Disclaimer: The following is a testimony of an unapologetic Tyranid fanboy. Please take the complimentary grain of salt.
The following guide is made for players having some experience with The Last Stand, but unfamiliar with the use of the Hive Tyrant. It is not made for high-end play. The guide is current as of Chaos Rising version v220.127.116.1128 and its contents may not correspond with later changes.
1. So you want to be a Tyrant? - Introduction
Let’s get the obvious out of the way. As a Tyrant, you’re slow. You cannot kite, you have the lowest walk speed of all the Last Stand heroes, the worst mobility power in a very coveted slot, and your only other way of boosting your speed makes you rather very vulnerable to damage. Your default walk speed is barely enough to keep ahead of Nobz or Wraithlords, and not enough to get away from Warriors or Banshees. If caught, odds are, you will have to fight your way out. But good news. Fighting it out is what you do best.
The Hive Tyrant can fill a variety of battlefield roles, depending on item loadout. You can unleash a stream of single target death that will leave Mekboys staring in disbelief. You can shrug off incoming damage as if it were nothing. You can turn your enemies from fearsome armies to harmless weaklings. You can poison the very ground, choking the life out of entire armies in one swoop. You can summon pets that leave your foes distracted, disrupted, and very, very dead.
Well, that, or you can die messily as you foes swarm you and you have nothing left to save you. Also known to happen. This guide is here to help you figure out how to avoid that.
2. What can a Tyrant do? - Role
The answer is, believe it or not, almost anything. Ranged DPS? Better than a Mekboy. Petmaster? Nobody does it better. Tank? Nothing can sustain more damage and come out swinging. Area damage? One of the strongest AoE powers in the game if used correctly. Team support? Okay, let’s face it, you’re no Farseer and no Orbsceror, but you’re decent at it.
In fact, the only things the Tyrant isn’t good at are enemy disruption and, very surprisingly, melee combat. You are far too slow to venture into melee, your damage once there is moderate at best, and you cannot gain Armor Piercing melee attacks. But more on that later.
There is one more thing a prospective Tyrant player should keep in mind – the Tyrant can have a fully workable (if not fully optimal) build as early as level four, made even better by level seven. If you’re disheartened by the long climb needed to make a Sorcerer or Farseer a true asset to the team, the Tyrant may be for you.
3. What’s in a Tyrant? – Loadout basics
The Tyrant follows the same weapon – armor – three accessories – commander slot construction as other characters. No forced twists here. Every piece of gear will be followed by the level it’s available in (parentheses).
3a. Tyrant, what big claws you have! - Weapons
The Tyrant gets to pick from five weapons, all two-handed. Three of those are talons, designed for close combat, while the other two are cannons, designed for (and excelling in) ranged combat.
The Talons are similar to each other in battlefield performance when it comes to normal damage, however they have different special attack chances. The talons’ special attack is a 360 degree swipe with all four arms, dealing roughly double the damage of a normal attack to all nearby targets. Due to how large the Tyrant is, it’s likely to catch quite a few enemies, but the unbuffed damage is too low to one-shot any but the absolutely weakest enemies, and unlike the circular strikes of the Farseer and the Sorcerer, it does not cause any knockback.
Still, the fact remains. The Tyrant does not make for a good melee combatant. Its slow move speed and lack of good mobility power means taking a pounding from ranged attackers on the way in and when chasing enemies down. Its large size makes it easy to surround by high-damage enemies like Banshees or ‘Uge Hammer Nobz, while making it hard to reach a target through its own pets. Finally, it lacks the Captain’s high armor and insane health regeneration necessary to engage in and win DPS races with the likes of Wraithlords.
As a result, the talons should be considered support weapons, taken mainly for the bonuses they offer. And speaking of…
Scything Talons (default) – Listed here for completeness’ sake, these deal half the damage of the others, but have a 33% chance to knockback on hit. Avoid.
Enlarged Scything Talons (1) – Despite what the name might make you think, this is the weakest set of talons available, due to its very low special attack chance – at least, weakest as far as direct combat is concerned. These talons offer no bonuses to the Tyrant itself, however, they offer considerable bonuses to your summoned pets – 100 points worth of Armor Piercing (the same as the Captain’s plasma gun and power axe) and a 30% Combat Master damage bonus.
-At this point one might expect me to say “if you want to use pets, get this”, but… it’s not really all that. Truth be told, the pets don’t deal enough damage to warrant buffing it instead of giving yourself a big honking gun to give them powerful support fire.
-On the other hand, the Enlarged Scything Talons are one of two Tyrant level one gear that starts out weak only to become insanely powerful later on, that is to say, at level 18. The Ravener, once given Armor Piercing, proceeds to quite simply devastate anything it points it Devourer towards.
-Either way, if you ended up equipping the Enlarged Scything Talons, you’ve done so because you want your pets to shine. Let them. By that, I mean, stay out of their way. You’re still a Tyrant, you can deal some damage to the odd unit that chases you behind that building, but odds are, you aren’t building to deal damage personally. Oddly enough, this means the low special attack chance is not as bad as it seems. You’re much less likely to be locked in the longish animation when you’d really rather move away.
Heavy Talons (10) – Ahh yes, Heavy Talons. No phrase describes them better than ‘eccentric’. Though ‘redundant’ comes close. But one thing at a time. Combat-wise, they are identical to Enlarged Scything Talons, but with a higher (2.5x) special attack chance. They have two effects. One, they grant a small AoE knockback effect with every melee strike the Tyrant does. Two, they render its pets immune to knockback. Let’s take this one at a time.
