy sometimes.
Whew! Supplement: Leviathan has certainly given a massive power injection to the Leviathan Hive Fleet, and something tells me that these guys will be the go-to for competitive Tyranids from now on. They just do what Kronos do, but better, thanks to access to full rerolls and guaranteed exploding 6s from Relentless Flurry. I can still see Kraken being used thanks to the absurd movement that it provides, as well as the ability to fall back and charge, which is great on something like a Dimachaeron, but if you aren’t including at least 1 Leviathan detachment, I feel like you’re limiting yourself to what Tyranids can really do on the tabletop.
Leviathan isn’t the only Hive Fleet to get some new goodies. These new abilities are available to every Hive Fleet, and come in the form of point upgrades to your Synapse creatures. A synapse creature that is upgraded with this can, in your command phase, pick any friendly Tyranid unit within 12” to benefit from its buffs. You can also string this buff across your synapse network: if the Synapse creature with the buff is within 12” of another synapse creature, you can instead pick a unit within 12” of said creature within range, and this can chain as many times as you like! Just remember you can still only pick a single target for these, and you can’t stack multiple of them on the same unit (you can, however, take the same upgrade multiple times across different units).
You can take as many of them as you like, including multiples of the same one, although you can only use 3 of them per battle round in a 2000 point game. With each upgrade costing 15 points (except for the Zoanthrope one, which is 10) you’ll be definitely looking at taking a few of these. As always, some are more powerful than others, so we’ll be taking a look at the best of the bunch. But it is worth noting that none of these are bad at all, and even the worst can potentially see use in a competitive list for powerful gimmicks.
First up we have Bioweapon bond, which is probably the most powerful of the bunch. This is a Synaptic Link taken by Warriors, and gives any Tyranid unit a flat +1 to hit in both melee and shooting. An incredibly powerful buff granted by a very cheap and versatile unit, this will certainly see play in a lot of lists. Another great choice is Unchecked Ferocity, purchased by Tyranid Primes, which gives a Tyranid unit auto-wound on 6s to hit in melee. Great for Genestealers rushing into the enemy’s face, and combos great with the Leviathan warlord trait Swarm Leader.
However, my favourite of the bunch, is Focal Essence, which can be purchased as an upgrade for Maleceptors. And in my opinion, this turned the Maleceptor from a borderline competitive choice, to an incredibly powerful core to any Tyranid army. The first part of the buff is pretty straightforward; any wound rolls of 6 made by the buffed unit gain an extra point of AP. The real kicker however, is the second buff it provides. You can reroll damage rolls for any attacks that the buffed unit makes. This is an absolutely absurd buff to the damage output of a whole bunch of units in the army, including Hive Guard, Dimachaerons, Trygons, literally anything that has damage D3 or D6. Combined with the already existing uses for the Maleceptor (using the Encephalic Diffusion stratagem to provide a -1 strength modifier to guns that target Tyranids within its aura) it makes the Maleceptor an absolute buffing powerhouse for a reasonable amount of points. I’ll certainly be getting mine painted up ASAP!
This is exactly the kind of stuff that I wanted to see in a Tyranid update. A whole new mechanic that really plays into how Tyranids function in the fluff and how they should play on the tabletop. A whole bunch of these links are incredibly powerful, enough for Warriors and maybe Maleceptors to become a competitive mainstay.
I'm excited to see which ones are used the most and what combos can be pulled off with this new mechanic (I'm already looking at Hive Guard buffed with Focal Essence and Swarm Leader from the Leviathan Supplement for some truly disgusting ignore line of sight shooting) but I'm sure there's plenty more out there!
Overall, massively pleased with this update, and I look forward to testing out all the new rules on the tabletop soon! Thanks for reading!
COdex Supplement: Cadia
Cadia gets 3 new Warlord traits to play with: • Steel Discipline (Aura) When a friendly Cadian unit is performing an action within 6" of this model, that unit can shoot without that action failing. • Gifted Commander: After both players have deployed their armies, but before the first battle round begins, select either one Cadian Vehicle unit (excluding titanic units) from your army that is in your deployment zone, or up to three non-vehicles Cadian units from your army that are in your deployment zone, and redeploy them. • Mind like a Fortress: (Aura) Friendly Cadian within 6" of this model, the enemy's Psychic Phase, each time a model in the unit would lose a wound as the result of a mortal wound, roll-one D6, on a 5+, that wound is not lost.
