40K CCG starter decks are generally a rough deal. While they could technically be classified as “playable”, as in they function within the game’s ruleset, they are hardly competitive. Even worse, in many cases they don’t provide the cheap staples that can exponentially improve your deck’s performance. The Eldar starter deck, for example, doesn’t have Lockesis or Kaura, and the Space Marine starter deck doesn’t have Apothecary Singa or Squad Faustus. Throw us a bone here, Sabertooth!
The Tyranid Coronis Campaign starter deck is in the same vein. While you get a Hive Tyrant and Catalyst Zoanthrope as rares – arguably the most useful out of all the starters – the rest of the deck is kind of lacking. Your strategy is to charge with a bunch of Gaunts and hope they don’t get shot off the table, which is challenging at best.
So, how can you level up your Tyranid starter deck without breaking the bank? Here are my suggestions:
(Side note: four of these five cards were included in the later Hive Fleet Kraken starter deck from Malogrim Hive, so I’m not just full of hot air!)
Spore Mines – I recently wrote a SCD about how awesome this Coronis uncommon is. Trust me, it will change your life. That aforementioned strategy about charging a bunch of Gaunts? It can actually work now, since you can control your opponent’s shooting through speed reductions. It’s also a die 5 card that can infiltrate itself – sweet, sweet consistency.
Carnifex – I have a bone to pick with Sabertooth: how is the mighty Carnifex a 3-armor card? That gripe aside, Carnifex is another Coronis uncommon that will pay massive dividends for you. It comes with above-average stats as a 0/2/3 with assault d6, which should average about 4 or so in your typical deck. The command line, however, is the dealbreaker. Bypassing the extra-BA shenanigans that other factions employ, this ability lets you instantly assault with a unit, which is crucial for killing those Veteran Skarboyz or other units that can wreak havoc on your board. If you’ve got a big chungus like Veirudiant Burrower or Barbed Hierodule, you can take out several units in a single BA. You will love this card.
Rendergaunts – This Verdicon uncommon is the die boosting helper you never knew you wanted. It adds 1 to all your rolls as long as you have a Synapse Creature (which should be pretty much all the time), and can lock to make you or your opponent re-roll. The opportunities are endless! Plus, its command line should easily draw you 2 cards, since you will always be charging with units and your opponent will usually be trying to shoot them.
Huntsman – Another Coronis uncommon that looks mediocre for most factions with a 3/2/2 statline and a blank text box. Don’t be fooled, however: it’s better than it looks. Combined with speed reduction effects, Huntsman is a 3-firepower workhorse that can pick off troublesome units with relative ease – very important in a faction with few decent shooting units. It’s also a Synapse Creature and a Swarm unit – at the same time!
Ymgarl ‘Stealers – This Coronis common is probably the most egregious omission from the Tyranid starter deck. While its stats aren’t that impressive, it resembles Spore Mines in its ability to instantly impact a sector all by itself. If your opponent values shooting, they will want to kill it on sight. It is always helpful to have multiple sources of speed reduction; redundancy is the name of the game here.
I hope this helped add some insight into leveling up a Tyranids deck. Some of the most efficient cards in the game aren’t the flashy rares, but the workhorse uncommons and commons that ultimately add consistency to your strategy. Now go devour some planets!