-The knockback… well. Ideal situation: The Tyrant is jumped by a pack of Banshees. It hits one, sending it back, then turns to attack another, knocking them on their asses one by one, buying time until its allies can deal with the threat. The reality: The Tyrant attacks one of the Banshees, takes a half-step to follow it (during which time its already meager damage doesn’t even come), attacks it again, and proceeds to poke at it until the ignored rest of the squad render him a lovely shade of dead.
-To be fair, once the special triggers, it’s fun to watch.
-The knockback immunity. Tyrant Guard are naturally immune. Genestealers are plentiful and expendable. Warriors treat being knocked back as an excuse to return the favor. The only pet who would really benefit from the Heavy Talons would be the Ravener, but the damage not lost due to knockback is completely outweighed by the damage lost due to not bringing Enlarged Scything Talons.
-In summary, the only use I can find for Heavy Talons is a bit of a snicker at the sight of your Tyrant prodding the poor Force Commander all across the map, two or three feet at a time.
-If you are desperate to make use of Heavy Talons, try bringing Toxin Sacs. The long delay between strikes will let the DoT effect run its course. Or you could, y’know, not take Heavy Talons, and add the melee damage to the ongoing DoT.
Crushing Talons (14) – The third set of talons might deal only 90% of the damage of the other two, and only 75% of the special damage, but they have the highest special chance (again, 2.5x that of the previous one). All this, however, fades next to the traits they give. While they give your minions a 1.0 health regeneration bonus, much more immediately evident and important is the fact every time one of your pets attacks, you’re healed for 3HP. The implications should be obvious.
-3HP might not seem like much, until you realize exactly how many fast your pets can throw out attacks. A Genestealer attacks every 0.8 seconds, a Warrior or Tyrant Guard every second, a Ravener every 1.8 seconds. This means that a Genestealer spawn, under the rare ideal conditions (all three fighting in melee, neither one engaged in a sync-kill), can give on average 11.25HP every second. Compare this to the 7.5HP/s of a fully regened-out Captain and be amazed. Of course, don’t forget it’s far less reliable, and you don’t get the Master-Crafted Chainsword’s effective 7.7HP/s on top of that.
-Nothing exists in a vacuum however, and this is a very important point. The Tyrant has only two ways of restoring its HP, and the Crushing Talons are one of them. This alone makes them all but crucial to a tanking build.
-Ravener Devourer attacks do trigger the self-heal. Ranged pets are more likely to be in combat than melee ones and don’t do sync-kills, but have to deal with accuracy and cover. The theoretical average heal from a Ravener firing on a target out of cover is 5.625HP/s.
-Overall, this is quite simply the best of the talons for talon-related purposes, due to the higher AoE potential but mostly due to the heal. The regeneration bonus is just a cherry on the cake but it’s really rather redundant, seeing as there are better weapons to equip if you care about your pets surviving that much.
Conclusion: While the Heavy Talons have no real use that I can find, the other two are absolutely great for builds that play them to their strengths.
Meanwhile, the Cannons provide the Tyrant with some heavy ranged firepower. Both cannons have good range (a bit longer than the non-setup weapons of the Captain and Mekboy, equal to the Sorcerer with a staff), a decent rate of fire (one blast every 2s) and above-average accuracy (75% in the open, 45% against light cover, 22.5% against heavy). However, they also suffer from an inability to fire on the move. Combined with the Tyrant’s slow move speed and turn rate, this makes kiting all but impossible.
It should be noted that a cannon-equipped Tyrant is still fairly capable in melee – a cannon is equivalent to the default Scything Talons, though with a lower special attack chance (2.5x lower – what is it with that number?), but complete with the 33% chance to knockback on hit. This means you still deal half the damage of a dedicated melee Tyrant, before factoring in the damage bonuses you’re more likely to be packing. The rare special attack is a fairly slow tail-whip which deals double swipe damage. As far as I can tell, it does not cause knockback, but hits in a 360 degree arc.
A cannon Tyrant player should be careful about its behavior if melee attackers make contact. The Tyrant will, as soon as the first blows land, switch to fighting in melee… against the target it was just shooting at. Which tends to be a fair bit, a stretch of cover and whatever’s attacking it in melee away. If you see it happening, mashing the stop key is usually not enough to make the Tyrant repriotise. Fast repeated clicking on the offenders is advised.
There are two notable bugs with the cannons, both in the Tyrant’s favor. The first one seems more of an oversight. The cannon Tyrant’s melee attack’s animation is significantly longer than the attack itself, meaning the Tyrant is never actually seen attacking, just pulling back to strike, and enemies just kinda fall over dead on their own. The other is that, inexplicably, every so often, the Tyrant will double the rate of fire of its cannon. I don’t know when or why it happens, but when it does, it is a glorious and terrible sight.
Venom Cannon (4) – Boom, you’re dead. The Venom Cannon has one thing going for it, and it’s single target damage. It might not have the immense per shot damage of the Plasma Gun, but it leaves it in the dust with its glorious two hundred and forty points of Armor Piercing. Just a few shots of this monster of a gun is enough to bring even the hardest foes low. Every blast carves a chunk out of a hard target’s HP or slays a trash mob outright. This is the Holy Grail of firepower.
