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Warhammer 40,000 Tyranid New 9th Edition Codex Review & Parasite of Mortrex Unboxing

The Tyranid Codex for Warhammer 40,000 is up for preorder right now! Preorder through this Element Games link right here and not only will you save some cash, but you’ll also help what we do here at Sprues & Brews!


That is the sound of a happy Tyranid player, because at long last it is here! I am of course talking about Codex Tyranids for 9th Edition, bringing the much loved bugs up to new codex standard.

And in keeping with recent books, they have been buffed.

More Attacks
Better Toughness
Better Strength
Better Abilities

And the best bit? Goodbye multiple books (well, for the most part).

This new Codex consumes the previous book and contents from Psychic Awakening. At the time of writing I’m not sure if the Crusher Stampede is still a legal thing (I’ll update once I know).

Read on if you want to enjoy this review in written form, or you can check out the below video where I flick through the pages of this tome:

Later in the review I’ll be taking a closer look at the Parasite of Mortrex, the brand new model for the army, including an unboxing video, so make sure you check that out too.

Time to break down the contents of the book.

Grab some snacks, and lets tuck in.

As always, thanks to Games Workshop for sending us this book to review.


I never like delving too much into the lore from Codexes or Supplements, however what I will say is this book does a stand up job of teaching new players what the Tyranids are about, up to and including the lore going forward in 9th Edition. There is some new content in here for long time Tyranid players, not a massive amount, but some.

Rules & Hive Fleets

So we move onto the core rules of running a Tyranid army.

First things first, for each Detachment you create you can only include one Hive Tyrant. Don’t forget, the Swarmlord also has the Hive Tyrant keyword, so you cannot include him and a generic Hive Tyrant in the same detachment.

The book points out quickly that models with the Living Artillery keyword (basically Spores) never gain Hive Fleet rules. Makes sense.

So long as your entire army has the Tyranid keyword or Unaligned you’ll get all the bonuses for the Hive Fleet of your choice. Each Hive Fleet has changed since the previous Codex, so I’m going to break down what you get, using my Hive Fleet, Behemoth, as an example:

  • A general Hive Trait. For Behemoth you get +1 Strength when your unit charges, is charged, or Heroically Intervenes.
  • You also get a Adaptive trait, which in this case allows you to re-roll charges (handy if, like me, you fail LOTS of charges)
  • Your Fleet then gets the option to swap your Adaptive trait before the first turn begins for one from one of three tables of Hyper-Adaptations. Depending on your fleet, you’ll get to pick from two of the three tables. Again, using Behemoth as an example, I could swap the re-roll charges for one from either the Hunt Biomorphologies or Lurk Biomorphologies. I’ll write more about these shortly.
  • You have an exclusive Warlord Trait. Behemoth’s is straightforward. Any unmodified 6s to wound in combat inflict a mortal wound in addition to normal damage.
  • Then you get an exclusive Psychic Power you can select. Unstoppable Onslaught dishes out +1 to wound on a unit in comabt for a warp charge of 7.
  • Moving on, you also get a relic you could apply to a character. In this case Monstrous Musculature adds 1 Damage to all of the models melee weapons.
  • Finally, a stratagem. For 1CP (if your unit has the Endless Multitude keyword, such as Hormagaunts) or 2CP a model from a unit that is killed by the enemy in combat gets to fight before dying. This unit has to have the Infantry keyword.

Plenty of options then, depending on your Hive Fleet.

I’m aware not everyone plays Behemoth, so here is some fun and tasty content from the other Hive Fleets:

