Building on a Budget: Tyranids

Tyranids? On a Budget!? You have to be kidding, right? Well, you can probably skip to the end and look outside the spoilers and see...
Either their big models are expensive, or their small models are cheap in points. There's no way this can be east on the wallet, is there? Tyranids operate kind of differently thanks to their Synapse rule, and if you haven't got Synapse covered, your Tyranid list is just bad, but don't those models cost money? ...Yes, they do. That said...

Let's recap our rules for BoaB.
Rule #1; The goal is to get to 1850 as cheaply as possible, while
Rule #2; Not being bad.

A bad Tyranid list is really easy to build, so let's not to do that.

Okay, first up, let's talk Troops, you're a horde army.
Spoiler: Tyranid Swarm
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Termagants have no good options. Devourers are neat and all, but Termagants already come with Boltguns S4, AP5 weapons, for free. That means that each box of Termagants, at four points per model, have a cost-efficiency of exactly 1.00. That's...Really bad. Well, they do come with a Ripper base, but you're going to need three boxes of Termagants before that actually makes a difference...And you're already paying a dollar per point. You're next Troops unit is Hormagaunts. Adrenal Glands give Furious Charge, and Toxin Sacs give Poison. Both rules benefit Hormagaunts greatly, so, at 10 points per model, is it worth it? ...No. Hormagaunts want to be stepping out of Cover, because they have no Ranged weapons. They want to Charge. Unfortunately, if you want to do that, you need 4+ Armour or better. Which Hormagaunts don't have. They have I5! Well, not really. Move Through Cover doesn't alter the Initiative penalty for Charging through Terrain. "...even if the charging unit is not slowed by difficult terrain." - BRB, pg 47. So, that sucks. But, with the game as it is right now, a whole bunch of stuff has 4+ Armour, which means that they don't need to be in Cover, which means that you don't always Charge through terrain. At the end of the day, Poisoned attacks make the Furious Charge Strength increase kind of pointless. So, with Toxin Sacs on, Hormagaunts are 8 points per model (taking into account they don't have 4+ Armour or Grenades), giving them a cost-efficiency of 0.50. Which is actually pretty good, considering.

With that in mind, let's talk about the Tyranid Swarm box.

Termagants (x40) - 160 Points
Hormagaunts (x40); Toxin Sacs - 320 Points
Ripper Swarms (x4); Deep Strike - 60 Points
Gargoyles (x10); Adrenal Glands, Toxin Sacs - 100 Points
Carnifex; Heavy Venom Cannon, Bio-Plasma - 160 Points

Total: 800 Points. Cost-efficiency of 0.29. This box, despite it's huge up-front cost, is actually the most efficient box in the whole Tyranid range - yeah, at 0.29. If you can, you should absolutely buy it. As it's established in the preamble, your models are dirt cheap in points, or expensive in currency. The Tyranid range literally does not get better than the Tyranid Swarm box. If you want Termagants, you should absolutely buy this box. If you want Hormagants, it's still a good deal anyway. Then you get Rippers, which are Fearless and Objective Secured, so, not useless. By themselves, a Gargoyle box is 0.80, so the Tyranid Swarm is a good deal there, too. Then you've got a Carnifex standing around, for now, he's solo, so, for right now, we'll make him a Ranged support option. Surely he isn't going to do a lot by himself? Of course not. Lucky for us, the Tyranids also have a second box that is actually a real deal; The Carnifex Brood is a box where one Carnifex is half-price.

Carnifex; Heavy Venom Cannon, Bio-Plasma - 160 Points
Carnifex; Crushing Claws - 135 Points

Total: 295 Points. Efficiency 0.44, and, well, I hate to break it to you, but in the Tyranids' range, 0.44 is actually really good. How sad is that?
You could run triple shooty Carnifexes, but, then what are you going to do to punch Vehicles? Besides, having a third HVC/BP 'fex only takes you to 0.40, and that's really not that much better.

But you're what? 1095 Points in, and you've got no Synapse... That's really bad.


With these deals in mind, let's look at Tyranid Warriors. Since the box comes with options for a Tyranid Prime, and therefore is a box that actually takes two boxes to build a single unit, but also get an efficient Tyranid Prime out of it.
Spoiler: Tyranid Warriors
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Shooty Warriors
Warriors (x3); [Bio-Cannon] - 100 Points

Shooty Warriors are barely okay, at 0.65, only just sneaking under the 0.66 benchmark. Which is actually still pretty bad, because you're on a budget, and we already have a box which contains at least four Troops units, plus more, at 0.29. But, we're trying to nab a Prime, here. So let's include that.

Tyranid Prime; Miasma Cannon, Norn Crown - 190 Points
Warriors (x5); Barbed Strangler - 160 Points

0.37! That's...Better. Noting that you only get one of these units. Even if you went with a second Prime, the Bio-Artefacts are unique so you can't make it a second time. Still, at 0.37, with Synapse.