-The Mekboy might consider his Big Shoota the be-all-end-all of firepower. He is wrong. He does not have access to your damage boosting items, and neither does he have any ability to pierce armor. Let him focus on mobile, plentiful targets like Warp Spiders while you blast away at Wraithlords and Nobz.
-Oddly enough, the Venom Cannon has extremely high melee damage. I’m not sure if this is a bug of some sort, maybe the game interpreting Armor Piercing (which applies to melee) strangely, but it is guaranteed to be a nasty surprise to any enemy who tries silencing your gun in that way. In a pinch, you can tie down and murderify heavy ranged damage squads.
-The DoT from Toxin Sacs takes two seconds. The Venom Cannon fires every two seconds. The synergy is beautiful. Whether the DoT benefits from Armor Piercing or not I cannot say, but it is the difference between one- and two-shotting Shuriken Platforms.
-Nothing is without downsides, and the Venom Cannon has a massive one. That 240 Armor Penetration that is so glorious when turned on an unsuspecting Wraithlord will be equally happy carving through you. A Venom Cannon-equipped Doppelganger is one of the worst things to face. The cannon can chew through anything, even a ‘Eavy Armored Cybork Mekboy, with frightening speed. Even worse, it can do so at considerable range, especially when you’re dodging into cover or behind a building. If facing one, make extra sure you’re in cover and it’s not, or kiss your score multiplier goodbye.
-That said, a Venom Cannon armed Doppelganger makes for an excellent Greater Summoning or Confuse target.
High-Toxin Venom Cannon (19) – The Venom Cannon’s later, little brother, it trades in the knee-weakening Armor Piercing for a small bit of AoE and a 5% heal on your pets whenever you land a hit.
-The loss of the Armor Piercing hurts against hard targets, but in return you save a few shots against masses of soft targets.
-The heal is handy if you rely on your pets for damage or disruption, plus, it scales with their HP.
-The weapon’s listed damage of 11.4 is misleading. It deals full damage to its target, 75% damage in a 0.25 radius, and half damage in a 1 radius. The target takes all three strikes, for a total that’s pretty equal to the base damage of the Venom Cannon.
-If it’s not obvious, the AoE isn’t too big, but it’s there all right.
-I’m not sure how the AoE interacts with Toxin Sacs, but observed effectiveness combined with wishful thinking makes me think every target hit receives the full DoT.
-Despite what the description says, melee attacks do trigger the pet heal.
-However, the High-Toxin Venom Cannon lacks the Venom Cannon’s high melee damage.
-The loss of the Armor Piercing hurts your Doppelganger more than you, seeing as it only ever has a chance to take on hard targets such as your team.
-In summary, the High-Toxin Venom Cannon is a valid choice if you’re concerned about your Doppelganger being too powerful. You still have considerable (rather than overwhelming) firepower versus hard targets, while gaining slightly increased firepower versus fragile squads and better pet survivability.
Conclusion: Both cannons are very solid choices, and come recommended. One favors direct damage, other supporting pet builds. Pick the one you like more.
3b. Tyrant, what thick hide you have! – Armor
The Tyrant gets to pick from five armors. All of them grant Unshakeable and Fearless. Knockback and suppression are something that happens to other people. Still, keep in mind, standing in grenades or getting a Shuriken Platform’s face is a very good way to lose HP quickly. The Tyrant’s carapaces have three main purposes – armor, a HP bonus, and the traits and abilities they grant.
Carapace (default) – Unshakeable and Fearless, bugger all armor. No reason whatsoever to use this.
Extended Carapace (1) – Offering a middle of the pack armor value of 144 and a bonus 25HP, Extended Carapace is a average to decent armor on its own right. However, most pick it for the ability it grants.
-Bio Plasma (10e) makes your Tyrant cough up an adorable little explosive hairball at a target in its considerable range, causing damage and mild knockback in a moderate area. It’s the Tyrant’s best source of direct disruption, especially with its quick recharge.
-Unfortunately, that’s all that’s quick about it. The ability is painfully slow to cast, and the projectile takes forever to travel to its destination. At least there’s no timer to detonation. Apply judicious lead time.
-To be fair, there’s excellent range on this thing.
-It seems like a good idea to take Extended Carapace and combine Bio Plasma with either talons or a venom cannon to destroy far-off groups of enemies, but that doesn’t work. The ability lacks the damage necessary to wipe out trash, not even Shoota Boys. You end up spending four or five seconds casting the ability, and in the end have to walk all the way over or pick them off with single shots anyway.
-Implant Attacks however turns Bio Plasma into a halfway-decent trash killer. It’s still slow and hard to aim but at least the damage becomes decent.
-Bio Plasma impacts create craters of light cover. Whether that’s a good or bad thing depends on your perspective.
-An unorthodox but interesting use of Bio Plasma is to throw it right at your own feet when surrounded, buying yourself some breathing room… if you live long enough to cast it.
Poison Cysts (1) – Your other starter armor, and the other level one option that comes into its own later on. It offers 50HP and an armor value of 160, second highest in theory and highest in practice, and it switches your appearance to the Epic model (meaning a claw-color stripe down the back of your carapace). With just that, it’s possibly the best tanking armor, and then you consider the ability.
-Toxic Miasma (25e) - Remember when I said the Enlarged Scything Talons were one of two lvl 1 wargear that comes to its own later on? Thanks to this ability, Poison Cysts are the other. When used, this ability covers the ground in a fairly wide radius in poisonous acid (or something else similarly pleasant). For the next 10s, every enemy model in the area takes 2.5% of your max HP in damage, every half second. This adds up to 50% of your maximum HP.