  • Kraken: The general trait is good, allowing your charging units to gain an extra dash of AP in combat. The Hyper-Adaptation allows you to Move D3+3 on top of your normal movement instead of advancing, which is neat.
  • Leviathan: Ever a popular Hive Fleet,it has one of the strongest adaptations, basically giving you Transhuman on your Synapse critters, and a mini-Transhuman (rolls of 1-2 always fail) on your none-Synapse units. That’ll help your big beasties stick around for longer.
  • Gorgon: A very tasty fleet in my opinion. For example the Psychic Power, Poisonous Influence, allows one Gorgon unit on a warp charge of 7 to dish out mortal wounds on unmodified 6s to wound in combat (albeit to a max of 6). The Hyper-Toxicity strat for 1CP allows a unit equipped with Toxin Sacs to auto-wound on a unmodified 5+ to hit. At this point I have to mention, Toxin Sacs are amazing. It is an upgrade for a vast number of the models in the army, and allow any 6s to hit in combat to auto wound.
  • Jormungandr: The sneakiest of Hive Fleets still. Every Codex seems to have a build which gives Dense Cover to your army if the enemy shoots at you from over 18″ away, and this is the fleet in the Tyranid book that grants you this. This affects Monsters. Whilst an enemy unit shooting a unit in your army that isn’t a Monster is classed as in Dense Cover from over 12″ away, which is nifty. The strat allows you to in essence deep strike up to three of your units, with all the normal limitations.
  • Kronos: If you want to lean more into shooting and Psychic Powers, this could be the Hive Fleet for you. All your Ranged weapons gain an extra 4″, whilst the Hyper-Adaptation gives you an extra pip of AP if shooting within half range. Soul Hunger is a brilliant Warlord Trait, which causes any enemy psykers within 18″ to suffer Perils for rolling any doubles, not just a double 1 or 6.
  • Hydra: This fleet is for those who play in a meta where they are constantly outnumbered. The general Hive trait gives you +1 to hit should you be fighting a unit with more models than yours (Monsters and Vehicle keyworded units count as 5 models for the purpose of this rule). The Warlord Trait allows your Warlord to heal D3 wounds in the Command Phase (doesn’t specify which one, but does say you can only do it once per turn).

So that’s a teaser of the Hive Fleets. Some good choices in there, some feel better than others. Leviathan, Behemoth and Kronos, to me, feel like the most competitive, in particular Leviathan. Hydra feels the weakest, Gorgon is an interesting one and could see some play whilst Jormungandr will be good in particular army builds.

I mentioned earlier about Biomorphologies. These are divided into three tables, Hunt, Lurk and Feed. Depending on your Hive Fleet, you’ll be able to select a trait from a choice of two of the Biomorphologies to affect your army instead of your Hyper-Adaptation. This does not have to be declared until after deployment and after knowing who is taking the first turn. This allows you to be reactive.

Each table has 5 options, for example:

  • Hunt: Augmented Ferocity gives you +1 to Charge whilst Synaptic Goading allows Endless Multitude units to make a normal 6″ move at the start of the battle (unit must start in your deployment zone).
  • Lurk: Territorial Instincts gives your Monsters Objective Secure (counts as 5 models if the Monster has 10 or more wounds). Exosketetal Reinforcement changes any weapons AP of -1 to 0.
  • Feed: Relentless Hunger allows you to move a unit 3″ if it fails a charge. and Exoskeleton Stabilisation don’t suffer penalties for advancing and firing assualt weapons, and in the case of Monsters they don’t suffer the penalties for firing Heavy weapons.

I really like this. Tyranids should be able to adapt to their enemy, and these rules reflect that. Very fluffy.

We have a few other special rules to cover too:

  • Synapse: Pretty straight forward now, in that any Hive Fleet units within 6″ of a Synapse creature auto passes Morale tests. No Instinctive behavior anymore. Synapse also has another part to play with the Synapse Imperatives, but more on that later.
  • Shadow in the Warp: Another classic Tyranid special rule. Whilst a enemy Psyker is within 18″ of a unit with the Shadow in the Warp keyword, they are -1 on Psychic Tests. Also, each time an enemy Psyker in range Perils, they take an additional mortal wound.
  • Swarming Masses: A new rule which allows Tyranids to fight in combat so long as they are in Engagement Range and/or within 2 and a half inches of an enemy unit, allowing them big old hordes to get stuck in.
  • Synaptic Link Range: Returning from Psychic Awakening, Synaptic Link allows bubbles of Synapse, which is helpful for some abilities and to keep a working aura of ignoring morale tests.
  • Death From Below: You guessed it, Deep Striking for Tyranids. All the normal rules apply. 9″ away from enemy units, etc.


