Hello everybody, Danny here from TFG Radio to talk about the sprinters, the kickers, the speedy little hitters, the Hormagaunt! Of course, you should run, not walk, over to Frontline’s Tactics Corner for all the cool articles for any faction you play.
The Hormagaunt is another one of those bugs destined to die, but as a dedicated close-combat unit, they win through sheer weight of numbers and using their dead to choke the life out of enemies, but they also have a good little burst of speed in them to help them get to their deaths faster.
Scything Talons – AP6 Close Combat Weapon
The unit may take Adrenal Glands (Furious Charge) and/or Toxin Sacs (4+ Poison)
So, the Hormagaunt doesn’t get as much customization as the Termagant or most other Tyranids, but well, that’s because it is focused on one task and one task only: eat people. Scything Talons at least lets the Hormagaunt ignore Ork (and other Tyranid) armor saves, so there’s that at least. Poison is legit on a close combat unit, especially a S3 one, and with their 2 attacks base, they get a lot of mileage out of wounding on a flat 4+. Adrenal Glands isn’t as exciting as they already have Fleet, but giving them S4 on the charge does let them hurt AV10 Rear vehicles, which can be super important against like say Battle Company. You can double their base points cost by taking both, but the advantage of these little ones is that they are cheap, so you have to be careful to not make them too expensive and negate that advantage.
Bounding Leap: This unit runs an additional 3 inches
Fleet: Reroll run and charge rolls
Instinctive Behaviour (Feed): This unit can eat itself, must charge nearest enemy, or the previous but with Rage.
Move Through Cover: Roll 3d6 for Difficult Terrain
So the Hormagaunt has a few key special rules here, namely Bounding Leap. Having them run anywhere from 4-9 inches in a turn is great, and it gives them a great burst of speed on the first turn or a turn they Outflank (say from Hive Commander). As they are a melee unit, being able to get advanced position by being faster than other units is key. Fleet also helps them ensure that they are moving far more than 4 in the shooting phase, and rerolling charges is never bad. Move Through Cover helps as always, especially with the fact that Tyranids need cover to live. Feed is the worst Instinctive Behaviour just because a Hormgaunt unit is likely to cut itself in half if you roll a 1-3. That’s absolutely terrible, so they definitely need to be in Synapse at all times.
So, how should we use the other cannon-fodder of the Hive Fleets?
Well, they actually make surprisingly effective objective stealers. As they are typically Obsec and with the ability to go up to 15 inches in a turn without charging, they can actually hurry their happy little butts across the table. A naked squad of 10, for the same cost as Lictor, can Outflank (with Hive Commander) and possibly steal an Objective within 18 inches of a table-edge. This can catch a lot of people off guard, and even if you go up to 20 or even 30 strong, this is a big, Obsec unit that still pumps out a decent amount of attacks at I5. Even a squad of 10 will kill a Marine Scout (maybe 2 if you spike) on average dice, all before the Scouts get to swing. This means they aren’t terrible at fighting other small objective camping units.
You can also use them as a naked tarpit, taking 30 and just throwing them forward to control the center of the board (or bubble-wrap the Relic). With 2 attacks base, they can still throw out enough attacks to make some units pause or at least start doing some chip damage before the real Tyranid punch comes. Again, Hormagaunts make a great target for Hive Commander as being able to Outflank a giant unit is handy, especially one that is surprisingly fast as 3+D6 (with a reroll) means you are likely getting 7 inches of run. With Endless Swarm, they can get back into the fight within a turn, and that’s pretty impressive for a unit with no guns and just standard infantry.
Of course, you can load them up to go out and kick some tail, and with Poison, they are a significant threat to a lot of other units. With 3 attacks on the charge and Poison 4+, they can start to wrack up the wounds on just about any target save for Gargantuan Monstrous Creatures and vehicles. While a dedicated combat unit or a Deathstar cares not, they still have to chew through 30 bodies, and with Poison, you are throwing enough dice that you can start to spike. I actually prefer Hormagaunts to Genestealers simply for the fact they are a cheaper tarpit that can still spike and do some annoying damage. Plus, they are just a lot faster, and never underestimate the power of 30 models that can go and claim board position much faster than their size would suggest.
So why aren’t these little guys everywhere?
Well, for starters, they are a high initiative, fast, fragile combat unit without assault grenades, so their I5 means very little. It is actually in your favor most times to let them be charged, so they can actually swing before Marines or along with Eldar. It is a bit silly that they can’t charge through terrain, but such is the Tyranid life. They are also T3 with a 6+ save, so they die easy, real easy. Even a standard guardsmen looks at a Hormagaunt and thinks: “I can do this”. While yes, with Catalyst and the typical ‘Thrope bonuses, you could have a relatively resilient swarm, but so much in the game ignores Cover and is S6 or higher, meaning that Feel No Pain is useless. Like Termagants, they do get to ignore Grav for the most part, which makes them an interesting meta-choice if you are really trying to play that game.
They can also get expensive. If you give them all their upgrades, you are spending double digit points for a model that has no boosted survivability, and Adrenal Glands is only helpful if you are sure that you are going against AV10 rear armor and lots of it. This is part of the general design problem of the little bugs: they are great if you know what to expect, but if you don’t, you could end up wasting a lot of points. As these dudes are so squishy, you have to take a lot to make them matter, and well, if you are upgrading, you are suddenly spending a lot more points than you might have anticipated.
They also lack any real way to get quality attacks. Yes, quantity is its own quality, but WS3 S3 attacks aren’t that great, and even just a few higher strength or lower AP attacks would really help them out. Granted, since you can take 30 of them and possibly produce 120 attacks in a single turn (assuming full unit, failed IB and rolled a 6, and charged), they can pump out the attacks, but a lot of dedicated combat units and Deathstars can easily take the abuse. With WS3, there are plenty of targets that they will hit on 5s.
Of course, like their siblings the Termagants, the Hormagaunt is just not as cheap for a codex that really wants to spam a few models. Still, would I ever consider Hormagaunts in a competitive list? Sure, but then I say that with the caveat that it would likely not be the traditional Tyranid Competitive list at all. I think they have plays, but to do such, you have to move away from Flyrant spam, and well, that’s hard to do for a myriad of reasons. Of course, they are super fun when playing against AM (or Orks really) as there is little more iconic image than a horde of Hormagaunts trying to scale a defensive structure as heroic guardsmen hold the line.
Thanks as always for reading, and check out TFG Radio as I typically play with bug lists to see what funky-fresh jams are left to be mined.
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