-The key phrase of the above paragraph is the beautiful synergy of Toxic Miasma dealing damage based off your Hit Points. With just this armor, you have 150HP. Later on, you can raise yourself as high as 225HP. Consider for a moment just how well enemies in The Last Stand survive taking 100+ HP of damage per model. This thing kills entire groups of Tactical Marines. And a Tyrant built to tank will pump HP anyway.
-To add to that, the area is absolutely huge. Bigger than any other attack in TLS. And unlike global nukes, it covers the entire area in a steady carpet of damage. A direct Orbital Strike lance or large Rok falling on top of a target will deal more damage, but the Miasma will hit all the trash.
-The comparison to global nukes isn’t unwarranted. Toxic Miasma recharges far faster, and costs only half as much, but does not have any disruptive abilities, unlike the knockback/invulnerability/hover effect of the other nukes. However, who needs control, when all the enemies are dead?
-Even better, since it’s a patch on the ground, enemies that come near after casting will still take considerable damage. This extends to enemies that are just spawning, who will take several ticks of damage before they even start fighting. Poisoning the enemy spawn area is a viciously effective tactic.
-In short? This is your Orbital Strike. This is your Roks. This is your Eldritch Storm. This is your Let The Galaxy Burn!. This is your drill that will pierce—ahem.
-As far as I know, two Toxic Miasma patches will not stack damage, but it’s hard to know for sure, with how fast everything inside dies anyway.
-Be careful around your Doppelganger, as its version will deal even more damage due to its higher HP. Thankfully, you and your team should be smart enough to keep distance and not enter the poisoned field. Hopefully.
-The only real downside is the fairly high casting cost, but there are ways around that...
Bonded Exoskeleton (6) – With the highest bonus of 75HP and second lowest (but still good) armor value of 134, the Bonded Exoskeleton offers no ability, and no special trait… at least, not to you. Equipping this armor will bestow your pets with an extra 50HP and 2HP/s regeneration.
-This armor doesn’t do anything fancy. Instead, it does non-fancy things in a very reliable fashion. It’s a solid choice that does wonders for your pets’ long-term survivability and comes recommended for pet-oriented builds.
-The extra HP to yourself and your pets synergizes exceedingly well with accessories that scale off HP.
Articulated Carapace (13) – Offering no extra HP and the lowest armor of 112, this is not an armor designed for a stand-up fight. What it does do, is make you faster. In fact, the Tyrant with this armor runs around at a fairly good clip. In addition, your pets gain a similar speed boost, as well as a immunity to suppression.
-Sadly, mobility might be king, but only if you can do something once you are in the right position, and you give up your best position-dependent ability by not taking Poison Cysts. Even if you want to just stay alive, being quicker to run away comes with the price of being much more likely to be just gunned down as you run.
-This armor would be good for kiting with either Cannon, however, the Tyrant’s slow turn rate makes that difficult and rather inefficient.
-The Horror (20e) - Pick a non-champion squad. Said squad drops whatever it’s doing, turns tail, and gets the hell out of Dodge. It’ll come back eventually, but it can buy you a few seconds’ reprieve.
-At least, that’s the theory. The practice is hampered by the ability’s immense energy cost. Even though it recharges quickly, trying to use it on multiple targets will drain you of power nearly instantly. There are very few situations where giving up 20 power to turn away a squad is a good trade, especially since the squads that may give you trouble tend to come in groups of at least four. Meanwhile, the lone enemies which you might want to turn away are champions, and thus, immune to the ability.
-There is, however, at least one good target for The Horror. Your Doppelganger’s Ravener.
-Speaking of pets, they are fairly fast without the speed bonus, and both that and the possibility that in exactly three waves they may get suppressed becomes less important once you realize that unlike players, they are, ultimately, expendable.
-Overall, Articulated Carapace just sacrifices too much for not enough benefit.
-Your low armor and HP, combined with an ability not worth using, make the Warp Field a decent proposition.
Reinforced Chitin (17) – With no HP bonus and only 98 armor, this is the strongest carapace available to the wait what?
-Reinforced Chitin offers no abilities. It gives the Tyrant the Epic model, raises your pets’ armor by 80, and, whenever you’re hit, temporarily raises yours by 10, up to a maximum of +300.
-Sounds awesome? Well. It’s not. Plainly put, the Reactive Armor trait does not work. I don’t know why. I don’t even know if. But the armor stays just as useless , no matter how many times you’re hit.
-The extra armor to pets isn’t worth all that much. Yes, it makes your ultimately expendable pets more durable at the cost of making you much less so. Insult to injury, unlike a HP bonus, it does not scale any abilities.
-In short, skip it.
Conclusion: Two of the armors are very good choices, one is just decent, one is extremely situational, one is entirely useless. Both of the very good choices is only so if it gels with your build and playstyle. Which you pick should depend entirely on you.
3c. Tyrant, what wonderful toys you have! – Accessories
The Tyrant has access to a total of eleven accessories. For ease of understanding, I am going to divide them into four pets, three abilities, and four passives.
The Pets are most straightforward. Use the ability to summon the pet at a targeted spot in your vicinity. If you already have a pet out of the type, it keels over and dies first chance it gets. You can simultaneously have out one of every pet you’ve taken.
Pets have an AI of their own. Generally, they engage enemies they see. They have a preference for attacking whoever you give your Tyrant an attack order at. Unfortunately, there doesn’t seem to be a way to command them without leaving your cozy cover.
