The Tyranid codex, while not as competitive as the other recent codex releases, does have a few highlights worth mentioning. The Tervigon, Hive Guard and Zoanthropes are the 3 most common mentioned units and for very good reason.
The Tervigon is a solid HQ choice whose Psychic ability and special rules make him a force multiplier for any effective Tyranid list. The ability to fit him in the troops slot is just icing on the cake with him. Even without that FOC flexibility he’d be a very popular choice.
The Hive Guard and Zoanthropes bring much needed anti-mech firepower to the Tyranids like they’ve never had before. While short ranged and competing for the same set of 3 Elite slots on the FOC they allow the Tyranids to destroy vehicles instead of only shaking them.
Traditionally that’s where the ‘awesome’ ends in the Tyranids codex. I disagree. An overlooked and mis-utilized entry is the Tyranid Warrior Prime. He is much more than a basic cheap HQ choice similar to any other HQ choice that can be found in any other codex. He is a step above and beyond almost any other HQ choice in any other codex and at a much cheaper price.
When compared to a Space Marine Captain you notice that the Warrior Prime has a much more potent stat line for 20 less points. He has an additional point of strength and toughness and an additional basic attack. Where the Warrior Prime begins to come out ahead is when typical upgrades are added. For 20 points total the Warrior Prime can get a pair of Bone Swords, an extra set of Scything Talons (re-roll 1’s in the attack phase) and Adrenal Glands (furious charge) for the cost of giving up his Devourer and 20 extra points. The Marine Captain’s typical upgrades are a combi-weapon, Relic Blade and Artificer Armor for a total of 55 points. While the Marine Captain will have a potent shooting attack and a very good armour save the Warrior prime now assaults at a higher initiative with weapons that can cause instant death and ignore the Captains armor save entirely except for his Iron Halo. In a 1 vrs 1 combat the Warrior Prime should win every time when he costs 50% less points to field (100 points vrs 155 points). This doesn’t even take the Warriors’s Synapse ability and Shadow in the Warp psychic protection.
There could be a bit of argument on how best to use the Warrior Prime because of his Independant Characters status. Because of the Brood Progenitor rule most people will run the Warrior prime with brood of Tyranid Warriors Troops. Although this is a good diea it forgets that Tyranid Shrikes are a varient of Tyranid Warriors too and are able to benefit from the Brood Progenitor rule. Although they will lose the speed of wings during the movement phase if the Warrior Prime is with them the smart player will take advantage of the Independent Character rule and only attach them at the end of the movement phase when an enemy squad is within assault range. That allows the Shrikes to stay behind and enjoy the protection of cover while the Warrior Prime charges forward attached to another squad of much cheaper gaunts.
In both cases I’d recomend giving each model in the Tyranid Warrior or Shrike brood a pair of Boneswords and Adrenal Gland for 15 points. While it brings up the model cost to 45 and 50 points each they will gain power weapon attacks and furious charge. This is especially deadly vrs MEQ opponents as you will be hitting on 3, wounding on 3, and allowing no save at initiative 5.
Of course if the Warrior Prime stays with that original brood of Gaunts he significantly boosts that broods close combat ability. The humble (and dirt cheap) Termagants and Hormagaunts are unable to have any power weapons in the broods. That liability is usually overcome with massive numbers of attacks from cheap models. At their cheapest a maxed out brood of Termagaunts is only 150 points and can dishout 60 attacks on the charge at initiative 4. While that many dice being rolled at once can pose a serious danger to any squad their attack is only at strength 3. Which limits the damage they can do to MEQ opponents. Even with that bucket of dice rolled that lower strength results in an average of 10 wounds on a typical Marine squad.
Of course anyone who runs Termagants should have a Tervigon nearby and that will boost the damage causing ability of that brood if the Tervigon is equipped with Toxin Sacks and Adrenal Glands. Suddenly their 60 attacks go before the Marines and are now Strength 4 poisoned allowing a re-roll to wound. That gives a doubling of wounds caused by the same 150 point brood of Termagants. That will force the MEQ player to take an average of 22 saves from the Gaunts and 4 power weapon wounds from the Warrior Prime before their own attacks are rolled.
Another ideal use of the Tyranid Warrior Prime is to attach him to another brood of Toughness 4 multi-wound models. This allows you to take advantage of wound allocation rules and assign the Strength 8 power fist and missile launcher wounds to the Warrior Prime. Nobody wants Their critical Zoanthrope or Doom of Malan’tai doubled out to a single hit.