Honestly, these seem pretty solid. The Mind Like a Fortress is very straightforward and gives a boost against the resurgent Thousand Sons and Grey Knights. Funnily enough, its not Core locked (assuming this is because its based on an 8th Ed Codex) so your tanks are also getting that buff. Useful on a support character (Especially now with the new "Give another Character a Warlord Trait Stratagem we'll come onto later.)
Gifted Commander is very good, it's well documented how good Aeldari and Ultramarines re-deploys are and giving that ability to Guard is no different. Its a shame it only works on one Vehicle but I guess there has to be a drawback somewhere!
Steel Discipline looks great, as an army that has a lot of infantry that wants to take secondaries like Raise the Banners, Retreive Octarius Data e.t.c. However, are you really getting a lot out of a unit of 10 Guardsmen being able to shoot and do an action? Not when you have another 4-5 Units anyway... This is one of those that looks useful but the units that it affects aren't actually going to do that much anyway.
There's four new relics. These are all pretty cool and 3 of them have some use. We'll start with the Dekker's Auto-Vox Servo Skull, as it gives an increased Vox Cast range and Order range. But... generally we're not seeing Vox Casters and with the right positioning of Characters, you're usually getting the orders off when and where you want anyway.
Gatekeeper - Aka the spiciest of Battle Cannons. Strength 8, -2 Damage 3. a solid Relic and one that means if you were giving Full Payload to your Tank Commander with a Battle Cannon you can slot that onto another unit. it also has the added bonus of +1 to Wound against Chaos. Because Vengeance for Cadia right?
Finally, Bastonne's Sword - Personally I love Guard Melee Relics, they're so hit and miss with their strength, number of attacks and WS usually but at +2 S -3 D2 this is a potential good one to take if you wanted your one of your Charaters to be a bit smashier. The actual benefit of this is it allows Cadia Infantry units within 6" to ignore the modifiers to Combat Attrition. Always useful because when you loose guys from your Infantry Squads you're almost always loosing at least half. Allowing them to roll those Combat Attrition tests on 1's instead of 1's and 2's might make the difference in being able to grab some objectives in the following turn. Definitely an interesting Relic, even if it's probably one you won't see much.
As per all Codex Supplements there are a raft of new Stratagems Available. There are some that aren't really worth going into too much. Whiteshields, allows 2-5 units of Conscripts to gain Leadership 6 and loose the Raw Recruits ability (4+ Orders go off on them.) Or Sanctioned Pskyer, which grants a Primaris Pskyer of Wyrdvane Psyers the following: +1 to Deny the Witch Tests, the Cadian Keyword and a WC4 action to gain the ability to give an Order out. Theses are both really cool concepts but arent really doing anything Astra Militarum are doing. Concscripts aren't being used in the majority of lists at the moment and a +1 to Deny the Witch isn't going to stop Grey Knights or Thousand Sons and the Additional Order is nice... but you want to casting Nightshroud or Psychic Barrier instead.
Field Promotion is the "pick another Character to gain a Warlord Trait" stratagem most 9th Ed armies are gaining and is a welcome addition considering we've just got two new Warlord Traits worth taking on top of the standard ones from the Codex. Shock Troops lets you, (1CP for Infantry and 2CP for anything else) if you remained stationary, gain an additional AP -1 on your shots if within half range. Having played Skitarii Vanguard with +1 AP on their Radium Carbines, this is a genuinely great stratagem for any Infantry Squad with First Rank Fire, Second Rank Fire on. The less obvious one is giving your Battle Cannons AP -3 within 36" range, combined with the Gatekeeper Relic above... this will see play, despite the additional 1CP cost for it not being Infantry.