Pets, especially melee ones, can be somewhat dumb. If they find themselves too far from you, they’ll do their best to return… as soon as they’re done with what they’re doing. Get used to the sight of your pet run up, halfway across the arena, to a far-off enemy that slighted them, then attack them, exactly once, before happily trotting back to you like a puppy, tongue out, as if begging for praise.
Genestealer Nest (1) – Call Genestalers (10e) – Unlike the later pets, ‘stalers come in broods of three. They have no ranged attacks, but attack very quickly with their claws once in melee. Their special attack is a step back, then a wide swing of their claws that hits a cone and does not cause knockback. Their attacks reduce enemy armor.
-They are the cheapest pet to summon, and it shows. Unbuffed ‘stealers often lose to even trash mobs. Even ranged ones sometime.
-Though quick on their feet, ‘stealers are fragile. Get used to resummoning them often.
-‘stealers love to cluster around your target. This wouldn’t be a problem if the Tyrant wasn’t so happy to move away to let them in. This, unsurprisingly, makes the Tyrant’s already bad problems getting in melee worse.
-The armor reduction helps, but I don’t really feel a difference with and without.
-Overall, I’m not a fan of Genestealers as pets. They’re much more useful for triggering other abilities with their attacks and deaths. Since they’re three of them, they trigger them a lot.
Tyrant Guard Nest (3) – Call Tyrant Guard (20e) – Pangy! Pangypangypangypangy—ahem. Sorry, don’t know what came over me there. Moving on. This overgrown pangolin is slightly slower than the other pets, but has the most health and armor. He attacks using his claws, and his special attack is rearing up to slam his fists into the ground, hitting enemies in a cone and knocking them back.
-Every so often, Pangy will taunt a target to attack himself. Although the animation suggests otherwise, this is a single target ability, not an AoE. You can see which squad got taunted by the red glowing segmented border around their feet. This helps keep Pangy in melee and helps keep enemies off your back.
-If closing into melee, Pangy is likely to launch into a charge, trampling over cover and knocking enemies down.
-Pangy’s claws deal decent damage on their own, but his naturally high HP synergizes very well with Toxin Sacs.
-Although resilient, Pangy is not immortal. Be careful around high-damage mobs like Banshees and ‘uge Hammer Nobz.
-Pangy’s role is a mixture of damage and tanking. He runs around adorably, punches people to death, and draws attention away from your less durable teammates and other pets. Summon him, let him loose, and he’ll fight, running around happily like the adorable little giant killer puppy he is.
Warrior Nest (7) – Call Warrior (15e) – The Warrior is like a cheaper, faster, more active but less durable and adorable version of Pangy. It moves quickly about the battlefield, attacks with claws and talons, and has a special attack consisting of a upwards swipe with the talons that knocks back a cone’s worth of targets.
-In addition to the special attack that it seems happier to use than Pangy, it can knock down several enemies with a lunging charge that it does seemingly every chance it gets. The Warrior is actually the Tyrant’s best source of disruption.
-There’s not much to say about the Warrior. It offers a good source of damage and better disruption on a moderately fragile platform. As a good balance, I can recommend using it.
Ravener Nest (18) – Call Ravener (20e) – Ladies, gentlemen, I give you, the queen of firepower. Your only ranged pet, she loves nothing more than to stick her tail in the heaviest cover she can find and shower your foes with Devourer projectiles. If something forces her into melee, she’ll fight using her many talons. If she has a special attack, I’m yet to see her use it.
-The Ravener is all about damage. Her Devourer has very good damage, and due to firing in bursts it deals with trash in cover very well. Harder targets melt just as quickly.
-If that’s not enough, she has access to Burrowstrike, a move where she emerges underneath the targeted enemy, causing wide-area knockback and damage. With some buffing, she can nuke entire blobs of trash with just one application, and any survivors will be hosed down with Devourer fire before they can even get up.
-Still, the Ravener pays a price for her firepower and speed. She is the most fragile of the solo pets. Constantly resummoning her can put a drain on your energy reserves if you’re not lucky.
-Her rapid, multiple attacks synergize well with Toxin Sacs, but her low innate HP requires buffing to be effective then.
-For some reason, the Ravener will occasionally burrow down for a while, to no real effect. As an amusing side-effect, when under the Farseer’s Veil, she appears as a worm-sign.
-Overall, with her high damage output, both single target and AoE, it’s hard to justify not taking the Ravener if you are going for a pet build.
Conclusion: While Genestealers make so-so pets, the three solo pets are all good choices. However, while taking all three sounds like a inviting prospect, any two plus a buffing passive item tends to be more effective.
The Abilities are just that. Wargear that exists to give the Tyrant a new ability. Nothing much to say that will apply to all three, so let’s just dive in.
Seismic Roar (1) – costing 15e, this ability will stun all nearby enemies for five seconds. No, I said, nearby. Like, right on top of you. Five seconds is just enough time to maybe kill one or two, once you factor in turn time. Also just enough time to wiggle your fat Tyrant ass through the legion of enemies around you far enough that they’re still in melee by the time the stun wears off.
-If you haven’t caught on yet, I don’t like Seismic Roar at all. It’s comparable to the Captain’s Blind Grenade, except far worse. Even though it’s slightly bigger in radius, it doesn’t matter, as the most of the radius is taken up by the Tyrant. It’s overcosted, it doesn’t do nearly enough, and frankly, a waste of a valuable accessory slot.
