Howdy all, Danny from TFG Radio here again with a look at the flying meatshields, the Gargoyle! You should also check out Frontline’s ever expanding (and not just by me thankfully) articles in the Tactics Corner!
Gargoyles are a horde unit that is designed to move fast and get in the way, and thanks to a few sweet formations, they have some added flexibility.
Fleshborer – Range 12, S4, Ap5 Assault 1
Blinding Venom – S3 Blind, Poison (6+) melee attack that replaces all other melee attacks.
Up to 20 more gargoyles.
Adrenal Glands (Fleet+Furious Charge) or Toxin Sacs (4+ Poison)
So Gargoyles don’t have much in the way of upgrades, but they really don’t need it either. Fleshborers aren’t too bad of guns actually as S4 AP5 is good for Tyranids, and since Gargoyles are Jump Infantry, they move fast enough to get around the rather limited range. Blinding Venom is nice against low initiative models, but it doesn’t come up too much. Adrenal Glands are ok, but likely too expensive, but on a unit that can go up to 30 strong, Toxin Sacs can make Gargoyles a much scarier melee threat. This gets pricey, but it does make the swarm a lot more threatening.
Instinctive Behavior (Hunt) – On a 1-3, go to ground, 4-5, no running and must shoot at closet enemy and in Line of Sight. If no targets, cannot do anything in the phase or assault, 6: same as 4-5 but with preferred enemy.
So the Gargoyles are definitely light in the Special Rules department with only IB. Hunt isn’t too bad except this unit is really best at tarpitting, and while plinking with Fleshborers isn’t bad, it is not what you want them to do.
Ok, so let’s make the magic happen. First of all, Gargoyles are tailored made for being a huge annoyance for your opponent. Blinding Venom doesn’t come up often, but when it does, it can be hilarious and definitely slow up a big, meaty unit looking to cause pain. As Jump Infantry, you can deep strike whole squads of 10 into the enemy backfield, and while Gargoyles aren’t exactly durable, for not much over 50 points, you are creating a lot of harassment. You can also try to deepstrike larger squads, but that can get risky without Lictor support.
For me, the real magic of Gargoyles is friendship, namely that they will stand around and hug an enemy unit for a while. As Jump Infantry, they are fast enough to move to good locations on the board and act as a giant roadblock, and a bit under 200 points is a worthy investment in a 30 bug unit that can stand its ground for awhile as long as it has synapse support. If you throw in a cover save bonus from a ‘thrope of some kind, they can be pretty annoying to tangle with. The real key is the 12 inch move plus a D6 run as that is enough space to navigate in a turn to really win the positioning game in the first two turns.
Gargoyles also have two formations that absolutely play to their strengths. The first is the Skyblight formation where Gargoyles suddenly gain Objective Secured and a 4+ Recursion mechanic. This is absolutely awesome as Deep Striking Objective Secured is great, so you can run 1 or 2 squads at minimum to go grab objectives starting on turn 2, and you can also have a big squad of 30 to camp your own backfield and bubblewrap objectives. If they die? On a coin flip, they come right back, and as Jump Infantry, they are fast enough to move back into a useful position in your own backfield when they come in from your table edge. Even just taking a minimum of 3 small squads means that you can force your opponent to have to defend their backfield objectives for a turn or two and when the gargoyles die, they can come back and help you bolster your own backfield. Yes, you have to take 3 FMCs that aren’t Hive Tyrants, but it can be worth it.
The second formation is the Sky-Tyrant, which is for super-absurd tarpit of doom. You take two units of gargoyles (so 20-60) and a Flyrant, and then you smash them together into one super-unit that is a bit pricey but will sit and hold the line for a long, long time. With the Flyrant giving the unit Fearless as well as dishing out some quality attacks and Look out Sir on a 2+, you have a damn durable unit that will hold even some hardcore deathstars at bay for a few turns. With moving 12 inches, this also again lets you compete in the positioning game with other big nasty’s out there. For me, the sweet spot is 40 gargoyles, but a full 60 can also be really damn annoying, especially since it is pretty much immune to Grav, and for a measly 45 points, you can easily get Venomthrope love to the unit to make even the typical Scatbikes have to work extra hard for even a few kills.
So why aren’t gargoyles everywhere? Well, I think that personally, a lot of people just discounted them because they are the most expensive “horde” unit that Tyranids have. Also, their formations are not in the codex, and I think a lot of people checked out of bugs before these formations hit. They aren’t a perfect unit by any stretch of the imagination. They are T3 with a 6+ save, so they die to harsh language, and especially for the most expensive of the little gribblies, that is a bit of a kick in the pants. They definitely rely on the typical Tyranid buffs like a Venom/Malathrope shield to give them some cover saves, and against any unit that pumps out a lot of shots that ignore cover, they start to wither fast. So against the typical big scary armies, they can die a lot faster than you might think, but then not necessarily. Grav doesn’t scare them that much, and most high volume shots don’t ignore cover. Still, they are easy to kill, but that is also the point as they are a big horde unit. They do get pricey though, especially if you give them Toxin Sacs, and really, they are best as either suicide objective stealers with Skyblight or as a mega-tarpit with Sky-Tyrant.
So are Gargoyles competitive? Absolutely if used in either the Skyblight or Sky-Tyrant formation. A lot of armies don’t expect them, and as Wolf-Tide (or Green-Tide before it) has shown, being able to have a 40+ sized unit can be a big advantage. The only real downside here is that you have to dedicate to less Flyrants, and that’s going against the competitive precedent. Thank you for reading, and if you have the gargoyles, try em out again and see what they can do. Also, check out TFG Radio for all of our usual rants.
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