The two standouts for me however, are Cadia Stands. Which grants a "Mini-Transhuman" of cannot be wounded on a 1 or a 2 and if the Damage Charcteristic is 1, an additional 1 to the armour save of a Cadian Infantry unit. Note this does stack with Take Cover, so if you really needed that Guard Squad to stay alive to hold that objective this gives you a great boost. Similarly, this also works on Ogryn and Bulgryn. The later who have become a mainstay in competitive Astra Militarum Lists anyway.
Finally, Never Give Up! Never Surrender! Similar to the Strength of Conviction Stratagem of the Black Templars, or the Hive Mind Imperative Tyranid one Liam went through earlier, this grants a Cadian unit at the end of the Movement Phase that is within range of an objective marker the Objective Secured Rule. If it has that already, it counts as one additional. Objective Secured is a very powerful ability and I think this will see most use out of forward units of Bulgryns disrupting objectives. But hey, even an Armoured Sentinel Squad off on the side lurking on an objective could make good use out of this. My main issue is that you can't be proactive and use this on a unit that you WANT to get onto an objective in the charge phase, it already has to be there. by the end of the movement phase. Its a hefty 2CP but with Primaries worth 5 points each this could easily be the difference between winning and loosing.
For me, and I'm sure a lot of you out there, I have a soft spot for Astra Militarum and its great to see them get some genuinely great, interesting and fluffy rules. Would I love to see more for the other Sub-Factions. Absolutely. If Vostroyan's weren't metal I'd definitely have an army of large fluffy helmeted soldiers! My gut instinct however, is these aren't powerful enough to catapult Guard up the ranks. But there are some gems in here and I hope Guard Players get excited about the prospect of a new codex in the near future filled with more gems. If this supplement is anything to go on they'll definitely be a contender for 2022's most improved army, if not one of the top dogs in the meta. (one can hope one of the new books mixes the meta up)
Army of Renown: Deathwatch Kill team Strike force
As an avid lover of the Deathwatch, and a certified enjoyer of Dreadnoughts -- I often find myself at odds with the current way of running Deathwatch which defaults to 3-5 dreadnoughts with killteams designed to tank and grab objectives. I’m not saying it’s bad by any means, but it’s not how I want to play the force and so when I saw that this Army of Renown rewards you for doing the total opposite? Well, my first thoughts were sign me the **** up.
As with a lot of the AoR’s, the restrictions on this are rather strong. The only units you can pick are Kill Teams, and Characters, splashing in the lore appropriate dedicated transports (one per kill team). In our triple Redemptor, double Contemptor meta, I’m not going to lie and say that this isn’t a very heavy restriction, but what it gives you is quite strong!
Veterans of the Long Vigil allows you to pick a chapter during your command phase, and your army gains that chapter (or successor trait) tactic. However, you do lose Xenos Hunters when you do so, and this is something I am going to come onto later.
In theory, this is an incredibly buff, and is more or less an army wide turn by turn use of the old stratagem Brotherhood of Veterans. Need to go fast? Become White Scars, need to hit incredibly hard in melee? Become Blood Angels for that sweet +1 to wound.
Whilst in and of themselves, these are incredible buffs, what they aren’t, is free. Not only do you have an active restriction on units you can take, but in doing so you lose Xenos Hunters (The Deathwatch’s patented reroll 1’s to wound against a chosen unit type, as well as 1’s to hit in melee against Xenos). So when your units make it into combat as Blood Angels, they don’t actually tend to hit all that hard as you’re not rerolling, nor do you have the Blood Angel strats etc that combo with their chapter tactic for maximum lethality.
There is a way to get around this with the Xenos Bane WLT which is a 6’’ bubble of keep both Xenos Hunters and gain your choice of chapter tactic. However in the two practise games I’ve played so far, I’ve found this new ability thoroughly unwieldy. Often times, you’ll have one killteam about to make it into melee, so then there is the temptation to declare you’re going Blood Angels that turn, but then your other kill teams lose the reroll’s they might’ve had in shooting. Or for instance you have a unit that need to fall back and shoot, so you go Ultramarines -- Your unit charging on the other side of the board into a unit of Xenos that it should kill because of its reroll -- suddenly loses them and risks bouncing.