Love them or hate them, strats form part of a staple diet in 9th Edition. The books I’ve reviewed, in particular the T’au Codex, have featured very strong Stratagems. Tyranids are no different.

The book features 4 pages of strats, including the usual give another unit a Warlord Trait and dishing out more relics.

I’m not sure why, but I hoped they’d be a way to double up on relics or traits on one ultra scary Monster, but sadly you can’t.

Theirs something for everyone in here!

  • Scorch Bugs: WarCom previewed that Fleshborers were now S5 -1 AP. For a CP (2 if equipped on a Monster or if the unit has 16 or more models) you can make them S6 with an extra 6” range.
  • Voracious Appetite: a returning strat which still allows rerolls to wound for 1 CP on a Monster.
  • Indomitable Monstrosity: Transhuman, Tyranid Edition. Monster can only be wounded in a 4+.
  • Shard Lure: use in the Shooting Phase. So long as you score a hit with one shot, any unit that choices to charge that enemy unit gets to roll an additional dice on the charge, discarding one result from the 3D
  • Subterranean Assault: Previously an ability on the datasheets for Trygons and Trygon Primes, this strat allows you to bring reinforcements on with your Trygons as they pop up from the ground. Restricted to Troops choices only, so Hormagaunts, Termagaunts and Gargoyles only (Genestealers are no longer troops).
  • Instinctive Rampage: This is a fun one! Should a Hive Tyrant die in range of it’s Tyrant Guard, for 1CP the Guard go nuts, adding 4 to the charge rolls and giving them +1 to hit and wound as they go ARGGGHHH!
  • Encircle the Prey: Mobility is king in Warhammer 40,000 9th Edition, and for 1CP you can select a Burrowers keyworded unit, or a unit with Fly, to be removed from the battlefield and resetup elsewhere. Normal restrictions apply, including not being able to select a unit that only appeared on the battlefield this turn.
  • Pathogenic Slime: 2CP if the unit you use this on doesn’t have Toxin Sacs, or 1CP if it does. Any unmodified 6s to hit auto wound with shooting attacks. Basically Toxin Saxs, but at range.


In my opinion, not the strongest set of Relics in the world, but that isn’t to say that their isn’t some tasty relics within these two pages.

The names of a few of these will look familiar to ‘nid players, but they have all changed. One of my favourite relics is the Scythes of Tyran (which is no longer locked to Behemoth, in fact none of the the relics on these two pages are). This relic swaps out two monstrous scything talons for a named pair that grant +2 Strength, -4 AP and flat damage 3. Not only this, but you also get to make 2 additional attacks with this weapon too. Pop it on a Hive Tyrant and suddenly you have a strength 9 Hive Tyrant with 7 attacks ripping and clawing.

Prefer something shootier? What about Shardgullet, a Heavy Venom Cannon that is Assault 3, Strength 12, -5 AP and flat damage 5. Yep that’s right, FIVE.

The Resonance Barb is back, again granting +1 to Psychic Tests and allowing the user access to an additional psychic power. Spoiler alert, the powers are pretty good, so a potential shrewd relic.

The last relic I’m going to put under the spotlight is Searhive, which can be given to any model with Toxin Sacs. You roll to hit in melee, boom, any hits are auto wounds. Simple, brutal. Excludes Monsters and Vehicles, but still, a good relic.

Warlord Traits

The book includes, as always, 6 Warlord Traits to choose from (make that 7 if you include your Hive Fleet specific one) and there is some very good ones in here:

  • Alien Cunning: A three-parter. Grants the Warlord Objective Secure, and counts as 5 models for the purposes of that rule. It also grants the Warlord the ability to perform an action even if it Advanced or Fell Back this turn.
  • Adaptive Biology: a 5+++ FNP
  • Heightened Senses: In the fight phase, your Warlord is fighting first AND he can re-roll his hit rolls. Nasty.

Luckily, as mentioned, you can hand out an extra Warlord trait to another HQ to make the most of the great selection of traits.

Adaptive Physiologies & Synaptic Imperative Abilities

Space Marines get their Chapter Command upgrades, Adeptus Mechanicus get Logis, Tyranids get Adaptive Physiologies.