Warp Field (9) – This is your standard energy shield, notable mostly for its passive +50 maximum energy bonus. While active, any damage you take instead of your HP goes to your energy, at a 2:1 ratio (two points of damage remove one point of energy). The ability does not shut off if you run out of energy, and it does not reduce your energy regeneration while active either.
-Having an effective extra 200HP can do wonders for your survivability. Unfortunately, it will do horrors to your energy storage. If you rely on your energy to do anything else, even summoning pets, this piece of gear is guaranteed to leave you unable at the most critical moment.
-If you use it, keep in mind your energy and health regenerate separately. If one is full and the other isn’t, you’re not recovering your total durability as fast as you could. Toggle Warp Field on and off as needed so that whichever is fuller takes the damage.
-Overall, not a bad choice. Builds that don’t use energy can take it as a layer of defense, those that do can take it to double their energy store and, in a pinch, as extra survivability.
Psychic Scream (11) – costing only 10e with a duration of 15s, this is a fun little ability. While Seismic Roar briefly shuts down a very few enemies, Psychic Scream severely debuffs all of them. Okay, not all. Just a lot. The area of effect is vast.
-The description claims to debuff both enemy damage output and input, and it gels with my experience. My source claims that it increases damage taken by 25% and decreases damage dealt to 25%. Especially the second number sounds hard to believe, but I for one notice a significant difference after using this ability.
-With a good effect that doesn’t lose effectiveness as more enemies pile in, an affordable cost out of the box and no further investment necessary, I can honestly recommend this wargear.
Conclusion: One worthless ability, and two that are at worst situational and at best quite good. Worth looking at.
The Passives grant you and your minions beneficent traits and simple stat bonuses. They are excellent if you want to save on energy, and are your primary way of making your pets stronger.
Toxin Sacs (2) – Deceptively simple and amazingly powerful. This item grants your minions an extra 20HP, and both you and they receive the Searing trait. Every strike, melee, ranged, even special, now causes an extra two-second DoT that adds up to 10% of the user’s HP.
-This might not seem like much, but it’s huge. Only one tenth of your HP in damage becomes significant once you realize you tend to have much more HP than your targets, and once you realize that it’s 10% every or every other strike you land.
-Even better, this damage increases as you raise your and your pets’ HP, and it’s not unheard of to have your items raise one or the other by 100 or more. This is what turns your Venom Cannon or Ravener from menaces into horrible death machines.
-This is a powerful tool in your hands. However, it has a big downside, which can be summarized as such: Your Doppelganger has more HP than you do. Equipping Toxin Sacs will boost your Doppelganger’s damage to insane levels. Equipping Toxin Sacs together with a Venom Cannon will allow your Doppelganger to kill some frailer players in two or even one shot. If you don’t have some way of controlling the Doppelganger, you’re in for a painfully brutal and mercifully quick fight come Wave 16.
-In short, Toxin Sacs are a double-edged sword, and the wrong side is always sharper. Pray you wield it with more skill.
Implant Attacks (9) – Again a bonus of 20 pet HP, but this time instead of Searing, both you and your pets receive a flat 30% damage bonus. No strings attached.
-This obviously plays a similar role to Toxin Sacs, though a 30% damage bonus tends to end up being less damage over time than the DoT given by the Sacs.
-On the other hand, this boosts your Doppelganger’s damage no more than your own, thus making it a bit less of a threat.
-This means choosing between those two is a choice between harder Waves 16/20, or harder all other waves. Of course, there’s always the third option of choosing both. In which case, better hope you can take your Doppelganger down fast.
-Implant Attacks will boost the damage of your damaging abilities. However, note that all but one of those abilities scale off your or your pets’ HP too, and doing so may be the better choice. Implant Attacks are the only item to boost the damage of Bio Plasma. Together, they are still an unwieldy weapon, but decently useful for disposal of trash mobs.
Bio-Feedback (12) – Well then. How do you feel about being immune to all incoming damage? Because this is what it does. Other than giving you an extra 25HP, it gives you Reactive Invulnerability. Simply put, whenever one of your pets dies, you ignore all inbound damage for the next five seconds. On its own, it’s fairly unreliable, after all, if your pets are dying it’s usually because the enemy is busy with them and not you.
-That is until you realize what else is five seconds long. That’s the recharge of Call Genestealers. Genestealers are the ideal fodder for Bio-Feedback. Whenever just one of them dies, the green protective bubble goes up. Whenever another dies, the bubble’s duration gets refreshed. Whenever you resummon while at least one still lives, bubble.
-In theory, you can keep up an infinite bubble by simply summoning Genestealers as fast as they recharge, or at least until you run out of energy more than a minute and a half later. Unfortunately, it’s not that reliable. There’s a bit of inevitable lag between the power coming up and you casting it, long enough for focused fire to bite into your HP. Also, if the group of Genestealers is wiped out before you can summon another, the bubble will trigger early, resulting in a gap five seconds from then. The ideal situation is one in which the Genestealers die one by one, exactly five seconds from one another, but that is not at all reliable, or even predictable.
-Those combining Crushing Claws with this tactic should be mindful of a unfortunate limitation. Freshly summoned pets take a few seconds to get their bearings before taking however long they need to get into melee before they start landing blows. Simply put, it’s not at all uncommon that before they even get to trigger your self-heal, you’ll have to resummon them or lose the bubble. Sometimes it might be beneficial to not summon just yet and soak up some of that healing.