Melee Warriors
Warriors (x3); x2 Rending Claws, x1 Lash Whip and Bonesword, Flesh Hooks - 132 Points

0.52 isn't great. Hormagaunts are cheaper. So what happens when we add a Prime?

Tyranid Prime; Lash Whip and Bonesword, Maw-Claws, Flesh Hooks - 160 Points
Warriors (x5); x4 Rending Claws, x1 Lash Whip and Bonesword, Flesh Hooks - 210 Points

0.37 again. If you wanted to, you could even give them Toxin Sacs, for Poisoned, Rending attacks, taking them to 0.34. But, we only get one of those units. 4+ Armour and Grenades, and Synapse. They're better than Hormagaunts by miles. The only issue is that a S8+ Large Blast weapon (or multiple Missiles) is going to kill all of them if they're out of Cover. But that's not really different to anything in the game at all. Or, you could just be a good player, and put Termagants in front of them so your Warriors always have a Cover Save. Only question is whether or not a Prime+Warriors is cheaper than a Hive Tyrant - or Swarmlord. Still, the Melee Warriors are the better choice for our current purposes for the same reason the Carnifex with Crusher Claws is needed.


Spoiler: List Building Process
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Well, for starters, if you've been reading Tyranid Army Guides in the internet, you most assuredly have heard about how amazingly great Hive Tyrants are, well, bad news. For you, on a budget, the Hive Tyrant kit is really poorly optimized, and if you're on a budget, you just don't have the options you need that makes Hive Tyrants the thing that every Tyranid player is always talking about. You have two Ranged options; a Stranglethorn Cannon and a Heavy Venom Cannon - or Miasma Cannon. These are not strong options. Like, at all.

A Melee-orientated Hive Tyrant with Wings is really poor. You have to drop to the ground to Charge, and then you get shot at and, basically, don't have Wings and want to Charge. A Bloodthirster of Khorne even has an Invulnerable save, and is still terrified of landing on the ground. A walking Hive Tyrant...Is Swarmlord. The same Hive Tyrant kit builds Swarmlord, so you have no excuses not to build him if you want a walking Tyrant. His ML3 gives you more rolls for Catalyst and Onslaught, one or both of these Powers is pretty much required in any good Tyranid list, and the fact that Swarmlord walks instead of Flies, and already comes stock with extended Synapse, he doesn't need to waste Warp Charge trying to cast Dominion because he's too fast for the rest of your army.
While The Swarmlord - and Deathleaper - come in at 0.32, Tyrant Guard are pretty much required if you want to run him, and those things come in at 0.55 - and that's bad. Especially because you really do have those nice Hive Tyrant Wings just sitting there...Taunting you.

(0.38) (W) Hive Tyrant; x2 Twin-Linked Brainleech Devourers, Electroshock Grubs, Wings - 240 Points

Lucky for you, you've also got two, maybe even three Carnifex sprues just lying around, waiting for you to use those sweet, sweet Twin-Linked Devourers. Remember how you bought Carnifexes for cheap, and then didn't even use their best weapon...Mostly because an 18" ranged weapon on a model on foot isn't their best weapon, but, a Hive Tyrant isn't a Carnifex. A Hive Tyrant has Wings, and goes fast. Next, we're playing 1850, so we need four Troops units... Wait... I remember;

Termagants (x20) - 80 Points
Termagants (x20) - 80 Points
Hormagaunts (x20); Toxin Sacs - 160 Points
Hormagaunts (x20); Toxin Sacs - 160 Points
Ripper Swarms (x4); Deep Strike - 60 Points

Gargoyles (x10); Adrenal Glands, Toxin Sacs - 100 Points

Carnifex Brood (x2); Heavy Venom Cannon, Bio-Plasma - 320 Points
Carnifex; Crusher Claws - 135 Points


With the Hive Tyrant, makes 1335 Points. So, that's your core. Now we've got 500 Points left. The main issue facing the list right now, is what happens to the Carnifex Brood who is sitting in the back of the board once the Hive Tyrant moves with its Flight? IB (Feed)? Don't be stupid. Give them Synapse support. Part of me wants to include a second Flyrant, but, at this point, you've only got one spare set of Devourers, and all other options are dumb. So, no second Hive Tyrant. We also know that Swarmlord is out, since he needs Tyrant Guard to be effective. So, what else have we got? That provides Synapse, and shoots?

Tyranid Prime; Miasma Cannon, Norn Crown - 190 Points
Warriors (x5); Barbed Strangler - 160 Points


Of course! 165 Points left. Best options;
(0.55) Hive Guard (x3) - 165 Points
(0.74) Hive Crone - 155 Points

Both options are very good. Maybe you just have to bite the bullet, and take the Hive Crone, which gives you a second FMC, so your opponent has to deal with that, rather than just focusing down your Flyrant. Spine Banks on your Crusher Carnifex lets you smash someone's face in, since Unwieldy doesn't apply to Monstrous Creatures.
I would also love to give the Tyranid Prime some Rending Claws, just so he can pick up Challenges, but the Miasma Cannon is ****ing stupid, in that in replaces a model's set of Scything Talons, leaving the Prime with a Miasma Cannon and Devourer on a model that can only shoot one weapon per turn. Upgrade to a Deathspitter, maybe? No. Do you see what the Miasma Cannon does. I literally don't know what to do with the last five points. You figure it out. A single pair of Rending Claws on your Warrior unit?