Synaptic Imperative abilities have involved since the Synaptic Link was introduced. Your Synapse units each have an ability that can be used once per battle round. The abilities affect everything including and around Synapse range of your creatures.

Ranging from 10pts to 25pts, these are upgrades that can be applied to Monsters. None of these are over the top. Hardened Biology gives your monster +1 to the save if the attacking weapon is only damage 1, Precognitive Sensoria allows your monster to fight first in combat whilst Synaptic Enhancement grants the Monster Shadow in the Warp and Synapse abilities (which is great on something like a Trygon).

These are very VERY cool. During your game you’ve got to think of the best time to pop these abilities. You also have to remember that you can only use an ability should the creature that has it is still alive and on the battlefield.

Take a unit of Tyranid Warriors for example. So long as a unit is still alive, at the start of the battle round, you can use their Synaptic Imperative ability, which grants you exploding attacks on 6s in combat. All Synapse creatures gain this for the battle round, as well as any Tyranid units within 6″ of a Synapse creature.

A number of these have been previewed, however the Trygon Prime hasn’t. His is called Thrashing Demise, which adds 3 to the roll when you are seeing if Death Throes goes off (basically like vehicles exploding, only with Tyranids). If a unit in range does not have Death Throes, then instead you roll a D6 for each friendly model that dies, and any 6s do a mortal wound to the attacking unit.

The Neurothrope grants +1 to Psychic tests and Deny the Witch rolls. It also gives a 5+ Mortal Wound shrug.

Chapter Approved Rules

I do like the fact that Codexes have their own Secondary Objectives (of which you are limited to picking one, should you wish to choose any from your Codex), but what I don’t like is how inconsistent they are in terms of effectiveness. Some books have good ones, some have terrible ones.

The Tyranids choices are, for me, not bad. Not must takes for sure, but not so bad as you would never consider them.

Spore Nodes, for example, is an Action based Secondary that can only be done by Troops choices. It is an action that is completed at the end of your turn (which is always good) but can only be done in your opponents deployment zone. You score 4 victory points each time you do this. It’s not bad, but I wish it wasn’t locked in to only being able to be completed by Troops choices. If I have a unit of Hormagaunts in your back line, I want them in combat, not performing an action. Ravenors, or the new Parasite, maybe…but not a Troops choice.

Cranial Feasting however, is a fun one. Each time you kill a character or unit champion you roll a D6, adding 2 to the roll if your unit has the Feeder Tendrils keyword (Genestealers, Venomthropes, Lictors, Toxicrenes), and adding a further 2 if the model was in fact a character you’ve just munched on. On a 6+ you gain a Command Point. Fun!

This is a secondary however, so what about scoring? If you manage to score at least 1 Command Point doing this, boom, 3 victory points. Each time you slay a character or unit champion, you gain another 1 victory point (has to be in melee). And finally you score 3 VPs if its the enemy Warlord you’ve just killed.

This is my favourite secondary, especially against character heavy armies. It’s also super fluffy AND gives you the opportunity to gain Command Points. Neat!

Hive Mind Psychic Powers

Time to take a look at the Psychic Powers that are on offer in this book.

Almost ever single one of these shares the same name from the previous codex. However, they have almost all completely changed, for example:

  • The Horror: Now debuffs a chosen unit’s Leadership by 2, and subtracts 1 from Combat Attrition Tests
  • Paroxysm: The unit affected cannot Overwatch or Set to Defend, and is -1 to wound in melee

Catalyst still grants a 5+ FNP (6+ if used on a Titanic unit) and Onslaught allows you to ignore penalties for moving and firing Heavy/Assault weapons. Unit can also charge after Advancing.

Neuroparasite is a great new Psychic Power. It has a Warp Charge value of 7, and allows you to roll a D6 for every model in the select unit. For every roll that exceeds the Toughness characteristic on the model’s profile, the unit suffers 1 mortal wound (to a maximum of 6). Ouch!

A solid selection of aggressive, debuffing and buffing spells. What makes these Psychic powers even better is when selecting a target you can choose a unit either:

  • Within 18″ of the Psyker or…
  • Within Synaptic Link range

That…is pretty awesome, and makes your pop up in the back line Synapse creatures very powerful.