-Unlike your characters, enemies do perform sync kills. This is significant because the bubble doesn’t trigger until the very end of a sync kill performed on your pet.
-Similarly, pets caught in a Orbital Strike or Anti-Gravity Field will not trigger until something (likely the ability) kills them. Worse, floating pets will not die if you resummon, at least not immediately. They will keel over if they survive the landing.
-Your Doppelganger will resummon pets every now and then, but not nearly as often as you can. Abuse this.
-Overall, Bio-Feedback is a mediocre item unless combined with Genestealers, in which case it is frighteningly powerful if used right.
Explosive Decomposition (16) – This item has two uses. For one, it’s the biggest health booster around, at +50HP to you and +20HP to your pets. That alone might make it worth taking in some cases.
-However, the core of this item is the fact it makes your minions explode on death. The explosion has a fair radius, and deals damage based off HP.
-There’s two ways to think of this item. One is a HP booster for your Tyrant that adds some free damage whenever you resummon your pets, which is handy for a tanking Tyrant. The other is a pet suicide nuking build, calling for stacked pet HP and Implant Attacks.
-For a pet suicide nuke build, there are two real choices. The Tyrant Guard, with its beefy innate HP, can wipe out even harder trash with its explosion. Meanwhile, a Genestealer doesn’t even kill a Banshee with theirs, but there’s three of them, for a far less reliable but cheaper option.
-The biggest problem with a pet nuke build is the choice of a Commander item. One makes the tactic remotely affordable, the other increases the potency of the explosion to useful levels. Since you can’t take both, I do not recommend this build.
-The explosion triggers as soon as one of your pets is sync killed. Incidentally, this means the killer doesn’t take damage from the explosion. In other words, solo enemies don’t take damage from mowing down your pets.
Conclusion: A powerful offensive buff, a good offensive buff, a insanely good potential defensive buff, and a solid hybrid offense/defense buff. There’s really no bad choices here, all have their use.
3d: Tyrant, oh how commanding you are! – Command Items
For the other heroes, Command items are global nukes, wide area debuffs, team buffs, and the odd pet and whatnot. Your global nuke is an armor. Your wide area debuff is an accessory. Your team buff doesn’t exist. As a result of that, your Command items are… your mobility power and two self buffs. But do not despair. They are the best ones. But first…
Thornback (5) does nothing but grant you an ability, Charge (10e). This is as close as you get to a mobility power. Unfortunately, it’s the worst one around. Doubling the range on the Captain’s To Victory! doesn’t turn it into a good mobility power. It has the shortest range, the slowest movement, the most exposure to damage during travel, and the unique potential to be stopped dead in your tracks if you so much as brush a indestructible pillar, a vehicle, or Pangy.
-Charge’s only saving grace is its heavy knockback to all enemies along your path. Said saving grace is lessened by every enemy you were short of or just a bit to the side off of being now in your face and ready for some facemelting.
-This isn’t helped by the fact that the knockback is so heavy that mobs in melee with you when you started will end up on their ass very near to where your charge will end.
-Still. This is all you’re getting for ten levels, might as well learn a useful trick. A “kick” is a very short charge performed when there’s one or two enemies in melee with you. The knockback sends the mobs away from you, and by the time they get up, you may walk away, or shoot them a few times with your cannon. Sadly, this doesn’t work so well if surrounded, as only a few mobs will get thrown up. Also, kicking will destroy any destructible cover you may have, even if kicking away from it.
-In short, this is the best you’re getting, and the rivalry for this slot is great. Learn to do without.
Synapse (15) – Never before has something so simple been so monumental. You see, all that Synapse does is halve all your abilities’ energy cost. This is huge. This lets you spam your abilities freely. Your nuke costs only 12e now. Genestealers cost only 5e – exactly as much as you’ll recover in the time they recharge. Glorious.
-Still. Not every build needs Synapse. If your only skill is Bio-Plasma, or only Psychic Scream, or only pets after you invest in their durability, you shouldn’t have energy problems even without Synapse.
-Also, for all of its wonder, Synapse does not in any way benefit Warp Field.
-Synapse synergizes best with Poison Cysts, as it drops the cost of Toxic Miasma a whooping 13e. This lets you make use of the ability’s quick recharge to blanket whole swathes of area with pure death over time.
-In short, Synapse is awesome, even crucial for ability-heavy builds. Most other characters would kill for it.
Evolution (20) – The last item you get, and it’s worth the wait. Evolution does three things. It buffs your pets to the gills, makes them evolve new ones, then buffs them to those too. On a more serious note, just having this equipped is like giving your pets the benefits of Implant Attacks, Articulated Carapace and Bonded Exoskeleton. As if the increased pet damage, speed, HP and regeneration wasn’t enough, you get an extra 2 points of regeneration – the only source of health recovery other than Crushing Claws.
-Yes, this stacks with the aforementioned wargear. And it is glorious.
-If you’re actively using pets (as opposed to as ability fodder), you really want to take this. Even if you don’t use pets at all, you may want to consider taking it for the equivalent of self-only Larraman’s Blessing.
-Honestly, the only downside is, once you have this, you gain no more XP.
Conclusion: The first one is none too good, but the other two are simply tremendously awesome.
4. Putting it all together – Build Examples
Perhaps these will inspire you. The Hybrid is a good place to start and gain some XP.
