Just like it says. A unit-by-unit review of the whole dang codex, talking over what I think of everything, including upgrades, unit combinations, and some vague army lists. Why should you care what I think? I dunno, for starters I can type complete sentences with correct spelling. That counts for something around here. Other than that, I don't claim to have any sort of gospel truth on the new units, but I have spent quite a bit of time taking in various people's opinions on the new book and comparing them to my own assessments. If you disagree with something, I would be more than happy to argue about things with you; I love arguing.
I didn't post this in the larger Tyranid tactica thread because it seemed like eating up that much space would be slightly impolite, being that rather a lot of the long, wordy posts there are already mine.
With all that said, let's begin.
Overview of the Tyranids
Strengths: Tyranids are, largely without exception, more powerful than any other race in close combat. They are extremely mobile, able to shoot on the move with every weapon in the codex and having access to many forms of alternate movement (Deep Strike, Outflank, Infiltrate, etc). Many of their units are cheap enough to buy in hordes and they have many large, scary monstrous creatures that few opponents will want to get into close combat with. Even as a shooting force Tyranids can be very dangerous and most of their guns hit an area or get multiple shots.
Weaknesses: Most Tyranids have terrible armor saves and are, as a rule, rather expendable. Their guns tend to be somewhat shorter range than other races' to compensate for their mobility and their anti-tank arsenal in particular is very limited in scope. Tyranids also have very few weapons with good AP values and rely more on volume of shots in order to hope their opponents fail some armor saves, which at times can be frustrating.
If you like filling the table with little bugs or just plopping down two or three enormous monsters that make your opponents cry, Tyranids are the army for you. If you like throwing enough dice to make an Ork player sit up and take notice, Tyranids may also be the army for you. But if you get attached to individual models and can't bear to pluck squads off the table as they get annihilated one by one, Tyranids are not the army for you. Everything in a Tyranid list is expendable, from the mightiest Swarmlord to the lowliest Gaunt. You may find that at the end of many battles you are left with nothing but a couple Warriors and some scattered Gaunts holding your objectives, and that's exactly what the Hive Mind wants. It is the fate of every Tyranid to be dissolved back down to biomass- accept it with the coldness of space that you have descended from.
What is it missing?
1. Transports: You have access to absolutely no vehicles. None. 6" or 12" and d6" for Fleet is all you get, and your units are always vulnerable to being shot and manipulated by psychic powers, especially the feared Lash of Submission.
2. Eternal Warrior: Nothing in the codex is immune to Instant Death. Be very careful of how you match up your units against the enemy- Power Fists can be very awkward for your mid-range units.
3. Invulnerable Saves: Aside from the Swarmlord (in CC), Doom of Malan'tai, and Zoanthrope, you do not have access to any invulnerable saves. Low-AP guns and power weapons are always going to be a hassle for you. Many of your units have piles of wounds, but keep in mind that you have no resistance to damage other than those wounds. Once they're gone, that's it.
Army-Wide Special Rules
Synapse Creatures/Shadow in the Warp
Synapse (and Shadow in the Warp, which is present on every Synapse Creature in the book) are going to be the fundament of your game plan. You don't always have to have Synapse on every unit, but it's important to consider when you can afford to break your Synapse web, because you can be d*** sure that your opponent is going to be. Creatures in Synapse are Fearless, as per the rulebook; creatures out of it have to make a special leadership test each turn or suffer major restrictions on how they are allowed to act that turn. Keeping a critical mass of Synapse Creatures can be one of the hardest parts of writing a Tyranid list; a 1000 pt list should probably have at least two or three Synapse units in it, while a 2000 pt list might need six or more. Keep in mind the durability and role of your Synapse creatures when determining how much you need, as well as what opponents you may face- if your only Synapse is Tyranid Warriors that are charging into the fray, units that want to stand back and shoot may find themselves in an awkward position! Similarly, a Synapse character in a squad is much harder to get rid of than a lone unit that simply hangs out nearby. If your opponents regularly target your Synapse creatures, consider investing some additional points in protecting them- there are many options, which will be discussed later.
Shadow in the Warp forces nearby enemy psykers- even Tyranid ones, oddly enough- to roll 3d6 instead of 2d6 for psychic tests, suffering Perils on any result including double ones or sixes. This is highly crippling when you can bring it into play, as even the best psykers in the game will, on average, fail their tests and it brings the chance of Perils in the Warp up to something like 15%. (Someone else, feel free to do the math for me here, I'm guesstimating.) The main limititation is the short range of the effect (12") means that it isn't hard for an embarked or winged/biking psyker to slip out of the area of effect before using their powers. It functions best against powers that have a short range or those that need to be used in or immediately prior to combat, although it's certainly possible to "hem in" a psyker from several sides, leaving them nowhere to run to.
As noted above, creatures outside of Synapse must make a Ld test each turn or suffer from restrictions on their behavior. More importantly, however, they are vulnerable to all the normal morale and pinning tests and will go to ground, fall back, etc, just like any other units, only much more often.
Instinctive Behavior- Feed prevents you from shooting and forces you to move towards the nearest visible enemy. Note that it is significantly more restrictive than the Rage rule, as many IB-Feed creatures have guns you may want to use, such as the Doom of Malan'tai. Others, however, do just fine, as you want them to be charging straight into battle anyways. IB-Feed creatures can often benefit from not being in Synapse during the actual process of close combat, as losing a fight and taking ten No Retreat! wounds can be very painful, and our generally high Initiative values make it relatively easy to escape Sweeping Advances.
IB- Lurk forces the unit to stand still and shoot at the nearest enemy it can hit (possibly in LOS, possibly not- the codex is unfortunately rather unclear on this point). Again, for many units this is not a huge detriment, as you were planning on doing something like that anyways, but note that Lurking creatures are much more vulnerable to being forced to take morale tests- and subsequently fail those tests, as Tyranid Ld values are pretty abysmal- than those in CC, who only need to test if they lose. Worse yet, if there are no units in immediate LOS and range, you have to run towards the nearest area terrain, and even then you aren't allowed to move during the movement phase. IB- Lurk creatures thus usually need a Synapse babysitter to be functional, as you want your wall of critters advancing on the enemy as quickly as possible.
Table of Contents-type Thing
(To be added in the future.)