I’m not going to go through every datasheet here. If you want to try and check out your favourite unit, make sure you check out my book run through in the video at the top of the article or over on our YouTube channel, but I am going to pick out some key changes.

For the most part, many units have been granted more attacks, and in a few key cases extra Toughness too. A good portion of the weapon options have been tweaked and improved, bringing the power of the Tyranids up to what is quickly becoming the norm for 9th Edition.

  • Hive Tyrant/Winged Hive Tyrant: You know him, you love him, the Hive Tyrant is a staple in any Tyranid list. The Winged version now has its own datasheet for simplicity. Instead of a reroll aura, like many key characters in 9th Edition books he now just selects the one unit to allow rerolls of 1. The difference however, is that you can choose a unit within Synaptic Link range, instead of just in range of the Tyrant himself. He’s more of a Monster now, with a base Strength of 7. The on foot version of the Tyrant also goes up to Toughness 8 too. Wings or no wings, he has also gained an attack, going up to 5. Oh, and he also rocks a 2+ save!
  • The Swarmlord: He grants reroll all hits to a chosen unit, again with Link range. Hive Commander has changed, no longer does he grant an extra move unfortunately (I know many were hoping that was staying). It now makes a chosen unit within Link range Objective Secure, which I prefer. Blade Parry has also changed, so its goodbye to the 3+ invulnerable save in combat, and hello to changing your first failed saving throws damage to 0. He comes stocked with a 4++ invulnerable save, a 2+ normal save, 9 attacks, Strength and Toughness 8. Sadly his Bone Sabres no longer cause mortal wounds, but they do have an extra pip of AP, now -4AP and still flat 3 damage.
  • Neurothrope: I never fancied one before, but I do now. This is mainly due to his ability to pick a Psyker unit within Link range, allowing that unit to roll an additional D6 for Psychic tests for the turn and discard one of your choice. He also has a now rarely seen 3++ invulnerable save and can heal Zoanthropes.
  • Trygon Prime: The Prime version of the Trygon is still a character, and furthermore is now a HQ choice. His stats have been buffed everywhere. An extra pip of movement, is now Toughness 7 with 2 additional wounds. Previously he rocked a respectable 6 attacks, but now rocks 12…that’s right…TWELVE attacks. The downside is his main attacks are no longer D6 damage, and are now flat 2 but come on…12 attacks! He’s also now -1 to hit.
  • Gargoyles: Now in the Troops section, and share the Endless Multitude keyword with the Hormagaunts and Termagaunts (for a CP you can bring back models with this keyword).
  • Hormagaunts: A must take? I think so. The humble gaunt now has an extra attack, complete with -1 AP. The unit can pile in an additional 3″, similar to its old rule. These will benefit greatly from Toxin Sacs, which you can upgrade the unit with to make any unmodified 6s to hit auto wound, bypassing the low Strength of 3. Combined with the Swarming Masses army rule, your going to have a mountain of attacks hitting enemy units.
  • Lictor: I love the old Lictor model, and I loved what it was suppose to do, pop out and kill stray characters and kill targets. Its old statline though didn’t allow him to do this, at least not very effectively. He now has double the amount of attacks. Stronger at Strength 7, Tougher (now 5 from 4) and his melee attacks are now combined into one profile that is -3 Ap and flat damage 2. That’s not all, he now fights first in combat, has a 5+ invulnerable save and can’t be shot so long as he is in cover from units 12″ away.
  • Raveners: Another much improved unit. Still able to ‘deep strike’ they are Strength and Toughness 5, with improved AP across the weapon options and are -1 to hit in combat.
  • Genestealers are now an Elites choice, and are fairly pricey. You can only have a max unit of 10 now. They are still sneaky and can hit hard, but they aren’t as good as Genestealers in a Genestealer Cult army.
  • Mawloc: You thought the Trygons had a lot of attacks… The Mawloc now rocks 16, SIXTEEN attacks, at -1 AP and damage 1. His Terror from the Deep rule has changed and is, in a word, overly complicated. He can no longer pop up in Engagement range, and whilst he still does mortal wounds when he arrives, you have to set up his marker a turn in advance, giving your opponent the chance to get out of dodge.
  • Exocrine: He’s been previewed on WarCom, but he is fantastic. D3+6 shots, at Strength 8, -4AP and flat damage 3?! Erm, yes please. Can no longer shoot twice, and instead if he stands still or moves half or less of his movement his shots ignore cover.