The Hybrid is what I call the generic build I use for leveling. You need either cannon, a pet, toxin sacs, and either a second pet or some other item. Armor and command items are up to you. The idea is to hang back, take cover, shoot, let your pets run interference. Maybe support with abilities if you’ve taken them. This should see you to wave 16 with not much difficulty. Then you die horribly and collect 3000XP, unless you’re lucky or the team is good at taking care of your Doppelganger.
For example, this is my leveling build of choice for levels 7 through 17 (parentheses show absolutely earliest level the build works):
Hybrid Petmaster: Venom Cannon // Bonded Exoskeleton // Tyrant Guard Nest / Warrior Nest / Toxin Sacs // Thornback
Required level: 7 (4)
Role: Ranged DPS, pet summoning
Hang back, blast away, let your hard pets run around and cause pain. All there is to it. The east and west spawn doors have good, green, indestructible cover to hide in. In fact, you can in a pinch summon your pets, move to the collapsed pillar next to your starting area, and go AFK until wave 7, 10 if your team is good. If your team is very good, you’ll get far.
And now, a few of my favorite builds.
Hybrid Ultima: either cannon // Bonded Exoskeleton // Ravener Nest / Warrior Nest / Toxin Sacs // Evolution
Required level: 20 (18)
Role: Ranged DPS, pet summoning
Evolved (har har) version of the above, offering excellent damage output that can be tweaked towards single target or crowd by swapping out the cannon. The Hybrid is my “fooling around” build, for serious play I use one of the next two.
Tankzilla: Crushing Claws // Poison Cysts // Genestealer Nest / Bio-Feedback / * // Synapse
Required level: 15 (14)
Role: Tank, AoE nuking
As far as I’m concerned, the best tank in the game. Wade into the worst scrap, summon Genestealers over and over to protect you, indefinitely if need be, use your beefy HP to lay down patches of immense DoT damage, go toe to toe with all of wave 16 at the same time and come out alive, or even survive Orbital Strikes.
One of the accessory slots is empty, to be filled with what you want. Some discussion:
-Toxin Sacs: Looks promising, but your Genestealers’ have very little HP, and you aren’t meant to cause damage with attacks. Even the very high special attack chance pales next to the devastation your Toxic Miasma causes. Specialize, not generalize.
-Implant Attacks: No. +50 HP will raise your damage more than this 30%.
-Another pet: No. You’re in the thick of it, and they’d die to the fire around you too quickly. It’d be a waste of valuable energy. Plus, unbuffed pets are weak.
-Warp Field: Surprisingly, no. Five energy can buy you ten HP, or five seconds of immunity to attack. Guess which one’s a better choice. If you take this, do so for the energy boost.
-Explosive Decomposition: Considered the best pick by most. The extra damage sucks, but it’s free, and the +50HP is nothing to scoff at.
-Psychic Scream: My favorite pick, this really helps your tanking. However, even at 5e every 15s, maintaining this will cut into your energy. In prolonged scraps, you’ll have to cut down or out on casting Toxic Miasma, maybe even have longer gaps between Genestealer summons. However, if your team has Battery Pack or Spirit Stone of Vigor, I cannot recommend this combination enough.
-Elite Token: If you’re going for the high score, you make one of the better carriers for this.
Remember. You’re not invincible. But you are the next best thing.
Rapevener: Enlarged Scything Talons // * // Ravener Nest / Toxin Sacs / Implant Attacks // Evolution
Required level: 20 (don’t try earlier)
Role: Ranged DPS, AoE nuking
This build has only one reason to exist. Everything you take is there to help your Ravener absolutely murder anything she looks at – soldiers, tanks, armies, it doesn’t matter. She can kill it. So just hang back, keep your head down, and let her do all the heavy lifting and rack in the points, like a… actually, don’t think about that situation too hard. Her job is to kill everything. Your job is to keep her alive, but above that, stay alive yourself.
Any of the armors can be a valid choice with this build. Be careful with ability-giving ones though, the Ravener can die quickly when exposed to incoming damage, and is fairly costly to resummon. This is one of the few builds where Articulated Carapace shines. Your added speed helps you stay out of trouble, and The Horror has, for once, a very worthwhile target – your Doppelganger’s Ravener.
This build gives you good melee damage, but odds are, you aren’t built to handle the return damage for too long. Meleeing down the odd lone Nob or squad of Warriors is fine, but once you do, hide. Your health will come back soon enough with Evolution.
While tempting, do not replace the talons with a cannon. The increase in damage is not worth the loss of your Ravener’s Armor Piercing, especially since with the talons, you can focus on other things than blasting away – like staying alive.
5. O Tyrant! My Tyrant - Closing Words
The Tyrant is a glorious thing. Whichever role you pick for it, it can be a very solid part of the team. When you decimate an army with toxins and venom shards, or when the smoke clears to reveal you still standing, surrounded by corpses and three craters burned into the ground, feel free to giggle. You’ve earned it.
The author wishes to extend his gratitude to the following for unwittingly contributing to the creation of this guide:
-konfeta, whose Sorcerer guide proved the inspiration to sit down and write this… as well as made me aware of the joys of teleporting in next to some poor fool then clusterbombing their face. Mmm.
-Hero Forge, for teaching me much of what I know about the underlying numbers of TLS.
-A dozen or two of pick-up players, who endured me experimenting with the craziest builds (The Magnificient Exploding Pangolin! The Run Knockback Repeat! The Cannon Puncher! And more!)
-BloodyRoslyn, for inspiring me to try out Tyrant, and other things.