Underplayed & Overlooked: Codex Tyranids


Welcome back to Underplayed & Overlooked. Hot on the heels of Pete's post yesterday, today we review the named horrors from everyone's favorite bug infestation: Codex Tyranids. Lets begin: The Parasite of Mortrex

  • Cost: 3
  • Offense: 3
  • Defense: 3
  • Support: 4

This character is probably best compared to a Harpy but even that isn't a completely fair comparison even though they are both 160 points base. However they perform much different roles. So I opted with an average score as it is difficult to see how it is over costed as there isn't really anything else in the Codex like it.

Offensively it has no Ranged Attack so that can be skipped. However it does have WS 5 and 4 Attacks at Strength 6 hitting at Initiative 6 with Rending. Also a Rending hit causes Instant Death due to the Implant Attack rule. Not too shabby. In addition any casualties caused by it must each roll a Toughness test. If they fail the Parasite's controlling player may then place a Ripper Swarm anywhere within 6" as long as it stays an 1" away from an enemy or impassible terrain.

Defensively it is like most of the T4 multi-wound (3 in its case) Tyranids insofar as it is a single Krak Missile Shot or Powerfist hit away from becoming mush. Its main selling point is its 3+ Armor Save which is pretty decent, especially for bugs, but not stellar.

What is interesting is that the Parasite is an Independent Character so it would be able to join a Sky-Slasher Swarm Brood. So for 135 more points it could purchase 27 more T3 wounds. Not only does this increase the longevity of the Parasite dramatically it makes it a serious tarpit unit. The same could also be said for Gargoyles who are both better in combat, don't worry about S6 wounds removing 3 wounds instead of just 1, and you can take more of them. In either case hiding among its flying frieds is probably the most effective way to use the Parasite and keep it safe.

Support is where the Parasite really shines in my opinion. First it has an ability which forces an opponent to choose a model out of any Infantry unit that Outflanks to take a Toughness test and if it dies it becomes a Ripper Swarm placed within 6". Even if the unit is in a Transport. Furthermore the Parasite is a Synapse Creature that overrides Instinctive Behavior for Rippers within 24" and has Shadow of the Warp to provide a degree of Psychic Defense.


  • Cost: 2
  • Offense: 3
  • Defense: 3
  • Support: 3

Cost wise this character is a tough one to score for a couple of reasons. The first being it occupies a slot in the precious Elites section of the book. For those that don't know the Elites section of the Tyranid army list is a pretty crowded field of good choices. So you aren't likely to see it used for this reason alone. In addition it costs as much as a pair of Lictors and I'd argue if you are going to use Lictors at all go big and take a squad of three.

Offensively it is pretty burly for a single bug. For ranged he has 2 6" Range Strength 6 shots that hit on 4+ with Rending (on a 5+). That may not seem like much range but it (like all Lictors) appears from Reserves as close to an enemy as it likes so long as it stays 1" away. So it is likely to have range to whatever it shoots.

In Assault it is a beast (pun intended) with the ability to pump out 4 Strength 6 Rending (on 5+) attacks at WS 9 that re roll any 1s to hit. All of this is taking place ay Initiative 7 which means its going before or at the same time as almost every model in the game. So at least it will get in its punches almost every time before being being beaten to death in retaliation.

Defensively like most Tyranids it has a low grade Armor Save of 5+ and no Invulnerable Save or Eternal Warrior. It also Toughness 4 and 3 Wounds as well. So it is just a single Powerfist wound away from turning into a fine red mist. But that isn't to say that it is without a trick or two.

Going back to the WS 9 we can see that it actually is a really big deal. What it means is that any models that are WS 4 or below need a 5+ to hit it. This does not happen very often in the game and can really help to keep it alive a little longer. It has also has Stealth which adds one to its Cover Saves and units that want to shoot at it must roll Night Fighting and halve the result.

Additionally it has Hit and Run allowing to back out of a fight it survives presumably to disappear at the end of its next Movement Phase because if its more than 1" from an enemy model it can go back into Reserves and come back in later in the game to renew its campaign of what is (likely ineffectual) harassment and terror.

For Support it does have some things to bring to the table. Though it is not a Synapse Creature if the smarter bugs aren't around it does have an appropriate Instinctive Behavior which is to hang out and shoot at things (Lurk). At the beginning of the game you get to nominate an enemy character and reduce their Leadership by D3 while the Deathleaper is still alive. This actually is a pretty nice ability as it hurts Psykers and characters who share their Leadership with underlings.

If it is within 12" of enemy models it reduces their difficult terrain rolls by 1 die. I see why this ability is here but I don't think it is likely to come in handy very often though it is a pretty humorous counter to any Slow & Purposeful units you might encounter. Lastly it, like all Lictors, provides the ability to add +1 to Reserve Rolls starting on the turn after it arrives. But because it must arrive from Reserves itself and has to be on the board for the ability to take effect it is of very limited utility.

Old One Eye

  • Cost: 2
  • Offense: 4
  • Defense: 4
  • Support: 3

To compare him to a Carnifex with a similar loadout seems fair and it shows that Old One Eye costs 50 points more than its counterpart. Presumably these points are paying for its couple of stat bumps and other special abilities. But it is also saddled with the inability to take a Mycetic Spore and it doesn't seem to quite equal out. Suffice to say it doesn't seem to be much of a bargain.

As it lacks a Shooting attack we can skip that but it does have an Assault Phase and that is where it does a majority of its shining. WS 3 is tough and Initiative 1 (3 when charging) is a pretty tough pill to swallow but Strength 10 and 4 Attacks helps it go down a bit easier. Furthermore it generates D3 additional Attacks at Initiative 1. But its best ability is that for every successful To Hit roll it gets to roll an additional Attack die (limit to a ratio of 1:1) meaning on average by the end of the Phase it should have hit with 6 Attacks. Not bad.

But here it is worth mentioning that it improves substantially if it attacks a unit that is suffering under the effects of the Tyranid Psychic Power called Paroxysm which lowers an enemy units WS and BS to 1 until the start the next turn. This means that on average it should be hitting with 8 Attacks by the end of the Assault Phase. Also keeping in mind in both case it re rolls 1s To Hit which helps it as well. Lastly as it is a Monstrous Creature its attacks are Power Weapon attacks that are need a 2+ To Wound and cause Instant Death to a majority of the models in the game.

Defensively as far as Tyranids go it has a lot going for it. Toughness 6 (which effectively amounts to Eternal Warrior), 4 Wounds and it has a 3+ Armor Save. Furthermore at the start of the turn any Wounds it has lost are regained on a roll of 5+. That means a third of the time you can enjoy watching your opponents hard work get undone and help to increase its longevity somewhat.

From a Support standpoint is does lend out its Leadership to creatures within 12" which is helpful but that is not a replacement for a proper Synapse creature. But nor is it a negative so I scored it average.


Come see us next time when I review the depraved characters of Codex: Dark Eldar.

Parasite of Mortrex credited to Gareth.