I could go on. Toughness 7 Carnifexes with better weapon profiles, improvements to the Maleceptor

Parasite of Mortrex

I only started collecting Tyranids a couple of editions back, so for me the Parasite is completely brand new.

Games Workshop kindly sent one to us to review, and you can view the unboxing video below, which includes the mini fully built and painted.

First things first, the model was smaller than I anticipated. That’s not a terrible thing though. He’s not overly detailed, but again that’s fine, he’s a Tyranid after all. I did have some difficulty painting the small veins on his wings, but that’s probably more so my level of painting than an issue with the model itself.

What about his rules? Firstly, I’m not quite sure what role he is going to play. He’s nippy, for sure, but isn’t the most Killy of units. His Ripper mechanic, which is very Aliens, is neat. If you can pull it off, your opponent won’t be happy with Ripper Swarms annoying their back line and let’s be honest, no one likes taking D3 mortal wounds.

The Parasite is -1 to hit, making him a little more survivable. For him, he’s hunting lower tier characters, or bagging Engage, or maybe even using him for Actions.

He isn’t a must take, and may get overlooked, but I am very much looking forward to trying him out in battle.


We here at Sprues & Brews HQ LOVE Crusade, and whilst some of the new books have fantastic Crusade mechanics, others don’t.

I am pleased to say that this book DOES feature an ace mechanic.

Starting a Crusade with Tyranids has you creating a planet. During the course of your Crusade your army will go through stages, starting with Invasion and ending with Consumption. With each stage, it rewards certain units which compliment the stage your in.

For example, Stage 1: Invasion. You gain additional experience points if you have Broodlords, Genestealers, Lictors, etc…basically any Tyranid creature you would expect to be there from the start. It doesn’t categorically tell you not to take say, a Hive Tyrant, but if you do they won’t gain experience. To work with this, your detachment costs change to reflect the stage your in, allowing you to field a detachment which works for the units you’ll want to bring along without punishing your CP supply.

You gain Biomass points that can be spent on Requisitions and upgrades throughout the Crusade. The Agendas all feel very very fluffy, with you having to Tyrannoform the planet and infest the planet.


Bugs are back, baby!

In all seriousness, I really enjoyed reading this Codex, and I feel Tyranids can once again be competitive (outside of fielding max units of Hive Guard). They are tougher, have more attacks and have more tricks up there sleeves.

Are they as good as the T’au and Aeldari? I know this is what the competitive players will want to know, and no I don’t think this book is quite on that scale, but I don’t believe it is far off. I think those with a competitive mindset (which to be honest, I don’t have) can find builds within this book that will do the business.

Whilst Monsters I feel have had a boost in this book, it’s the humble Hormagaunts that really shine. If you haven’t already you’ll be looking to add these to your army, as they provide a ton of attacks that can bring down foes greater then themselves due to various elements such as Toxin Sacs for auto wounding on hits of 6. They aren’t cheap, but I think they’ll get a lot of work done, especially in certain Hive Fleets, such as my beloved Behemoth.

The Parasite I’m not completely sold on rules-wise, but really want to test out, whilst the Mawloc’s new mechanic for appearing is overly complicated, but I won’t let a few minor points ruin what is, I feel, a great Codex. The army is more killy than ever thanks to various buffs across profiles, including weapons, and many of the monsters have been gifted with extra attacks, strength and toughness.

The Crusade content perfectly suits how a Tyranid Invasion would play out, which is amazing.

Tyranid players, I think you can be happy with what we have here. Now get out there and consume some mass! OM NOM NOM!

Codex Tyranids and the Parasite of Mortrex are all now up for preorder. A reminder that preorder through our Element Games links helps you to save pennies and helps us to keep this website going.

Our thanks once again to Games Workshop for sending the Codex and Parasite to us to review.

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