Overall, I think the Veterans of the Long Vigil rule is incredibly strong on paper, but making it army wide is simply too much of a hinderance. I feel like it would have worked a lot better if it was changed to something more along the lines of letting your units pick and choose whether they wanted to use the chosen Chapter tactic or keep Xenos Hunters. However, this isn’t all the strikeforce gives, as it also brings in three very nice Strategems.
The first, and honestly the one with the most punch is what shall henceforth be referred to as “Enriched Rounds, but fair”. Specialism Extremis is a 3cp stratagem that allows a unit with a kill team specialisation to auto-wound against its intended target. Where this will likely see the most play is on large 10 body shooting killteams with the Aquila specialization, meaning they can use this strategem against any target and drop an ungodly amount of -1 AP wounds on a target. Whilst incredibly costly, there isn’t much that will survive, especially if you give the unit +1 to hit and rerolling 1’s to hit.
Secondly, and a strategem I’ve found has some play is Battlefield Teleportation. A 1cp strategem for a 1 turn delayed redeploy. This really allows you some late game pressure when the board presence is a little lighter on both sides, and is great for things like objectives, or putting pressure where it’s least expected. I think of all the strategems in this Army of Renown, this is probably the one that will see the most use as it’s cheap and effective, is simple.
Thirdly, you have Honoured Veteran of the Watch. A 1cp strategem to give a unit Sergeant +1 wound, and a WLT as part of the cost. This is a rule that is springing up in more and more codex’s and is always powerful. With Deathwatch it’s even more so, as they can use Paragon of their Chapter to pull WLT’s from other chapters in the Space Marine Codex. There are some good combo’s to be done here, for instance putting the Imperial Fists’s WLT Architect of War to let a Gravis Killteam in cover ignore AP -1. Unfortunately, by and large Paragon of Their Chapter is always going to be taken up by the Ultramarines WLT to give CP regen.
So I suppose the question is then, is how does it all play? This was the question I wanted to answer before I wrote down my thoughts, getting two games under my belt. I ran something familiar to myself:
Primaris Bike Chaplain
Proteus Killteam: 4x Frag Cannon, 5x LCSS Vanguard Vets (Dominatus)
Fortis Killteam: 5x Autocessors, 5x AutoBlasters (Aquila)
Indomitor Killteam: 5x Autocessors, 3x Bolter Aggressors, 2x Plamaceptors (Aquila)
Proteus Killteam: 5x Bolters, 2x THSS Terminators, 3x Bikers (Furor)
I’ve played this list a few times before with various changes, and to try out the new rules I ran them into a friends Ork’s. His list was far from optimal, as he wanted to try out some of the new Beast-Snagga units. He didn’t include any buggies, and his scary units were two of the new Beastboss’ on Squig’o’saurs. Firstly, I’d like to take a moment to say those units are ludicrous for their points cost, but that’s another matter entirely!
Playing into a fairly simple list, I really found the problems I mentioned earlier to become glaring. Deathwatch are already an army with a lot of moving parts, needing to maintain your 5++ bubble from the bike captain, managing who can reroll against what, and which units can effectively deal with what. Adding on the layer of “Well I’ll lose several of my buffs across my entire army, to give that one side a buff” didn’t help me much I found. Several times I actually just found myself using the old Brotherhood of Veterans stratagem, instead of using the army wide rule, as it allowed me to put the buff specifically where I needed it, without losing the rest of my buffs.
I think in conclusion -- does this Army of Renown allow you to play an infantry only Deathwatch list and receive flavourful benefits? Absolutely. It really does feel like you’re playing an ultra-flexible force that can wildly change it’s playing conditions each turn. Unfortunately, I think for competitive tournament play the restrictions it generates are simply too much right now. I am a firm believer that right now, a lot of the Space Marine infantry units are overcosted for what they do, paying penance for their 8th edition shenanigans. Perhaps when things like Intercessors get a points drop, I could see this Army of Renown coming into the fore. But as long as Dreadnoughts remain the primary viable way to run Marines, I think these rules will only see play on casual tables.