Spoiler: Tyranids, CAD
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(W) Hive Tyrant; x2 Twin-Linked Brainleech Devourers, Electroshock Grubs, Wings - 240 Points
Tyranid Prime; Miasma Cannon, Norn Crown - 190 Points

Warriors (x5); Barbed Strangler - 160 Points
Termagants (x20) - 80 Points
Termagants (x20) - 80 Points
Hormagaunts (x20); Toxin Sacs - 160 Points
Hormagaunts (x20); Toxin Sacs - 160 Points
Ripper Swarms (x4); Deep Strike - 60 Points

Gargoyles (x10); Adrenal Glands, Toxin Sacs - 100 Points
Hive Crone - 155 Points

Carnifex Brood (x2); Heavy Venom Cannon, Bio-Plasma - 320 Points
Carnifex; Crusher Claws, Spine Banks - 140 Points

Total: 1845 Points
Just noting that you have the huge up front cost of the Tyranid Swarm box, and you want to buy the Carnifex Brood box, not two individual Carnifex kits.


Holy crap. Would you believe it, Tyranids only cost $610 AUD, which at 1850, gives the extremely magical efficiency number of 0.33. Who would have thought? No. Seriously. Who? That's almost an identical price point to Blood Angels. In a very interesting twist of fate, if you happen to have Deathstorm, the Blood Angels' BoaB List is very evenly matched with the Tyranids' BoaB List. Go for it.

But what happens if you can't afford the upfront cost of the Tyranid Swarm box? Well, I hope you like Genestealers, and your opponents are stupid, and didn't bring their Template weapons. But, the good units stay good, the cheap units stay cheap. So nothing really happens to the list except for the radical change of Troops units.

Spoiler: Genestealer 'Nids, CAD
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(W) Hive Tyrant; x2 Twin-Linked Brainleech Devourers, Electroshock Grubs, Wings - 240 Points
Tyranid Prime; Miasma Cannon, Norn Crown - 190 Points

Warriors (x5); Barbed Strangler - 160 Points
Genestealers (x8) + Broodlord; Scything Talons, Adrenal Glands - 191 Points
Genestealers (x8) + Broodlord; Scything Talons, Adrenal Glands - 191 Points
Genestealers (x8) + Broodlord; Scything Talons, Adrenal Glands - 191 Points

Hive Crone - 155 Points

Carnifex Brood (x2); Heavy Venom Cannon, Bio-Plasma - 320 Points
Trygon; Toxin Sacs - 200 Points

Total: 1829 Points

The list is basically the same. Although with the 'normal' number of four Troops, instead of six, because you haven't spent money on models that will otherwise just sit on the shelf. You still need two Carnifexes if you want to run the only good Flying Hive Tyrant (so you still need a Carnifex Brood box), and those Carnifexes still need Anti-Infantry and Synapse support from the Warriors. Fortunately, the 'Core List' comes in 1256 Points, leaving ~600 Points to play with fun units. Broodlords with Scything Talons and Adrenal Glands are at 0.52, and that's not terrible, and Genestealers really need the help. 1493 Points, gives 357 Points left. Hive Crones are still good.
212 Points left. I wish I could tell you to take a Tervigon, but you're going to have to spend money on Termagants that cost 0 Points, which is the literal opposite of wallet-friendly. You really, really need something to take the heat off of your Genestealers. So...Trygon, I guess?

Which leaves 12 Points left. Three pairs of Scything Talons on the Genestealers to bump up their attacks, I guess? Toxin Sacs on...Something? I honestly don't know. The Tyranid book is really restrictive on what you can and can't do.

This list, is simply not strong. You can't Charge from Infiltrate, which puts you at a disadvantage, since your opponent can Charge you if they roll well, particularly Beast/Cavalry units, like Thundercav, who want you to get close. The other problem is that Genestealers don't have 4+ Armour, so if they step out of Cover and don't make it to Melee - they're Fleet - they're screwed. But, even if they stay in Cover, they don't even have Stealth or Shrouded, and don't even have the option to pick it up, either. Which doesn't even really matter because your opponent just brings a Template weapon and kills all of them, no Saves.

This list breaks Rule #2 - like, a lot. But the only way not to be this list, is to have Termagants or Hormagaunts as Troops. But they're expensive, breaking Rule #1. Genestealers can be good - the list exists! But you have to spend real money on real support units to make sure that they don't all die on the first turn.


$732 AUD. 0.40.
By saving money in the short term by not buying the Tyranid Swarm box, you lose money long-term, on a list, that is frankly, just really, really bad. So, I hate to break it to you, but if that Tyranid Swarm box didn't exist (or eventually goes away), there simply wouldn't be a way to make a Rule #2 list that also follows Rule #1.